28mm road tyres on wide MTB wheels

Schwalbe Pro One 28mm

Schwalbe Pro One 28mm

I decided to get a second set of (summer) wheels for my commuter/allrounder.
The idea was to run high end 28mm tubeless tyres on extra wide rims to maximise the volume and allow running sensiblly low pressure.
A lengthy search revealed that the widest road clinchers go only up to 21-22mm (inner width) unless you splash out on something like Enve 4.5… or Bontrager ATR. Wide enough for 25mm tyres but 28mm requires ideally something wider…

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Mavic XA and Schwalbe Pro One 28mm

I then mounted my 28mm Schwalbe Pro Ones on Mavic XA MTB wheels as an experiment. The moment the first tyre was seated and streteched to 32mm at 70PSI on a 25mm (internal width) rim, I knew I was onto something.

 

road tubeless tyres on mountaink bike wheels

road tubeless tyres on mountaink bike wheels

At just under 80kg and some light commuting gear, after experimenting for a while, I settled on 60PSI and 40PSI front. I know what you’re thinking right now… It’s too low, it must be slow and sluggish and the rims will be destroyed after hitting the first pothole… In reality nothing could be further from the truth. From speed to comfort and cornering the setup is perfect

28mm Schwalbe Pro One measuring 32mm at 70PSI

28mm Schwalbe Pro One measuring 32mm at 70PSI

As for concerns regarding low max pressure warnings on mtb rims, we can safely assume that they refer only to wide mtb tyres. At the same time though one should look at the actual, not nominal tyre width when working out the optimal pressure or seating tyres. E.g. my 28mm Pro Ones are effectively 32mm tyres and 70-80PSI would be absolute maximum I’d ever go to with them.

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So the take home message from this post? If you have a disc brake bike with generous clearance and want to maximise the volume of your fast +28mm road tyres, get wider MTB wheels instead. They really do make a better match than typical 17-21mm road rims. With disc brakes becoming standard on almost all bikes and increasing popularity of gravel/adventure bikes the boundaries between various types of cycling equipment are blurring anyway. Mtb or road are just labels.IMG_3509-Edit-01-01

FINAL THOUGHTS

Without any intention of sparking another tyre width debate I’ve firmly believed for quite a long time that 30-35mm wide tyres are an optimum width for the vast majority of non-competing road riders, particularly on UK roads. Emulating pros with their 25mm tyres by slower, heavier and less aero amateurs makes no sense no matter how we look at it.

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MTB wheels on a road bike

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3 thoughts on “28mm road tyres on wide MTB wheels

  1. Bart looking good! Another insightful and interesting write up! Ive been keen to try this idea using Soma 700x26c road (clincher) tires on similarly priced ’29er’ wheels on my disc brake Stoemper (pictures on Instagram via the_bordman) — unfortunately my clearance tops out at about 700x30c tires. But based on what I’ve seen here stretching some smaller tires over wide rims will give me the supple-yet-responsive ride I’m looking for.

    I agree 100% with your assessment of day-to-day riders and 28-30+ wide tires — Interestingly enough I ride my 25’s at about 70-80psi on 21mm (internal) wide rims all winter without issue, but there are always other variables. Of all the complaints I’ve heard surrounding road tubless tires it seems a smaller tire + wider internal width + lower psi = a comfortable but efficient setup that still seals in the event of a puncture. I’d love to hear about your experience with the durability of this configuration!

    Cheers,

    The Bordman

  2. Wow. I can’t believe this is the only piece of literature on the entire internet to actually cover this topic (of running road tires on MTB rims). I tried asking about this on a forum and basically got screamed at for thinking about this. People would have you believe that running a 28mm tire on 25mm internal width would basically be suicide, especially according to the ETRTO – which has to be the biggest joke of a safety standard to exist.

  3. I’ve been running tubeless 28mm road tyres at low pressures for many years now after realising that road frames that flexed in fancy ways to reduce discomfort were in fact a solution to the problem of folk pumping tyres way too hard. Tubeless means you can run tyres at the correct pressure, not silly hard to in order to prevent pinch flats. So your aero bike can be way comfier than your pave orientated bike with 90psi in the tyres.
    On my original 19mm int width rims I ran them at 50/55psi. Then when I went to 21mm int width I dropped them to 40/45psi. That’s for 75kg of rider. DId the rims take a battering? Well yes, but that’s only because I also used my bike setup like this for MTBing on too. Trails were somewhat rocky at times and I may have been trying to [successfully] improve my strava times. šŸ˜‰ For more sensible road/gravel/large rock free off road use those pressures are more than fine., My CX bike which is supposedly unsuitable for all day epic riding is a delight to do 180km on mixed surface riding – road, light off road.
    I reckon if tubeless had appeared in road circles a bit earlier, then gravel bikes with their bigger tyres may not have appeared.

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