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Lab Tested – Whats The Fastest Road Bike Tire?

What’s the best road tire on the market? Is there really much of a difference between the best ones?

Which are the best fastest road clinches on the market and honestly is there really any difference between tires to find out we spent 10 pairs of tires to wheel energy which is an independent lab in finland then the correlate that lab data with the real world i did scores the test outside here in colorado let’s start with the lab wheel energy is an independent eyerly

With tires while they do a lot of testing for various brands like michelin and specialized they aren’t involved in tire development for any brand point is there a neutral third party so bike radar wheel energy tested ten tires on the smooth drum and then again on a rough surface drum to replicate a normal road surface for each model they tested a pair of tires and

Then average the results the tires were tested at 40k an hour with a 50k load my fellow americans that’s roughly 25 miles an hour with a 110 pound load the tires tested were bontrager are four zip tangent a speed schwabe pro12 ‘bless clement l cv michelin power competition victoria competition corsa hutchinson fusion 5 galactic and specialized s-works turbo cotton

And s-works turbo toothless real energy takes great pains to standardize everything the tires are all acclimatized for 24 hours and when installed on the wheel they are warmed up a small drum that wears out factory protective compounds like silica once the tire is mounted on the test device tire pressure is checked two measurements are taken during the test and

Then tire pressure is again checked after the test for our purposes wheel energy measured each of the tire models of a bar for 1/16 psi and calculated the rolling resistance and watts the next test was to see how much of a difference air pressure can make so wheel energy took the best-performing tire from the previous test spoiler alert that would be the schwaab

A pro 1/2 list along with the best and worst performing clinchers and the measured rolling resistance across a range of different air pressures for each tire tested resistance at 10 psi increments from 70 up to 120 psi now the plan was to test all 25 millimeter tires for an apples-to-apples comparison and for the most part we did that but specialized doesn’t make

25 they only do a 24 and 26 so we tested one of each in average service in the process we also got to compare the effective tire width on the speed of otherwise identical tires it has been demonstrated before that wider tires can be faster and we found that to be true again here we also tested zip 28 millimeter tires as well as the 25 just for comparison finally

Victoria accidentally spent 23 mil tires instead of 25 so you can see how a very good thinner tire adds up here’s how the tires did on the smooth drum you can see that a tubeless tire wins the day here schwab based pro 1 creates just 20 point 9 watts of resistance michelin has talked a big game about this new power tyres in this test back up that talk it was the

Fastest clincher and the zips the bontrager the specialize in continental are not far behind because roads are not perfectly flat wheel energies test drums are intentionally not completely spherical and to replicate actual roads wheel energy also has a rough surface non spherical drum as you might expect the brush of the road the more resistance there is now

This rough surface test is more applicable to the real world in the smooth drum but the order of the results was roughly similar with the top three tires and the bottom two coming out in the same order i found it interesting how some tires improved relative to others when going from the smooth to the rough drum the continental for instance jumped from ninth to

Fifth personally i put more stock in the rough surface tests than the smooth drum because the rough drum shows how tires have to deal with small but constant bumps just like you do in riding tarmac like tests done by others in the past we found wider to be better the zip 28 millimeter tires were faster than the zip 25 the specialized 26 is faster than the 24s all

The tires were tested on the same eastern ec 90s l wheel which has a generous 19 millimeter internal wit this gives each tire a boost in cross-section in the speed when compared to the same tire on a narrower rim all the clinches were tested with an 88 grande butyl tube and the tubeless tires were tested with 25 milliliters of sealant which adds about 54 grams to

The weight to see all the detailed results including weights prices and measured widths as well as the rolling resistance numbers head over to the story on buy crater comm click the link on the screen now if you’re tired of listening to me or you can click the same link at the end of this video okay so you can measure differences in the lab great but does that

Mean anything in the real world i tried to find out here in colorado first i tried dozens of roll-down tests starting at 20 miles an hour and coasting for 200 meters well i could see some trends and a difference for the best and the worst tires it was impossible to completely isolate all the other factors that go into speed to make any real solid conclusions i

Tried roll down test starting from 10 miles an hour which is roughly the tipping point at which rolling resistance becomes a greater influence on speed and arrow drag again i could see some trends for the outliers but turns out i’m not a machine nor was the real world a laboratory to completely eliminate arrow drag from the equation i did ten mile tests on my

Rollers there i could definitely see some repeatable differences the tires performed in the same order as they did in the lab test the schwalbe pro one was fastest the clemente ltv was the slowest i wrote as close to 200 watts as i could breach tests usually averaged between 195 and 199 on the rollers i found a 3-minute spread between the best and the worst ranging

From less than 19 minutes for the pro one to more than 22 minutes for the commit but keep in mind these roller tests greatly exaggerate the impacts of growing resistance now air pressure as you might expect made a huge difference going from 120 psi to 70 psi added more than two minutes on this 10 mile test for each tire these findings track pretty well with wheel

Energies progressive air pressure test as you can see more pressure equals less resistance as before the pressure tests use the 50 kilogram load and a 40 kph wheel speeds for most riders who along with their bike weigh less than 100 kilograms the water’s cost would be less similarly the slower you go the less resistance there is the road surface test shows the

Same trend now the specificity of testing is a double-edged sword on one hand the scientific repeatability is great on the other by nature of being very specific we can’t replicate the full range of road conditions as you experience still this lab testing provides a great baseline for how the tires perform relative to one another another thing to remember is the

Dynamics of resistance when you’re on the bike at 10 miles an hour or less rolling resistance is the primary force to overcome as your speed increases rolling resistance goes up but in a linear fashion above that 10 mile an hour threshold arrow drag becomes your biggest obstacle and unlike rolling resistance it ramps up exponentially the faster you go all that

To say when you’re writing quickly it is all but impossible to feel rolling resistance if you’re interested in seeing how rolling an arrow resistance affect you check out the interactive chart at gribble org there you can enter your weight and slide the cursor to see how much power is required at a given speed and how much of that power is going to your tires

Versus the air it’s a pretty cool little tool finally i did a series of climbing tests where the average speed was under that 10 mile an hour threshold and thus arrow influence was low i wrote as close to 250 watts as possible in the same position in the same clothing and back-to-back runs up lower flagstaff here in colorado it’s a 2.8 mile stretch that averages 7%

Here where the rubber meets the actual road the time differences were quite small the continental and the bontrager for instance were five seconds apart on the 21 minute effort back-to-back tests on the michelin power both at 243 watts average produced a six-second difference so among the best tires environmental factors could easily play more of a difference than

That half of a watt of lab measured in rolling resistance now wearing the best the worst tires back to back display the wider difference i found a 16 second split between the 12 and the clementé experimenting with air pressure made a noticeable difference the bontrager for instance was 20 seconds slower on average across multiple tests when i wrote it at 70

Psi then when i wrote it at 120 psi while the environmental factors were much more substantial and impossible to completely isolate the overall trends from the lab and the roller testing held more rolling resistance equals a slower time at the same power but in the real world i found those speed differences between the very best tires at the same pressures all

But impossible to discern so what are the takeaways here well we saw in the lab that among the best tires there are small but measurable differences we saw that wider tires up to a point are generally better tires in terms of speed and comfort we saw that when you decrease your air pressure you increase your rolling resistance and that holds true both in the lab

On a smooth surface and out on normal roads finally one thing that the lab didn’t show but you probably already know is that decreasing your air increases your comfort and often your grip so like anything in cycling it’s a balance for me i have a few takeaways one i’ll keep riding my tire is about 80 200 psi i can’t feel 2 or 3 watts difference but i can feel a

Difference in comfort you get when you drop about 20 psi out of your tires – for racing i’ll still put my tires up to about 110 115 on a good tire it still feels pretty comfortable and we know it’s faster and three i don’t think i will ever buy a 23 mil tire again

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Lab Tested – What's The Fastest Road Bike Tire? By BikeRadar