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Tire Sizes (20 vs 23) / Wheel problems(8 posts)

Tire Sizes (20 vs 23) / Wheel problemsJon in MI
May 18, 2001 10:46 AM

I have ridden 20's for a long time now and am considering the switch to 23's. I have had a myriad of wheel problems some of which require some retruing, other times I've broken spokes. I bought what I thought was a bulletproof rear wheel, it has less than a thousand miles on it, it is a 36 spoke (14 gauge) Mavic Open rim linked to an Ultegra hub. I thought it was bulletproof, until yesterday. I hit a small rock and tweaked it pretty good. The roads around here are pretty nasty as well. I'm not a lightweight, but not overly heavy either (190lb). Would switching to a 700x23 be that big of a difference for me? Does anyone have any experience with this? I'm almost ready to go out and buy a pair of Spinergy's (but who has $600 lying around to spend on wheels?). Thanks for your input.

re: Tire Sizes (20 vs 23) / Wheel problemspeloton
May 18, 2001 1:16 PM
The switch can't hurt for your purposes. You will be able to run a 23 at lower pressure than you could a 20 without risking pinch flatting as much due to the higher air volume. This will allow the tire to absorb more of the terrain, and put a little less stress on the wheel. That said, a big hit on the road will still do some damage so I wouldn't expect it to be a cure all. If you are running straight gauge spokes in a 14, you might try double butted spokes. Double butted spokes can absorb more punishment than an equivilant straight gauge spoke in the same size. Might also try brass nipples instead of aluminum. This will also increase the strength of the wheel. Rebuilding your open pros with DB spokes and brass nipples in a three cross pattern would be a lot cheaper than buying a new wheelset. In addition, I think that you would find that combination to be quite strong for a wire spoked wheel.
Why this fascination with skinny tires?Retro
May 18, 2001 3:14 PM
When I blew out a knee and had to quit running, I ballooned from 220 to almost 270 pounds. Even at that weight, I almost never had wheel problems with 700x28 or 32 tires, and I wasn't measurably slower than I was on 20s or 23s.
I'm headed back to 220 now, but the wider tires are so much more comfortable and stable, and corner so much better, that I haven't switched back. Unless you're racing, why not try man-sized rubber to see how you like it?
Try It, You'll Like It!grz mnky
May 18, 2001 4:01 PM
20's really aren't worth it - especially when you describe your riding condions. Although you aren't in the clydesdale division you're not a fly weight either. I'm quite abit lighter at 155-160 and run 23's and 25's in the winter. We do a lot of riding in the mountains and some of the roads are pretty crappy. I got tired of wanged rims and tweaked wheels. the other tips about double butted vs. single butted spokes are all valid, but you can't under estimate the addition compliance from the greatly increased volume (it's a squared function of the radius). Some riders are just tougher on wheels than others.
re: Tire Sizes (20 vs 23) / Wheel problemsDoubleK
May 19, 2001 9:38 AM
I would recommend 23's to anyone. I kills me when people put 20's on their bike at max pressure and then complain bucause their bike is beating the crap out of them on long rides. I have run 23's for years at 110psi back and 108 in front and have never had a pinch flat or felt "slow" (I am 6'1" and weigh 158lbs.). The ride is sweet too, not rough or "squishy", just firm. A note of caution, Conti tires run narrow. I like the Grand Prix but won't run it because their 23 is more like a 20. I currently ride Vittoria Open Corsas and am pleased although I don't think the ride is "magical" as some would have you believe. It's just a good riding tire. So, IMHO, get some quality 23's, run them at a pressure that is not excessive, and you should see an improvement is ride quality and wheel durability.

Happy riding!
Wrong on Conti GP widthKerry Irons
May 19, 2001 9:52 AM
I've measured many Conti GPs, mounted on several different rims, and the 23s are just about exactly 23mm. All other comments are right on for tire use - 20mm and 190 lb. is not real reasonable except for smooth course time trials.
re: Tire Sizes (20 vs 23) / Wheel problemsJon in MI
May 21, 2001 9:19 AM
Thanks for all your responses.

I initially put 20s on a few years ago because I wanted the fastest and lightest wheels for crits and other races. However, a good buddy of mine, who is a Cat 3, told me this weekend he always rides 23s. I'll be switching to 23s shortly. =)

Hopefully I can find a good wheel builder here in the Detroit area. Does anyone have any recommendations? Oh, and thanks for the tip about double butted spokes, I always assumed they would be weaker, but it makes sense that they would give/flex a little more and make for a more resiliant wheel.
re: Tire Sizes (20 vs 23) / Wheel problemsJon in MI
May 30, 2001 7:08 AM
Hi All,

I put on the new 23s last night and rode into work this morning. What a difference in the ride!! I really like them.

Thanks for the advice,