This post compares the advantages and disadvantages of 28mm and 35mm bicycle tires.
The table below compares the average weight of 28mm and 32mm tires:
|Continental Terra Speed||360g||Continental Grand Prix 5000||250g|
|Schwalbe G-ONE RS Evo||410g||Vittoria Corsa G2.0||270g|
|Panaracer Gravelking||350g||Continental GatorHardshell||250g|
|Pirelli Cinturato Velo||300g||Continental Grand Prix 4||230g|
|Continental Terra Trail||450g||Schwalbe Pro One||270g|
|Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H||410g||Continental GatorSkin||300g|
|Panaracer Gravelking||380g||Specialized Turbo Cotton Hell of The North||260g|
|Panaracer Gravelking SK Plus||420g||Vredestein Fortezza Senso Superiore||220g|
|Ritchey WCS Alpine JB||400g||Specialized S-Works Turbo||280g|
|Teravail Cannonball||430g||Specialized Roubaix Road||260g|
Conclusion: 28mm tires are 57% lighter than 35mm models on average. This isn’t surprising because wider tires require more material. Also, wider tires are more likely to have an off-road tread which adds additional weight. On average, a 35mm tire adds 100-150g per wheel. In other words, one could save about 300 grams by using 28mm tires.
Air Pressure Comparison
|35mm Models||PSI||28mm Models||PSI|
|Continental Terra Speed||60-90||Continental Grand Prix 5000||95-115|
|Schwalbe G-ONE RS Evo||Max. 65||Continental GatorSkin||95-116|
|Teravail Cannonball||50-80||Gator Hardshell||95-120|
|Kenda K1083A||Max. 85||Grand Sport Race||80-116|
|Ritchey Speedmax||Max. 75||Supersport PLUS||80-115|
Conclusion: 35mm tires are wider and operate at much lower air pressure than 28mm units. The lower air pressure has the following benefits:
- Softer rider. The wider the tire, the lower its air pressure can be without risking damage to the inner tube or the rim. The wider contact patch is more shock-absorbent too. Hence why 35mm tires perform better on off-road terrain.
- Easier to inflate. It takes less effort to inflate a tire to 70 PSI. If you’re at home, this may seem like a small advantage, but if you have to repair a flat tire on the road, the reduced effort will be greatly appreciated.
- Less susceptible to punctures
The lower air pressure allows the tire to deform upon meeting an irregularity or a sharp object. This reduces the chances of a puncture but doesn’t eliminate them of course.
When the air pressure of two tires is the same, the wider unit offers a lower rolling resistance. This happens because wheels with wider tires deform less under pressure and remain close to a perfect circle.
In different, a wheel with a narrow tire operating at the same air pressure will deform more and lose its round shape.
Therefore, one can make the argument that 35mm tires have lower rolling resistance than 28mm models. In practice, however, this isn’t the case because 28mm models will be inflated to higher PSI to avoid punctures.
It’s also important to note that the tread of the tire has a massive impact on rolling resistance. For example, slick tires have an easier time rolling on paved roads whereas knobby tires are not as efficient and create an annoying “buzz” sound when the input of the cyclist is increased.
Meanwhile, knobby tires dominate off-road terrain because the knobs can dig into the mud/gravel. The increased traction allows the rider to take more risks and maintain a higher speed.
Wider tires offer better traction provided that the tread of the tires corresponds to the terrain as explained above. The extra traction comes from the larger contact patch of the tire and the lower air pressure.
The increased traction results in greater stability and better cornering. Thus, 35mm tires undoubtedly win this point.
28mm tires are expected to have better acceleration thanks to their lower rotational mass and the smaller circumference of the wheel (the wider the tire, the larger the circumference of the wheel).
Wider tires offer more stable cornering thanks to the larger contact patch. The lower air pressure of wide tires increases stability too.
Narrower tires are better climbers because they decrease the circumference of the wheel. As a result, it’s ever so slightly easier to spin the rear wheel.
The wider the tire, the less aerodynamic the wheel becomes. Ideally, the tire will not protrude outside of the rim when looking at the wheel from the front.
Consequently, 28mm tires are more aerodynamic than 35mm tires.
Narrow tires provide more precise and sharp handling than wider models. In different, wider tires make handling feel a bit sluggish and non-responsive.
35mm tires require significantly more clearance than 28mm models.
28mm models can be installed even on aggressive retro road bikes (provided that you don’t use full fenders) whereas 35mm tires are meant for off-road bikes with plenty of frame and fork clearance.
Summary: What You Need To Know
|More Aerodynamic||Lower comfort due to higher PSI|
|Less clearance required||Less stable during cornering|
|More direct handling|
|More comfort||Less aerodynamic|
|More stable cornering||Slower acceleration|
|Require additional clearance|
When to choose 28mm tires?
28mm tires are lighter, more aggressive, operate at higher air pressur,e and offer snappier handling. Consequently, they’re more suitable for people looking for speed on the road.
Consequently, 28mm tires are a good choice for both commuters and road cyclists who want to reach high speeds.
When to choose 35mm tires?
The main advantage of 35mm tires over 28mm is the extra traction and cushioning. Those properties make 35mm tires better for commuting and off-road terrain. The downside is the extra weight and the sluggish handling.