This post compares the advantages and disadvantages of 32mm and 35mm bike tires.
The table below compares the weight of 32mm and 35mm tires:
|Continental GatorHardshell||375g||Continental Terra Speed Folding||360g|
|Panaracer Gravelking Slick Plus TLC||330g||Schwalbe G-ONE RS Evo||410g|
|Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR||320g||Continental Terra Speed||360g|
|Schwalbe One TLE||380g||Schwalbe G-ONE Allround||420g|
|Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR||346g||Continental Grand Prix Urban||350g|
|Schwalbe Pro One TLE||325g||Schwalbe One TLE Performance||380g|
|Panaracer Gravelking Slick||290g||Panaracer Gravelking||420g|
|Vittoria Terreno Zero G2.0 TNT||380g||Pirelli Cinturato||410g|
|Schwalbe One TLE Performance||380g||Teravail Cannonball||470g|
|Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR||346g||Michelin Power Gravel V2||405g|
The data shows that some 32mm models are indeed lighter than 35mm units. That said, the difference is only 13.7% and has no noticeable effect in practice, especially in the world of recreational cycling.
Air Pressure Comparison
|Continental GatorHardshell||85-102 PSI||Continental Terra Speed Folding||60-90 PSI|
|Schwalbe One TLE Performance||50-70 PSI||Schwalbe G-ONE RS Evo||Max 65 PSI|
|Vittoria Terreno Zero G2.0 TNT||45-90 PSI||Teravail Cannonball||50-80 PSI|
|Continental Grand Prix 4||90-100 PSI||Michelin Power Gravel V2||73 PSI|
|Maxxis Re-Fuse||Max 75 PSI||Panaracer Pasela ProTite||120 PSI|
|Michelin Dynamic Classic TS||60-90 PSI||Continental Grand Prix Urban||65-90 PSI|
The data shows that 32mm and 35mm tires are too close to each other to conclude that the size discrepancy is the source of significant air pressure difference.
In this case, the minimum and maximum air pressure values are dependent on the particular model rather than its size.
The lighter weight of narrow tires results in lower rotational mass. Or in other words, slimmer tires are easier to get to higher RPM (rotations per minute) because there’s less material to move. The result is faster acceleration.
The greater acceleration of slimmer tires is appreciated the most during racing when you have to get back to speed after a tight turn.
For commuting, however, the acceleration boost offered by 32mm tires in comparison to the 35mm models is negligible.
The circumference of 700×35 tires is about 2173mm whereas that of 700×32 is 2155mm. The difference is 18mm or 0.8%.
When the air pressure is the same, wider tires have a lower rolling resistance than their narrower equivalents. This is the case because wider tires deform less under pressure. Consequently, they remain rounder (closer to a perfect circle) and roll more easily.
Meanwhile, narrower tires deform over a greater length and showcase a more pronounced deformation (less perfect circle). This hurts rolling resistance.
However, this is the case only when both tires are representatives of the same model and have identical air pressure.
Since the max air pressure of 32mm and 35mm tires doesn’t deviate greatly, one cannot conclude that a 35mm tire will definitively have a lower rolling resistance than a 32mm equivalent.
A wider tire has a wider profile and holds more air. As a result, it offers more cushioning when its air pressure corresponds to the terrain.
If comfort is the goal, 35mm tires or wider are superior to 32mm models. The trade-off is tire clearance.
A wider tire requires more space which some frames and forks may not have, especially if the user wants to use accessories such as full fenders. Personally, I’d rather ride 32mm tires + full fenders than 35mm tires + partial fenders.
A wider tire offers more grip than a narrow one when the tread pattern is similar. For example, slick tires offer more grip than knobby tires on paved roads. Thus, a wider slick tire will provide more traction when used on the road. Conversely, off-road terrain requires a tread pattern that digs into the ground.
Ultimately, if you want maximum grip, it’s recommended to go for a wider tire.
Thinner tires tend to be more difficult to install and remove from a rim. This could be very frustrating when changing tires on the side of the road.
Having said that, the tire model and its structure influence how easy or difficult it is to change a tire too.
A 32mm tire is not always harder to put on than a 35mm, but in many cases, it is.
Wider tires make sharp cornering feel more stable thanks to the larger contact patch resulting from the extra width and the lower air pressure. Thus, one can argue that 35mm tires offer better cornering performance.
Wider tires have a larger overall circumference than thinner tires. The additional height and the low air pressure (squishiness) have a slightly negative effect on the bike’s climbing performance.
Winner: 35mm Tires
If one has to go strictly by the stats, 35mm tires are superior for the following reasons:
- Better comfort thanks to the wider contact patch
- Lower joint fatigue and stress because the tires absorb more of the road’s irregularities
- Better grip and cornering thanks to the larger contact patch
- Just as fast as 32mm tires on the road when pumped to the correct air pressure.
- Faster off-road thanks to the extra grip
The only downsides of 35mm tires are:
- Require more clearance.
- Slightly heavier (depends on the model)
- Slightly slower acceleration.
That being said, the difference between 32mm and 35mm isn’t gigantic. If the rider is strictly looking for speed, it makes more sense to go for 28mm tires rather than 32mm.
If the bike is going to be used for commuting and the frame and fork support 35mm tires with adequate clearance, then 35mm models are a logical choice.
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