Condensed answer: In most cases, 23mm tires can be installed on rims with a 19mm internal rim width. There are some downsides to this combination. Average road rims designed for 23mm tires are slightly narrower and have a 15-18mm internal rim width.
External Rim Width
The external width of a rim is the perpendicular distance between the outer sides of the rim’s walls.
Or in simpler words, the external width is the total rim width.
Internal Rim Width
The internal rim width is the perpendicular distance between the bead hooks. The bead hooks are the parts of the rim to which a clincher tire attaches.
FAQ: Are 19mm Rims Too Wide For 23mm Tires?
19mm rims are ever so slightly wider than the models usually coupled with 23mm tires.
This is especially true for older wheelsets. But modern road rims are getting wider.
Ultimately, a 19mm rim + a 23mm tire is not the most unusual combination.
Rim and Tire Compatibility Chart (conservative)
The table below shows tire and inner rim width compatibility. The numbers are on the conservative side and some deviations are allowed.
|INNER RIM WIDTH||COMPATIBLE TIRE SIZES (MM)||COMPATIBLE TIRE SIZES (IN)|
The data reveals that the maximum inner rim width for a 23mm tire is 16.9mm. The number is very close to 19mm.
In this case, extreme accuracy is neither required nor possible to achieve because the tires themselves come with many deviations. One 23mm model from one brand could be wider than that of another.
Nonetheless, the table is a useful general guide.
The Downsides Of Installing A 23mm Tire On a 19mm Rim
Note: Whether the shortcomings below will manifest to a noticeable level depends on three main factors: 1) Tire model; 2) Rim model, 3) Air pressure.
- Flat Crown
Narrow rims result in “pointier tires”. Wide rims, on the other hand, stretch the tire and create a flat top/crown. Consequently, more of the tire comes in contact with the ground, and the tire squares off faster.
Or in simpler terms, the tire has a flatter contact patch resulting in more friction and faster wear.
- Extra Width
The width of the rim influences the effective width of the tire. For example, a 23mm tire could measure 23mm when installed on a 15mm rim but go to 25mm when put on a 19mm rim. The extra width could be a problem if the bike has limited tire clearance and/or uses full fenders.
- Side Wall Damage
A wider rim brings the side walls of the tire closer to the ground and increases the chance of damaging them. The side walls of a tire are made thinner because they have to be flexible. The reduced amount of material makes the sidewalls weaker and more susceptible to a puncture.
- Reduced Cushioning
A wider rim makes the tire flatter and consequently reduces the distance between the rim and the ground. One of the outcomes is a harsher ride because the tire doesn’t have the same room to change its shape upon meeting an obstacle.
- More Rim Stress
The reduced distance between the ground and the rim increases the stress on the rim and the inner tube.
As a result, it’s more likely to damage the rim and/or get a flat tire resulting from forceful contact between the rim and the tube upon meeting an obstacle.
- Sluggish Cornering
Skinny tires on a wider rim result in a flatter cross-section which hurts the cornering capabilities of the bike. (Normally, tires have the shape of a light bulb which makes cornering faster and easier to finetune.)
- Difficult Installation
Putting a narrow tire on a wider-than-usual rim could be a very difficult process. The wider the rim, the more the tire has to be stretched. Some tire and rim combinations could make the mounting process incredibly frustrating.
The Wide Rim Trend
Currently, the road tire segment is experiencing a small revolution. People are moving towards wider rims and wider tires. This switch was enabled by the disc brake which unlike caliper models does not restrict tire size.
It’s possible to find wide rims on the market that can simultaneously accept a large variety of tire sizes.
For example, HED Belgium Plus rims have a 21mm internal rim width and yet they are designed for tires ranging between 23mm and 32mm. (source)
Summary: What You Need To Know
- A 23mm tire can be installed on a rim with a 19mm internal diameter. That said, the rim is technically on the wider side by conventional standards, and the user may experience some of the downsides that come from combining a narrow tire with a wide rim.
The downsides of combining a wide rim and a narrow tire are:
- Faster tire wear
- Exposed side walls
- Less than ideal cornering
- More stress on the rim
- Wider effective tire width (reduced clearance)
- Difficult installation
To what extent the above will manifest depends on the rim and tire model. In general, however, this isn’t an extreme combination, and the negative properties are unlikely to reach high proportions.