Mordern optimal rim/tyre width for road racing

Hi Team,

Looking for the best rim width and tyre combo for road racing and criterium racing ?

Modern wheelsets from mainstreem manufacturer appears they all are going wider. eg Reserve envie etc.

The question on my mind is how wide ?

This will be for a disk brake bike

Tyres at the Tour de France 2023:


Decide what tires you will ride and then size the rim accordingly to aero optimize.

I just picked up some Cannondale Hollogram R41 wheels because I was wanting to ride 30mm tires or maybe even try 32s. The R41s are 33mm wide.

Lots of rims these days (30mm wide) seem to be optimized for a 28mm tire which makes sense because that is what pros tend to ride.

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I’d say it depends what the road surface is like on the crits and races you do, whether you’re likely to be racing in the wet, and whether you will also be using the wheels for training or just for racing.

I think on a decent, dry road surface, 25mm tyres are still great and maybe still slightly faster than 28mm. On the basis that they’re a little narrower and lighter. And probably opens up more rim options for you as there are more and cheaper options (including secondhand) which are optimised for a 25mm tyre (I.e. ~28mm outer rim width like the Shimano Dura ace wheels). Also worth noting that 25mm performance tyres tend to have better availability and pricing than 28mm. But the rougher and/or wetter the surface the more you’d want to go wider for lower pressure and more grip, which for racing likely means a 28mm tyre and 30+mm outer rim width. I think 28mm right now is the optimal width for performance/racing across a range of surfaces and conditions. Very few if any performance wheels being optimised for Though if you really wanted to go wider than 28 then a good compromise is 28 on the front where aerodynamics matter more and 30 on the back where there’s more weight and dirty air.


Do you like them? I wasn‘t aware of these wheels, they have the perfect specs (outer/inner width). There are not that many reviews about them.

I haven’t ridden them yet. I’m building up this bike for the winter and we now have snow on the ground. :slight_smile:

They appear to be very well made. Reviews online were pretty good when I did research. The biggest knock ( was that for a 1000 pounds you could do a little better for cheaper but I only paid $800 at bikeinn. The other knock is that they are on the heavy side. They use the same rim as the higher spec $2000 Cannondale Knot wheels but use 8 extra straight pull spokes. For me, as a 200 pound rider, I see that as a benefit. I really don’t need a 16 spoke front wheel to save a few grams.

I looked at every option at there and it’s really hard to find a rim wider than 30mm. The Zipp 303S would have been perfect (around $1000) but I refuse to be a hookless guinea pig on a road bike.

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The narrowest I’d go is 28 mm. If you want to race, 28–30 mm tires should be the sweet spot, but you could even put 32 mm tires on there if e. g. the road surface is bad and/or if you need more confidence in your tires to rip it in the corners. I don’t see any point of putting 25 mm tires on a wheel these days.

As for rim width, for crit races, I’d go deeper than the goldilocks depth of 45ish mm, probably 55–65 mm. Those should be great for road races, too, unless it gets very windy.

3T makes wheels with rather wide rims, for road they make the Discus 45|32 with 32 mm external width. They also make a gravel version that is 40 mm wide.

$1800 too! - I’ll stick with my R41s for $800. :slight_smile:

(I’m just not a big believer in $2000 wheelsets unless you are being paid to ride them. Wheels are a consumable and I’m not a high level racer so I don’t need that last watt or gram of performance.)

For a consumable they last forever no? :sweat_smile: I mean unless you crash regularly. I thought wheels could last ss long as frames more or less.

Sure, they last until you crash or the spokes just start breaking with a frequency that gets super annoying. It still doesn’t change my opinion about $2000+ wheelsets and my need, or lack there of, for bleeding edge performance.

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Yeah, but then frames are consumables, too :wink:
(Rim brake wheel sets were consumables with a very long life span. Disc brake wheels aren’t.)

I got my wheel set with my 3T bike, and I didn’t pay full price.

Yes yes I can follow you there.

It depends on the definition. Not sure how long frames last, but quite long probably. Not sure I will ever „consume“ a frame.

Ditto for wheels. The wheels on my last mountain bike were in not great shape, but that took 10 years of riding.

Consumables are parts with much shorter lives, cassettes, brake pads, brake discs, etc.

Don’t Reserves have a lifetime warranty?