Gear

Are Wider Wheels Better? ENVE Weighs In.

Lately there has been a lot of talk about “wider is better” in the mountain bike world. For both rims and tires the current trends simply LOVE wider options. 

One of the leading wheel builders, ENVE Composites doesn’t necessary agree and chimed in on their website. See the post below:

With the whole “wide wheel” craze seemingly erupting all around us in the media and the popular forums, we asked our engineers, from a scientific perspective: Is wider always better? Let’s knock out a couple of myths about wide wheels.

mtb-is-wider-better-1

MYTH #1 – RUNNING A WIDER RIM INCREASES EFFECTIVE TREAD.

Maxxis High Roller II GeometryM70 Case vs Tread Width

As you can see – rim width does very little to affect tread width, assuming you are running an appropriately sized rim for your tire.  With the Maxxis High Roller II, a 2.3″ tire, there are infinitesimally small tread width gains (about 1/3 of a millimeter) from boosting internal rim width 10 mm from 25 mm to 35 mm.  For you guys doing the math at home, about the same size as 3 strands of hair. So, what are you getting? You are getting casing width and most likely added weight.

mtb-is-wider-better-2

MYTH #2 – WIDER RIMS REDUCE TIRE DEFLECTION.

Rim Width to Sidewall Stiffnesschart-rim-width-to-sidewall-stiffness

On the left hand side, you have sidewall deflection in inches vs pounds of force on the bottom. The takeaway here is that there are diminishing returns above an internal width of 30 mm for 2.5″ tires. After that point, you are only adding weight.  Myth busted.

When we launched the M Series 60 Forty, we had a specific tire size in mind for all-around trail riding. We were riding 2.1″ – 2.25″ tires and those wheels, with an internal rim width of 23 mm, provided the best traction, to weight, to durability, to sidewall strength of any rim width we tested. Now that we are riding 2.3″ – 2.4″ high volume trail tires, we have launched the M60 High Volume, with an internal rim width of 26mm. The M70 HV, with an internal rim width of 30mm, is optimized for 2.4″ – 2.5″ tires.

SUMMARY

So is wider better? If you are riding higher volume tires, then yes – up to a point. We now know that there are diminishing returns to increasing rim width when it comes to sidewall stiffness and tread width. As you can see below, the new HV wheelsets are just wide enough to provide the best performance, but not so wide that they get heavy – all while maintaining best-in-class durability.

Reducing Tradeoffs
chart-rim-width-vs-weight-competitorNote: Impact values are achieved by dropping a weighted anvil on the built wheel w/ tire in a rigid fixture starting at 4″ and incrementally increasing the drop height by 2″ until rim shows any visible signs of damage.

ENVE Recommends

Pick a wheelset that best compliments your preferred tire for best performance.  If you have questions for us, never hesitate to call 877.358.2869.

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Jimmy Archer

Founder and Editor at DirtTRI.com. Jimmy has been a professional athlete for over 18 years as a runner, cyclist, mountain biker, cross country skier, and primarily, triathlete. Jimmy has a degree in exercise science from the University of Colorado and is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified coach. Jimmy became a freelance writer in 2000 while competing and covering the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championship. Since that time Jimmy has been head editor at two magazines, been published in numerous publications within the endurance sport, recreation, and travel segments. Currently Jimmy is competing professionally in off-road multisport. In his spare time Jimmy passionately follows Formula 1, Moto GP, and is an avid cook.

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