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Opinion: Whats the best tire width for electric bike?

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    I've tried to stay minimal and light- as thin as possible- 700x 28 was my e-bike starting point. On my lighter bike with only a front basket I have no plans to change.
    The bike weighs only 42 pounds with 2 hover battery packs but stripped of pump and lock and blinkies, etc. (Can anyone beat that?)

    The other ride is heavier with a rear rack, folding saddlebag baskets, a large silver fish battery, and I can add a front basket if I really want some groceries. I'm getting ready to put a Kenda 32mm on the rear because the 28 tire is wearing rather quickly, yet I've had no problems otherwise.

    I don't want to fall at 65 or be changing tires excessively either, but doubt I'll ever put more than 28mm on the front especially. Mostly smooth semi-urban roads and paths in Jacksonville, and never off-road. Racing taught me with my own body- skinny and hard use less energy.


      I'm a believer that with electric or no, wider is always better unless you are some sort of road racer

      Wider is safer since it won't spill you as easily on bumps, etc. and if you ever go off the hard surfaces even more so

      Some efficiency loss isn't a big deal when you have electric


        I started with the stock Continental 700C 32mm tires on my first build (Priority Eight with a BBSHD motor). Pushed at peak speeds commuting, I wore 'em out in seemingly no time, and switched to Schwalbe 38-40mm tires which are holding up very well. I run 'em about 75% max PSI - I think this pressure level reduces the vibration from the typical tarred gravel roads I'm on.

        All three of my current bikes have tubed Schwalbe guard version tires - 26" by 2.1" Big Ben, 650B by 2.8" Super Moto X, and the mentioned 700C by 40mm Road Cruiser. Very low tread wear and NO flats so far.

        As far as rolling resistance, oddly the Super Moto X bike seem to roll the easiest. I may have a draggy Alfine hub on the 700C bike.

        P.S. On my first, decent bike (early seventies Raleigh International), I rode sew-ups pumped up to over 130lbs - nice rollers, but lousy life, PITA tires. After that, I rode the steadily improving, mid-twenties width 700C clinchers.
        Last edited by ncmired; 05-17-2019, 03:36 PM.
        BBSHD/BBS02B builds: IGH 1 2 3 4 5 6


          I'm very happy with my Schwalbe Big Apple Plus tires.
          I'm going to throw out some tire theory here.
          Tires work by volume of air and air pressure. For the same load a smaller volume tire will need more pressure.
          Footprint is load divided by pressure. 100# load with 100psi=1 square inch footprint. 50 psi=2 square inch 20psi= 5 square inches, etc.
          Ride quality is a function of frequency. The lower the pressure the lower the ride frequency. Smooth ride generally starts at around 30 PSI and less.
          For a suspension to improve ride quality it needs to have a lower frequency than the tires. Most offroad suspensions aren't designed for this. Heavy bikes have a lower frequency with the same tire pressure than light bikes.
          Large tires can have good rolling resistance, but this gets eaten up quickly during acceleration by the extra rotating mass, and at high speeds the aerodynamic drag. That's why human powered bikes use the smallest tire that are suitable for the speed required. For an E bike the considerations are different unless extreme range, or top speed are required. Then the laws of physics will stilll apply. The limits will be different though.Rolling resistance is a very small part of the equation most of the time.
          I personally find a 30PSI tire with a suspension fork ( tuned for soft initial travel) and soft seat post works for me. Bu then I ride on very flat roads. I've never ridden a Fat Bike so I really can't comment. But bigger is better really does have a lot going for it on an e bike. For urban riding I do like the quick handling and maneuverability of a 26" bike I'm not sure the bigger tires would do what I want in that regard.
          Last edited by Retrorockit; 05-17-2019, 02:52 PM.


          • MoneyPit
            MoneyPit commented
            Editing a comment
            I'll take exception to "bigger is always better does not have a lot going for it on an ebike". Assuming that was directed at AZguy's comment. retrorockit you note some unsureness about wider tires in an urban environment, which indicates you haven't ridden a bike with them on. I'll say the following as a cyclist whose first commuter was a 700x19C bike with Avocet slicks on it, and who now has a 29er with 2.1's (tubeless), a new Luna Fixed with 700x35's and a trio of fat 2wd monstrosities with synch'd PAS, no suspension and 4.3" tubed and to 4.8" tubeless tires.
            Riding daily 30+ miles as a commuter, and having done so on a fat bike for the last three years... Bigger is better has a LOT going for it on an ebike. If not an ebike, then fat tires belong overland and in snow where they were meant to be used. But on the street, a fat tire is nothing short of a lifesaver. True, such a bike is a tank. But put those tires down to about 12 psi and pair them up to about 4 kw (1750w BBSHD and 2kw front geared hub) and a tank simply runs over things it cannot get around and you may not even notice. On my fat-ish 700x35's pumped to 85 psi... not even freaking close in terms of stability at speed (30 mph cruise). And on those 35's I had sure better go around stuff I would have just rolled over obliviously with a bike wearing 4.8" tubeless Snowshoes. And the not-so-exotic fattie wearing 90mm carbon deep dish wheels powered by a single BBSHD... Same conclusion, although that bike feels nimble by comparison to the 2wd freight trains. Retrorockit you obviously understand about sidewalls and tire pressure and load etc... Absent experience to the contrary you're going to have to take it on faith from those who are doing it: Fat tires are ideal on urban commuters.

          I'm pleased with my Continental tires but will replace them with Schwalbe Super Moto-X soon.
          Trek Roscoe w/ BBS02, mt wheels, conti 700c tyres


            I'm looking at Maxxis Minions in 26x4.8" for the next set


              Here are some Minions for you. They are noisy on pavement.

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              • AZguy
                AZguy commented
                Editing a comment
                Ordered the 4.8 minions yesterday =]

              The bulldozers I'm running aren't likely much quieter Click image for larger version  Name:	evil.gif Views:	1 Size:	343 Bytes ID:	87257

              Yup, that's what I'm thinkin' Click image for larger version  Name:	nod.gif Views:	4 Size:	990 Bytes ID:	87258

              Although there's no way the 4.8's are fitting a rad and I'm digging the biggies - these will be for my boris
              With rad I've got 4.0's a lot less noisy and more suitable for rad terrain
              Last edited by AZguy; 05-21-2019, 06:17 PM.


              • AZguy
                AZguy commented
                Editing a comment
                Makes sense with the snowhoes... the black bulldozers are likely longer lasting and while I did manage 2000mi I'm not going to let these go so long - the last ones were handling very poorly at the end and even though I knew it when I put the new ones on it was hilarious how bad they really were with the A/B comparison

                That still sounds better than the bulldozers - I expected they would be worse so even if they work out about the same I'll be happy!

                The look more aggressive but in the end the percentage of surface that's tread may be pretty close to the same with just larger knobs so larger gaps and if the knobs are deeper then it sort of makes sense

                I remember finding tires like that for my really large DP motos - I had a R1100GS with DOT knobbies but the knobs were much larger than the other DOT knobbies I'd been running and with the smaller knobs would fall apart even on my 650... amazing how well those large knobbed ones handled on the street too
                Last edited by AZguy; 05-25-2019, 01:18 PM.

              • MoneyPit
                MoneyPit commented
                Editing a comment
                As expected based on what I am seeing here and observed on the bike over the last couple of months... my Snowshoes are going to get burned up quick. Especially in the summer months. Always seems like tires go faster when its hot. And here its really hot. We've already had a couple days over 100 fahrenheit.

                I have been extremely please with the Minions on my 29er. 2.3's there I think. I have two more spare snowshoes so it will be awhile until its time to find a new brand but Minions are high on the list.

              • AZguy
                AZguy commented
                Editing a comment
                My minions showed up and look very nice but I think the bulldozers will get me through most of the summer - it gets too hot to ride a lot much past July... I'll still ride but mostly just evening rides close to home and some mountain runs on the weekends

              I'm digging that recumbent in the background. Mostly because I wouldn't dare ride one on the street here in South Florida.


                Originally posted by Retrorockit View Post
                I'm digging that recumbent in the background. Mostly because I wouldn't dare ride one on the street here in South Florida.
                I was just North of Tampa for 10 weeks. I put 2000 miles on my Electra fat cruiser and a KMX trike ALL on bike paths.

                That trike in the background is my new HP Velotechnik fp 26 Scorpion. I just finished phase 1. I was going to do a small build thread but I haven't gotten any comments on a few of my other recent posts so I may not bother.


                  A recumbent E bike would have range, and speed going for it. But without a place to take advantage of it I don't see one in my future. I think it's a cool project. But I don't think you'll see very many of them.
                  Comments are kind of funny here. I've got a couple DIY build threads with 1500 views each, and almost no comments. I got 1 "like" for a flat tire at night with a 5 mile walk home! If you post it I bet a lot of people will read it.
                  Last edited by Retrorockit; 05-23-2019, 04:50 AM.


                    What I have been doing for recreation since I retired is putting an ebike in my truck and hauling it to different bike paths. I can tolerate about an hour of driving one way. When I was down in Florida I would scout a path with my bike and the if the path was suitable I would follow up with my trike.

                    So no one will accuse us of hijacking a thread...….. I just installed 2 Maxxis Mammoth 4.0 X 26 tires on my Electra Fat and I am getting some exciting results.

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                    I will give a report in a couple of weeks when I have more info...……… There is nothing better than a Fat-bike with electricity.....except maybe a Trike with electricity.


                      Sorry no motor. batteries probably wouldn't work at -30* anyway.


                        I must have hit on a perfect combo with this bike. Since I installed the Maxxis Mammoths the bike has gotten incredibly efficient. I was not looking for this. It just sort of fell into my lap.

                        I went on a relaxed 40 mile run with my oldest daughter. She was riding my BBSHD Electra Cruiser with Schwabe Big Apples. It was a good mix of paved streets and bike trails for this area and I got 15.5 Watts per mile!! If I am by myself and going a little faster I'll get about 17 Watts per mile but if I am going still faster and doing a lot of sand ,mud and off road it won't get worse than 19 Watts per mile.

                        My batteries total 31 amp/hours and if you figure out the watts available and use a conservative 20 Watts per mile I come up with at least 110 miles.
                        The only explanation is the center strip on the tires that the bike is running on and maybe I have hit on a perfect combination with this motor winding and tire size. I can pedal this bike at 25mph with 500 watts of assist. It does not make any sense but I love it.

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                        I installed Nord-Lock washers on the rear axle and toned down the regeneration so everything will stay tight back there. I'm hardly using any brake pad material at all. 95% of my braking is done with the regen. This is another big plus


                          Recently I decided to go in the opposite direction and I'm going to give Vee Chicane's a shot. I have to pull my main bike out of service for a couple weeks while I send my custom battery back for service (lost a cell so a 14s is now a 13S... probably a busted weld). While its down I will take the time to pull off each wheel and service both motors. When they both go back on, they will be wearing 3.5" Chicanes.

                          The genuinely 4.8" Snowshoes are fun but they are just damn noisy, vibration is a bit past my limit and perhaps even a tad slow on pavement (shocker) ... Usually I take that noise as a good thing warning mindless bipedal boneheads to stay the hell out of the way. But in the distant past I ran on Origin8 Supercells and the blessed smooth silence was... well, blessed. I just hated the fact those tires loved to eat nails. I'm going to try again with the lowest-profile tire I am comfortable with on 80mm rims.

                          For giggles, I will probably try and mount them tubeless with Fattystrippers, which very likely will work just fine so long as I put some orange seal around the bead. Thats how I have the Snowshoes mounted now although those tires are tubeless ready. Worth a try at least once to see what happens.