In recent years, the trend in wheels and tyres has taught us that wider is better. As new wheels come to market, the marketing team will happily follow the lead of modern riders who prefer bigger tyres for more comfort. At the same time, the engineers involved continue to show concrete advantages. Wheels are more stable in crosswinds when the exterior is wider with a rounder point. Pairing wider wheels with wider tyres makes the whole system aerodynamically faster. Given all this, wheels and tyres have steadily grown.
Over the last few years, the informal standard has shifted. Around 2020 the vast majority of new wheels coming to market had a 19mm internal width and most people would have paired that with a 25mm tyre. By 2023, things have shifted to a new informal standard of 21mm wheels paired with 28mm tyres and another shift seems to be on the horizon. The most forward-thinking wheel manufacturers started to not only build hookless wheels but have also been expanding the internal width from 21mm up to 25mm. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, something changed.
The new recommendation
When you head to the local bike shop and pick up a new set of tyres, you probably don’t think too much about the infrastructure behind that purchase. There’s a brand of tyre you like and you buy the desired size for your application. That tyre size you chose, and the way it fits your wheel, is actually pretty complicated though.
There’s an organisation out there that helps make sure everyone is measuring things the same way and the measurements are comparable. You can think of the ETRTO, European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation, as a measure against the proliferation of competing standards. The ETRTO describes the goals of the organisation as there to “achieve interchangeability of pneumatic tyres, rims and valves” and “establish common engineering dimensions, load / pressure characteristics and operational guidelines.”
The ETRTO is actually a much larger organisation that covers a wide range of almost anything that has wheels and tyres. Bikes are just one small piece of the larger puzzle but the system works the same way. The ETRTO is not an entity that stands alone. Instead, it is a loose collection of members with membership “open to any manufacturer of tyres (pneumatic and/or solid), rims or valves, and whose manufacturing facilities are located in Europe”
The ETRTO does…
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