Where have all the real men (and 23mm tyres) gone?

Whatever happened to the 23mm tyre? It seems over the last few years it’s fallen out of favour and replaced with wider, softer, higher volume rubber. It’s coincided with bikes going soft too. Bring back the skinny I say! Bring back the days of stiff-as-a-board race pedigree road bikes rolling on skinny tyres pumped up to the max.

Instead, we’ve got “comfort” and “endurance” and other soft, namby pamby bikes and tyres being marketed to us. Acceleration and aerodynamics have taken a back seat to (apparent) rolling resistance and comfy compliance.

These days it’s not uncommon to see 28mm, or even 30-32mm tyres on the club ride. Seriously. What are these guys thinking? This isn’t a retirement village round-the-block cruise. This is where we drop the hammer! We’re on a slippery slope to seeing guys rock up with gel padded saddles or suspension seat posts. These same slackers probably like sleeping in waterbeds or lazing in heated pools on inflatable banana lounges.

Oh how I long for a Continental GP4000S II 23mm tyre! * Bring back the skinny! **

I blame the endurance bike craze (I actually blame gravel, but that’s a whole other rant). Comfort? Who’s asking for comfort? Comfort is for the WEAK! If I wanted comfort, I’d buy a laid back cruiser and toddle on down to the beachfront boardwalk. I want raw speed and acceleration!

When I stomp hard on the pedals, I don’t want comfort. I don’t want squish. I want my bike to rocket ahead with every ounce of my energy transferred into pure forward momentum, crushing every poor soul around me. No plump girly-man tyre is going to give me that, is it? Bring back the skinny!


* Yes, I am aware you can still buy 23mm Conti tyres.

** These days, I actually run 26mm tyres on my Canyon Aeroad and 25mm tyres on my time trial bike. Sue me…

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Guilty. I ride 33.3mm tyres at the moment. 28mm if I need more speed. I don’t own a road bike anymore though. Not missed it either

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just running a tyre that isn’t a full mm measurement is a travesty in itself! What’s with the point three? Whyyyy?!?! 🤣🤣🤣


      1. I like to be different lol. Honestly do miss a fast 23 or 25mm though when slogging along on my tractor tyres. I justify it though by dreaming how fast I would be


  2. The Omil says:

    Thank goodness my Rose road bike protected me (partly) from myself in refusing to have clearance for anything beyond 25mm

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Same with my Trek! 😅


  3. bike.brain says:

    What if you could get comfort and speed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s crazy talk!


  4. Back in the day, my Ciocc and Pinarello rolled on 18mm 130 psi silk casing folding tires with latex tubes. 28H spoked wheels too. And a straight block corncob out back for gearing choices. All seven of them were access via friction shifted Campy Super Record shifters and mech.
    Don’t miss a bit of it beyond the level of fitness nearly 40 years have withered away.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave Dove says:

    At nudging 70 distance is the important metric for me now and I need my Endurance (definitely not Gravel) bike to do the distances (albeit very slowly). My tyres are 25mm but I’ll instantly lose any credibility when I tell you they’re Marathon Schwalbe plus ‘punctureless’ tyres!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My 32 year old Davidson is still rolling on 23 mm Contis. My “new” bike is on 25s but it is taking me across North America. Maybe a wee bit of comfort is in order.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think 25’s are a good compromise.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. bikeplans says:

    This was too good. Haha. I run 32mm GP 5000’s. And in the winter it gets worse I take those off and run 32mm GravelKings with 60psi. And this is all on a Canyon Ultimate. It’s gotten so comfortable I don’t even use bike shorts on my mountain bike rides anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 32mm? Gravel kings? 60psi? 😱 My eyes are bleeding just from reading that! 😭😂


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