How to Select the Perfect Width For Gravel Bike Rim 

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If you’re working on a frame with a 140mm rear end, then ideally you’ll want to run a 35mm wide rim. This will give you enough clearance around the inner chainring of your cassette meaning that there won’t be any rubbing issues.

If you need to go wider than 35mm then it’s best to stay below 40mm. Any smaller than 30mm and you’ll start having issues with clearance around the front derailleur where there isn’t much room left over from the chainrings themselves.

The gravel trend has brought tire widths of up to 55mm – which is the width most commonly found on touring bikes.

Gravel bike rims can be a little confusing, because they’re not road bike rims, they’re not mountain bike rims and they’re not cyclocross bike rims. In fact, gravel bikes aren’t really designed for any one specific kind of riding. They are best suited for on-road and off-road excursions that are more about exploring the back roads and dirt paths than racing or going fast.

Because these bikes are so versatile with their size options (remember: there is no perfect width!), it’s all about personal preference when you’re narrowing down what to choose. But here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If your tire is wider than 35mm or so, it may feel like you’re getting off-road performance on pavement but still have much better handling than road tires would provide;
  • For those who want the maximum amount of traction available while still maintaining the speed advantage of a narrow tire, go with something in between 28mm – 32mm;
  • If you prefer a faster ride over anything else at all costs (maybe even sacrificing comfort), look into getting something as wide as 40mm+!

But you can’t go faster with a rim just because it’s wider.

But you can’t go faster with a rim just because it’s wider. As mentioned above, a wider rim will have more surface area and therefore may allow for more tire volume, which could in turn mean better traction and comfort. However, this doesn’t mean that all gravel bikes should have wider rims—there are other factors to consider as well.

Wider rims can also be used on road bikes as well as mountain bikes, but they’re not necessarily appropriate for every road bike or mountain bike ride you take. A good rule of thumb is to choose the width of your wheel based on what kind of terrain you’ll be riding over most frequently: if your rides include both paved roads and unpaved trails (like dirt roads), then choosing a wheel with an intermediate width between 28 mm and 40 mm is probably best; however if each ride consists primarily of smooth pavement then maybe choose something closer to 28 mm instead? You get the idea!

Aerodynamic drag dominates up until a certain 20-25mph depending on the conditions.

You may have heard that aerodynamic drag is the most important factor in road bike performance. While this is true, and it can be quite influential at higher speeds—particularly over long straight sections of road—it’s not the only thing to take into consideration when selecting your rim width. In fact, for gravel bikes, aerodynamic drag may not even be the most important factor in determining your perfect rim width!

Beyond that and rolling resistance takes over.

Rolling resistance is a function of the size of the tyre and the pressure you run it at. The larger the tyre and the higher the pressure, the more rolling resistance you’ll have. Conversely, if you lower your tyre pressure, then there will be less rolling resistance.

When you’re riding at faster speeds, it’s rolling resistance and aerodynamics that matter more than weight.

The primary benefit of wider rims is that they have a larger air volume, which means less pressure is required to inflate them. This can be important for riders who are carrying heavy loads or riding in remote areas where there aren’t many sources of compressed air. However, this benefit does not outweigh the benefits of a narrower rim if you’re planning on riding at higher speeds and don’t have any weight restrictions or need to carry extra gear with you.

When you’re riding at faster speeds, it’s rolling resistance and aerodynamics that matter more than weight. The closer your tire’s contact patch is to the ground, the less air drag there will be—and when it comes down to rolling resistance (resistance felt while coasting), most cyclists agree that deeper rims help keep tires closer to the ground…

Wider tyres have less rounded profiles and are more energy efficient of moving over by flexing less side to side.

Wider tyres have less rounded profiles and are more energy efficient of moving over by flexing less side to side.

The wider you go, the more energy your rim will store when impacted from the sides, which can help with those tight cornering moments where your bike is leaned over and your tires are forcing their way into contact with the ground. Wider rims also offer better aerodynamics because they reduce wind drag by reducing turbulence.

They require lower pressures to roll and also roll faster at higher pressure as well.

If you’re riding on roads, gravel and dirt paths, then a wider rim will give you a smoother ride. They require lower pressures to roll and also roll faster at higher pressure as well.

They’re also better for heavier riders as they distribute more of the rider’s weight over the relatively small contact area of their tires. This means that there’s less strain on each individual point of the tire tread which leads to less wear over time.

Wider rims are great for off-road conditions because they provide more surface area for gripping onto loose rocks or dirt while moving through rough terrain like mountain passes or trails with roots protruding up from them (or even just regular old potholes).

The pressure at which we run these tyres depends on soil conditions, how hard our bikes are and how much we weigh as well as personal preference.

Pressure: The pressure at which we run these tyres depends on soil conditions, how hard our bikes are and how much we weigh as well as personal preference. Soil conditions play a big role in how much air pressure to pump into the tyres. If the ground is soft, then you’ll need less air than if it were harder or dryer.

The same goes for your bike’s frame; carbon-framed bikes tend to be lighter than aluminium ones and thus require less pressure in their tyres. And finally, there’s your weight; the heavier you are means that more air will probably be needed so that you don’t bottom out (in other words, hit the rim).

On softer ground, you’ll get the maximum traction from wider rims because it’s easier for the tyre to deform around them.

On softer ground, you’ll get the maximum traction from wider rims because it’s easier for the tyre to deform around them. When you’re riding on soft terrain, the tyre has more room to move around within the rim bed. A wider rim will retain its shape better than a narrow one so that when your tyres are squirming about inside of it during cornering or braking, they won’t break away from the surface of your rims and lose any grip whatsoever.

You might be thinking that this is all well and good when riding on smooth roads but what if you’re doing some off-roading? Well, as we mentioned before: wider rims will give you more clearance between yourself and obstacles under hard braking or cornering situations. It can also help with traction in muddy conditions because mud sticks less to a wider surface area compared to a narrow one – which means less cleaning after long rides!

It all comes down to what width you can fit into your frame and fork and what conditions you ride in

Let’s break it down. When choosing the right width for your gravel bike rim, you need to consider:

  • The width of your frame and fork
  • Your riding style
  • The conditions you ride in

The best way to find out what width is right for you is by experimenting. Go out and try all different sizes, from the narrowest rims available up until those with a width of 35mm or more. Find a wide range of terrain to ride on and see how each performs in different conditions. This will help you decide which size works best for your style of riding!