# Do wider tires let me carry more load?

How much difference does a wider tire make to the load you can carry on your touring bike? And will a wider tire make for a softer, more shock-free ride?

Framebuilder Marten Gerritsen, who runs his own bike building workshop M-gineering in Holland, answers this question for us.

Marten distributes bike parts, builds bike frames in fillet brazed steel and teaches bike maintenance courses to touring cyclists.

The Question: “Is there any load capacity advantage if a rear wheel is fitted with a 2″ tyre, instead of a 1.75″ tyre? Would a larger tyre absorb more of the shock loads?”

The Answer: “Load rating of a tyre is proportional to its width. Taking a look at the popular (and now discontinued) Schwalbe Marathon touring tyre, the rating would change from 125kg to 140kg for your example at max pressure. For a given combination of rider and luggage you can run the bigger tyre at a lower pressure for indeed a more comfy ride.

Note that a wider tyre is taller by about the same amount, so it might not clear the mudguards or fork crown. Also with a wide tyre it is very important not to overinflate, as the stresses bending the rim open might be higher than the rim might stand. This is especially true if the rim is very light or worn away on the braketracks.” -Marten of M-gineering

Thanks to Marten of M-gineering for answering the question. Get in touch to submit a question of your own to Ask A Mechanic.

1. Ronny
12th October 2010 at 7:50 pm #

Is the maximum pressure examples you gave above per tire? Say, if a person weighs in at 110-120 kg with around 20~25 kg of gear… how would the Schwalbe Marathon tires handle that? Heavy wear or easy~piecy?

2. steve
14th October 2010 at 1:17 am #

It’s an interesting question and answer from the mechanic. I weigh 96Kg, my bike about 32-38Kg, and use 1.75″ Vittoria Randonneur Cross tyres on my handbuilt 26″ wheels. Touring Aus over the past three months has taught me that this was a pretty good choice for comfort and road holding, especially over rough surfaces and dirty hard shoulder drop-offs. I wouldn’t go under 1.5″ for myself and this particular MTB tourer, but still I wonder how much less rolling resistance I would gain.

The lower pressure for comfort Vs higher pressure for less rolling resistance would be one of terrain I guess. But I suppose going to far either way can give you problems.

3. steve
14th October 2010 at 1:18 am #

It’s an interesting question and answer from the mechanic. I weigh 96Kg, my bike about 32-38Kg, and use 1.75″ Vittoria Randonneur Cross tyres on my handbuilt 26″ wheels. Touring Aus over the past three months has taught me that this was a pretty good choice for comfort and road holding, especially over rough surfaces and dirty hard shoulder drop-offs. I wouldn’t go under 1.5″ for myself and this particular MTB tourer, but still I wonder how much less rolling resistance I would gain.

The lower pressure for comfort Vs higher pressure for less rolling resistance would be one of terrain I guess. But I suppose going to far either way can give you problems.

4. Naram
12th August 2011 at 5:08 am #

What a convoluted answer…