Are knobby tires really that much slower?
by Alison Powers, ALP Cycles Coaching
A few weeks ago my friend quarantine teammate, ALP athlete, and ALP designer Daphne, and I did a fun and interesting test. We did this test because the past few times we had been riding bikes together, she was dropping me on the downhills; fairly hard and I wasn't just sitting around coasting. There were a few differences that could be the reason for the dropping. Clothing: I had on baggies and she was wearing spandex. Bikes; we were both on CX/Gravel bikes however, I rode a bike with flat handlebars and she rode a bike with drop bars so she could get into the drops. TIres: I had knobby tires for a mix of single track, loose dirt, and snow. She had tires with no knobbies.
We decided to do a test. Let's limit all the other factors minus tires. Riders agonizing time and brain drain over tire selection for racing. We were going to get to the bottom of it. Are knobby tires really that much slower?
For the testing we both: