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Old 08-15-06, 11:16 AM   #1
xxchrom
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Noob question about wheels

Since search is disabled right now, I'll just take the plunge and post my potentially silly question...

I've been shopping around for hybrid and comfort bikes for a few weeks and, based on numerous test rides, decided that I really like the feel of 700c wheels better than 26" (although I liked some of the styles and features in both categories). Earlier today I got a fantastic deal on a lightly used 2005 Bianchi Sparta. I'm really excited by my score -- the bike has everything I'm wanting, except it's a 26 incher. It should be fine for now but, later on, can I have the rims changed out for ones that fit 700c tires? I know nothing about all the other mechanics that might be affected or make this switch impossible. Any advice would be much appreciated!

Diana
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Old 08-15-06, 12:40 PM   #2
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No, you cannot replace the 26 inch wheels with 700C wheels in practice. The reasons:
* The 700C wheels are about 1.5 inches larger in radius, and will probably not fit in the frame
* If you change the wheel size significantly, the position of the brake posts will be wrong, and you won't be able to mount a brake that reaches the new new position of the wheels.

The good news is that the performance difference between 26" and 700C *wheels* is very slight... Probably the main reason you preferred 700C is because of the tires: 700C tires tend to be narrower, higher pressure, and slicker than 26" tires, which makes them feel very fast and fun. However, it is very much possible to buy narrow, high-pressure, slick tires for 26" wheels, so you shouldn't have much trouble getting your ride to feel like the ones you tested and enjoyed. For example, try these tires http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=. I used those tires on my mountain bike a couple years ago to make it smooth and fast for road riding.
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Old 08-15-06, 01:14 PM   #3
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Not familiar with your frame or wheels but I believe you probably could rebuild the wheels with 650c rims, tires, and tubes which are nearly the same diameter as your 26"'s, and will perform similar to 700c wheels.

Al
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Old 08-15-06, 01:33 PM   #4
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Not familiar with your frame or wheels but I believe you probably could rebuild the wheels with 650c rims, tires, and tubes which are nearly the same diameter as your 26"'s, and will perform similar to 700c wheels.

Al
Replacing 26" wheels with 650C's makes no sense at all... the sizes are similar, and the wheel diameter does NOT significantly affect the performance for the kind of use we're talking about here.

Moreover, 650C wheels are mostly used by triathletes (since the aerodynamics and weight are SLIGHTLY better). The wheels are expensive, the tires are expensive, and the tires are ONLY available in very narrow sizes: I haven't seen a 650C tire wider than 23 mm for sale. There are plenty of good 28-35 mm 26" tires available, so switching to 650C would be an expensive proposition with no benefits.
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Old 08-15-06, 05:02 PM   #5
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Well, I'm definitely not triathalon material...! Thanks for all the input. I'll try it with the Kendas that are stock and look for some 26" that are a bit narrower perhaps, without being completely smooth. I'm going to be riding on city streets mostly. Maybe some Specialized Nimbus Armadillos? I wonder if they come in different widths?

Thanks, Diana
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Old 08-15-06, 05:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by xxchrom
...and look for some 26" that are a bit narrower perhaps, without being completely smooth. I'm going to be riding on city streets mostly.
Go for the slicks. If you're riding primarily on pavement, with occasional sections of grass or dirt, you do not need tread patterns. The tread gives you no benifit whatsoever for your kind of riding.

Contrary to popular (and incorrect) opinion, the tread will not "grab" the road better for you, neither will it handle better in rain (The weight of a bike + rider is not significant enough for water-repelling tires to benifit in any significant way).

I'm installing slick Bonterager skinwall 26X1.25 tires on my '99 Gary Fisher Tassajara (my basket/grocery beater machine), and I must say, from the few times I've taken the machine out for a spin (it isn't finished - still working on it), I can't praise them enough.

Take care,

-Kurt
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Old 08-15-06, 07:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxchrom
Well, I'm definitely not triathalon material...! Thanks for all the input. I'll try it with the Kendas that are stock and look for some 26" that are a bit narrower perhaps, without being completely smooth. I'm going to be riding on city streets mostly. Maybe some Specialized Nimbus Armadillos? I wonder if they come in different widths?

Thanks, Diana
Beh, depending on your bike you may be able to make the switch. You should post a picture of your bike. Anecdotally I just helped my friend convert his mtb/hybrid (26") to 700c, there are some things to watch out for but it can be done.
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Old 08-15-06, 07:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxchrom
Well, I'm definitely not triathalon material...! Thanks for all the input. I'll try it with the Kendas that are stock and look for some 26" that are a bit narrower perhaps, without being completely smooth. I'm going to be riding on city streets mostly. Maybe some Specialized Nimbus Armadillos? I wonder if they come in different widths?

Thanks, Diana
Here's an article on why completely smooth tires are the best for riding on ANY hard surface: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/slicks.html

It's counter-intuitive, but any kind of tread actually reduces traction on hard surfaces ... that's why most tires have some small amount of tread, simply to reassure buyers
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