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Old 03-01-08, 08:48 AM   #1
Schwinnrider
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Why not more 26" wheeled road bikes?

And when I say road bikes, I don't mean road racing bikes. Racing is the domain of the skinny tire. I mean why not more touring/commuting/cyclocross bikes with smaller wheels? Yes, it would help short guys like me, but it seems like stouter wheels and fatter tires would help in other instances, too. I remember the Bridgestone XO series, which now has reached cult status. Have you seen the prices on an XO-1 on eBay lately? Used ones regularly sell for as much or more than when new.

Surly and Rivendell seem to have it right, at least with smaller frame sizes. But I look at other builders and I think they just don't understand the needs of the shorter rider. Raleigh has the One Way and the Sojourn---and I guarantee you those fendered bikes have serious toe clip overlap in 53cm or smaller. I know it would be a bit of a logistical problem, but smaller bikes work better with smaller frames----especially bikes intended to be fendered.

There is the 650b movement(if you can call it a movement), but I don't see a major company jumping on that bandwagon any time soon.
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Old 03-01-08, 09:56 AM   #2
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My wife has a Rivendell Wilbury mixte with 650B wheels. Since my Atlantis is a 58cm it comes with 700c wheels, but as you mentioned the smaller sizes are 26" wheeled.

I think a lot of it has to do with some fear that the general riding public just wouldn't get it and expects 700c wheels on road bikes... even touring bikes. Most bike manufacturers like to separate their different models into distinct categories, and they might be afraid that people wouldn't understand how the same model could come with both 26" and 700c wheels... or how 26" and 700c wheels could even be in the same category together. That and then there is the perception that a 700c wheeled bike is faster. Many people are afraid that 650B wheels or 26" wheels will slow them down, when they will plenty fast with the right tires.

There are other companies starting to offer smaller wheels on smaller frames, and even 650B wheels on larger frames. Unfortunately most tend to be expensive bikes like Rivendells, but not all. The Kogswell P/R frame uses 650B and costs about $650 for the frame. Even Rivendell's Bleriot is available at that price and takes 650B. The A.N.T. XO is another bike that you can order with different wheels depending on the size... even as small as 20" wheels according to the website; but it costs about what a Rivendell Atlantis frame costs.

I'm kind of amazed at how many companies, at least the boutique bicycle companies, are offering 650B options these days. I guess they are doing it for the same reason Rivendell did: 700c was too large for the smaller frames, 26" were too small for the larger frames, but 650B are just right for almost all sizes. Hopefully this means 650B rims and tires will be easy to find for many years to come. I really like the 650Bs on my wife's bike.

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Old 03-01-08, 10:14 AM   #3
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My wife has a Rivendell Wilbury mixte with 650B wheels. Since my Atlantis is a 58cm it comes with 700c wheels, but as you mentioned the smaller sizes are 26" wheeled.

I think a lot of it has to do with some fear that the general riding public just wouldn't get it and expects 700c wheels on road bikes... even touring bikes. Most bike manufacturers like to separate their different models into distinct categories, and they might be afraid that people wouldn't understand how the same model could come with both 26" and 700c wheels... or how 26" and 700c wheels could even be in the same category together. That and then there is the perception that a 700c wheeled bike is faster. Many people are afraid that 650B wheels or 26" wheels will slow them down, when they will plenty fast with the right tires.

There are other companies starting to offer smaller wheels on smaller frames, and even 650B wheels on larger frames. Unfortunately most tend to be expensive bikes like Rivendells, but not all. The Kogswell P/R frame uses 650B and costs about $650 for the frame. Even Rivendell's Bleriot is available at that price and takes 650B. The A.N.T. XO is another bike that you can order with different wheels depending on the size... even as small as 20" wheels according to the website; but it costs about what a Rivendell Atlantis frame costs.

I'm kind of amazed at how many companies, at least the boutique bicycle companies, are offering 650B options these days. I guess they are doing it for the same reason Rivendell did: 700c was too large for the smaller frames, 26" were too small for the larger frames, but 650B are just right for almost all sizes. Hopefully this means 650B rims and tires will be easy to find for many years to come. I really like the 650Bs on my wife's bike.

Sean
I think 26" wheel s are fine on small sizes, but I'm 6'6" and wheels that small make the bike look dumb.

I favor offering different wheel options for different sizes of frames.
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Old 03-01-08, 10:18 AM   #4
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How about 20"?
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Old 03-01-08, 10:23 AM   #5
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I LOL'd.
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Old 03-01-08, 10:24 AM   #6
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I think 26" wheel s are fine on small sizes, but I'm 6'6" and wheels that small make the bike look dumb.

I favor offering different wheel options for different sizes of frames.
That's exactly what the original poster is proposing, and what the manufacturers he mentioned have already been doing for years. The examples he brings up: Bridgestone, Rivendell, Surly... they put 26" wheels on the touring/all-rounder frames that are roughly 56cm and smaller. On frames larger than that they use 700c.

650B wheels can fit a wider range of frames without clearance problems, so most 650B bikes come with 650B for all sizes.
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Old 03-01-08, 03:23 PM   #7
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It probably has something to do with demand. I know for me I am 5'9" and ride 54cm road bikes. If it comes with a 26" wheel I have no interest in it. Hence the fact that I no longer have an interest in an LHT.
I want bigger wheels not smaller. Give me a 32" wheel please!
700cc rolls better in my uninformed opinion. Plus, much easier to find parts.
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Old 03-01-08, 04:29 PM   #8
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700cc rolls better in my uninformed opinion. Plus, much easier to find parts.

You're kidding right? You can walk into any Wally world and find lots of 26" tubes and tires but never a 700c.
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Old 03-01-08, 05:50 PM   #9
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I don't shop at wally world
Duh...

Edit:
Though you do have a point. I was a wee bit lightheaded after my ride this afternoon. Due to the availabilty and how common mountain bikes are those parts are easily available. I retract that point.
So, no I was not kidding. Just a wee bit tired.
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Old 03-01-08, 05:58 PM   #10
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Due to the availabilty and how common mountain bikes are those parts are easily available. I retract that point.
Yes if you want knobbies on your 26" roadie
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Old 03-01-08, 06:13 PM   #11
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They have other tires for MTBs besides knobbies.
Not that I have a clue what xmart stocks.

Now if someone else contradicts me heads will roll.

700cc> 26"
..but why do I own a 26" mtb and not a 29er?
meh
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Old 03-01-08, 06:18 PM   #12
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..but why do I own a 26" mtb and not a 29er?
meh
You don't want to deal w/ toe overlap?
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Old 03-01-08, 06:27 PM   #13
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A thin road tire on a 26" wheel gives harsh ride quality.

I just put 700C wheels on my mountain bike.
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Old 03-01-08, 07:09 PM   #14
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It probably has something to do with demand. I know for me I am 5'9" and ride 54cm road bikes. If it comes with a 26" wheel I have no interest in it. Hence the fact that I no longer have an interest in an LHT.
I want bigger wheels not smaller. Give me a 32" wheel please!
700cc rolls better in my uninformed opinion. Plus, much easier to find parts.
You right. A 700cc wheel will roll better and feel more comforatable than a 26' inch wheel. This is why mountain biking is headed for the 29' inch wheel and this will bring about the death of the 26' for single track in the next 20 years. I can't wait for the 800cc road bike but we first much get UCI to approve the larger size. ;-(
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Old 03-01-08, 09:26 PM   #15
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There are road bikes with 20" tires. I've seen them listed on Chinese B2B pages. They have drop bars and look like any other road bike except instead of 700c or 27 X 1 1/4 tires you see 20" tires and wheels. Pretty strange looking the first time you see one. There made for use where roads are very poor or not available, yet there still capable of speeds as fast as road bikes with 700c wheels.
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Old 03-01-08, 09:30 PM   #16
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There are road bikes with 20" tires. I've seen them listed on Chinese B2B pages. They have drop bars and look like any other road bike except instead of 700c or 27 X 1 1/4 tires you see 20" tires and wheels. Pretty strange looking the first time you see one. There made for use where roads are very poor or not available, yet there still capable of speeds as fast as road bikes with 700c wheels.

There are bikes called mini-velos in Japan which are what you describe. Bianchi makes a line just for Japan, which is a shame because I think they could be accepted here.
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Old 03-01-08, 09:47 PM   #17
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I normally commute on a 2006 Specialized expedition with 26" wheels and the Armadillo 1.5" width tires. Now admitedly its not a racer and its not supposed to be but it works for me as a really great commuter now it originally came with some super wide traillike tire and after the first time I rode it to work I changed over to the narrower tires and the ability to run more pressure. Seems to me it was more the absence of tread and higher pressure that made the bike a lot quicker than it was, not the diameter but then I can't fit 700c on it so I'll never know how that change would affect it.
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Old 03-01-08, 09:58 PM   #18
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A thin road tire on a 26" wheel gives harsh ride quality.

I just put 700C wheels on my mountain bike.
While it is true that given the same width tire a larger wheel will offer more comfort than a smaller wheel, most 26" road tires aren't that thin and you can run them a cushy 50-75psi and they are still pretty fast. Not racing fast, but just fine for most commutes. The tire makes a big difference. In my opinion anything skinnier than 700x27 is going to be harsh. I have skinny tires on my racing bike, and 700x37 tires on my commuter. If I ride the skinny tires at anything less than 95psi I'll get a pinch flat. The 700x37s can run in the 40s with no problem (although I usually run them at 65-75psi). It's nice to have commuting tires that you don't have to check for proper air pressure before every ride... and you can make them much more comfortable. I guess my point is that the tire makes a bigger diff than the wheel size in both speed and comfort. For most road riding, the larger wheels give you more tire options and are more comfortable at high pressures. So if you have a larger frame the 700c makes sense. However for smaller frames clearance for fatter tires, fenders, and toes becomes more important. You don't have to sacrifice speed or comfort by going with the smaller wheels. At least not to the degree that they will make a difference for commuting and touring.

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Old 03-01-08, 11:21 PM   #19
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I have an old Rockhopper set up as a fixed urban bike with 1.25 slicks. I would not want to have to take it on a century, but it is unbeatable for around town. My only complaint with it is that the frame is a bit heavier than it needs to be for my use. I am building up a XO-1 frame that I found and am looking forward to having the ultimate urban bike. Light frame plus the light wheels I am building for it will make it fly.

I also think that there is a market for these kinds of bikes. They are a pleasure to ride.

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Old 03-02-08, 06:44 AM   #20
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They have other tires for MTBs besides knobbies.
Not that I have a clue what xmart stocks.
But we are talking about a 26" baed road bike here. I have yet to see something like a 26x25c size tire stocked anywhere. Closest would be a 26"x1.25" slicks. I would like to see even a 26" based oadie that could handle that tire.
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Old 03-02-08, 07:38 AM   #21
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There are 26 X 1.0 slicks available- that`d be about 25mm. Going back to the original post, he said touring, commuting, cross- not skinny tire racers. Also in reference to the original post, I agree with a few posts above suggesting that manufacturers put out what`s going to sell. I like 26 too, but I think a lot of folks go with the "bigger is better" theory. On the bright side, there are plenty of mtb and hybrid frames out there designed for 26 inch wheels that do a good job as commuters or tourers with maybe a few component changes and at least a few "roadies" for 26" hoops if you`re willing to shell out the big bucks. Personally, I`d rather see more availible 24" rims and tires. There are many 26" wheeled bikes that sort of fit my 4-10 wife, but they could have a lot more reasonable geometery if they were based on smaller wheels.
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Old 03-02-08, 09:33 AM   #22
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A thin road tire on a 26" wheel gives harsh ride quality.
Please explain this obvious piece of mis-information.
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Old 03-02-08, 01:43 PM   #23
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Thorn explains this pretty well. They say that a bike fitted with 26" wheels with tires equivellent in width and pressures of a 700/25 was much less comfortable than the 700/25. They recommend running 26" wheels, as they have on most of their bikes, but recommend not running skinny tires, but tires with more volume such as 1.75.
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Old 03-02-08, 02:25 PM   #24
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I replaced the stock 26x2 knobbies on my Trek MTB with 26x1.6 Conti road slicks, $18 per online, and the bike went from an ungainly pig to a swift city cruiser. It helps that I can run those Conti's at 80-90 psi, when I and my bookbag pack about 225 lbs. on that machine. My other Trek hybrid has 700x38s and they're just right for me. Anything under 1 inch makes me nervous.
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Old 03-02-08, 02:55 PM   #25
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Funny that this thread showed up now. It's big-trash pickup week, in my neighborhood and someone put out a 1987 Murray Image (dated by the Shimano component code). It's your basic, mid-80s, x-mart, lugged steel, 10-speed road bike. Except that it has 26" wheels.

I think I'm going to use the narrow rims to set up one of my MTBs as a street rig.
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