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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 05-14-08, 02:15 PM   #1
bellweatherman
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Why is it so hard to find commuting bikes with 26" wheels?

Looking around lately in the bike shops for a good commuting bike and seems like the vast majority of commuting bikes are built around a 700c road tire. This doesn't really make any sense to me. In my mind, a 26" wheel is far more appropriate for the majority of commuters.

A 26" MTB wheelsize is more maneuverable. Smooth tires are no longer difficult to find for 26" MTB sized wheels. In fact, you can get really wide fat tires that can handle any city pothole type riding, plus it would be ooh so comfortable. And with a rear rack on a bike built for 26" MTB rims would mean a lower center of gravity. 26" tires and tubes are far more available than 700c tires and tubes, especially in developing countries. Better tires, more comfort, better for use with a rack. What's not to like? Can someone tell me why commuting bikes are so hard to find commuting bikes w/ 26" wheels?
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Old 05-14-08, 02:19 PM   #2
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Because 700c wheels are designed for road and speed? And, 26" is smaller... a larger wheel size is equal to greater tangential speed I believe... vt = r*omega, where vt is tangential velocity, r is radius and omega is angular velocity. Radius is proportional to speed.

I guess the thinking is that a commuter should be a comfortable road bike meant to handle paved roads as opposed to warzone terrain. What they don't take into account that most of the paved roads around here is warzone terrain.
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Old 05-14-08, 02:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bellweatherman View Post
Looking around lately in the bike shops for a good commuting bike and seems like the vast majority of commuting bikes are built around a 700c road tire. This doesn't really make any sense to me. In my mind, a 26" wheel is far more appropriate for the majority of commuters.

A 26" MTB wheelsize is more maneuverable. Smooth tires are no longer difficult to find for 26" MTB sized wheels. In fact, you can get really wide fat tires that can handle any city pothole type riding, plus it would be ooh so comfortable. And with a rear rack on a bike built for 26" MTB rims would mean a lower center of gravity. 26" tires and tubes are far more available than 700c tires and tubes, especially in developing countries. Better tires, more comfort, better for use with a rack. What's not to like? Can someone tell me why commuting bikes are so hard to find commuting bikes w/ 26" wheels?
I think it's hard to say what's appropriate for the majority of commuters since individual situations vary so widely. I also think that by the time you put a big wide tire on a 26" rim, you've eliminated any increase in maneuverability and significantly reduced the advantage in center of gravity. If you include the tires when measuring there isn't much difference in the diameter between my road bike wheels and my MTB wheels.
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Old 05-14-08, 02:32 PM   #4
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Yeah, I'd like to make it to work on time, but it's not like I'm in a race. I mean, I don't think that most people buying commuting bike are evaluating two different size bikes going, "hey which one is faster?" That just doesn't seem like that would be realistic.

There is one thing though. MTB smooth tires are ALOT more comfy than road tires. You can get the MTB tires alot wider and fatter which makes them alot more comfrotable. Seems like commuters would be more interested in comfort than speed.
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Old 05-14-08, 02:40 PM   #5
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I like how Surly does it with the Long Haul Trucker. 26" wheels on the smaller frame sizes and 700c wheels on the larger frame sizes. Makes sense to me.

Some of the boutique brands have 650B wheeled commuter style bikes. Those wheels are similar to 26 inch MTB wheels (with street tires). I'm not a 650B fan, but they do address the OP's issue.

Edit: 1980's steel rigid fork mountain bikes make good commuters. Find a nice used Specialized Hardrock or Rockhopper.

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Old 05-14-08, 02:45 PM   #6
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Looking around lately in the bike shops for a good commuting bike and seems like the vast majority of commuting bikes are built around a 700c road tire. This doesn't really make any sense to me. In my mind, a 26" wheel is far more appropriate for the majority of commuters.

A 26" MTB wheelsize is more maneuverable. Smooth tires are no longer difficult to find for 26" MTB sized wheels. In fact, you can get really wide fat tires that can handle any city pothole type riding, plus it would be ooh so comfortable. And with a rear rack on a bike built for 26" MTB rims would mean a lower center of gravity. 26" tires and tubes are far more available than 700c tires and tubes, especially in developing countries. Better tires, more comfort, better for use with a rack. What's not to like? Can someone tell me why commuting bikes are so hard to find commuting bikes w/ 26" wheels?
It's just a matter of looking. What you describe is a Breezer Town bike to a "T"

http://www.breezerbikes.com/index.cf...TOKEN=58479677
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Old 05-14-08, 02:53 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=bellweatherman;6694285Can someone tell me why commuting bikes are so hard to find commuting bikes w/ 26" wheels?
[/QUOTE]

Where are you looking? They're all over the place.
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Old 05-14-08, 02:55 PM   #8
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There is one thing though. MTB smooth tires are ALOT more comfy than road tires. You can get the MTB tires alot wider and fatter which makes them alot more comfrotable. Seems like commuters would be more interested in comfort than speed.
How wide do you really need? You can get plenty of 37-45mm 700 tires. My "mountain bike" tires are 1.75" = 45mm. Personally I don't find big tires to be more "comfortable" than my 25mm tires on pavement. I have some 38s around I can swap in for gravel or off-roading.
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Old 05-14-08, 03:06 PM   #9
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Where are you looking? They're all over the place.

That's weird. I haven't seen hardly any 26" wheel commuters in the bike shops. Most of the bike shops have 700c commuters. What brands have a 26" wheel purpose-built commuter?

Trek has 700c commuters
Specialized 700c commuters.
Swobo 700c commuters
Electra 700c commuters
where are the 26" commuters?

Oh and really wide 26" tires are good. I tried some Schwalbe fat apples in a 26x2.3" and they are sooooo comfy. Floating over any rough pavement is a breeze.
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Old 05-14-08, 03:11 PM   #10
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My Breezer has 26" tires that are 1.5" wide. I have a small frame size so it feels just right for me.
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Old 05-14-08, 03:11 PM   #11
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Some 26" wheel bikes.

Cannondale European Series

Surly Long Haul Trucker (In the smaller sizes)
Thorn Cycles
Masi Soulville

Having ridden 700cc and 26" wheels, I can tell that you can cruise better with the 700cc and high pressure tires. However, if commuting in an urban area with repeated stops due to traffic control, intersections, and no shoulder, etc. it minimizes the speed factor. I think 26" wheels are better for climbing, quick-evasive moves, and accelerating from a stop. Also, as far as, small stature riders (like me ) riding a frame with smaller wheels helps to give a better geometry. Small frame bikes with 700cc wheels all to often have to move the seat tube to a more vertical point where you hip placement to the pedals causes you to lose power, IMHO.

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Old 05-14-08, 03:15 PM   #12
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I like how Surly does it with the Long Haul Trucker. 26" wheels on the smaller frame sizes and 700c wheels on the larger frame sizes. Makes sense to me.

Some of the boutique brands have 650B wheeled commuter style bikes. Those wheels are similar to 26 inch MTB wheels (with street tires). I'm not a 650B fan, but they do address the OP's issue.

Edit: 1980's steel rigid fork mountain bikes make good commuters. Find a nice used Specialized Hardrock or Rockhopper.
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Old 05-14-08, 03:18 PM   #13
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Edit: 1980's steel rigid fork mountain bikes make good commuters. Find a nice used Specialized Hardrock or Rockhopper.
What they said

My commuter is a '93 Marin, all steel, no shocks, 1" slicks pumped up to 95-105 psi. Heavy compared to a road bike of course, but it's under 30 pounds with rack. I can live with that....long as there's a granny ring on there!!
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Old 05-14-08, 03:36 PM   #14
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that's one hot looking Masi, I also like that old Rockhopper. Well, now I'm torn between getting a 700c commuter opposed to a 26" wheel commuter.

I guess I like the fact that you guys say that 700c wheels are alot faster than the 26" smooth MTB tires. And seems like some of you guys think that 700c tires are just as comfortable. Ugh. Was I wrong initially to want a 26" wheeled bike?

Last edited by bellweatherman; 05-14-08 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 05-14-08, 03:40 PM   #15
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The Bianchi Milano is a 26in wheel bike, now that I think about it. My mom has one. Nice bike.
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Old 05-14-08, 03:44 PM   #16
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1980's steel rigid fork mountain bikes make good commuters.
So are '80s road bikes [on 27" tires in this case]:



I started commuting on this guy. Put several hundred commuter miles on it. Very comfy and reliable, and 26" tires. Eventually moved on because of the front suspension, upright seating, and short gearing.



Both of the above were purchased used for well under $150 each and are great commuters.
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Old 05-14-08, 03:48 PM   #17
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What brands have a 26" wheel purpose-built commuter?
Well, if you say it like that...

I would counter though, with the question of how many of us are riding "purpose built" (by the manufacturer) commuters.

I guess I was thinking that basically any 26" hybrid or rigid MTB was a commuter.

Off the top of my head, I'd say Breezer and the novara transfer qualify.

The Electra Balloon 8 is right there. You're probably better off that they've chosen not to include their crappy lights/fenders.

Electra commuter (townie) 21

Retrovelo/Velorbis if you're feeling rich.

Biria
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Old 05-14-08, 03:52 PM   #18
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Old rigid mountain bike + slicks + rack == win.

Or you can do what I did and just pick up a cheapo frame from Nashbar and build your own.
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Old 05-14-08, 04:13 PM   #19
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Both my commuters are 1980's steel bikes with no shocks. Both are single speed conversions with fenders and racks.

The summer commuter is a lower-end Raleigh road bike with straight gauge chromolly tubes. I rode it for a couple years on the original 27 inch wheels until I got tired of replacing broken spokes. Now it has 700c x 28 wheels. It has clipless pedals.

My Winter commuter is a Specialized Hard Rock with straight gauge cromolly tubes. It is geared lower than the Raleigh, has wider tires, and has platform pedals.
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Old 05-14-08, 04:28 PM   #20
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I guess I like the fact that you guys say that 700c wheels are alot faster than the 26" smooth MTB tires. And seems like some of you guys think that 700c tires are just as comfortable. Ugh. Was I wrong initially to want a 26" wheeled bike?
I just don't know that it makes a lot of difference either way, unless now and then you want something you can put some serious off-road knobbies or seriously narrow road racing tires on. I doubt that 700c are any "faster" than 26", for the same width tire on (basically) the same bike.
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Old 05-14-08, 04:32 PM   #21
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I just don't know that it makes a lot of difference either way, unless now and then you want something you can put some serious off-road knobbies or seriously narrow road racing tires on. I doubt that 700c are any "faster" than 26", for the same width tire on (basically) the same bike.
For the same rotational input and width, the larger wheels are faster, because bigger radius = greater tangential speed.
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Old 05-14-08, 04:34 PM   #22
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For the same rotational input and width, the larger wheels are faster, because bigger radius = greater tangential speed.
We have this newfangled thing called "gears" to take care of that. HTH
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Old 05-14-08, 04:45 PM   #23
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lol, well you did say that all else is practically equal, with the same bike and width.

Of course different gearings would affect speed, but then again what's stopping you from putting the same gear on the 700c?
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Old 05-14-08, 04:49 PM   #24
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May not be purpose-built, but how about add rack & fenders to one of these?

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...rt_urban/su20/

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Old 05-14-08, 04:56 PM   #25
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We have this newfangled thing called "gears" to take care of that. HTH
A chain and cogs is too hard to maintain, and takes away from the pure riding experience.



the punters can have their "safety bicycles" (lol!)>
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