Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
3. The smaller wheel means you will work harder (because of performance issues) than one designed for a racing bike.
Below are responses I got when I questioned the inefficiency of small wheels over from Touring Mailing List. George
>>Yes, you might accelerate quicker, but you'll expend more energy maintaining speed...
Small wheel bikes have a reputation for being inefficient. Maybe it would be
a good idea to question this. I would like someone to show me a "study"
that demonstrates the validity of this assumption. Equivalent materials
would have to be used on both sized wheels, and similar quality bike
Actually most small wheels and bikes are inefficient; extremely so! It is no
suprise that this reputation is so prevalent as most small wheels are steel
knobby tires, heavy and utilize poor tire construction and low air pressure.
The smaller they are the worst they are. Having said this the world land
record (drafting) was set at over 160 MPH at last count on 20 inch wheels.
The world land speed record unassisted for upright bicycles was set on 17
inch wheels (www.alexmoulton.co.uk
). Most other HPV high speed records used
currently on the books have used one or more wheels of 20 inch or less.
These equipment choices and records were not set because small wheels were
inefficient. They were chosen for many reasons but certainly not because of
poor performance potential. The fact is modern small wheels can be top
in competition. Before about 1962 when Alex Moulton developed his high
lightweight wheels few examples of these products were produced. These
attempts with small wheels won many races and set many records until banned
from most competition. Modern small wheel equipment is much more reliable
and advanced and many noticeable improvements in performance are common.
<<Whatever (if any) "proof" of inefficiency could be coaxed out a scientific
study would probably be less than the action of the coriolis effect on your
bicycling, or what side of the bed you got out of in the morning.>>
There have been many studies of efficiency but like any study or statistic
it's hard to test all the variables. Country Lawyer and old Watergate
Sam Irvin used to say you can prove anything with statistics. Back in the
said that Statistically, Americans are the healthiest people that live the
any people in the world. Americans also smoke more cigarettes than any other
Therefore smoking must be good for you, right. This is true today s our
longevity have slipped in the world many steps away from first place and we
as a nation
have one of the lowest smoking rates anywhere. These statistics prove nothing
it is an interesting debate about proof and studies, the truth may be far
recently with Lon Haldeman and a large group of riders on 20" wheel Bike
Fridays in Arizona recently. Maynard has ridden countless racing bikes over
the decades, and has been given bikes by manufacturers to test ride. He
tells me there is no difference; small wheels do not slow him down. >>
is on the Friday. He would tell them that is not the case, and would usually
get a parting nod that says: "Well you just don't understand, but they are.">>
I think there is a difference (depends on circumstance, course, etc.) but a
high performance model of Bike Friday with lightweight wheels is a joy to ride.
Many good quality small wheel bikes have heavy rims and tires and do not
share this characteristic. It's a horses for courses thing just like touring and
racing bike comparison in the big wheel world. There is a Moulton Email list
similar to the Phred list that always has people wagering how much farther the
winner Lance Armstrong would be ahead should he be riding an Alex Moulton
Speed-Pylon model rather than his more normal TREK. I would find it to a
remarkable suprise if anyone that got a little experience with this Pylon bicycle; if
one they didn't think it was faster or at least as fast as a traditional
bike. On the people that think Maynard doesn't understand; well it is virtually
certain that they have very little expense with high grade small wheel equipment
(and I don't mean high cost). That Pylon bicycle can do something you do
well with the TREK; go on a camping tour. That with sub 300 gram rims and 180
grams tires without a durability issue to fuss with too. A pickup truck that
drives like a Ferrari.
different sized wheels. Small wheels are actually more appropriate for some
uses. But tagging them as inefficient is worse than just being inaccurate
and blindly following "common knowledge". It diminishes the scope of the
bicycle experience available to the public, by suggesting there is only a
narrow range of wheel sizes appropriate for efficient bicycle use.
Drew Devereux >>
Yours in Cycling,
North Road Bicycle Company
519 W. North St.
Raleigh, NC 27603
Toll Free Ph: 800•321•5511
Local Ph: 919•828•8999
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