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  1. #1
    Nighttime Rider
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    Wheel size confusion...

    Onroad an off road, I've seen a variation of wheel sizes. 20" 24" 26" 27" 700mm 28" and 405 and 412
    (I think the last 2 number are correct)

    Question #1 (easy one) does 28" = 700mm

    Size matching body. I'm 5'5" on a good day. Watching taller/larger riders on 26"-700mm, by porportion,
    I should be on a 24" wheeled bike onroad or offroad. But selection seems limited. I've seen a small
    20" wheeled bike with suspension that looks like it would be extremely manueverable offroad. Likewise,
    I've recently seen road bikes with relatively normal sized frames that have 20" wheels.

    Question #2 What are the pros and cons of larger and smaller wheels?

    The only arguments I've seen lately is rotating mass, ride quality. I would guess that a 20" road bike
    would be a rougher ride but I'm not sure on speed (if it really IS faster, I'd guess there are a few
    who would take the rough ride and squirly handling). It takes an act of god for the masses to alter
    their mindset.

    I remember the manueverability of the BMX and I am facinated with a 20" bike with front or full
    suspension, (mabie) with a frame slightly larger than a BMX for offroad use. It would redefine the
    term, turn on a dime.

    I'd also like to see quality 24" wheeled road and mountain bikes. With most lines I've seen, the smaller
    frames seem like an afterthought, good enough, but not really that good.

    CE

  2. #2
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    I can only answer part of your request

    Mountain bikes typically have 26" rims/tires, and road bikes typicallly have larger 700c rims/tires. Some older road bikes have 27" rims/tires. 700c is close to 27", but it's not the same. You could possibly use the same inner tube because they stretch, but not the same tire.

    Road bikes for smaller riders sometimes have 26" rims, but would have narrower rims and tires than a mountain bike.

    20" tires are not seen on standard adult road or mountain bikes. They are found on children's bikes, and on folding bikes.

  3. #3
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Actually, it's a lot more complicated....see http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

  4. #4
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    At 5 feet, 5 inches, you should have any easy time finding a mountain bike with standared 26 inch tires that fits you like a glove.

    Finding a really small road bike with 700c tires can be a bit tougher. Some bike companies have built road bikes with smaller wheels for smaller riders, but the selection of bikes is limited, many such bikes are expensive "custom" models, and getting spare wheels and tires can be difficult.

    Trek, and some other larger companies, sell road bikes that are marketed as "women's models". In addition to being sized for someone who is around 5' 5", such bikes often have shorter top tubes (for shorter torso's) and reduce the spacing of the brake levers (for smaller hands). Many guys who bought a "men's" bike that turned out to be uncomfortable might have done better to buy a women's model.

  5. #5
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    The cutoff point for a well proportioned 700c road bike is about 5'3" tall. Below that height it becomes difficult to build a bike short enough because of the wheel diameter.
    Builders can bodge the steering geometry to fit but it is a poor solution compared to using a smaller wheel in a smaller frame. The usual smaller wheel size for race frames is 650c. For tourists, the more robust 26" MTB size is a more sensible choice, even on the road.
    At 5'5" you should be able to fit a smaller 700c frame.
    Some more progressive touring bike builders (such as Surly) offer their M frames in a choice of 700c and 26" MTB. There is a lot to be said for using 26" in your size frame for non-racing applications:
    Widespread availability wordwide of MTB tyres.
    Useful selection of slick tyres from 1" upwards.

    There are some specialist builders making 24" wheel MTBs for smaller riders but the normal 26" would fit you.

  6. #6
    Barbieri Telefonico huhenio's Avatar
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    My wife is 5feet and rides 700c wheels, no problems there
    Giving Haircuts Over The Phone

  7. #7
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    wheel size is not the FIRST thing you look at for fit...i have women specific road and mtbike both with "typical" wheel size (26" on the mtb - 700cc on the roadie) and they fit me great (i am 5 feet) it is the tube lengths you need to worry about first, then get into the more adjustable stem/seat tube length/handlbar/crank length...after much research i found there is plenty out there for the vertically challenged.

    btw...i also ride a 29" surly karate monkey with ease (frame is a bit too big but i have made adjustments to make it work!)

    proportion is a factor too...do you have long legs/short torso? short legs/long torso? figure that out and the search will be a little easier too!

  8. #8
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    26" wheel outside diameter is the size with a 2" wide tire. With a 1 1/4" wide tire on that rim the outside diameter over the tire will be about 24 1/2"

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse
    Onroad an off road, I've seen a variation of wheel sizes. 20" 24" 26" 27" 700mm 28" and 405 and 412
    (I think the last 2 number are correct)



    I'd also like to see quality 24" wheeled road and mountain bikes. With most lines I've seen, the smaller
    frames seem like an afterthought, good enough, but not really that good.

    CE
    Does not matter about body size or height. Mountain bikes have 26" wheels- Or 24" for kids that are not tall enough for 26" and road bikes have 700 or 27" wheels. Then it gets complicated with the "29" wheels used on Some Fisher Mountain bikes but forget the oddities.

    Unless you are talking sub standard bikes or special purpose bikes or some'ones own particular ideas on how a bike should be built, then 26" for MTB's and 700 for road bike is the norm. Once you understand that the size of wheels used is because that is what years of development has found to work- then you will find that wheel size is the least of your problems. What matters is Bike fit to you. At 5'5" you are one inch shorter than me. I ride several bikes- All mountain bikes by the way- and they are all different sizes- 15" bianchi-a 17" and 19" kona and a Tandem that I can ride front or rear that is a large/ medium. Then again I have ridden road bikes that have been too small and too large for me- by normal standards- but they have been adjusted so that I can ride them comfortably. Attachment is of my bianchi and it may look wierd but small frame- long seat stem and a Bar stem to make me comfortable and that is what is important to get this bike to fit me. This bike has also fitted a 4'9" youth for a ride- and with a slightly longer stem- a 5'10" lad.
    Last edited by stapfam; 03-09-08 at 03:30 PM.
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