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Old 08-24-11, 04:57 PM   #1
Jimi77
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Effects of wheelbase

How does wheelbase affect performance? I'm getting a new comfort bike and I'm curious about how wheelbase will affect performance.

Looking at (mainly) these two bikes - 20" in the Trek, XL in the Specialized.

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...=Path%2FGravel

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...on/hybrid/7100

All things equal, I'd get the Specialized because the LBS that carries Trek had pretty poor service when I stopped in and the Specialized has a better rear derailer, longer chainstay (to clear the panniers) and I like the shifter routing on the Specialized better. I've had good experiences with both brands in the past.

However, I've come across a "like new" Trek that I can pick up for ~$150 less than the Specialized.

Main use will MUPs and I tow my daughter around a bit and will probably get a Copilot-Limo rack/chair sometime in the future. Light communting (~10 miles round trip) - mainly groceries and other errands. I'll probably throw some 28mm tires on the bike to amp up performance a bit. May do some dirt trails here and there, but ~95%+ I'll be on paved trails/roads. BTW, the main reason for comfort bike is an old upper back injury that acts up if I spend too much time hunched over a road bike or I'd go with a Hybrid. That said, I'll get in a nice tuck and haul bootie every so often.

If there is a significant advantage/disadvantage to the ~3 inch longer wheelbase on the Specizlized, then that may sway my decision.
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Old 08-24-11, 08:13 PM   #2
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Dude, this is a very complex topic.

Bike geometry is as much an art as it is an engineering science. Generally wheelbase effects turning ratio but there is a lot of other factors too.

You just have to throw a leg over and ride somtimes to make a decision.
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Old 08-24-11, 09:06 PM   #3
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In general, a short wheelbase will give a more lively, maneuverable ride while a long wheelbase will provide a more relaxed ride and clearance for panniers. Ride a few bikes with different geometries and figure out what works best for you.
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Old 08-24-11, 10:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimi77 View Post
If there is a significant advantage/disadvantage to the ~3 inch longer wheelbase on the Specizlized, then that may sway my decision.
On bare bikes, you'll probably never know the difference if you never switch between bikes. However, since you're going to be hauling/towing a load, I would say that the longer wheelbase greatly increase the utility of the bike.

Remember: it's a bike. It won't get any faster if you don't improve the engine. Just get the bike and ride a lot. You'll get faster.
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Old 08-25-11, 02:52 AM   #5
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Wheelbase has very little meaning when comparing bikes of similar size.
The chainstay length is important for load-carrying with panniers.
Distance from bottom bracket to front hub is important for eliminating toe/wheel interference when steering at low speed.
The wheel-wheel distance is really set by the size of your bike for fitting the rider: saddle to bars to top tube length.
Wheelbase is an outcome of bike design, not an input or requirement.
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Old 08-25-11, 04:47 PM   #6
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If anybody cares, went with the Specialized Crossroad Elite. I didn't care for the plastic cage on the Sram x3 derailer and I've seen and heard of bad RST shocks on Trek Navigators, so that pushed me toward the Specialized. The Crossroad certainly doesn't handle like the smaller bikes, but I don't find myself flying around corners and blasting thru curves too much.
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