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Thread: 26" tires suck

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    26" tires suck

    I built a bike to tour with and used 26" tires. Lots of guys recommended these. I did my first century today in preparation for a 400 mile trip this summer. I rode behind a guy today that was an old phart. I couldn't keep up with him. I was pedalling my buns off and he was doing about 64 rpm's. He left me in the dirt and would stop and that is the only way I could catch him. We would start out again and he would pull away from me again, I was amazed at how slow he was pedalling and still pulled away from him. I was on a mtn bike frame with 26" tires. LooKs like I am going to have to get a real touring bike. Now before some of you say it ain't about the speed that is not what I am worried about. But with bigger tires I could probably travel more miles on tour with the same amount of effort

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    Maybe that old fart has 50 years of cycling experience over you. Don't blame your bike just yet...
    Last edited by roadfix; 04-17-06 at 12:09 PM.
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    Nope it wasn't that. He wasn't out hammering me. He was just strolling along like ride in the park.

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    King of the Forest Totoro's Avatar
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    I've ridden the same route with 26" 27" and 700c wheels. It makes no difference, all things being equal. BTW: I've dropped folks on 700c road bikes with my mtn bike. Depends on the rider.

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    O.K, He was just stronger than me. My hat is off to the old phart then. I am glad cause I don't want to switch bikes now. I like my mtn bike frame. I could ride forever if my butt didn't get tired and sore

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    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    If you two were the same height you could have switched bikes for a mile or two to answer this dilemma.
    Would you like a dream with that?

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    Old guys are sometimes fit and skilled riders. Elsewhere you've said you'd been cycling seriously for 2 years. Maybe that older guy has 40 years of fitness and experience. Having said that, I believe you were on a mountain bike with 1.5" tires, and he's on a road bike with maybe 1" tires, so that does give him a slight advantage, and if there was a slight upslope and his bike was lighter that might have helped too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by babysaph
    I was pedalling my buns off and he was doing about 64 rpm's. He left me in the dirt and would stop and that is the only way I could catch him.

    LooKs like I am going to have to get a real touring bike.
    I'm no expert, but was the gearing the same on both bikes? I would look at that first.
    Ride with the 'old phart' again and ask him to switch bikes for a few miles, then you will know who the stronger rider is!
    If you plan to do loaded touring, you will want a bike with lower gearing.
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    There are LARGE differences in rolling resistance in 26" tires and also MTB hubs tended to have a lot of friction in them since they were designed to roll downhills without breaking instead of a long way on a road with minimal friction.

    Get a good set of wheels and a try various tires such as Continental or Vredesteins http://www.bicycletires.com/tek9.asp...cific=joropok0

    As others pointed out, it wasn't your bike. If it was the bike you'd have started out OK and able to keep up without problems but gradually falling behind getting weaker and weaker.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Yeah ... never underestimate the older guys!!

    You see, in the world of Randonneuring, the average age of the riders is about 50 years old. Average age. That means that there are some younger riders (between about 30 and 50), there are a whole collection of older riders .... I know of some who do the ultra-distance riding who are in their 80s.

    And I know of one particular guy who has become very well known in Randonneuring and long distance circles by the name of Ken Bonner. He's a Canadian from British Columbia and he rides a multitude of long distance events every year ... and FAST! He can knock off a 400 kilometer brevet in about 14 hours, 600 kilometer brevet in about 25 hours, and a 1200 kilometer randonnee in under 60 hours, including all his breaks. And what always amazes me is that Ken is about 64 years old ... and so far, shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.

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    Remember that most mountain bikes come stock with a maximum 44t chainring and roadbikes 52t.

    46t (shimano deore now available in this) is a good mod if you are doing a lot of straight road travelling. Likewise a 50 or 48t chainset is a common mod if you are heavily laden or riding in mountainous country on a 700c tourer as you will rarely use the big ring otherwise.

    You can fit a road crankset to a mountain bike but you will lose all your ground clearance and negate a lot of the reason for riding one in the first place.

    The cheapest way to get some pace on your 26" is to fit some true slicks like Conti Sport Contacts (brilliant!) or Specialized fatboys etc. Then pump them up to the recommended pressure.

    But remember that wider mountainbike rims are not really designed to hold a 100psi plus tyre on. Check the manufacturers website if possible or measure the width of the rim and check the mavic site for the recommended presures for similar sized hoops. All recommended pressures will have a large margin of safety. The main risk is that really wide rims and narrow tyres put a lot of stress on the tyre sidewall/bead so you can go through tyres very quickly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by babysaph
    But with bigger tires I could probably travel more miles on tour with the same amount of effort
    You didn't mention what type of tyres you have on the MTN you were riding. What kind of tyres are you riding on? What are the gearing differences between the two bikes?
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    Gearing and wheel diameter isn't the problem - both riders will go to the appropriate front-rear gearing that best allows them to maintain the fastest pace without blowing up. The only factors here that can really make a measurable difference are:

    physical fitness (most significant)
    aerodynamics (next most significant)
    rolling resistance in tires (significant)
    rolling resistance in hubs (minimal)
    bike weight (minimal unless hilly)

    Fitness level will most determine who can maintain the fastest pace, other things being relatively equal. Assuming fairly comparable fitness levels, then it is your tires and riding position that were hurting you. Slicks at 100psi will take care of the tires, a lower and more forward bar will help your aerodynamics and power efficiency.
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    you can fit a 700c wheelset in any mountain bike
    (disc mounts help if you want brakes)


    go ahead, try it. as long as you shod that 700c with
    a skinny tire, bam, there is your road bike

    the only problem is braking. get discs, done.

    ----------------

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edzo
    you can fit a 700c wheelset in any mountain bike
    (disc mounts help if you want brakes)
    This isn't true. Period. There are many MTBs that will not fit a 700C wheelset.

    Differences in rolling resistance from 26" to 700C tires (based on size) are pretty minimal. Differences in rolling resistance due to off-road knobby tread vs. inverted or slick road tread are very significant. Tire width makes some difference in rolling resistance as well. How much difference it makes varies greatly depending upon the tire, its tread and/or sidewall rubber formulation, and the pressure that it is designed to be used at as opposed to what pressure that it is actually being used at.

    Wheel size plays a role, but you would probably be hard-pressed to notice the difference in effort required to move a 700C vs. 26" wheel at the same speed. It might matter under racing conditions. For touring, I wouldn't worry too much about the size of your wheels. It would be an expensive change, even assuming that it is possible, and probably without any meaningful advantage.

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    jcm
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    My old Trek 830 has 1.5" (38mm)Armadillos on it. Not the easiest tires to push down the road. Still, I go on 40 mile rides with lots of people on road bikes all the time. I have no problem keeping up and even staying up front most of the time. Usually, I'll end up with the faster guys as the group naturally splits out. I have the original 28-38-48 OvalTech rings and platform pedals. Science says I should be sweeping up.

    It's fitness mostly. I've ridden hard all winter. Everyone else seems to be just waking up. I expect that as the season go on, I'll lose some steam as the others get into comparatively better shape.

    When I bring the 520, I leave a smoke trail. So, there is a difference because of rolling resistance (28mm tires). Also, the 520 is a little lighter. On both bikes I give up something in a wind because I ride upright. That's the tough one for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    . . . . MTB hubs tended to have a lot of friction in them since they were designed to roll downhills without breaking instead of a long way on a road with minimal friction.
    You know I have been wondering about this. I just finished overhauling my MTB commuter including overhauling all of the bearings. Even after cleaning, new grease,new bearings,and painstaking adjustment I was surprised how much resistance there was, especially in the rear hub . . . .and no . . the cups were not pitted and I did not overpack the hub with grease. However, the rear hub had fairly large bearings in it that I assumed was meant to better handle the pounding that a MTB was designed to take.

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    Except for the contact seals that MTB usually have, no difference in friction between road and MTB hubs of the same quality.

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    I know there's no good scientific explanation for it, but I'm gonna dissent and agree with Babysaph--my 700c tires just "feel" faster. On my mtn. bike, I always felt like I was spinning, spinning, spinning, never getting anywhere, and even though it doesn't make any sense, I can get up hills on my touring bike that I couldn't climb on my mtn. bike (which had lower gearing).

    It could be the difference between tire pressures (my Conti TT 2000 700-32 run 30 psi higher than my Michelin 26x1.5 slicks), it could be difference in frame weight (my touring rig is a few pounds lighter), it's probably not the gearing (44-34-24 x 12-18 on mtn. bike vs. 48-36-24 x 12-28 on road), it's not the rider, maybe it's the spirit of my vintage lugged frame that grabs a hold of me and makes me want to ride hard and smoke Gauloises, but I think it may be something else.

    I really liked my Mtn. bike, but the geometry and fit of that bike just didn't ever feel right. I know you're all going to say that with proper sizing and fitting you can be just as comfortable on a mtn. bike and a road bike, and you're probably right. For me, though, that bike was never comfortable. It was the right size for me according to most schools of thought to size a mtn. bike (2-3 inches of standover clearance), but the right size in a road bike is much more comfortable for me. This hold true across the board, as I've test-riden several tourers, roadies and mtn. bikes. My legs just don't tire like they did on my Mtn. bike and I feel like I'm able to engage more muscle groups when peddling my touring rig. There's just something about the relaxed road geometry of a touring bike that allows my body to stay on the bike longer, with more stamina, and have more fun doing it. So while you're right that there's not a compelling scientific explanation for the differences between a 26" mtn bike and a 700c touring bike, I find the feel completely different and greatly prefer the latter to the former.

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    Well he could have been cycling for 40 years and maybe he just took up his smoking habit. But he had a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth and was at least 60 lbs overweight which made me think it was the recumbent bike he was on.

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    Did I mention he was on a recumbent. His tires were even wider than mine

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeforums
    Your rights end where another poster's feelings begin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson
    +1
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    Quote Originally Posted by babysaph
    ... I rode behind a guy today that was an old phart....
    I really have nothing to add to this thread except to complain about your spelling of Old Fart.


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    Troll? What does that mean? I am a newbie here so I need some things explained.

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