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Why is it so hard to find commuting bikes with 26" wheels?

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Why is it so hard to find commuting bikes with 26" wheels?

Old 05-08-13, 12:05 PM
  #101  
Erwin8r
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
Now those are some really nice bikes!

I didn't even know about the San Francisco...That's one awesome steed, for sure!

...Always did like that Bad Boy 9!
Yeah, I loved that Spesh... Gave it to my son for college and it was promptly stolen... The Bad Boy is now my wife's "back up " bike as I bought her a new/used Jamis road bike. But yeah, its a great bike too--very versatile.
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Old 05-08-13, 12:30 PM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by xlDooM View Post
He means that other factors such as flat bar vs. drop bar make more of a difference than what size the wheels are.

On topic though, I don't think manoeverability is a big factor in many people's commuting. And on pretty much all other fronts except cost, it's hard to argue with 700c wheels.

I use a 29er mtb with big apple tires, converted to single chainring with a road cassette in the back. It is very comfortable, and plenty fast.
I disagree with this statement on at least two fronts.

1) If you are running Big Apples on a 29er, my 26 inch wheels are significantly smaller, and so faster to spool up, which is what I spend half my time doing given all the stop lights and stop signs here.

2) Secondly, speaking as someone who has broken a lot of spokes and wheels over the years, a 26" wheel is inherently stronger.
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Old 05-08-13, 12:31 PM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by Erwin8r View Post

A pic of the Globe:



Here is the bike parked outside a Seattle Grocery store (in the Ravenna area, next to the wife's Cannondale B-Boy):

Nice commuter bikes, for certain. We had a BadBoy in our stable for a couple of years. Wife took it on as her main commuter for a while, too. Fast city bike.

Where are your racks for your groceries ?

And, as far as the thread goes.........

I commute and have commuted on many different bikes and currently have three different wheel sizes........

Cons of the 700c, Pros of the 26":
700c wheels sometimes feel slightly less maneuverable in tight spaces, turns, and trails. Also, toe overlap can be an issue off road.
700c seem a little tougher to get up the hills w/ heavy loads..........just gearing, in the end.......
700c seems to need a little more maintenance.......truing.....I must use a 36 spoke 700c wheel if it is used loaded.......
26" wheels just seem stronger and better able to handle loads/trailers........also, easier/more common to fit fatter, smoother tires than 700c.

Pros to 700c:
They just seem to roll better down the road, esp longer distances. Seem faster, smooth out small surface irregularities.
Look sleeker, better, particularly on larger frames.
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Old 05-08-13, 01:18 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by AusTexMurf View Post
Nice commuter bikes, for certain. We had a BadBoy in our stable for a couple of years. Wife took it on as her main commuter for a while, too. Fast city bike.

Where are your racks for your groceries ?

And, as far as the thread goes.........

I commute and have commuted on many different bikes and currently have three different wheel sizes........

Cons of the 700c, Pros of the 26":
700c wheels sometimes feel slightly less maneuverable in tight spaces, turns, and trails. Also, toe overlap can be an issue off road.
700c seem a little tougher to get up the hills w/ heavy loads..........just gearing, in the end.......
700c seems to need a little more maintenance.......truing.....I must use a 36 spoke 700c wheel if it is used loaded.......
26" wheels just seem stronger and better able to handle loads/trailers........also, easier/more common to fit fatter, smoother tires than 700c.

Pros to 700c:
They just seem to roll better down the road, esp longer distances. Seem faster, smooth out small surface irregularities.
Look sleeker, better, particularly on larger frames.
+1

Since smaller wheels are easier to accelerate, and larger wheels maintain speed better, I'd have to agree with all of these claims!
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Old 05-08-13, 01:20 PM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by Medic Zero View Post
I disagree with this statement on at least two fronts.

1) If you are running Big Apples on a 29er, my 26 inch wheels are significantly smaller, and so faster to spool up, which is what I spend half my time doing given all the stop lights and stop signs here.

2) Secondly, speaking as someone who has broken a lot of spokes and wheels over the years, a 26" wheel is inherently stronger.
+1

I'd have to agree with Medic Zero here too!
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Old 05-08-13, 01:41 PM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post

Since smaller wheels are easier to accelerate, and larger wheels maintain speed better, I'd have to agree with all of these claims!
I'm glad you agree. Except that it really isn't true.

You can (almost) double the weight of the wheels as far as acceleration goes (or even for maintaining speed). But even then, it's tiny compared to you + the rest of the bike. And small wheels with fat tires often weigh more than expensive big wheels with very light tires.

Bigger tires are often better higher pressure tires with less rolling resistance. That makes a big difference. Bigger wheels have an easier time going over bumps.

And if you're talking about 26" compared to 700c wheels, the only difference that you'll notice has to do (almost) entirely with the tires and air pressure and not the size.
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Old 05-08-13, 02:12 PM
  #107  
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Originally Posted by cplager View Post
I'm glad you agree. Except that it really isn't true.

You can (almost) double the weight of the wheels as far as acceleration goes (or even for maintaining speed). But even then, it's tiny compared to you + the rest of the bike. And small wheels with fat tires often weigh more than expensive big wheels with very light tires.

Bigger tires are often better higher pressure tires with less rolling resistance. That makes a big difference. Bigger wheels have an easier time going over bumps.

And if you're talking about 26" compared to 700c wheels, the only difference that you'll notice has to do (almost) entirely with the tires and air pressure and not the size.
I always thought that wheels with the same width, but a smaller radius will speed up, slow down, and change direction, faster than wheels with a larger diameter. Well, at least I think that's what we all learned in grade school, anyways.

https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/2...king-1637.html

Last edited by Cfiber; 05-08-13 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 05-08-13, 02:50 PM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
I always thought that wheels with the same width, but a smaller radius will speed up, slow down, and change direction, faster than wheels with a larger diameter. Well, at least I think that's what we all learned in grade school, anyways.

https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/2...king-1637.html
First, it's the mass (and really the distribution of the mass) that matters; not the radius (if you do the full calculations with moment of inertia, etc, you'll see that the radius of the wheel drops out of the equations). Now, bigger wheels are generally heavier, so it's almost true that bigger wheels are slower.

Second, the bike isn't just wheels. When you accelerate the bike, you've got to get you and the whole bike moving. And you are much heavier than the wheels (even if you're tiny).

As far as that article goes, the author says many things in the article that are wrong (e.g., smaller wheels are easier to accelerate, bigger wheels have bigger contact patch). The author's degree is in psychology, not physics or engineering, but that's not really a good excuse.

You'll also hear exactly this in a lot of bike shops: Dude, spend money, get the lighter wheels, you'll accelerate faster. I don't think they're lying just to sell you wheels. But they're still wrong. (Aerodynamic wheels, on the other hand, will help you go faster.)
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Old 05-08-13, 03:25 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by cplager View Post
First, it's the mass (and really the distribution of the mass) that matters; not the radius (if you do the full calculations with moment of inertia, etc, you'll see that the radius of the wheel drops out of the equations). Now, bigger wheels are generally heavier, so it's almost true that bigger wheels are slower.

Nope! Both mass and radius are important.

Second, the bike isn't just wheels. When you accelerate the bike, you've got to get you and the whole bike moving. And you are much heavier than the wheels (even if you're tiny).
But that would be true, regardless as to which wheel we're talking about! All other things being equal, the larger wheel should be heavier. Therefore, it will have more weight and be harder to speed up or slow down.


As far as that article goes, the author says many things in the article that are wrong (e.g., smaller wheels are easier to accelerate, bigger wheels have bigger contact patch). The author's degree is in psychology, not physics or engineering, but that's not really a good excuse.
What do you mean? ...Those are all facts, given the same tire width!


You'll also hear exactly this in a lot of bike shops: Dude, spend money, get the lighter wheels, you'll accelerate faster. I don't think they're lying just to sell you wheels. But they're still wrong. (Aerodynamic wheels, on the other hand, will help you go faster.)
Lighter and more aerodynamic wheels will help you to accelerate and maintain speed, both by decreasing air friction and having less mass.

Tom Sarazac explains the wheel diameter thing best:
www.tomsarazac.com/tom/opinions/wheelsize.html
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Old 05-08-13, 05:10 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
Nope! Both mass and radius are important.



But that would be true, regardless as to which wheel we're talking about! All other things being equal, the larger wheel should be heavier. Therefore, it will have more weight and be harder to speed up or slow down.



What do you mean? ...Those are all facts, given the same tire width!




Lighter and more aerodynamic wheels will help you to accelerate and maintain speed, both by decreasing air friction and having less mass.

Tom Sarazac explains the wheel diameter thing best:
www.tomsarazac.com/tom/opinions/wheelsize.html
But he also seems to think that benefits from the smaller size are offset by the greater rolling resistance. And the aerodynamics argument gets complicated because a 26" wheel will have to spin faster to maintain the same road speed as 700c wheel. So while a 26" wheel has a smaller profile, the spokes need to push through the air at a faster speed.

The bigger question is of course does it even matter. I suspect tire choice makes a bigger difference than wheel size (as far as 700c vs 26" goes).

As to the 5 year old original post: "Why not 26 inch?", looking at performance aspects is the wrong approach. My guess is that the "commuter bikes" we're now seeing in the states are loosely based on city bikes from Europe many of which use 700c or the old 28" wheels.

26" wheels are popular in the states because of the commonality of the mountain bike. The original mountain bikes were more or less beach cruisers which used 26" wheels and really big tires.

So I think the reason for 700c wheels on commuter bikes is historical in nature and not necessarily because of some inherent advantage to 700c wheels for commuting. I also believe that the reason for 26" wheels on mountain bikes is historical rather than the result of careful study and testing.
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Old 05-08-13, 05:19 PM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
But he also seems to think that benefits from the smaller size are offset by the greater rolling resistance. And the aerodynamics argument gets complicated because a 26" wheel will have to spin faster to maintain the same road speed as 700c wheel. So while a 26" wheel has a smaller profile, the spokes need to push through the air at a faster speed.

The bigger question is of course does it even matter. I suspect tire choice makes a bigger difference than wheel size (as far as 700c vs 26" goes).

As to the 5 year old original post: "Why not 26 inch?", looking at performance aspects is the wrong approach. My guess is that the "commuter bikes" we're now seeing in the states are loosely based on city bikes from Europe many of which use 700c or the old 28" wheels.

26" wheels are popular in the states because of the commonality of the mountain bike. The original mountain bikes were more or less beach cruisers which used 26" wheels and really big tires.

So I think the reason for 700c wheels on commuter bikes is historical in nature and not necessarily because of some inherent advantage to 700c wheels for commuting. I also believe that the reason for 26" wheels on mountain bikes is historical rather than the result of careful study and testing.
Sobering food for thought....
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Old 05-08-13, 05:31 PM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
Nope! Both mass and radius are important.
No, it's not. If you don't believe me, work it out. The energy of the wheel moving = 1/2 mv**2 + 1/2 I omega**2. Given the mass distribution (how much of the mass is at what radius) and the fact that omega (angular velocity) = v/r, you'll see that the radius completely drops out of the equation.


Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
But that would be true, regardless as to which wheel we're talking about! All other things being equal, the larger wheel should be heavier. Therefore, it will have more weight and be harder to speed up or slow down.
Yes, as I said, the heavier wheel does act like that. (1) Light 700c wheels weigh less than regular 26" wheels and (2) (most importantly) is that the mass of the wheel is tiny compared to the mass of you and the bike.


Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
What do you mean? ...Those are all facts, given the same tire width!
Contact patch area is determined by the weight on the tire divided by the pressure in the tire. The width of the tire is irrelevant as far as the area. Yes, a wider tire (assuming the same pressure) will have a wider patch, but the area of the patch would be the same. Your "facts" aren't, well, facts.

Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
Lighter and more aerodynamic wheels will help you to accelerate and maintain speed, both by decreasing air friction and having less mass.

Tom Sarazac explains the wheel diameter thing best:
www.tomsarazac.com/tom/opinions/wheelsize.html
Aerodynamic yes, lighter, not really.

Even on the page above, he halves the size of the wheel and says 1/2% improvement. That's one part in 200. I don't think you could measure that (take the same bike and do the same ride 10 times and tell me how much variation you see in your total time).

If you race for a living, then yes, lighter wheels are important because seconds can make a difference over a hundred mile course.

If not, well, then I think the answers pretty clear.

Cheers,
Charles

Last edited by cplager; 05-08-13 at 06:24 PM. Reason: Fixed quoting
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Old 05-08-13, 06:24 PM
  #113  
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Alright then Charles,

I'll leave you yet another pearl...


https://casanovasadventures.com/catalog/bike/p2010.htm
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Old 05-08-13, 07:23 PM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
Alright then Charles,

I'll leave you yet another pearl...


https://casanovasadventures.com/catalog/bike/p2010.htm
From the link:

Modern Larger Bike Wheels, Such As 26", 27" and 29" (inch), Are Used in bike races, road riding and mountain biking, because they can increase speed with less work than smaller wheels. Larger wheels also do better in turning corners because they have longer contact with the pavement and therefore hug the road better without slipping.
Oy! Who writes this crap? O.k. Bigger wheels have a longer contact patch, but a narrower one. Road bike wheels are run at higher pressures and therefore have smaller contact patches. I'll point out that this seems to claims the opposite of what you've said, that big wheels accelerate faster than small wheels.

The worlds fastest bike uses 24" wheels. Why so small? Because for going fast, aero is important and pretty much nothing else is. Not weight. Not wheel size. Just aerodynamics.

We're way off topic. Using 26" wheels or 700c wheels doesn't make much of a difference (except that it's easier to find tires for 700c wheels).
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Old 05-08-13, 07:31 PM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by cplager View Post
From the link:



Oy! Who writes this crap? O.k. Bigger wheels have a longer contact patch, but a narrower one. Road bike wheels are run at higher pressures and therefore have smaller contact patches. I'll point out that this seems to claims the opposite of what you've said, that big wheels accelerate faster than small wheels.

The worlds fastest bike uses 24" wheels. Why so small? Because for going fast, aero is important and pretty much nothing else is. Not weight. Not wheel size. Just aerodynamics.

We're way off topic. Using 26" wheels or 700c wheels doesn't make much of a difference (except that it's easier to find tires for 700c wheels).
I never stated that larger wheels accelerate faster than smaller ones. I stated just the opposite. However, once you get going, larger wheels hold their momentum better and are better able to maintain a higher speed.

Last edited by Cfiber; 05-08-13 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 05-08-13, 07:34 PM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by bellweatherman View Post
Seems like commuters would be more interested in comfort than speed.
If were to commute on a bike with 26 inch wheels and 3.3 inch moon tires I would experience severe mental discomfort.

You can run 26 inch wheels on most bikes that take disc brakes -- so many of those 700c commuters could be converted. And commute level 26 inch wheelset are quite cheap.

Some of the boutique brands have 650B wheeled commuter style bikes.
650bs are quite a bit larger than 26 inch wheels. All the cool retrogrouchettes and retrogrouches covet 650bs as an homage to some dead french dude.
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Old 05-08-13, 10:41 PM
  #117  
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Did I mention that my 26" wheeled commuter is shod with 1.4" slicks run at 75 psi? But my new-to-me commuter will probably be equipped with 700c tires...

Ride what works for you!
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Old 05-09-13, 05:48 AM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
I never stated that larger wheels accelerate faster than smaller ones. I stated just the opposite. However, once you get going, larger wheels hold their momentum better and are better able to maintain a higher speed.
I was complaining about the info in the link (and pointed out that it was opposite of what you had said).

The whole point of this is that the size of these effects (big wheels, small wheels) is very tiny. Lose a couple pounds and you'll see more improvement as different wheel sizes.
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Old 05-09-13, 09:08 AM
  #119  
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I haven't read the whole thread so I apologize, if this has been addressed.

Please define "commuting bike" because I can't think of a bike shop I've been in that doesn't have plenty of 26" wheeled bikes that would be great commuters. The trend in bikes being marketed for commuting is probably leaning toward hybrids, so people tend to think of commuting bikes as skinny 700c tires, a flat bar and a rear rack. However, the best commuting bike is the one you are willing to ride, regardless of it fitting the mold, if you will.
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Old 05-09-13, 09:17 AM
  #120  
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Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
Sobering food for thought....
Yes, my guess is that the reason the OP brought the whole topic up is because he is more familiar with mountain bikes where 26" became the standard. Again I think this is more an accident of history than because the 26" wheel size is inherently more suitable. The first purpose built mountain bike frames from Joe Breezer and Tom Ritchey were built up with Schwinn S2 (26") rims because they could take the fat ballon tires designed for beach cruisers. At some point Araya started making better (aluminum) rims for 26" BMX bikes and higher end cruisers.

Why did Schwinn settle on the 26" size for beach cruisers? Don't know the answer to that one. I do know that they got the idea for creating a balloon tire bike on a trip to Germany. I don't know if the Germans used a 26" wheel or not. I also know that the original Beach Cruiser that Schwinn introduced was designed to look like a motorcycle. Maybe a lot of thought in terms of strength, acceleration, and handling went into choosing that size by either Schwinn or the Germans. On the other hand, nimble handling didn't seem to be a huge priority for beach cruisers.

FWIW, a lot of old utility bikes out of Europe and Asia (English Roadsters, Chinese Flying Pidgeons, etc) used a bigger wheel.

Last edited by tjspiel; 05-09-13 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 05-09-13, 09:20 AM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by bellweatherman View Post
Seems like commuters would be more interested in comfort than speed.
Not me. Comfort = work. I want to get to the office on warm summer days without sweating, so I want low rolling resistance.
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Old 05-09-13, 12:05 PM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by cplager View Post
The whole point of this is that the size of these effects (big wheels, small wheels) is very tiny. Lose a couple pounds and you'll see more improvement as different wheel sizes.
LOL - This takes me back to the good ole days of sitting in dynamics class. As the saying goes in the profession - "It's in the noise", i.e. don't sweat the small stuff, because you aren't going to be able to correlate it to a specific effect anyway.
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Old 05-11-13, 04:01 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by bellweatherman View Post
What brands have a 26" wheel purpose-built commuter?
I ride a Surly LHD with 26" wheels and fat tires. I feel a smoother ride than I had on my old trek with 700c wheels. I can't tell that I get to work any later. Enjoy the ride more.
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Old 05-11-13, 08:22 PM
  #124  
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Just as ShadowGray said in the second post.....

I have a Trek Soho and it's pretty heavy as it has an IGH with rack and fenders and it has 700X32. Also have a converted mt bike with rigid fork, also with rack and fenders but still lighter than the other and 26X1.5 slicks.

I kind of figured they would give a pretty similar ride but the 700 wheeled bike rolls much faster and easier. So in my mind, speed and efficiency has to be part of why 700 wheeled bikes are more common.
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Old 05-11-13, 09:32 PM
  #125  
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: New madrid Mo
Posts: 163

Bikes: diamondback outlook turned commuter/ bike packer And a tour easy recumbent for on road touring

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any bike will work as a commuter as long as it is comfortable and well maintained it doesn't half to be a purpose built bike that like my touring bike it is a kent mountain bike converted to a tourer works like a charm I wont spend 500 to a 1000 dollars on a purpose built bike when I need it for different purposes than it was bought for
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