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20" vs 26" wheels

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20" vs 26" wheels

Old 11-01-08, 12:54 AM
  #1  
aenlaasu
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20" vs 26" wheels

I was noticing some of the speeds that many of the other riders have mentioned on here with their 'bents and can only be amazed compared to what I manage with my trike.

It does occur to me that part of it might be the extra roll resistance of 3 wheels over two, gearing, or the fact that I'm still slowly building up strength and I'm seriously slowed down in wind or up hills with bad knees (though they seem to be very slowly improving). I was wondering though, how big a contributor to slower speeds is a 20" drive wheel over a 26"? I've tried finding information on it on-line, but just keep getting shopping sights for wheels and tires. Mathematically it makes sense given the lower circumference of the wheel, but I've had some people (most of them have never had more than 3 gears and haven't sat a bike in more than 10 years) insist that it should be 'easily over come with proper gearing', to which I'm a bit dubious.
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Old 11-01-08, 12:57 AM
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steveknight
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trikes are slower not just three wheels but the forces that are applied. plus you use different muscles on a bent so they need to be trained.
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Old 11-01-08, 01:48 AM
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Wheel size differences will be fairly irrelevant to speed as long as you are geared right, there is on going arguments over which is superior as they are that close.
It takes a long time to adapt to a recumbent for some people (I have seen figures from 1 month to 12 months) due to differing muscle involvement, I can't remeber how long I took but I was having so much fun I did'nt care.
Now a trike will as a rule be slower than a 2 wheeler but not by a large margin, recumbents are slower uphill as it is the nature of the beast (can't stand) but on the level you shoud be close to a DF and downhill you should be faster, which trike would have a greater effect, a more upright will suffer more aero drag and obviously a less upright less drag, it is not that simple either though as some people can produce more power in a closed (upright) position others can still produce good power in an open position.
Terrain also comes into it climbing steep hills is relaxing but slow on a trike, rolling terrain with an aero trike can be amazingly fast due to the speed build up downhill and flat or rolling terrain on a fully faired trike is just plain unfair to normal bikes.
Thats a basic run down without all the if buts and maybe's.
Cheers
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Old 11-01-08, 02:30 AM
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Okay! That all sounds reasonable, so I probably need better gearing then. New knees probably wouldn't hurt too, but might as well be realistic. They restrict quite a bit of my ability as I'm a bit limited to both how much force I can apply and the frequency of the flex which keeps my cadence lower than most people spin out.

Shorter cranks have helped HUGE amounts. I went from an average speed of 7.9 mph for a trip up to my more consistent 9.3 as soon as I made the change. In the past year I have noticed a slight improvement over both the amount of strength and cadence my knees can take.

I've been riding my trike for over 2 years now, so the muscles probably aren't so much an issue. On decent terrain with little wind factor, I can cruise along at 15 mph. That's with my top gear and a cadence that I feel is pushing both my muscles and the ability of my knees to handle the more rapid flexing. I definitely could handle a bit more power in those circumstances. In general, my average speed is a pokey 9.3 mph, but in perfect conditions (calm day, dry roads) I have managed 10.9 trip average and cruised along at 17 mph for a 2 mile stretch. Hills bring me to a crawl and even this part of Sweden isn't as flat as southern MS.

Gah, I'm SLOOOW. I get there at least. Plan on doing my first century next year.
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Old 11-01-08, 07:11 AM
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I am a slower rider, I think, but that is me and my engine. I sometimes push but since I ride solo most of the time I am not worried about a little difference in speed. Like you say, I get there but maybe just a couple of seconds later.
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Old 11-01-08, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Floyd View Post
I am a slower rider, I think, but that is me and my engine. I sometimes push but since I ride solo most of the time I am not worried about a little difference in speed. Like you say, I get there but maybe just a couple of seconds later.
Glad to hear I'm not the only slower cyclist around, or solo for that matter. My speed is the main reason I don't bug my hubby to ride with me. The idea of him pedaling circles around me while I cruise along as fast as I can would be too aggravating.
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Old 11-01-08, 10:24 AM
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There are probably more of us slow (9,10,11mph) riders than there are speedier ones.
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Old 11-01-08, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by aRoudy1 View Post
There are probably more of us slow (9,10,11mph) riders than there are speedier ones.
On a recumbent seat I'm not so hurried to "get there". I've seen trike riders that pull away from me while I'm going 16mph.
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Old 11-10-08, 12:48 AM
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I only use 26" tires, but it has nothing to do with speed. the only cycles that whel size matters for speed on are a unicycle or a pennyfarthing.
i can't get nokian carbide studded tires smaller than 26'.
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Old 11-10-08, 03:54 AM
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I found some 20" studded tires. I can't remember the name of them, but when I dig them out after our first bout of ice, I'll try to remember to post the name of them here.
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Old 11-10-08, 07:57 AM
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Trikes have higher rolling resistances, not only because there's 3 wheels instead of 2 but because no 20" tires made can match the rolling resistance of a good 700c tire. Also, trikes have more aero resistance because of those three tracks instead of only one with a 2-wheeler, and the wider aspect creates more frontal area in spite of the reclined riding position.

Putting a full-sized drive wheel on a trike will help, but even if you did it to all 3 tires, you'd still be at a speed disadvantage over a 2-wheeler.

Gearing? All things being equal, small wheels have less total range than large wheels. If you want/need low gears for climbing, a 20" drive wheel makes you give up more gear inches at the high end.
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Old 11-12-08, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
... because no 20" tires made can match the rolling resistance of a good 700c tire...
I don't think I agree with that, but you are certainly right that rolling resistance is a big factor, and is directly related to tires. But let's not go into this too deeply here; the presumed advantages / disadvantages of small wheels are constantly being discussed in the folders forum, where I'm a regular, and it gets old! The bottom line is small wheels with high pressure tires and good suspension are as fast or faster than larger wheels, but they have their own unique disadvantages. Among the multitude of factors that contribute to the speed of a bicycle, aerodynamics is probably the greatest; and wheel diameter is comparatively minor.
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Old 11-14-08, 09:51 AM
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What brand and model trike are you riding? Looking over the specs from Catrike to Sun, I see models weighing from 25 pounds to 53 pounds. If you are riding one of the latter, then it will be much slower than the former. All of us were probably a lot slower when we first started out. I found even the smallest hill a challenge but that soon passed. I would agree that gearing can be a factor. I have a Wizwheelz 3.4 and a Greenspeed GTO. Both weigh exactly the same but having Schlumpf Mountain Drive and an internal rear 3-speed hub makes the GTO a faster trike overall.
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Old 11-14-08, 11:06 AM
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aenlaasu
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My ride is the Trike Q-NT produced by Inspired Cycle Engineering out of Falmouth, England. It's base weight is roughly 36 pounds though I've added front fenders and a luggage rack. Going out the door for a day ride, I probably go at a bit over 40 pounds.
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Old 11-17-08, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by aenlaasu View Post
I found some 20" studded tires.
Th only ones i've seen are Innovas, and frankly, the only thing keeping Innova studs from the kind of high quality and durability that you can find only at your local WalMart is the fact that they cost too much.
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Old 11-17-08, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by aenlaasu View Post
I found some 20" studded tires..
Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
Th only ones i've seen are Innovas, and frankly, the only thing keeping Innova studs from the kind of high quality and durability that you can find only at your local WalMart is the fact that they cost too much.
Schwalbe does have their studded Marathon Winter 20x1.60's. Being a weather wimp I've no experience with them.
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Old 11-18-08, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
The bottom line is small wheels with high pressure tires and good suspension are as fast or faster than larger wheels, but they have their own unique disadvantages. Among the multitude of factors that contribute to the speed of a bicycle, aerodynamics is probably the greatest; and wheel diameter is comparatively minor.
I have to agree. I just sold my V2 Formula 26 (two 26" wheels) because my comfortable cruise speed on it was 13-14mph. My new tandem rides on a pair of 20" wheels and is my fastest back to back tandem and my fastest bike by far. We cruise easily at 17-20mph. I think it's because we are much more aero and low to the ground.


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Old 11-18-08, 10:17 AM
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aenlaasu
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I just love the idea of those back-to-back tandems. Pity my husband wouldn't be caught dead on one.
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Old 11-25-08, 03:08 AM
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Smaller wheels have more rolling resistance, that's why racing recumbents have dual 26 inch setup.
Check out the performance bikes at Bacchetta.
The idea does not make sense but there is a rolling resistance formula that I found in a book called "Bicycling Science" by Whitt and Wilson from MIT press. Turns out the smaller wheel have less wind resistance and are lighter, but this will not make up for their greater rolling resistance.
I prefer a 20 inch front wheel becouse it allows for a lower bottom bracket posture.
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Old 11-27-08, 04:34 PM
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If I want to go anywhere fast, I use my car. I know my bike will only go as fast as I can push it on the day. I'm getting on but I enjoy my cycling. If I was 25 again I might get competitive but the urge to get there first has left me. I really enjoy declines because my rig can really hoot! The aerodynamics of a bike bent are pretty good. On the other hand the up hills require Granny gear or the rig turns into a "Push Bike". Small wheels are strong wheels. Unfortunately my bike has one 26', a 20' and the trailer has a 16' so I have to carry 3 spares. Bummer! Nevermind, My nest! I enjoy the setup I have worked out for myself. My cycling is keeping me trim and fit and I don't care how fast you can go. Just enjoy what you are doing.
rt
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Old 11-29-08, 12:49 AM
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Trikes and speed...
I ride a Trice Micro (made by ICE - same as the Qnt) and my averages are in the high teens (18-20mph).
I've had my Micro since 2002 and have made quite a few changes and over the years. I have reduced friction where possible (removed chain tubes, use ceramic hybrid bearings where possible) and modified the gearing so that my gear inches closely match that of a standard 26" bicycle.
This year's Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic I averaged 18.4 mph for the 206 mile one day ride, with my first 100 miles averaging 19.8!
Who says trikes are slow? Especially when I pass other cyclists as if they are standing still (the looks I get are priceless - "what the heck was that?")
Weight does play a factor, and going up hill is slow, (my Micro weighs in at 34 lbs) I make up for it on the flats and down hills. The machines that ICE produces have rock solid steering, no fear going 50mph on some of my down hill runs!
Next year I'm building a Qnt 26 from a frame kit and plan on getting the weight down to at least what my Micro weighs. I'm in the parts research phase (the beauty of buying a frame kit).

Doug
https://www.crazytrike.com
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