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26 vs. 700 Wheels

Old 03-16-08, 12:36 PM
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26 vs. 700 Wheels

Okay,

So I'm kinda between a size 54 (feels a lot more comfortable) and a 56 surly long haul trucker. I liked the 54 better. Felt solid. The 56 feel a bit big and more like a hybrid comfort bike. Problem is that the 54 comes only in size 26 wheels; not the 700's that the 56 has.

My question is: is that a deal breaker? Are the 700's that much better?

Mick
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Old 03-16-08, 12:54 PM
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Well...no.
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Old 03-16-08, 12:58 PM
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Better for what? Theoretically the 700s will roll better over bumps, but big fat tires on the 26"rims will be smoother than skinny tires on the 700 rims. If the the size 54 feels "a lot more comfortable" then there is really no reason to buy the 56. The 54 with 26" rims will probably have more room for fat tires, fenders, and a third water bottle than the 56 with 700 rims. My suggestion is to look at how the complete bike feels when you ride it, instead of obsessing over the physical dimensions of one or two parts.
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Old 03-16-08, 01:22 PM
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How tall are you are what is your inseam?
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Old 03-16-08, 02:25 PM
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There seem to be issues with toe overlap on the 56 also.

The 54 has a longer wheelbase for added stabillity as well.

I used to be in the 700c is better camp, but have converted to the 26" darkside. With the right wheels, tires, and frame HAULIN' ASS is easy on a 26.
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Old 03-16-08, 06:22 PM
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Went through the same dilemma with my LHT. Got the 54 cm frame with the 26" wheels. Wouldn't trade it for anything.
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Old 03-16-08, 08:07 PM
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+2. Love the 54 with the 26" wheels The girlfriend loves hers too.
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Old 03-17-08, 07:45 AM
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Well,

I'm 5'10 w/ a 32 inseam.... The 54 did feel better. Thanks for the responses guys. Made me feel okay about these 26es.
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Old 03-17-08, 07:57 AM
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I'm 5'10" and I still got the 54 because I REALLY wanted 26" wheels. With 26", you can fit really fat tyres, and should you tour with it, you can easily get cheap new wheels in a pinch. Not as likely with 700C.
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Old 03-17-08, 10:37 AM
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I like 700c and would NEVER buy a touring bike with 26''. 700c wheels are comfy and roll very well. My cyclocross/touring/road/off-road bike can run up to a 52c (about 2'' for you 26-ers). Unless you plan a world tour stick with 700c.
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Old 03-17-08, 10:43 AM
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Once I went to a 'cycle touring' party, and I met a guy who cycled 9 months thru China (on a 700c bike) with his wife (on a 26"). She could get tires and tubes at any bike shop. but when his tire blew, they had to take a train hundreds of miles to a European bike shop in Hong Kong in order to get a replacement. He said when he got back he sold his bike and bought a 26" touring bike.
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Old 03-17-08, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MrPolak
... Unless you plan a world tour stick with 700c.
No, no, no. 26" wheels are ideal for touring. I'm not saying 'stick with 26" wheels', because it's your preference. But don't listen to people who say that you shouldn't/can't use either size.

For racing, 700c is the clear choice. But for any other purpose where 10 seconds per mile doesn't matter, 26" wheels are fine. In fact, for rough duty, 26" is better than 'fine'. They're ideal.

-- Mark
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Old 03-18-08, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee
No, no, no. 26" wheels are ideal for touring. I'm not saying 'stick with 26" wheels', because it's your preference. But don't listen to people who say that you shouldn't/can't use either size.

For racing, 700c is the clear choice. But for any other purpose where 10 seconds per mile doesn't matter, 26" wheels are fine. In fact, for rough duty, 26" is better than 'fine'. They're ideal.

-- Mark
This is like arguing about religion. ;-) Worship whatever wheel god you want.
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Old 03-18-08, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by MrPolak
This is like arguing about religion. ;-) Worship whatever wheel god you want.
You can turn it into a religion if you wish. Some of us like to think a problem through and choose the best solution for the context. You really think it makes more sense to ride the lesser fitting bike just because it has 700c tires? That must really take a lot of (and nothing but) faith.
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Old 03-18-08, 02:33 PM
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hmm... i just got back from a tour, some of which was on the c&o canal. yesterday i did about 85 miles on it (crushed gravel, sticks, stones, etc) and 20 odd more through DC.
I was riding my 52cm lht and my friend was riding an old 700c specialized tourer. we both had b17s. He had 28c tires and i had 1.5s. I could hear his spokes creaking at the crosses and he and i were constantly expecting his wheel to collapse. he also experienced lower back and wrist pain, which i didn't get any of. my wheels are spinning straight and true, and the bike fit me great.
no toe overlap even with big mud flaps, etc etc was super stable on down hills got great cornering traction, rode like a cloud. felt a little sluggish on flats. for road touring i'd put on a bigger middle and outer ring. maybe just bigger by a tooth or two.
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Old 03-18-08, 03:04 PM
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I would also never buy a touring bike with 26 inch wheels.
I want the least rolling resistance and a good tire choice.
Since I started touring in 82' none of the 650B and 26 inch sizes make any sense to me.
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Old 03-18-08, 03:07 PM
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My new Rocky Mountain Sherpa comes with 700C 32. And it will fit up to 45! Not that I would ever run anything that big.
And a good quality wheel whether 700C or 26 will always outperform a cheap wheel.
But the pain will be the same.
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Old 03-18-08, 04:48 PM
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truthfully, if i had the option between 26" and 700c i might have gone with 700c wheels. however, i wanted a touring bike and the surly seemed like the best option. when i noticed sizes 54 and down came with 26" wheels, i was kind of off-put (i think i started one of the first threads *****ing about it). For a short while, i considered buying a crosscheck instead. it eventually occurred to me that because i was shopping for a bike specifically for bike touring, a touring specific bike would make the most sense.

long story short, i ended up getting a lht and i'm very happy with it. my touring buddy accelerated away from me at green lights, but i always caught and passed him on hills and most flats. this might be due to the fact that i'm the stronger cyclist -- just goes to support the old truism that it isn't about the bike.

i spun around on my friends bike for a bit and found that my bike felt more stable and manageable turning at low speeds and negotiating turns. I got the sense that it was due to the wheel size but that would be hard to isolate. you'll probably spend so much time on whatever you get that you'll come to love/appreciate it for the freedom of movement that it offers.
Plus, my bike looks bad ass.
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Old 03-18-08, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Fueled by Boh
hmm... i just got back from a tour, some of which was on the c&o canal. yesterday i did about 85 miles on it (crushed gravel, sticks, stones, etc) and 20 odd more through DC.
I was riding my 52cm lht and my friend was riding an old 700c specialized tourer. we both had b17s. He had 28c tires and i had 1.5s. I could hear his spokes creaking at the crosses and he and i were constantly expecting his wheel to collapse. he also experienced lower back and wrist pain, which i didn't get any of. my wheels are spinning straight and true, and the bike fit me great.
no toe overlap even with big mud flaps, etc etc was super stable on down hills got great cornering traction, rode like a cloud. felt a little sluggish on flats. for road touring i'd put on a bigger middle and outer ring. maybe just bigger by a tooth or two.
Yeah, like you said, he had an OLD bike! I dare you try it against a brand new Trek 520 billed by many here THE touring bike.
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Old 03-18-08, 09:37 PM
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I'm 5'9" and had the same issue. I choose the LHT 54cm w/26" wheels. I was leaving behind a Fuji w/27" wheels and 1 1/4" tires. At first, I couldn't get over the noise the tires the LHT made. At first I felt like I was pushing more weight because the noise kept reminding me of the extra resistance. However, I'm fully pleased with the 26" wheels and fatter tires. I love how they handle the bumps, sharp edges, thorns, gravel, rocks, etc with ease. Plus I feel more stable with a perceived lower center of gravity.
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Old 03-18-08, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpincher
At first, I couldn't get over the noise the tires the LHT made. At first I felt like I was pushing more weight because the noise kept reminding me of the extra resistance.
the stock WTB 1.5" tires are absolutely huge, and ride like it too. for my transamerica trip i'll probably get a 1" or 1.25" tire. I really like the 1.5" tires for off road touring and commuting/ bike paths etc due to the way they handle bridge joints and the like, but i cant help but think of the energy i'd save by slimming down just a bit. I have a feeling the WTBs run wide for 1.5" tires, too.

edit: back on topic. i don't think you can say that either wheel size is qualitatively better. Ideally, you could have your choice for any size. In the states atleast, mtb tires and parts are easier to come by. I've never really been abroad so i can't really speak to overseas availability. I have, however, been to PR and Mexico, and there are mountain bikes everywhere. working at a shop, i know we always had a pretty good selection of 26" mtb/cruiser tires in stock for the dry rotted rusting away huffy beaters than came through the service center, and there were times at which road tire selection ran thin (especially in sizes suitable for touring). Bottom line: size by the top tube and it'll be hard to go wrong. Don't let the wheel choice influence you too much, because if the bike doesn't fit you everything else is just gonna be an after thought. see my bike in all of its load-hauling glory in the bike porn sticky thread. its only got a few hundred miles on it.

Last edited by Fueled by Boh; 03-18-08 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 03-18-08, 10:26 PM
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"I want the least rolling resistance and a good tire choice"


In most road conditions 26" have less rolling resistance with the same rim and tire choices. As far as tire choices go the 700C suffers from too little choice above 1.5", and the 26 suffers from too little below 1.5".
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Old 03-19-08, 08:58 AM
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Surly bikes come with MTB wheels? Why?
They don't give you the option of 700C?
I like my tires quiet, and an agressive MTB tire under mt touring bike would piss me off if I had to listen to it.
All that noise is extra rolling resistance.
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Old 03-19-08, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1
"I want the least rolling resistance and a good tire choice"


In most road conditions 26" have less rolling resistance with the same rim and tire choices. As far as tire choices go the 700C suffers from too little choice above 1.5", and the 26 suffers from too little below 1.5".
No way I will believe that, ever. I have smooth Panaracers and Michelins on my MTB. Very good yes, as responsive as my 700C tires, nope.
If 26 inch wheels had less rolling resistance you need to come up with some type of proof to make a believer out of me.
I wonder if TDF riders will all switch to 26 when they hear of this.
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Old 03-19-08, 10:01 AM
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read the thread to get the answers to your first post.
among two wheels with similarly wide tires, the one that is smaller in diameter will have a smaller contact patch. a smaller contact patch generally equals less rolling resistance, all other things being equal. i.e.- no one is using an aggressive mountain bike tire on their road touring bike. I think pan's comment about tire choice is pretty accurate. mtb tires under 1.5" can seem elusive at times. A lot of 26" touring appropriate tires seem to get no narrower than 1.75 or 1.5.
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