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26" wheels, faster and lighter?(11 posts)

26" wheels, faster and lighter?John-d
Jan 15, 2002 5:48 AM
I have just been reading an article in Bicisport about Jalabert and Vienque experimenting with 26" wheels during the 1999 Giro. Yes I know, but it is written in Italian and the article is on page 162 even if I did buy the mag new.

Has anyone tried this size of wheel, because the article seems to suggest that there are quite a few advantages in the smaller wheel size, such as less weight, more rigid, better for climbing. The chain rings can be changed to more or less compensate by using 55/40 in place of 53/39 on 28" wheels.

They say that American triathletes have used them also Lelli in 1991 and Rominger in a timetrial in Selvino '95. They say that the 26" wheel makes manouvering more agile due to there being less rubber on the road, because of the tighter curve.

I suppose there must be a down side because the article seemed to say that the small wheeled bikes were changed at the top of major climbs. Descent problems, or bigger wheels just descend faster which matters in mountains?

The article leaves it all very much in the air with the thought that with the exception of Rominger none of the great racers have found it necessary to use such wheels in a major race, but is it out of habit and tradition.

Something to excercise the grey matter on a grey winter day.

Hey! the sun has just come out. Time for a ride I think.

Good riding

Santana Cycles looked at this in depth.MB1
Jan 15, 2002 6:19 AM
They offer many of their tandems in both 700C and 26" configuration. I talked to Bill McCready about this when we bought our latest tandem. He at one time was riding identical bikes except for the wheel sizes. He suggests the 26" wheel size for fun and toughness, the 700C for speed. I think this information is available on the Santana Cycles website.

My wife has road bikes with 26" wheels and 700C wheels-both very good bikes. No question she climbs better on the 26" wheel Rivendell and is probably faster on the flats with the 700C wheel Merlin. The bikes are so different in so many ways I hesitate to draw a conclusion.

Go ride your bike!

I remember seeing an articlecyclopathic
Jan 15, 2002 10:11 AM
by John Cobb (?) which claimed that 700c have better aerodynamics then 650c. Generally wheel aerodynamics are out weight a few extra onces (unless you racing C-race).

Also I'd look at tire availability many best rolling tires either not offered in 650c or hard to get.


PS ride? have you looked outside? it's windy!
smaller IS betterme
Jan 15, 2002 6:21 AM
Darn clown!tempete
Jan 15, 2002 11:43 AM
Even gotten out-climbed by Crusty the Clown?

Happens all the time!

He waits for me to lighten the pedal, then he reaches down to tighten his big red shoes traps, giving the signs and warning, but there is nothing I can do!
He doesn't even get off the saddle, he comes up to me, smiles, then squirts me with his Camelback linked plastic flower thing before climbing away on his clown bike...

I'm getting better. He use to do it to me on a unicycle, backwards AND juggling!
You should reel him in on the flats............STEELYeyed
Jan 15, 2002 3:59 PM
honk his big red nose.......then drop his clown a$$!
sometimes faster, sometimes not...PdxMark
Jan 15, 2002 9:10 AM
Rolling friction increases as wheel diameter decreases, so smaller wheels will have greater rolling friction (of course, rolling friction is tiny compared to wind resistance - but we're just talking the wheels) - so on flats & at speed, larger wheels should be faster

But, larger wheels should have a larger moment of inertia, and so be harder to accelerate such as when climbing (or maybe in a crit too?), even assuming the larger wheel weighs no more than the smaller one. Hence, a smaller wheel should be easier to crank up to speed. Also, a smaller wheel ought to weigh less, with a smaller rim & shorter spokes, which would make a smaller wheel accelerate even better.

So it seems Ja Ja figured the easier accelerating of smaller wheels offset the increased rolling friction on a climb, but not otherwise... that seems to point to just how small the differences are... kinda like Lance using a down tube shifter for the front derailleur on his climbing bike
Each have their advantagesohio
Jan 15, 2002 9:22 AM
smaller will be lighter and stiffer, but 700c wheels are now approaching weights so low that stability is becoming an issue so I wouldn't worry about the weight to much. Larger wheels have lower rolling resistance as well as a smoother ride on surfaces with any irregularity due to the decreased angle at which the tire approaches the road surface. They also have a larger contact patch for greater grip.

Smaller wheels will accelerate faster due to decreased moment of inertia, and be quicker handling as mentioned above, but actual grip (the point at which they will slide out while cornering) is worse.

My opinion is that the only real application for small wheels on road bikes is to achieve a specific geometry (for smaller riders or time-trial bikes) or for climbing specific bikes.

The rest of the time, 700c wheels have become the standard for a reason.
The 29er MTB guys are having the same disscusion.STEELYeyed
Jan 15, 2002 3:35 PM
Over on,seems the new 29" MTBs are causing a real stir.
F-ing hilarious!Ahimsa
Jan 15, 2002 8:07 PM
That's what we need to do! Have the roadies all swap to 26" wheels for increased speed while the MTBers all switch to 700c for increased speed!



Oooooweee! Jeez loweez!



A. (proud owner of a psuedo 29er...)
F-ing hilarious!fuzzybunnies
Jan 15, 2002 8:56 PM
A couple of mtb builders have been offering a 700c version for a couple years now. Seems they got the idea that the weight was less important than the ability of the tire to roll over objects. Hence the newer 29" wheels. The larger the wheel the easier it goes over thing. I'm just curious how well the newer size would do on a tight switchback. Russ