Author Topic: 26" vs 700c: What's your experience in finding tires/wheels/spokes worldwide?  (Read 4090 times)

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Offline santiam bicycle

Just a general question to the travelers out there who have really traveled to out of the way place like Mongolia, Siberia, Africa, Middle China: Do you think it is easier to find parts for a 26" wheeled bike or a 700c bike?

Offline Cyclesafe

If you'll forgive me for answering even though I've not actually been to the specific places you mention, the issue really is whether within a "bicycle shop's" limited inventory is it more likely that they'll stock 26" components suitable for touring or 700c components suitable for touring.  And the answer is overwhelmingly that they won't have 700c stuff suitable for touring, just (if they have it at all) 700c stuff suitable for a road bike.  The 26" stuff they'll have will be suitable for a hybrid or a "mountain bike" and thus likely suitable for a 26" touring bike.

This logic applies just a much at a Walmart in Redneckastan as in a sidewalk stall in Outer Mongolia.
Hoping to do the North Star with ACA in 2014.

Offline santiam bicycle

I guess what i'm asking is let's say you're in a reasonably small town in Africa, they don't have a bike shop per se', but there's a guy who does work on bikes and has a pile of old bikes in his back yard; is one more likely than the other? I'm sure it's very "area specific". I'm just curious what people who have been to really remote places have experienced.

Offline Tourista829

26" tires is the only way to go if you are not in the U.S.A or Western Europe. Having an expedition quality bike and racks doesn't hurt either.

Offline Galloper

As above - 26" is generally more available but if you're going into the middle of the bundu, it makes sense to carry basic spares like spokes, a chain link or two and so on.   It's also worth bearing in mind that if the worst comes to the worst, steel can generally be welded in most workshops, aluminum requires a specialist and carbon - forget it!

And it's a really good idea to have TWO pumps!

Offline santiam bicycle

If anyone else posts in answer to the original question, i think it would be helpful if you mention where you've been for your specific recommendation. I agree with Galloper on his logic. I'm hoping more folks who've really been out in the remotes sound in to give us "the big picture".

(Hello again Galloper) (Interesting...."two pumps". Sounds like a very good idea. I've been using the Topeak Mini-Morph. Absolutely love it!)

So, I'm hearing 26" so far over-all. The reason this interests me is a fellow had question on what touring bike he should get and one recommendation was the Surly Long Haul Trucker. The only prob. with said bike is if you ride a 54cm or smaller, it only comes with 26" wheels. I personally feel this is actually a benefit, but wanted to hear really well and diversely traveled tourers sound off.

(Also, I sell bikes for a living and would like to be able to better advise my customers on what is the most reliable.)

Offline tonythomson

Ok my CV :-
 China, USSR when it was still Communist, around India and Nepal, North Africa, Turkey, Israel, Gaza (that's where you need your bullet proof tyres - actually people looked after me well but was a while back.)  Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand oh enough you get the picture.  Go for the imperial sizes wheels - use the best ss spokes around and carry plenty as spares, not heavy.  Plus all the cables etc.  Use steel racks cos as the guy above said can easily be welded, and I needed it on a couple of occasions..   

Use Kevlar lined tyres - and carry at least two spares as the tyres you can buy will mean flats every 10 mins.  If you can get an adaptor for air but 2 pumps is a good idea as I found out to my cost only having one which got stolen.  But you can use the air at garages by cutting the top off your dust cap - gets you by. 

Most anywhere will be a guy who repairs bikes and they do a great job especially for buckled wheels.

You'll have a great time good luck
Tony


 
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline Galloper

You can specify 26" wheels with a number of companies.   Thorn certainly do them and I think all the main trekking bike companies like Koga use them as well.

On the subject of pumps and tyres, I've always wondered why any touring bikes should use Presta valves when most air lines are set up for Schraeder.   

I'm impressed by that clever use of the valve cap, Tony, I shall tuck that little pearl away for future use.

Offline whittierider

Quote
steel can generally be welded in most workshops, aluminum requires a specialist and carbon - forget it!
If you're talking about frames though, the foil-thin steel used in light performance frames takes unusual skill to weld.  A neighbor of ours who has been welding for decades and has a list of NASA and aircraft certifications says he won't touch anything that thin.  For carbon, just take some JB Weld.  Carbon won't break from fatigue like steel will though.  I and many riders I know have broken steel frames but not carbon even though we've crashed them many times.  Our younger son, going 25mph, hit a car two summers ago that turned illegally in front of him.  We sent the carbon frame and fork to Calfee for their thorough inspections and tests.  They found no damage to the carbon itself.  Now he still rides the same bike with a lot of new parts on it.  One of our friends works at a place that makes carbon military helicopter blades.  He says they have to be able to take 100 hits from a .50-caliber machine gun without failure, although they do have a lot of sensors in them and tell the pilot when enough damage says it's time to head for home.  His father recently had a bad crash on his carbon bike, and before fixing it with JB Weld, he rode it for awhile with sharp, stiff carbon pieces 2-3" long sticking out of his right seat stay 1/8-1/4".  The stuff is not as fragile as people have made it out to be.

For tires, if you carry some good booting material, you can repair almost any cut and keep riding until the tire is totally worn out, even if that takes thousands more miles.  For small cuts and hole, you can boot with a 1.5" piece of tire liner with no sharp corners.  There's no need to glue it to the inside of the tire.  Just let the pressure of the tube hold it in place.  For really huge cuts like nearly an inch long, use a 3"-long piece of an old tire with the beads cut off.  Again, make sure there are no sharp edges on it.  I carry such a scrap, but have never used it.  There was a time I wish I had one, when we got a front blowout on a relatively new tandem tire.  I had just read about the dollar-bill trick, so I used that (I think I used two bills, as the hole was about 3/4" long) and then inflated to just over half pressure and babied it the rest of the long, unsupported ride.  American paper money is very strong, being half cotton and half linnen.  Some other countries' paper money is nowhere near as strong and durable.  I and my family have probably ridden tens of thousands of miles on tires with booted cuts up to nearly 1/4" though, including front tires, including the sidewall, and they have never been a problem.  I have bought and maintained somewhere near 200 tires over the decades for myself and my family, and all of the catastrophic, or nearly catastrophic, tire failures we've had were on new or nearly new tires, usually with less than 300 miles on them, including one on the very first ride, where the carcass starts pulling apart from the inside, indicating a manufacturing defect.  Now when I see and feel the bulge developing quickly, I know to let some pressure out and baby it all the way home, and then that tire goes in the trash, unlike ones that just get cuts and get booted.

Offline santiam bicycle

Ok,
Tony T:
err, WOW! you have been some places my friend. I'm astonished and green with envy! Umm, errrr, I'm afraid I don't know what "Imperial sized wheels" mean. Are you recommending 26" or 700c wheels? Any specific examples of your experience with either? (ie: so there I was, south Uganda and croco-stimpy ate my rear wheel. I found a guy who fixed bikes and airplanes in the back of his cantina and ......? By the way, thanks for weighing in. And just WHAT IS IT YOU DO that you can travel so much?

White:
Where have you been and what size tire have you had better experience with? (Very interesting and totally flys in the face of common view on coarbon fiber. Thanks for your imput.)

(is there a thread started called "TIPS" where experienced riders give out great tips such as Tony T's tip about the presta valve dust cap one? I think it would be an excellent source of info. It would almost have to be monitered and trimmed so it only had short tips and not huge/long comments so it is digestable. It would be like ...The 100 tips all touring cyclests should know.)

Offline whittierider

Quote
White:
Where have you been and what size tire have you had better experience with?  (Very interesting and totally flies in the face of common view on carbon fiber.  Thanks for your imput.)
After I chose my screen name, someone else wrote "white rider," and I realized it was easy to mis-read.  It's from "Whittier rider," since Whittier is the name of a nearby city.

I grew up on another continent because of my parents' work but I wasn't a cyclist yet when we left and I don't know what tire sizes were used there.  It might not matter anyway, because a few years later here in the U.S. when I built myself a touring bike I built up 27" wheels because at that time there were still more clincher-tire choices in 27" than in 700c.  Today there are very few good tires available in 27".  IOW, things have changed a lot even here since then.  I haven't ridden outside the U.S. in 35+ years.

I just visited the friend again a couple of hours ago who has the carbon fiber hanging off his seat stay.  I didn't realize his accident was 8 months ago!  He is still riding the bike, almost every day, including a lot in the nearby hills.  He showed me the epoxy he plans to use to fix it, but it'll probaly be outdated by the time he gets around to it!  It wasn't JB Weld, but some kind of aircraft stuff that he got from his son who works at the place that makes the military helicopter blades.  I'm sure the myths about carbon fiber got started because early effort were indeed laughable, and would fall apart if you looked at them wrong.  The problems were worked out many years ago, yet even today you could start a new myth about carbon fiber and people would believe and propagate it.  I have more miles so far on my carbon-fiber frame than I've gotten from any steel frame, and it's only a small fraction as many as Craig Calfee has heard some of his carbon-fiber-bike customers say they had on theirs and they still were like new.  A few months ago I saw a PBS show where Click and Clack, the humorous car answer men, were touring a small plant where, IIRC, electric cars were being made.  They were somewhat exotic and the bodies were carbon fiber.  The man was showing them a particular carbon-fiber panel with a very complex shape, and Click asked if he could test it.  His "test equipment" was a sledge hammer.  The man said sure.  He whacked that thing plenty hard with the sledge hammer and it just bounced.  The panel apparently had no damage.

Offline paddleboy17

You can specify 26" wheels with a number of companies.   Thorn certainly do them and I think all the main trekking bike companies like Koga use them as well.

On the subject of pumps and tyres, I've always wondered why any touring bikes should use Presta valves when most air lines are set up for Schraeder.   

I'm impressed by that clever use of the valve cap, Tony, I shall tuck that little pearl away for future use.

Cheap bikes use Schraeder valves.  The valves are used in other automotive applications like AC.  I believe that the only application for Presta valves is the bicycle world.  You can certainly drill out your rims if you want to go back to Schraeder valves.

There is an adapter to go to Schraeder from Presta.  A word of caution, if you are going to use a gas station air line to inflate your tubes.  The volume of air that comes out may overinflate your tube.  In my high school days, I had a clincher tire ripped off the rim because my momentary contact with the air line was too long.  The tire never worked right after that, and I bought a floor pump after that.
Danno

Offline Galloper


Cheap bikes use Schraeder valves.  The valves are used in other automotive applications like AC.  I believe that the only application for Presta valves is the bicycle world.  You can certainly drill out your rims if you want to go back to Schraeder valves.

There is an adapter to go to Schraeder from Presta.  A word of caution, if you are going to use a gas station air line to inflate your tubes.  The volume of air that comes out may overinflate your tube.  In my high school days, I had a clincher tire ripped off the rim because my momentary contact with the air line was too long.  The tire never worked right after that, and I bought a floor pump after that.
[/quote]

Yes, the point I was trying to make was that the only application for Presta valves is the bicycle world.   Why, I wonder, does no one else use them.   For slim rims, I understand the value of a slim valve setting but Presta valves always strike me as being fragile and more complicated in design and manufacture.

Offline John Nelson

Gas station air pumps vary widely. Some can explode your bicycle tire in very short order, and others will never get you above 40 PSI no matter how long you hold it on.

Offline tonythomson

Hi by Imperial I was thinking of 27" - which is the size you will find everywhere in the countries mentioned but 700 in Europe and USA.

How did I manage so much travelling, used to be in construction - worked 24/7 until I had enough money to travel for 12 months.  Eventually own business which now funds my cycling.

Good luck
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com