Author Topic: Does size matter?  (Read 1498 times)

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Offline John Nettles

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Does size matter?
« on: February 02, 2022, 12:22:59 pm »
OK, in some areas size does matter, i.e. frame size, handlebar width, etc. But what about wheel size, i.e. 650 vs 700?
I am looking to replace my stolen Co-Motion Americano but there is currently a 4-8 month build time depending on the builder.  Arrgh. 

I have an option for a bike with a 650 wheel size but I would prefer the larger wheel diameter of a 700c to help smooth out the bumps. Plus, I am old school enough so I am somewhat reluctant about that size due to whether it will go away some time in the next 10-15 years.  Who knows.

I ride a mix of paved/off-pavement routes, maybe a 70/30 ratio. 

Has anyone here ridden both a 700 and a 650?  If so, what are the differences.

Any thoughts and comments, i.e, limitations with the 650?

Thanks, John


Offline ray b

Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2022, 01:29:01 pm »
Really - not much difference in feel - especially with the bigger tires we tend to use these days.

That said, I made a rule early last year while rebuilding wheels on some older hubs - all wheels in the house needed to be 700C (/29er) to avoid duplication in tire purchases. (Of course, while I was on my last trip, my wife picked a chromed aluminum mountain bike out of the garbage for me to rehab for her..., with 26 inch wheels.)

Up to you whether you wait. All depends on whether you have another bike suitable for touring while putting in the waiting time.

The few times I've lost bikes to thieves or accidents, I've always had long mourning periods where I sat back and looked at all the new technology and weighed carefully what the replacement should look like.

(I mean, do you consider Pinion gearing an improvement over Rohloff? You might if you want to run different rim sizes without investing in multiple Rohloffs as I have. Is shaft drive the wave of the future?)

You're one of the few guys I don't need to remind to have fun with this - and if it's not fun because it's too close to the loss of your favorite bike, hold off for a bit until a new bike feels more exciting.

Have a good year.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2022, 01:30:52 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2022, 01:47:06 pm »
I mean, do you consider Pinion gearing an improvement over Rohloff? You might if you want to run different rim sizes without investing in multiple Rohloffs as I have. Is shaft drive the wave of the future?
Oh, while I am sad about the loss, I have replacement insurance so I am only out my high deductible.  But since I will get about $4k toward a new bike, I can't complain too much.  Yes, I will have fun except for the frigging long wait time and that I tend to look world-wide, i.e. the Koga, Tout Terrain, Van Nichols, etc. in addition to domestic.  I do have multiple touring bikes so waiting is not an issue other than I want it now  ;) .  Ironically, my favorite bike is a 1980s Robert Beckman Sakkit which was the original "adventure bike".  It is a bit small but it works.  It has really long chain stays so that a water bottle can fit behind the seat tube and still have room for fenders. Yet, the bike is quite nimble.  Wish more bikes were like this.

I am leaning toward the Pinion as I like how I can swap different size wheels (26", 650, & 700) depending on the tour's overall terrain a whole lot cheaper than with the Rohloff (of which I have on two other bikes).  The closer spacing of the gears is nice too compared to the Rohloff.  It is just the extra $1500 that is causing me some pause as is the extra 1.5 pounds.  I will definitely stick with a belt drive.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2022, 02:23:57 pm »
What size 650 wheel are we talking about? Getting pedantic, there are four different 650 wheel sizes--650, 650A, 650B, 650C. The outer diameter of the wheel is nominally supposed to be 650mm/65 cm, which in Imperial is just about 26 inches at 25.6". The idea was that the "higher" the letter designation, the smaller the rim diameter and the wider the tire. Straight 650 would have narrow tires and 650C the widest tire, but the outside wheel diameter would stay 650mm across the range. Over the years that idea got thrown out and we have really skinny 650C tires and super-wide 650B.

I'm guessing when you say "650" you mean "650B", which is the most common 650 size these days. The French have been using 650B for many decades. It got popularized here in the US in the last 15 years or so, and I don't think it's going away anytime soon, especially since mountain biking is getting into 27.5", which is essentially the same as 650B when it comes to rim fit.

What size wheels are you currently running, John? (And I'm guessing your 700 is 700C.) And what tire width do you normally run? 650B tires tend to be on the wider side. I feel that tire width does more to soften the bumps than bigger wheels, and smaller wheels tend to be stronger, an added benefit.

I wouldn't be scared with a new wheel size, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable, stick with what you know. And as Ray B points out, more wheel sizes means more tubes/tires/etc. All my bikes have different wheel sizes so I have to make sure I have several different spare tube sizes. And that can be a headache!

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2022, 03:05:55 pm »
I wound up with 26" wheels on my Disc Trucker since that is the wheel size my wife needed to get for stand over clearance. I wanted to carry one size spare on out trips and have wheels that could be swapped in a pinch. I had concerns over speed, but there are a few studies out there that show almost no difference in speed on a touring bike over the coarse of a day. Someone riding a 700c tire might finish 3 minutes quicker over 65 miles, but many other factors would come into play before wheel size. Also, the guy at my LBS said the smaller tires require slightly less effort to get started from a stand still, but who can really measure that with a loaded touring bike.

So, bottom line from all the research I did, it makes no performance difference for the average bike tourist. Convivence and compatibility with other bikes and riders is a different discussion.  I ride 700C's on my Litespeed - old school 160 PSI Vredesteins (sp?). I ride 29's on my Scott Scale, which I have toured with with on gravel, probably around 46 cm wide. I ride 26X46 on my Surly and I would say width makes a much bigger difference that diameter. I would also note that the bike geometry of the three bikes I mentioned are like comparing a Porsche, to a Jeep, to a Winnebago.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2022, 04:53:43 pm »
Adventure,I know some about the various sizes.  It  was my understanding the big difference between the 650s was the rim (thus the tire probably) width.  I am/was currently running 700 on my Americano but the Thorn has 559 as does the Beckman.  One thing I did not like about the Co-Motion is that it could not take tires wider than 37mm.  When I was doing mixed surface tours on it, at times I really wished I could have gone wider on the gravel roads.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2022, 05:07:19 pm »
I would also note that the bike geometry of the three bikes I mentioned are like comparing a Porsche, to a Jeep, to a Winnebago.
I can understand the car analogy.  I have said my Co-Motion was like a regular F-150 pickup while my Thorn MkII is like a F-350 Dually Crew Cab 4x4 pickup.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2022, 05:38:54 pm »
Adventure,I know some about the various sizes.  It  was my understanding the big difference between the 650s was the rim (thus the tire probably) width.  I am/was currently running 700 on my Americano but the Thorn has 559 as does the Beckman.  One thing I did not like about the Co-Motion is that it could not take tires wider than 37mm.  When I was doing mixed surface tours on it, at times I really wished I could have gone wider on the gravel roads.

I know that there are more width choices in 700C/29" tires these days, but a lot of the bikes designed for 700C wheels can't handle bigger tires. I had a circa 2008 LHT with 700C wheels, and despite "Fatties Fit Fine", 35mm was about as wide as I could get. (This was mostly due to my front Jandd rack, so if I switched to a different rack I may have been able to increase width somewhat.) And for the longest time, 35mm on a 700C wheel was considered "fat". Bikes designed with 650B or 26" wheels were usually (though not always) designed for widths north of 35mm.

Sounds like you want wider tires. I'd go for the option where you can get the widest possible. I got my custom Bantam built around 26"/559 wheels that can take tires up to 2.4" wide and don't regret it one bit.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2022, 01:57:22 am »
Sounds like you want wider tires. I'd go for the option where you can get the widest possible. I got my custom Bantam built around 26"/559 wheels that can take tires up to 2.4" wide and don't regret it one bit.
More accurately, I want the capability of wider tires.  If doing an all-paved route, 35mm is fine.  It is when I get off onto gravel with heavy loads that I want wider tires.  I am looking at a few different models.  The Co-Motion Divide, the Tout Terrain Blueridge Xplore GT Select 22.1 (name is way too long), the Koga WorldTraveller, Van Nichols, among others.  Each of the bikes have their pros and cons. 

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2022, 05:13:21 am »
John -

I know you had not wanted to dive into tubeless, but this is a great time to at least get a tubeless ready setup. The Stan's sealant is not the messy goop of the past and you can always keep the tubes to start.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2022, 09:52:40 am »
More accurately, I want the capability of wider tires.  If doing an all-paved route, 35mm is fine.  It is when I get off onto gravel with heavy loads that I want wider tires.  I am looking at a few different models.  The Co-Motion Divide, the Tout Terrain Blueridge Xplore GT Select 22.1 (name is way too long), the Koga WorldTraveller, Van Nichols, among others.  Each of the bikes have their pros and cons.
 

Just out of curiosity, is the Tout Terrain wheelbase as long as the name?  :)

Back on topic: are you thinking about one bike, two faces, and you pick one face for each tour?  Or would you expect to switch mid-ride?  I'm thinking back to my Trans-Am ride.  For 3,000 miles starting in Virginia the 32-35 setup would be perfect (well, maybe 2,500 miles until I hit the expansion joints in eastern Colorado).  Would you swap tires, or even wheels, in Silverthorne so you could take the dirt mountain road to bypass Kremmling?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2022, 10:11:34 am »
.... but this is a great time to at least get a tubeless ready setup. The Stan's sealant is not the messy goop of the past and you can always keep the tubes to start.
I am toying with the idea but have no idea where to start.  But, I will start doing research. 

So if you do get a major hole so the sealant can't seal the hole (but the tire would be usable with a tire boot & tube), how messy is the sealant and tire when you if you should get another flat (with the tube) before the tire wears out?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2022, 10:43:52 am »
Just out of curiosity, is the Tout Terrain wheelbase as long as the name?  :)

Back on topic: are you thinking about one bike, two faces, and you pick one face for each tour?  Or would you expect to switch mid-ride?  I'm thinking back to my Trans-Am ride.  For 3,000 miles starting in Virginia the 32-35 setup would be perfect (well, maybe 2,500 miles until I hit the expansion joints in eastern Colorado).  Would you swap tires, or even wheels, in Silverthorne so you could take the dirt mountain road to bypass Kremmling?
The wheel base is approximately 34mm longer but the reach is about 24mm longer.  I probably won't get the TT since the reach is longer.  I prefer a shorter reach but also prefer drop bars. And I hate geometry so it takes me hours to compare the two. You would think after 45 years I would know the exact measurements I like, but noooo.

More like a bike with two faces.  For instance, say I do the traditional TA.  I would do it on 700s with 35mm Schwalbe Supreme tires.  Next summer (2023), I plan to ride from Prudhoe Bay to Las Vegas with about 50% off (or poor) pavement.  For that, I would like at least a 50mm tire so I can let some air pressure out to get a more comfortable ride over gravel roads but pump them back up for the paved stretches. 

Most of the bikes I am looking are made to accept 26 (559), 27.5 (650), or 700 wheel sets with the wider the tire the smaller the rim.  This would give me flexibility of buying just a second set of wheel for mostly off-paved roads (like the Great Divide) which is a lot cheaper.  Then I can sell the Thorn MkII.  That bike could carry any load (literally 100+ pounds of gear) easily without shimmy, etc., but it is heavy and I doubt I will ever need to carry ultra heavy weight like that.  Heck, Pete is probably fainting at the thought of carrying that much weight  ;D

My problem seems to be that most "trekking" bikes like upright bars and I strongly prefer drop bars. Trekking bars have longer top tubes but when you add a drop bar to it and not shorten the top tube correspondingly, it gets too long for me as I don't like being stretched out.  For once in my life, I would like something that is just "normal".

I am leaning toward either buying a new bike IF one that is "perfect" can be found but I strongly prefer to buy used as I just don't see spending $9k on a bike when you can buy the exact same bike used for 33%-50% off a year or two later. I can afford the bikes, I am just a cheap bastard.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2022, 02:46:25 pm »
That Prudhoe to Vegas sounds like a monster ride, the kind that you can justify buying the perfect bike for it. 

I'm inclined to avoid something that monumental, in part because I don't care to tempt fate with a couple months of starchy, fatty foods since I fell through the cardiac patient trap door.  I'm also thinking about a new bike (without the trauma of having my old one stolen!).  The two faces thing is attractive, but I'm wondering (1) will I ride enough dirt/bad pavement to make the second wheel set worthwhile, and (2) would something more road oriented (but with clearance for low-40s tires) be a "jack of all trades, master of none" compromise?

Do you have any insight on how a "fatty" bike is going to ride with relatively skinny tires?  For instance, would you put 32 tires on where you'd normally put on 28s, to give you some shock absorption in the tires you won't get from the fork?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Does size matter?
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2022, 03:25:35 pm »
The two faces thing is attractive, but I'm wondering (1) will I ride enough dirt/bad pavement to make the second wheel set worthwhile, and (2) would something more road oriented (but with clearance for low-40s tires) be a "jack of all trades, master of none" compromise?

Do you have any insight on how a "fatty" bike is going to ride with relatively skinny tires?  For instance, would you put 32 tires on where you'd normally put on 28s, to give you some shock absorption in the tires you won't get from the fork?
Since I will ride most anything that is not technical (the panniers make it difficult to bunny hop), for me, I would like a bike where I can switch the wheel set is appealing because for say ~$750, I can get a decent 2nd set of wheels which is cheaper than a another bike plus less clutter around the garage (our house currently has 7 bikes, 1 recumbent trike, and 1 tandem) which would make the wife happy (even though 3 of the bikes are hers). 

As far as putting wider tires on, I personally would put say 32 where it would normally fit a 28 assuming you could fit a 32.  Maybe it is because Oklahoma generally has somewhat crappy roads.  Also, most of my riding is feast or famine in that I go on a 500-2500 mile tour, then basically don't ride until the next tour except for occasional club rides so I really don't worry too much about speed. 

When touring, the benefit of a wider tire are 1) the air pressure is not as much so it is easier to pump up to top off the bike or (though I usually use a car repair shop for that as I only run schrader valves), 2) more comfort due to less pressure needed, and 3) can carry heavier loads if needed.  It is surprising how low the "max loads" are on some tires, i.e. under 250 total.  I figure if I hit a pot hole or something, I want something that can handle the stress a bit more. 

For 45 years I have heard the continual skinny/fat tires are better due to lower rolling resistance.  I don't know what the true answer is but I would suspect they don't factor in the tire's compound and weight which can make a huge difference.

The downside of using skinny (relatively) tires on bike designed for wide tires is the bike can look "gappy", i.e. LOTS of clearance between the stays, fork blades, etc.  Strictly aesthetics but some worry about that.  I figure I look dorky enough since I wear bike shorts with a long-sleeve shirt, with a bunch of sun block smeared on my head, which is covered by an extra long "dew rag" which is topped by a helmet sporting a Da Brim helmet visor and a long mirror sticking out from the helmet.   A gappy bike really is not a deal breaker for me and luckily I am happily married so don't have to worry about impressing the ladies.