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  1. #1
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    Tall Skinny Front vs Smaller Fat Rear

    With the advent of so many tire sizes; tall and fat of late, a new option arises to consider. What would be the pros and cons on handling of running a 29 x 3" on 50mm rims in front and say a 26 x 3.8" on 100mm rims in the rear? The bike would be full rigid, with intended use as an adventure/pack ride, much like the upcoming new ECR made by Surly. Of course, said bike would be designed from scratch, taking into account the differing wheel sizes, not a make do job on an existing frame. Any thoughts/ideas - welcomed.
    "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway" John Wayne

  2. #2
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    I can think of a few disadvantages but I am curious what you think the advantages would be.

  3. #3
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    If you've got a fat rear, you deserve a fat front too.

  4. #4
    will rant for food
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    Do what you want, man. It's your bike. I've thought of 29x3 Knarding my current fat bike for the summer. This is probably better in the Fat Bikes forum.
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  5. #5
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    I was thinking along the lines of motorcycles, dirt bikes, with a similar set up. But being a street/cruiser type of rider, that area I am not up on.

    Posted here as I thought a frame builder might have a better idea as to the effects.

    Changes that I can see is that it might it more difficult to steer in the desired direction,
    but at low speeds of say a max of about 10mph, how bad; lighter in front, better approach angle, and more cush and traction in back.
    "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway" John Wayne

  6. #6
    will rant for food
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    That has more to do with tires.

    If you're using a Surly Nate in the back on pavement, then yes, the rear can influence steering at super low speeds, like 2 mph. I've heard those tires make noises like separating velcro, cough, I'm sorry, hook and loop straps. EDIT - and if you're using Nates on pavement, duuuude what?!

    And honestly, a smooth tire like a Surly Black Floyd exhibits self steer in the front, and no meaningful bad behavior in the back. I set up a bike with those at one point because I wanted to experiment on how to do long road rides comfortably (my wrists are pansy pieces of crap).

    I canned the experiment because of self steer, and the fact that big tires make for unamusing encounters in certain urban environments - first, big tires not hiding out in the forest can get you hoots, hollers, and stupid question from random people, second, the tires do not fit in spaces on some types of racks.

    But man, cruising on those tires at speed - it was like a couch. I'd love to see a fat slick tire with a really round casing, but the recent Vee Speedster looks like a step in the wrong direction (and their Vee 8 dirt tire similarly handles like sh!t in front).
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  7. #7
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    A narrower, taller front tire should steer more "normally" - the contact patch doesn't shift as much when the tire is leaned and it should have less pneumatic trail and scrub. Trading off some width for height seems like a reasonable strategy. I'm sure you could come up with a fork that would fit both sizes.

    The fat tire in the back has the usual challenges with chain line and tire clearance and wide bottom brackets. They are more or less solvable problems, but the parts are still somewhat niche. You might want parts that are easier to get.

    One limitation of having two different sized tires is that if your adventures warrant carrying a spare tire, you have to carry two.

  8. #8
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    A dirt bike uses a 21 inch front wheel for much the same reasons that big wheel bicycles are popular, the larger diameter helps you roll over obstacles and track well in loose conditions, while the lower weight, compared to a fatter tire, helps you loft the front as needed. The wider and smaller rear, however, has more to do with getting a larger contact patch to keep the rear hooked up under engine power. That and more volume and suspension for taking hard hits at speed.

    I suppose the last two could apply to bicycles as well but I don't think that the compromises would be worth it unless you are using it for downhill type stuff

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