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Thread: Wheelbase?

  1. #1
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    Wheelbase?

    All other things being the same, how much would an extra 20mm of reach & wheelbase make. For example moving from a medium to a large with a 20mm shorter stem. You will fit exactly the same. More stability and perhaps slower in tight corners. However, I know riders on longer bikes than I have who handle tight corners better, so it doesn't hinder them. 20mm is less than an inch, or 1/58 of an 1160mm WB, or 1.7%. How much can you feel 1.7%. Doesn't sound like much, but is it?
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  2. #2
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    Instead of looking at the difference as a percentage of the wheelbase, it's proportion to the front center measurement is more important. At least in most frames where the chainstays are the same for all sizes.

    Still don't think it's a big deal except for comfort. One might feel better than the other to you.

  3. #3
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    The difference in wheelbase with many "traditional" vs "modern" geometry bikes is often less than the difference between Small and XL sized frames of the same model. In 23 years of riding I don't recall ever experiencing a situation where the short guys could always make a turn but the tall guys couldn't.

    If all other figures remained the same and only reach/WB was increased, I think most people would struggle to even notice 20mm.

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    The wheelbase increments between the sizes of bikes I'm looking at (GG Smash and Orbea Rallon) is substantial...around 2". I can't imagine them not riding differently.
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  5. #5
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    I think bike height i.e. how tall it is... Is more critical in the handling department, than how long it is.

    'We'll all make it to the top... Some of us, might not make it to the bottom'
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    Well, if the difference was insignificant, why would bicycle companies make more than a couple of sizes? I don't know how much of a difference 20mm would make, but that is less weight over the front tire for traction on corners and steep climbing. You would need to exagerate weight shifts more in certain situations, and yes, it will handle tight turns and technical sections differently. I'm just not sure how much.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    All other things being the same, how much would an extra 20mm of reach & wheelbase make. For example moving from a medium to a large with a 20mm shorter stem. You will fit exactly the same. More stability and perhaps slower in tight corners. However, I know riders on longer bikes than I have who handle tight corners better, so it doesn't hinder them. 20mm is less than an inch, or 1/58 of an 1160mm WB, or 1.7%. How much can you feel 1.7%. Doesn't sound like much, but is it?
    Like anything bike frame/geometry-related, it is barely noticeable until it exceeds a threshold. Then it is glaring. Much like steering trail. In your case, I think it is well within "normal" parameters.

    For me, my fatbike is pretty long and sorta slow-handling. It requires some manhandling to negotiate the tight-and-twisties. My theory, other than long wheelbase (46.4") AND long chainstays is that it takes some real movement and body English to transfer my weight front and back. On my 29er, which is very responsive (WB ~ 43.x), the weight shift front to back is very short and quick. Those movements are very efficient, and the difference from the fatbike is quite noticeable.

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  8. #8
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    It depends on the rider, I suppose.

    I personally have moved the sliders on my single speed from full front to full back and changed NOTHING except adding a single link to the chain. I even ran the same gearing ratio. I did it as an experiment to answer a similar question as you're asking.

    I "suppose" I noticed a small change in handling that day; I would have told you my bike turned a little slower, but felt a little more stable at speed over rough loose chunk.

    it was probably confirmation bias. Or beer in my jersey pocket. Or different PSI in my rear tire. Or more water in my water bottle. Or a full moon.

    Ultimately, It was FAR FAR more subtle than the "OMG this is unrideable/OMG this is amazing" that I was preparing for.


    Because single speeders obsess about all things drivetrain, I've talked to people who claim they can feel a difference when they add or drop a tooth, resulting in a 3-5mm change. I'm not certain I believe that, but I don't judge.
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  9. #9
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    XL bike guy, all my wheel bases are longer. Better question, reach as it affects handling and chain stay length is more important? Ride the 2 bikes on the same trail?

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    At 6'1" I'm in between a L and XL on most bike models I like. I recently switched from an XL with a 48" wheelbase to an L with a 46" and certainly felt an improvement in agility and the ability to negotiate tight switchbacks. While the bike I ended up buying is a different model than my former XL and other geometry differences may be involved in this perception, I found this to be the case across several different L and XL size bikes I demoed in this wheelbase range.

    Perhaps it would matter less to a more highly skilled rider, but at my intermediate level it made a significant (not earth-shattering, but very noticeable) difference.

  11. #11
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    I don't think I would notice 20 mm, but something like the GeoMetron 16 gets up to a wheelbase of 1386 mm in XXL, an extra 226 mm over your 1160 mm wheelbase. I know that I've made tight turns by much less than that before, so I'd be walking stuff with that bike.

  12. #12
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    20mm might be noticeable if all other variables were constant, but after a handful of rides it would feel normal normal unless you were alternating between the two back to back.

  13. #13
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    Geometry is a whole package, my bikes have gotten longer going from '09 to '14 to '18 models of similar Trek bikes but overall handling doesn't seem that different. The '18 Slash is a BIG bike but I find it very agile and easy to whip around if needed, not much different from my much smaller '09 Remedy, but I'm sure back to back there would seem to be a very large difference.

    The other thing is it's probably worth it to get used to new, longer geometry as the bikes are overall FAR better. My new '18 Slash is ridiculously good, and looking at geo numbers in isolation does not convey how the bike rides overall.

  14. #14
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    I'm thinking of getting a frame that has the longest WB/reach/front centre I've ever tried. The rest of the geometry is not that different from what I am familiar with. I may be getting old, but still like to try new things.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  15. #15
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    Moxie???

    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I don't know how much of a difference 20mm would make, but that is less weight over the front tire for traction on corners and steep climbing.
    Comparing my Endorphin to my old 2010 5spot, the Endo has 60mm more reach and at least that much more wheelbase and climbs steep stuff far better than the Turner did. Why? Steeper seat tube angle and lower stack height.

    You've gotta consider the whole package, not just one or two measurements in isolation.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Moxie???



    Comparing my Endorphin to my old 2010 5spot, the Endo has 60mm more reach and at least that much more wheelbase and climbs steep stuff far better than the Turner did. Why? Steeper seat tube angle and lower stack height.

    You've gotta consider the whole package, not just one or two measurements in isolation.
    The OP said given everything else stayed the same.

  17. #17
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    Moving from a short to a long bike with a considerable increase in both reach (+30mm) and wheelbase (+90mm) was mostly positive for me. Bike is more stable at speed and over rough terrain, climbs better, descends way better, OTBs are nearly eliminated. The long reach puts me in a racier position (flat back, head low) that feels more efficient. It actually puts more weight on my hands so front wheel traction is improved, probably also helps with climbing.

    The longer wb also allowed/encouraged to change my method of attacking rockgardens etc. Instead of finding the best line around obstacles, it is now faster and safer to ride over them. I can still weave lines between obstacles if I want to, but because I'm travelling faster the "ride over stuff" method is usually prefered (especially when I'm in doubt).

    Downsides? The racy position is not ideal for cruising in 2nd gear, it encourages you to push all the time. It also requires a stronger torso. In jumps (not my area of expertise, I catch minimal airtime) it is more stable, but you need to "pull" more actively. Lifting the front wheel is a wee bit harder overall.

    Tight turns are not a problem at all, but I needed to get used to the bike first. The handling dynamics are quite different between the two geometries.

    Bear in mind that the two bikes are hardtails and despite the difference in length their chainstays measure the same.

  18. #18
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    I'm not saying more until things shake out further, but I was comparing 2 similar frames. Not Identical but very close except for reach. I have liked it every time I have gone longer, and am not afraid to try something new. There is always the classifieds.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  19. #19
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    Wheelbase is overrated in effects on handling. Much more important is the front rear balance. I added over a 100mm from my last bike and it doesn't feel awkward.
    Making shit harder than it needs to be isn't awesome, it's just...harder.

  20. #20
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    Another thread about this geometry thing... Pointless and worthless. Everybody rides different trails in different ways with different preferences. One geometry will not be best for everybody. There is always a compromise. Always. For some people, those compromises are insignificant. For others, they're deal breakers. Anybody that says Calvin and Hobbes wasn't funny has a personal agenda and should be ignored.

  21. #21
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    Wtf?
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    I honestly don't know, but before I bought my Trek 1120, I read some articles about its design, which is based on the Trek Stache. The chainstays on the 1120 are 20mm longer than on the Stache. This reportedly results in greater stability for the 1120, which is, you know, the bikepacking Stache. What exactly is stability in this context? Marketing hype to cover up a manufacturing mistake? Trek seems to think 20mm longer makes a difference, or else they just want me to think it helps.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thrashbarg View Post
    Anybody that says Calvin and Hobbes wasn't funny has a personal agenda and should be ignored.
    ¯\(°_o)/¯

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thrashbarg View Post
    Another thread about this geometry thing... Pointless and worthless. Everybody rides different trails in different ways with different preferences. One geometry will not be best for everybody. There is always a compromise. Always. For some people, those compromises are insignificant. For others, they're deal breakers. Anybody that says Calvin and Hobbes wasn't funny has a personal agenda and should be ignored.
    As soon as this thread turns into a "my geometry is better than your geometry" thread, then yes.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    I have liked it every time I have gone longer, and am not afraid to try something new. There is always the classifieds.
    Are we still talking bike frames?

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackWare View Post
    Are we still talking bike frames?
    Ouch.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thrashbarg View Post
    Another thread about this geometry thing... Pointless and worthless. Everybody rides different trails in different ways with different preferences. One geometry will not be best for everybody. There is always a compromise. Always. For some people, those compromises are insignificant. For others, they're deal breakers. Anybody that says Calvin and Hobbes wasn't funny has a personal agenda and should be ignored.
    Wheelbase?-384f9fee3430773277653dd9fb12fc0e-calvin-hobbes-comics-online-comics.jpg

    I hear that.

  28. #28
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    Mildly amusing.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    Moving from a short to a long bike with a considerable increase in both reach (+30mm) and wheelbase (+90mm) was mostly positive for me. Bike is more stable at speed and over rough terrain, climbs better, descends way better, OTBs are nearly eliminated. The long reach puts me in a racier position (flat back, head low) that feels more efficient. It actually puts more weight on my hands so front wheel traction is improved, probably also helps with climbing.

    The longer wb also allowed/encouraged to change my method of attacking rockgardens etc. Instead of finding the best line around obstacles, it is now faster and safer to ride over them. I can still weave lines between obstacles if I want to, but because I'm travelling faster the "ride over stuff" method is usually prefered (especially when I'm in doubt).

    Downsides? The racy position is not ideal for cruising in 2nd gear, it encourages you to push all the time. It also requires a stronger torso. In jumps (not my area of expertise, I catch minimal airtime) it is more stable, but you need to "pull" more actively. Lifting the front wheel is a wee bit harder overall.

    Tight turns are not a problem at all, but I needed to get used to the bike first. The handling dynamics are quite different between the two geometries.

    Bear in mind that the two bikes are hardtails and despite the difference in length their chainstays measure the same.
    I agree with the few. It matters. Think of a triangle sitting flat on the ground. The wider the base, the more stable the triangle. Hogwash on turning slower in switchbacks. Most turning I've found is done through mostly lean and not steering.
    Climbing steeps is easier to not wheelie out with a longer wheelbase. Ledges are easier with a longer wheelbase since you go up or down at a little less of an angle and the front wheel can get up or down earlier. Less endos. Don't super stretch out but I would always go bigger than smaller unless you slalom traffic cones in a circus for a living.
    Keep trying to do the awesomest thing you've ever done.

  30. #30
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    Guess I'm gonna find out, hopefully in a few weeks. Thanks to those who contributed to the discussion in a meaningful way.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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