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  1. #1
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    LHT wheel size question

    700c or 26"? what are the advantages and disadvantages?

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    Assuming you'd be riding a big enough frame that you have the choice (54cm and smaller you've only got 26" as an option):

    26" wheels:
    - Fatter tire clearance for increased comfort and support for heavy loads (some very stout 26" tires out there)
    - Stronger wheel given the same strength components thanks to shorter spokes and a tighter radius on the rim.
    - Better toe clearance
    - Better parts availability in some areas of the world
    - More 'agile' feeling (depending on the weight of your tire/rim) from less rotating inertia
    - More off-road capable tire options

    700c wheels:
    - Faster rolling generally from narrow contact patch (tire size dependent)
    - Smoother over rough pavement thanks to larger diameter
    - More popular aesthetic (26" wheels look a little funny, I happen to like the look though)

    All these are subjective depending on what specific components you're using, tire pressure, etc. I would say go 26" if you plan to be heavily loaded on a regular basis, 700c if you're going to mostly use it as a road bike with light loads.
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  3. #3
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    +1 to LostBoyScout, dude nailed it in one shot.

    You should also add "internationally available" should you be taking it to less than developed countries, the usual argument for 26" over 700C when building up touring bikes. But that's more of an edge case.

    There's one other thing I noticed when using dynohubs, they're usually rated on 26" wheels, so the lights require a little more speed to kick in because of the extra rollout (instead of 7 mph, they now kick in at 10 mph, for example). Usually not an issue, but one of my buddies switched his Son20 hub to his 700C bike and it only hits full brightness around the 16 mph mark, because the wheel rotates more slowly than a 20" wheel like the hub was designed for.

    For the same reason, lower rollout with the same gearing on a 26" wheel could add to LostBoyScout's recommendation of 26" for heavily loaded rigs, although that's an easy fix.

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    Thorn Cycles has a great article on the virtues of 26 inch wheels, but I can't seem to find the link. Anyway, I think LostBoyScout covered it. I'll just add a couple points for folks who happen to be building up a frame instead getting a complete bike. With the 26" frames, you have the option to run 650b wheels instead of 26". That's a great option for those not doing hard core touring. Another plus with the 26" is the ability to swap in parts from old mountain bikes - maybe an old bike with worn out suspension that you're turning into a commuter. That sort of thing. Having said all that, my LHT is 700c and I love it. But then, I have no illusions about touring Mongolia or anything like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LostBoyScout View Post
    Assuming you'd be riding a big enough frame that you have the choice (54cm and smaller you've only got 26" as an option):

    26" wheels:
    - Fatter tire clearance for increased comfort and support for heavy loads (some very stout 26" tires out there)
    - Stronger wheel given the same strength components thanks to shorter spokes and a tighter radius on the rim.
    - Better toe clearance
    - Better parts availability in some areas of the world
    - More 'agile' feeling (depending on the weight of your tire/rim) from less rotating inertia
    - More off-road capable tire options

    700c wheels:
    - Faster rolling generally from narrow contact patch (tire size dependent)
    - Smoother over rough pavement thanks to larger diameter
    - More popular aesthetic (26" wheels look a little funny, I happen to like the look though)

    All these are subjective depending on what specific components you're using, tire pressure, etc. I would say go 26" if you plan to be heavily loaded on a regular basis, 700c if you're going to mostly use it as a road bike with light loads.

    Id have to disagree strongly with the idea that the 700c cant handle heavy load. I have a 60cm 700c trucker and i can load that thing to the sky and it dosnt bat an eyelid. If your confining it to light loads you should be getting a cross-check as the thinner tubes give a better ride and can handle light loads.

    Its plenty capable offroad too, its basically a sturdy cross bike with a low BB (note, same BB height on 26" model!). With touring bikes like the LHT your typically limited by the mudguards when trying to offroad.

    And inertia wise, those fat tyres your recommending weigh a fricking tonne! way more inertia on a wide tired 26". I know you say 'depending on the weight of your tire/rim' but by that argument i could stick a set of superlight carbon road wheels in my trucker LOL! You cant compare a heavy 700c with a light 26, thats not fighting fair

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dickyelsdon View Post
    Id have to disagree strongly with the idea that the 700c cant handle heavy load. I have a 60cm 700c trucker and i can load that thing to the sky and it dosnt bat an eyelid. If your confining it to light loads you should be getting a cross-check as the thinner tubes give a better ride and can handle light loads.

    Its plenty capable offroad too, its basically a sturdy cross bike with a low BB (note, same BB height on 26" model!). With touring bikes like the LHT your typically limited by the mudguards when trying to offroad.

    And inertia wise, those fat tyres your recommending weigh a fricking tonne! way more inertia on a wide tired 26". I know you say 'depending on the weight of your tire/rim' but by that argument i could stick a set of superlight carbon road wheels in my trucker LOL! You cant compare a heavy 700c with a light 26, thats not fighting fair
    I don't think it was so much as saying, "700C is incapable of handling a heavy load". The way I read it, what was said was that 26" wheels are more capable of handling a heavy load as the overall wheel build is stronger for the same components, for the same reason that 20" wheels are more capable in handling heavy loads than a 26" wheel with all components being comparable.

    With adequate component selection and throwing enough money at the problem, I'm sure you could build up an equally strong 700C wheel.
    Last edited by hunter006; 12-04-2012 at 07:11 AM.

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    You'll over-load the handling of the bike (irrespective of wheel size) way before you over-load a touring wheelbuild. The LHT isnt a cargo bike so max-load is not going to be mega high. I carried 4 pannier full of soft drinks bottle and booze, plus a crate of cans on top of the rear rack. The stock 700 wheels were fine, as were the tyres. It was unrideable tho, infact you could barely keep the thing upright.

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    I said nothing about 700c being incapable - just everything else being equal, a 26" wheel is stronger and with bigger tires, comfier. I have carried 100lbs of gear on my 700c Vaya on tours. 2" tires can take some of the shock off your racks etc when hitting potholes but I agree either since can be plenty strong
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    The 700c wheel sets on the LHT are plenty strong enough for any practical use IMPE. I'm a super clyde (330lbs) and had zero issues with the stock 700c conti tires and Alex Adventurer rims for two years of use. This year, I upgraded to a hand-made wheel set that is slightly narrower (velocity chukker rims w/ 28mm conti gatorskin tires) and that's been plenty strong as well (and rolls quite a bit better IMHO) I'm not saying that you need to get the 700c version over the 26, I just don't think that the strength of the wheelset needs to be a factor in your LHT purchasng decision unless you're a really big dude and tour with extremely heavy loads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LostBoyScout View Post
    I said nothing about 700c being incapable - just everything else being equal, a 26" wheel is stronger and with bigger tires, comfier. I have carried 100lbs of gear on my 700c Vaya on tours. 2" tires can take some of the shock off your racks etc when hitting potholes but I agree either since can be plenty strong
    Sorry, didnt mean to sound like i was being critical. Just i think sometimes wheel strength is vastly overplayed as an issue, when with modern components it just isnt (as your example proves).

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    No worries. My list sounded 26" biased but really I like both. Another plus for 700c is that your rim brakes have a slight mechanical advantage because of the longer moment arm - not sure you'd notice it in the real world though
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    Actually, the brakes on the LHT is one of my biggest beefs with the stock set up. They just don't have enough power to stop very well with a big load like me on the bike. (I'm assuming it'd be the same case for a more typically sized person with lots of gear.) I replaced my brakes with Avid SD-7 V-brakes and that improved things a lot for me. If I were buying a new LHT I would definately get the disc brake version!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dickyelsdon View Post
    Its plenty capable offroad too, its basically a sturdy cross bike with a low BB (note, same BB height on 26" model!). With touring bikes like the LHT your typically limited by the mudguards when trying to offroad.
    I totally hear you. I've taken my 700c Trucker on its fair share of singletrack and I think it does great. I would guess that tire choice is the main factor for recommending a 26" LHT for offroad riding. The 26" frame will fit 2.1" rubber and just about every popular mountain bike tire can be had in that size. On the other hand, the 700c frame only fits 45mm, which narrows your choice to, what, half a dozen decent monstercross tires. Maybe with the gravel grinder revolution in full swing and more tires like the Clement X'plor models and Bruce Gordon's new-old Rock n' Road coming out, there will be lots of 700c LHT offroad tire options in the near future.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by dickyelsdon View Post
    i think sometimes wheel strength is vastly overplayed as an issue, when with modern components it just isnt (as your example proves).
    This is mostly true - if crappy components are selected, it won't matter what size the wheel is, it will be weak. I am discovering this on the stock rear wheel I have that has been built up with modern components that were chosen poorly. I've been breaking spokes nonstop because they've used cheap spokes with weak J-bends (I've also had to replace anything touching bearings due to poor seals). Replacing the weaker metal spokes with Wheelsmith straight gauge spokes (still cheap, but not as cheap) has vastly improved wheel strength.

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