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  1. #1
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    Asymmetric wheel sizes?

    Any of you guys running 96ers, b6ers, b9ers? Like it? Love it?

    I'm working on a project where I've partnered with a local artist and we are going to build up some nifty art bikes. We are particularly interested in builds optimized for petite women.

    I have two things in mind:
    - Steel 26er frames, set up rigid, 26 rear and 27.5 front, eg On-One inbred. Certain vintage frames might work.
    - Trek or Carver 96er frames with the same wheel combo but a 100-120 sus fork.

    I know people are all hatin on the 96er concept, and I'll agree it's really hard to pull off. But, it doesn't follow that you can or should try to fit somebody 5-feet-nothing on a 29er.

    I understand having a 26" wheel out back is nothing to scream about. It's the frames; the frames work. Especially the Carver, which strikes me as something really special. Nothing against 650b, just haven't seen any frames in our price range ($400) that rock my world. Ritchey 650b = pure awesomeness, but we aren't there yet.

    Thoughts? Comments?

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    Liteville bases their entire line on it. Doesn't sell well in the showroom, but their shit is based on science and literally everyone I've ever talked to who rides a Liteville is in love with it.
    Their only frame size, in both the 301 and the 601, that has symmetrical wheels is the xs which is 26" front and back. They still try to spec some with a combination of 24" and 26", but I suspect this really hurt them since availability of 24" tires is a joke.
    As it is now, the only real drawback for 26" wheels is availability of new tire and new rim designs.

    It's not like the combination is cutting edge. Loads of people dipped their toes into the 650b waters by jamming a new wheel under their 26" fork and thus keeping the price of admission low.

    I like the term "asymmetric wheel size" 10000x better than 96er or anything like that. Especially if you're using 96er to describe a combination of wheel sizes that doesn't include a 9.

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    Love the Litespeed concept, I think they are all over it. Thanks for the link.

    I went ahead and pulled the trigger. Trek is liquidating their last few 69er frames, I think they have like 10 left. Nine now. Couldn't pass it up for the price. Should be a cool build anyway.

    Now the question is, how to build it.

    I think there are a couple of arguments for going with 26 out back and 27.5 up front.

    Much as I love the 69er concept -- I ride one myself -- I think it'll improve the handling.

    I think it might also improve the ergonomics. Shorten ETT a bit. I'll lose some stack but should be able to make up for that with spacers and stem rise.

    I dunno, what do yall think?

  4. #4
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    Didn't Terry make road bikes that were the other way, big in the back and small in the front?
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampaDave View Post
    Any of you guys running 96ers, b6ers, b9ers? Like it? Love it?

    I'm working on a project where I've partnered with a local artist and we are going to build up some nifty art bikes. We are particularly interested in builds optimized for petite women.

    I have two things in mind:
    - Steel 26er frames, set up rigid, 26 rear and 27.5 front, eg On-One inbred. Certain vintage frames might work.
    - Trek or Carver 96er frames with the same wheel combo but a 100-120 sus fork.

    I know people are all hatin on the 96er concept, and I'll agree it's really hard to pull off. But, it doesn't follow that you can or should try to fit somebody 5-feet-nothing on a 29er.

    I understand having a 26" wheel out back is nothing to scream about. It's the frames; the frames work. Especially the Carver, which strikes me as something really special. Nothing against 650b, just haven't seen any frames in our price range ($400) that rock my world. Ritchey 650b = pure awesomeness, but we aren't there yet.

    Thoughts? Comments?

    I think it's a good idea. I know that Sherwood Gibson at Ventana absolutely loves his 69er El Chucho | Ventana Mountain Bikes USA but I haven't ridden a Ventana in a few years so I'm not sure he's still sold on it or not. Heard good things about the Trek too.

    I wouldn't put a 29in wheel/fork on a 26in frame. I don't think the headtubes are strong enough to handle the forces on them.

    I was thinking of doing a B6er on my HD (it's initially going to be a full 650b conversion), but it might be converted to a B6er depending on how long it takes for me to get fed up with my own tire choice of an Ardent in the back.

    I think with basically the entire industry going 650B, you'll see less conversions, but they do have their place.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by supersedona View Post
    Didn't Terry make road bikes that were the other way, big in the back and small in the front?
    Yeah. Cool bikes, in fact that sparked my interest in WSD.

    Way I look at it, on mountain bikes we want big tires. Tall as possible for the approach angle, fat as possible to get pressures down.

    Out back, given constraints imposed by cs length and cranks, it's a heck of a lot easier to cram a fat 26 tire into a small frame than a fat 27.5.

    Up front, I think there are a lot of advantages to running a slacker hta and more offset. That gives you plenty of room to put a big tire up there, might as well make it as fat and tall as you can.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post

    I wouldn't put a 29in wheel/fork on a 26in frame. I don't think the headtubes are strong enough to handle the forces on them.
    Yeah, I cracked the head tube on my old Trek doing that. In the name of science!

    A 29" wheel in a 435mm rigid fork gives you roughly the same length as a 26" wheel in a 120mm sus fork. You can do the math from there but basically it'll never work on a frame that's suspension corrected for anything less than that.

    I was thinking of doing a B6er on my HD (it's initially going to be a full 650b conversion), but it might be converted to a B6er depending on how long it takes for me to get fed up with my own tire choice of an Ardent in the back.
    Meanwhile, in a frame that'll take either a 26x2.4 or a 27.5x2.0, I would personally rather have the 26, for a number of reasons. Especially vs Ardent 2.2, ew.



    I think with basically the entire industry going 650B, you'll see less conversions, but they do have their place.
    Let's look at some numbers (ETT/CS/wheelbase):

    Surly 1x1 26: 571/419/1037

    Ritchey 27.5: 560/432/?
    Soma B side: 550/424/1061
    Trek Skye: 560/438/1066

    Trek 69er: 575/421/1055

    Superfly 29: 570/435/1077
    Canfield 29: 562/413/1064

    The Trek 69er, which I guess nets out to 650b, doesn't stack up too poorly against some fine 650b frames, has the shortest CS in the bunch. But dang, look at what Canfield did. Imagine what they could do with 650b wheels.

    Moreover, it's not a question of where the industry is going, it's been there for a long time. Weirdly, the Surly 1x1 is probably the best 650b in the bunch.

    Ima cut that sucka up. Shorten the seat tube a bit, shorten the top tube, rake out the front wheel about where it started, and slap some unicorn stickers on there. Now ya got a bike. Build one from scratch out of some fine, light Tange dai-ichi, and make it pretty* like the Ritchey, and you'll have a good idea where I'm going with this.

    Meanwhile, lessee... going from a 100mm/29 to 120mm/27.5. HTA 70.8, STA 74.3, ett 573. Meh. BB 301, cool; it'll get 165 cranks anyhow. Trail 77, bam! Stock is 87, see that's the problem.


    -----------------
    * (Except I'm shooting for "breathtakingly beautiful," you'll see. I'm thinking a Kama Sutra theme is called for on the Trek, for obvious reasons. But Dave #1 will be a Zen theme. The artist is a blackbelt, trained in long sword, competent with katana, deadly with knife. She understands Japanese steel; we're gonna talk about jinba ittai and see what she comes up with.)
    Last edited by TampaDave; 02-01-2016 at 01:04 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by supersedona View Post
    Didn't Terry make road bikes that were the other way, big in the back and small in the front?
    Yeah. Small wheel bikes / bikes with two different wheel sizes were a real mess in the pro peloton back in the day. There were a couple of women's teams that used them. The problem was that while the bike itself rode okay (they weren't great descenders), it had an entirely different rate of handling when compared to the other hundred bikes in the pack - not turning in the same way a 700c bike does isn't an issue when you ride alone. When riding with dozens of other people at high speeds, it's really a big deal. Needless to say, the small wheeled riders were wildly unpopular in technical criteriums, and usually had a few bandages and scabs on their persons and were the cause of bandages and scabs on other people, too.

    These days, there are companies out there that make great small 700c road bikes and 27.5 mountain bikes with standover that is lower than any 26" bike, but they generally aren't cheap. At the price the OP is looking at, making a bike is probably the best option if he has the skill set to do it.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuky View Post
    making a bike is probably the best option if he has the skill set to do it.
    Ya know... been meaning to learn how to weld anyway. Maybe I should take a frame building class. Dang. End of the day it's probably the least expensive and most enjoyable way to knock out a prototype eh.

    Asymmetrical wheels isn't the point, I think it just follows. Really want to get down to it, here's what I would like to do:

    - a la Roxy Lo: we start with three dots on a blank sheet of paper. As for where the dots go --

    Dot 1. a la Terry: specify a wheel. For a mountain bike, I think the wheel in question is the rear, and the key parameter is width.
    Dot 2. a la Bontrager: sta = 73. He says basically that's the end of the story, and he should know.*
    Dot 3. a la Fisher (following his newtonian moment): get the front center where it needs to be.

    Everything else follows. Including wheel diameters, fwiw. Hardest part, I think, is arriving at a functional definition of pretty, recognizing that pretty is as pretty does. Have some ideas in mind. I think it's very simple and very subtle.

    Gonna start growing a beard. Today.



    --------------------

    *(ETA:

    Let's think about dot 2. Dot 2 is really the center of gravity. This is variable; we have to consider at least two riding positions. In the saddle, your COG will tend to move back if you have a relatively low trunk/leg ratio, or if you prefer an upright riding posture. Climbing, out of the saddle, COG will be pretty closely aligned with the bb, no matter who you are. I could see how this might mitigate in favor of a slightly steeper sta. Suspect most of this falls within range of seat adjustment tho.)
    Last edited by TampaDave; 02-02-2016 at 11:35 AM.

  9. #9
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    Or... take all the money you are about to spend, save up and buy and XS Pivot Mach 4 Carbon instead. It'll be lighter, stronger and capable of running contemporary components. :-)


    Quote Originally Posted by TampaDave View Post
    Ya know... been meaning to learn how to weld anyway. Maybe I should take a frame building class. Dang. End of the day it's probably the least expensive and most enjoyable way to knock out a prototype eh.

    Asymmetrical wheels isn't the point, I think it just follows. Really want to get down to it, here's what I would like to do:

    - a la Roxy Lo: we start with three dots on a blank sheet of paper. As for where the dots go --

    Dot 1. a la Terry: specify a wheel. For a mountain bike, I think the wheel in question is the rear, and the key parameter is width.
    Dot 2. a la Bontrager: sta = 73. He says basically that's the end of the story. I think I might understand why, but regardless am willing to take his word for it.
    Dot 3. a la Fisher (following his newtonian moment): get the front center where it needs to be.

    Everything else follows. Including wheel diameters, fwiw. Hardest part, I think, is arriving at a functional definition of pretty, recognizing that pretty is as pretty does. Have some ideas in mind. I think it's very simple and very subtle.

    Gonna start growing a beard. Today.
    I only attempt to change the world in the appropriate World-Changing venues and forums.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuky View Post
    Or... take all the money you are about to spend, save up and buy and XS Pivot Mach 4 Carbon instead. It'll be lighter, stronger and capable of running contemporary components. :-)
    Well, that's the question. Whether we can find frames on the market that go with the vision. To reel it back in a little, there's an argument for doing up a 1x1. If the 1x1 will work, there are a lot of nifty vintage frames out there that should also work.

    I think where mtb design might have run off the reservation femme-wise was with G1 geometry. I believe lengthening the top tube improves certain performance characteristics of a mountain bike. But that's not found in a few cm of steel tubing; the point is, I think, where's the front axle relative to the other two dots (rear axle and COG.) Coulda accomplished the same thing with a slacker hta and more rake.

    So, one way of looking at this is, roll it back to NORBA geometry (like 1x1), rake out the front end a little bit. It would take some luck but not at all out of the question we could find a frame with the right cs length and bb drop to make it work. If so that opens up a whole world of nifty vintage frames to work on. And we are; we have an old KHS in the works and have a bid in on a NOS (yep) Kona frame. Both of em right pretty imho.

    But. Too late now, I've already scheduled a welding class. See what you did?

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  11. #11
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    Man, the new bikes and new suspension just ride so much better than old stuff. I've owned/ridden over 80 different bikes*, most of them mountain bikes, going back to 1990. I promise, that old geo was NOT where it was at. Contemporary geo is faster, more playful and way more fun. New front and rear suspension products are so easy to tune for light weight riders and the level of customization for high end bike makers is unprecedented in bike manufacturing history. As for Women's geo - you can look at my post history, but the summary is that it is questionable if it is necessary on MTBs in the first place.

    Also, and this isn't a thing to take lightly - there is a reason that companies use 4130 tubing when they make slacked out, long travel hardtails - steel bikes break a lot, particularly in the head tube area. Light steel tubing is almost impossible to get past CEN testing standards because of this - they fail A LOT, which is why there are so few light steel production mountain bikes on the market. For every degree you loose on the head tube angle, you exponentially increase the forces acting on the frame. Don't make a bike that will hurt your friend. Keep that metal heavy.

    Anyway. Welding is cool and a super useful skill. I'm jealous - I'd love to take that class.

    * Asymmetric wheel sizes?-gemini.jpg


    Quote Originally Posted by TampaDave View Post
    Well, that's the question. Whether we can find frames on the market that go with the vision. To reel it back in a little, there's an argument for doing up a 1x1. If the 1x1 will work, there are a lot of nifty vintage frames out there that should also work.

    I think where mtb design might have run off the reservation femme-wise was with G1 geometry. I believe lengthening the top tube improves certain performance characteristics of a mountain bike. But that's not found in a few cm of steel tubing; the point is, I think, where's the front axle relative to the other two dots (rear axle and COG.) Coulda accomplished the same thing with a slacker hta and more rake.

    So, one way of looking at this is, roll it back to NORBA geometry (like 1x1), rake out the front end a little bit. It would take some luck but not at all out of the question we could find a frame with the right cs length and bb drop to make it work. If so that opens up a whole world of nifty vintage frames to work on. And we are; we have an old KHS in the works and have a bid in on a NOS (yep) Kona frame. Both of em right pretty imho.

    But. Too late now, I've already scheduled a welding class. See what you did?

    Life is short O my sister. Gotta live every minute right down to the bone.
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    Definitely see the wisdom in what you say.

    Learning and art have value in themselves. I figure I'm gonna get three good experiences here: collaborating with a really talented artist, learning from a really talented tradesman (the welding instructor I'm in contact with is a cool guy), and getting a week of one-on-one with a framebuilder. Interacting on the forum is part of it, eh. I think it'll be fun. Already is.

    As for the frame, at this point I expect once I'm done slathering the forum with pictures, it will wind up being donated for auction by Make-A-Wish, and rather doubt it will see a speck of dirt. Which is good, because there's a world of difference between art for art's sake and engineering equipment for an athlete. No doubt.

    Tough to make generalizations about WSD. A lot seems to be based on body proportions, where there is so much overlap it's hard to apply to an individual. Not every bike has to look exactly alike, although sometimes it seems like they do, and that can be frustrating. BTDT.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuky View Post
    Or... take all the money you are about to spend, save up and buy and XS Pivot Mach 4 Carbon instead. It'll be lighter, stronger and capable of running contemporary components. :-)
    This. If you already are planning on saving, just get something that's a known quantity.

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