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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

26" wheels versus 700c wheels

> Let me say that a 26 inch bike is not the slug you might think. Equipped
> with a decent stoker, you'll be passing club riders with margin to
> discuss the weekend's touring route.

I beg to differ. We switched from a steel 26" frame to an Al 700c
frame. The 700c wheels were more comfortable, faster (time up Old La
Honda road went from 40 minutes to 31 minutes!), and just plain
handled better on smooth pavement and unpaved bike trails in Europe as
well as the San Francisco area.

Bill McCready has an old post that explains why:

And I agree. If you have power to spare 26" wheels will still be
faster (John & Pamela Bayley were much faster than we were up the 20%
grade that was El Toyonal road in the Berkeley Hills on their steel
26" tandem bike with lumotec lights still on their bike), but if
you're looking to squeeze every bit of performance out of the bike and
have an exciting ride, 700c is the way to go. Bigger wheels = more
comfort over bumps = more speed! The only disadvantage is durability
of the 700c wheels, but as long as you have a good wheel builder or
learn to build wheels yourself that will be no problem whatsoever.
(Oh, and don't buy DT spokes:

I think that any difference in selection of equipment between tandems
and singles is exaggerated. If you wouldn't be happy riding a 26"
single bike with slick tires, you're not going to be happy with a 26"
tandem either, given the same conditions. I never rode a single
aluminum bike until we bought our aluminum tandem, and after that I
bought a single aluminum road bike and found that the single aluminum
bike handled just fine, compared to the steel bikes I owned.