Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Normal" Bikes

It's kind of funny:  When you think about mountain bikes, you typically think of 26" wheels. When you think of modern road bikes, the wheels are 700c.  These wheel sizes have acted as de facto definitions for bike types for 20 years.

Right now, I have two mountain bikes and five road bikes.  The mountain bikes both have 700c wheels (29-inch), and four of the road bikes have 26-inch wheels.  (The fifth road bike is an old 27-inch wheeled bike converted to 700c.)

To many people, it seems like my bikes are abnormal, because of these wheel sizes.  But , what is "Normal"?

Most commercially produced mountain bikes have 26" wheels, simply because the old Schwinns which the guys in Marin County used back in the 1970s had that size wheel.  Yet, Cannondale and Raleigh both produced mountain bikes, in the early days, which had 24" rear wheels and 26" front wheels.

A lot of downhill racing bikes utilize 24" wheels with 4" wide tires.

Touring bikes have used 650b wheels, 27" wheels and 700c wheels, through the years.  Burro Bikes mountain bikes used 20" wheels with 3" wide trials tires.  Time trial bikes with 700c rear wheels and 650c front wheels are fairly common.

Let's not even talk about the Georgina Terry-designed women's road bikes with 700c rear wheels and 24" front wheels...

Twenty eight-inch...?  What the hell is that?!   European touring bikes use that size, as did early (1890-1920) racing bikes.

Are my bikes normal, or abnormal?

Yes.

And...no.

x

1 comment:

As always, sorry about the word verification. It's a necessary evil, unfortunately.