Why not use 26" wheels for Plus Tires? (Commuter E-bikes)

Asher

Well-Known Member
I've noticed a lot of the newer commuter or urban e-bikes are using 2.2"+ tires a smart move that many riders had already done themselves. Schwalbe's Moto tires are particularly popular. Ride1Up 700 and Aventon Level are two examples.

But why not use a smaller wheel, so that the overall tire + wheel retains the classic dimensions of a 700c road bike with a 28mm tire? 650b (27.5") gravel bikes have 47mm tires often, to get the same outer tire + wheel diameter.

We've already seen brands go from 622 mm wheel diameter to 584, and I'm wondering if it's just a matter of time that they go to 559 (26"), maybe 2 years, if they're using ~2.3" tires. 24" wheels also might make sense for fat tire (4"+) bikes, but the plus tire segment seems poised for the most growth, and 24" is not very widely used as it is.

Possible reasons:
*27.5" is more readily available and up to date, due to use among MTBs and now some gravel/bikepacking rigs.
*Harder to find high quality 26" wheelsets & tires, particularly after-market, though Schwalbe does have the Moto in 2.4" x 26"
*The overall wheel/tire looks a little... small?

I have seen a few exceptions, but even then, those brands, Stromer and Moustache, still mostly use bigger diameter wheels. Rad City is probably the bestselling example (though that super upright stem/fork/handlebar combo makes me cringe :p) :

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There has been one company making 26" bikepacking/gravel bikes for plus tires, but it hasn't really caught on. Rawland Ravn. https://www.outsideonline.com/2196161/our-favorite-new-road-bike-has-26-inch-wheels
 

Asher

Well-Known Member

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JRA

Well-Known Member
I don't know, I tried some 650b road plus tires and found them pretty squirmy for ridged road use at a psi that was compliant enough for decent small bump absorption/traction. I run 35psi in 40/45c 700c tires and the + tires at that psi didn't ride as well.

In order to get a bit more air volume I am going in the other direction with a 40c tire on a 750d rim that exhibits no squirm @ 30psi.

46933

The 26" mentioned might be useful for shorter riders.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
But why not use a smaller wheel, so that the overall tire + wheel retains the classic dimensions of a 700c road bike with a 28mm tire? 650b (27.5") gravel bikes have 47mm tires often, to get the same outer tire + wheel diameter.

We've already seen brands go from 622 mm wheel diameter to 584, and I'm wondering if it's just a matter of time that they go to 559 (26"), maybe 2 years, if they're using ~2.3" tires. 24" wheels also might make sense for fat tire (4"+) bikes, but the plus tire segment seems poised for the most growth, and 24" is not very widely used as it is.

Possible reasons:
*27.5" is more readily available and up to date, due to use among MTBs and now some gravel/bikepacking rigs.
*Harder to find high quality 26" wheelsets & tires, particularly after-market, though Schwalbe does have the Moto in 2.4" x 26"
*The overall wheel/tire looks a little... small?
I'm happy everybody is so enormous. I'm average height for a male of 1950 and wouldn't consider a bike over 26" wheels. My pants inseam would be 28" if I could actually buy those. I had to order my bike from California. LBS carry mostly stock for huge people. Yeah, big people are faster than me, particularly if they bend forward. I get there in my own time. And I'm still riding 20-70 mi/wk at my age.
I'd like 2.3" tires but I don't think my bike would clear them.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member

Electra proving my point that a 26" can look very slick. The drivetrain looks weak but I love the combo of 26" x 2.8" with rigid fork, fenders and backsweep handlebar.
 

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FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley

Electra proving my point that a 26" can look very slick. The drivetrain looks weak but I love the combo of 26" x 2.8" with rigid fork, fenders and backsweep handlebar.

The new Electra is a good looking ride... Moto styling along with the Gates Belt drive , IGH and 28 mph speed. ;)

 

Cyklefanatic

Well-Known Member
I have to agree that a 26” wheel is just fine for an ebike specially if it has wide tires, front suspension and a seat suspension. The bigger wheels are needed for narrow tired fully rigid bikes. The frame size can allow for any rider size regardless of wheel size.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I personally like the idea of a 26 x 3" rear and a 27.5 x 2.4" front (or in that range). Staggered tires work great on motorcycles but the spandexters that run the bike design studios need to be a bit more open minded. Some of he mtn ebikes are finally starting to do this so maybe it will come to commuting ebikes soon. I did it on my PIM Archer but it has a 27.5 x 2.4 Moto X rear and a 29 x 2.0 Big Ben front and it's a great street ebike. Makes no sense to ride thin rock hard tires on an ebike ... unless you haven't put away your spandex I guess.
 

Ebiker33

Well-Known Member
I personally like the idea of a 26 x 3" rear and a 27.5 x 2.4" front (or in that range). Staggered tires work great on motorcycles but the spandexters that run the bike design studios need to be a bit more open minded. Some of he mtn ebikes are finally starting to do this so maybe it will come to commuting ebikes soon. I did it on my PIM Archer but it has a 27.5 x 2.4 Moto X rear and a 29 x 2.0 Big Ben front and it's a great street ebike. Makes no sense to ride thin rock hard tires on an ebike ... unless you haven't put away your spandex I guess.

Would 4" rear and a 3" front work?
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I have new bike on order and that's pretty much what I want to convert it to. It a Fat tire model with the powerful Bafang M620 mid (I'm typically a hub guy but with a belt on this bike it will be reliable even with a 160nm).

One of the other big ???s to me is why so many feel that at least active front suspension forks are essential on urban mobility ebikes. With air volume in tires comes a better passive way to dampen out most road irregularity but the industry wants everyone to believe they are best served even on the street with front and even full suspension ebikes. I do think that at some higher speeds like maybe over 35mph a full suspension ebike is justified for some safety improvement but few of us are really ever going to spend much of our riding time over 50kph/30mph.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
You will see some bike people say that its not good to have slightly different rolling diameters from front to back and there's some slight merit to that if too extreme. But if you have the same ODs or slightly larger OD staggered on the front I think it's beneficial. For one it gets you a bit more upright so you can look around better and be safer. Even if the front tire were as much as say 1" larger OD that is a pretty small angle change of the bike over the typical wheelbase. In other words, don't let anyone tell us that it shouldn't be done because their motives could be influenced by where they work.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I wanted to have a special configuration urban ebike based on the Polaris / PIM Archer years ago and I can only say the old school mindset was not very open minded about it. I did in on my personal bike and loved it and that was before there was really any traction in the rest of the biking community. The fact that mtn bikes and emtn bikes are mimicking off road motorcycles more it was only a matter of time before this idea took hold. It's work both off-road and road in my opinion and it looks better.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
1999

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I have been messing around with the idea of different wheel sizes for years. But my reasons I feel are more inline with the dual sport/off road moto world in that having a narrower tire in the front to enhance steering in tight situations with the rear tire being larger in volume to aid in bump absorption and traction. Keeping the diameters pretty close in order to not mess with the bike geometry is important however. I forget what the front forks on that Santa Cruz were but they were off of a small cc moto and had a ton of travel and that thing would go over just about anything in it's way. I did it as an exercise mainly but my oldest son got the most riding time on it.

With the advent of the plus size tire I revisited the idea three years ago and have been using it ever since with a 29x2.3 tire on the front and a 27.5x2.8 tire on the rear, both on i35 rims @ 15psi. Works great for off road explorations that I tend to gravitate towards and don't see myself changing. However as well as I like higher volume tires for off road use I far prefer a narrower 40/45c tire for the dirt and paved road surfaces I frequently ride and even dip onto trails if the chance arises.

I tried the road + thing set up in a similar fashion and hated it. The rear tires sidewalls were so much higher that at the same 35psi that I had been using in my 700c setup it felt really squirmy on the downhills so I abandoned them pretty quickly. I get the same thing on pavement with my mtb but don't care because it isn't my primary purpose when riding it. There is a paved hill by me that between my weight and the bikes I can get to just over 40 on but it is a straight shot and no way I'd corner at anywhere near that speed on my mtb but have done so on my road bikes....