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Are 26-in wheels not good for trikes?

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Are 26-in wheels not good for trikes?

Old 06-24-19, 09:35 PM
  #1  
curbowman
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Are 26-in wheels not good for trikes?

The guys at AZUB say 26" wheels are not as good as 20" ones for trikes because they are less rigid. I thought it was a far-fetched claim until I saw this video of the Atomic Zombie Delta Wolf.

Right at the 0:20 mark, the driver does a violent maneuver to avoid a puddle and it can be seen how the 26" wheels flex. I guess that's why the Hase Kettwiesel has its 20" rear wheels canted outwards: to minimize that flexing.


Now, those are 36-spoke wheels with a fair amount of dish. The hubs were custom made out of solid steel, so they are not feeble lightweight stuff!


AZUB claims they have solved the flex problem by using a thru-axle in their 26" equipped trikes, and Bryan Ball agrees. ( see his review of the AZUB Ti-Fly here: http://www.bentrideronline.com/?p=10880 )

My question is, how much of an issue wheel flex on a trike really is? And, what are the ways to increase wheel stiffness to these kind of forces which are not present on leaning bikes?
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Old 06-25-19, 08:42 AM
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How long of an answer do you want?

Trikes are different than bikes because they don't lean in the corners. That puts side loads on the wheels that bicycle wheels don't have to contend with. Taller rims are going to have to contend with more side load stress than smaller ones, but I assume there are design adaptations to solve that.

That Atomic Zombie wheel assembly, by the way, is home made (including the hub) and relatively crude compared to a factory produced trike. I wouldn't use that example for a very significant part of my decision making process.
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Old 06-25-19, 08:46 AM
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Rear only, for the gearing , 20" for the 2 front wheels.. typical tadpole layout .. ?
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Old 06-25-19, 12:57 PM
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All else being equal, smaller wheels are stronger than larger wheels.
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Old 06-25-19, 01:03 PM
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I can think of better reasons than wheel strength. At the rear a big wheel is good, but at the front the axles are really high which also puts your hands higher and they’d run into you in a tight turn. And the front ride quality is less important than the rear. Your hands are resting lightly on the cantilevered tillers, but at the rear the seat stays are sending the rear wheel impact right through your shoulder blades into your neck.
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Old 06-25-19, 07:02 PM
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As Darth Lefty says, larger wheels will intrude into the cockpit more in turns. So you compensate by making the stance wider, which increases frontal area. If you keep the rider low for stability in corners, a larger wheel might block vision in turns, too.
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Old 06-26-19, 09:11 AM
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2013 Catrike Expedition


'09 Catrike Trail with 26" UtahTrikes conversion kit
I've been riding tadpole trikes for 15 years....1st 3 yrs of my '09 Catrike Trail had me riding on a 20" rear, then in 2011 I installed the UtahTrikes 26" conversion kit. The derailluer cage with the 20" wheel hung down almost 2 1/2 inches over the road surface, hardly any clearance when riding off road....with the 26" wheel the clearance is about 4inches, plenty of distance above rocks etc. Is the 26" flex a deterrent, do you even notice it on the road/trail....no. In 2013 I bought the Catrike Expedition (my forever trike)
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Old 07-01-19, 11:32 AM
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I've had both on different trikes. One is a Greenspeed GTO with three 406 wheels. I'd agree that the wheels are practically bulletproof when it comes to their ability to survive abuse but I don't knowingly abuse my trikes. The other is a Catrike 700 and yes it has wheel flex. No, I can't go over a 10" drop and land on the rear wheel with no damage to the wheel (did that accidentally on the GTO). The advantage to larger rear wheels is a higher gear range. My first trike with standard gearing and 20" drive wheel was 19 to 98 gear inches for the gear range. The GTO with Sram Dual-Drive and Schlump Mountain Drive is 14 to 132 GI. The Catrike 700 is 21.9 to 124.2 GI and that is without any internal gear hubs. I prefer standard gearing (no internal hubs) so chose the larger wheel for my current trike. I don't even notice the wheel flex when I turn sharply. It is behind me and out of view so, what does it matter?
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Old 07-02-19, 04:32 PM
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After some months commuting on my Rambler GT, I've got a detailed review coming, but my answer to this question is I think bicycle wheels and tires are not good for trikes, but the miniature light-duty car-like alternative needed doesn't exist.
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Old 07-03-19, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
After some months commuting on my Rambler GT, I've got a detailed review coming, but my answer to this question is I think bicycle wheels and tires are not good for trikes, but the miniature light-duty car-like alternative needed doesn't exist.
Most trikes use slightly heavier duty spokes because of the differing load paths.

Schwalbe makes the Triker tire, but it doesn't seem to get very good reviews, so maybe it's just that no one has made the 'right' tire for trikes/velos yet.
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Old 07-07-19, 08:57 PM
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I have Schwalbe Big Apples all round on mine;
2in x 18s front
2.35 X 24 rear
It understeers on the limit but not as much as it did on the far skinnier Schwalbe Marathons I ran before. And it's smoother now (no suspension).
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Old 07-10-19, 06:08 AM
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Granted there may be some down sides to 26" wheels on the back of trikes, but the fact remains a 26" wheel gets the chain and RD much further up out of the dirt and trash.

Also there is no logical reason for it, but a trike with the 26" rear wheel just looks better.
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Old 07-11-19, 05:07 AM
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I think it's less of an issue with the following wheel being large, but the idea of a large wheel as the steerer... I mean my 18s understeer if pushed, can you imagine a pair of 700C understeering?!

The weight is transferred to the front corner on cornering, and all wheels stay on the ground over any terrain with a trike. So a pair of small steerer wheels at the front, and a large drive wheel at the rear, makes engineering sense to me - and most things that make engineering sense have natural good looks.
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Old 07-18-19, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeyMK View Post
I think it's less of an issue with the following wheel being large, but the idea of a large wheel as the steerer... I mean my 18s understeer if pushed, can you imagine a pair of 700C understeering?!

The weight is transferred to the front corner on cornering, and all wheels stay on the ground over any terrain with a trike. So a pair of small steerer wheels at the front, and a large drive wheel at the rear, makes engineering sense to me - and most things that make engineering sense have natural good looks.
Agreed on both counts. Even with a fully enclosed drive train on my velo, I'm glad I went with the 26" rear for the slightly greater ground clearance. I still have go near the curb to get around some of the speed bumps, but it's got pretty good clearance. Not sure how I would get to work if I went with the Mango (20 inch all around).
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Old 07-19-19, 02:20 PM
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On more reason to have a 26" rear wheel is you can have pretty much standard mountain bike gearing that is more available.
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