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26 vs 20 rear wheels

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26 vs 20 rear wheels

Old 03-22-19, 05:22 PM
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Baldy1953
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26 vs 20 rear wheels

My wife and I are currently looking at buying recumbent trikes. A lbs owner told me they would travel at the same speed regardless of the size of the rear wheel with the gearing and cadence being the same . I do not believe that to be correct. I thought I would ask the "experts" here if that is the case.
Also, when choosing, which one would you prefer 26" or 20". From what I would think having all 3 wheels the same dia. would make it a better idea so when riding, you would only have to carry 1 size tube and tire if so inclined to take a tire along.

Currently looking at a Terra trike rover and similar Cattrike. Have also looked at recumbent rike tandems, but those look like would be a hassle to transport even more so than a recumbent trike.
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Old 03-22-19, 05:53 PM
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With the same gear and the same cadence the larger diameter wheel will make the trike go a longer way because of the diameter. It will be faster. However, being in a different gear or different cadence when riding together won't matter much. The only thing you will lose is high top speed from the larger wheel, and a lower first gear for hills with the smaller wheel. That probably doesn't matter either. The 20" wheels will accelerate a little better if everything else were the same. Also a very small thing. Smaller diameter wheels ride a little choppy as they drop in and out of low and high spots. I can feel it, some people can't or don't care. It's probably more important that the small wheel makes the whole trike shorter for transporting in a vehicle.
Decide by how they ride.

edit - I would pick the bigger wheel for a little smoother ride and better different tire selections available.

Last edited by 2manybikes; 03-22-19 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 03-23-19, 06:31 AM
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Having owned numerous trikes with varying wheel sizes, I can give my personal impressions.

First, the bigger the rear wheel, the faster the speed for the EXACT SAME chain ring/cassette cog combination. That’s just math and physics but both can achieve the same speeds by shifting gears

Now, since trike builders generally use the same cranksets and cassettes on their machines regardless of wheel size, for the same cadence, the larger rear wheel can achieve a higher top speed and the smaller rear wheel will yield a lower climbing speed.

Second, the small wheel will accelerate faster but the big wheel will “carry” the speed better.

Third, the big wheel will ride softer over bumps and cracks.

Lastly, big rear wheels make for a longer machine so harder to transport.

I currently ride a VTX with a big rear wheel and it rides like a Cadillac but definitely accelerates slower than my small speed trikes and it is long. On my small wheel machines, I mitigate the gearing difference with a larger front chainring.

Finally, average riding speeds are the same regardless of rear wheel size.
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Old 03-23-19, 06:15 PM
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If you do the math, gearing a small wheel up to compensate for the smaller diameter will lose you a gear or two of range, too. Bottom line is, smaller wheels work well if you expect to go slow. If you're looking for speed, get the big wheels!
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Old 03-23-19, 08:02 PM
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Thanks for all the quick replies. Part of our delima has been solved. My wife rode a Terra Trike Rover today and told me this is the one I want. She sat on a couple others and even without riding them, she said the Terra Trike was the one. She did ride the Rover around the lot and decided with the bike shop making the adjustments for the fit, she is happy and we brought it home. Even with the 20" wheels and the 330 rear hub , which was explained as a CVT for a bike, it makes things less complicated for her and we will see how much rides.

I am still out to lunch, so to speak. I don't want to give up my Speicalized Roubaix for a trike just yet. Gonna wait and see what happens and how hard it is for us to ride sort of together. A trike is in the future, I am sure. Just need to make up my mind which one.
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Old 03-24-19, 06:13 AM
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Glad that you sorted it out.
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Old 03-24-19, 08:06 AM
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Thought I would share, though you have already purchased.

Some manufacturers use Shimano's Capreo hub and cassette for 20" wheels. This system uses 9-10-11-13 tooth cogs on the small side, which effectively gears the bike/trike in a way that compensates for the smaller wheels. It also means that you should not consider gearing to be a big factor in what wheel size you use.
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Old 03-24-19, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Hoopdriver View Post
Some manufacturers use Shimano's Capreo hub and cassette for 20" wheels. This system uses 9-10-11-13 tooth cogs on the small side, which effectively gears the bike/trike in a way that compensates for the smaller wheels. It also means that you should not consider gearing to be a big factor in what wheel size you use.
Not quite true. Cogs smaller than 13 teeth suffer progressively more efficiency loss and higher wear. Also, you're talking about getting a one-of-a-kind hub and cassette. So they're harder to drive, more expensive to replace, and you replace them more often. Again, that only matters if you expect to go fast enough that you need gears over 80" or so. Slower than that and you don't need to normalize the gearing.
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Old 03-24-19, 09:37 AM
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And, isn’t the Capreo limited to 9 speed?
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Old 03-24-19, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Baldy1953 View Post
Thanks for all the quick replies. Part of our delima has been solved. My wife rode a Terra Trike Rover today and told me this is the one I want. She sat on a couple others and even without riding them, she said the Terra Trike was the one. She did ride the Rover around the lot and decided with the bike shop making the adjustments for the fit, she is happy and we brought it home. Even with the 20" wheels and the 330 rear hub , which was explained as a CVT for a bike, it makes things less complicated for her and we will see how much rides.
I am still out to lunch, so to speak. I don't want to give up my Speicalized Roubaix for a trike just yet. Gonna wait and see what happens and how hard it is for us to ride sort of together. A trike is in the future, I am sure. Just need to make up my mind which one.
Have you considered a 'bent bike for yourself? Just as comfortable as a trike but generally with more speed potential. Or, can be ridden at a slower speed compatible with your spouse.
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Old 03-24-19, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Not quite true. Cogs smaller than 13 teeth suffer progressively more efficiency loss and higher wear. Also, you're talking about getting a one-of-a-kind hub and cassette. So they're harder to drive, more expensive to replace, and you replace them more often. Again, that only matters if you expect to go fast enough that you need gears over 80" or so. Slower than that and you don't need to normalize the gearing.
I recall in the late 1970's that 13t smallest cogs were crazy because of wear and efficiency. Nowadays it's hard to find a cassette with a smallest cog higher than 11t. Personally, I don't like the trend toward smaller cogs because I rarely use them. They are noisy and do seem harder to drive like you say. On my Ice Sprint I have a 9-32 9speed Capreo cassette with a 48t large ring so my top gear is close to 100 inches, which is way more than I can push on the flats. A 11t smallest cog would give me a more reasonable 80 inch top and would allow for a closer ratio 9 speed.

I posted so that the OP would be aware of the Capreo, but (and I hadn't thought about this before your comment) it would be nuts to acquire one for 20" wheels. Maybe 16" wheels, though.

Originally Posted by Trsnrtr View Post
And, isn’t the Capreo limited to 9 speed?
I believe there is a 10 speed version now.
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Old 03-24-19, 12:07 PM
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Define gearing for me. If you are looking for the correct answer that's significant.

I'm thinking the other responders are referring to the same number of sprocket teeth as being the same gearing. If that's your definition of gearing, they are right. A larger wheel will definitely go faster.

Traditionally, bicycle gearing has used the concept of "gear inches". Gear inches = chainring teeth divided by rear cog teeth times wheel diameter in inches. That adjusts for wheel size so, just as your mechanic said, equal gearing will produce equal speed.

The elephant in the room when discussing bicycle speed is the motor. If you were to put a Ferrari transmission into a Yugo do you think it would go 150 MPH? Of course not because the Yugo doesn't produce enough power. Bicycles are the same. Once you get over about 15 MPH, most of your energy is going to overcome air resistance. You need power to do that regardless of your bike's wheel size or gearing.
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Old 03-24-19, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoopdriver View Post
I believe there is a 10 speed version now.
Possibly. Utah Trikes still only lists a 9.
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Old 03-24-19, 04:59 PM
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Thanks for all the comments. We have made the deal and brought the trike home. Wife has a smile on her face. I have transferred the lights and cat eye over to the trike from her df bicycle. We are going to give it a go in the morning as today is church day and not enough time .

From what the guy at the bike shop told me the rover with the n330 hub is really a cvt for a bicycle. He showed me a chart on gear inches where this hub will give her the capabilities of relative fast rides, if she so chooses. I doubt that. She is more a lazy days rider and likes to look around. Her fear of falling seems to have been the biggest feature holding her back before. Only time will tell.

I plan on using the short rides she does as a warm up for me to go off on my longer, faster rides by myself. A bent bike does not appeal to me, although I have never ridden one.
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Old 03-24-19, 08:37 PM
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Hope your wife enjoys riding her Rover and that you continue to enjoy your Roubaix.
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Old 03-26-19, 09:17 AM
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Hmmm. Here's an idea. It's not original either. O.p.'s wife has her TTR and likes it. Good. However, Specialized Roubaix and TTR probably cannot play nice together! If and when DH gets his trike will he also get a TTR or will he get something more ... spirited? Why not give the Mrs. an e-assist so the innate differences in horsepower (figurative) AND the differences in hardware, are equalized? Short of getting a tandem there really isn't a better way to allow people of different strengths or that have different vehicles to really ride together without the stronger rider loafing along well below an energy output that is satisfying.
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Old 03-28-19, 02:07 PM
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I have been looking at a Gran Tourisimo from TT. It would work for when we ride together at the same speeds, but would offer me the ability to go further and faster when the desire hits me. Only time will tell if she continues to ride it often. Not going to buy myself one if it not needed to ride together. Thanks again for the responses.
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Old 03-29-19, 01:43 PM
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16:38x26" (61.75) almost same gear as .. [ 50:16x20 = 62.5 ]
with a Rohloff hub its more in the best range, than in the bigger wheel.
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Old 04-14-19, 06:07 AM
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As I have mentioned before I put on the 26" upgrade on my Terratrike. The main reason was to get the RD and chain further up out of the dirt. In some gears the RD tension wheel and chain are not much more than an inch off the ground with a 20" rear wheel. Being that low it just has to pick up a lot of dirt and grit and cause power train wear.

And yes I did change the rear cluster to 11-34.

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Old 04-14-19, 09:43 AM
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yea there is that .. my chain tensioner is like a short cage RD,, .. on the 20" wheel ..

so up a ways from the ground .. ...
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Old 05-05-19, 07:30 AM
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And dont forget, with a 26" rear wheel and 20" front ones, you are always riding down hill!!!!
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Old 05-17-19, 03:19 PM
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I have a pair of 16 3/8 on the front (almost 18in) and a 24in on the rear, and I can say that combo is good enough for comfort but it understeers on the little Brompton front wheels. I blame the Marathon tyres on them, and I'm looking at putting fatter tyres on 18s (can't get them for the 16 3/8s).

I don't know how people use big wheels on the front. My turning circle will suffer with Big Apples on 18s and I can only just get it through a doorway.
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Old 07-13-19, 03:48 AM
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I have a ICE Adventure with 20” wheels all the way around that I put SchwalbeBigApple 2.0 in the rear and 2.15 in the front, it turns just fine.

Last edited by tim24k; 07-13-19 at 03:52 AM.
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