26” Wheels on the Dropout
As you may or may not be aware, depending on how closely you follow the meanderings and whimsy of the fixed gear freestyle (FGFS) community, many fixed gear freestylers are dropping their 700c wheels in favor of 26" ones.
For comparison, my personal Dropout on 700's
And on 26" wheels
Because I've been getting a barrage of questions about how the Dropout would do with 26" wheels and to satisfy my own curiousity I decided to try some out.
My first call was of course to my homies at Velocity to procure a set of their 26" Chukkers.
A word about my homies at Velocity: I now pretty much only ride Velocity rims. Velocity makes a rock solid product and they have done as much for the urban cycling community (in terms of event support and sponsorship) as anyone has, and to top it off the whole crew over there are some of the best people you could ever hope to meet. I'm a big believer in supporting those who support the community and Velocity has definitely done that.
While I was making the switch to 26" wheels I also mounted a new set cranks from the dudes over at Gusset
That's right, Reynolds 853 steel BMX cranks. So light, so strong, so awesome.
Anyway, getting back to the 26" wheels:
1. I'm running a 1.85 Michelin City on the front (you could go even bigger on the Dropout fork if you wanted)
2. A 1.75 Continental City Ride on the back (I could go bigger if I used a half link to place my wheel farther forward in the dropouts)
3. I think the bike looks ugly as hell with those wheels, the proportions of the frame are just all wrong
4. It rides awesome and makes bunny hopping and all tricks in which you bunny hop, including spinning easier
5. Riding for distance is not as fun, although I think it has more to do with the extra tire width than the wheel size
Yep, I hate to say it because I find it all so unnerving, but doing tricks on the 26" wheels is awesome and easier than a 700c. Of course as my man Prolls pointed out to me (I'm paraphrasing here) "26" wheels may make it easier to do tricks, but so does a freewheel."
Well played John, well played. He's absolutely right. So where do we go from here?
I think we can all agree that 26" wheels are more appropriate for smaller freestyle frames, I think we can also agree that 26" wheels are stronger. However I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't saddened by the influx of these smaller wheels. There is something primal inside that grabs me by the nuts (pardon the graphic language) when I see a brakeless fixed gear with fat 700c tires, it's the same thing that grabs me when looking at a vintage muscle car. I utter a low semi silent grunt, bob my head, close my eyes, and know in my heart that that thing (bike/car) is f'ing hott.
There is just a certain aesthetic appeal to a monster track bike that is utterly lost when the 26" wheels are put on. Am I saddened at this loss, yes. But on the other hand I bunny hop all sorts of things that I could never clear before.
I'm not sure where this'll all end up, but for now I'm giving the darkside a try. I'll let you know how it goes. Now if I can only stop feeling so ashamed and dirty...
*bonus semi spooky photo of my 700c wheels in storage