When 700cmx is No Longer 700c: the 26″ vs. 700c Debate Mar 15, 2010

Tom Mosher on dual 26″ / Photo via Richmond Fixed

With all the rapid changes going on in the fixed freestyle world over the past year, you’ve got to ask yourself, “when will the bikes stop evolving?”. First it was the forks. Everyone was snapping their steel forks. People upgraded to either a Brooklyn Machine Works Gangsta Track fork or a rigid 26″ unicrown. Shortly after, new framesets were designed specifically for fixed freestyle. Then came the bigger tires. A year ago, 35c was considered big and people argued relentlessly on Trick Track that bigger tires slowed them down. Now everyone’s on at least 38c tires and some have gone up to 50c.

A few weeks ago, a thread started on Trick Track that addressed what everyone’s been wondering for months; why not 26″?

There’s more below.

Photo via Richmond Fixed

Julio from Richmond put 26″ wheels on his Charge Scissor and had to crimp his chainstays to gain tire clearance.

Photo via Richmond Fixed

Mike Schmidt did the same thing to his Leader. He’s got a 2″ tire in the front and a 1.8″ on the rear.

Photo by Andrew Temkin

In December 2008, Tom was in-between sponsorships. His BMW Gangsta Track was unridable and he had yet to receive any support from his new sponsor, Charge. Tony lent him his 26″ Redline Monocog so he could ride in NYC one weekend. After some debate, Tom put on his components from his 700c bike (including the wheels) onto the frame and rode it. The geometry was really slack, the top tube was long, the frame was super compact and the bottom-bracket was really low; all less-than-desirable characteristics for a fixed gear. He still shredded on it though and only really complained about the wheelbase and bottom bracket. Later, he tried out a Surly 1×1 and had the same complaints.

People at the time continued the “get a bmx” banter and Tom felt that there had to be a middle ground with a 26″ MTB frame and a track bike. Shortly after, he was riding a Charge Scissor. Around this time, I was on a Milwaukee Bruiser; a frameset I helped develop. These bikes were the first models to be designed with a 700c unicrown fork. Both had ample toe clearance with a 700c wheel, eliminating the need for a 650c front wheel to barspin.

Here’s the first prototype Milwaukee Bruiser. Note the 32c tires and track cranks.

The bikes changed a little bit, allowing even bigger tires and most of us switched to BMX cranks. This would open the door to even larger tire clearance. For instance, if you went with a mid-bottom bracket, you could squeeze a few extra mm’s of tire size in the rear triangle; in turn, you’d lose the 42-44mm track chainline. Another issue in which we’ll have to address later.

Now, fast forward to modern times. There are a handful of riders on 26″ wheels, front and back, on a bike designed for 700c wheels. Some obvious issue come with this; bottom bracket drop, tire clearance and general bicycle handling. But are those issue enough to keep people from riding 26″ wheelsets? Especially with the added strength of a smaller-diameter wheel. Well, the current poll on Trick Track says that 49% of people who frequent the forum and took place in the poll are currently riding 26″ wheels.This leaves 17% undecided and 34% choosing the 700c route.

This is when Alex from San Marcox, TX adds the following logic to the discussion:

700c wheel has a bead seat diameter of 622, add 19×2 (38) for two 19c tires and you’re looking at a diameter of 25.984252 inches (two 20c tires would be 26.0629921 inches)

A 26″ rim has a bead seat diameter of 559mm (22.007874 inches), add 4″ for two 2″ tires and you’re looking at 26.007874

Under this logic it seems that a 26″ rim with a 2″ tire will have a diameter right between a 700×19-20 tire.
A 26″ rim with a 2.25″ tire would have a diameter of 26.507874 inches

A 700×23 wheel/tire would have a diameter of 26.2992126 inches
A 700×25 wheel/tire would have a diameter of 26.4566929 inches

Something that Alex overlooks here is PSI won’t be the same on a 2″ tires as it is on a 25c or even a 35c tire. His math is correct, but a higher PSI and a larger wheel diameter will, generally speaking, make for a faster, more nimble bike. At some point someone pointed out that 26″ wheels aren’t ideal for actually riding distances, to which a commenter linked to Surly’s Long Haul Trucker with 26″ wheels.

At first glance and by that logic, you could agree, but the reality is 26″ wheels are used when touring takes a rider to more remote areas. Along with their ability to handle in off-road conditions better than 700c, the 26″ wheels and wheel products are more readily-available in remote regions. Worldwide, the 26″ wheel is the most common wheel diameter. 700c wheels are more ideal for road-use and randonneuring riding. Larger wheels and larger-diameter tires will equal a more efficient mode of transportation; or so it is argued.

Photo via Bmore Fixed

Now, I’m not completely against 26″ wheels on 700c bikes. Hell, one of the biggest problems we had to face when designing the Bruiser was trying to get the same head tube angle on all size options. If we went 26″ on the XS and Small frames, the bikes would probably look a lot nicer, proportionally speaking anyway. 26″ wheels do offer a better stand-over for riders, especially since most 700c bikes are designed around a 28c tire.

Young Gun from Trick Track’s 59cm Eighth Inch Scrambler with dual 26″

Which leads me to this point, as illustrated above; 26″ wheels on the larger bikes looks, well, retarded. (Sorry Young Gun).

Now we’re at the cusp of a defining moment in 700cmx. Should we be designing bikes to fit 26″ or 700c wheels? Or should we abandon the 700c wheel all together when it comes to the extreme urban fixed bikes? Will mid-bottom brackets and crazy-crimped stays allow for both 26″ and 700c? What about BB-drop? Remember, a really high bottom bracket will drastically alter your center of gravity on the bike.

There’s no telling where this sport is going. It’s a slippery slope for sure and it seems like we’re digressing to 26″ MTBs, rather than fixed 29rs.

Here are my thoughts. Instead of going for a smaller diameter rim (26″ has a bsd of 559mm and 700c has a bsd of 622mm), make a rear rim that is both wide (33mm would be ideal) and deep (+/- 35mm deep). The depth will allow you to use shorter spokes and when laced 4x on a 36h hoop, will be strong as hell. If you’re riding at least 38c tires, you shouldn’t trash this wheel. I’m 220 lbs and even though I’ve taco’d wheels before, I’ve also found this formula to be really successful. For instance, while filming for the Revival, I trashed a brand-new wheel by landing awkwardly on it off a jersey barrier. Afterwards, I laced the same exact wheel and have had it for over 6 months. It’s still in great condition too. The bottom line is; if you land awkwardly on any wheel, larger than 24″, you’re going to trash it.

I think we need to embrace the 700c wheel as long as possible. It’s where all this came from and while you may feel like a 26″ wheel is the answer for freestyle, it may not be the answer to the urban-commuting / tricking bikes we’ve all come to love. If you feel like 26″ is for you, by all means, experiment and try it out, because that’s what brought us to doing tricks on fixed gears in the first place. Maybe you could also try riding a big bike (26″ mtb or a 24″ bmx) and see how you like that. Like most bikes, specialty is key and while I’m not saying 700cmx bikes are more suited for tricks, I am saying that they’re more suited to their current state as a commuter / freestyle bike. I know it’s still fixed, but at what point will the fixed drivetrain become the thing that’s hindering the sport? Much like the 700c wheel is hindering the sport now?

Who knows though, seeing how fast these bikes have evolved, their progression (or regression) is unpredictable. There are tons of points I’ve overlooked here, so feel free to comment below, or engage in the discussion on Trick Track.

  • aj

    lets just all put freecoasters on… pegs and 26′ is to much i’m sorry. I’ll be the first to say get a bmx if thats the road this is all going down. At RVA Tony and I talked about the deminishing duality of the bike. When you stop being able to commute comfortably you loose what makes this sport unique. plus fullsize pegs look ugly on these bikes.

  • MaximumMatt

    Nothing has changed. Everytime something progresses far was freestyle setup is concerned you loose practicality when it comes to commuting.

    You have to decided where the line is for you. How extreme do you want your setup to be or how comfortable. Its all personaly opinions I use to have my bike setup a lot differantly and it made lots of tricks WAYYYYYY easier but my daily commutes became sluggish and tiring so I swapped some stuff around to get a good compromise. I feel alot of this other stuff is the same. Theres going to be the people who make there bike almost as unpractical as a bmx then theres going to be people who have setups that are impossible to bar spin on yet they can do mad keos and toekeos.

    Plus how beefy does a wheelset/bike need to be to do blog spins and wheelies. If your not into the wannabe bmx style tricks then a SUPER BEEFY bike is not needed. Plus if your going to be hitting kickers and jumping lost of stairs then maybe a 24/26″ bmx is for you. I know I just built up a sick urban mtb and I love it for tricks.

  • Russell

    Another dilemma with 2″ wide tires is chainline. Serious chainstay crimping needs to happen to accomadate 2″ or 50c tires and keep the 42mm chainline. That much crimping of the chainstays is asking for failure.

  • Andyg

    As long as we stay fixed and have fun with it, its all good.

  • http://Www.cogmag.com Kmurder

    Save the track bike!

  • http://Www.cogmag.com Kmurder

    Seriously tho. Well written.

  • Medic

    I’m not terribly savvy with these style bikes but the conversation is one that has happened in polo before. So many different types of bikes have been used that when we finally reached the time of production bike waterford helped out and built the joust. It’s a track angled frame set that accepts 26″ wheels. Sharp angles, high BB and clearance for decent sized tires. Extra long drop outs solve the commuter problem so you can fairly drastically change the cog size. It’s interesting to me to see similar conversations happening other places. Especially with a lot of people, especially midwesterners, playing on bruisers. So much crossover.

  • http://itswrahw.blogspot.com Torey Thornton

    Great write up John.

  • http://www.bootlegsessions.net TOM

    I just built up a 24″ recumbent 3 speed fixed gear with front and rear disc brakes and s&s couplers, I can do mad tricks still!

  • http://matthewspencer.tumblr.com Matt

    Fixed gear drive train and 700c wheels are realistically the only two things that set us apart. So why would we want to get rid of them. To me it’s like riding breaks on a bmx at a park, yea its easier and more practical, but it is way more impressive to see someone go and nose stall on quarter with no breaks. The same goes with 700c, it definitely looks better aesthetically and much more impressive.

  • bkaspr

    i’m not a fixed freestyler, so maybe my opinion isn’t valid, but it seems like you’re just reinventing the wheel (no pun intended) a bit. these evolutions have already happened. tom (and a bunch of other rides) are now riding with pegs, smaller wheels, etc. before too long you’ll be discussing whether or not to put freewheels on the 700cmx bikes. keeping the trick track world unique is important, i think that means, fixed, 700c, and tight track geometry. if you want to ride 26″, 24″, BMX, or whatever just do it, hell why not ride a 26″ bike with a fixed hub?. i’m not sure why everyone seems like they need to set themselves apart by just taking components from already developed styles and bikes, and just mimick the same evolution that has already occured. then again it’s that sort of switching around of parts and styles that has created BMX, cyclocross, and MTB already so maybe i’m way off. anyway just my 2 cents. i also want to make it perfectly clear that i’m not hating here, just throwing out my opinion.

  • Santiago Belmont

    700c. otherwise. get a bmx lol..

  • http://ekajnitram.com ekajnitram

    I prefer my 700c wheels, I’ll roll 26’s on my MTB’s and dubs on the BMX. But the b43’s, chukkers, and fyxation tires look too sick and take an amazing beating for what I dish out to them. I see no reason to change my self. To me it’s all about what you want to ride, not what everyone else is riding. People are going to hate, no matter what, nothing we can do about that.

  • http://Twitter.com/rickaimname Rickaimname

    Now my opinion may not be valid since I’m relatively new to the sport, but from the way I see it, fixed freestyle is becoming too much like bmx, while there are a few things that set the sport apart from the rest, I feel like many of us are leaning fixed freestyle wayy too far into the direction of bmx. And for the record as much as I don’t really love the idea of running dual 26, there are certain aspects of it that I myself as well as others can definetly agree, are much more beneficial than running 700c. But with that being said, for companies and frame builders that spend so much time building frames to cater to the specific needs of 700cmx riders, it’s almost like a slap in the face. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference, at this point I’m still considering running dual 26s as much as I don’t love the idea but a stronger wheel, more clearance, and a better feel are all things I want, for many this isn’t the case, which is why I feel dual 26 isn’t going to take over the sport. However, I think many of us should consider also that the sport is still fresh out the gate and ultimately changes have to be made in order to perfect it, ex: would skateboarding be where it is today if everyone tricked on banana boards?

  • sean milnes

    it seems like the biggest change that people tend to overlook is the transport/freestyle riding thing. i think the amount of kids that are both commuting and sessioning spots is dropping off drastically, or at least staying the same while the amount of kids buying freestyle frames is growing. i know that when i set my bike up i think about gear ratio first. which gear ratio will allow me an efficient pedal stroke and not hinder me in my range of tricks. i feel like most kids arent worrying about their commute to school or to work with these bikes. they drive to the spots or downtown where ever and ride from spot to spot and get back in their cars and leave. so a utilitarian ride is becoming less and less necessary and allowing for a much broader range of experimenting with setups. 4″ bars with 26″ wheels and a a 24/12 gear ratio is not efficient for any sort of commute, but it might be perfect to session a ledge or a stair set. maybe thats whats happening. the trick bikes will change drastically. downhill, cross country and trials bikes are all still mt bikes, but they all look a lot different.

  • http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com BikeSnobNYC

    Interesting to see this happening. Smaller wheels seem like a good idea for doing tricks on a fixed-gear bike (as people are reporting), and they’re perfectly fine for commuting and longer rides, too–plenty of people tour on 26″ bikes.  People were also pretty resistant to 700c mountain bikes, but after enough people tried them out the 29er established itself and is arguably superseding the 26″ MTB for some types of riding.  (Obviously 26″ MTBs aren’t going to disappear–especially when “hucking”/tricks are involved–but a 29er is no less a MTB for having 700c wheels.) Many things determine what type of bicycle you’re riding, but I don’t think wheel size is one of them.

    Of course, if you free your mind your hub may follow, but that’s another argument…


  • @Rehtt

    Wow, I was literally having the exact same conversation with Kris from MKE the other day. If we are going to ride 26″ then at some point I feel that we are going to ditch the entire fixed drive train because is it not the best for free style. We get it. These bikes are not made to do this. Thats the fun. At least in my opinion.

  • http://theradavist.com prolly

    There’s also this post Bike Snob wrote from 2007:


    Item II

    Wheel Size

    In many ways, fixed-gear freestyle equipment has not yet caught up with the style of riding. Because of the incorrect use of the word “track,” manufacturers are still speccing these bikes with inappropriate components like 700c wheels. The reality is that there’s no reason for them to be using wheels this big. These bikes are ridden for short distances only, and smaller wheels would be better for the stunt riding they’re doing. (Some of these riders are already using 650c/26″ wheels on the front anyway.)

    Meanwhile, mountain bikes seem to be moving to the 29er (700c) wheel size. This is why a mountain bike representative needs to be at the summit. I’d like the fixed-gear freestylers and the mountain bikers to agree to a wheel-size exchange. The fixed-gear freestylers will take the 26″ wheels, which seem to be falling out of favor with mountain bikers anyway, and the mountain bikers will take the 700cs. (This has the added benefit of making fixed-gear freestylers look even less like track bikes.)

  • nosmas

    dont really understand post, people will and should ride what they like. good discussion topic though i guess

  • http://www.rotterdamfixedgear.com Stay Gold

    Dammit… I was also writing a post about this matter on our website since i was in a discussion with my friend about trying out dual 26″, cause basically it makes the more technical “possible” whereas it with 700c would be either hard or pretty much impossible (for me at least).. I’ll read this post first. Don’t think I need to write another discussion about this matter anymore haha.

  • evan

    you aren’t digressing to mtb’s you are reinventing BMX bikes.

  • http://tricktrack.org Tom Mosher

    I’m surprised people are so heated about this topic, the people running dual 26’s are just curious and exploring. We are looking for ways to make our FIXED GEAR trick bikes as good as possible, so there is no eventual freewheel at the end of the slippery slope.

    Also, I’m not sure why people keep saying the bike will be slower, my Thrasher feels considerably *faster* with my dual 26’s. FWIW, I put a smaller cog on my smaller wheel to make the gear inches approx. the same. And it definitely doesn’t feel weird, it feels like my bike did before, but snappier, more responsive, lighter and funner.

    Tell me where the bad part lies..

  • cody

    bottom line: if your riding a track bike other than on the track, its not what its intended for.

    Why hate on what people are doing with their fixed gears? It went from its track roots a while ago. Everyone who rides a fixed gear on the road is already doing it “wrong”.

    Mankind was meant to progress, we are curious and want to push the boundaries.

    And if you think that fakie wheelies with barspins are lame, then you dont know whats cool anyway.

  • http://theradavist.com prolly

    Fakie wheelies are still, to this day, the coolest thing ever done on one of these bikes. I wanna see a fakie hop bar at the end of one!

  • http:[email protected] Jesse Johnston

    i remember when the name 700cmx was getting clowned on, now its being used to strong arm an argument on wheel sizes?! The psi argument doesn’t work for me. Nobody runs 35c tires anymore and my 40c randos take 65psi max. soooooooo. im 5″7′ on a small scissor and cant stand flat footed while standing over my toptube. Hypothetical fundamentalist conversations are getting old. Im gonna try duel 26. i might love it, i might hate it. nothing more, nothing less.

  • http://theradavist.com prolly

    Jesse – right on man. For small bikes it definitely makes sense. I think Tony Fast is going to try it out too. Should be interesting to see what we’re riding a year from now.

  • vlad

    everything is changing

    even frames are changing
    durcus one ‘stylin’
    very good example.

  • http:[email protected] jesse Johnston

    “Should be interesting to see what we’re riding a year from now.”
    -If all goes well ill be doing smith grinds on my Nimbus 2000 while playing Quidditch.

  • rich

    the points the comments are making are blinded and biased. track bikes are not made for tricks period. so any trick you want to do on a fast bike is wrong. so changing your gear ratio to make a trick easier or lowering your seat or anything that changes the ride quality from its designed setup is the same thing.
    if your into ballet and that kinda stuff keep your thousand dollar pursuit frame with a 2:1 gear ratio and talk about using a bike wrong.
    also if you are of grown man size a terrible feeling may creep into your stomach when you drop down a large curb on 25s, why? because track bikes are meant for the track. my bruiser is probably the closest thing ive seen to what a city commuter is supposed to be.
    comfort is key to commute not just speed.

    the argument is like having a road bike tell you a track bike doesnt belong on the road and you sayin fuck off and then tellin another dude on a fixed gear that hes not supposed play on it.

  • Anthony R

    I agree with many arguments, seeing where we can take our bikes.

    I agree with you Prolly, there needs to be a wider and deep rim. I ride my ‘trick’ bike (hell its my only bike as a starving student) everywhere and if I put smaller wheels on it I would hate the loss of speed.

    To make things easy for us, Velocity should just mate the B43 and Chukker together for the ultimate FGFS wheel.

  • gus.m

    yo man, no offence but i think your missing the point slightly, this is fixed gear, it all came from the idea of the bike being a fixed gear, not the size of the wheels surely?

    this doesnt mean i want 26’s though

  • http://hereforkicks.com james

    when is the fixed gear bike going to eventually just change into a locked cog bmx bike?

  • http://theradavist.com prolly

    James, BMXrs in the past have experimented with fixed flatland before. Also, the bicycle prom section in RAD! had fixed BMX riding.

  • t-bone

    image removed due to complaints
    is what fixed gears look like with pegs

  • http://bicyclerevolutions.blogspot.com/ Fuzzy

    This is hysterical, Wilis can tell you how crazy I thought he was when he started filming BLS1. Every time breaking shit on his track bike and scrambling to fix it so he could go back to work the next day.
    The freestyle thing is evolving into something completely different than it started out as. It is not good or bad, it just is. With the bigger tires and wider chainlines for BMX cranks, why not go to a 135mm rear axle spacing? Laterally stronger rear wheel and wider chainline. Now there are purpose built bikes and components for this shit, so why not keep trying new things.
    A track bike is still a track bike, this is some other shit…

  • http://bicyclerevolutions.blogspot.com/ Fuzzy

    T-bone, thats’s sick.
    And, I like 700c wheels.

  • http://vimeo.com/kreeestowfur KrEEEstowfUr

    Bikesnob wins on this one fellas. The “free your mind” line was classic. Also, Mosher makes some very valid points.

    Anyway, if you are worried about “uniqueness” and distinguishing yourself from other types of riding (BMX in particular) it’s more about style and the tricks you choose to learn that will set you apart. Just be honest with yourselves and ride the bike that facilitates the most fun for you.

  • http://www.grimest.com wonka

    Fixed riding…crossbreed between skateboarding MTB and BMX you can hop switch or regular and the way you hop is like a Ollie … I’m just saying its nothing like a bmx. I have one i’ve rode it all my life and its completely different…..26 MAY BE THE FUTURE

  • http://vimeo.com/kreeestowfur KrEEEstowfUr

    Wait… back to the photo ^^^^. How does a smith grind work on a fixed gear? Doesn’t your rear wheel spin your pedal into the ledge? or do you like skid and grind at the same time?

  • michael

    I just do both?
    700c front for commuting, and riding, and I have a 26in front with a 1.25 tire on it for tricking around. I think it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you and finding your personal balance between practicality and fun. Then building your bike, to suit your individual needs. For me I mostly commute, and ride. Every now and then I want to hang out and trick around a little bit, and all I need to do to make my bike work for the kind of tricks I can do is switch out the front wheel.

  • frog kid

    i wanna ride 26″ to see how it feels but im still keeping my 700c for whatever yeah yeah im only 5’7″ and i have really short legs and i ride small frames so my shit wont look retarded and so 26″ will help me thrash harder real talk. the future is confusing lets not think about it right now and just ride

  • prettyboy

    26″, it makes sense. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  • http://twitter.com/antonyoxxx antonyo

    +1 jesse Johnston

  • nate c

    i guess this is why you gotta call it “fixed freestyle” and lose the “700cmx” labeling.

  • http://matthewspencer.tumblr.com Matt

    “Of course, if you free your mind your hub may follow, but that’s another argument…


    This may be the best thing ive heard in awhile!

    IMO switching to 26s because you cant reach the ground with your foot on 700c is ridiculous. Unless your doing some sort of toe keo, which seem to already be phased out, you will have your foot in your straps and 26s dont make your seat tube length or your top tube length any different.

    I think 50cm and smaller 26s are alright, but it just looks too funky with any bigger size frame.

  • kurt

    Why not put a fixed drive train on a 26″ frame? Say, a DJ bike, or similar hardtail with horizontal drops? The hubs are out there. Trials riders have been using fixed hubs for a while. Albeit with the cassette located at the bottom bracket. If I had a 135mm spaced fixed rear hub with 14mm axle I would put it on my eastern night train just to try it out. Got any extra profile hubs laying around?

  • Eilif Knutson

    Im drunk as hell reading this but i have agreed with the statement that was said a few weeks ago.
    “RIDE WHAT FITS”. Im 6 foot one and ride a 56cm cutter with 700c wheels. I also run a Redline D44o 29er with a freewheel for mountain biking.

  • http://tricktrack.org Alex

    My math post on TT was more about the BB Drop and general geometry of the bikes staying relatively similar. As for them riding ‘slower’, I just got a set of 26 wheels yesterday and plan on abusing them and putting them through a rugged test of commuting and trick bullshit.

    I won’t back it anymore if I don’t like it. But I certainly figure it’s worth a try!

  • http://fixacwb.wordpress.com/ Gunnar

    Who cares? Do whatever you want, with a bike set up just like you want. Looks like the main discussion is much more about “how not to cross lines between the ‘styles’ ” or “keeping it unique” then anything else. Not even the search for the ideal and optimal point between commmuting and tricking seems to be in the middle here.

    That said, my 2 cents: this bikes are not track bikes since the first courier put the first riser bar on it. Keeping 700c will not save the “trackness” of any bike. If 26″ is better for yoour riding, do it. But then again: someday you will find yourself re-inventing BMX/TRIAL. And there were already BMX’s and TRIAL bikes with fixed hubs.

    I ride fixed only for commuting and would never thrash tricks on my beloved bike, and if I was into tricks, I would get the right bike for it: a BMX (maybe with a fixed hub).

    Sorry for the bad english. Greetings from Brazil.

  • Justin

    “Not even the search for the ideal and optimal point between commmuting and tricking seems to be in the middle here.”

    That is the reason i have a bruiser with 700c wheels. If its tricks only then yes, buy something else. I don’t want to see my bruiser go the way of the roller blade.

  • llortaem

    man.. justin i used to commute on roller blades too, i know how you feel…

  • http://death-pedal.com killa kareem

    Penis penis penis

  • Wacko Jacko

    First off let me say I ride fixed 700c, but there was a time when I rode 26in wheels w/ 2.25 knobbys on a mtb bike for almost 10 yrs. I rode trails about 30% of the time. The rest I rode on the road, more like the sidewalks doing transfers to the street, driveway gaps, jumping into/out of retention ponds. I bar-tended at a few nights a week and didn’t own a car. I all I did everyday was ride ride ride. My average ride was 30 – 35 miles of street, hitting up every spot I could find and pedaling through sections. It was like a long track rarely hitting the same obstacle twice. I was on a 26 in. wheel and always ran a 52 upfront, keeping in in the upper 20’s and low 30’s mph (hauling as on the bumpy sidewalks crossing into the street while dodging traffic rules). My point You can haul ass and cover great distances while hitting everything on 26 in setup. Why put 26 wheels on a bike made for 700c? Low b/b, home crimped stays, tall geo = pain in the ass. It’s like being a vegan and ordering a hamburger only to pull of the patty. Like a low rider monster truck. I guess it’s not COOL to ride a modified mtb but it’s avant guard futurism to turn your 700c into a 26in.

    Why not put 26in. wheels on a 24 in cruiser? Or ride a fixed DJ bike w/ slicks?

  • Justin

    That wasnt exactly what i meant llortaem, but thats still funny.

  • zaner

    ride a bike…done son.

  • Spatula

    Very interesting article John – a conundrum. There was a time when ‘fixed gear’ bike riders and bmx riders felt that doing tricks on a track bike was wrong, changing the boundaries and scope and equipment was somehow diluting and insulting.

    We all argued that evolution is normal, just have fun, ride and let ride e.t.c.

    Now an industry has sprung up around ‘700cmx’. and we find ourselves in the same spot as the bmx and fixed gear crowd a while back. We want to control our identity. We want boundaries and definition. 700c + fixed gear…

    I commute on a bike with full fenders brakes and a chainguard but I certainly don’t trick on it. I also don’t see why you can’t commute on any number of bikes, bmx included, so I don’t think it would be a defining feature of any style of riding. I’ve commuted on skateboards and scooters and roller-blades as well.

    My view is that we can’t be hypocrites now. If the equipment and style changes we should support that instead of drawing lines in the sand and saying “this is cmx” and that is MTB or BMX. We are about the community, and the skills and pushing boundaries and having fun. Lets not get caught up in industry standards, specifications, definitions and product cycles. Let’s move on!!!

  • Halogen

    What would be more of a true track bike…

    A. 700c Frame with 26″ Wheels and Fixed
    B. 26″ Frame with 700c Wheels and Fixed
    A. 700c Frame with 700c Wheels and Freecoaster

  • Jan H

    What about 650b?

  • Sean

    Spatula knows whats up!

  • jeff

    Kids are going to do what they’re going to do. Creativity and expression are what drive this “sport” forward, and its natural that this mentality seeps into how kids view their bicycle.

    I, for one, am not a supporter of the 26″ ideology. To me, what made tricks on these bikes interesting was playing within the limitations of the bicycle as it was. Now, we’re faced with constant modifications to the point that we’ve lost perspective of where we started from, and to me, the creativity is almost lost. I feel that the mods made over the past two years compensate for an emulation of existing creativeness, ala bmx, trials, hucking – compared to basing expression off of unexplored facets of the track frame’s “uniqueness”. Many will read this and say that their riding is still unique due to the fact that they are still hucking a “track bike” off of a ten stair – something that hasn’t been done, often. In actuality, its just another bike with 26″ rims going off a ten stair with more probability of mechanical failure.

    I also can’t help but notice many on this discussion simply talking about the drawbacks these wheel bases have for commuting, but have people stopped climbing & doing centuries for fun? I don’t know. Where does it end? Should we have 80mm of travel to alleviate breaking forks? Should we have DMR Transition geo spreads for frames to boost higher and bigger? I’m all for the duality and fun, but I would love to see more expression within the pre-existing parameters than watching these bikes play catch up to something that already exists. I think that we’re better then that as a culture, but what do I know.

  • Young gun

    I’m in brooklyn right now, let’s settle this with fistycuffs! Haha, I’m such a 16 yo girl, any atention is good attention. Bike should bee swing some changes soon, none of which are 700c wheels haha

  • Max

    Eh, what the hell…ride the bike that’s closest to you or suits you best. Why not do this: http:[email protected]/3859775532/ . Bridgestone MB-4 bought for polo, built up on some beater 700 wheels originally, since it was all I had laying around that night I got the frame home. I was totally surprised when everything fit together (caliper brakes even reach from the fender holes). Several wheelsets later (and thinking that the next replacements will be 26″ for that reason), I’m still using 700’s. Next time I get a wheelset/rimset for free that’s 26″, they’ll go on as soon as these fall apart.

  • Jerrylikesbikes

    You took my comment about the LHT out of context. I was merely inferring that if 26″ wheels were the WORST THING EVER for riding a bike a distance, the convenience of a 26″ wheelset wouldn’t outweigh the decreased efficiency on a touring bike. Basically, Surly wouldn’t make the LHT in 26″ if you couldn’t still ride it across continents without complaint.

  • jack

    Rollin 29er 2.0s fixed 32/16, can haul ass around town hitting walls kickers ledges large boulders tricks Its all good. I can see 26 for smaller riders and bmx type of stuff but 700s still best overall.

  • http://www.fastpacezine.com andy fast pace

    hey that purple bruiser is mine now…with dual 700’s :-D

  • wes

    I’m calling shananigans on the monocogs bb being too low. The monocog with 26×1.5 tires has bb height of 11.5 inches. Add 700c wheels and use the 38c tires that are common in tarck and you have a bottom bracket thats over a foot off the ground. Then put on some 165mm cranks and theres no effing way you are going to strike your pedal.

  • jpdman

    wher can i get some 26” online?

  • Ben

    Please wear your helmet.

  • Eilif Knutson

    I just got a 26″ RL mono cog. I play polo fixed generally on my RL 29er d440, works good but its a bit sluggish. Gonna experiment with the 26″ for polo as i would like better acceleration.

    I see no reason to go 26inch on my trick/commuter cutter. 700c rolls faster once its up to speed.

  • burrito_pack

    the fact that these bikes can do so much is awesome. 700X23 for the real ale ride in may, 700X40’s general city travel and 26X2.0 for polo/tricks. simply awesome. my bmx is the best trick machine i’ve ever ridden, now its also the worst commuter i’ve used (minus a razor scooter i found at a bar)
    my 80’s fuji 14 speed is a great commuter but i’m frightened when i have to hop off a curb. my scissor (comes tomorrow) i’m hoping will be a perfect blend of great commuter and awesome for tricks. my current fixed rig is a mtb conversion, it works but its a POS. so whatever wheel size you end up with remember these are the raddest bikes ever made.
    riding is fun on any sized wheel.

  • Big Mike

    I’ve ridden all kinds of bikes. XC mountain bikes, BMX, Steel road bikes, freeride mountain bikes, Fixed gear commuter, etc.

    At some point I moved from a fixed gear commuter to a 700cmx and along the way of tuning it to do the stuff I wanted, … I had a crappy fixed commuter…

    Well, now I have a fixed commuter, and a 26″ wheel Urban Park Bike. That’s just the way it goes sometimes..

    BUt I deff wouldn’t mind having a a fixed 26″wheel set up on one of those “Stylin” frames. but I would probably still have to have a commuter bike.

    If there was one big to do it all, then we wouldn’t have roadbikes, mountain bikes, track bikes, bmx bikes, etc, and everything inbetween. everyone would just be ridding the same bad ass bike.

  • blair

    this debate seems to include several different factors as far as i can tell…

    ONE – semantics. to me, the term “700CMX” is flawed. “700CMX” could be fixed or free. it’s a wheel/frame size identification, which isn’t specific enough. what defines you guys is your drivetrain. so to me, the whole thing could be squashed by just calling it “fixed freestyle” across the board, because by doing so, you’ve taken “700c” out of the title, and thereby opened it up to any wheel size you want. everybody wins.

    TWO – puritism. track bikes were the inspirational platform from which FGFS bikes were born. track bikes run 700c wheels. thus, putting 26″ wheels on them violates that principle and feels “wrong” to many. i can understand this argument.

    THREE – smaller wheels for better standover/smaller riders. i hate to sound insensitive here, but the issue with standover is a frame size issue, not a wheel size issue. i built a track bike for a 5’2″ ex-grrlfriend once. it had 700c wheels on it and she had fine standover, because the frame was a 49c. look at all the fixed gear taiwan grrls and so on. those grrls are tiny and they rock 700c wheels cause they have small frames. so i say the “i’m a small guy” defense here is pretty shaky, no disrespect intended.

    finally, look at some comparative situations — there are both 20″ and 24″ BMX bikes, and there are both 26″ and 29er MTBs, so why can’t there be both 26″ and 700c fixed freestylers? is it because in the above two examples, the frame sizes are different — eg, made to hold that specific size wheel? with that stated, i lean towards the 700c guys again, BUT … if there were a frame made (and maybe there is, i’m not a FGFSer) that was specifically tailored to 26″ wheels, but still had the same geometry and intended use as the bruiser and otherwise, would the argument cease to exist? because at that point, you’d be in the same boat as the BMX guys and the MTB guys. two sizes of bike that each do the same thing.

    something else to consider — if you convert an old schwinn road bike from the 70s (made for 27″ wheels) to a fixed-drivetrain commuter running 700c wheels, is that “acceptable?” i say yes — you’re modernizing the machine and making it better for your PERSONAL use. and in doing so, i land back here — just because the frame is made for one type of wheel doesn’t mean you can’t run whatever the fuck you want on it and still be considered a fixed freestyler. prolly brought up a good point above — there were BMX guys in the 80s who ran direct-drive hubs (that’s what us old men called em back then, ha!). one was brian scura, who was a GT/DYNO rider. another, whose name escapes me now (maurice meyer?), was one of the stunt riders in “RAD,” also mentioned above. and those guys weren’t any less of BMX freestylers just cause they changed their drivetrain. they still ripped shit up, and in fact, were doing some of the same things you guys are doing now!

    i guess my point is that you won’t be able to agree on anything until you clearly define the problem. is the problem semantics or is it puritism or is it something else entirely? figure out what’s the beef, and the solution will present itself.

    hope i’ve offered some different perspectives!

  • domoredirt

    you will just have a diverse crown like massan rocking speed and drops kids doin the 26 thing buried seat post and kids doin the pegs, i like the 700cmx fakie wheelie, airing stair sets sliders and 3 taps, but 26er with pegs is just going to be a a beast of its own. i like what joel weston is doing but the wonka pegs thing aint for me. ride relax evolve




    u can cat my vote on 700c

    id let someone pedal grind on my dick before i thought about riding 26″ on a track based frame


  • Harry

    To be honest with myself the way FGFS is going isnt my thing…I built up a nice bruiser with all the big tire, small gear, BMX crank business and I came to realize my old lugged 23c track bike is/was funner to ride.

    I love my trick bike, it is solid and feels really durable and dependable. But lately more and more I feel like putting smaller tires on it and even drop bars and just riding it. I already changed back to a faster commuting gear.

    BMX is cool cause when the guys do tricks they can make it look smooth and stylish in an effortless kind of way. Very few people ive seen can pull that of with a FGFS bike, and I was only ever really convinced lately when I saw Tom LaMarche ride in Fixed 4. Jumping stairs and wallrides on a big track bike looks awkward.

    Im going back to the stylish looking fixed gear riding that got me on one of these bikes in the first place watching things like Lucas Brunelle’s alley cat races and people like Massan bombing through traffic. I guess the wheels are the least of my worries…

  • http://estout.net Eric


    Tricks are cool and all… and i’ll throw down a keo spin..whatever.. but when it comes to jumping stair sets and all that jazz most people look like they have NO control. There is just NO style, just holding on for dear life. These kinds of tricks just look way better and smoother on a BMX. It’s not about one bike to another, it’s about what looks cleaner.

    But all in all… fuck it. As long as you’re having fun that’s all that matters.

  • Chris

    As someone has already said on here, the idea of putting dual 26″ on your bike is a personal choice, fixed freestyle is still so new like it hasn’t been around for long at all compared to skateboarding and bmxing for example. I mean i have 26s and to me i prefer it, its just trying something new. Everyone has a different opinion to what there perfect bike is and i don’t think anyone else should be able to get in the way of that

  • Ronnie

    Hi this article prolly helped in the fact that people are starting to revert back to 700c and Tom Lamarches outofprint article because of the fact he was riding 2.0 29er tires beefy beefy so I don’t see why anyone who rides 26 has an excuse to say that they just wann run fatter cushy tires. Don’t worry the fixed freestyle scene seems its going 29er still but whatever. Not everyone can hop high or doesn’t have enough experience to do so on fixed maybe that’s why they’re going 26 inch. 26 I feel is going to die out when more people focus on fluidness rather than the AMount of tricks you can do but tricks on fixed does look awkward nobody can make it look smooth other than tom lamarche but then again he’s been tricking longer than most of us he’s gotten most of the hate back in the day so respect him and see why he is so fluid sort of.
    I’m not hating on 26 though being that I ride a 26 front and nobody should be hating on that haha

  • http://epicbmx.com dimsum

    Going to a 26” is a great idea because there is more option in rims. How many 700c rims can you find that can handle the type of riding the freestyle fixed gear riders are doing? How many 700c rims can hold a 35+ tire? A good 35+ tire. I say about 3 maybe 4 rims that are on the market. Now you go to 26” and there is a whole new world. Rim strength, width, color, holes, tire selection, spoke selection, and the list go on.

    But, is this still the roots of fixed gear? Yes going to a 26”would solve a lot of problems. Problems? Ah problems with freestyle riding. A rider by the name of Steven Jensen has proven that you can freestyle with a 700c wheel. If we must reinvent something every time we can do a trick then the whole bike wouldn’t be what it is from the beginning.

    Frame, fork, bars, etc has change for the better part of the sport, but still kept it 700. Yes the apiece of the bike looks different but the main root is still there. The 700c wheels. I can’t see any trick that a 26” can do that a 700c can’t. Keep it 700 and practice more.

  • Tristan

    i think ‘dimsum’ hit the nail on the head.
    “Keep it 700 and practice more.”
    the reason most people fall in love with fixed gear is how fast you can go. 26″ does take away from this…..
    fair enough, 26″ wheels would be great in the sense that you get more toe clearance, but for me thats where the benefits stop. bigger tyres? fuck that, i run 38c on back 42 in front, i think thats plenty!
    if you want a big bmx, go for the 26″, otherwise, stick with the 700s…..

  • jose

    the 2nd picture the Charge frame with the chukker 26 rims can anyone tell me the size of frame and tire

    and tire brand ?
    someone get back to me please

  • http://theradavist.com/old/2010/03/when_700cmx_is_no_longer_700c.php brannon cantrell

    Track bikes are built around 700c wheels! Speed is was is in mind when a company builds a track bike. If you want to ride a 26 freestyle bike w/o brakes go get a hard tail. I for see the new trickster bikes in the near future turning into simply a hardtail with a fixed gear. Im in love with track bikes and dig the seen. But im starting to see a drastic change in the builds these days and the seen. It went from Alley Cat and messenger side show to a full on seen. And with that it has changed the bikes completey. Im down for the tricks but come on guys, we’re on track bikes. If you love the seen we have then dont butcher it.

  • brannon cantrell

    Track bikes are built around 700c wheels! Speed is was is in mind when a company builds a track bike. If you want to ride a 26 freestyle bike w/o brakes go get a hard tail. I for see the new trickster bikes in the near future turning into simply a hardtail with a fixed gear. Im in love with track bikes and dig the seen. But im starting to see a drastic change in the builds these days and the seen. It went from Alley Cat and messenger side show to a full on seen. And with that it has changed the bikes completey. Im down for the tricks but come on guys, we’re on track bikes. If you love the seen we have then dont butcher it.

  • http://pbr.tumblr.com Ramon Antonio

    26ers on freestyle only. 700c only, on masher/commuters.

  • im the dude next to u

    FGFS is way better then a normal track fixie!!!! On a FGFS you can put a 44 tooth sproket on and be smashing around on something that is built to last and take a beating. I started on a bmx and went to track fixie but got tired of changing bikes and bmx is way to easy so i got a FGFS and found out that it rides better then a track fixie and its challenging to do tricks on. I think FGFS is going to take over. Its just a better thing and funner thing to do