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Old 10-16-2004, 09:05 AM   #1
Mr.Grumpy OP
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Joined: Jul 2004
Location: Haverhill MA
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Does size matter?

Some thing some one said in another thread made me get to thinking (always a scetchy exercise). I know that a larger diameter front wheel is better for off road, but is a smaller diameter wheel better for on-road? If so why? Is a 19" wheel a lot better than a 21"? Is a 17" better still? I'll assume that a smaller wheel will handle better than a large wheel, but will it make it more stable and less front-end twitchy?


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Old 10-16-2004, 11:59 AM   #2
Desert Dave
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Location: Tracy, CA
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Originally Posted by Mr.Grumpy
I'll assume that a smaller wheel will handle better than a large wheel, but will it make it more stable and less front-end twitchy?

Generally you get one or the other. A larger diameter wheel will give you more stability at the price of being slower steering. Any wheel is more stable at a faster speed (not including speed wobble or suspension problems) A larger wheel creates more gyroscopic effect (big word) which wants to keep the bike upright, which makes it feel planted but takes more effort to turn in. Sportbikes use smaller rims that can feel twitchy at low speed but this is necessary to make the bike turn quickly at racetrack speeds. Lighter rims will also make it turn quicker due to less energy (in motion). This is quite often called " better handling" but somtimes is not better for you're situation. Many race replica bikes are not very fun on really low speed roads for this reason, thats not what they were designed for. If you do change rim size, remember that also changes the rake and trail on your bike which is another major factor in how the front end steers. It's all about comprimise. I've usually run steering dampers on race bikes that are set up to turn in fast, it will turn in wicked fast and help eliminate front end head shake that would otherwise turn into a tankslapper.

I would stay with a larger diameter for off road as the speeds are generally slower and the bikes are light. If you want to experiment with quiker steering, which is good for tight woods riding, it's easier to drop the triple trees(raise the forks) even a half inch will make a big difference in the handling. But be careful when you hit a high speed rutted section, this is why many people run steering dampers here to.

Hope that helps
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