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Old 03-10-2014, 03:55 PM   #1
Colorado_Rider OP
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19" vs 17" rims on the road

I don't care about performance in the dirt. What I do care about is my teeth chattering on our miserable Colorado roads so I'm nearly ready to start looking at longer travel bikes that nearly always come with a 19"er.

So my basic question is, how does a 19" compare when entering a corner? I'm not really talking about how easily it turns in, or how quickly, or even how much feel you lose. I'm wondering if you can feel the front of the bike load up and feel the front tire dig into those glorious canyon bands the way you can on a bike with a 17".

Also does anyone make a really good street tire in a 19?
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:05 PM   #2
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:14 PM   #3
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In my experience, the answer to your question would be no. You can't match the corner entry feel of a 17' front with a 19" front. Mostly due to not being able to find sport compounds in 19. None of the tire mfg's make a real sport tire in 19. You can get Sport Touring compounds, such as Conti Road Attack or Michelin Pilot Road, but that's about as sporting as you can get. Also, the 19" wheel will be narrower than the 17" changing the feel on entry too (and not for the better). Doesn't mean you can't go close to sportbike speeds with a 19 front. You can, but it's just not the same as a nice race/sport compoud 17" tire.

There are plenty of longish travel bikes out there with 17's though. Wouldn't something like a KTM 990 SMT, or a Duc Multi-Strada work for your needs?
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Old 03-10-2014, 06:29 PM   #4
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On the street, any sport touring compound provides plenty of that feeling I wouldn't want to give up. So it sounds like if a 19" is in the same ballpark, and I should definitely stop limiting myself to bikes with the 17"

STM and Multi both get my blood boiling but cost is an issue and I'd like to consider smaller cc bikes that handle better. Tiger 800 is on top of my list, today anyway
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:56 PM   #5
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I've got bikes with both 17's and 19's. 17>19.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:12 PM   #6
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Of course, but with equal rubber is the difference worth shying away from if you only ride on the street?
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Colorado_Rider View Post
I don't care about performance in the dirt. What I do care about is my teeth chattering on our miserable Colorado roads
If this is the key issue, and it's not just a case of wanting something new, have you considered suspension work for your current bike?
Your profile lists two 919's. Is this what you're referring to?
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by CopaMundial View Post
If this is the key issue, and it's not just a case of wanting something new, have you considered suspension work for your current bike?
Your profile lists two 919's. Is this what you're referring to?
This is a good point. Long travel doesn't necessarily mean that it takes the edge off, nor does short "standard" travel mean that it can't.
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Old 03-11-2014, 08:47 AM   #9
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I think it really depends on your style and aggression level. I used to road race on the track and ride hard on the street as well, but I've mellowed out since becoming a husband and father. I still ride at what many would describe as a spirited pace. Personally I find that bikes with larger front wheels are the perfect choice for Colorado riding. There are so many great roads around here that also happen to be dirt covered, and dirt passes that link some incredible twisty roads. There are plenty of tire choices out there that will stick at most any speed, even quite a few dual purpose tires that will also perform well on dirt passes if you decide that's the type of riding your like to do from time to time. IMO the need for 17" fronts with uber sticky rubber is way over rated.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:21 AM   #10
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I think you will lose more handling because of the style of bikes that 19s come on, more than the difference in wheel sizes. Most are adventure bikes, which aren't going to handle like a sport bike regardless of wheel size.

Just for some anecdotal information, I switched from a 21" to 18" front on my '83 Honda XL600. The difference was definately noticeable, though much of that was likely due to the 1.5" drop in the front end. On the street, the bike went from feeling like a boat, to feeling like a BMX bike. It still worked fine off road, but then again I am no Baja racer.

So here are a couple ideas:

1. If you get a bike with a 19" front, lower the front end a bit to sharpen the steering.
2. If you get a bike with a 17" front, get spoke wheels to take away some of the harshness of solid wheels.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:41 AM   #11
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17" wheels are perfect for the roads you speak of.


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Old 03-11-2014, 11:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CopaMundial View Post
If this is the key issue, and it's not just a case of wanting something new, have you considered suspension work for your current bike?
Your profile lists two 919's. Is this what you're referring to?
I almost always re-build but mostly for performance so the plush ride get lost in the mix. Every Penske I've bought has been way better at speed but not necessarily more comfortable, but that's a different thread.

Tiger 800 is what I'm going to look at, from what I understand it handles and goes not like a pure sportbike, but a damn fine turning/handling bike, which is what I'm after. Anyone confirm?
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Idle View Post
17" wheels are perfect for the roads you speak of.


Brief hijack -

Idle, is that a turbo on the end Yamaha? Dang .. bet that takes some prudent throttle control at the apex!

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Old 03-11-2014, 07:51 PM   #14
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just a thought ,a little off topic, concerning sportbike handling. I've watched u tube vids of motards on a track with sportbikes. in the corners the motards are going around the sportbikes at will. then on the straight the sportbikes outrun them like they are glued to the ground.
my point is this. does a sportbike actually corner better then a motard?
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Old 03-11-2014, 08:10 PM   #15
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I don't think anything corners better than a motard...they make you feel like superman. They just don't have the power to catch anything on a straights.
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