May 12, 2010

Wheel Size

I am currently riding a 26" wheel on FGFS bike and I'm going to keep riding it for a while because I think it will finally help me learn to land 180's* consistently. The shorter wheelbase makes spinning easier and the smaller wheel can take more abuse.

When I was in Fruita I was practicing brakeless nose mannies across the slickrock on the trail and I was really trying to work on my technique, and I noticed that my right foot was forward. Then I realized that I also had my right foot forward when I bunny hopped. This struck me as odd because when I ride fixed gear, the only type of freestyle I've been riding as of the last few years, I ride with my left foot forward. For trackstands, for bunny hops, rock walks, grinds, everything. My left foot is the dominant one. For a while now as I've been trying to get better at tricks I've noticed that I do a lot things awkward (like talk to girls, or meet your dad). I want to spin left with my left foot forward (most folks spin with the opposite foot forward), I nose pivot one way but slider opposite; my steez was/is all fucked up. Anyway, the fact that my normal dominant foot is the trailing foot on my fixed gear explains some of the weirdness. I am now hoping that I can learn to ride with an ambidextrous bunny hop. (way less speedchecking when approaching an obstacle, and should help me spin to left better)

Since my FGFS bikes first day, it has been my favorite for everyday life (if you think riding a fixed gear is fun, wait till you ride a monster truck fixie (monstertrack)), however lately I only seem to ride it when I go out on a trick session.


I know I'm going about saying what I want to say in a very obtuse manner, but walk with me.

There's this place in Minneapolis called the Loring Greenway and there are all sorts of crazy banks and planters but everything was made skate proof.
You can still ride it on a bike but the uneven stones definitely up the challenge. At this spot there is a bank over stair gap that I have been looking at for a while and last week I did it on the NS (Brauer crushed it on the Fatback). The next step will be to do it on the fixie with 26" wheels. It is a line that I'm stoked on and eventually want to film and I'm not going to film it until I can do it with the 700c's. It'll be hairier, which I think makes it better and pulling the line with big wheels will make me feel like I've really got it dialed.

I definitely don't want to say or come off as being opposed to 26" wheels since they are a piece of progression that makes a lot of sense. What I'm having trouble with is this: what makes a smaller wheel size front and rear somehow different than a small front wheel and 700c back, or a fat tire, or bmx cranks, or long top tubes and short stems or anything else we've done to track bikes to make them more suitable for tricks is beyond my explanation, but I can't help but feeling in my gut that some piece of the puzzle which makes up my love affair for these types of bikes has been lost.

The best way I can describe it is in terms of this: in climbing (I've always thought calling it "rock climbing" sounds way too yoga studio and uncomfortable, climbing is much easier on the lips and ears) there's a concept called style. There are multiple ways to get up something, at the base level, you can do it with aid or you can do it free. Doing it with the least amount or no aid is considered better style.

26" wheels are better for smaller frames and guys are going to be doing crazy shit on them. However all things being equal, a trick done on a 700c wheel just seems more compelling to me. There is a definite difference between the two (BMX dudes say fixed gear riders have no style but I feel that a definite style has developed, and anytime a style changes there are going to be people on either side of the fence (there was Herc, and then there was Flash. to use an analogy) and at this point in this sports development I get more stoked on seeing a big wheel do something. Sure there are plenty of dudes doing mind blowing stuff on 26" wheels, but I can't deny that I'd rather see it done on a 700c wheel. Big tricks on big wheels just seem more definitive and have a bigger "holy shit I can't believe he just did that" factor.

Let me use recent history to illustrate the point. If you were at Midwest Mayhem and saw Wonka hit that wallride, perhaps the biggest thing yet done in the history of ever on a fixed gear, you'll recall that it was pure fucking magic. That moment was electric. He went for it a few times, then hit it and crashed, then charged that motherfucker and nailed it.
Just like that what you thought was possible changed.

If it would have been done on a smaller wheel, i just don't think it would have been so affecting.

Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike 26" wheels, I embrace them. I think the bikes can look really good with 26" wheels and super fat tires. The crop of dudes who are stoked on it are going to push what can be done on a fixed gear to new limits. They're just not going to push what can be done on a 700c wheel.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start a "save the 700c wheel" campaign or anything like that. I was just thinking about my bike, and how I use it, and for me while a 26" wheel is better for tricks, a 700c wheel is better for life and I'm willing to compromise trickability to increase everyday usefullness. I miss my FGFS bike being my favorite bike to ride.


Anonymous said...

It seems like your slowly going back to bmx.. 700c should be the standard. Why dont you ride a mtn bike set up with a fixed wheel? making the easier shouldn't be part of the game... The point of fgfs is that its not easy. You know exactly who i am, today it's Mr.anonymous. Your a dynamo no doubt, an endless lake of cycling knowlege. but this is where i totally disagree... with 26" wheels it's not fgfs, it's something else. Soccer would be easier with bigger goals, and a smaller field, but then it's not soccer anymore.. I also take into account that this (sport?) form of expression is just a baby, still developing.

you can punch me later..

700c or it's not your trick...

Prolly said...

Fuck you Jeff. 700c for life. Tom LaMarche is the best fixed freestyle rider of all time and he can fucking hop over rail height on a 700c x 2" wheelset.

You can 180 on a 700c wheelset fine. You just need to get the sand out of your fucking vagina man!

Sorry, had to say it. 700c or get the fuck on a freewheel pussssayyy!




Anonymous said...

Good post Jeff. I don't have anything to add, just wanted to mention that you finally put into words what I've been thinking all along, concerning the FGFS movement. If you're doing it for pure "progression," as in doing tricks that haven't ever been done before, then you should probably switch to bmx (stay with me here, I don't mean that as a low blow). Let's face it- a bigger bike, larger wheels, and a higher center of gravity is going to make tricks harder.

But if you're doing it because you love riding a fixed gear bicycle and you want to do tricks on it, then that's badass. I'm thinking of tele versus alpine skiing here- both are pretty awesome in their own right, and each has it's advantages.

It all depends upon whether you want to label it "Fixed Gear Freestyle" or "700CMX" or whatever. I think it's coming to the point where people will have to choose sides on the matter- stay true to the 700c fixed gear gig, stay fixed and go smaller on the wheels, or slide even further down the slope.

Sort of like the sport climbing vs trad climbing debate in the 80's, no?

mark$ter said...

26 inches on a frame made for 700c is like KRISS KROSS wearing their jeans backwards in the late 80's. Why? Seriously. Why? Why the fuck would you do that? Cause you can?

Put your fucking pants back on Jeff - the RIGHT way, and finish your supper. Listen to Prolly and Gramps.

dannypaws said...

I understand the whole fgfs movement but that doesn't mean that I like it... It's usually that all the videos are boring. Take a beginner trick that could be done easily on a bmx bike. Then do that trick on an expensive as shit fixie...?

Having a bad ass commuting bike that you can whip 360s on is bad ass. It just doesn't make for very stimulating viewing. It's exciting to see fresh styles that are evolving in the culture though and I have seen some cool videos. I've just seen so many videos of kids on expensive bikes doing the same boring tricks...

And I'll give the thumbs down as well to the 26ers as well. If your going to partake in the sometimes exciting but generally nonsensical world of fgfs, then you must do it on 700c's.

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Anonymous said...

most 700c wheels are shit on strength, thus why alot of us use 26ers for tricks, my buddy actually rides 29ers, so what do you guys have to say about that? no smaller wheel there, bigger than 700c, so quit bitching, fixed is fixed, theres different styles of riding like everything and fixed gears have a wider horizon of ways you can change up your style of riding, and they also do have 26" frames mark$ter you dumbass, learn your shit before bitching cause you're just making us laugh, sure some people throw 26ers on a 700c bike, thats their thing, i have a leader 727tr for my 700s for mashing and slight tricks, and a volume vandal BUILT FOR 26ers, so shut the fuck up, its all rider preference