Buying a bike isn't an easy proposition. Prepare for an onslaught of conflicting information. You're standing at the intersection of lots of crossroads, looking for the right path...at least that's what you'll feel like.
Decide what kind of riding you're going to do and what kind of riding you'd eventually like to do. Here are three general categories of bicycles and their typical uses:
Road bikes:Best for on-road riding and an occasional (emphasis on "occasional") hard packed dirt road. Distances can vary from as few as 20 to as many as you want. Within the road bike category, there are sports bikes and touring bikes. Sports bikes are by far the favorite, suitable for fitness training, club rides with friends, or light touring. True touring bikes are designed for day-in, day-out self-contained (i.e., carry your house on your bike). Our sports bikes are Symmetry and Trixie and our touring bike is Classic.
Hybrid bikes:Great if you're going to encounter some paved and some unpaved roads during your rides. It's also the preference of those who just like the feel of a wider tire and an upright handlebar. Distances can range from 5 to 40 miles. You can go farther, but those wide tires tend to be energy sappers and you'll probably find yourself wishing for something a little more sprightly on the longer hauls. Flora is our hybrid.
Mountain bikes:For off-road only and, depending on the design of the bike, capable of handling simple dirt roads to very technical, gnarly trails. Again, distances are variable, but tend to be shorter than road distances. By changing the normal wide, knobby tires on a mountain bike to something a little svelter, a mountain bike can be ridden comfortably on paved roads. Flora is our mountain bike, too...but only for the non-technical off-road riding.
It's a lot like buying clothes -- when you go into a department store, do you shop in the men's department? Of course not -- you wouldn't find anything that fit. The same thing applies to bicycles. Our bodies aren't like men's bodies. Limb lengths are different and muscle mass placement is different. We've been designing bikes for women since 1985 -- all with proportionately sized components to go with properly designed frames.
Like Terry, some other manufacturers like Trek® and Cannondale® make small bicycles using 26" wheels front and rear; but Terry also uses 24" in the front and 700C in the rear. Why?
This seems to be a muddled marketing decision rather than an elegant engineering solution on our competitors' parts. A 26" wheel offers some advantages, but not the way it's used in the frames we see from our competitors. Everyone has the same goal when making a smaller bicycle for the small rider: make the top tube short enough! If you use a 700C wheel on the front of a bicycle, you can only shorten the top tube so much (to about 53 cm) before the front wheel overlaps with the pedal, often called toe-clip overlap. A 26" road tire is about 2 cm smaller in radius than a 700C tire, so you can shorten the top tube just as much (to about 51 cm) before there is overlap. A 24" road tire is about 5 cm smaller in radius than a 700C tire, so the top tube can be shortened to about 48 cm with no problems.
We use 24" in the front on our smaller road bikes (48.3 cm and under) so we can have more latitude for good design. The answer to the next question explains this in more detail.
Other manufacturers have fairly short top tubes on bikes with 26" and 700C front wheels. How is this possible?
It's possible because their designs are compromised. Ours are not. How do you make a bicycle with a top tube under 51 cm if you use a front wheel larger than 24" and you want to avoid toe clip overlap? There are a couple of ways to do this.
First, use a steeper seat angle (75+ degrees). The steeper this is, the shorter the top tube will be if nothing else changes. The problem with this? You will be too far forward of the pedals, unable to establish the proper relationship between your knee and the pedal spindle. You won't be as efficient a rider, and knee problems may result. You'll spend a lot of time wishing you could push back more on the saddle.
Second, use a shallower head angle (71-degrees) and more rake (6.5+cm). The problem here is that the bicycle will have rather sluggish handling.
Neither of these is a solution because it limits the design. Head angles, rake, and seat angles should lead a design not follow it. Head angle and rake are chosen to achieve the desired handling of the bicycle: is it for racing, touring, criteriums? Seat angle should be chosen to give the rider the best position on the bicycle.The 24" front wheel lets us build a bike that fits without compromise. It would be an insult to our customers to offer anything less.
Not that we know of. They are widely distributed and we always keep a good stock here for dealers and consumers in need.
No. Even though the wheel turns more rapidly than a larger wheel, it has less mass, so its momentum is about the same.
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