What is the advantage/disadvantage to the 26" rear wheel?

I notice that the Sportster and some other trike brands have a larger rear wheel.  What are the pros/cons to this?  Is this something that I could do with my Rover which has in hub gears?


  • 26" Rear Wheel
    I ordered the 26" with my Rover when I first bought it. Also bought a Rover for my wife with the stock 20".
    It's kinda hilly around my house here in N. Ga. and the first thing I found was the lack of a low enough climbing gear! By the way both Rovers had the 8sd. Sturmey Archers. My Rover had more speed on a downhill without spinning out, but heck it was faster than I felt safe at downhill. Got my IBS where I purchased the Rovers to replace mine with the stock size, been pretty happy since. Oh yeah, the Rovers do have a Cool look with 26, kinda liked that but, I'm not such a cool guy anyway! ;) Hope my experience is a help.
  • If the trike has a boom that angles upward heel strike should not be a problem with a 26 rear. My size 12 shoes have plenty of clearance.
    The 26 rear will provide greater speed with some penalty in hills. I have s 27 speed and ride in hilly terrain and on occasion I do slow down to 3-4 mph on a long steep climb.

    The 26 rear does make for a slightly better ride over some pavement irregularities.

    If you want speed get s Sportster or used Zoomer. They handle far better than the other models Terra trike builds.
  • Going from a smaller wheel to a larger one will (assuming no other changes to the drive chain):

    1: Shift your entire gear-inch range up. You gain higher gears by losing lower ones.

    2: The ride may be smoother (depending on road conditions) as larger diameter wheels can't fall as deeply into ruts/cracks as smaller ones.

    3: You now have two different sizes of wheels, meaning more spare tubes/tires.

    4: A larger wheel lifts any rear derailleur you have higher, making it easier to keep clean and un-damaged.  This really only matters if you're frequently riding in rough conditions or high piles of leaves/debris.

    5: The rear of the trike will be lifted higher, bringing the front down lower. (Like a see-saw.) This can be an issue on Rover/Rambler/Traveler's that have the boom out far. Especially if you have large feet.  

    6: Can be expensive for internally geared trikes as you'll need to either buy an wheel with an entirely new hub, convert to an external setup, or pay to have the existing hub re-laced into a larger rim with new spokes. (The old spokes will be too short for the new wheel.) 

    Externally geared trikes merely need to move the old cassette onto the new wheel.

    7: Some trikes will need a dropout extension for the wheel to fit. Of TT's current models, I believe the Tour II is the only one that does.

    8: You may need to adjust rear fenders and racks for the wheel to fit. Also, the seat won't be able to recline as much.

    9:  Larger wheels don't handle lateral stresses as well as smaller wheels. This is a mostly theoretical issue for our purposes, as 26 inch wheels should be fine. High speed trikes with 700c wheels are a different matter, though. :)

    Generally speaking, the TT models that come with larger wheels do so to emphasize speed. Those models also have large gear-inch ranges, so they keep enough low gears that they're still good for climbing.

    - PaulNM 

  • I've cornered at some fast speeds to see if side loading the 26 could be problematic and so far everything is still together!!!

    The 26 slings more mud up your back and head
  • edited August 2016
    Went to a 24 to get my rear derailleur up out of the dirt. With a 3 ring  28-38-48 front I have lots of gear range and the 34 did not cause me a heel strike prob - size 13+ shoes. Handles well, rides well near 4000 km. Ave speed 20-22 kph on level no wind 5th gear. 33-35 kph downhill in 8th. rarely go above 7th. Only use the 38T on hills and occasionally have to drop to 28T.

    Probably Big Bens for front and rear replacemnts

    This was a stock Rover 8ext. I added the 3 ring front- www.bentonabudget.blogspot.com
  • edited August 2016
    I ride a Rover 8 with shimano nexus and schlumpf high speed drive and 26 inch rear wheel---it is a sweet machine and I had it built this way for speed. I am working pretty hard to climb hills at 2 mph but if I work just as hard going down I can and have done 44 mph. I routinely travel at about 11.5-12 mph in the 6th gear and low speed crank in flat or gently sloped terrain while maintaining about 70 rpm for a cadence. I weigh 400 lbs and often descend hills coasting at 30 mph. (the same ones I have to slow to 2 for climbing). The Rover is very stable since I aligned the wheels straight ahead instead of toed in. I have ridden over 5000 miles since October 2012. I have worn out 4 sets of tires on the front but the rear 26 is still original. I can rub my heels on the ground IF I don't watch out and that has been a reliable indicator of time to go home from fatigue. My wife says when I start kicking the rocks then I must have had all the fun I am allowed.

    I say I ride this machine but it was stolen. I am replacing it as soon as all the planets align---insurance, availability, etc---I am looking to check out the Nuvinci and I noticed my mother-in-laws sturmey 8-speed has a little wider gear range than the nexus. I will forego the schlumpf this time for financial reasons and will not be buying the 26 inch wheel either for the same reason, but next spring when taxes come back I will add either a patterson (less money) or another schlumpf.
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