I like research, in fact, I pretty much research for a living. I owe this mostly to my parents. Most of my childhood was spent in a television free home. We had books. We went to the library weekly. We (my 3 sisters and I) would get in trouble for sneaking to stay up late at night, under our covers with hidden lights to read longer. Most of our family trips were spent with my father driving, while my mother read out loud from a book to him, to pass the miles. I even remember times when my allowance or reward for properly executing household chores, would be a trip to the local bookstore to pick out a new book. My mother has even carried on the tradition with my children and still picks them up weekly and takes them to the library to get “new” books once a week. I still have a television free home (though my children are spoiled with dvd’s/movies, etc). I feel sure that my love of books has fostered my love of research. I learned early on that if you are curious about something or want to know the inner workings…to look it up. This has, of course, become even easier over the years with the assistance of the internet.
You should all know by now, that with a lead in like this… I’m getting ready to express my discontent for something…enter the 650c vs. 700c wheel argument…again…and this is something I have been researching now for quite some time. Now, I know, most people could care less, because they aren’t short of stature, like me. I’m barely 5 feet tall…truthfully, without shoes, socks and the bangs I sported in the 80’s I’m probably closer to 4’11.5. I know, I know…. Most people don’t believe I’m this short….that’s because my personality is so very tall and it deceives you! But, alas, it is true. My 12 year old is almost taller than me, I cannot reach kitchen items, bathroom items in cabinets and shelves, etc. without climbing, I cannot place or retrieve my bike from the bike rack on top of the car and most all cycling shorts look more like knickers on me than shorts. My lack of height has never bothered me but while it has never bothered me, I’m realistic about the fact that I cannot wear/reach/do everything a taller person can… if only bike shop workers and bike manufacturers were also realistic about this…life would be grand.
For instance, for some reason (men especially) love to tell me that I should get a bike with “real wheels”. They, then, launch into breathtaking expositions on how 700c wheels are faster, toe overlap no longer exists, that companies like Specialized, Trek, etc have created frames that are small, that can flawlessly accommodate 700c wheels without compromising frame geometry, handling, etc. They take it even further and make statements regarding the companies that do have 650c wheeled bikes…they go something like this, they are backwards, outdated, trying to push them off on you because they spent so much money on that specific frame years ago and now need to sell it even though 700’s are clearly better. Those of us that like research, loathe those that fire off “facts”, rhetoric and half-truths without having the research to back it up.
Now it’s fine for these men to assume that because I’m a “beginning” cyclist that I may not know the pros/cons, etc. with different wheel sizes. It’s fine for them to assume that because I’m female I may not be very mechanically inclined. Though in this instance both assumptions aren’t entirely true for me, personally. However, it isn’t fine for them to assume that because I’m female that I don’t read, reason, discern and can’t make heads or tails of the laws of physics. More importantly, it isn’t fine for them to assume that I can’t tell what feels good to me. SO – for that reason, I went this weekend to a local shop to feel 700c wheels for myself. And?? What did they say? Most of what you read above…and what did I feel? That the bike felt a bit funky… it felt smooth since it was carbon, and my bike is aluminum….however, my feet felt oddly close to the wheels and I didn’t feel my untapped speed suddenly unleashed.
I wrote this post for 2 reasons.
1. To vent about all the injustice in the world and
2. To invite all you braniacs to give me your thoughts….
Am I horribly hindered in the area of speed by the size of my wheels? Is the frame geometry completely uncompromised when you take a teeny frame and stick 700’s on it? OR in contrast, since my wheels are more aerodynamic and lighter than 700’s, can I call “bull shit” on the theory that 700’s are always faster? Is the integrity of the frame more intact by putting smaller wheels on smaller frames? Is training your ass off more important to the progression of your speed than the size of your wheel? Lots to debate on this subject…talk amongst yourselves.