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Alia Parker's picture

Hi Harmen,

Thanks for your comment. We always intended these bikes to have 700c wheels because, while we ride on all types of road surfaces, the majority of ride days we do on this type of bike are on sealed surfaces, for which I prefer the roll of a larger wheel.

It is true that, if comparing a 26" wheel and a 700c wheel with identical rim, spoke and build quality, the smaller wheel will be structurally stronger. But, having said that, a hand-built 700c wheel using top quality components (and an experienced wheel builder) will be stronger and more reliable than most off-the-rack 26" wheels. We also opted for 36 spokes for extra strength.

As mentioned, we didn't need to true our wheels at all on the 11,500km of this ride (or since) and we used them on all sorts of terrain. There are no signs of fatigue on the rims, spokes or hubs.

RE ease of availability, it all depends which country you are riding in. In Western countries, it is becoming harder to walk into a bike shop and get good 26" tyres and replacements on the spot. This is because most hybrid and road bikes are 700c wheels and the mountain bike market, which bouyed the 26" wheel previously, has moved toward 27.5" and 29" rims. So, in countries like Australia, it is now actually easier to walk into a shop and buy a good quality 700c touring tyre than a 26" tyre.

In less developed parts of the world, word is that 26" wheels and tyres remain the most common. Having said that, generally the quality of components in many remote places is not up to the robust needs of touring and such parts may have a limited lifetime, so carrying spares or ordering in parts over the internet (where possible) is recommended anyway.

To sum that all up, I'm very confident touring on both 700c wheels and 26", although for tours that are more than 50% on sealed road, I would opt for 700c. For me the key is knowing that the wheels are 100% designed to handle the conditions thrown at them while carrying a load.

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