|Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
|I hope you find my Tweaks and Tips section helpful. If there is something you want to know about, send me an email and I will try to add that to one of my upcoming articles.
The first Question people ask me when they see my DH bike is "are those 24" rims?" The next question they usually ask is "why use 24" rims instead of 26"?" My answer to the second question is "because I can."
24" rims will fit any bike, but most bikes are not designed to work with such a small rim. Problems will arise such as, changes in geometry, cranks become too low to the ground, and wide 24" tires may not fit between your frame's chainstays.
Why do people use 24" rims in the first place? Some frames can accept a 3" wide tire, but only with a 24" size rim. Very few frames will accept a 26" rim with a 3" wide tire. This combination becomes so tall that the tire will usually wedge itself against the frame. Personally, I've only seen two bikes with both front and rear 26" rims with 26"x 3" tires. The FOES Weasel and the Brooklyn Machine Works Super Trucker. This size rim/tire combination will also interfere with most brand front suspension forks. Marzocchi offers a kit for the Monster T that lengthens the fork and includes a new "brake arch". If your fork is a 7" travel, make sure you have at least 7 ½" clearance from the top of your front tire to the bottom of your forks lower crown.
Finally, companies have recognized the popularity of 24" rims. Name brands such as Nokian, Maxxis, Arrow, Intense and IRC make 24" tires. Nokian has three styles, the most popular the 24"x3.0" Gazzaloddi, 24"x2.6 and a mud tire. New from Maxxis is the High Roller 24"x2.7", available in a 50 and 60 compound. Arrow specializes in 24" rims and tires. I personally love the rims. They're not very wide, but they're the strongest rims I've tried. Arrow tires should only be used with their rims. The tire bead locks itself to the edge of the rim. This system helps prevent flats. Arrow offers just about any width and rubber compound available. I hear they're even working on a sticky compound. Intense offers a 24"x3" in a 60 compound and IRC has a 24"x3.0 and 2.3" Kujo. They are the biggest and heaviest 3.0" tires I've seen. Bigger even than the Nokians.
Rim companies such as Sun, Arrow, Atomic, and HED have jumped on the bandwagon. Sun offers the very popular Double wide. A new rim for 2002 is the Single Track. I haven't seen them yet, but these look like an Intense Mag 30 (also made by Sun rims). Let's not forget the Rhinolite and the BFR. Atomic is a BMX company that now makes possibly the strongest 24" rims ever. They even have a complete rim set with there own hubs. HED no longer sells the 24" style 45a rims. They were 45mm wide lightweight and also very strong. They were hand made and expensive at $125.00 ea. If you find them cheap and in good condition, buy them.
Although these companies offer a decent selection of rim/tire combinations, you still have more options with a traditional 26" size wheel. Almost all 24" components are expensive and are never on sale. Consider yourself lucky to find these products.
3" wide tires are the best invention yet for downhilling. You are less likely to flat, you will have better traction due to lower tire pressure and 24" rims are much stronger due to the shorter spokes. I've heard the 24" rim and smaller diameter tire accelerates faster than a 26". I guess this is possible, but I can't tell the difference. I've been using 24" rims and 3" wide tires since 1999. I've had only 8 flat tires and have never "tacoed" a rim. Some people think 24" rims can't roll over obstacles as well as a 26" rim. Again, I can't tell the difference. Rim size shouldn't matter if the bikes suspension is set up properly.
Why then does almost every downhiller use 26" rims? Maybe the answer to this question is, 24" rims seem bizarre. They're a radical change to typical DH tradition and may never be accepted. Maybe people disregard 24" rims because most bikes will not accept them. Racers may shy away because the larger tire's feel slower since more rubber contacts the ground. Only certain bikes perform properly with 24" rims in the front and back. Most people use 24" rims only in the rear. With 10" of rear wheel travel these day's becoming the norm, 24" rear wheels have become recognized. The smaller rim and tire helps prevent the tire from buzzing the bikes seat during full bottom out. You're also less likely to buzz your behind while leaning back. Vertically challenged downhillers will love this advantage.
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