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Jamis Aurora Elite comes with disk brakes on 700c wheels. I am wondering is it possible to put 26 inch wheels on?

Since it has disk brakes, I can't see any issues with fitting the brakes. Only problem might be the ground clearance to the pedals.

The 26 inch wheels are good for touring with load, 700c wheels ideal for daily commute. I am looking for a bike which will fit both needs.

  • You can get 700cm touring wheels. It comes with some decent wheels. – paparazzo Jul 11 '17 at 20:09
  • Most touring bikes come with 700c wheels at least in the larger sizes, and have done for years. A 700c wheel can be built just as strong as a 26" wheel. So stick with the wheels it's got and don't worry about it. Or buy a 26" tourer if you can find one in your size. They exist (along with 26" road bikes) mainly in smaller sizes but the cutoff varies between brands. – Chris H Jul 11 '17 at 20:22
  • If you want a bike with 26" wheels, why not buy it? Also, I don't see 700c and 26" being different for commuting. – Batman Jul 11 '17 at 23:39
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What you don't want to do under all circumstances is make large enough changes to the outside diameter of the inflated tire that pedal/crank clearance with the ground becomes an issue. Geometry will suffer too, but as a rule of thumb, dealbreaking ground clearance problems will arise first. (It's my rule of thumb at least, having observed various wheel conversions where it seems fine at first and then you learn you get pedal strike in turns).

Generally speaking, if the brakes are a non-issue or a solved issue, i.e. a disk brake or switching to a different reach of rim brake, you can do whatever you want with swapping wheel sizes as long as the tire OD stays about the same while avoiding frame clearance issues with the tire. Lots of things about the bike and its ride qualities will change, but it will generally be rideable and functional. Note how 27.5+ bikes interchange with 29x2.3-2.4ish wheels, many people convert 700x23ish road bikes to 650b, downhillers running extra fat 24s in place of 26s, trials bikes with 19"x2.5" subbed in in back, etc. All the same principle.

There might be a better resource, but the lazy way of comparing tire ODs across different wheel and tire sizes is a computer circumference chart and dividing by pi. Tire deflection of course throws it all off a little, but meh.

In the case of a touring bike and trying to go from 700 to 26" (559), you'll usually find that you won't have enough fork/chainstay/seatstay clearance for the width of tires that get you into the right ballpark. There are exceptions, particularly with forks and seatstays because they're less inherently constrained in this way, but chainstays will usually be a pretty major limiting factor in back.

Applying your idea with 27.5"/650B wheels is more likely to work out.

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You are correct that smaller wheels can be fitted on a disc brake equipped bike, however, bikes are designed for a particular wheel size and changing that size can cause lots of problems. If the drive train is not modified the gearing will be altered. More importantly the the steering geometry will be changed and crank clearance reduced potentially making the bike unsafe to ride.

You should be able to find a 700c touring bike that has sufficiently strong 700c wheels. I note that Surly's Long Haul Trucker is available in both 700c and 26" wheel sizes. Or perhaps you can compromise with a 27.5" wheel size bike.

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  • Thanks @argentiappratus. I see your point. I used 26 inch wheels for touring before, they are strong. Never had any spoke or wheel damage when carrying load. FYI: Surly LTH comes in both versions. – Thanushan Jul 11 '17 at 19:27
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The strength of a wheel has comparatively little to do with its radius, and a lot more to do with the quality of the wheel building, and the number of spokes, and the design of the rim.

If a frame is designed for a 700c wheel then fitting smaller rims will change the handling, and will

700c is 622mm in diameter, and 26" is 559mm, so you're dropping by 31mm overall. However your 26" wheel may have larger tyres to offset this decrease.

As a test, find/borrow a couple of 26" wheels and fit them to your bike. Even if the drive train doesn't mate up and the brakes don't fit, just quietly scooter-about in a safe space. You should be able to "glide" and coast, and feel how the steering is different. Do report back on your findings. Don't take this test rig on the road unless the brakes work.

I expect that the decrease in trail will make the steering very floppy, and it will want to turn a lot easier. Based on this test, make your own decision.

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