When choosing the right bicycle, there are many factors to consider. One of the most important factors is the Wheelbase – the distance from the ground to the wheel’s hub. There are various wheelbase options available, so it’s important to know what they are and what they mean for your bike. Basically, there are three types of Wheelbase on a bicycle-
- Long Wheelbase (1270mm to 1625mm),
- Medium Wheelbase (1,016 mm to 1,270 mm),
- and Short Wheel Base( 965.2 to 1,143 mm).
In this article, I will tell you about these different types of Wheelbases, their various advantages & disadvantages, and measuring wheelbases, so that deciding become easier for you before making a purchase.
What Is The Wheelbase Of A Bicycle?
Essentially, the Wheelbase of a bicycle is the distance between its center of gravity and the center of its rear axle. On a bicycle, the wheelbase is the distance between the center of the front axle and the center of the rear axle.
- Steering speed, responsiveness, and stability are often measured by bike geometry.
- Also, different aspects of a bike’s geometry can affect its Wheelbase.
Basic Things Need To Know
1. Rear center:
- Distance between the center of the bottom bracket and the center of the rear wheel axle.
- Bottom bracket to front wheel axle center-to-center measurement.
2. Front center:
- The center-to-center distance between the bottom bracket and front wheel
Types Of Wheelbase On A Bicycle
Long Wheelbase (LWB):
The Long Wheelbase (LWB) frame is designed for those who want a more comfortable and efficient ride. The standard measurement is 64 inches or 1625 mm.
- The pedals are located right behind the front wheel and are usually lower down.
- This allows riders to have a longer stride length, which makes riding easier overall.
- LWBS also tend to be fitted with larger wheels than regular frames, making them faster and more stable on rougher terrain.
Advantages of Long Wheelbase (LWB)
There are many advantages to using a Long Wheel Base (LWB) while driving a bicycle.
- Luggage and panniers are accommodated well.
- Recreational, commuter, and touring cycling are all possible with this bike.
- Cycling is easier for beginners.
- The lower seats of the LWBS make it an excellent bicycle for bicycle tours.
- On rough and irregular terrain, it is less bumpy.
- Wheels for LWB are usually lightly loaded, so they tend to last a relatively long time.
- If a tire needs to be replaced, its size is pretty standard and easy to locate.
- Maintain a steady and independent steering motion.
- They are designed to allow the legs to be put down on the road.
- This improves road safety by keeping the cyclist centered and balanced while using their hands free.
Disadvantages of Long Wheelbase (LWB)
The extended base bike has some disadvantages too, such as-
- The Long Wheelbase recumbent is bulkier and more unwieldy, making storage and transportation more challenging.
- LBWs are more challenging to maneuver and handle than SWBs. Thus making a ‘U-Turn’ can be awkward.
- Other recumbent styles are more aerodynamic.
- Recumbent bicycles with suspension are not as advanced as those with other styles.
- Blind intersections are more dangerous. As a result of being set back along the Wheelbase, the cyclist has a limited field of vision. For safety reasons, the cyclist must enter a blind intersection.
- A cyclist’s vision can be hindered by lower-positioned obstacles, such as bushes and stationary vehicles.
- In combination with low speed and precise maneuvers, this is awkward.
Which Types of Cycling Is Suitable For Long Wheel Base (LWB)?
- Recreational cycling, commuting, and touring are all suitable for LWB wheelbases. In general, a wheelbase over 1270mm is ideal for mountain biking.
And, How Do I Know If My Bike’s Wheelbase Is Too long?
- Your bicycle’s Wheelbase is likely too long if you have difficulty getting a good grip on the front wheel when making tight turns. Since it’s the current trend, riders are often seen on bikes that are too big, which hinders their riding experience.
Medium Wheel Base (MWB):
One of the most common types of MWB is the medium wheel base (MWB), characterized by a wheelbase ranging from 1,016 mm to 1,270 mm. This type of bike is perfect for those who want plenty of room to pedal without feeling cramped up front.
- In the MWB, the pedals are located behind or directly over the front wheel.
- Raising the pedal spindle can be necessary for sharp turns to maintain straightforward pedals from the wheel when the front tire is under the pedals.
- However, it provides more stability when riding on rougher terrain since it reduces wheelies and helps avoid accidents caused by riders losing control.
Conveniences of Medium Wheelbase (MWB)
- Compared to SWB, it is more stable and smoother.
- They are known for their maneuverability and good weight distribution.
- The lower seat makes it better for starting and stopping, giving cyclists easier access to the pavement.
- Learning to ride a recumbent bike is a great way to get started.
Inconveniences Of Medium Wheel Base (MWB)
- Faster than that, no.
- When a cyclist’s heel touches the front wheel when making a tight, low-speed turn, this is called ‘Heel Interference’.
- Its heavier frame makes it harder to transport.
Which Bike Is Suitable For Medium Wheel Base (MWB)
- Generally, the MWB is used for cross-country bikes, trial bikes, and enduro bikes. It is also suitable for recumbent bikes.
How Do I Find out my bike’s Wheelbase Is Medium Wheel Base?
Finding out your bike’s wheelbase is a simple process that can help you make minor adjustments to improve your riding experience. To do this, you will need to measure the width of your bike’s front and rear wheels. Next, use the chart below to find out your wheelbase according to width. Generally, MWB size is 1,016 mm to 1,270 mm.
Short Wheel Base (SWB):
Short Wheel Base (SWB) bicycles were designed for riders who were shorter than average.
- It has a 38-45 inches or 965.2-1,143 mm wheelbase, and the pedals are positioned in front of the front wheel.
- This layout will provide excellent stability and control if you are riding on pavement or other smooth surfaces.
Benefits of Short Wheel Base (SWB)
- More agile and lighter.
- Shorter turning radius than the LWB, making it much more maneuverable.
- Due to more even weight distribution, the tires are less likely to skid.
- Transport and storage are less cumbersome.
- Uphills are faster and just generally faster.
- A short boom keeps the frame from flexing, and small wheels make the pedal stretch more controllable.
Drawbacks Of Short Wheel Base (SWB)
- The bumps aren’t as smooth.
- Complex solutions are needed to fix problems with the drive chain.
- Steering is less stable.
- Due to the high pedal position, it takes longer to start.
- Due to the seat’s height and recline, it is more difficult to steady yourself by placing your feet on the road.
- During a blind intersection, the seating recline restricts vision, making it more dangerous.
- The front tire is very close to the seat, making the ride less smooth (unless suspension has been added).
Which Types Bike Is Suitable For Short Wheel Base (SWB)
- When cycling uphill, an SWB bike is generally a good idea. It is suitable for gravel riding as well. And, road bikes are also perfect for the short wheelbase.
How do I Know If My Bike’s Wheelbase Is Too Short?
- A short wheelbase could be the cause of your bike’s instability. It is important to select a bike that is suitable for your intended use, has the correct suspension system, and has the appropriate tires inflated properly.
Sometimes cycle’s frame geometry is hard to test and expensive to adjust, so checking it should be a last resort. The process of elimination, however, will reveal that the bike is too short if you have tested everything else.
How To Measure A Bikes Wheelbase?
You can measure the distance between the axles of a bicycle’s two wheels in order to determine its wheelbase. But the self-measurement is relatively straightforward.
- For accurate measurements, set the fork straight ahead.
- Tape measures are used to measure distances.
- The distance between the bike’s front and rear axles should be calculated.
Another way to measure this is by measuring the distance between the bike frame’s dropouts. It is easier and more accurate to measure the distance between the axles, but it is also possible to measure it from where the front and rear tires touch the ground.
- Measure the distance between the muddy marks left behind on a clean floor by placing a dirt bike on it.
- Ensure that the measurement is accurate by repeating it several times.
- Taking measures from both sides of the bike (drive side and non-drive side) and averaging them is a good idea if the results differ.
- If the frame or forks aren’t straight, this will ensure correct measurement.
But Is A Long Wheelbase Bike Better Than A Short Wheelbase?
The wheelbases of bikes are getting longer all over the mountain as people are riding differently now for several reasons, including the evolution of the sport.
Speed is essential when designing bikes for mountain biking genres because most genres are competition-driven. To achieve faster times, designers are creating longer and slacker bikes to make them faster, which is why mountain bikes are constantly getting longer wheelbases.
Final Words On Bicycle’s Wheelbase Types
Ultimately, you can choose based on what you need and like. But if you’re looking for a better understanding of wheelbases, here are some tips that will help:
- When it comes to short-wheelbase bikes, this type is considered the best for uphill riders because they provide them with more stability than long ones do.
- On the other hand, experienced cyclists often prefer Medium wheelbases because they feel there is more control when cornering on such bicycles.
- Long wheelbases are better for comfort and safety when driving at high speeds or going over bumpy roads.
Please do remember, there is no need to be overwhelmed by choosing the right bike type but a little knowledge is all you need. And, I believe that today’s writing is already provided you with all that you need. Safe Pedalling, My Dear Friend.