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Old 05-06-2008, 05:47 PM   #1
danasaki OP
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19 inch vs 17 inch wheel on dual purpose bike?

The V Stroms and the GS Adventures maintain the 19 inch front while most if not all the other bikes in this class have gone with the 17 inch front wheel. Why is the 19 inch front wheel always said to be more off road or dirt/gravel friendly than the 17 inch wheels?

Thanks for any help ful explanation on tire/wheel size differences.

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Old 05-06-2008, 06:36 PM   #2
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They roll over things, while the smaller wheels twitch then dump you in the dirt. It's a mechanics thing...

But, the smaller wheel is WAY better on the road and in corners, the bigger one (esp 21") is awful on the road (but fantastic in the dirt).

Just go for a ride on both options - you'll soon see. I've had many bikes of all sizes. Use the 50% rule (unlike some here). If you ride 50% dirt or gravel track then you NEED a large front wheel. If not then go for road performance.
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Old 05-06-2008, 07:09 PM   #3
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The larger the rim diameter the more the tire carves into a corner in dirt riding. A 21" wheel is even better but you can feel a 19 or 21 try to carve in a corner where the 17" rim seems to try to slide.
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Old 05-07-2008, 06:00 AM   #4
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Most dirt bikes produced over the last 20-30 years have a 21" front hoop because it is better in the dirt, rolls over things easier, tracks better in less than optimal traction. 21" is THE size to have off-road.

Streetbikes and racebikes have come to the conclusion that 17" is the way to go for optimal handling and stability espcially where traction is more of a known commodity.

The 19" wheel is simply a compromise between those two. You are seeing more bikes (Ulysses, Tiger, Multistrada) shift toward 17" because in reality those bikes see very limited time off-road where a 19" will be of benefit.
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Old 05-07-2008, 07:11 AM   #5
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The key words in your thread title are 'dual-purpose'

As has been stated - sportbikes and others are running 17" front wheels for maximum stability and traction on pavement. Dirt bikes and very dirt oriented DS bikes are running 21" which corner better in dirt and roll over bigger obstacles (rocks and so forth) without causing you to endo. The 19" is the compromise.

I've ridden them all - I'm a former sportbike rider, then got the Tiger which has a 19" and I also owned a KLR for awhile which has the 21" front.

Pesonally, I can tell you that I wouldn't want to ride off-road on a 17" front. The 21 on the KLR performed great off-road but was much more unstable on-road, especially in a high speed turn. I love the 19" front! It will do everything well but nothing great. I can still rip through the twisties better than the KLR and I can jam down the dirt roads better than a 17".

For someone like me who can only afford to keep one bike in the stable and likes to ride both pavement and dirt - its the best of both worlds.

Just remember .... "Compromise" - everything is a compromise.....think about what and how you like to ride and then go enjoy.
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Old 05-07-2008, 08:35 AM   #6
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17 street/super motard

19 dual sports

21 dirt bikes

thats just the way it is!!!

with a 17in you can't go off road...
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Old 05-07-2008, 09:01 AM   #7
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The larger the front wheel the more gyro effect you get at slower speeds, which creates better slow speed stability, and the larger the front wheel, the larger the obstacles you will be able to roll over.

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Old 05-07-2008, 09:07 AM   #8
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Beyond the physics of 17 vs 19 vs 21, there is the practical difference of tire availability. 17s lack anything more agressive that SM type tires. 19s have Karoos and TCK semi-knobbies, 21s have lots of options.

I suspect a decent knobby on a 17 would do better than many expect, but they just don't exist, ultimately widening the offroad performance gap between the sizes.

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Old 05-07-2008, 02:33 PM   #9
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It's about tires man!

I second what abruzzi said. You could have the best bike in the world, but if you can't get the right tires for the riding you plan to do, it don't mean sh*t! Scan the tire makers web sites and you'll find it pretty hard to locate any tires that would do a passable job off road in a 17 inch front. Bear in mind that the "the riding you intend to do" can change from time to time. With the right hoops, you can change tires at will to suit the conditions.
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:12 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for the helpful replies... more great insight and stuff to be learned on this website.

Thanks!

Dan
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimGR

with a 17in you can't go off road...
Yeah you can - you just can't go as fast.
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Old 11-15-2014, 04:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimGR View Post
17 street/super motard


with a 17in you can't go off road...
what a nonsense, I do it all the time. Contrary to most opinions here I prefer smaller wheel offroad as more nimble and easier to corners. Also wider (not bigger) front tyres are better on sound and mud.
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Old 11-15-2014, 09:34 PM   #13
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because 21" rolls over rocks even better...19" is a good compromise...17" is a street bike wheel.

you can't get good ground clearance with a 19" front wheel & 17" is even worse.

17" can works all day long as a gravel runner. add some real rocky mtn jeep road and you are smacking the bottom of your bike.

if you are only a smooth gravel runner adv rider them yes 17" can work.
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Old 11-15-2014, 09:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abruzzi View Post
Beyond the physics of 17 vs 19 vs 21, there is the practical difference of tire availability. 17s lack anything more agressive that SM type tires. 19s have Karoos and TCK semi-knobbies, 21s have lots of options.

I suspect a decent knobby on a 17 would do better than many expect, but they just don't exist, ultimately widening the offroad performance gap between the sizes.

Geof
you can get a tkc-80 in 17", 19" & 21" front wheel.
the 21" is gonna out do the 19" all day long, as is the 19" over the 17"
it's simple physics and ground clearance...and you can't cheat those.
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Old 11-15-2014, 10:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eakins View Post
you can get a tkc-80 in 17", 19" & 21" front wheel.
the 21" is gonna out do the 19" all day long, as is the 19" over the 17"
it's simple physics and ground clearance...and you can't cheat those.
Post you quoted (and a whole thread) is 6 years old.
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