While your feet and posture may have a lot to do with your performance on a bike, it’s the parts that make the biggest difference. Nothing is more important than the wheels when it comes to performance and speed on a bike. So, can you put 24” wheels on a 26” bike?
You can put 24” wheels on a 26” bike frame, and it will help you ride faster in most cases. This may sacrifice some stability, but it’s worthwhile if you primarily want to ride fast on smooth surfaces, such as concrete and pavement. Never put 24” wheels on a mountain bike with a 26” frame as smaller wheels typically can’t hold up to debris and rocks you find on off-road trails.
While 24” wheels offer more speed, 26” wheels are the best option if you value stability and control. That is especially true if you ride a mountain bike on dirt trails where control is quite important. Follow along as we explore what happens when you put 24” wheels on a bike with a frame meant for 26” wheels.
Can You Put 24 Wheels on a 26 Bike Frame?
You can put 24” wheels on a bike frame that’s designed for 26” wheels. Bike companies typically make models with frames meant for 24” and 26” wheels that are relatively similar. The biggest differences you will notice are the height, speed, and maneuverability of the ride.
For example, 24” wheels are slightly smaller than 26” wheels, and that makes them more aerodynamic. The combination of the smoothness of the tires and the relatively small design makes 24” wheels much faster than 26” wheels.
That said, you should never put 24” wheels on a bike that is designed for 26” wheels if you plan to ride off-road or on rough streets. Smaller wheels cannot safely roll over debris without suffering damage.
Pros and Cons
The biggest benefit of putting 24” wheels on a bike meant for 26” wheels is that you will have an easier time maneuvering. It may only be a 2” difference, but the extra height of 26” wheels makes it harder to navigate and maneuver. You can pivot quickly and change course with 24” wheels much easier than with 26” wheels.
Another key benefit is that 24” bike wheels weigh slightly less than 26” wheels. This will help you quickly accelerate, and it provides more precision when you must quickly turn on short notice. Younger and shorter bike riders in particular can benefit from 24” wheels because they are easy to maneuver and low to the ground.
Putting 24” wheels on bikes meant for 26” can greatly increase your speed. This may seem like a benefit, but it can be quite scary and unpredictable when riding. That’s especially true when riding downhill which is much more challenging with 24” wheels as opposed to 26” wheels.
Another downside of 24” wheels is that they are only ideal for smooth roads. The thin and smooth design means that they cannot roll over rocks and debris without getting damaged. Because of that, you cannot guarantee that your 24” wheels will be able to handle any off-road trail or bumpy road.
Does Bike Wheel Size Matter?
Big wheel size matters because it ultimately affects the speed and smoothness of your ride. Big wheels provide lots of resistance which can limit your speed, but they are quite practical. Conversely, small, narrow bike wheels provide more speed, but they are also more vulnerable to damage from debris, rocks, and bumpy roads.
As some Redditors pointed out, you get more maneuverability with small wheels and more stability with big wheels. Big and thick wheels are perfect for mountain bikes. Small bike wheels are mostly ideal for people who ride on smooth surfaces most of the time.
Is It Worth It to Put 24 Wheels on a 26 Bike?
It’s worth it to put 24” wheels on a 26” bike frame if you primarily ride on smooth roads. Because 24” wheels are smaller, they can most only handle smooth roads without any rocks or debris. Avoid putting 24” wheels on a mountain bike because the smaller size and diameter cannot handle rough surfaces, rocks, debris, and slick roads as well as 26” wheels.
Hey there, I’m Jennifer M. Lowes, but my friends call me Jenn. Born and raised in sunny California. By day, I’m a freelance makeup artist transforming everyday people into their best selves. By night, I’m here on this blog, sharing my favorite nail designs, makeup tips, hair styling techniques, and much more.