Depending on your biking type, a larger or smaller wheel will be more efficient.
This article will delve into the pros and cons of small and big electric bike wheels and discuss why someone might choose one size over the other.
It will also consider whether it is possible to change the wheel size on electric bikes and the factors that should be considered before doing so.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Are Electric Bike Wheels Different than Regular Bike Wheels?
Electric bike wheels typically have a larger hub than regular bike wheels, which must accommodate the motor that powers the bike.
The motor is typically located in the hub, either in the front or rear wheel, depending on the design of the electric bike.
Additionally, electric bike wheels often have thicker spokes to handle the motor’s increased weight and torque.
They may also have reinforced rims to handle the extra stress placed on the wheel during acceleration and braking.
So while there are similarities between electric and regular bike wheels, some key differences make electric bike wheels more robust.
Their sturdiness makes them better suited to the demands of electric-powered cycling.
What Tire Size Is Best for Electric Bikes?
Smaller and larger tire sizes have advantages and disadvantages, and there is no “best” tire size for all situations.
Ultimately, the best tire size for an electric bike depends on your preferences and the type of riding you want:
What Scenarios Require Bigger Tires?
Smaller tires, such as 20-inch or 24-inch, are generally lighter and more agile.
They also tend to provide better acceleration and maneuverability, which can be important in tight spaces or when navigating obstacles.
What Scenarios Require Smaller Tires?
Larger tires, such as 26-inch or 29-inch, offer better stability and control at higher speeds.
Larger tires are a good choice for electric bikes designed for long-distance touring or mountain biking.
They also tend to provide better traction and shock absorption, which can be important when riding on rough terrain.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Big Wheels?
Bigger wheels on your electric bike have a larger circumference, which means they can cover more ground. That also means they have better rolling efficiency, allowing you to maintain your speed.
And speed is very important because electric bikes go so fast!
Larger wheels also have more contact with the ground, which can help improve your stability and control.
They also make navigating obstacles and rough terrain easier – which is great for the mountain-biking electric bike owner.
Reasons someone might choose bigger wheels over smaller ones:
- Speed and Efficiency > Agility and Maneuverability
- Rough Terrain Riding
- Overcoming Obstacles
- Increased Ground Clearance and Stability
- The Aesthetics of Large Wheels
While bigger wheels may have some benefits, they also have some drawbacks.
First of all, bigger wheels are much heavier than smaller ones. This increases the weight of your bike overall.
Heavier bikes make it harder to take sharp turns and tight spaces, and when they fall, they fall hard.
Furthermore, the extra weight of the bike decreases the acceleration. That can make it hard to get up to speed quickly and strain the motor.
Straining the motor can prematurely age it and possibly require a replacement earlier than you wanted.
Finally, the large size of the wheels can make it harder to store, cut through tight spaces, or put on the back of your car.
Depending on the kind of biking you are doing, such as city vs. mountain biking, big wheels may or may not be for you.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Small Wheels?
Electric bikes with smaller wheels are lighter.
That means that they are easier to use in tight spaces, such as on city streets or steering between cars and pedestrians.
They also require less force to get them moving, so they accelerate faster.
This makes it much easier on the electric bike’s motor, so lighter bikes can last a little longer – depending on how much you use them.
Smaller wheels are also better for maneuvering in a bad situation. For example, if you bike in the city and a taxi pulls out in front of you, it might be easier to steer out of the way with smaller wheels.
Smaller wheels also help you fit on smaller paths, such as between buildings and on sidewalks.
Reasons someone might choose smaller wheels over bigger ones:
- Agility and Maneuverability > Speed and Stability
- City Biking > Mountain Biking
- Getting Through Tight Spaces
- Quick Acceleration
- The Aesthetics of Small Wheels
Because smaller wheels have a smaller circumference, they cover less ground. That means they have reduced rolling efficiency, so it is harder to maintain your speed.
Therefore, you may have to work a little harder to keep your speed after quickly accelerating.
Furthermore, smaller wheels are considered to have less stability and control on rough surfaces – especially at higher speeds. Since speed is important to an electric bike, ensuring you have control is very important.
For example, you could lose control of your steering if you biked on the street and drove over a small obstacle, such as a pothole, litter, debris, or car parts.
Finally, smaller wheels aren’t very good for rough terrain. That is why it is more common to have smaller wheels in the city than on trails or when mountain biking.
Can You Change the Wheel Size on Electric Bikes?
You can customize your electric bike to fit your needs.
For example, if you like the powerful motor on one model but the smaller wheels on another, you can change out the wheels on your electric bike’s frame.
However, it is important to ensure your new wheels are compatible with your bike. Some electric bike frames can only have the wheels of their manufacturers or specific bike type.
Also, changing the wheels can change the way that your bike works. The handling and performance, in particular, can be reduced.
For example, a larger wheel size can increase the overall speed of the bike, but it may also make it harder to maneuver in tight spaces.
A smaller wheel size, on the other hand, can improve maneuverability but may decrease top speed and require more pedaling effort.
Finally, changing the wheel size can also affect the motor’s performance.
Most electric bikes have a motor that is designed to work with a specific wheel size, so changing the size can alter the motor’s efficiency and power output.
Why Are Some Electric Bikes Sold With Small Wheels?
Most electric bike riders use their bikes for urban areas and commuting to work.
While a huge culture surrounds mountain biking and electric bike riding, smaller wheels are just more efficient. Especially the bikes that have very small wheels.
These bikes almost look like scooters, but they are just as capable!
For example, having smaller wheels on your electric bike makes it more portable. You can take your bike into the city, on trips, or on the bus.
You can also store your electric bike easier with smaller wheels. If you live in an apartment or have to park your bike at the office, smaller wheels make it easier to fit into tight spaces.
Bikes with smaller wheels also tend to have a lower center of gravity, making them more stable and easier to handle at slower speeds. This can be a big advantage for riders new to cycling or struggling with balance.
Finally, electric bikes with smaller wheels often have better acceleration than those with larger wheels. This can be useful for riders who need to quickly get up to speed at stoplights or when starting from a standstill.
Why Are Some Electric Bikes Sold With Big Wheels?
Larger wheels can be very utilitarian for electric bike riders who love rough terrain and trail riding.
For example, big wheels often provide a more comfortable ride than those with small wheels. Larger wheels can absorb more shock from bumps in the road, making the ride smoother and more comfortable.
Also, larger wheels are better for speed. If you are biking cross-country and trying to get somewhere far away, larger wheels will hold up longer than smaller wheels.
After all, smaller wheels are often used in the city – meaning they are used daily, but go short distances at a time.
Bigger bike wheels are also more stable. That means that they can handle rough terrains, like rocks, ditches, divots, hills, and brush.
Finally, larger electric bike wheels provide better traction and grip, especially when riding off-road or in wet conditions. This is great for riders who plan to use their electric bike for mountain biking or other off-road adventures!
Depending on your personal preferences, riding style, and bike use, you may prefer either larger or smaller wheels.
No wheel size is “better” than the other, but they each have pros and cons, making them more efficient in certain circumstances.
Ultimately, choosing a wheel size that feels comfortable and safe for your riding style and the terrain, you plan to ride on is important.
If you’re unsure which wheel size is right for you, consider consulting with a qualified bike mechanic or electric bike specialist to help you make an informed decision.