A lot of people with 24-inch bikes wonder whether they can put 26-inch wheels on a 24-inch bike. The truth? You may be able to do that, but it isn’t really recommended. Let us explain why.
Can You Put 26-inch Wheels On A 24-inch Bike?
No. You probably can’t.
Yes. There are some people that have converted their 24-inch bike to accepting 26-inch wheels. However, it takes an astonishing amount of money to get to that point.
It also takes an astonishing amount of time to get it done properly. At that point, if you really, really do want 26-inch wheels, then it would probably just be worth buying a decent 26-inch wheel frame instead.
Yes. We know that there are reasons why people prefer 24-inch frames, but the pros of those frames will not outweigh the cons of converting everything to work properly.
Can you put 26 inch wheel on a 24 inch bike? In theory, you can do it but it is not recommended. Bicycle frames are built to a high tolerance. This means that everything on the bike will have been designed to deal with 24-inch tires. Once you put the 26-inch tires, you are going to be dealing with a major safety problem.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that the brakes on the bike are not going to line up on the wheels properly.
If you cannot brake, then it is just going to be downright dangerous to ride that bike. Simple as that.
This isn’t the only dangerous part about riding the bike with larger wheels than it has been designed to accept, though.
Because the wheel is slightly larger, it is going to knock against the frame constantly. This means several things:
- The tires are going to wear down incredibly quickly.
- The ride will not be smooth
- The tires getting ‘caught’ could be dangerous. It could toss you off of the bike if it gets seriously caught.
Some people will get around this issue by opting for slightly thinner tires. It can help to shave around an inch off of their diameter (remember, wheel sizes are based on the rim, not on the actual tire size!).
However, this is something which is only really going to be good for road cycling. At that point, you may as well just pick up a proper road bike.
We are not saying that you will never be able to fit 26-inch wheels to a 24-inch bike. Plenty of people have done it to great success. A lot of it is going to be dependent on the frames that you have on your bike.
If your bike looks like it may accept 26-inch wheels, then you could always pick up a cheap bicycle wheel and see if it works. However, we are pretty positive that it won’t.
At the very minimum, your brakes will not line up properly. Even if they are a little bit off, they will not work properly. We can’t stress enough just how dangerous this is (hence why we keep repeating it!)
If you really did want to put 26-inch wheels on that 24-inch frame, then you will need to adjust (or replace) the brakes. You will need to replace the forks.
You will need to change the seat up. You may even need to change up the pedals.
It really is going to be so much hassle. We can promise you that if you are searching for information on whether you can put these wheels on a bike, you probably do not have the skills to get everything done properly.
Most bike repair shops probably wouldn’t even touch the project either.
Can You Put 24-inch Wheels On A 26-inch Bike?
Can you put 24-inch wheels on a 26-inch bike? This is where the answer is ‘yes’. In fact, sticking 24-inch wheels on a 26-inch bike is regularly done for children. It helps to drop the bike a little bit lower and, when they are ready to graduate to 26-inch tires, they do not need to purchase a completely new bike frame.
That being said, while it is still a lot more likely that you will be able to put 24-inch wheels on a 26-inch bike, you may still run into several issues.
This includes pedal striking, or the brakes not lining up properly. Since the bike will now be sitting a little bit lower than it has been designed to sit, there is also a strong chance that the pedals will be hitting the floor.
This isn’t something that will be a problem with most bike frames, so it is something that you are going to need to be checking.
Once again, it is probably going to be worth buying a cheap wheel and see if you can put it on your bike. It doesn’t really need to be a great wheel (you could even borrow one), you just need to ensure that everything is going to be in line.
In our experience, most 26-inch bike frames will be fine with 24-inch wheels.
Are There Frames Designed For Both 24-inch And 26-inch Wheels?
These bike frames are going to be a little bit rarer, but they do exist. It tends to be the larger manufacturers that have these options available.
In most cases, it will be a case of you just swapping the tires out with the minimum amount of adjustment. However, a lot of this is going to be dependent on the manufacturer.
Once again, we would really recommend you buy a dedicated frame for your preferred wheel size. Your life will be so much easier.
Why Would Somebody Want To Put 26-inch Wheels On A 24-inch Bike?
This is another question we get asked frequently is why would you even want to have 26-inch wheels if you have a 24-inch bike? Well, there are a few reasons.
The big one is that a 26-inch wheel will allow you to travel faster.
It will only be a small speed boost, but a speed boost nonetheless. 24-inch wheels will allow you to accelerate a lot faster, but once you hit a high speed, the bike will start to become a little bit unstable, so you wouldn’t be able to sustain that speed.
Related reading: Are Touring Bikes Fast? (The TRUTH)
In summary; while you can put 26-inch wheels on a 24-inch bike, the number of hoops that you would need to jump through, and the number of costs it would incur, are so incredibly high that it is not going to be worth it for most people.
It may be a fun little project to dive into, but if you really do have a need for 26-inch wheels, then you really should just buy a proper 26-inch frame.
Your life will just be so much easier that way.
The major benefit of 26-inch wheels is that there is a greater selection of options on the market.
This is a wheel size that has been, mostly, designed for those that use BMX bikes.
As a result, a lot of the tires and rims will have been designed for off-roading. However, as we said, a 24-inch frame is not good with thicker tires.
Since off-road tires will tend to be a bit thicker as it is, this is probably going to rule out the main benefit of these tires.