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Long or short wheelbase for trail riding?

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So I'm trying to fine tune my 2 stroke for hare scramble type trail riding and I've been playing with the sproket ratios a lot. In doing so this is changing my wheel base. Is it better to have a longer or a shorter wheel base for tight trail riding that also has a lot of up and down hills, fallen trees and tree roots etc?

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Changing your wheelbase a inch or so really want make a difference. The gearing change is what you'll notice not the ever so slight wheelbase change.

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Shorter is better for tight woods. But short wheelbase bikes are that way usually because of the steer tube angle. Steeper equals quicker turning and more nimble.

Edited by Harvo

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Unless you just turned pro, the slight variance in wheelbase is not going to make any difference.

Agreed but if you had a choice for up and down hills with lots of fallen trees and tight turn what would you go with... longer or shorter?

Edited by Kindy

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If you shorten your wheel base your bike will turn tighter. If you lengthen the wheel base it will give you better stability at higher speeds. Likewise, running your forks up in the clamp with steepen the steerer tube angle further increasing how tight you can turn while lowering the forks in the clamp will get rid of some of the twitchiness. It can also make the front wheel feel like it's "flopping over" when you make tighter turns if the front end is too slack.

I guess you'll have to figure out what it is that you need to tune into or tune out of your chassis. In other words, what are you trying to accomplish by lengthening or shortening your wheelbase? What works for 1 doesn't necessarily work for someone else so it's hard to say whether a longer or shorter wheel base is going to improve your riding.

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Agreed but if you had a choice for up and down hills with lots of fallen trees and tight turn what would you go with... longer or shorter?

If I had to give an answer I'd probably say I'd prefer a shorter wheelbase. But that's with taking into consideration my riding strengths and weaknesses as well as the bike I'm currently riding. If I rode a different bike (linkage/pds, steerer geometry, etc...) that answer may change. You can sit there and think about the physics that go into these things and at the end of the day that will help you dial in your chassis if something doesn't feel right but what it really comes down to is that it IS a feel thing. What needs improvement and how do I achieve it.

Simple answer: Ride more. Worry less.

Edited by zderekv

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Agreed but if you had a choice for up and down hills with lots of fallen trees and tight turn what would you go with... longer or shorter?

If I were ONLY hill climbing, I'd want the longer wheelbase. If I were crossing streams where I needed to get the front up in the air easier, I'd want the shorter wheelbase. However, two or so inches is not going to make any significant difference to unless they are in a pro racing situation.

I'd wager, if you had the same gearing ratio and had a person go to the effort to maximize and then minimize the relative axle position, you'd not be able to discern a difference. Whereas a few psi difference (and changes in damping setting as well as sag setup) in tire pressure will make a big difference, that most would notice in increased 'bite'.

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Thanks for all the good advice........ I think I'll just pick the gear ratio I feel most confortable with and learn to ride the bike the best I can for the way it handles.

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My initial thought is shorter, but most of the women I ride with like it longer!

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Larger sprocket (with same chain) will move rear wheel forward - BOTH (lower gear and shorter wheelbase) will make easier to lift front.  Correct?

 

Note that you can also add/remove chain links.

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