26″ road bike / commuter / gravel grinder

These are couple of bikes that I’ve built from scratch as all-year/all-weather/all-sh*t UK roads training/commuting bikes.


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Continental Grand Prix MTB 26×1.20 tubeless

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Continental Grand Prix MTB 26×1.20 tubeless

One bike is based on a On-One Inbred and the other one on a retro Corratec Tange Cr-Mo frame.
Typically an MTB frame needs to be one or two sizes smaller for the right reach (hoods/drops).


They both ride brilliantly and float over everything and the level of comfort, grip and confidence is in a completely different league. IMO they make far more sense than most of “proper” road bikes especially with my shaven Racing Ralphs that allow me to clock 18.5-20.0 mph on my commute. They also make excellent gravel bikes.


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For anyone interested, there are plenty of retro frames/bikes on Ebay that would make great candidates, e.g. Marin, Kona…

700C is really not the only way to go 🙂

17 thoughts on “26″ road bike / commuter / gravel grinder

  1. tony dadson

    a man after my own heart. thousands of great vintage mountain bike hardtail frames sitting in basements and garages gathering dust that could be made into fantastic all-rounders.the complaint that 26 inch wheels are so much slower and ride so much rougher than 700c is just bunk.

      1. tony dadson

        have you read jan heines article on wheel size vs rolling resistance??. it basically debunks the myth of the 700c (or 29 er) advantages on everything but large rocks and roots encountered in hardcore mountain or singletrack riding. and there are plenty of real nice fast smooth 26 inch tires out there now.

        1. Bartthebikeman Post author

          I’m familiar with most of Jan’s research and I have purchased a number of BQ issues.
          I agree that with tyres of adequate volume, wheel diameter doesn’t really make much difference on most of (unpaved) surfaces.
          I’ll keep my big fat 29er for riding technical trails, though:-)

      2. tony dadson

        check out what these guys in san francisco are up to! they train inner city kids to be bike mechanics by rebuilding good quality vintage bikes and then sell them for great prices! some fantastic mountain bike rebuilds! they should market a line of so-called “gravel grinders” in direct competition with all these late to the table road bike manufacturers!!


  2. sith

    did you get an extender to get the bars higher or did you buy a new and uncut fork for your bikes? which are nicely build btw 😉

  3. Chris

    I love the plain, all black bike you’ve posted here.

    I’ve been riding 700c wheels since 1995 and in the last year or two I became interested in trying out 26″. I finally found an old Trek MTB in a pawnshop and bought it but was disappointed in the ride. I suspected much of this was due to the actual MTB tires on the thing. In the meantime I also bought a mid-80’s MTB (much different beast than the mid 90’s Trek) but it also had MTB tires. I finally saved up enough money to buy a set of Schwalbe Big Apples (55mm) and mounted them on the 80’s MTB. I was really impressed with the ride!

    However, I’ve had another project in mind so I took the 26″, Big Apple clad wheels and stuck them on my old 90’s Trek Multitrack, a 700c hybrid!!! The bike rode like a dream with that combo!!! Even better than it rode with 700c wheels/tires.

    The beauty of this combo is that it doesn’t have the really long top-tube that MTB’s usually have and just as important to me, it doesn’t have the extremely high bottom-bracket that MTB’s have. Even though it is a 700c bike, the BB is high enough that there is plenty of clearance with 26″ wheels and fatty tires.

    The only drawback is that I’ll have to spend maybe $300 to have the canti-studs moved and the frameset powdercoated. I could almost buy a new frame for that but the problem is, such a new frame doesn’t exist!!

    If I go thru with this project I will do everything in black, much as you’ve done. A flat-black bike with fat tires is just killer looking!

  4. Pingback: Q-factor: are 650b rando bikes a mistake?

  5. mademetz

    do you think a 650b wheel with a gravel tire like the wtb horizon would fit into a 26 mtb frame.. a frame that fits 26×2,25 tires..?

    1. Bartthebikeman Post author

      Fitting a drop handlebar to a correctly sized flat bar bike will increase the reach by about 70-80mm (in the hoods). In order to compensate for that, either a shorter top tube, shorter stem or combination of both is required.


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