26 x 1 1/4in Quandry

NorwegianBlue Posts: 484
edited July 2007 in Road general
Picked up my latest purchase today a Coventry Eagle Flight. It's a nice relatively lightweight old five speed, probably sixties, which should make a nice bike for just riding. I'm currently resisting the urge to 'fix' it.

It's fitted with 26 x 1 1/4" wheels with chromed rims. The chrome isn't bad and the wheels are true, so I would be happy to use them for pottering about except that the tyres are perished. I can't find any decent tyres in this size so I'd have to change the wheelset. Having given a tenner for the bike I don't want to fork out a load on new wheels, but I have got a usuable set of old Weinmann 700c's off an old Raleigh in the garage. With 25mm tyres they would clear although I would need shorter reach brakes, probably Weinmann 500s rather than the 730s that are on there at the moment.

So what do I do? Fit cheap tyres like these or these or potentially spoil the look of the bike with the 700c's?
"Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker


  • bianco
    bianco Posts: 78

    I'd get these (I have got these) and for £19.99 inc inner tubes a bargain and they do 100 psi

    Hope it helps
  • bianco wrote:

    I'd get these (I have got these) and for £19.99 inc inner tubes a bargain and they do 100 psi

    Hope it helps

    Thanks for the thought, but those aren't actually 26 x 1 1/4" tyres. Once upon a time all imperial tyre sizes were based on their (nominal) outer radius, with their section (height) quoted in inches and fractions of inches. So a 26 x 1 1/4" tyre had the same nominal diameter as a 26 x 1 3/8" tyre, but due to their different sections a different rim diameter. I'll ignore weird sizes that had a different height and width of section. Metric sizes like 700c were similarly affected. Then people started to decide that different sections on the same rim were a good idea, for example 27 x 1 1/8" and 27 x 1" both fit the same rim as a 27 x 1 1/4" tyre. Since there was only one 27 inch rim size this didn't matter too much. If somebody saw a 27" tyre they new what rim it was for. Things really started getting out of hand with mountain bike tyre sizes. The tyre chosen was the standard tyre for american beach cruisers, the 26 x 1 3/4", then people decided that this wasn't wasn't big enough so sizes like 26 x 1.95" and ever larger were invented to fill the void. Surly even do a 3.7" tyre for MTB rims which actually has an outer diameter of 29" - three inches larger than it's nominal size.

    The Americans are a bit weird when it comes to tyre sizes anyway. They insist on referring to all 700c road tyres as 28" even though some are barely over 26" in outer diameter. Then they refer to MTB sizes of 700c tyres as 29".

    Anyway the European Tire and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO) tried to cut through all the BS with a new standard in tyre and rim sizes which has since been adopted by the ISO. This brings bicycle tyre sizes more in line with the modern standard for car and motorcycle tyres. For tyres this quotes the rim diameter followed by the tyre's nominal section. So a 559 x 32 tyre would have a rim diameter of 559mm and a tyre section of 32mm. The 559 rim diameter is the standard MTB size. 32mm is about 1 1/4". So you have to watch out for tyre called 26 x 1 1/4" they may well be 559 x 32.

    The tyre size of 26 x 1 1/4" I am refering to is an old British size and in ETRTO/ISO terms is actually a 597x32. The old English 26 x 1 3/8" is 590 rim. Some refer to the 650c as a 26" tyre, this is a 571 rim. Then there was an American 26 x 1 3/8, also 597. And the 650B was also referred to as 26 x 1 1/2, a 584 rim. Nice and straighforward then.

    Of course the trouble is most retailers still insist on using this bastardized sizing "standard" which is no standard ar all. Especially now that 559 tyres are available in everything from 1" to 3.7" in section and are still referred to as 26", even though they range from 24.9" to 29.4"!

    Anyway the tyres you mention are actually a 559 size.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • I've managed to find a shop that sells steel rimmed 26 x 1 1/4" wheels cheaply and also half decent tyres. Not great, but OK. I've decided that it would be a shame to convert the old lady to 700c or worse still MTB size wheels. So I'll get a pair of new wheels, tyres and tubes and keep the old set as spares.

    She can then enjoy a leasurely retirement as my bike for family outings.

    I did have a short period of considering a pair of cycle speedway 26 x 1 3/8" wheels with alloy rims and a single speed freewheel, but decided that that was on the slippery slope to owning another fixer.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • Gavin Gilbert
    Gavin Gilbert Posts: 4,019
    Where's this shop selling 26" x 1 1/4" rims then? :shock:

    And if you want to flog your old chrome rims drop me a mail :)
  • Freemans sell 26 x 1 1/4 wheels, unfortunately only shromed steel, but very cheap. I'm keeping my old ones for spares - sooner or later the supply will dry up.

    I've half a mind to go for their alloy rimmed 26 x 1 3/8" wheels, just for the alloy rims and the better wheel choice, but I want to keep the bike close to the way it was built.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker