A Real Wagon Wheeler: Impressions On A 36″er- Part II

I’ve been logging some miles on the Pofahl built 36 inch wheeled bike and will now offer some first impressions to you on what it is like to ride this bicycle with the Conestoga sized wagon wheels.

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Wheels. That’s the first impression you get visually when looking at the 36″er. They are very large, and perhaps a bit goofy looking. However, what you don’t notice is how big the tires actually are on this thing. Their size is masked by the sheer enormity of the diameter of the rims. However; 29″er riders would drool over the measurements of this hunk of two ply. Check out the width, which is a generous 57.3mm. The height of the casing is even more impressive at 52.2mm, which is at least two millimeters taller than a WTB Prowler. Talk about volume! This hand cut tread 36 inch tire has it in spades.

Yes, I said hand cut tread. The tires are made for unicycle use on roads. So the two ply casing is smooth treaded for the most part. Their are grooves running parallel to the tire casing, but these are useless for gripping anything but tarmac. The designer of this rig, Ben Witt, wanted something that would be all terrain approved, so he bought a tire groover and spent about a half an hour per tire cutting in a front and rear specific design.

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So these tires are really big too, and heavy. The whole wheel is pretty heavy, so it acts like a huge flywheel. Getting the 36″er up to a speed takes some effort, but gearing helps overcome much of the initial inertia on flatter terrain. Once rolling, you can take a brief break from pedaling, return to spinning the cranks, and find that you haven’t lost any speed. Even rolling up inclines becomes effortless if you speed down the preceding down hill.

That said, nothing happens very quickly on a 36″er. It forces you to be calm and deliberate in your pedaling, your maneuvering, and in your whole attitude while riding. A calming experience? Perhaps, I don’t know that I would go that far with it, but it is fun. Very fun, and it makes you work at a much lower level, but constantly. In fact, for early season training, “long, slow distance” becomes a reality with the 36″er. There really isn’t another choice.

Not to say the bike is slow. It’s fast as any other bike on the tracks I have tried it on. In fact, I cut off some time on my work commute with it. It just feels ponderous, and your body works at a slower pace while riding it. Strange sensations, but pleasant ones, and quite different than smaller wheeled bicycles. At least in my humble opinion.

Now for some distance riding and maybe some mild single track, but only after the spring floods have cleared. Stay tuned!

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No Responses to “A Real Wagon Wheeler: Impressions On A 36″er- Part II”

  1. AC Says:

    Yea, I think it would be an awesome commuter.

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