Update February 25 2020

I’ve had several requests for the contact information for the man who has built my wheels, both the 21er front and my 1.6″ 19″ rear. His name is Josh Nowell and his email is joshnowell1969@gmail.com

Original Post July 17 2019

In my motocross and desert racing days my bikes all had 21”/18” wheels. Since the bike’s OEM wheels are both 19ers I wanted to find a 21” front wheel. Well after researching they are almost impossible to find. Because the bike is a hybrid between a mountain bike and moped the hubs on the Sur Ron are MTB, but the rims are motorcycle. A lot of guys on the Facebook group have used 26” MTB rims on the front. The overall diameter of a 26” MTB rim/tire is the same as a 21” moto rim tire.

21er with a Hope 225mm rotor next to my stock 19er on the rear. I’ve gone with Shinko 244 tires for the terrain I most often ride.

But what dissuaded me from going that route are the tire choices for a 26er. They are almost all exclusively MTB tires. 21 inch motorcycle tires are the defacto size so guess what? TONS of tire choices. And MTB rims/spokes are designed for bikes that weigh about 40 pounds. The Sur Ron weighs 110 pounds in OEM trim…. So I researched a few places and decided on using a guy out of NYC to build my wheel.

I had mentioned to a private Facebook group about my purchase of the 21er and in typical forum fashion ALL OF THEM PooPoo’ed the idea. “Too heavy” was their consensus. Yet when I asked them what they didn’t like about the handling of the 21 inch rim, NONE OF THEM had ridden a Sur Ron with a 21!

When I mentioned that to my well builder, here’s what he said:

” Okay the extra weight thing;;;;

#1 yes it’s more weight but when you ride it you’ll see how much better your bike is “planted” on the trail/road!

#2 lighter mtb wheel is a much more of a loose feeling front end that at speeds will want to drift off of your line! Really bad on fast dirt roads!

#3 mtb tires don’t work on a 130+ lbs motobike! Motoped community has all ready tried to

I’ve tried the moto wheel in the back & MTB front for about 3 months.. trying many many 26” tires and at the end,they just don’t werk well because of the extra weight of the bike…

I had to run 45-50 psi on mtb front so it wouldn’t get pinch flats on rocks and roots. That much psi the tire doesn’t work that well or ride well!

Motorcycle tires I use 22 psi or so and grip the road/trails awesome”

So after mounting and trying the 21er all I can say is WOW. It has transformed the bike into a very capable off-road bike. Rutted downhills are not scary now, holding a line in a turn is just like it should be, planted. Bumps are smoother than before. All in all I would never go back to the 19 inch rim. What are the downsides? The OEM front brake on the Sur Ron is overwhelmed by the added weight of the 21 inch tire rotation. In the past I could do stoppies with the 19s. Not so with the 21s. So I have ordered a 224mm (9”) rotor to replace my 203 in hopes that solves the issue. If not then I will upgrade my front brake to a Magura MT5s. I love those brakes and have experience with them. Of course if Brembo made MTB brakes I’d be SO THERE!

Update: I mounted a 225mm Hope floating rotor and the bike stops on a dime. You can read about it in my section on Brakes.

43 Comments

  1. Just went and picked up my 21″ wheel from Josh. Turns out he lives 45 minutes from me. Really nice guy, and really nice wheel. Miss you on the FB group, but I get it. Glad to see all you have done here. You have inspired me to spend lots of money. 🙂
    Best,
    Bill

    • Heya Bill thanks for coming by! SO glad you got to pick up one of Josh’s wheels. He really does an excellent job. Also glad to hear he’s a nice fella too. I do miss many of the folks on the group, but man Facebook just is NOT something I want to support. Especially with the US elections coming up next year.

      Sorry (kinda not too! LOL) about spending your hard earned after tax dollars. I get that too! Unfortunately my dad taught me to write down EVERY PENNY spent on recreational items so I can see just how much dough I’ve spent! I mean that was when I was 13 years old, but I’ve done it ever since….the bastard ruined me! LOL

  2. Could I get your contact in NYC for the 21″ wheel? I too am an offroad guy (singletrack). My other bike is a KTM 300 XC. I REALLY want to get that 21″ front going. Thanks so much for this awesome website.

    • Hey Andy thanks for stopping by. You can search for the builder of my wheel, Josh Nowell on Facebook. Never ridden a KTM, but I owned a Penton which is the original brand that became KTM. I personally love the 21er on the bike. I did upgrade to a 225 rotor though to compensate for the extra rotating mass of the new size rim/tire. Just look up Brakes on my site. BTW how did you find my site? Thanks.

      • Thanks a ton Mark. I actually found you from a link on Facebook.

        • Thanks Andy. I use to be one of the admins on the Private Sur Ron Facebook Group. But because I have strong opposing views to Facebook in general, I deactivated my account. I wanted to start this website to help other owners in the Sur Ron space. There are not a lot of resources other than forums which I find most are there who ‘just want to be right’ so I avoid them like the plague.

          I was just hired to write a long term review of the bike by WebBikeWorld and it should be published in a few weeks. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know the site has helped you. Makes all the work worthwhile.

  3. Thx for sharing this!
    I wish to do the same with my Sur Ron X.
    What front hub and spokes did you use? 36 spoke rim, right?

    • Dmitry, the OEM front hub. Yes it is a 36 hole rim. The trick are the nipples. A MTB hub which the SR uses mated to a moto wheel requires special nipples. 12 gauge spokes were used. Homes Hobbies was the only supplier I know of the nipples. You can also contact Josh Nowell on Facebook to have him supply a built wheel.

  4. any tire interference issues with the increased wheel diameter during full compression travel?

    • The only issue I’ve run into that you won’t is with my little bottle holder. IF I’ve turned the wheel left and land a jump flat then the tire will hit my little drink holder. But other than that nope, no issues. The trials type fender I’ve rigged up can hit sometimes, but no biggie for me. Next to the front forks the 21er is my favorite mod for handling….and tire selections.

  5. thank you ! in mtb bike applications I experimented with differing traction level tires front/rear & nothing had the positive feeling of a larger ie larger contact patch & rake/trail changes on the front I’m very surprised this is not the ‘new standard’ in mtb bikes – whens the last time you purchased similar wheel sizes in motorcycle F/R

  6. Another good thing about using moto rims is you can use Tubliss. I am using it with a Shinko Fatty tire which is a lot wider and taller than a normal tire. 90/100. Plus I am running 1 psi which really smoothes out the ride. I will have to go higher as the tire wears in but 1 psi works great right now.
    I’ve been thinking about a Sur Ron but went with this $1000 Chinese motorcycle that comes with 21 inch wheels. Power wise, I think it is comparable to the Sur Ron but it sounds like a mini Harley!
    https://advrider.com/f/attachments/shinko-fatty-jpg.1816586/

    • David can you post a link to where you found that motorcycle? Thanks!

      • I’m going to assume you are asking someone other than me, Mark the owner of this site. Not sure what you are referring to. Sorry.

  7. HI Mark, sincere thanks for the significant effort you’ve made to create this truly helpful and inspirational website!

    I rode Triumphs in the 1960s, switched to left side shifting BMWs after I lost a right leg (bone cancer, not bike trauma 😉 in 1980 and settled down for the last 35 years riding a couple of R80ST bikes. We live in rural Vermont on a couple of hundred acres of forest and fields, networked with logging roads, surrounded by dirt roads and trails. Two springs ago when it came time to prep for another riding season, I thought, nope it’s time to look electric. Last May after much study, I bought a Sur Ron X from Luna. I love it… although the first picture I saw, my first thought was, hmmm this needs a 21 inch front wheel.

    From Luna’s blog, I found your good site, and this page but DuckDuckGo searches for Josh Nowell did not turn up anything. Against all prior feelings, I opened a Facebook account, planning to shut it down as soon as I made contact. Searching there for Josh yielded weirdness but no wheel builder. Could you please sprinkle some more bread crumbs on that trail or email me a more direct link?

    My work as a photographer over the last 45 years has been with black and white film in old rangefinders. That said, I appreciate your good eye and use of light.

    Happy trails, onward…
    john

    • Hi John thanks for the kind words. Sorry to hear your leg loss due to the horror of cancer, my sincere sadness yet it appears you have overcome that blip in your life. Kudos to you. Here is Josh’s email address: joshnowell1969@gmail.com

      I’m sure he won’t mind me posting it here except that he has become swamped with orders. A true first world problem! He’s building me a rear 19er but at 1.6 inches rather than the OEM 1.4. He JUST got his new shipment in of rims, spokes and nipples, so give him a jingle and get in line! LOL. Loved rangefinders btw….

  8. Mark, do you know where I can buy a replacement 20mm thru axle & locking cap for an RST Killah fork? Luna and the 2 International places they refer to are out of stock. Thanks, Lonnie

    • Sorry Lonnie I checked Stag AE bikes and those are all I know.

  9. Mark
    AE Has them. I’ll buy 2. Do you need anything that is out of stock at Luna?
    Lonnie

    • Thanks for asking Lonnie but I’m good. Glad you located one.

  10. Hey Mark. Have you ever thought of changing the rear 19″ to an 18″

    Im probably going to follow your example with the 21″ front and seeing as how 21/18 seems to be a tried and tested combo I got curious.

    Loving the sur-ron, got mine from Stag here in the UK. Custom floating rear rotor is super cool! 😉

    • Hi Richard, yes Steve is a great guy. We collaborate on a number of things even if he lives ‘over there.’ LOL I have NOT considered changing my rear wheel to an 18er simply because I find that the handling of my bike just right with the 19er. I have purchased a 1.6″ 19er to replace my OEM rear rim. Because I run Tubliss the block fits the rim much better than with the OEM 1.4″ width. Plus the rim I purchased is stronger than the OEM version.

      If you’re running the custom floating rear rotor it means you must have purchased his black bike.

    • I think that M.X. bikes run 21″ on front and 19″ on the rear actually, and modern enduro dirt bikes run 21 ” on front and 18″ on the rear…. For instance, a Honda CRF 250 R, the m.x. version, comes with 19″ rear wheel, and the enduro model, the Honda CRF 250 x, comes with the 18″ on the back. I think all or most companies that make good and/or competitive dirt bikes do it that way… M.X. bikes do make pretty good dirt bikes/trail bikes with the 19″ wheel in the back, especially if geared… for that purpose, in my opinion, any way.

  11. Hi Mark,

    That was a great read, thank you. I just need to find 21” rims here in the UK. I’m new to Sor Ron bikes and I love mine, it means I can off road with out bothering anyone with noise. Thanks again for a great site. Mark M

    • Hey Mark, thanks for the kind words. I built this site to support other SR owners so it’s always welcome to hear that it’s helping. Thank you!

  12. Hey Mark,

    My Sur-Ron should be here next week and I have basically got the same modifications lined up as yours. And will be sending the wheels off to get re-rimmed. One piece of information that I can’t seem to find on the internet is the diameter of the rear Shinko 244 19″ tyre that you have on your bike. If you get a chance could you post up the size of this roughly, if it isn’t too much hassle.

    Cheers mate,
    Jimmy

    • Hey Jimmy, sorry I’ve been out of town on photo sessions. I happen to have ordered a new Shinko 244 19″ for my soon to be worn out rear tire. Do you want the diameter measurement of the tire not on the rim? Just LMK.

  13. Hi Mark,

    I contacted Josh this week, and I picked my 21 inch front wheel, unfortunately I have the Killah forks so I’ll need to change them also, I tried to source the same forks you fitted but if I can find them they are expensive. Any recommendations ? Cheers Mark M

    • Hey Mark M. Yes the Manitou Dorado’s are pricey unless you can find some deal. I’d simply do a Google search for them and keep an eye on Alibaba where I got mine. Or perhaps Pinkbike. Sorry!

  14. Hi Mark, Thanks for the good info.! Do u, or does anyone else know if the 21″ front wheel and tire will fit and work on the DNM forks, or Rockshox Boxxers? I might have a line on some Boxxers…

    Oh, also if u raise the front end up by putting on a 21″ front wheel and tire, shouldn’t one then raise up the back end some how the same amount to keep the “geometry” the same as the people that engineered the bike planned on? So the frame of the bike sits the same as the “engineers” figured it should sit? Put a longer rear shock on or something? Although i do not know why the “engineers” that made this bike, and figured all this out, or should have, did not plan to put a 21″ front wheel and tire on the bike from the start if it is made to be a dirt bike…

    • Hi Robert. My friend Tucker Neary runs a 21er on his bike with the Boxxer forks. I cannot answer you about the DNM forks, sorry. In terms of the bike’s front end being higher with the larger diameter front wheel, you should not consider raising the rear end by increasing the shock length. In OEM form the 10.5″ shock spring barely clears the linkage. Increasing it would result in the spring fouling on the linkage. I know some folks have removed all of the linkage and gone to a direct mount which is a choice I would not make. The linkage was engineered for progressive compression of the shock. Having used a Moriwaki dogbone on my RC51 race bike I know that 1mm of length or angle makes a HUGE difference in its effect on the geometry of the rear end behavior. And Moriwaki took one full year of testing that dogbone before producing it for racing.

      I have had no issues with the different handling due to the higher front end. You can always raise the fork legs in the triple clamps if it concerns you. I always test a bike’s handling for how I ride and where I ride rather than going off the opinions of what others say they’ve done. What’s right for me may not be right for you. Everyone is different.

      I have no idea why or if SR would plan to change from their 19 to a 21 in front.

  15. Hi Mark, Thanks for the reply. Yea, I have talked to 1 or 2 guys that did take the linkage out, and gone to direct mount…. I am glad to hear that u think that ur SR feels fine with the regular rear suspension set up, actually! I would rather do as little an amount of modifications as possible. lol Of course I think some things on this bike, and all bikes really, might depend on the size of the rider too. The SR is not a very big or tall bike. I am about 5′ 10″ and 190 to 200 lbs., Probably older and larger than u and many others buying this bike. Wish I was lighter, hopefully will be some day soon, but might be wishful thinking! lol So, at 5′ 10″ the taller I can make the bike feel the better I think, within reason of course. My Honda CRF is much taller, but sometimes i think it is too tall for a person my height for trail riding and single track…. The ground clearance and travel is nice though! It might say else where on your site here, but i was wondering what ur height and weight might be, if u don’t mind me asking? Thanks again for all your info. on this site!

    • Robert, I’m 5-8 170lbs, 180lbs in full gear. The bike fits me perfectly and I love the handling of the bike. We are similar in height and weight. I’ve never ridden a modern dirt bike, only my vintage days of air cooled two strokes which needed to be kick started! LOL Back in my day 6″ of front end and 4″ of rear end travel was normal! Cheriani suspension was the hot set up too. I’m sure I’d kill myself on a modern motocross bike now.

      My more current era bike was a 2000 RC51 road racer, not a dirt bike. That’s where I got completely spoiled by Ohlins suspension, Moriwaki rear shock linkage (dogbone), and Brembo brake parts along with HRC racing pads. But those days are long gone for me. The SR is what I love now.

  16. Mark
    Nice site Lotta good information, can you refer me to the shop that built you rim ?I would like to run a 21″ on my sur rom
    Davidgtisolar

  17. Mark,
    I would greatly appreciate your advice about lowering my right height. I’m ordering a custom seat like yours but with about an inch of extra padding. I’m an old fart, and even though I can touch the ground with both feet flat, I won’t with the thicker saddle. And that freaks out my old fartness.
    I bought the super moto kit and thought I’d swap the rear 19-incher with the rear 17″ that came with the kit. (I want to keep the 19″ on the front.) I assume that will lower the rear end by about an inch. Correct? So I’d like to lower the front-end also by about an inch. I thought about lowering the forks in the triple tree, but I thought that could be beyond stupid. Do you know how low I can go without an endo?
    Another thought for the front end is to have a suspension shop reduce the fork travel. But I don’t know if that’s possible with my forks (DNM USD-8S). Any thoughts?

    Thanks, Mark. (By the way, I love your photography. My favorite photo is of the couple dressed in formal clothes and dancing with the shadow of a tall pane-glass window in front of them.)

    • Hi Steven,
      Using the 17″ rear with the OEM 19″ front will lower the bike enough for what you’re looking for IMHO. You can RAISE the fork tubes in the triple clamps to lower the front end some as well. I’m not familiar with the DNM forks, but my Dorados allow about 1.4 inches of up/down adjustment of the fork legs. In terms of how this will affect handling, that’s completely up to how and where you ride. I’m a real bitch about suspension and brakes (and donuts and light, LOL) for where and how I ride. But it’s through experience rather than theoretical bullshit I read so much in so many places.

      Change your bike for you, no one else. Unless someone else pays/rides your bike modify the bike for how and where you ride most often.

      Thanks for your kind words about Patricio and Eva’s shot. I did that series in the Mohave desert using strobes/gobos and a smoke machine. They are the ONLY tango dancers to ever appear with Cirque du Soleil.

  18. A full menu of Josh Nowell’s superior built wheels and parts for SurRon can be found on his eBay site.
    Search eBay for: wickedwheelwerks

    • Thank you. I have added your informative note to a comment left in Spokes.

  19. Hi! I’m designing and building my own electric bike and am looking for wheels. I think the simple option is to go with sur ron wheels because they have the mounting point for a main gear but also fit mtb forks. My only question is if the hub width of the front wheel is the same as the rear tire— is the rear hub any wider than a typical mtb hub because of the gear mounting point? It’s a confusing wheel size to work with.

    • Hi Tristan I have not measured the width of the front versus rear SR hub. You may want email Josh Nowell. He would definitely know the answer to your question.

  20. Hi, I’m also looking for a 21″ front, 19″ rear, while also upgrading the brakes and forks.

    I’m new to this and have my first Sur Ron arriving next week that will be used as a dual sport bike. However my Sur Ron will have a significant power upgrade, which will also be arriving next week (BAC8000, 72v battery). I don’t plan on pushing the bike to the BAC8000’s maximum output though – I’ll be closer to the 4000’s top end . I chose the 8000 since it’s more advanced and more efficient. The added power will require me to upgrade just about every component on the bike, but will also me to use stronger, heavier parts.

    I’ve been trying to contact the person you recommended for the wheels, Josh Norman, without any luck. I also noticed others are having the same issue when I checked ebay, so I’m trying figure out what other options are available? Right now it’s also impossible to get another stock Sur Ron hub, so I’m trying to find a good, reputable shop with a custom wheel builder that has some Sur Ron experience to help me identify the right parts to purchase. For some reason EndlessSphere is preventing me from creating an account (no response from admin either), so I’m really struggling to find the necessary resources to help me through the process of identifying the exact parts I should be buying.

    Whatever help or guidance you can provide would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help, and also for everything you’ve posed on your site.
    Nick

    • I am checking with my friend who is making the SR hubs. Also the last time I chatted with Josh was on June 27th. I sent him a message and once I hear back from him I will let you know.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *