Are Smaller Wheels Slower?

Why do people in our industry think that bigger wheels = faster bikes? Every year I have petite customers who've been told that if they ride a bicycle with smaller wheels, ie proportional sized wheels, they will ride slower than their friends who ride with bigger wheels. They are usually told this by someone trying to sell them a bicycle with big wheels.

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What the heck?
If bigger wheels are faster, one would expect to find bigger wheels, not smaller wheels, on record setting bicycles that are ridden at speeds near or over 150mph. Yet, these folks chose really small wheels. Maybe they didn't talk to the guy at the shop.

I'm not saying smaller wheels are faster, but that wheel size isn't determinant of speed.

Don't take if from me, take if from the really fast cyclists below.

Denise Mueller sets bicycle land speed recrod in 2016

Denise Mueller sets the Women's world record at 147 mph in 2016

Fred Rompelberg holds sets the Bicycle land speed record

Fred Rompelberg sets the current men's record of 167 mph in 1995

Aerovelo Bicycle Land Speed Record
Aerovelo Bicycle Land Speed Record

In September 2016, Todd Reichert rode the Aerovelo bicycle with no motorpace to 89.6 mph. He was also not towed to any speed. You may not be able so see from the pictures, but this bicycle uses 650c wheels. The same size we use on our race bikes for petite riders. So other shops and magazines....Quit telling people that smaller wheels are slower.

John Howard sets the bicycle land speed record

John Howard sets the world record at 152.2 mph in 1985

Al Abbott sets the bicycle land speed record

Al Abbott sets the world record riding past 138 mph in 1973