photo from the Velo Orange blog
For many frames, the smaller sizes will use different wheels; 26" or 650b. I certainly would have preferred this, but it can also upset the handling to the point where the framemaker needs to re-design the smaller sizes to work with these wheels. The Crosscheck that I test rode also had 700c wheels and did not seem to have this issue, but it also lacked fenders.
I am not willing to lose the fenders, and love the handling of this bike enough that I want to work with it. What I am not sure about is how switching to smaller wheels might detract from the ride quality. It could improve it!
Expense aside, I would love to try this. I've asked VO for their thoughts, but welcome any other ideas from those experienced with various wheel sizes on frames not intended for them, as well as other shorter riders.
There are some interesting insights here:
and Sheldon Brown aims to sooth with these words:
"Many, many people ride bicycles with fairly severe overlap with no practical problems, sometimes having to make a slight adjustment to their pedaling habits at very slow speeds.
On smaller-size bikes with full-sized wheels, it is usually impossible to eliminate overlap without causing adverse fit/handling issues."
and, the Velo Orange Blog has an entry about the issue.