or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Off-Season Sports & The Lighter Side › Cycling › Mountain biking - 26", 27.5", 29", oh my
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Mountain biking - 26", 27.5", 29", oh my

Poll Results: What size wheel do you prefer on your mountain bike?

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 13% of voters (2)
    26"
  • 40% of voters (6)
    27.5"
  • 26% of voters (4)
    29"
  • 20% of voters (3)
    This poll is flawed
15 Total Votes  
post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

What wheel size do you prefer, and why?

 

I have an XC bike and a DH bike, both with 26" wheels. I don't see myself changing any time soon, for financial reasons if nothing else, but I also think 26" make sense for me. One, they say that the point of a bigger wheel is just to roll over stuff more easily and smoothly, and I suspect that a bigger wheel would make the technical stuff feel less technical - and while I'm not great at them, the technical parts are my favorite ones. Two, I'm short, and short people on small bikes with huge wheels look awkward. Before a 29" wheel was a glimmer in its parents' eyes, people talked a lot about toe overlap with small frame bikes. Seems like 29ers would have that in spades. But I haven't heard about toe overlap on any bike in quite a while.

 

I switched from an XS frame (bought largely to reduce stress on my wrists) to a S frame, and the XS frame had an unfortunate tendency to be basically impossible to tune so that all gear combinations were available with a triple for more than one ride. I feel like something similar would be an issue with putting huge wheels on a small frame, where there just isn't enough space for everything. Are there a lot of short people riding small frame 29ers without feeling like it's a compromise? Do they have enough room from crotch to top tube? I remember seeing a short friend on an early model 29er, and she looked like she was up on a horse - it seemed ridiculously tall for her. Maybe I just wasn't used to seeing them yet.

 

Are there cases where you'd choose one over the other? It seems like larger wheels are still not in favor for downhill riding.

post #2 of 16

I have a feeling personal preference is going to reign supreme here, but I am definitely curious to hear the answers! I basically have only ridden a 29er and I love it, even if I still suck at downhill switchbacks (working on that now.) I'm 5'5" and am on a 17" Trek Lush S. I WAS told at the bike shop JUST today that a 29er is a bit much for anything smaller than a 17" frame. Yet he also said Trek got a lot of flack for making the Lush a 27.5 this year, which then makes me wonder if I could fetch a premium for my bike?! ;)

 

I can't really vote above because my old 26er was not NEAR the bike I have now, so a totally unfair comparison. I mean, I went from a $600 Trek to a $2500 Trek. I'd definitely be curious to try a comparable 27.5.

post #3 of 16

I'm not a serious mountain biker by any means (least of all compared to some on this site), however I just recently switch from a 26 to a 27.5 and love the feel for the riding I do.

 

I demoed a 29'er but just didn't feel any advantage and felt the bike was slower off the line.  The 29'er also didn't feel right for me, balance wise (one those instant gut feelings).  The 27.5 feels a little easier to coast along with feeling smoother but not slower when starting up.

 

My nickel's worth (Canadian eh) is a 27.5 may not be a bad thing, the 29 just a little over the top unless you are really big to take full advantage of all of the geometry it can offer.

 

BTW I'm 6'0"

post #4 of 16

The poll is flawed because you have left off the new "+" sizes... the industry is keeping it interesting. (this should NOT matter, don't let marketing and 'NEW' 'SHINEY' 'BETTER' effect going outside and having fun. Go ride whatever bike you have.) But...

 

26" wheels are dead, it will take years and years for the parts to dry up, so I wouldn't get rid of a 26" wheeled bike that I liked, but there will not be any 26" wheeled high end bikes available in the very near future (by future I mean... now, 2015 model yr). From here on out they will be for kids growing out of 24" wheeled bikes.

 

27.5 already owns DH, no one who is competitive on the WC is still on 26" wheels. 27.5 is the new standard for 'DH' 'Enduro' and 'aggressive trail' use. It is also the go to choice for smaller sized XC bikes and 'trail' bikes. 29" wheels are strong in XC, trail and for larger folks, aggressive trail and 'Enduro' (always make sure to read "enduro" with a French accent, it's important). No one is trying to ride 29" wheeled DH bikes, that experiment failed.

 

What quite a few companies are starting to do is build bikes that 'match' wheel size to frame size. The XS and S get smaller wheels than the M, L and XL. It makes sense, why try to compromise the geometry to fit a big wheel into a small frame? The issue with 29" wheels has been fitting the wheels and suspension into a compact space, even tall riders don't want to feel like they a captain of a ship while out on the trail. We want to ride a nimble feeling bike that is fun. But that being said, 29" wheeled bikes have come a looonnng way from where they were 5 years ago when XC race was the driving design mantra. There are some phenomenal trail bikes being built today with 29" wheels that have short chainstays and moderate head angles, they are not for everyone, but they are out there... but they might be about to be phased out in favor of 27.5+. 

 

As far as "the point of a bigger wheel is just to roll over stuff more easily and smoothly" I would add 'conserve momentum' and 'additional traction' to what they do better. It's the same characteristics that suspension gives (I'm not saying larger wheels are a substitute for suspension) I'm saying unless you are riding a bike that is fully rigid single speed, you have already started down the rabbits hole... actually scratch that. If you are riding a bicycle at all and not simply trail running (in bare feet, because shoes are a technological crutch also) then you are already using technology to make things 'easier'. You might as well embrace it and maximize the FUN. My experience has been that bigger wheels allow better performance by allowing the wheels to roll faster and grip to be enhanced on technical climbs, better performance means I like riding more and more riding means I ride better...


Edited by Whiteroom - 7/12/15 at 6:01am
post #5 of 16

It sure does make sense to match the wheel size to the frame size. And yes to maximizing the fun! I have friends who are riding 10+ year old bikes (that were decent bikes at the time) who are working a WHOLE lot harder and not just on climbing, but through their neck, shoulders, back, etc. on those old bikes.

post #6 of 16
After decades on 26" wheels, I went to 27.5" last year. Most of my MTB peeps tried to convince me to go 29" (most are cross country racers). I am not much of a research person but I did spend a fair amount of time reading reviews, pros & cons, etc. I had tried 29ers over the years whenever I had the opportunity but the bikes I rode just never felt right. When 27.5" came on the scene I was intrigued. Everything I read or heard about them struck a chord with me. I am stoked with my Trek Remedy 27.5", mostly cuz it just feels right.

Edited by 4ster - 7/12/15 at 9:08am
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
 

The poll is flawed because you have left off the new "+" sizes... the industry is keeping it interesting. (this should NOT matter, don't let marketing and 'NEW' 'SHINEY' 'BETTER' effect going outside and having fun. Go ride whatever bike you have.) But...

 

26" wheels are dead, it will take years and years for the parts to dry up, so I wouldn't get rid of a 26" wheeled bike that I liked, but there will not be any 26" wheeled high end bikes available in the very near future (by future I mean... now, 2015 model yr). From here on out they will be for kids growing out of 24" wheeled bikes.

 

27.5 already owns DH, no one who is competitive on the WC is still on 26" wheels. 27.5 is the new standard for 'DH' 'Enduro' and 'aggressive trail' use. It is also the go to choice for smaller sized XC bikes and 'trail' bikes. 29" wheels are strong in XC, trail and for larger folks, aggressive trail and 'Enduro' (always make sure to read "enduro" with a French accent, it's important). No one is trying to ride 29" wheeled DH bikes, that experiment failed.

 

What quite a few companies are starting to do is build bikes that 'match' wheel size to frame size. The XS and S get smaller wheels than the M, L and XL. It makes sense, why try to compromise the geometry to fit a big wheel into a small frame? The issue with 29" wheels has been fitting the wheels and suspension into a compact space, even tall riders don't want to feel like they a captain of a ship while out on the trail. We want to ride a nimble feeling bike that is fun. But that being said, 29" wheeled bikes have come a looonnng way from where they were 5 years ago when XC race was the driving design mantra. There are some phenomenal trail bikes being built today with 29" wheels that have short chainstays and moderate head angles, they are not for everyone, but they are out there... but they might be about to be phased out in favor of 27.5+. 

 

As far as "the point of a bigger wheel is just to roll over stuff more easily and smoothly" I would add 'conserve momentum' and 'additional traction' to what they do better. It's the same characteristics that suspension gives (I'm not saying larger wheels are a substitute for suspension) I'm saying unless you are riding a bike that is fully rigid single speed, you have already started down the rabbits hole... actually scratch that. If you are riding a bicycle at all and not simply trail running (in bare feet, because shoes are a technological crutch also) then you are already using technology to make things 'easier'. You might as well embrace it and maximize the FUN. My experience has been that bigger wheels allow better performance by allowing the wheels to roll faster and grip to be enhanced on technical climbs, better performance means I like riding more and more riding means I ride better...

 

Can you point me to what you mean by plus sizes? You're right, I haven't been following the industry (that tends to lead to wanting new things, and my bike is really perfect, not to mention quite an expensive sunk cost).

 

Why are 27.5s better for DH, but 29s bad? Is it inherent, or just the components that were available? I have read that 29ers are pigs for nimble turning. Wouldn't that make 27.5 half pig? The whole 27.5 thing seems so arbitrary - well, we tried one size, and then we tried a bigger size - let's try in the middle!

 

I get what you mean about starting down the rabbit hole. That occurred to me as I was writing up the post - I'm quite happy with suspension, which must take a lot of that trail feeling away (thank god, on some of our rocky trails).

 

I have a DH bike, but it is way overkill for the sort of lift serviced stuff I ride. But again, sunk cost vs shiny new toy ... I was lucky to buy the rig used from a friend who I knew took impeccable care of her bikes. And I rarely see anything in the smaller sizes for sale used, anyway.

post #8 of 16

Hmm, I might know who some of those cross country racers are that 4ster speaks of ;) My husband had some trouble with his 29er (Trek Fuel EX7) he bought last summer on switchbacks, but was able to adapt very well to it and loves the bike now. He's 6' on a 21" bike (I think) so the wheel size works pretty well there. I have a feeling my "love" of climbing stems partially from the fact that the 29er just climbs like a billy goat, and is efficient at it. It probably also explains why I still struggle with tight turns. That and the fact that I'm just not the most coordinated creature at times. I'd like to try a 27.5, but I'm afraid I'd like it and then want a new bike. I'll continue to work on my skills on the 29er because overall I enjoy the hell out of that bike!

post #9 of 16

Whiteroom's post was a good one.  Lots of good info in there.  Keep in mind that cycling is a "trend" sport..things come up..are trendy..manufacturer's try to drive that market and cash in, then it moves on to something else.  There was nothing wrong with 26" wheels to be honest.  29's are faster on hard stuff and in XC racing but they're not great for technical handling.  27.5" is really an existing size and they just ramped it up to build more bikes with it.  And as a manufacturer, you don't want to have a 26", 27.5" and 29" mountain bike line.  That's expensive.  27.5" is kind of a mama bear "just right" size so I think you'd have no issue on one.  29, yeah, it's noticeable.  Some people ride old bikes forever..people still have thumb shifters..bumper forks.  Whatever works for you.  There's no rules about it.  I have my ideal sizes written down and I don't mind getting new bikes, set it up to match my dimensions and have at it.  Sometimes you don't know what you're missing..sometimes you'll find it's not as nice as your old bike.  Good experiences and you'll find out what works for you.

post #10 of 16

http://www.bikemag.com/gear/mean-27-plus-29-plus-bikes/

 

Welcome to the rabbit's hole.

 

29" wheels are too difficult to fit into a reasonably dimensioned DH bike. Fitting 8" of travel and big wheels into a DH bike means sky high bottom brackets and long chainstays which kills handling and the wheels tend to be much weaker at similar weights. That's pretty much it.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
 

http://www.bikemag.com/gear/mean-27-plus-29-plus-bikes/

 

Welcome to the rabbit's hole.

 

29" wheels are too difficult to fit into a reasonably dimensioned DH bike. Fitting 8" of travel and big wheels into a DH bike means sky high bottom brackets and long chainstays which kills handling and the wheels tend to be much weaker at similar weights. That's pretty much it.

 

Thanks!

post #12 of 16
It doesn't matter what size wheel you ride or your reasons for preferring that size.

All that matters is that you pick a wheel size and then be a dick about it.

My Pivot rolls on 27.5 for anyone keeping score at home.

Now get out there and pedal!

jl
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BOOTech,Inc. View Post


All that matters is that you pick a wheel size and then be a dick about it.

jl

Made me laugh 😃
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BOOTech,Inc. View Post


All that matters is that you pick a wheel size and then be a dick about it.

jl

Made me laugh 😃

 

Yeh, me too.    Time to pore over the list of obscure french wheel sizes, I think.

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post
 

 Time to pore over the list of obscure french wheel sizes, I think.

You can keep it 'Merican by going with Schwinn 27". It's like 29er, only better...

post #16 of 16

I did a lot of research and converted my 26 to a 27.5 two years ago.  I love the bike now and have found nothing yet in demos that I like as well.  The closest was a high end Pivot Mach 6.  Yes the conversion changed the geometry but in my case for the better.    I ride the bike about 70% road miles and 30% single track.  I was riding a road bike for a while but prefer the mountain bike even on road and even in a group ride with roadies.

 

I have been riding four years and this is the first season where I feel like I have it together and can sense where my center of mass is over the cranks without thinking about it.   I am also in better shape this season than at any time in the last 20 years.   My road/paved trail rides are about 25-30 miles at an average speed of 15-20 mph two times a week.  My single track riding is anywhere from 7 to 20 miles. I also ride a couple times a week less than 10 miles with my wife at a much lower pace of 8-12 mph flat paved bike paths only.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cycling
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Off-Season Sports & The Lighter Side › Cycling › Mountain biking - 26", 27.5", 29", oh my