26" v 27.5" v 29" Wheels

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  • 26" v 27.5" v 29" Wheels
  • excitable1
    Member

    Nice article about some mutual testing of all three wheel sizes, with a one liner in there that made me spit my morning brew across the desk 😯 :

    Wheel Chair Wheels Are Coming To Mountain Biking !

    wrecker
    Member

    Pretty good article IMO.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Nice article and good use of strava.

    Good read. 26 inches will not die as a wheel size because it’s so established and there are so many cheap bikes using it. However, there may come a time when like 8 speed cassettes and 25.4mm bars, the higher end options become fewer and fewer. I hope not.

    lovely nicolai’s and mines in there too 🙂

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    Much as I groan at the thought of another wheel option confusing what is already a pretty confused market place I thought this was a pretty good piece. A couple of points stood out:

    27.5 is clearly being pushed hard by those folk that missed the 29er boat.

    A 29er tends to steamroller the rough stuff, which can be fun as well. Actually this last point has got me thinking. I’ve tended to be put off 29ers as they seem well suited to XC but not as good in the steep technical stuff. I’m a crappy and cowardly rider who none the less likes to ride steep, rough, rocky trails. I don’t care about style and don’t much care about speed. I just want to be able to ride any trail without having to get off and without falling off. So, the last thing I want is a bike that would make the technical stuff harder. But if a 29er would allow me to “steamroller” down stuff that I can’t currently manage on my 26″ bikes, then it may well be worth a try.

    29″ – definite steamroller.

    i was a doubter after 25 years on 26″ but converted now albeit i’d like a shot of 650B…..to satisfy my curiosity….

    Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Subscriber

    Nice way of looking at it Roverpig, looking at getting the Helius 29 on test here, and that was in doubt with the 26 is more fun comment.

    However I’d get more out of a bike by riding down obstacles that currently stump me that my mates are all clearing. But this could be down to them being on 160mm forks and me being on my old 100mm forks.

    Need Nicloai to do a test day in the uk with those bikes! I will buy one at the end of the day, promise.

    It’s a good article.

    Premier Icon drbob65
    Subscriber

    I’m using all three, 29er takes a lttle longer to get to speed but feels fast, but can be a handful in the twisty stuff, 26 well we all know about that, 27.5 rides like a 26 tyre, bit of a half way house, definately more controlable and feels better than 29er in terms of having the bike under you. On my 29er I do feel a bit divorced from the front end at times.

    wrecker
    Member

    It really reinforces what I thought; if you want a quick lap time get a 29er. If you get your kicks descending, playing around and aren’t too bothered about racing to the top then 26″.
    I do find it funny that some (not all) of 29er riders are the same people who used to point at bikes with 10mm more travel than they had and sneer “skill compensator” 😆

    Premier Icon mboy
    Subscriber

    27.5 is clearly being pushed hard by those folk that missed the 29er boat.

    Sad, but very true! The guys that make the most money in mountain biking are the ones that get their marketing right.

    A 29er tends to steamroller the rough stuff, which can be fun as well. Actually this last point has got me thinking. I’ve tended to be put off 29ers as they seem well suited to XC but not as good in the steep technical stuff.

    There are good and bad 29ers, just as there are good and bad 26″ wheeled bikes. I’ve ridden a couple of 29ers that did feel ponderous in the technical stuff and certainly not very confidence inspiring. I’ve also ridden a couple of 29ers that were so good on steep technical descents I completely forgot that I wasn’t riding my own 26″ wheeled bike, until I then hit some rough stuff flat out and the bike held a line much better than my 26″ wheeled bike would!

    Personally I’m firmly in the camp that 650b wheels bring nothing to the table except confusion and expense. They’re not significantly bigger than 26″ wheels to offer a marked improvement in rolling ability, nor significantly smaller than 29ers to offer a huge amount more agility. They’re kinda irrelevant I feel, but the industry doesn’t obviously cos they can make a huge amount of money pushing the emperors new clothes…

    Besides, as we’ve all known for a long time anyway, making a great bike is all about the geometry. Frame material and wheel size are down the list of importances quite frankly, cos you can make a brilliant handling and comfortable ally hardtail 29er, when the purists would tell you it would have to have 26″ wheels to make it handle well and be made of Titanium as ally is too harsh.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    Don’t think I’ll be changing my 2006 26″ five anytime soon…

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    Definitely the most useful wheel size article I’ve so far read and sums up what I had assumed which is that 26 are more fun. What I don’t like is the suggestion to go and try and decide for yourself. How many of us have access to the same spec bikes with different wheel size? Even they didn’t (the 27.5 did not have the carbon wheels). I’m all for trying before buying but it’s hard enough getting decent, objective side-by-side demos at the best of times. Adding a 3rd wheel size to the buying decision is a pain in the butt.

    rwc03
    Member

    Great article, maybe I don’t need to scratch that 29er itch.

    brill that nicolai assembled each wheel size and relicated the geometry – the new helius AC29er is a 140mm unit with a 68 deg HA [or thereabouts].

    my AC29er is 120mm travel with a 72 deg HA and feels whippet fast on the singletrack, stable and capable of steamrollering the rock.

    reckon that the slacker a 290er goes, the more ponderous it will become.

    as said, horses for courses, but I still intend to try a TALAS 140mm on mine to find out how it affects the ride.

    b r
    Member

    I thought that 650b was really a 27″?

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    lol 650 is more 26″ with proper tyres on.

    Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Subscriber

    b r stop it, if you say that too loudly the bike industry will realise their mistake and ensure that the imperial / metric mash up continues. It’s the only positive that I’m taking from this third wheel size…

    kudos100
    Member

    It really reinforces what I thought; if you want a quick lap time get a 29er. If you get your kicks descending, playing around and aren’t too bothered about racing to the top then 26″.

    This is the crux of it for me. I get bored with all the wheel evangelism, so the is article is a breath of fresh air.

    26vs29 should not be about what is ‘better’ but about what suits your riding style.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    26vs29 should not be about what is ‘better’ but about what suits your riding style.

    This rings very true, but many riders – myself included – are searching for the “do it all” bike. I like a fun bike that I can throw around a bit so 26 makes sense, but I do big XC type rides where the supposed benefits of 29 would be better. What’s the ideal compromise? This is not just a question of new-fangled components that can be swapped and changed, this is a fundamental decision that affects the very frame you buy.

    As I’ve said on previous threads, it’s a choice too many in my opinion.

    robbieh
    Member

    I like the bit in the vid. where one guy says he likes to feel the holes in the trail….but he rides a full suss and not a rigid?????
    😆

    MrSalmon
    Member

    I like a fun bike that I can throw around a bit so 26 makes sense, but I do big XC type rides where the supposed benefits of 29 would be better. What’s the ideal compromise?

    Er, 650b? 😉

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    Horses for courses. I love riding my fully rigid locally, because it makes the tame trails much harder and more fun as a result. If I was off to some bigger terrain it would slow me down too much and hence be less fun, so the full susser comes out.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    Er, 650b?

    😆

    So I would be lead to believe 🙂

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Subscriber

    Saw another 650b roundup. Think the guy didn’t realise what he said, and that was basically that in a double blind test you;d probably not notice the difference between 26 and 650b. So that really sells 650b then.

    But compare with a 29er, it’d certainly allow greater flexibility over frame design and allowing longer travel suspension. Think most 29er are 100-120? 650b can easily go to 140mm travel without too much compromise in the frame. And that’s with some manufacturers even making S and XS sized 650b FS frames. Couldn’t do that with 29er.

    I’m still going to wait a couple of years to see how it pans out.

    timbo678
    Member

    Well this article didn’t help me at all! I love the new Cube stereo 650b, it ticks all my boxes for a ‘do it all’ bike! I do lots of XC, technical stuff, messing about and the odd DH day, I’m also not worried about being super efficient so I can cope with pushing round 160mm. A hardtail would be fine and I like them but if I’m spending £3k on a bike it’s gotta be pretty fricking special!

    But…what if 650b falls by the wayside and I’m buggered for parts in a few years time? Yes that is my worry! 26 & 29 are def here to stay don’t want to be screwed on a couple of years!

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    My worry exactly timbo, although I don’t share your faith that 26ers are here to stay. Sure, they’ll be around in some form or another for donkey’s years, but I can’t imagine the enthusiast mountain bike market supporting 2 never mind 3 wheel sizes ad infinitum.

    Give it another year or two and Gwin will be winning downhills and Zink will be taking silly lines in Utah on a 29er and then see how many bike companies will be bothered no hold on to 26ers. Maybe

    wrecker
    Member

    If there is only going to be two wheel sizes survive then one will be 26″. Rest assured.
    The mainstream brands like spesh and giant may arrogantly tell us what we want and try to make us get our wallets out, but some of the smaller outfits will continue to listen to the market and there will always be a market for 26″ bikes.
    We’ve just read about how much quicker the 26″ bike was downhill and frankly that’s all I need to know.

    b45her
    Member

    still baffles me why people say 26″ wheels are dying, i know 1 person who owns a 29er and hes a hair under 6’10” tall, everyone i know who has recently bought a bike has bought a 26er and a few people i know who are soon to buy new bikes are not interested in 29ers at all.

    as for 650b I’ve never seen a wheel in the flesh never mind a full bike, i’m not sure they even exist outside of the MTBR website.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Subscriber

    what if 650b falls by the wayside and I’m buggered for parts in a few years time?

    Exactly why I’m waiting, although I can see the potential.

    as for 650b I’ve never seen a wheel in the flesh never mind a full bike

    ditto
    (unless one of the riders in the French National Championships was on 650b?)

    edit: but I see my usual online bike shop now has an acceptable range of 650b forks, wheels, tyres, etc.

    I just did some sums on this to get some clarity on what’s going on with the sizing. The logical way to compare different diameter wheels is for equal contact patch, based on equal tyre pressure and equal arc of tyre on the ground (so the contact patch gets longer and thinner with bigger wheels, and therefore you run narrower tyres).

    So when running narrower MTB tyres:

    Nominal vs actual diameters
    26er = 26.5″
    27.5er = 27.25″
    29er = 28.6″

    And when running wider MTB tyres:

    Nominal vs actual diameters
    26er = 27″
    27.5er = 27.6″
    29er = 29.1″

    Why the hell are we calling these new tyres 27.5 and 29? Either ’26’ isn’t a 26, or 27.5 and 29 are smaller than they claim?

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    still baffles me why people say 26″ wheels are dying

    There is evidence, that’s why. Both Spesh and Scott have dumped 26 inch wheels from some of their core bikes (Stumpy and Genius), in the UK market at least. The Stumpy is 29 unless you get the Evo and similarly the Genius comes in 650B and 29 but no 26…unless you get the LT. So, the brands are sticking with 26 for the longer travel range, but for how long? It only takes 2 or 3 big brands to steer the marketplace and you’ll soon find Evans/Leisure Lakes/Halfords etc dropping a wheel size or two from their range.

    I don’t know which wheel sizes will survive and how long it will take, but I’ll eat my padded shorts if the mainstream market sustains 3 of them.

    hugor
    Member

    As someone who regularly changes between 26 and 29 wheel mountain bikes I think there is a significant noticable difference but its not much.
    Put a half knotch in the mix and I think its not going to be noticable by most including myself.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    not going to be noticable

    I reckon it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to my riding which size I buy, but what I lose sleep about* is buying the size that goes extinct in a couple of years. FWIW I don’t think it will be 29ers for some reason.

    *exaggeration

    emac65
    Member

    Even if 26″ wheels do die(which I doubt),the marketing machine would bring them back & try to convince everyone that they are the way forward……..

    Premier Icon bigblackshed
    Subscriber

    ^^^^^^^^This^^^^^^^^

    I can certainly see the advantages of a 29er for covering big distances quickly or for xc racers riding around sterile xc courses. I’m yet to ride one that’s as much fun as the 26ers when you point it downwards. I’m sure there would be a 29er out there that would be perfect for me. I fit the bill for, as I see it, a 29er. 6’4″ and a big heffer who can throw a bike around.

    My riding is all about fun. I’m not interested in being quicker over the same trail or route than last time and I’m not a racer. ATM the 26er market serves me well, lots of choice with the bespoke or small makers.

    The best wheel debate i’ve read for a while. However a XC version would be the other way round.

    I personally hope all wheel choices stick. They suit different people and applications.

    Choice is Good.

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