Opinion: 26 vs 27.5 vs 29-inch Wheels

Jan 15, 2013
by Matt Wragg  
 
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OPINION
26 vs 27.5 vs 29
Back-to-Back
WORDS Matt Wragg
PHOTOS SRAM/Simon Cittati
VIDEO Alex Boyce/I-MTB

bigquotes"Objective Journalism is a hard thing to come by these days. We all yearn for it but who can point the way?" - Hunter S. Thompson

So much for the plan. It was a simple one, a good one, but some things just weren't meant to be. SRAM would come down to Massa Vecchia and bring their test bikes with 26, 27.5 and 29-inch wheels. We'd ride them back-to-back for a few days and make some observations. No conclusions, try and be dispassionate. A few days were put aside afterwards to get the whole thing scribbled down before I headed to China. Then came the steaks. Two 1.2kg slabs of Tuscany's supposed best beef between four of us. We all felt a bit off the next morning, but surely that was simply because of how much meat we'd ingested. As we were trying to sum up the bikes on the beach the fever started rising... Anyone who's had food poisoning knows all too well what followed.

Lying on a sweat-stained bed, alternating between shivering and burning isn't the time to try and write words of great meaning. So the piece got delayed, China came and went, two weeks of the endless, empty hours in planes and cars that fill long-distance travel. Time to consider the world, too much time to think. With it, the realisation that life is too short to sit on fences, so the neutral piece died a death and what's left is this: my take on 27.5-inch wheels.

26 27.5 and 29. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
Ready to head up the hill. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
  The three test bikes - the 26 and 27.5 both had 150mm travel, while the 29 had 120mm. All three had wheel-corrected geometry to help them feel as similar as possible and ran 1x10 drivetrains with a 32 ring up-front, and a 11-36 cassette.

I first heard of 27.5-inch wheels in Taipei this year, where they were being touted as "650B", which sounds a bit too much like an MDMA-derivative for my liking. There was much secrecy; we were allowed to see these magical parts, but no photos. Apparently I'd been living under a rock and missed the latest mountain bike industry hype - wheelchair wheels were coming to mountain bikes and it was a Big Deal. RC, our tech editor who knows these kind of things, pointed out to me that these wheels had actually been in production for five years. The selling point was the compromise - they should roll better than a 26 inch wheel, but keep the bike feeling livelier than a 29er. There was also a hint of hysteria; off the record people were admitting that they'd blown it with 29ers, missed the boat, and they were damned sure they weren't going to miss this one.

Seeing the rise in interest in this new wheel size, SRAM built test bikes to help people understand the differences between the three. They took the Nicolai Helius AM frame and had a small fleet of them built with 26, 27.5 and 29-inch wheels. What made these bikes so special was the geometry - they had custom, corrected geometry, so the three different bikes felt as similar and neutral as possible to help riders focus on the wheels. SRAM then decked the bikes out with nearly identical Rockshox suspension, Rise wheels, XO groupsets and Truvativ controls. It is worth noting that the 27.5 test bike couldn't have carbon wheels for the test, which does make a difference in the bike's handling.


The Testing

Portraits. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
The three of us on the bikes. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
  Left to right: Me, Alex, Giulio.

To test the bikes I invited a couple of friends who ride at different levels to bring in a wider range of opinions. I ride quite a lot, generally on technical stuff and like my bikes set up hard and fast, Alex rides a couple of times a week on more all-mountain trails and likes a neutral bike, and Giulio rides on mostly XC trails and likes his bikes comfortable. All of us currently own and ride 26-inch bikes, and Giulio and Alex have never spent much time on any other wheelsize. The plan was to do a day at Cala Violina riding short cross-country loops and then spend the second day shuttling something shorter, steeper and more technical. Nature had other ideas and on the second day of testing the worst flooding to hit Tuscany in thirty years squelched any ideas of riding - two people were killed in the next town over from us. No worries though, we still had two days of filming to play with the bikes, plenty of time repeating sections on different bikes... Until I had a good go at knocking myself out at the start of the second day. In the end, I feel that I managed enough time between the three bikes to draw some conclusions and the aim of this small test was never to try and offer definitive numbers or facts.

Views: 63,654    Faves: 48    Comments: 7



Bad Science

To try and get some idea what the stopwatch said about the bikes we strapped the worst invention in mountain biking to my bike - Strava. Using a Garmin GPS, I took three laps of the 7km-ish trail near Cala Violina. It's a fairly steady, flowing trail, or at least it was until I got lost on my first lap and added in a brutal climb and a Superenduro descent by accident. Rather than repeat the lap, I repeated the mistake for the next two laps as the descent was fun. Any scientist will tell you that three laps and three short descents is a pretty poor sample, you'd need much more data to draw anything conclusive, but it was enough information to be interesting. There are also some discrepancies in the data as you can see on my Strava page, but the loop was the same, so the times are accurate (basically using the GPS as a shiny stopwatch).

I rode the 26-inch bike first, then the 27.5 and finally the 29. Over a whole loop the 29 was fastest, followed by the 27.5 and then the 26. What draws light on the time for the 29-inch bike is that the time was set on the last lap, at the point in the day when I would expect to be slowest. The times pretty much match up to how the bikes felt - especially with the 29, where there was a real feeling that you were rolling faster. However, on the descent section, according to Strava, I was much faster on the 26, which was the first run when I was riding blind. It's hard to say whether it was because I went too fast, as I had no idea what I was doing, that I find 26 inch wheels easier to push on, or because Strava is wildly inaccurate. What I can say for sure is that I enjoyed the tight, twisty descent most on the 26 inch bike and it would have been interesting to see if this was borne out over a whole day of shuttling a single track. Filming proved to be good for the testing, as it meant hours of hitting the same sections back-to-back on different bikes, so you could focus on small differences over a very specific bit of trail.

Montage two. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
Montage three. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
Montage one. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
  We did much of the filming on the Superenduro race trails around Puntala.You can ride them in two ways - flicking the bike around the obstacles in the base or trying to stay high and out of trouble. Alex and Giulio both like the smaller wheels for staying down low, or making the odd break for the high ground. For me the 29er really came into its own here are as you could straighten out the channels and hold it wide open, even if it didn't necessarily inspire the confidence to go for the sketchiest high lines.



What did we make of the bikes?

At the end of the test, we took a straw poll - ranking the bikes first, second and third:

MattAlexGiulio
26-inch112
27.5-inch321
29-inch233

Splitting out the winners, Alex chose 26-inch as he felt the other bikes "numbed" the trail too much, while Giulio opted for the 27.5-inch as he appreciated the extra roll-over, although it was close between that and the 26-inch. For me the winner came down to fun. When we were filming sections I realised after a while that I was choosing the 26-inch bike whenever I had a free choice of bike. It was easier to play with the trail on it - flick the bike around, pop off stuff. However, the 29-inch wasn't far behind for me, as the way it monster-trucked through rough sections was hilarious, the amount of extra speed it could hold in those kind of situations was impressive. It is interesting that both Alex and Giulio disliked the 29-inch bike as they found it slow through relatively tight corners and that this greatly outweighed the way you could plough through things on it.

Discussing the video. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati
  Taking some time to reflect between shots.


Breaking down the differences

Ultimately, the differences between the wheel sizes were more or less what you would expect. The 29-inch bike could barrel through sections wide-open, but it was harder to carry speed through tight corners. 26-inch wheels tended to lose speed more readily, but you could play with the bike more easily. It's here I take issue with 27.5-inch wheels. The traditional logic states that they roll-over things better than a 26-inch bike, but handle more nimbly than a 29-inch bike. However, if you flip that logic on its head, they don't roll-through as well as a 29er and don't handle as well as a 26-inch wheeled bike. For me, at least, 26-inch bikes are the most fun to play with and, at the end of the day, that's what mountain biking is supposed to be about. If you start looking at the new generation of fast-handling 29-inch bikes coming through, like the Specialized Stumpjumper 29er, the Santa Cruz Tallboy or the Orange Five 29, the inevitable question for me is "What's the point of 27.5?" The sacrifices for running a bigger wheel size are becoming fewer, so why lose that extra roll-over? The in-between size starts to look like an unnecessary compromise.

Pushing the 26-inch bike into a compression. Photo courtesy of SRAM Simon Cittati

Yet this is all personal - the truth is that what I want from my bike and a ride might be very different from what you want or enjoy. I can't sit here and honestly say 27.5-inch bikes are bad, just that I prefer 26 and 29-inch bikes. Maybe a 27.5-inch bike would mean you can have more fun out on the trail, or maybe the stopwatch says it's faster for you in a race. If I'm going to make big statements about what I think mountain biking should be I can't deny you whatever you think is fun (unless it involves braking through corners, in which case - stop it). What I don't like, and what I think we should be wary of, are the suggestions you hear from time-to-time that 27.5-inch wheels will replace 26-inch wheels. As another option I can live with 27.5-inch wheels, even if I don't want to ride them myself. But, if we get down to nut-cutting time, if we were forced to make a decision between 26 and 27.5, that's when I could not accept them. That's when I think they should be rolled back into the ocean.

www.sram.com
www.massavecchia.it

435 Comments

  • + 157
 it will always be a matter of personal choice and style of riding
  • + 112
 Nailed it, (really good video but) One of the first things the Sram bloke says 'We're trying to help the media decide which bike suits which application' that phrase for me sums up everything that is wrong about the industry, we're all just being told what to buy instead of just enjoying what we already have.

=/ Eugh /Rant>
  • - 24
 Yes good point indeed could not be more objective: It's an own preference and also down to what works on our local trails. Aren't we using different tyres in different parts of the world, yet we are eager to throw crap at certain types?

The only thing I have problem with is the lust, confusion and waste it creates - but that's a problem with all of that. Hype, yea, but we internet warriors cause more than enlugh stir in it than they can hope for.

Performance-wise? Who cares for what purpose really? Someone wants to know if his current bike is slow, dull and not modern?
  • + 34
 aww jeez, not this again!
  • + 17
 Wheelchair wheels...hehe
  • + 195
 Am I the only one who has grown completely sick of this discussion. Run whatever wheels you want, I don't care, Im going riding.
  • + 2
 Not a bad attitude Darkstar, should have thought of that earlier...
  • + 7
 No doubt. Opinions are like assholes everybody has one, These guys just happen to like bigger wheels. Good for them.
  • + 34
 I could make some people's day here: I'm going on silence strike, No comments until 650b disappear!
  • + 5
 Darkstar Surely what everyone wants from their bike is to have the most fun possible, which usually comes from going as fast as possible, which usually happens when you feel completely confident and comfortable on your bike. What an article like this is trying to say is that for a persons style of riding a different wheel size may make them feel more confident and so have more fun on their bike. All it is doing is allowing them to see how a different wheel size could suit them better than the one they have.
  • + 1
 I totally agree! Well said
  • + 8
 I don't mean to sound like an ass btw, It was a good write up. I was sort of joking around. But this is played out, imo. Several of the print mags have done this type of "shootout" and the results are always the same. Ride what you like, what makes you comfortable. Because being comfortable makes you fast.
  • + 2
 Stop getting your nickers in a twist and go and ride
  • + 5
 there will always be somebody breaking in corners :,(
  • + 3
 What do you guys think of this (I know that a lot of people on pb don't like xc race but bear with me)- I am about 6'1", and I've still got a few years of growing left, I race xc, so my main concern is overall speed, and I tend to do best in races with tight, tricky sections or poor conditions, and less so on wide, open, fast courses. 26", 27.5" or 29" (I have tried all but am still not sure)?
  • + 2
 You are a pretty tall guy a 27.5 or 29 would prob suit you. If you prefer tight trails then you may like the 27.5. You will find a vast majorty of the xc race crowd on 29's. For some of the reasons cited in this article. Overall you will be faster, and rocky trails will fatigue you less, due to the ease of rolling over such obsticles.
  • + 7
 The debate about the 650B in DH to me would seem dependent on whether or not your talking about actually racing DH, or whether we're talking about the freeride type of DH that most people do. I could possibly see the benefit of the 650B is racing if you can hold speed better. But I would think that for the majority of people who are just out having fun, the '26 would still be the choice, since in this setting, a more fun and lively bike is probably preferred. Most of us aren't riding against a clock.
  • + 16
 Now if only protour would go on a silence strike also....
  • - 16
 The bike they are using looks like the cheapest lapierre copy i have ever seen
  • + 5
 Hey where is Protour on this one? I want his hillarious 2 cents!!
  • - 3
 Tbh since I can't afford a change of bike/wheels and even less just to try, and since still the more long distance-XC/road side of biking (and the one I find boring as hell) is the one where 29ers rule the field and the more gravity oriented side of it (which as you may have deduced is the one I like the most) is where 26ers are unquestioned king, I'm more than happy running my 26 inch wheels. Plus, although absolutely subjective I know, and has nothing to do with the actual value of them, I find 29 inch wheels ugly, too big for mtb.
  • + 2
 They never mentioned the cost difference. so far anyway, the other wheel sizes (27.5, 29) are more expensive because companies haven't mainstreamed the production yet. For a student like me cost is a large factor, and I hope that soon the cost differences between the wheel sizes will disappear.
  • + 2
 29ers are only very slightly more expensive... 650B the difference isn't so much as to discourage buyers otherwise manufacturers wouldn't be trying to sell them. They'd otherwise put more money into churning out big high-carbon 26ers that history has already shown few people want to buy.
  • + 2
 no one can definately say ''26 inch is wrong for you''. 650b should not be hped so much that people expect it to be awesome, then in some cases, the rider will hate it. they just need to go out, ride each size, and choose from then.
  • + 10
 The correct wheel size has everything to do with what you have not bought yet. Wink
  • + 4
 this must be like when women decide on tampons. absorption versus coverage. this has to be the most drawn out topic other than lance doping in cycling.
  • + 10
 scientifically speaking, such a test to try and prove the best bike is the "fastest" (and thus most fun) bike around a track, this example is also flawed.
You need a large data set which to extract any significance from. Above is just a warm up. The Germans love this type of testing.... but even they haven't' considered a data set where numbers can be considered significant.
Eg, we have three bikes. ride one bike per day, riding the same trail, riding the trail many times per day. take the best time or mean the days times... Repeat n number of times (eg 7 days for each bike, ok, maybe each day gets a different trail perhaps, so its not so boring and you cover different conditions to equalise any advantage of one bike to a trail type). Repeat per bike. Alternate days, 26 today, 27.5 tmrw, 29 the day after, repeat on next trail.
And then there are the riders to consider. You need different types of riders, say 5 different riders.... to equalize the physical advantages of one bike to the other per rider.

thats pretty boring after writing all of that.


Until then I still won't wear spandex. Or worry my 26 is not as much fun as the others.
  • + 0
 Yikes, just reading that comment is enough to tire this issue.
  • + 0
 I can see custom one off 650Bs or even 29ers DH bikes popping up at this year's DH worlds at Pietermaritzburg. Shite venue for a worlds in my opinion, it's basically all about who's fastest on the pedally section.
  • + 3
 Yea, if a dropper post is required (I think I read one rider say a dropper post was worth 10 seconds or something) then there's to much peddling for a DH course.
  • + 3
 this is a ridiculous test at best.
  • + 3
 To get more of an idea of whats right you've got to ride UP the hills also.
  • - 1
 100% but I won't PLOW through anything as it is not fun
  • - 5
 fullbug: you're an idiot.
  • + 1
 I guess if constantly engaging in a topic that becomes argumentative and clearly comes down to personal preferences and doesn't appear constructive at all doesn't sound idiotic to you, have at it. My comment and your response to me clearly shows my point. Sure, sometimes I am and so is this tired This vs That vs This subject. Thanks, for calling out my frustration though...fair play.
  • + 1
 Full bug, I couldn't agree more. This is a difficult subject to talk about. I think it's hilarious that Matt, one of the testers in this video, rated his bikes the way he did. 26 was number 1, 29 number 2 and 650b number 3. If you love 26ers wouldn't you rather have a 27.5 before you would want a 29 er? The logic doesn't really make sense to me. Therefore there is no 1 size tire that is better. It's all speculation and personal preference. The ending of this video where they talked was pretty lame too. Why should I care what tire size they like? Kind of a pointless video, but a subject we just don't know what to do with.
  • + 0
 Also TWO days of riding in, lets face it, less the ideal weather and with all three developing food poisoning isn't really a great fair and impartial test.
  • + 3
 I ride 26" wheels and don't give a f*ck! unless they made a 26.75"....that could get interesting /sarcasm
  • + 2
 deeeight definitely has valid points on their merits as some others with a counterpoint view. take the "vs" out of it and focus separately on why each one is fun and not better and if one day you find yourself on a different wheel and stoked all the better. i don't really care why or how you get there.

the fact about bikes is that the engine is the passenger. given that fact, every engine is a uniquiley constantly changing organic one-off & might be more "efficient/stoked" in a different chassis and platform to squeeze the most enjoyment/performance for its passenger at any given time. you can't hardwire "flow" into your wheels.
  • + 3
 TBH it does really come down to what you want. If you happen to be an XC racer boy then yeah, 27.5 and 29'r do have advantages over a 26'r. I know from experience that keeping up against those bikes on a 26'r in a race isn't easy. They do just roll faster through the type of terrain you will typically find in a race. However, that's not we are on about here at Pinkbike, is it? Speed is just one side of the story. I recently attended a demo day from all the local retailers and, despite being a huge 29'r fan, my favourite bike of the day was a 26'r. It wasn't the highest spec'd bike I rode, seeing as I rode carbon framed, XT spec 27.5 and 29'r bikes, but the slx spec alloy 26'r was the bike I enjoyed riding most that day. Who woulda thought? It all comes down to what you want to do and what you value the most. Once you find what that is, the right size wheel and the bike attached to them will follow.
  • + 1
 Fullbug: I was referring to your tampon comment, not your position on this debate.
  • + 1
 No problem. You were right on with my comment. It was stupid. The subject is so tired and played out for me is all.
  • + 0
 I really have a hangover after 27.5 and Le Grand migration of Gods. Internet Season in MTB started really intensively... I like eggs&bacon, but I also like sallad with bread, then maybe a bit of muesli. I guess everyone can find one of these to be his best breakfast choice, I guess many could eat one after another during one meal session. But this fkn argumenting feels like putting it all to a blender and expecting it to be the best breakfast ever because on top of it all you get it eaten faster, and it can possibly digest better.

Science?! You want scoentific methods? Go on, try doing PhD, once you see how different people one by one will rape your creativity in the mouth, and then pack you from the back so hou will forget what did you want to achieve, then tell me you fkn love science.

I thought articles like this one were meant to be entertaining, that's why we love Top Gear don't we? And most of us ride bikes to... Hm... Maybe very few of us actualy ride for fun hm? I put that "for fun"into question since the beginning of internet MTB season 2013...
  • + 2
 ok............29=roadie
26=mtn biker
27.5= confused
  • + 7
 bike = bike rider

wheel size = who cares
  • + 2
 This test is more full of excuses than conclusive data. I don't need any testing. Already know big wheels go fast on smooth trails just like a road bike. If you come from a jumping background and more focus on style and fun over flat to uphill speed, the 26 will always be the right choice. If you want to trust China about this fast wheel technoligy and jump on their bandwagon go for it. The real tech riders not going for it as we are dialed on 26 for life. The only outrage is when certain companies discontinue production of 26" bikes and try forcing you to switch to a new wheel size. Make these 27.5s and 29s but dont stop the 26 option. I feel sorry for racers as we are the only ones who really have to deal with this choice if wheel size. Depending what company you ride for you might be pursuaded to ride a bike you dont really like. Other companies have balls and not going for trend setting wheel improvements. I already going too fast and locals always yelling to slow down on the trails. Dont really need any help but thanks anyway China. Some riders need to constantly purchase new toys to find inspiration to ride. I call them posers or mtb enthusiasts. If you want to have fun on the trail banging turns and gapping huge jumps the 26" is your best option.
  • + 3
 i ride a 7 year old devinci that i bought for $460 and honestly i dont even know how big the wheels are off the top of my head. what i do know, however, is that mountain biking is maybe the most fun thing i could ever do with my time. i'm all for pushing the sport, cool gear, and technological advancement, but i think debates like these can distract from why we are all here in the first place.
  • + 2
 I was the only tester that didnt eat the meat and get food poisoning...til this day I still feel 26" is the more fun wheel size.
[Reply]
  • + 31
 I think it's a pointless debate, it's just another option on setup in my opinion. Just like some people like slack angles, low BB's, hard/medium/soft suspension. I think 26 will always be the industry standard, but the others will be there as a choice.

~The views expressed above do not neccesarily represent the views of Dirt-Love~
  • + 9
 I think it's actually a lot more like surfboards. Surfers don't argue about which is the best style of surfboard or fin setup (longboard, shortboard, fish, thruster, 5 fin, quad), they own lots of different styles and use them in different conditions. Hopefully bikes will get to that point where an aid biker can happily own lots of different styles of mountain bikes (and wheel sizes) and just use them in the conditions in which they excel
  • + 2
 So essentially, we agree?
  • + 3
 That's because as bike riders... we are all insanely into this. It's a little obsurd.
  • - 13
 26" is gone. No manufacturer will not be using the size inside two years. Get used to 650b.
  • + 3
 you are either foolish or a troll for that comment^ 26 is not going anywhere.
  • - 10
 Niether. Apart from DH (and that won't take long) and cheap hardtails, 26" is gone.

There will obviously be legacy parts for 26" but I doubt you'll be able to get the top spec forks and rims within a year or so.

It's already been decided. A well known manufacturer just scraped a high level 26" model that had all the R&D and production spec done as they just won't be sellable by the time they reach the market.
  • + 2
 Support these claims. Haha, I really don't think so man. 26 is great and as long as there are people out there shredding them there will be parts available. 650b is not that much bigger anyways so i really could care less what happens, don't paint it all doom and gloom.
  • - 1
 I don't want 27.14" either but if you think 26" will be around for ever you're dreaming.
  • + 3
 one might have said that about 24, but you can still get those..
  • + 0
 Yeah heavy crap 24" rims and forks... That's just what will be around for 26".
  • + 2
 We will see ...
  • + 1
 Please google the phrase " Dewey Wins."

One company does not make or represent an industry.
  • - 3
 "Twenty-six inch is taken off the menu," said Jason Moeschler, WTB's OEM sales manager. "It may seem confusing now, but the industry has made the decision for the consumer."

Unlucky kids.
  • + 1
 Wtb rims? Wheels? Aren't they known for seats?
That would be like mavic claiming the shoe industry was changing away from clip less pedals.
  • + 1
 okay so then you are a stupid troll jclnv. Salute
  • - 3
 Nope they're a huge supplier of OEM rims and tires.

Do you idiots realize that bike manufactures had their 2014 product road map finished last year. 2014 will be the death of 26" and your bikes will be worth jack shit by mid 13 when this news sinks into your thick skulls.

Enjoy Smile
  • + 1
 jclnv your harsh tone clearly indicates you are a troll... and I should'nt feed you.. but you highlighted an important aspect of your theory (which is soley based on one smlall interview with WTB) ...

OEM.

This has already happened. When I walk into a bike shop around here, any of them... I pretty much only see 29" bikes. Not only that but I pretty much only see "entry level bikes" ... This is not the full scope of the industry. There are a lot of 26" bikes out there. A lot. And for FR and DH and most "all-mountain" applications 26 is the desired wheel size. This type of riding is not the bulk of new bike sales. That does not mean that it's going away.
  • + 0
 My theory, as you put it, isn't just based on that small interview by any means.

26" maybe the desired wheel size for DH (due to current frame choice options which will soon change for 650b) but I'd definitely say it isn't desired for AM. A good 29" like the Stumpy Evo 29" wipes the floor with any 160mm 26". People in the industry who are a couple of years ahead of the public know this so that's why we're seeing Specialized bring a 29" Enduro to the market and Norco, Rocky, Scott etc already dumping 26" for 650b and 29".

Don't fight the future.
  • + 1
 we will see .....if 650b proves faster for DH
  • + 1
 yeah 29 ers wipe the floor, untill you have to navigate a technical trail or do much cornering and then its a dead sailor and 26" takes over. it Is plausiblle to me that 650b may in time replace the 26" but to say something like "29er will be the only wheel size availablle" is rediculous and shows that you have spent little time if any on a 29er. they have their place but they feel like shit to ride compared to my 26" have a good day troll.
  • - 1
 Where did I say 29" will take over spoonhead? or that 29" will be the only wheel size available?

One things for sure though, in rowdy tech 29" will eat 26" all day long. You just haven't ridden a good one or you suck.
  • + 0
 again I call you troll. in tech 29 will eat a 26. I suggest you have never ridden a 29er. ask anybody that has. ....troll.
  • + 2
 lol really, whats your point? i wach this video and I see a few guys talk a lot and a little riding of a pretty tame and easy buff trail, of course a bigger wheel bike will be faster on this shit. but still The little bit of low angle airs I saw had that presance of high bb takeoff's. I agree to disagree with you and your foolish opinions, there is plenty of room for all kinds of wheel sizes, If you think 26" wheels are going anywhere you've got toys in the attic. Salute
  • + 1
 jclnv ..... let's see a pic of your 29" rig... Im curious...
  • + 1
 "The little bit of low angle airs I saw had that presance of high bb takeoff's." What the hell does this mean??? That trail is fairly rowdy actually and the riders are a lot more solid than the goons in the above test.

DARKSTAR63, My frame is on order. It'll be my first 29"! I had a Stumpy Evo 26" which I have just sold for the 29" Evo. I thought they were crap and were just marketing too. It took one ride to change my opinion completely. If you listen to the guy is the video above he has it sport on. So much more feedback from a 29" and it isn't only down to the wheelsize.
  • + 0
 ahhhh so you have yet to ride a 29er long enough to realize how much more fun you could be having on a 26".... I suppose Ill let you discover this on your own.... rowdy trail ?? you must be joking, Its tame as a kitten and good too, would be uber difficult to make it look fun to ride a 29er through anything with any real technical sections tto it. enjoy your 29er, they are fun.... as long as you like straight lines, and feeling high centered on your bike.

the guys in the video you posted have trouble making it look fun, Cedric Gracia couldnt make a 29er look overly stylish or fun.... cedric.... Gracia...

and what i meant by my comment is that taking off from a jump with a high Center of gravity is not fun, looks shoddy and is just not good. \
  • + 1
 I don't care about this subjective fun argument crap. I just want the faster bike for racing. I didn't think you knew what you were going on about. A Evo 29" has a lower CoG than the 26". As do most 29'ers.
  • + 0
 The CoG on a suspended bike is its BB, So how do you achieve a lower CoG with a higher BB, what you say makes no sense and Im done chatting about it, if you dont want to do your own REAL research then how can I make a true point stick? Im sure in your world a jacked up, high CoG Diesel truck can rail turns out without worrying about G out also.... Must be a fun Place you've invented in your mind.... yes?
  • + 1
 I think this is enough now...
[Reply]
  • + 27
 It would have been great to see a mention of the in-seam length or height of the riders. In fact, I think they should make the law for 29er worshippers to first disclose their height.

I'm all for having a debate about 26 vs. 27.5 vs. 29... for the average rider. But my height being 5'4", and being a low power pedaller at only 130 pounds, a 29er simply isn't an option. Why?

- loss of gearing "gain ratio"... not a big deal for the big boys, but I'm already going aneorobic with most 2x10 drive trains as it is. Going 29er from 26" is equivalent to losing 2 gears. Unacceptable.
- Wheel weight... again, although my relative power is high (power/weight), my absolute power even with training is low compared to an average height rider. A pound added to the wheels is just too much swallow, and can't possibly justify any gain in roll over advantage
- center of gravity... riding 2" higher. Not a big deal if you are 6" tall. But if you are my height, there is nothing good about that elevation increase. The 26" small frames from most brands already ride too high for me as it is.

But given the average height is 5'10" these days, I guess companies like Specialized aren't losing any sleep over losing us as customers as they are obviously hell bent on making their entire line up 29er only.
  • + 59
 I've got a 30" in-seam. I also like long walks under the moonlight and candle-lit dinners.
  • + 12
 i fell you ampa. i'm on the other side, i'm 6'5". try finding a downhill bike that doesn't look like you're riding a kid's bike. i look ridiculous on my dirtjumper
  • - 1
 ampa, my OH is 160 cm (about 5'2" if i'm correct) and loves her 29er hardtail. Being short is not canceling pros of big wheels. Sure, you must have light wheels to make it work, but that should not be a problem as short riders also tend to be light and can get away with weight weenie stuff. That said, I respect your opinion that 29er does not suit YOU, but please don't say that other short people shouldn't even consider one.

And by the way, you would not be riding 2" higher. Actually, BB height from the ground is just about the same for all wheel sizes.
  • + 4
 That's fine for a hardtail... my gf is 5'4 and on a 29er hardtail also... but mix in 100mm or more rear wheel travel and you're gonna be S.O.L. when it comes to fitting someone 5'2 onto it without some ridiculous looking component compromises being needed to do it. Emily Batty's Trek/Fisher 29er hardtail last year was a perfect example of that as she is also 5'2" tall. On the smallest size frame they made, she needed to run a rear offset post flipped around 180° so as to have forward offset (Timetrial bike style) and a flat bar, AND a negative 25 degree stem to put her body in a position she could attack on climbs (which is where XC races are won or lost). You're damn well not going to do it with full suspension even when you're the sixth ranked world cup XC racer....

There's a picture of it here....

cdn4.media.cyclingnews.futurecdn.net/2011/08/03/1/emily_batty_sf_full_view_600.jpg
cdn.mos.bikeradar.com/images/news/2011/06/14/1308052093691-12duwzyn9hv1c-670-70.jpg

Her full suspension race bike, was one of the 26er models and even then she still needed a negative stem rise to keep the bar low (in relation to the saddle position).

gallery.roadbikereview.com/data/roadbike/500/Header1.jpg
  • + 0
 I'm 6'3" and I would love a 24inch bike with 6 inches of travel but no one makes one. I think 26 inch wheels look slow and lethargic and 20 inch wheels look like some kind of clowns bike. I only ride 26" cause thats what's available with the tech I'm addicted to. Props to Danny Mackaskil and a few others who try something truly different. Smaller anything is both stronger and lighter whether it be the frame tubes spokes or rim. Shorter chain stays are better and more fun. Wheel size dictates Chainstay length. Who cares which is faster? A big wheel will get you over small obstacles better but a small wheel base will get you over big obstacles better. Better to hit with rubber than with your bash guard.
  • + 0
 @choppertank3e... find a low mileage early 2000s Specialized BigHit FSR Pro... they were 6.3" travel frames with 24" rear wheels.
  • + 2
 Brooklyn machine works made a 24", 6" travel frame as a special, probably make another if you had the cash.
  • + 7
 Larger wheel size loses 2 gears!?

Howabout just getting the proper gearing for the size of wheel on the bike? You can gear a 29er with exactly the same ratio as a 26er. Just get smaller chainrings.
  • - 1
 Heh, the argument on 29ers chainstays vs chainrings is quite funny to me. I designed a 29" aluminium hardtail and managed to fit 28 granny and 38 middle ring on 430 chainstay with 2.25 nobby nic tyre, 73mm BB. Give me leg shaver 2.1" race king or crossmark 26 granny and I go down to 425 which is nearly a XC race 26er. Industry goes for 435+ chainstay on 29erd and complains. Just as I did a 26" HT that fits a 2.5" minion, 26/36 chainset and got to 405mm CS. If I got carbon to work on this would be even easier. Full suspension 29" frames?! Eee the certain suspension designs will have trouble to fit linkage there sure, but I see no probs whats so over for SC, Spec or Trek. Orange can easily do a 100mm single pivot with 430 CS and fit fkn tripple chainset 28-38-48. The only issue is front mech mount. So go either Etype or XX1 and stop bitching...
  • - 2
 Also another hinder in all this chain stay bs, is not chainring clearance but seat tube vs tyre clearance resulting in steeper seat tube angles and bent seat tubes giving strange st angles at higher seat extensions. Maybe new standard for BB? C'm on industry push some 78mm BB and wider rear huv spacing 12x147mm to keep the chainline nice - I believe in you - you can do it. With ever 1mm of chainring offset you get 1mm shorter CS.
  • + 2
 @dfiler... yes...2 gears is about correct... if you're already at the limits for available gearing with 26" wheels for your own personal needs... and nobody makes anything lower... and you increase the wheel diameter, then you're S.O.L.
  • + 1
 @WAKI...

or a return to elevated chainstays... it was originally done to reduce chainsuck/chainslap but it also shortens what is possible for effective chainstay lengths of a frame and still being able to clear a front derailleur cage around a tire. Now that we have XX1, no need even for the front derailleur anymore. Google-fu up the Murphy Special carbon fat-bike, you'll see an example of pushing the BB sizes around. Its been a standard since the Surly Pugsley was introduced that you needed a 100mm BB to clear the chainrings around the fat chainstays and tires of fat bikes. Now with the Murphy having E-stays and dropping the need for a front derailleur, they've adopted the more common 83mm BB standard.
  • - 1
 83mm or even better: 100mm BB? No marketing department is going to fight roadie legacy and fight people that heard of Q-factor. Elevated chainstays? Honestly: looks crap nr1. nr2 it is not possible to achieve on designs like Spec, Lapierre, SC, I dont want to even imagine that on a HT! nr3 it surely creates difference in rear end stiffness depending on which side the bike is leaned. Maybe with CF you could compensate a bit.

Until I ride a 29" super bike of Tallboy LT caliber, I can't help myself to not be sceptical whether it is possible to diminish monster truck feeling of a 29er by messing with geo. And I don't know what is the problem with them being this way in the first place, they are so effective, that Im super fine with such trade-off
  • + 2
 I'm 5'1" and struggle to find bikes that fit me, did challenge MBR Magazine to find me a 29'r that fits as they keep telling everyone to but 29'rs but they have ignored me.
[Reply]
  • + 22
 I'm only gonna address one point from the opinion piece...

"If you start looking at the new generation of fast-handling 29-inch bikes coming through, like the Specialized Stumpjumper 29er, the Santa Cruz Tallboy or the Orange Five 29, the inevitable question for me is "What's the point of 27.5?""

The problem with that statement, is that the bikes listed as examples are basically the limit of what's possible for 29er bikes that still even fit the average height of rider. As it is, the Tallboy LT from Santa Cruz, they've simply not bothered to offer a frame below a "medium" size because they couldn't make it work. Their official sizing chart makes no effort to sell the bikes to anyone below 5'5" tall. 135-140mm rear travel for a 29er is as far as the bikes are going to evolve, without eliminating the "medium" size riders from the buying options, or ruining the handling again by having to stretch out the wheelbase more to clear more suspension travel.

And that is one of the big points to 650B... anything that can be done with a 26er in wheel travel and bike sizing, can be done with 650B tires with very little redesign and almost no fit compromising. Basically every brand that's slipped 650B models into their lineup, have done it by taking an existing frame, and making slight tweaks to the chainstay length of the swingarm assembly and zero change to the wheel travel of the model being replaced/converted). The 160mm travel X with 26er tires is replaced with a 160mm X with 650Bs. The 100mm brand Y with 26ers is replaced with the 100mm Y with 650Bs.
  • + 4
 Frown I can only give one prop, otherwise I'd get you to the top.

Also note that you can very easily take a 650B spec bike and put 26" wheelset with DH tires if the slightly larger wheels really bother you that much. Cant really do that with 29ers.
  • + 0
 it should be noted that santa cruz has released a superlight 29er.

this offers entry at a lower pricepoint and most reviews have been positive, even from smaller (5'2" - 5'6") riders.
[Reply]
  • + 15
 "For me the winner came down to fun ... 26-inch bikes are the most fun to play with and, at the end of the day, that's what mountain biking is supposed to be about."
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Finally a comparison article that talks about fun. It seems to be the one thing that is missing in so many articles I've read. It's always about what wheels are faster, angle of attack, momentum, rolling resistance, etc.
I care about one thing when I ride my beloved Yeti ASR 5C -- having fun.
Long live 26 inch wheels.
  • + 3
 As one of the testers doing this back to back to back, I can say the whole thing was fun, but the most fun bike to use was the 26er... no question. But as Matt said the faster on a loop was the 29er, but this bike was boring to ride, you just ride over everything.... the 27.5 was half way inbetween..
  • + 2
 Don't judge all of the capable 29 bikes on this test then. I rode a Stumpjumper evo 29 and it was one of the funnest bikes that I have ridden. Jumped over everything, whipping it around, just amazing.
  • + 2
 the 26 was more manoeuvrable and more fun a tighter package that responds to inputs, going round one corner on the back wheel on the 29er I could feel it flex, although it was a stiff carbon rim. The trail is numbed by the roll over effect of the 29er... as i said i like to feel the trail and thus itis more fun
  • + 1
 Was the 26 the most fun bc it is what you ride regularly?
[Reply]
  • + 15
 It is quite easy to see on the video which bike is 29er, it's planted on the ground and kind of slow looking (even though it probably isn't). there was also this vid that was meant to destroy they 29er hate, where CG rides one. With all the respect to him, he can throw a 35pound DH bike with 2ply tyres with such ease and grace, that many wish they could do with their BMXes in the park. But on 29er he looks like a fly with wings covered with sticky crap. Those bike can fly, can get styled, but they are not good at it, therefore they should not be even attempted to be used for it. They are mile eating monsters munching through any terrain, the worse the better

It is nothing to your article but more to how mass bike culture debates wheel sizes: people want to put two bikes on same track and measure times, or on the same jump. I feel a bit of discontent what DirtMag did with 26 vs 29 because, I know that they have racing balls but 99% of people don't, they can't even count the time... For majority it is apples and oranges, sorry. Some people buy 29ers and set them up so they feel more like 26ers: 2,1" tyres, narrower bars, lighter, flexier wheels - hello... if you are given a certain advantage: use it instead of compromising it!

Good stuff! Cheers!
  • - 9
 CG rides one...... think you need a better example he ended up with a fudged sacrum in the last WC.
  • + 5
 So you are saying - he crashed because his DH bike had 26" wheels?
  • + 1
 ...and not at all because of brake failure? (I think thats what happened, need to check up on that)
[Reply]
  • + 12
 I just hate it that brands like Specialized completely kills the 26". No Stumpi HT in 26", No Epic in 26", No Chamber in 26", ..
  • + 2
 And no advanced 29er options for women...
  • + 1
 well,the stuff these bikes are intended to handle, is best handled on bigger wheels according to the opinion of (in this case) Spesh , and I dont think that is just marketing for big bike companies. Probably is the same for Spesh to equip their trail bikes with 26, but I guess their position is based on some sort of reliable data, like team riders expirience and stuff?

Sucks about the choice for women though, I noticed that myself too. But that section is gonna grow soon, I believe.
  • + 0
 Yes, for sure. I didn't said u cant ride 29" .. they are also great bikes! But i think they should get back with the 26" also for riders like me. Because i want a light, fast ht and with a good handling. 26" is lighter. 26" is faster (because its lighter), 26" has got more handling. that's what a lot of customers still want and spesh don't produces them anymore .. thats sad.
  • + 0
 Faster accelerating but also faster decelerating (from bump/terrain contact). In actual race conditions, lap times favour bigger wheels (either 650B or 29er) which turn in much quicker times than 26ers. Hell... people understood this a century ago that bigger wheels rolled faster offroad than smaller ones... why people today need to have this explained to them OVER AND OVER AND OVER again is beyond reason.

Specialized has dropped many 26er models because the customers who want them, are shrinking in numbers... if dealers can't sell them, the bikes sit around, and the following year they order less of a model. Enough dealers do that and Specialized realizes its time to drop a model option from the lineup.
  • - 3
 You CAN'T be faster Uphill with a 29". It's like you can't be faster uphill with a 100ps car with 1000kg than with a 100ps car with only 500 or even 900kg. You need a light bike to accelerate better because 29" are more heavy than 26". And the wheels are one of the most important parts on a bike. If they are heavy - handling isn't that good (also the accelerate). If they are in movement its true that 29" are smoother to handle. Yes, it rolls better over obstacles (stones, roots,..). For me a 26" is the right choice .. FOR ME! It will always be a matter of personal choice and style of riding.
Many? ha! A LOT! (Stumjumper HT, Epic, Chamber, Rockhopper [not all], Hardrocks [not all], Fate, Jett, Myka [not all])
  • + 1
 Especially in offroad racing you use what holds up, is plentiful and cheap to procure. If it is square or round is secondary. Been there, done that and constantly changing crapped out tires in the desert is not F U N. I use cheap Econovan on cheap 15i steelrims on my desert truck - not because they are great or huge or fat looking. They are three groove delivery van tires - it is because they hold up to major washboard, rockgardens and rough sand over thousands of km while dedicated 4x4 tires are just plain hype/glossy ad thinwall stuff.


29 is a combination of weak rims, heavy rims, crappy tires and not nimble.

Specialized is part of the problem. Marginalizing, obsolesencing, making room to shift new inventory, replacing good stuff with mediocre stuff. Not buying Specialized, not playing that game.
  • + 1
 You haven't actually spent much time on a 29er otherwise you would not be in such a rush to look like a moron. Yes indeed they are faster uphill. The longer tire contact patch brings with it more traction that can be used to pedal harder and faster up climbs without the danger of spinning out and losing momentum. And the extra roll over ability means you don't need to waste as much energy negotiating roots and rocks and ruts as with a 26er. Comparing equal tire/rim model wheels of 26 and 29 versions, the weight difference is less than a quarter pound. I will gladly sacrifice hauling around a quarter pound of additional wheel mass to never spin out on a climb again.
  • - 1
 I spent alot of time on 29ers. Rush? Who is rushing? Oh, okey i'm a moron because i don't think the way you do and "rush". God damn it, im so tired of 26 vs 27.5 vs 29.
One time you speak out your thought and then someone comes up with "moron".
If you want to ride a 29er, okey, ride it what makes you happy. I'll stick on my 26" because i have fun with it.

One thing:
I got a '12 Specialized Stumpjumper HT Comp (Alloy) 26" in 19" which weights 11,00kg (24.25pounds) WITH XT Pedals, Lezyne front & light, bottle holder, bottle.
'13 Specialized Stumjumper HT Comp (Alloy) 29" in 15.5" with lighter test Pedals weights 10.9kg.

Hm?
  • + 0
 Maybe you should set your rear shock up properly, then you wouldn't spin out on rough climbs. I always seem to get stuck behind some kool-aid sucking loser on a 29er on the best bits of rough downhills.
  • + 0
 Do you mean me?
  • + 0
 No deeeight. You'd have a hard job setting your rear shock Smile
  • + 0
 Haha, yes may i should weld one in Big Grin
  • + 2
 @deeeight. Points are right on in principle, but one consideration and correction about the added weight.

Even if we are talking a super light set-up, let's say Stan Crest + Conti RaceKings + tubeless, the difference between between the 26er and 29er wheels is about 3/4 of a pound. And this is all 100% rotating mass, which are by some crude mathematical estimates equivalent to 1.5 pound gain elsewhere on the bike. And let's not forget, the added rotating weight is shifted out a full 1.5 inches away from the rotating axis on a 29er, which only makes this effect worse. On an upward grade that effect enhances further in favor of lighter wheels. The weight gap only increases with burlier non-race specific wheel set-ups.
Indeed the XC world champs are on the podiums with their 29ers. But I think we need to ask if they wouldn't have been champs without 29ers. Is the added rolling advantage such a massive gain that it nullifies the weight gain? That is the claim, and it may very well be true, but there hasn't been a single statistically significant study to support it. We are all going by "Feel" and what the marketing is feeding us. It is all a mess of confounding variables, conjunctures and crude mathematical approximations. I'm not asking for a double-blind trial here, but something, ANYTHING, more convincing than "we had some random guys do some laps around some random trails on a random day, timed them, and asked their opinions". Humans beings are terribly biased and opinionated creatures.

Pro XC racers are paid to ride their 29ers. People buy 29ers because the pros ride them. The big brands make more 29ers, and so on and so on the cycle continues. People don't stop to ask say "Hey specialized, show us some of your R&D with a proper experiment with a true control group that proves your 29er claims". Well, it doesn't exist, so good thing no one asks.
  • + 1
 @ampa... I'm sorry but Racekings are NOT light tires... they're 700+ grams for even the 2.2 size. Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25s are nearly 200g lighter per tire, and the weight change from the 26 to 650B is only 35 grams and 650B to 29er versions is only another 10 grams (same casing, compound, and width). Crests are nice and all if your goal is a fragile rim, but I'd much rather go with Velocity Blunt SLs or Pacenti CL28s. The Pacenti's are 376g (26"), 394g (650B) and 424g (29er) and that's a 20mm inner width tubeless-ready rim. The increase in spoke lengths from 26 to 700C wheels adds the equivalent of about 4 spokes (at the 26" length) to the overall wheel weight. If you're starting with a light spoke like a DT Revolution that's only about 18 grams per wheel.

So... 45 grams per tire + 18 grams of spokes + 48 grams for rim = 111 grams, which is just about exactly a quarter pound. Which is what I said... a quarter pound more wheel mass... perhaps I should have been clearer but I figured leaving an "S" off the word wheel was enough for people to understand that was per each wheel.

As to Pro racers... they're actually paid to ride a brand of frame and parts... they get to pick WHICH model of a lineup they use though. They're NOT forced to ride model X because a brand needs to increase sales of that model. Several racers decided mid-2012 season to switch to 650B models even though the brands they road for didn't offer one. So they did what racers have long since done... bought some other brands's products, and blotted out any conflicting decals/stickers/paint to hide what they were using from the average non-industry folks at events. If you watched the 2012 Olympic racers, more than one rider was on a 650B with tires where the brand labels were black sharpie markered out because it conflicted with the rider's official sponsors and they were using whatever they could get their hands on even when it meant paying out of pocket themselves to get it.
  • + 2
 I would never ride a Schwalbe Racing Ralph when i can get a Conti Race King. The 2.2 and 2.25 says just a little bit of it. The 2.2 RK is pretty much same size than a 2.25 RR, if not even bigger. But i don't want to start a new discussion about tires.

Yes, they can choose (Specialized) between Epic 29" or SJ HT 29". I think they never got asked if they want to ride the 29" in the WC. 26 just dissapeard from the WC's and also in shops because end-customers like we are think automatic "oh, something new, it must be pretty good". For sure they say that the 29" are better than 26" .. they would not sell as much when they say "nah, its okey but i prefer the 26".

But the strangest thing is .. when 29" were coming the Media got crazy - "much better than 26", "29ers are the future", bla bla. They pushed them so extremely that nobody can tell me that had nothing to do with the economy. And now 26" are winning in the tests again?!
  • + 1
 @deeight... interesting wheel combo, with a surprisingly small weight difference indeed. I should look into them Not sure how wide those are but I personally like the Conti X-kings 2.4 and Crest combination because the rims are wide, and the x-kings are big volume.

In any case, still keep in mind that in order for a 29er to spin up as fast as a 26", it actually needs to be a *lighter* than the 26". All I'm saying, the math and physics of it all out on the trail is not so straight forward, which is probably the reason there isn't a single objective study out there. It could be that at the end of the day, between 26 and 29", all the pros and cons comes out as a wash.

If the pros are opting for bigger wheels out of all the options available to them, I still question if their judgment is right. Indeed a 29er feels "smoother", and maybe that comfortable feeling leads to a false sense of it also being faster, regardless of it translating to faster lap times. Or it could be that because XC racers actually spend only a small fraction of their time actually on the trails on the mountain bike, and most of it instead on their road bike training, then their perceptions are skewed because they just feel more at home on the big wheels. I am not saying they are wrong, just that no one has a good answer yet, and we still need to do our homework.

Most XC racers are also convinced that high pressures + narrow tires = lower rolling resistance. Schawlbe has been trying to convince them the exact opposite is true off-road, and they actually have solid experiments to back it up.
  • + 2
 @dirtjump.... 26" models disappeared from the world cup races because they began losing, regularly to 29" models. Previous mid-field riders who'd been on 26ers the previous year, switched to 29ers and were suddenlly getting on the podiums and consistently finishing top 10, beating otherwise better racers who's stuck to riding 26ers.

@ampa... I built my girlfriend a wheelset for her niner with crests, but only because she weighs less than 110 pounds and they were available at a local shop for cheap. They're 1mm wider internally than the CL25s but 0.6mm narrower externally. They're 44g lighter (claimed) and that shows in their durability (or rather lack of it for any but the lightest users). The shop guys said they'd never use crests themselves or build them for any buyer over 150 pounds. I certainly would never use them myself.

As to accelerating wheels... MBA actually tested that during the summer time in one of their 3-wheel size test articles, and the handful of seconds that it takes longer to get a 29er up to speed, is more than redeemed by quicker overall lap times over a course. The only time its going to actually matter in the real world is when two racers come around the last corner before the finish beside each other, and at the same speed and it becomes a sprint to the finish...and that really does not happen very often in mountain biking.

I am aware of the high-pressure nonsense amongst riders... i've been riding big volume / low pressure tire setups for over a decade for a reason.
[Reply]
  • + 10
 Even if you didnt like the "word" 650B it it what it is. Not 27,5".

That should be the first wrong to be dealt with. No more 27,5 just 650B.
  • + 2
 Or worse... 27ers as Scott bicycles, and MBA are now calling them. An OK idea in principal, since all the 650B tires are coming out as 27 and something fraction of an inch, and most 26er labeled tires (fat bikes and DH tires aside) are 26 and something fraction usually, but its too late now to introduce another term to a tire just to suit a generally dumb reader base.
[Reply]
  • + 11
 Who cares about wheelsizes, that trail looks fuuuuun!
  • + 1
 www.i-mtb.com/trail-44 this is the trail, it will probably be in the super Enduro world series.
[Reply]
  • + 7
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[Reply]
  • + 6
 Bottom line is you have to consider realistic what kind of rides you do...I was an hardcore 26er all my bike life but I changed now to a 29" hard tail because when Iam honest I do not ride that radical anymore ! :/
It´s about not kiddin yourself Wink
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  • + 6
 Being 6'4 and 220, I make 29er wheels look like 26. I always have ridden 26" wheels on full sus bikes but lately have been messing around on a 29er. It does make the bike feel a lot more proportionate to my size. I think height can be a big factor. These are just my thoughts on big wheels for general trail use, not DH or FR.
  • + 4
 I agree I'm 6'2" and just changed my Large Trek Remedy for a Large Spesh Camber Carbon 29 for riding TRAIL, i defiantly made the right choice for me (I tried demo's on all wheel sizes) Descends as well as the Remedy (40 mm less travel but the bigger wheel compensate for that over the rough stuff) it's quicker pedaling on the flat stuff and climbs better too.
I do have a DH bike as well as a road bike. the combination of the 3 bike cover all the riding I do perfectly
I'm getting a little fed up with these childish 29er are Gay comments, if you can't post a sensible constructive comment then don't bother!!!!
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  • + 5
 Nice to see someone officially sticking up for the 26" wheel. It IS all about fun, and having riden all three sizes, I definitely have the most fun on a 26" wheel. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. Whatever is the most fun for you is what you should ride!
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  • + 5
 I still don't understand why the industry is saying it can only have two wheel sizes (27.5" and 29") which was what they were saying at Taiwan Bike late last year. Apparently it's a done deal. I mean in kids bikes there are 12", 14", 16" plus 20" and 24" in BMX etc so what's the problem with having 26",27.5" and 29" ?
  • + 1
 Its not the industry for manufacturers, but for the smaller bike dealers who work with certain "big" brands and have limited space to display/stock models. Brands like specialized usually demand a dealer order a minimum number of units each year, and given that they tend to cost more that competitors with similar components, this can really hurt a smaller shop financially if they need to carry multiple tire sizes of models (and then spare parts). Or so the mentality of sales & marketing executives at brands like Specialized and Giant are trending towards.

Right now, 650B represents two niches to marketing departments of brands....

#1 Shorter stature riders who've been fed the bigger wheel = better riding knowledge but couldn't find a bigger wheel bike they comfortably fit. This is best shown with racer Nino Schurter's dominance last year, on a prototype Scott scale 650B winning silver at the olympics, the world championship, and the world cup overall. He's only 5'8" tall. For XC riders this means a whole range of 650B hardtails and XC full suspensions will be on the way.

#2 Riders unwilling to sacrifice suspension travel JUST to have a bigger wheel because fitting 29ers into existing frame fit requirements meant sacrificing wheel travel, or the ability to sell to shorter riders. This is where we will see 650B replacing 26ers in the trail bike and AM categories, and with some teams/brands, DH bikes.
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  • + 4
 Having raced on all 3 sizes, here are my personal observations. The worst thing I found with 29'ers was the rotational inertia of the wheels. Marketing Departments at the 29'er companies are great at praising the "terrain-interaction" property of the bigger wheels. The one and ONLY property they are talking about is the geometry of the larger tire as it meets the ground. YES, they are correct in that the larger tire will "interact" with bumpy terrain because it doesn't fall into holes between bumps as far as a smaller tire. This if 100% true. Notice I said "interact" previously instead of "roll". Once an object is rolling, there are laws of physics that come into play. Bike wheels have a certain weight to them. Rolling bike wheels have rotational inertia. When I built-up my 29'er, I built it with wheels that were actually lighter than my 26" wheels (heavy 26" UST tires versus light race tires on the 29). Overall lighter wheels but still felt a LOT harder to spin up. Being a math major, I knew the physics going on here. The formula for Rotational Inertia (or Moment of Inertia) = mass * R squared. R being the distance the mass is from the rotating axis. Because the R is squared, changes in this dimension have a big impact were as changes in mass do not. The Kenda Nevegal is available in all 3 sizes: 26", 650b, and 29". I chose this tire because it comes in all 3 sizes, and it's a "real" tire(more on this later), and the exact same construction/tread across all 3 sizes. The weight of these tires are approx 610grams, 650grams, and 833grams respectually.
  • + 2
 Outer rotational mass. Larger wheels have greater outer rotational mass. How does this equate to riding?. The greater the outer rotational mass the more energy needed to get the wheel rolling during acceleration. Larger size wheels take more energy when you are on rough ground with climbing/ decending sections.
If I was on a trail that was a smooth and had gradual climbs then I would opt. for larger wheels.
I ride trails that are chunky. If im on black diamond trails Im certain 26 inch hoops are a better choice.
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  • + 4
 Whoever said 27.5" wheels are pointless, said the same thing about 29ers when they came out...if they were old enough to remember.

It's good we have 3 sizes! For me, a tweener wheel rider (650b), I won't go back to 26" except for maybe DJ, DH, 4x, etc. gravity orientes bikes, but for trail, xc, even all mountain, having a slightly bigger wheel REALLY does the difference, and 27.5", FOR ME, for my height, style, etc. fits the bill completely!

I'm a short dude, have short-ish legs, and wouldn't really benefit riding a 29er....I don't really see the advantage. But thats just me. If niner bikes want to say even 4 feet girls fit 29ers by all means go ahead, for my taste, I don't really think so.

Riding 650b/27.5" bikes really brought back a whole new, fresh feel to biking! It helps me gain momentum way better than 26" bikes, it climbs better, it downhills better. I guess a 29er does those things better, it just doesn't really fit my body geometry, and I don't really like the looks of small frame with monster wheels.

You haters jumping on bandwagons just for the "fashion" side of things, should really try things, really get to know bikes and how things work before badmouthing new tech. My 2 cents Smile
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  • + 4
 I grew up racing BMX on 20" bikes. Then I got into Mt. Biking and loved the suspension and bigger wheels. I would consider myself a Freerider that can also pedal well on xc trails...I have a Kona Stinky for the big stuff, and a Kona Tanuki for a trail bike, both 26" bikes. So I recently bought a Kona Honzo 29er and LOVE this bike! It is a back to basics hardtail cromoly frame with 120mm of travel up front. This bike jumps so well and rips through the tight singletrack...i find myself just plowing over stuff instead of carefully weaving thorugh the rocks. It feels like you keep your speed up and go much faster but I will never give up my 26" bikes...it's fun no matter what you ride!
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  • + 6
 Over time there will be a rebellious move back to 24", then to 20" MTBs to increase the challenge and more importantly, confuse the consumer further.
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  • + 5
 i would like to have a 26-inched DH/FR bike, a 650B long travel enduro machine, and a 29-er to roll through forests for relaxation. Would be my dream combo.
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  • + 3
 You are totally wrong. I think that 2X is the best size, because it is what I feel comfortable with. So I will make up whatever reasons to try to convince you that you should ride my size, otherwise I will think that you are either gay or resistant to change and progress. My size is the best also because it is what my bike is, and no way I could afford to buy another bike. There you have it.
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  • + 3
 I feel like a disclaimer is needed for wheel size debates:

A 26" wheel has many of its short comings eliminated when you give it dual suspension.
It will also be more responsive to said dual suspension.
The wheel debate belongs on the hardtail side of MTB. There bigger wheels will give you advantages.


I know that doesn't sell bikes.

I do think that for sizing options or different options, it is a great viable choice.

Note to the author : excellent use of putting a ~ in front of the logic around why bigger wheels are better.
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  • + 2
 "However, on the descent section, according to Strava, I was much faster on the XX, which was the first run when I was riding blind."

Where XX equals the bike you want to see win this shootout. Regardless of how scientific this shootout was, I doubt a single person will have their mind changed from the bike they have emotional/financial attachments to after reading this "scientific" article.

My point is that nobody really gives a crap about science. They do give a crap about what's cool this week. In a few years some bored bike engineer will make a good case (read: pads his/her white paper with gobbledygook that means everything in the lab and nothing on the trail) for having a 26" rear wheel and a 24" front wheel, and we'll start this ridiculous roller-coaster all over again.

I call this the Jones Bicycle Effect: Blind someone with a bunch of pretentious curves and useless data, and you end up spending more time talking at the trailhead than actually riding your bike.
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  • + 2
 News flash 650b has been around for over 120 years . european companies have been making 650b bikes since late 1800s . the first pure off road touring bikes used them since the 1920's they were around before 650c wheels (modern 26inch) became the norm . Look into cycling history and you will see that it the US market that kills most ideas for how bikes should be designed . 700c wheels were always proposed for off road use but due to the US not having the tyres to fit the idea was rejected.
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  • + 2
 More options is never a bad thing. Some people dont like change and will never try out the new stuff just out of principle. And yes, the newer bigger wheeled bikes are more expensive. But since when is new stuff not expensive?

Thank you PINKBIKE for doing an article like this! I enjoyed the read and enjoyed your opinions on the different wheels and the reasons for them. And love how it got the trolls all rowelled up! lol
  • + 1
 But in terms of different sizes/standards, more options can be a bad thing in the end. A manufacturer can only make so many different products, because they have to make money on them.

Let's take tyres as an example, if you have to make 3 different sizes of one tyre to bring it to market, you've got 3 amounts of R&D/production lines/resources devoted to that one type of tyre. If there were 2, or 1 wheel size you were required to make, you could make 3 different types of tyre instead, leading to more REAL choice for the customer (you don't make a choice on your tyres based on your wheelsize, you buy-in to the wheel size and the illusion of choice beyond that point disappears). Alternatively, that company that was making 3 sizes of the same tyre now just has to make one size, which is cheaper for the company, and with competition from other companies, the prices of tyres come down, meaning better prices for the customer.
  • + 1
 Everyone sounds like an expert all of the sudden. Coming from an owner of a small business i can tell you this, if a company has the resources and the funds to expand to as many products as possible, thats money in the bank. Two tires here, a tire there, another size of tire everywhere and the company is trickling money in from everything they are selling. So limiting your products to one wheel size would actually be a huge hinderance to a business in which having these different wheel options is important not only to expand the business but to compete and give choices to the customer.

These three wheels exist because they are great at doing things. Just like an SUV may be good at going over rough terrain, a sedan car may be good at a long cruise on the interstate, and a sports car may be good at going fast on the twisties. You pick which you like best, you buy that specific product and you enjoy its benefits. Why are bikes any different?

I like that i have these choices and as a MTB you should appreciate that the sport is more then just doing one style of riding.
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  • + 2
 Having replaced my 140mm travel 26" wheel commencal meta 5.5 with a 110mm travel 29" wheel Specialized camber I recon find the 29er more "flickable" on the trails. The big wheels allow me to have less suspension, and what suspension i have set much harder whilst still having the same irreverence towards rocks and roots as the longer travel 26er, but the stiffer suspension allows me to push the bike harder into things and giving me more feel of the trail making it easier to "pop" off things. That said Metas are renowned for being flexy and I do need to rebuild my rear wheel far to often for my liking.
  • + 2
 Metas are light duty randoneurs. Rims and spokes on Meta are bargainbasement. Supremes are heavy duty. 110 or 140mm travel is fine for DJ but not nearly enough for safe and relaxing freeride or dh.
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  • + 3
 I think it's a case of creating something for the sake of change, as Jonathan Ross recently said to Jamie Oliver 'I have a revolutionary improvement on your 15-minute meal programme, I am launching 14-minute meals"!
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  • + 2
 I personally prefer 26" The wheel is lighter and you always want rotating mass to be lighter. Also in my opinion, 29" wheels just look really goofy. I took a pinkbike poll asking what size wheels I ride and was surprised to see the results of the survey showing a vast majority here in pinkbike riding 26", and when I say vast majority, I mean an overwhelming vast majority ride 26" I sersiouly doubt 29" will be the new standard despite the fact most bike makers are offering them. Its a fad that within 5-7 years will fade and 29ers will be stuck with bikes in which it'll be increasingly difficult finding tires for them. And when you do find 29" tires 5-7 years from now, they will be very expensive.
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  • + 2
 Part 2. Here are some Moment of Inertia calculations on these 3 different tires (the rotational inertia of the rim and spokes is being ignored here since it is minimal). The Moment of Intertia for these 3 tires is approx 66.5gm2, 76gm2, and 113gm2 (grams meters squared). Notice there is small difference between the 26' and 650b, but a huge difference going to the 29er. This is that R squared thing kicking in. Back to the "real" tire comment I made above. I consider a "real" tire one that I can ride the local trails with, works well in most terrain wet or dry. I can rip the local bike park with it AND race on it. A do-it-all tire. I don't keep mutiple wheels sets around with different tires for different things. I need a do-it-all tire and ones that durable enough to handle it. Notice that the Moment of Inertia is only slightly higher for the 650b tire than the 26" and it's the same great tire, same great tread pattern I like, and the size. Now look at the 29er". It's almost double the 26" tire. Now of course this is for a real tire, sized up to 29" diamter. If 29er bikes had tires like this on them in the bike shop, it would feel so heavy during the "parking lot" test that nobody would buy them. That's why they have "29'er specific" tires. These are typically smaller (2.0 vs 2.1 and bigger for 26"), have lighter casings, and thinner rubber with a race tread pattern. The pro's you see winning races are on these, and the bikes in the bike shops come something like this.
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  • + 2
 www.justridingalong.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wheel_size_illus1.gif

Clearly shows... 29'er = 700c, well that is a road bike.
but...
The OD of a "normal" if that exists 26" MTB tyre is 673mm, well a road tyre is 670mm... well aint they just the same
The OF of a 650B tyre is 698mm, a CX tyre is 700mm.... well aint they just the same.

So what does that mean...
MTB re-invented the wheel, they made the rim OD smaller, put a bigger tyre on and made... well something the same size as a road tyre.
Then there is 650B, the answer to the 29'er problems, well that is a CX tyre, so 650B re-invents cyclocross.... cyclocross is XC with tighter rules (looks more fun too).

In the end of the day they are all wheels, every time someone ties to re-invent the wheel, they keep coming up with the same solution, they just sell it by sticking a bigger tyre on a smaller rim.
26"=Road
650B=CX

29" .... well the circus has bikes with big funny wheels... haha
i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01854/circus-bike_1854103i.jpg
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  • + 2
 If 29a where where a standard sise that we all grew up rideing then this debate would be the other way round and we all would be saying 26 is crap. I think buying a bike is a hard enough thing as it is. I do strongly say get out and demo a 29a before you buy one it could be a very costly mistake otherwise . Keep it simple and your pockets will jingle lol
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  • + 2
 When Mtbing started cruiser tyres were the most suitable and there was a tiny market for any MTB. There are now millions of mountain bikers around the world and the market is huge and growing. The way industry works is that it will grow to match demand. There are lots of companies sharing the pie. As the market grows it splits into specialized disciplines. As these disciplines grow their market grows. Companies will try to gain market share by introducing products that give them an advantage over the competition. This leads to new standards and new ideas. Some new standards are adopted by the market and some are not. Usually this is because of suitability to the application. Sometimes by marketing. At the end of the day the broadening range of products and standards are a sign of the size of the market. We should be happy with all the new standards as this shows that our sport/hobby/pastime is growing. You can now select a bike that suits your trails, riding style and body geometry. Discuss the pros and cons of each new standard or innovation with out buying into the marketing and this will become a rational debate instead of the opinion fest it is now.
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  • + 2
 part 3. The pro's you see winning races are on these, and the bikes in the bike shops come something like this. I wouldn't recommend doing downhill runs at your local ski resort with these. Using the same Moment of Intertia(MOI) formula, we can find out exactly how light a 29'er tire would need to be to have the same moment of interia as a 26" tire. Using the MOI of the Kenda Nevegal 26*2.1 at 66.5gm2 as the target, a 29" tire would have to weight 490grams to spin up like the 26" wheel. If you repeated the laps on the 29er and 800+ gram tires, you may get completly different results. At the end of the day, this is just my opinion. I eventually settled on a 26" FS bike, converted to 650b wheels. No crazy compensated geometry, no super-light tires to worry about, standard mtb triple ring still works (they don't work with 29, that's why they created the new 2-ring setups). Similar flick-ability of the 26, some of the benefits of a larger wheel, without the the draw-backs of the way larger wheel.
  • + 1
 formerxcpro you are absolutely right! Very rational argument, not the kind the bike manufacturers are using these days.
  • + 1
 formerxcpro, you make inertia sound like a BAD thing. Inertia can be your friend. I know that 29er wheels are slower to accelerate, but they are slower to DECELERATE too.

Just as they roll better over things and over depressions, they also decelerate slower than a 26" when the going gets choppy because of their extra inertia. And rolling along at a higher speed means I can spend less energy on going fast.
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  • + 2
 So, he got to go riding in a cool place we mostly won't/can't and justified it by writing an article espousing his biases that he held before he wrote the article, since he was clearly in no condition to judge and did a completely subjective analysis. Bike journalism in a nutshell. Probably got a bunch of free schwag to boot.
  • + 1
 only thing free they got was a rock shox water bottle, because sram left it behind...
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  • + 2
 By the way. Just because they call 650b "27.5", that does't mean it's 27.5" and its not half way between 26 and 29. Look up the ISO bead seat dimensions of a 26" rim, a 650b rim, and a 29" rim. 26" rim is 559mm, 650b is 584mm and 29er is 622mm. 650b is 1/3 of the way between 26 and 29. That is 1" diameter bigger, not 1.5" like most assume based on the inaccurate 27.5 name. My 650b wheel with a 2.1 Kenda Nevegal is exactly 1" larger diameter than my 26" wheel with a 2.1 Kenda Nevegal. That is exactly 1/2" larger radius. That's why most 26" frames and 26" suspension forks can be ran with 650b wheels. I have won cross country races on all 3 sizes. 26" is and will always be the best climbing and best in super tight single track but has it's limitations in super fast bumpy stuff. The 29'er rules on smoother, faster, non-technical stuff, and coasting downhill, but is a handfull when there is a lot of steep climbs and tight singletrack. 650b does a good job of splitting the difference. Nico Shurter is winning World Cups with it.
  • + 3
 @formerxcpro...

The 27.5" moniker came about on the mtbr forums five years ago because when trying to explain the 650B to new people, the only tire then available was the Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3 which at 27.71" inflated diameter wasnt exactly a number easily compared to the other two "sizes" which were rounded off to the nearest LOWER whole number, so we (we being the lot of the forum who were already riding 650B bikes) just started rounding down to the closest half inch (because we were closer to 27.5 than we were to 28"). From the mtbr forums it spread into the greater bike industry, magazines included. Americans tend to go with 27.5 because its in inches and they hate using anything even vaguely metric system oriented or at all related to the french. Europeans and canadians on the other hand, usually have no problem with calling it 650B. If we'd known five years on that folks would be quibbling over fractions as to which way the tires came out closer to, we'd never had bothered to do it. We'd just have said "its in between".
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  • + 2
 Matt,

1. How exactly was the geometry "corrected"? This seems like an interesting topic for tech article in itself.
2. Why not correct the gearing at the front single from bike to bike? (e.g. 36T on 26", 34T on 27.5" and 32T on 29")?
3. I agree all bikes should have had same wheels (carbon or aluminum)

Never the less, this is the most scientific evaluation I've seen so far and I'm sure they ALL were fun to ride. Thanks.
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  • + 2
 None of the above, I am using 24" wheelset best decision I have ever made...negative side my BB dropped at least 2inches but configuring my rear shocks for sag compensated my riding style....honestly speaking it depends who is riding what ever size of wheelset as long as you can make the most out of your bike/riding, and as long as you are comfortable your choice. maybe 26-27.5-29 best for you but not for me. try before you buySmile
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  • + 4
 I'm sure that 27.1276535567788" wheels are the best. I just need to find the right marketing bull$hit to make you believe Smile
And define another useless "standard"
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  • + 2
 Iv'e been to France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, UK, Wales, US, Canada. I always bring my 26 for the techy gnarl stuf. At home, in Denmark, it's flat and pretty boring and I must admit that the 29'er does pretty well for that kind of riding. The flat stuf. So I would say that the wheelsize is more about the terrain you ride. I like both, and people should be nice and shut their little pieholes until they do a 5 meter double or stepdown on a 29'er. It's easy to be a hater. I got smoked at this years Mega avalanche by a German on a Niner fully, a guy on a Sandman fatbike, a guy on a SS hardtail ie. 29'ers, fatbikes and singlespeed is SO GAY!!!
  • + 2
 I've done a kicker to downslope that was over 30feet on my bandit 29er. No troubles.
  • + 0
 29'ers are totally gay when doing 30ft steepdowns. :-)
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  • + 2
 My Strava results on my own bikes agrees with Matt's findings - 26" is faster once the trail points downhill. On a loop, 29" is faster. I've been logging miles and data for close to a year now over thousands of kilometres of some of the world's best XC trails.

As a fellow racer once told me - "I only race for fun... and it is more fun when you win." I'll keep my 26" for DJ and pump track, but my race and trail bikes are being replaced with 29ers.

The XC trails here in Canberra Australia are not technical enough to warrant a 26", even though they are twistier than anything I found in North America. On 99% of the corners the 29er corners as fast or faster than a 26".

This article neglects the increase in grip that 29ers provide. And they do. Corners I used to love drifting on my 26" are much harder to drift on the 29er (same tires).
  • + 3
 29ers only have more grip in a overly simplified theoretical model. For instance, 26ers typically have more suspension. More suspension keeps tires in contact with the ground better... or at least it can depending on the goals of your suspension tuning. The inability to drift likely has more to do with a combination of factors including geometry, size, and suspension... not some theoretical increase in traction from an isolated analysis of contact patch size.
  • + 1
 My 29 bike drifts very pleasantly thanks. It took me a while to be able to drift it until I discovered how fast you had to go and how hard you actually had to throw the bike over to get near the limits.
  • + 1
 There's no question that two of the exact same bikes with different wheel sizes will cut loose at different times. The 29 will be superior with traction 100% of the time because of the larger contact patch. Suspension definitely makes a difference as you stated dfiler, however the larger contact patch makes a huge difference.
  • + 1
 dfiler, the difference in grip is not theoretical. It is apparent when you ride the same trail on a 29 after riding it on 26. And others above agree.
  • + 1
 Yes the differences in grip is very noticeable. One of my mates enjoyed making fun of my 29 so I let him have a ride down a loose track. I still remember the blank stare he gave me afterwards. He just said: now I get it.
  • + 1
 It's so funny that people think 26" are faster on rougher trails when the opposite is the case. A 26" would be the way to go if all trails were pumptrack smooth, unfortunately they're not.
  • + 1
 ^^^ Finally! Someone said it. The fastest rougher rootiest bits that are normally only fun on a dh bike suddenly become enjoyable. The funny part is when people try to keep up with you.
  • + 1
 panaphonic, that may be part of the problem of the perception of 29ers being inferior on technical trails. Two reasons:
1. They feel smoother so perhaps people think they aren't going as fast because they are not being shaken to death
2. People WANT to be able to interpret and use the bumps and roots on a trail. I don't think this is impossible on a 29er, but it is a bit harder (harder to manual, for a start).
  • + 1
 Pumping and popping off stuff is just as easy on a good 29", you're just going faster. People who say they aren't fun must be slow. That's the only conclusion I can come to.
  • + 1
 I've just hopped on the 29er wagon with a warranty replacement of my 26er and I have to admit, quite disappointingly, that the 29er is much faster and on my local trails handles all the rough stuff really well, but............ it's nowhere near as fun to ride as the 26er was.

The 29er doesn't feel as grippy, but that could in effect be just 'feel'. The 26er also 'feels' faster on the downs, but since I don't really care about those shaved off seconds I'm not really interested in measuring the out and out speed gains and/or losses. The 29er is considerably heavier, 1.1kg with exact replacement wheels (haven for haven) and fork (revelation for revelation), and also considerably more flexy, which may be contributing to the dead feel. Oh, and before anyone complains further about the possible apples and oranges comparison, both frames were current model Intense Spiders, 26 and 29.

In my opinion, it's all about what you like, what you want and how you like to ride, it's up to the individual so everybody with some super heavy opinion on what others should like/want/ride needs to just chill out and focus on themselves for a bit. Ride what you want to ride, period.

And when it comes time to replace this new 29er I'll be switching back to a 26 inch bike.
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  • + 1
 Matt's article indicates that he does not have internet access and doesn't talk to riders IRL either. That's the only explanation I can think of for him not knowing that most of the 'new school' 29ers don't come in a small enough size for many riders, or, if they do, make some weird geo compromises in order to do so. He also didn't address the strength:weight and flex:weight ratio issue that non-carbon 29er wheels tend to have. I guess he achieved his goal though of intentionally ignoring the overall pro/con arguments so he could come up with a 'controversial' conclusion and get hits on the internet. btw I have 6 26ers and 3 29ers.
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  • + 1
 This whole debate makes choosing my new bike choice a pain. I have an 18 year old 26" mtb that I want to replace this year with a new slack / aggressive steel hardtail. Most of what I am reading is some sort of personal defense on why their bike is the best and something else sucks rather than pointing at the real truths. I test rode a specialized evo 29er with limited time on a smooth trail yesterday and the only 2 things that I noticed were it took a little more effort to get it going and when pointing down a steeper bumpy section it was confidence inspiring. I test rode a yeti 575 650b in a bike park and the things that I noticed were how fun and playful it was, also it was confidence inspiring, and once in a slower technical section I noticed it felt a touch clumsy for a moment. At the moment it feels like the bike industry is in a mad dash to control the 650b market more than they are really trying to figure out who can best benefit from having one. I know that I can be happy on any bike because I have no doubt that they are all fun with strengths and weaknesses. I miss the playfulness of my bmx bike as a kid but like the way the 29er seems to smooth the trail. I like how quick my trek 930 26er gets up to speed but don't like how it feels like the front is glued to the ground. I don't bomb downhill and I don't race XC so maybe they made the 650b for me. Hard to know for sure with all the chatter going to go test a kona explosif today wish I could take it into the mountains.
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  • + 1
 I'm sure someone has pointed this out previously, but honestly, why aren't these "biased" tests conducted on tracks which are well known by the rider? I can tell you that anyone who rides a mtn bike on a regular basis will be faster the 3rd time down a trail than the first time they go down it. It comes down to knowledge of the trail and knowing "how tight the next corner is," or "how far is that drop," or "do I make a right or a left at the fork in the trail," etc.
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  • + 1
 one thing occoured to me, how much choice do we have when it comes to bikes now, between 3 wheel sizes, hardtails, 4,5,6,7,8 inch travel and how many different manufacturers and thats before we concider spec options!! the chance of finding that one bike you like the look of most in all that jumble is next to none!!

yes i know we dont really have any 29er 8 inch bikes on the market (yet)
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  • + 1
 This has been an endless debate for me, reading internet posts daily for a year now..... Finally though, I found a way to end my internal (and I suspect yours too) debate: I went out and bought a 29er. See, no more worrying about the size of my wheels.
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  • + 1
 After much debate, Im starting to let go of the 650B concept! I like my 26in Reign X, Ive debated getting rid of it as the 27.5 wave has hit very hard. However, Something is always wrong when I look at a bike I like and am told its wrong! I tried to believe it was the wrong bike. And believed because of the holes those 26inch wheels sunk into! However, my real concern was tire choice and air pressure. Possibly, going tubeless and an xc rugged tire may change the game for me on this bike; change how I view a frustration I thought a bigger tire size might solve.

I believe the wave hitting the industry;650b, makes it easier to build full suspension bikes and smooth the trial a bit for the new comer. If I know how to ride a trial, I believe any bike size is fine.

I feel creepy letting go of the 650b shoot out! looks like I lost! Im not part of the wave anymore! I have my answer. Im not a new rider, so I don't get to participate!
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  • + 1
 I've been riding MTB since '89, I''ve seen A WHOLE LOT of "trendy-tech" stuff (remember bio-pace?), In 2000 I switched to full time single-speed bikes (I'm not saying that everyone has to do that), after 13 years as a SS rider I'm absolutely convinced that my way is what makes happier. This discussion is clearly one way or another make someone richer, and I mean the MTB industry, which is OK, but what I've seen in all these long years is that no matter what I put on my bike, what I really enjoy is going for a ride as often as I can, so as an old dog I don't care much about what new (hot) tech is someone trying to sell, instead I care a lot about the existence of this kind of discussion, when is clearly a matter of taste or need or whatever floats your boat...Point is, one can loose the meaning of "having fun" if the only thought is what nice new gadget (or technology) is available to buy.
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  • + 1
 I know I am late posting this, but here is my take on this topic. 650B is being pushed by some in the industry looking to gain a foothold. If you are a niche brand, it is hard to break through with either 26" or 29" product. The 650B/ 27.5" market is not crowded, yet. The problem for all riders is that adding another tire size will either reduce the options available in the current wheel size(s), or drive up prices, or most likely some of both. More engineering costs, more tire molds, more inventory costs, etc all gets passed on to all of us. People should ride what they like, not what they are told to ride. Having been in the industry for over 30 years, I have seen too many people turned off from cycling by the snobs who belittle whatever you choose/can afford to ride. It should be about riding, not buying,bikes. I personally hope 650B goes away. 26 and 29 are enough.
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  • + 1
 i think the "its personal preference" and "stop debating just go ride", could just be a given at this point. If you are sick of this debate why even click on the article. I for one still think its interesting to read about people who have access to such a comparison, and what their personal conclusions were.
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  • + 1
 Pretty spot on review. I started out with a SC Blur XC which I converted into a 650B. It made the bike faster since I could more easily roll over rocks but it raised the bottom bracket which made it feel more dissociated from the trail. I now own a Tallboy and there's absolutely no comparison with the 650B Blur XC. Keep in mind that my inseam is 37" so I'm the perfect candidate for a 29'er.

If anyone is interested I'm selling my 650B Flow rims and tires.
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  • + 1
 I've owned my bandit 29 for 6 months now. Soon after I bought it I thought that I had made a terrible mistake. The bike make one of my favourite trails feel boring. After a while I started to push it harder and faster but there was something strange about riding this bike fast. It wasn't giving me any warning signs telling me to slow down. If I could keep the bike leaned over in the corners it fells like there was no limit to how fast I could ride it except for my ability to place the bike on the trail coming out of corners. it didn't take long till I was whipping and flicking the bike around like a 26. I even found my confidence in the air increasing. I went from doing 10 foot jumps max to doing 30 foot plus jumps. I've even re-learnt to ride with flat pedals and had a few top 3 results at local super d events. My bandit pedals amazingly well and smooths out some of the really rough local tracks nicely. With a chainguide and a clutch derailer it descends silently. I couldn't be happier with my 29er.
  • + 1
 I still enjoy riding mates 26 inch bikes and would own another one again go a heartbeat. My next new/expensive bike however will probably be a 650B as I'm always looking to try something new. I find it funny how so many people seem to think they know so much about 29ers when they don't own one. Oh well, more fun for me then!
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  • + 1
 The testers seemed to be proud of the fact they they used similar bikes so that the bike geometry would be "nuetral" in the the test. Then, on the very factor they were testing--the wheels, two of the wheel sets were carbon and one was not! WTF? Why wouldn't you at least keep this part of the test constant? Why not make them all alloy rims if you couldn't find carbon ones in the 27.5. I am a high school science teacher and if this experiment had been designed by a 9th grader, I would have given the experiment a "C" grade (at best) because of the failure to maintain the basic constants in a laboratory design.
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  • + 1
 this is just the start of the industry's push for 650B. compare and contrast first to make it look objective, then just say it's the best of both worlds, while still catering to the popular opinion (26ers). You dont have to major in marketing to see right through this.
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  • + 2
 Yesterday went riding downhill for about 3hours then went riding bmx indoor park for 3hours it was a awesome day of riding who gives a shit on what wheel size you ride......(LET'S RIDE)
  • + 1
 What's up with the pillow fight?
  • + 0
 Hahahaha, well, I'm bored now. Bye-bye.
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  • + 1
 I want to tell you why bikes on big wheels go very badly. Before going to the big summer 1700-km journey from Moscow to the Crimea was possible to pass on the new bike just eight miles outside his home. Already during the first visit noticed how much heavier accelerates niner than conventional 26-inch mountain biking, but the joy of owning a new thing overshadowed all sorts of fears. As an assembly, I was sure, the bike was collecting for himself and he is a long journey I never failed.
However, it is considerably larger wheels slowed my movement across the expanses of Ukraine. If the old 26» bike Atom I easily overcame 210-220 km per day, the average mileage niner was only 90-100 km. New bike simply refuses to go fast! Maximum speed rested against the 22 km / h, and for no longer had the strength - wind resistance is not felt, it is not enough leg power to spin the wheel with great arm drag. While at the same time I can easily for a long time could keep the speed at 28 km / h on a level highway and full calm.
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  • + 1
 There is so much focus on which wheel size works best, but I don;t hear enough about how the wheel sizes can help everyone with frame sizing. This is a big issue for the folks who sell the bikes in the first place. Instead of debating which wheel size is best, consider that wheel size can define both ride category and frame size/fit/geometry.
This way most everyone will be able to find a bike that works best for them. It's much better than trying to stretch the boundaries of a wheel size like trying to make 29ers for DH. There's no perfect wheel size for everyone, just let people test for themselves and pick the one they like best.
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  • + 1
 As you mentioned in the article, 3 runs is not a good sample, so it really comes down to preference. The last run might have been fastest because you had already run the loop twice and had a better idea of lines to take. It might be interesting to do the same test again on different trails while riding the bikes in a different order and see how that changes your opinion and the lap times.
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  • + 1
 what does "wheel corrected geometry' mean? I would assume the smaller the wheel the slacker the head angle in order to make a better comparison. If all head angles are the same though the bigger wheels are more likely to be faster down hill. Is BB height the same off the ground on all bikes, or the same relative to axle height?
Geometry is the single most important aspect of a bike and these numbers arent supplied so its difficult to see if this was a valid test or not.

Oh and for the record Im getting very bored of reading about 29er bikes. Im sure in another decade once everyone is riding 29ers, we will be resold 26ers as the new best thing offering 'better handling, more playful etc etc". Same thing happened in the kitesurf industry.
  • + 1
 Wheel-corrected geometry" refers to the fact that, to get three bikes with different wheel diameters to handle in a similar manner, each requires a different head angle, fork offset and front-center. The smaller wheel turns in sharper than a larger one at the same lean angle, which is why 29ers work better with much steeper head angles than 26ers. The longer chainstay of the 29er requires a shorter front center to keep the wheelbase from growing too long. All those factors also apply to the 650B bike as well. The bottom bracket height must be kept at a similar height across the three diameters, so simply throwing 650B wheels onto a 26er will not optimize the performance of the larger wheel. The resulting taller bottom bracket will cause the bike to drive the front end into successive bumps, creating a rougher ride. Finally, shorter rear-wheel travel on the 29er is a compromise that allows the maker to better balance the 29er's steering and cornering feel because it does not require the designer to ruin the performance of the bike by grossly extending the chainstay length, steepening the seat tube angle and raising the handlebar height in order to accommodate equal suspension travel to the 27.5 and 26 inch designs. The bikes used in this test were optimal for a cross-wheel discussion because of their moderate suspension travel and common purpose as trailbikes.
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  • + 3
 I like seeing these kind of comparisons. Especially with a nearly identical test fleet. Great article and I think I will test a 650 before I rush to the store to buy one.
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  • + 1
 Sooner or later the industry will have to shrink the options in wheel size, it's expensive to produce and stupid for sales to insecure clients. 29" is safe i guess, but either 26" or 27" will extinguish, my bet is the smaller one will go. Why? Just imagine your local bike shop trying to sell the three options, there's the big one, the small one and the one in the middle that brings all the good but non of the bad stuff. It's a cheap argument (and invalid in my opinion) but you can hear it everywhere these days...
  • + 6
 You can't say that 27.5/650B brings all of the good and none of the bad because it is half-way to the disadvantages of a 29er. Ride a 20" on a BMX track and then go back to a 26" and it will feel like a slug.

Will one wheel size go? Does one have to go?

This may end up being a size thing: XL and Large bikes could be 29", M could be 650B, and Small could be 26". No-one walks a six year old int a shop and asks for a bike that is too small or large because the parent cares about how it steers: no, the bike is purchased based on the kid's size.

Or it could be an end-use thing: 29" for marathon and XC racing, 650B for trail/AM, and 26" for DH and DJ.
  • + 1
 No you can't but people do, the media does, the bike shop people do... Relevant people for selling a bike Wink

Will one size go? YES, definitely. Why? Because it's way cheaper to produce parts in mass. It's expensive to engineer one bike model in three different wheel sizes. More options makes it more difficult to sell a bike (sounds weird eh?).

But hey i might as well be wrong. Enjoy your ride (on whatever wheel size)!
  • - 3
 no! Danny Macaskill is still on 24"
  • + 1
 Everything is sold in multiple sizes. Seriously, does it confuse you that shoes and cars come in more than two sizes?

Bike shops won't limit their selection. Instead they'll carry everything and suggest that customers can buy multiple bikes if they get really into riding.
  • + 1
 ^^ Agreed. I remember when 29ers and 650Bs each came out 'people' said it was a fad and they would die. Well, they ain't dying that quickly.
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  • + 1
 I am slightly surprised no one has gone to 26" rear / 27.5" front combo.
As it has been mentioned, several bikes in the past had 26" fronts w/ a 24" rear.
With the availability of tires like the Hans Dampf and HR2 in 27.5, why not get a bit more grip and roll over up front and maintain a light (relatively speaking) rear wheel w/ short stays?
  • + 1
 I rode that combo for awhile while I worked out clearance issues in the rear triangle for the bigger 650b rear wheel. Worked great.
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  • + 2
 Personally I can't wait until 28.25ers come out in 2014! I have no idea how you guys ride 26ers, 27ers and 29ers when 28.25 is soooooo obviously the optimum wheel size for all bikes and all people!
  • + 2
 That would be 650a. Yes, they should have standardized on it instead of 650b.
  • + 2
 In Canada we'll call it 650eh!
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  • + 4
 Most people who bitch about 29ers have never tried one! Don't knock it till you've tried it....
  • + 4
 I tried it and I'm knocking it. 26" bikes are way more fun on the downs, and that is the reason I ride bikes is to have fun going downhill. All my friends who have tried them felt the same...
  • + 2
 I'm one of those friends who've tried them and feel exactly the same. Knock knock.
  • + 2
 Phf! What do you know about bikes, Danny? I bet you can't even do an awesome skid.
  • + 4
 danny, ride a stumpjumper evo 29 and report back. Not as fun as my DH bike, but damn close.
  • + 4
 I agree with Steve Jones when he said that it takes ages to change your riding style to a 29. Also I believe the advantages of 29 become more apparent when you start to push the bike closer to the limit. If you ride slow the bike will own you.
  • + 0
 Panaphonic.... That is the exact opposite of what we found. 29ers are great for weak riders who need the help climbing and rolling over some technical terrain. Those who like to shred hard and play on bikes are the ones that aren’t liking them. I ride a nomad everywhere (40km XC rides and the Whistler Bike park). I am regularly the only guy on a trail bike when everyone else shows up on downhill bikes. I’m pretty comfortable pushing the bikes to their limits. Some jumping: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkW5EfxqL2Q and sometech: www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-XtqmS_B30
  • + 1
 Lol at 5:13 in the 2nd vid. Ride Don't Slide in the wet brings a whole new dimension.
Makes me wish for the snow to melt so we can hit that again, especially now that the skiing is crap.
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  • + 1
 Between the three sizes I think the decision for a rider will depend on the rider's style and terrain. With 1.5 inches, the feel will be different which means that it will boil down to how the rider wants the bike to respond on particular terrain. Having ridden 26's since late 80's and recently switching to a 29er, the bike really feels completely different however when it comes to all out speed, the gains really come due to the terrain and my style.

The question I have isn't one of preference...I do not think anyone will be able to say 100% which is best between the three rather...will all three become a viable option or will the industry lean towards having that separation between a 26 and a 29? What is comes down to is...do we need a "medium" option? Only time/sales figure will tell I suppose.
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  • + 0
 All three of my 29er's are boring. I'm going to throw them away and buy 27.1??'s because all of the trade rags and web sites say it is so... NOT!

I have FS, HT and rigid steel 29er's and all three operate effectively. Size zealotry just isn't my thing; quite possibly for other reasons related to TACKLE hahahah.
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  • + 0
 I wish they compared and tested the bikes doing more than just flying down some random hill. Why not try it on some technical single track trail with ups and down roots and rocks to go up and over. Why not some big obstacles to clear both uphill and downhill? some of the trails in my area have really tight technical climbs show me which bike handles it better! I have a lot of respect for DH riders but there is more to MTBing than how fast you roll down.
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  • + 2
 When is spesh coming out with a 29" front/26" rear just like the old big hit combo (26 front/24" rear)? lol, Just go ride what you want...
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  • + 0
 Nobody's opinion here counts. 27.5 is the industry trying to keep the market growing. 26in wheeled bikes are pretty saturated. They keep getting lower and slacker but that isn't driving the sales. Plus, lower and slacker is what experienced riders want; it isn't what beginners need.

29in bikes help the novice stay upright. But 29in bikes are not all inclusive as shorter people don't fit well. Plus 29er market is getting pretty saturated as well.

27.5 is the logical way forward. In a way. The sales will dictate the future of the 'tweener wheel not the opinions here.

In a way the debate over the wheel size is akin to the debate over hardtail vs full suspension. There is clearly room for all.
  • + 1
 Beginners should not ride 29ers. Once a 29ers is up and rolling, you end up going so fast they don't have the ability to control the bike, and like the chap I was taking to a few weeks ago, you end up in hospital for 3 days and having 3 months not riding your bike, we met him on his first ride out and he was back on his 26" wheeled bike.
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  • + 1
 Isn't one of the big advantages of 650b that you don't need a new bike -- many bikes are relatively easily swappable between 26" wheels and 650b -- that's a big plus over 29 IMHO.
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  • + 3
 I think that if it gets more people into riding build whatever size wheel u want. Just keep the 26 as well
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  • + 0
 Ya I'm gonna get on whatever KHS does ,hahahaha No not at all it's gonna be a fail
I'll take traction and proper suspension geometry over a new wheel size

Any one remember 24 inch wheels ??? Where are they now

Hmmmmm makes ya think

I get the bigger size for xc/trail
In dh I don't see the point .
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  • + 2
 ..and the point of 27.5 is that you can fit more travel into a small/medium frame. As much as with 26" - and an inch+ more than 29". Suspension travel is good.
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  • + 4
 nahhh.... i'm staying with 26 forever !
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  • + 0
 the first time i tried a 29er i thought this will be good once i am so old that i cant take any of the small bumps or manuever around obstacles anymore. But i'll probably just ride rails to trails on a 26 if i get that decrepit.
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  • + 3
 29ers are stupid... Maybe on a road bike but whos gay enough to do that shit anymore lol
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  • + 2
 Simon Cittati=Super Mario in person. Otherwise, a good comparison but I think we need to keep it simple, doesn't matter what size, just go out and ride.
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  • + 4
 29 for trail/AM. 26 for anything else is my opinion.
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  • + 3
 I might just keep it old school and re-start the chopper trend from the 70's
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  • - 1
 They just talk about speed. This talks about the soft subjective details
  • - 1
 Excellent links, this is the real test not 3 retards telling us how they feel... 29ers are faster.
  • + 4
 *Face palm* blanket statements like "xx wheel size is faster" are amazingly obtuse. Every wheel size will be faster on some type of terrain. We are never going to see 29 becoming the norm in fourcross racing, just like we never see 24" winning on the XC circuit.

choose your wheels based on the riding you do, and your personal preference. Every wheel will excel somewhere.

Now quit your bitching and go ride a bike. I don't care what wheels it has, as long as you don't tell me mine are wrong.
  • + 0
 SobeDog im not a retard, I have no learning difficulties, but you might be a ...... (fill in the gap) ha ha
  • + 0
 26" will excel on a pumptrack. Everywhere else 29" is quicker.
  • + 3
 People tend to build pump tracks for whatever bikes they own. Ones built with 20" BMX bikes in mind usually have closer spaced rollers with less height to them, and while amazing on a BMX just don't work as well with the larger diameter and longer wheelbase of a 26er mountain bike. Same goes with running a track built around a 26er with a 29er (especially a full suspension 29er which will have a wheelbase as long as a 26er DH bike). If you built a pump track with a 29er in mind, it wouldn't work so well riding it on a 26er.
  • + 0
 My point was the smooth terrain of a pump track is the only terrain where a 26" (with similar travel) will excel over a 29".
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  • + 1
 as people say down to what the rider likes, but really 29" bikes just look stupid unless you are like 7 foot and have a huge bike. they just best not make it hard to get hold of 26" that would be stupid
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  • + 2
 'two people were killed in the next town over from us. No worries though, we still had two days of filming to play with the bikes'. An unfortunate sentence juxtaposition.
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  • + 2
 different sizes for different trails guys .... open your arms to bigger wheels my next bike will be bandit29er. had a 650b ss and it was sic ... 26 tho for am and dh.
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  • + 2
 If you think 29" wheels make a bike less fun to ride...you're not riding hard enough.

It's not the bike, it's you. Get your skills up.
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  • + 1
 Would a better test be to let the riders grab a bike not knowing the wheel size and then describe it. I doubt you could tell the difference between the 26 and 27 without knowing before hand.
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  • + 2
 I think that it totally depends on what your doing. I really like 29ers for downhilling and the 26" for more of the dirtjump stuff.
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  • + 2
 Bike manufacturers know what we want before we even know what we want. They're apparently psychic. It's a long way from 90's when they built what we demanded.
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  • + 2
 26, 27.5 and 29 inch wheels all have different uses so putting them against each other like this is pointless anyway
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  • + 2
 What the guy says at 6:40...find what you like and ride it...But man! Those Helius' look unreal...one of each please...
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  • + 1
 Would this be a fair assessment, 26" wheels are for people who like to play, 29" wheels are for people who like to go fast, and 27.5" wheels are for people who are confused?
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  • + 2
 I'm going to be laughing my ass off when a 650b bike gets its 1st win this year.
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  • + 4
 26 all Day !!!
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  • + 2
 glad i havnt got carried away with different wheel sizes, i just stick to 26"!
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  • + 3
 26" for DH, 29" for XC racing... 27.5" for everything in between.
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  • + 2
 650B just makes shops have to carry more in my opinion. They got it right here
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  • + 3
 i will go on riding 26 no matter what anyone says
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  • + 2
 I have 26 FR, DH, and trials, 29" hardtail XC, and I want a 27.5" Scott for trail.

Is it so hard to have all three?
  • + 1
 yeah, I'm on five quid an hour haha
  • + 1
 Well, of course personal finances play a role, but that's the "if you could"answer!
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  • + 3
 that sram guy looks like borat
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  • + 2
 I want all three of those Nicolai's. I have one, Helius AM - 26". I want all three. Damn.
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  • + 2
 the title says it all

OPINION

so ill carry on riding the 26 inch bikes ive got and love so much Big Grin
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  • + 1
 I do not think they should phase out any size. Just like skiing, there are different type and ski shapes for different type of skier and type of slopes... AJ
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  • + 1
 I want to see a review that shows all frame sizes, small, medium, large, and xlarge were tested on these 3 types of wheel sizes. How the compare?
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  • + 1
 Funny how this got buried, Giant dropped the majority of their 26 inch bikes, and pinkbike has become a major advertiser for 650b now, just 8 months later...
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  • + 1
 o yeah! ..bring more argument! hard to believe PB still nailing it with the news like this..i thought argument was over after Gwin cleared up things
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  • + 1
 It's called gorrilla marketing by the manufacturers w/ 29er inventory they can't sell. The prices on 26" bikes goes up to make up their loss.
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  • + 1
 I wonder how long it'll be before somebody releases a 29er DH rig, and how severe the resultant swarm of butthurtness and fanboyism will be.
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  • + 1
 They were touting them as 650b because that's what they are... 650b is not the same thing as 27.5"
650b = 27.1" get it right!
  • + 2
 Get it right yourself.
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  • + 1
 "sounds a bit too much like an MDMA-derivative for my liking." Hahaha interesting comparison to make in a pinkbike article...
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  • + 1
 What about a 160mm front travel with 27.5inch front wheel AND a 180mm rear travel with 26inch rear wheel on the same bike? Smile Smile
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  • - 1
 Niner was complete fake and a real marketing trick!
Guys, never buy bikes on wheels over the 26-inch. They did not roll and, of even more are not suitable for long-range cycling with cargo. Torment once more, and then selling this pacifier. And it is typical, not wheels niner precisely perfectly flat highway. On rocky roads, steep mountain passes new Merida showed good. But again, it's because in such places had to go slowly. But the speed of 29-inch bike you will never get anywhere.
What I want to evaluate his new bike and a few pieces of advice fellow cyclists.
As already stated in the beginning of this review, niner was completely unsuitable for high-speed long-distance movements of the asphalt. But do not think that a hybrid or a sloping Roadies better, not at all. Best bike for long-distance cycling right for most 26-inch MTV. Roadies do not ride on the broken asphalt and country roads, the hybrid is the same niner with big wheels, you want to overclock too much effort.
Biking world created from a pile lies. Many cyclists ride "three chain" and believe that it saves them money. Many fools with perseverance continue to wash their bike chains, two or three times while reducing their resource. Most cyclists believe roadies and hybrids fast bikes, but in the Russian context is quite different. I too severely pinned to the purchase niner - thought that I would be faster, and was twice as slow. Now I have to collect myself again in the winter 26 inch, freshly bought a 29 inch MTB sell at a loss.
Remember friends, niner - is a big hoax, never buy these stillborn miscarriages MTV. There is not nothing more universal than the classic 26-inch mountain bike. Take advice grandfather Slava as the ultimate truth, and do not do anything stupid.
Here are all the photos of my unsuccessful trip:
photo.qip.ru/users/megaslava234/200808349
[Reply]
  • - 1
 If you want big wheels go ride a road bike, 29" destroys the concept of a mtb (29" bikes are ATB (all terrain bicycle)) in my mind , maybe when i'm old and i can't push my bike then i will use the "bigger" wheel sizes but until then there is only one wheel size for me and it's 26.
sorry for the Parentheseception.
  • + 3
 Nothing like an article about wheel size to bring out small minded ignorance...

Just like a DH bike isn't the best bike for all types of mountain biking, 26" wheels aren't the best wheels for all types of riding or riding styles... assuming it's got anything to do with age or ability only shows your own ignorance.
  • - 1
 I'm not a pro, i ride my bikes for FUN, tight single tracks will NEVER be as fun with a 29" bike. maybe i'm ignorant but i'm a happy ignorant .
  • + 2
 I'm glad you prefer 26" bikes, but that doesn't mean you should be completely narrow-minded and foolish. Riding style largely determines which wheel size you prefer. Btw, MTB and ATB are both abbreviations for the same thing, a MOUNTAIN BIKE. A lot of Europeans say ATB, whereas a lot of others say MTB, but in the end, its the same thing.
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  • - 1
 Here's my fuzzy math as to why I think 650B is worthless. 650B=1.5" taller than a 26" wheel, divide that by two (cause half of it is below/above the axle). now, take that .75 and divide by 26. you get .0288. For .0288% better rollover or whatever the hell you call it, I'll stick with my 26" wheel, and pass on the 650B. How about instead of looking for that compromise, you pedal .0288% harder, your balls will be bigger, and you can save your money on this useless trend. Rant over Smile
  • - 4
 hell yeah
  • + 12
 Your math is skewed from the start...since you're dividing half the increase in diameter into the full diameter of the other, when it should be divided into the radius. Also you don't seem to grasp that converting a number to a percentage requires multipying by 100...

so... 0.75 / 13 = 0.05769
0.05769 x 100 = 5.769%

Don't they teach basic math in america anymore ?
  • + 1
 keyul, what kind of otherworldly math was that?
  • + 0
 650B is not actually 27.5, it's significantly closer to 26" than to 29". It's more like 27"
  • + 2
 @JMHPB...

#1 The only "26er" tires that are actually even close to actually being 26" diameter are skinny little 1.95 width tires that nobody but the lightest XC racers will use. The lowest diameter of 650B off-road tires presently made is the Pacenti QuasiMoto 2.0 width at 27.2" diameter. I KNOW... I own and ride them.

#2 The first production 650B offroad tire within the last ten years, the Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3, is 27.71" diameter, which if you didn't fail math...is actually closer to 29 than it is to 26. There are 650B tires in production (Nevegal 2.35, HansDamp 2.35, Rocket Ron 2.35, etc) now that are even larger diameter still. We already rounded the number DOWN to get to 27.5 as a way to explain to morons what 650B meant. We obviously never should have done that.

#3 Many 29er labeled tires don't even inflate to a true 29" diameter. One of the magazines publishes a survey a month or two ago where they gave the average diameter of several dozen models of 29er tires and it was 28.9".
  • + 3
 Actual tire hights and widths vary quite a bit even from the same manufacturer. I doubt many of us here run tires that actually measure 26inches. I run Specialized Purgatories on my Trail bike. A 2.4 in the Front and a 2.2 in the back they measure 27and 7/16 and 27 and 1/4 which isn't far off the size of many 650b tires, and these aren't heavy dh tires. A Schwalbe Racing Ralph 650b 2.25 is only 27.25 tall actual. But for the sake of a direct comparison a 26 x 2.35 Nobby Nic measures roughly 27.25 tall and a 650b x 2.35 Nobby Nic measures 27 and 13/16'. So in direct comparison we are talking 9/16' or 11.5mm difference. Weather that is enough to have a major performance benifit is up to the rider. I personally am still faster on a 26" wheeled bike than any other wheel size. I am currently in need of a new bike so I will be Demoing a bunch of bikes this summer to figure out what will work best for the riding I do. That being said, Until I ride a bike with bigger wheels that is as fast and fun as my 26' bike I see no reason to switch. The Choice Is Ours! Not the Manufactures! They can build any thing they want, but we have to buy it if they want to stay in business..
  • + 1
 It's other worldly and fuzzy because I did this late at night, when no one is supposed to be dong math haha, but yea, wow, now that I look at this in the morning, I neglected just about every step, but knew my fellow pinkbikers would get it right for me Smile
  • + 0
 True, sorry for not being more clear. If you look at the ERD of each rim, 650b (584mm) is much closer to 26" (554mm) than to 29" (622mm). So if you run a 2.5" tire on each, sure - You might not get "26" or "29" but you will get three sizes where 650 is closer in diameter to the smaller wheel than the bigger wheel. It does not sit right in the middle.

Why does it matter? It doesn't.
  • + 1
 Whoops, 26" is 559mm not 554mm
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  • - 1
 24" front wheel, 29" rear wheel for extreme climbing. 29" front wheel, 24" rear wheel for extreme descending. Both 24" for extreme flat gravel paths. Both 29" wheels for extreme puddles navigating to keep your feet dry (don't forget the 165 mm crank arm). 24" and 29" here to stay....
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  • - 1
 9 Million reasons why this is bad for your riding and your wallet and this artificial choice is actually none at all.

Bigger wheels on a MTB means:

A. More weight - in like your bike weighs more than it actually has to.
B. More mass - harder to accelerate, more unsprung mass to accelerate and deaccelerate - your suspension and your legs needlessly work harder. Not good.
C. 29 wheels actually are much much weaker than 26.
D. Tires are much heavier - only way is to skin them - and everybody hates weak tires.
E. Bottom bracket aera is engineering wise very very crowed and thus weak. Worse so on carbon frames.
F. Single crown forks will be even flexier than with 26 wheels.
G. High riders are so 1880ish.
H. Did I mention those frames look ridiculous?
I. Marketed to the insecure with funny glasses and colorful spandex panties.
K. Where do tall wheels work best? On the road.

Conclusion: Someone tries an industry wide obsolesence schtik. Marketing spam. Ignore.

I just ordered the latest and greatest 26 inch DH-Bike. Why? Because performance, engineering and durability counts and 29ers are lame Lance Armstrong.
  • - 1
 Totally agree from engineering stand point of view you are right, dimensions/ratios have been optimizing for years and years on 26”. I’m also a 26” defender but definitely will be personal geometry configuration and riding style preference
  • - 3
 Could not write it better. Thanks!

As is said in a comment down there - it's sad that brands like Specialized completely stopped building 26" bikes (Stumjumper HT, Epic, Chamber,.. in near future i think also the Stumpjumper FSR, because 2013 there isn't even a Spec. S-Works Stumjumper FSR in the sortiment.

In October i bought one of the last in Europe available 26" Stumpjumper HT because i saw there was no 26" HT from Specialized anymore.
  • + 0
 Hey wakaba, all the points you make are minor. Find me a 26" with a zero BB drop and then I listen. A good 29" is faster. End of.
  • - 3
 How could a big wheel which is heavier than a 26" be faster? Especially Uphill!
  • + 1
 @dirrrtjump You roll over stuff faster, I think? Just like how it's easier to go up a rooty hill with a bit of rear travel than with none at all - as long as the rear shock isn't bobbing, you don't get kicked around on the roots like you do on a hardtail.
  • + 0
 29ers are race bikes for serious people, 26ers are fun for fun people!!!
  • + 0
 You could put me on a 36'er and I'd still have fun. Sure, I doubt there's going to be a 29er DJ bike any time soon. That doesn't mean that blasting down a trail on a 29er isn't fun. It's completely subjective.
  • + 2
 The Stumpjumper evo 29 is one of the funnest bikes that I have ever ridden. Jumps over everything, whips around easily, incredible traction on the high speed turns. Great addition to one's stable when a DH rider wants something fun to trail ride with.
  • + 0
 What Dave said. No faster all-round bike than the Evo 29".
  • + 1
 Yes there is, most 26" 140mm+ full sussers
  • + 1
 Well I just sold my 26" Stumpy Evo for one. It isn't even close between the two.
  • + 1
 @Wakaba, very technically weak and poorly thought out points - all of them. 29ers have proven themselves over and over again and most are completely dialed these days.

Sure, they won't take over the DH market due to technical limitations but they work very well everywhere else - just like 26ers.
  • - 2
 @bogey.

Faithland is flat, Factland is hilly. 29ers dont work in in Factland. I cycle in Factland - none of the locals are riding 29ers up and down. Geometry and durability are substandard. During the past couple of years - a couple of frames and componenents proved themselves:
Voltage, Supreme, 951, Norco and very few more. Cheap RS Boxxers, DHR 3 and 5, some RS rear shocks. Cheap Avids, Ructions and X5,7,9. Minion DHR supersoft, Alex, Stan, MX.

Here is what does not work/last/scam: Specialized, Dreck, Kona, DB, Giant, Fox DCs, Shimano drivetrain, all the brakes with hard brake point like Shimano, Hope, Formula. Schwalbe and Kendas, carbon stuff.

Hope this analogy is a bit easier for you to follow. The industry does not want you know what lasts and what functions. The latest is not the best. Not many 29ers in the thoughest mountainbike region of this planet. 29ers dont fly out the dealersdoor. They are glued to the showroomfloor. They are defective.
  • + 2
 Cheap Avids work? Hahahahaha, that's some statement. Yeah, only if you never use them! Shimano, hope and formula brakes wipe the floor with ANY avid brake. Same with shimano drive trains over sram, shimano lasts far longer. Do you actually ride this stuff?
  • + 2
 wakaba, You're talking complete crap.
  • + 1
 Wakaba- "Downhilling since...like forever" hahahaha! After reading that on your profile and reading the above statement, how can you honestly expect anyone to take you seriously?! What sort of 45 year old guy uses 'like' in the way you have? It's almost as if a 14 year old schoolgirl wrote it! It's 'like'...totally gay!
  • + 2
 .. that made me speechless. i .. i really want to write a comment about that what wakaba wroted but it just .. made me speechless. dafuq.
  • + 2
 @dirrrtjump Same here. I have no idea what he's trying to say.

@wakaba First of all, don't you mean "Ruktion?" And I'm pretty sure that Specialized makes some long lasting stuff. On all the "what are people riding" articles the #1 bike is normally a Demo. If spesh didn't make long lasting stuff, they'd have been out of business for a long time now. While Kona may make some downright fugly paint schemes and have had some head tube issues, that doesn't make them a "scam" brand. I'm pretty sure that Shimano drivetrains handle abuse as well. And to say that all carbon stuff "does not work/last/scam" is complete bullshit. There are plenty of great carbon components. Looks to me like you're set in your ways - SRAM and fox, Scott and Norco. Nothing wrong with those companies, it's just that there are other sensible options. Get a hold of yourself, 29ers are here to stay. And p.s. I'm sure that there aren't many 29ers in the "thoughest" mountain bike region.
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  • + 1
 I rode a 27.5 and it felt lanky in cornering and rolled "somewhat" better then a 26. Doesn't seem like a good compromise to run 27.5.
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  • + 1
 Enjoy 26s massively. Have not yet tried bigger wheels. Would love to. Likely not possible to re-fresh the quiver unless the recession blows over or I win the lottery.
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  • + 1
 going up a rock garden- i'll pick the 29er. 26 going down tight turns. nothing new. pick your bike and ride it.
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  • + 2
 I will ride and have fun on any of those three wheel sizes.
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  • + 2
 Regardless of the argument that was a brilliantly filmed video.
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  • + 2
 Pinkbike needs to make something for my mobile phone!!
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  • + 1
 I don't really care what you ride. You shouldn't care what I ride. I ride. You ride. We're all happy.
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  • + 1
 26 is the most fun for me on my all mountain bike so far. havnt tried 27.5 yet but Im in no hurry.
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  • + 2
 I don't care as long as I get some of that 6-APB you were hinting at.
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  • + 2
 Just Fucking Ride!!!!!!!!
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  • + 3
 Wheel oil beef hooked!
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  • + 1
 I'm new,.. Whats a 29er? and why are the people who ride them so uptight? lol
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  • + 3
 I DON'T CARE.
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  • + 2
 Anyway, i love 26" just i need to learn about riding skill.
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  • + 1
 Don't be a fool, don't be a sheep, join the Revolution and lace some 24'' damnit!
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  • + 1
 If someone wins a World Cup on 650 I will be convinced, until then Lets just go ride our bikes...
  • + 2
 already done on XC
  • + 1
 We all know that the wheel size argument for Xc has been decided. The question and drama here is gravity. Does 650 belong, only "time " will tell. If someone wins a World Cup dh or red bull rampage on 650 then tweeners will have their place and respect.
  • + 2
 How about 3rd at the Rampage? That's been done.
If the rumors about Gwin testing w/ 650b are true, and he was getting faster times with them, do you think he won't be riding them on his new team?
And if he does, that win will come sooner than later. Then what will all the "pry the 26" wheels from my cold dead hands" peeps on PB say?
  • + 1
 My money will be on the UCI stepping in and deciding on a standard, just like Road and Track. Obree, Boardman, 650c front wheels, spinachi bars for the road, etc etc. they like putting the kibosh on development.
  • + 0
 Logan Binggeli's 3rd this past year at rampage, pretty darn impressive: winner goes to rider on 26." I am not one of those under-educated riders out there, like very few, I have actually ridden all three numerous times- on the trail. 29" bikes make a lot of sense for a majority of riders and racers, as does a trail bike for the rest of the market share. This newly marketed 650 is great for those niche riders who want a very specific experience on their bike not unlike the DH or freeride market, but should not be forced upon the masses.
  • + 3
 Logan was the only one riding a 650B because his team (KHS) was the first to offer a 650B DH bike... Logan double-back flipped on his final winning run, proving the wheel size wasn't a handicap to pulling off tricks. He was also landing long drops much smoother and carrying more speed than almost every other rider. If he'd just have put in some more variety to his run for aerials (the days of winning with backflips alone are long since past) he might have scored high enough to get the win (silver at least).

Aaron Gwin was testing the new for 2013 Session 650B prototypes but the team switch will basically put an end to that as Specialized has come out as very ANTI 650B thus far. They're just too heavily invested in the 29er koolaid right now for them to do anything for any of their racers this year. More likely for them to try and offer an Enduro 29er carbon and get Aaron to use that at selected events (if the venue choice for the worlds is as much of a throwback to twenty years ago as people are making it out to be, then a 5.5 to 6" travel 29er might actually work out if Specialized can produce some suitable tires by then).

650B is likely to do well at european super enduro races and events like the megavalanche, where the riders need to pedal bikes up climbs and between stage sections and are already using 140-170mm travel AM bikes with 26" wheels.
  • + 0
 @deeeight: From one gent to another, I fully understand that, yes, larger wheels once up to speed are more efficient providing a winning edge. I also fully support new bike technology if the bikes get more ppl on bicycles, heaven knows that we could use some more exercise south of your border. However, we would be naive to think that specy doesn't have a few 650 designs ready for production. They are waiting to see if there is going to be a serious traction to this movement, and once there is they will take the market share.

Larger wheels will absolutely win races in many settings and I think you and I are not the only ones who could agree with that. In contrast, I dont believe we can quantify the fun factor, or difficulty to spin/flip/360/table/ and general shreddability of larger wheels. Yes backflips are easy- engage the lip, pull back, wa-la you're flipping. 360's and every other trick in the book would be hindered by a larger wheel. Is it possibly, well yes of course, see also the numerous videos of dudes flipping and shredding on carbon road bikes....

If at the end of the day we are riding bikes, then I would consider that day one of the better ones. It really doesn't matter If I am riding 650 next year or 26, I am still going to ride exactly how I like to ride. I have ridden enough suspension platforms, wheel sizes, bike parks, backcountry single track to know exactly what works for me. I have absolutely come to the conclusion that 29" bikes feel like a sail boat on the trail for a guy my height and riding style. I would love to own one for XC racing, but not for having fun.
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  • + 1
 what type of bikes those are there ncool joi the revolution 24 inch on the back 26 on the front old school or 26 29
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  • + 2
 Bike for all in 26", other for "fashion" :p
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  • + 2
 this problem is so simple just ride what you like stop comparing
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  • + 2
 Soooo...the extra 3" aren't good when things are tight?
  • + 2
 I see where you are going. The 3 inch extra diameter would likely be anatomically impractical.
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  • + 1
 To each his own. Let the riders ride and the haters hate.
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  • + 1
 Don't really care to be honest, less talk more riding
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  • + 1
 If the smaller wheels are faster...maybe try riding a 24" wheelset. Hmmmm!
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  • + 1
 I'd like to ride ANY bike on those dope looking trails!
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  • + 1
 24" rear, keepin it real !
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  • + 0
 I just read that Intense and Enve both believe 26er is dead... Enve don't even bring their 26er wheels to the shows anymore.
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  • + 0
 I just had an idea... How about a wheel option between 26 and a 27.5.... a 26.75. Let's discuss that!
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  • + 0
 26" rocks for me.... I'll break 29" at some point :/ .... but I have to try 27.5
  • + 1
 with the 27.5 maybe you will rock and break! Smile
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  • - 1
 If you do XC race, it will be 27.5 or 29, depending on the power of your legs. If you ride for fun and enjoyment, it will definitely be 26.
  • + 3
 Funny, I enjoy riding my two 29ers just as much as my two 26ers.
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  • + 1
 Diggin the Thompson quote!
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  • + 2
 *"Back to back to back"
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  • + 1
 26 for the win. End of the story.
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  • + 1
 Hear hear, somebody's finally making sense of this hype.
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  • + 1
 How about a review on those sweet bikes instead.
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  • + 1
 26 ftw,
27.5, 29= marketing rubbish
  • + 2
 marketing rubbish = race wins and world championships does it ? Ok...believe that if you want.
  • + 0
 27.5, 29 son una moda, como muchas otras que acaban olvidandose
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  • + 1
 GT really should start selling 26"xizangs.
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  • + 1
 wait, people actually buy 27.5" wheels? i thought that was a joke!
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  • - 2
 Oh finally! Someone on the internet with an opinion about MTB wheel sizes! Hooray! .... I can't wait to read the comments section where the experts duke it out over the pros and cons. This should be truly enlightening!
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  • + 1
 Now i can comfortably i can say 29ers are not my style. Thanks.
  • + 1
 don't believe that review . I've rode with a few guys who ride 29ers (700c) and damn they are quick on twisty stuff and DH . I thought I'd have a chance on my 26er there but no they were quick . Overtaking guys on full sus 26 bikes while airborne on single track . They ride for an endurance team (24hr racing ect) People should stop pigeon holing wheels . What makes a wheel strong of weak is the build quality . Look at CX bikes they take a hell of a beating but still keep rolling on 24 spoke road wheels . Watch some CX guys and they are hitting jumps and big jumps too . Martyn Ashton took a road bike trilas riding with hope hoops road wheels with out issue doing 10ft drops static .
  • + 2
 Those guys you mentioned would be faster on a 26" too. The probably would be even faster through the curves, but slower on straits and climbs and overall.
This article didn't really change anything for me. My confirmation bias is stronger than ever.
But seriously, the article strikes me as more scientific than the way most people do it. I know a group of serious hammerheaders who ride 29er and they are super fast, but that isn't a basis for comparison.
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  • - 2
 Thanks PB for going to great efforts to shed light on this debate. However, please stop now as the "Big wheel size debate" is boring now. Ride whatever wheel size you want, I, and many others could give a sh*t.
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  • + 1
 29ers are so gay...Brown Pow!!
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  • + 1
 29er = All Mountain
650B = XC DH
26 = Museum
  • + 5
 HAHAHA! I made some 26ers that actually ARE in museums.
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  • + 1
 i prefer 26 inch, i respect 29 inch but i think 27.5 is pointless
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  • - 3
 One more talk about wheelsize!!! Stop this sterile debate. If you love MTB as I do, whatever your riding style, just ride and make your own idea. 26, 27.5 and 29 is MTB. That's the point!!
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  • + 1
 so 650b is the best then
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  • - 1
 Ugh enough Of wheel sizes already just go out and ride your bike already Who cares anyway
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  • + 0
 Useless test. Where are the times???
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  • + 1
 NICOLAI"S RULE!!!!!!!!!
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  • + 0
 i think ill just be sticking to my 26...
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  • + 0
 Taceti ma, eu ma dau cu ce am !
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  • + 0
 26 = downhill
27.5 = all mountain
29 = xc
  • + 1
 26 = downhill
26 - 27.5 - 29 = all mountain
27.5 -29 = xc
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  • + 0
 26 = downhill
27.5 = all mountain
29 = xc
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  • - 3
 Bastaaaaaa ! Stop the endless discussion about 26-27.5-29 ! i cant stand-it anymore !!!!! ArGHHgggHHHhhH Im happy just to see Nicolai in a website like this !
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  • - 3
 oh no, here we go again..
  • + 3
 We'll be repeating this at least monthly for the rest of the year... especially when racing season starts up and we learn which DH racers besides the KHS team are on 650B bikes.
  • + 2
 Especially when/if there winning.
  • + 0
 come on - some bloke on a KHS with 650B's is not going to beat Gwin, Minnaar, Hill, etc etc. unless of course the more elite teams also use 650B and they still win. then that will surely sell 650B to the public.
  • + 1
 I know one of the major manufacturers is going 650B for their DH bike. If their fastest rider rides as fast as he can, we WILL see a 650B rider on the podium in 2013.
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