Interview: Trek's Travis Brown On Experimenting With 32" & 36" Wheels

May 21, 2020
by Brian Park  
Photo by Sterling Lorence
Travis Brown with an experimental helmet position. Photo: Sterling Lorence / Trek


A reader put the question to us a few weeks back, if a larger wheel size was coming, and if 29 was better than 27.5, would a bigger size be even better? I did some digging, and learned that Travis Brown at Trek is testing larger-than-29-inch wheels as we speak. Of course we reached out for more info, and Travis was kind enough to let us peek behind the curtain.

You can listen to the interview with Travis in this week's Pinkbike Podcast, as well as our commentary on what it could mean for the industry. But we figured this deserved its own transcription as well, for the people who don't want to listen to an hour of banter.


Travis in his racing days.
Travis testing a 69er many years ago.


If you followed cross country racing in the '90s and the 2000s, you've probably heard of Travis Brown. He was a regular on the World Cup circuit, before turning his attention to product development with Trek in the mid-2000s. These days he's the field test manager, running an entire crew of riders who are working on products that we're going to see in the future.





Mike Levy: Travis, how's it going today?


Travis Brown: It's going well. Nice to see you Mike. Nice to see you Brian.

Mike Levy: A little birdie tells me that you've been riding some interesting and larger wheel sizes lately.


Brian Park: Can you confirm or deny?


Travis Brown: Yeah, I don't know what bird got out of the cage, but we have been messing around with some unusual wheel sizes. It has always been interesting from the 26, 29 comparison and mixed wheel platforms in 27.5, those kinds of things influence the character of a bike so much. So yeah, we're still messing with that.

Brian Park: You were at the forefront of pushing some mixed wheel size stuff at Trek quite a long time ago. You did that 69 bike, how many years ago?


Travis Brown: That was probably about 15 years ago, 14 years ago, we started doing that.

Brian Park: So, it might be that the things that we're talking about now are still 15 years away?


Travis Brown: It could be, hopefully, if we discover something that has a performance advantage, we don't have to let it languish that long for the right landscape. But there are a lot of factors.

Brian Park: I've heard people love new standards in the bike industry. They've been clamoring for this. [sarcasm]


Travis Brown: Yeah. Well, we're kind of all enduring 26 to 29, back to 27 and back to 29 and I think there's a little bit of sour taste in consumer's mouths when they look back across that whole spectrum, and fair enough.

Mike Levy: And you were also in the thick of it in the development of 29er as well too, weren't you?


Travis Brown: When I moved into the R&D department, we still had the Trek brand and the Fisher brand independently. The Fisher brand was our 29 inch wheel platform brand and we honestly struggled with that wheel platform under that brand for nearly 10 years before the rest of the biking world decided, "Yeah, that's probably pretty good for some applications. We should try it."

Ironically for the Fisher brand and as it got absorbed into Trek as like the Gary Fisher line in Trek, was right around the time where it didn't seem like the European market was going to ever adopt the 29 inch wheel. And then almost overnight, there were a couple German mags that did some field tests and said, "Hey, this works really good." And the next year 29 inch wheel bikes in Europe were huge. So, I don't know how you predict that kind of thing.

Mike Levy: I'm just going to come out and ask Travis, what wheel sizes have you been testing?


Travis Brown: Well, we've done a little experiment. We've continued to experiment with mixed wheel platforms, not with the idea that we're going to go to production with it, but because it gives us a really good understanding of the independent roles of the front and the rear wheel. We've been also messing with diameters larger than 29 to see if there's efficacy and where that space might land and what the advantages and what the liability are.

Brian Park: Come on now. How much larger? What are the inches?


Travis Brown: Well there are 32 inch tires and there are 36 inch tires. The quality compared to what enthusiasts are accustomed to of those tires is pretty low, so that kind of influences the impressions, but you can ride those platforms and learn a lot about what the potential might be for larger wheel sizes.

Brian Park: Can you tell us a bit about the mules that you're testing?


Travis Brown: Yeah. I can tell you a little bit about them. I mean, they're as simple as it gets, it kind of goes back to the '80s and '90s, they're rigid hardtails. That way you don't have to cross the hurdle of suspension, the size and packaging when you don't have suspension travel, is much easier with this, be it, what would be considered an extreme wheel size, which is a 36 inch wheel mountain bike. So, we're doing our testing on, on rigid mules and comparing those to rigid 29 inch wheel bikes.

Mike Levy: And have you guys had tires and rims made for this?


Travis Brown: We have used what exists from a tire standpoint and we do custom frames and forks and aluminum extrusions are really easy to roll into whatever diameter... [for the rim]

We haven't done custom tires. Doing a custom tire in 29, for an R&D project is pretty easy because all the vendors have tooling to create that size - just cutting a mold and applying it to the existing build drums and the ovens is not that big of a challenge. There are very few tire manufacturers that have tooling to produce tires larger than 29 inch. Those vendors are a little more economy based tire manufacturers so the quality isn't quite what we're accustomed to.

Brian Park: So, with sh*tty tires and rigid mountain bikes, how do you extrapolate your results? How do you compare that to existing bikes and what those advantages might be?


Travis Brown: I mean, that's kind of the big question at this point and trying to evaluate larger wheel sizes, but what we do is we just put the same sh*tty tires on the 29 inch wheel mule. So, we kind of eliminate that variable.

I haven't been able to find identical tread patterns, but you find the same case in construction. So, it's a two ply, low thread count wire bead tire and then you just do a little math between those and try to find a weight that's the right comparison. The tires that we're riding right now, say on a 36 inch mule, it's a 1700 gram tire in a 2.25 width so there's a lot of weight penalty in there that just has to do with the construction quality.

Brian Park: So it's a 1700 gram tire that wouldn't need to be a 1700 gram tire. We were used to heavy 1400 gram tires for downhill and enduro applications, but this is narrower.


Travis Brown: If you scale that back, the comparable 29 inch wheel that we're testing is in the 1200 to 1300 gram range for a 2.25 trail tire. We all know that that should really be an 800 or 900 gram tire for the best quality of what we're accustomed to. So, that's kind of a big filter that you try to work through in your comparisons.

Brian Park: So what's the verdict? What is different on the trail?


Travis Brown: Well, I mean, the reason to experiment with both 32 and 36 is that, that's what exists. The reason to try 36 is when we prototype stuff and we're field testing, whether it's suspension tune or tire inserts or geometry, we try to put some pretty broad bookends in that performance comparison to start with, so that people can really clearly feel what the differences are and if they're preferable. Then we start moving those bookends in with smaller and smaller differences to find the point where either the test group and the riders can't tell a difference or they don't care. I would take this one or this one. And yeah, that's a point where you can't really refine the evolution anymore.

Mike Levy: Can you describe to me how that 36 feels?


Travis Brown: Sure. Well, first it's pretty heavy for a rigid hardtail. That mule I think is about 32 pounds. So, the characteristics by comparison to 29 that we find with these larger diameters, and you could guess this from comparing 26 and 29, but the negative characteristics are that it's heavier. Even if you didn't have that tire quality challenge, the wheels are less stiff because the spokes are longer and that the hoop is bigger. There's a little more inertia to the wheel.

Brian Park: So, it's harder to accelerate?


Travis Brown: It's a little harder to accelerate, but that inertia has a positive side too. It's easier to carry speed through rough terrain than with a smaller wheel because of the characteristic of the contact patch being longer, you're engaging more knobs. So, both climbing and braking traction are better and cornering traction is better.

When you're in a type of terrain where you can take advantage of those positive characteristics, they might outweigh the negative characteristics.

Mike Levy: Have you been doing time testing, back to back, on these 32s and 36ers versus like a 29 or even a 27.5? And what's the result?


Travis Brown: Yeah, what we learned with the 26 to 29 comparison is that timed laps are really important. There's something about the larger wheel, that extra weight and the inertia of the larger diameter that almost always feel slower and more stable and as riders frequently we perceive that as being slower.

We found this with 26 and 29, you could ride equal 26 and 29 inch bikes on the same course, if you didn't time it, you'd swear the 26 inch wheel bike was faster on almost all off road conditions. If it was a closed loop climbing and descending and you put a clock on it, the 29 inch wheel was almost always faster. That instability that you get from a smaller wheel, stiffer wheel, we perceive that as going faster because we're closer to the limit of control, but that window moves with the wheel size, so...

Mike Levy: Yeah. So, all things being equal, Travis, which bike are you faster on? Are you faster on a 29er? Or are you faster 36er?


Travis Brown: Well, to the degree that we've been able to do comparisons on like different terrains, there are definitely some terrains and trails that you're faster on the larger wheel size - the rougher stuff. If there's stuff that has like high speed sweeping flat turns, your corner speed is higher [with the larger wheel]. If there's stuff where you're braking really hard and like dumping your momentum and then you directly have to accelerate again, those circumstances are faster on a smaller wheel. So, I think that the most accurate way is to just find the characteristics that a 26 might be faster than a 29. It's the same for something larger than a 29.

Brian Park: When I think back to the days of 26 versus 29, one of the scariest things for people was cornering with a bigger wheel. Then on top of that, we had reaches growing, exponentially, and wheelbase used to be a really scary number for manufacturers, thinking "Oh my God, this is going to be so cumbersome." That fear has kind of gone away, but I could see that being a concern, when you go with that drastically up to 32 or even to 36. So how does it corner?


Travis Brown: I mean, I had that a similar concern for backcountry, switchbacks, tight switchbacks and I think what I've learned from this experiment is that appropriate front, rear weight bias for cornering, whether that's uphill or downhill, is really crucial. And tire grip is really crucial. So, say on the 36 mule, the chain stays are really long, even though the front center's really long so your front wheel bias weight is higher than on most bikes. That makes up for a lot of the extra length and actually it corners switchbacks really well.

There aren't that many switchbacks that are so tight that the length of the bike, whether that wheel base is a 1000 or 1200, you're not going to get around there.

Mike Levy: What are we looking at here for head angles and offsets on these bike? I assume they're all custom and pretty out there.


Travis Brown: Yeah. Well, we're talking about a 36 inch wheel that is pretty gargantuan. And with this wheel, we've done some similar things that we did when we were 26, 29 comparison and we've used offset to standardize head angle and trail figure. So, the offset on this mule is huge. It's around 90 millimeters.

Mike Levy: Oh boy.


Travis Brown: And that's to get a trail figure that's comparable to a 29 inch wheel bike with a 69 degree head angle.

Mike Levy: How does that huge offset feel at lower speeds? Those half mile an hour corners.


Travis Brown: That cornering like flop that you might get at lower speeds has way more to do with the trail figure than it does the offset. That is something that we learned in this. You would think that big offset would make it really fall in, but it feels really close to the 29 inch with a standard offset.

Brian Park: I imagined that we'd get an exaggerated at like a 65 degree head angle though.


Travis Brown: Well, we haven't tested that. The geometry and shape of the fork already, to get to 90 millimeters of offset already kind of looks a little bit like a chopper. It's definitely worth experimentation to find where those limits are. That's part of the exercise is pushing the bookend out beyond what you think is practical and then proving yourself right or wrong.

Brian Park: So, let's switch gears from the nuts and bolts of it because it sounds like there are some advantages and some clear disadvantages from a more, maybe not commercial, but from a more practical standpoint, like what do you think the future of wheel sizes is in mountain biking? Do you think it's inevitable that we're going to have a bigger wheel size either, either or both?


Travis Brown: Well, I mean, you see in the boutique builder space, there's some enthusiasm for 36ers or 32 inch wheel bikes and that's an opportunity for those small custom builders. And that cycle just continues with the small builders and the big manufacturers. I'm sure if we're interested in looking into if there might be a potential advantage, that we're not the only ones. So, how that field science comes back and then how it overlays the opportunities in the marketplace, which sometimes those circles overlay right on top of each other but more often there's a pretty small part of that Venn diagram where there's a community space. Fortunately for the guys in R&D, we don't have to worry about the trends and the marketing and the taste and the fashion as much. Our responsibility is to just build a performance profile. It does this better, it does this not as well.

Mike Levy: So, everybody that's out there right now, that's already getting angry about this. There is no 2022 Fuel EX with giant wheels. This is experimenting. You guys are figuring things out and just for experiment's sake, it sounds like.


Travis Brown: Yeah, and it's valuable to our existing wheel platforms. It's valuable to the decisions that we make with 26, 27,5 and 29. Having that extra data point and what happens when you change wheel diameter informs everything that you do with wheel diameter.

Brian Park: So, if we're in make believe land. You said you're 6'1"-ish. And if you were building, let's say your perfect cross country hardtail today, what wheel size would it have? With good tires and good components.



Travis Brown: If I had one fully custom ticket to spend, with what I know now and what I've experienced, I would spend it on a 36 inch wheel race bike.

Mike Levy: That says a lot.


Brian Park: We've talked about the limitations in terms of testing, but if there are some advantages there, like it sounds there are, would it be for everyone? Levy's tired of hearing me beat this drum, but...


Mike Levy: Not his again.


Brian Park: Do you think that wheel size is tied to rider size in intended use or would a 36 inch wheel or a 32 inch wheel just be the magic bullet for everybody?


Travis Brown: Well, it's definitely tied to rider size, but it's tied to a handful of other things too. So, what characteristic does the rider want, is a big part of it. I think through this exercise, we speculated that maybe my size rider might be the lower limit to utilize the wheel size. I think it's lower than that. I think with all of the tricks that we learned on making a really small 29ers and all the geometry exercises that we've done with long travel 29ers, if somebody wanted that 36 inch wheel characteristic or the efficiency for a given terrain, you could probably make a medium bike.

I think you could make a 32 inch wheel XC bike for someone that's 5'1", with a lot of geometry acrobatics, but...Short travel, like probably not a 100mm fork.

Brian Park: What would happen if we were talking about trail bikes?


Travis Brown: Depending on the amount of travel, it looks like there's potential for a larger wheel size, but I had to speculate a lot because we haven't tested full suspension bikes. I would say 100 to 120 millimeters of travel. There probably could be some adaptation for larger than 29, but larger than that, you just can't package it.

Like you said, I can confidently say we don't have a pipeline production project, but I speak for, I think everyone in my R&D group, is that the projects that are pure R&D exercises are always the most fun because there's the most unknowns. And there's the least tethers as far as, will it be successful as a production bike. So, you have a lot of freedom to try stuff.

Mike Levy: That opens the doors for you to do some crazy sh*t. That's got to be fun. Like that first ride on that thing, you must have been like, what the hell is going to happen?


Travis Brown: Yeah. Well, I had ridden other people's [36er] bikes over the years, some small manufacturers and I remember the first 36er I rode was actually at the Sea Otter. I just wanted to have the impression, like, what does it feel like? We were in this space of plus tires and fat bikes so, I kind of had a lot of benchmarks for differences from a regular bike and what it felt like. My first thought was that it feels way less different from a normal bike than a fat bike does. So, maybe you could actually make a competitive bike or maybe there are some performance advantages in this.

Brian Park: I've got your marketing slogan. You can have this one for free: "36ers, it's less stupid than a fat bike."


Travis Brown: You're not wrong. Yeah, well, they might look more stupid though. The conventional eye for a bike when we've adapted and calibrated towards fat bikes now, but when I ride this bike...

Brian Park: Well hey, thanks a ton for sitting down with us. I'm very curious to see where things go. Obviously, the industry and commercial perspective of these things is going to play a factor. I'm sure somebody is going to be reading the comments below...


Travis Brown: Yeah. People are definitely going to be messing with this for a while and depending on what happens with tires, I see that as kind of the biggest restriction on really feeling into what the potential is of larger diameters than 29. I would bet that when one of the quality tire manufacturers or someone commissions a prototype of a really high quality tire, our understanding of what the potential is will experience another breakthrough. And that'll be fun. We don't know until we have all the apples to apples comparisons.

Mike Levy: Yeah. Well, thanks for indulging our questions and we definitely are going to be hitting you again on this topic because we'll want to hear where it goes.


Travis Brown: Thanks guys. Thanks for indulging me on one of the fun R&D projects.


308 Comments

  • 202 2
 Dont post any pictures of the 36er I'm having dinner
  • 45 0
 Yes, and there are children on this site
  • 6 0
 imagine the trend in 2040, All DH bikes are mullet with 36" front, OMG ahahhaa
  • 21 0
 Who decided that we are stopping at 36?
  • 11 5
 Mikeys interviewing style on this topic is pretty cynical and snarky for a guy who wont release his own data and ride impressions.....
  • 4 0
 @enduro29jeff: then in 2050 we're all riding around on big ass ferris wheels cuz the bigger the better, right?
  • 5 0
 I'm just picturing the XC guys running stems underneath the headtubes on their bikes, the drops on some of the pro bikes are pretty crazy even on 29ers now
  • 5 0
 @Crisskan: depends on the planet. what would be an appropriate downhill bike for mount olympus on mars with lower gravity?
  • 4 6
 @scary1: you should be snarky and cynical about big wheel sizes.. its stupid and removes fun. We all know why they doing it so yeah..
  • 6 1
 @reqq: dont buy one. Your bmx bike will do fantastic at Fort William
  • 1 0
 @me2menow: actually 36’s have been around on the low for a while - the tyres are unicycle - some out there thinking??
  • 3 1
 Not gonna lie...was really hoping to take the piss out of Travis, assuming he was an insidious corporate shill that would tell us everyone should be on a penny farthing and that 29ers are dead. Turns out I'd like to ride with him (even on a circus wheeled bike) and make some German sodas disappear afterwards. Fun read.
  • 3 2
 This whole bigger is better argument is just getting plain silly... 29er's looks nutty enough, now mullet bikes... Where does it end?... 32", 36", 38", 40", heck, why don't they go all out... 50 inches of pure, wonderful, butt scrubbing, trash.
Big Grin
I'm 6-2, and ride 29er. That's as big as id ever want, or need to go. I totally agree, fun read, fun idea. But in the real world, just doesn't make any sense... Bikes are supposed to look good/well proportioned, I don't know what to describe this idea?... Wheels out of sync with the rest of the bike "hands-up/shoulder shrug". I maybe could see 32" would make some sense in certain conditions, maybe.
Another whole standard to deal with, bikes are way over complicated as it is, this would just exasperate the whole problem...
  • 6 0
 @wcr: I think it ends with me sitting inside a 50' sodium-powered zorb and cruising terrible flow trails all day.
  • 1 0
 @3dp: cokers bud
  • 88 7
 I like Park's idea about wheel-sizing just becoming proportional to bike-sizing a la reach.

A guy who's 6'7 would probably love 36" wheels. I would not.
  • 63 7
 Until they fold like tacos.
  • 118 5
 We should already be making bikes with wheel sizes proportional to frame size. I used to have to watch my 6'4" friends ride their XXL frames with extra long stems and seat posts on 26" wheels and it looked ridiculous, those wheels looked so tiny and awkward on those bikes. Now I have to watch my 5'2" friends ride their XS frames on 29" wheels and those bikes look equally awkward and ridiculous in the other direction. But apparently that's marketin... I mean progress.
  • 30 0
 My 6'8 buddy has a Dirtysixer and loves it on XC trails. He let me test it out (I'm 5'11) and it was long as hell, but it was interesting, it's a hardtail that felt like a magic carpet ride. It felt like I was 8 years old riding around on my dad's bike again.
  • 16 1
 @CircusMaximus: Super deluxe ultimate extreme plus extra boost hubs? It's going to be a thing man.
  • 5 0
 @CircusMaximus: They're actually pretty strong wheels, but they're heavy. I never came close to folding one.
  • 4 7
 Yeah as a 6’4 guy I’ve been intrigued by the thought of larger wheels. But I know that on an xs frame it doesn’t make sense. In my mind, the following would make sense:

L-XL xc bike: 3x inch wheels
M xc bike: mullet
XS-S xc bike: 29er

M-XL dh: 29er
XS-S dh: 27.5

Or something along those lines. No idea what the actual sweet spot is, and it sure depends on personal preference. But chainstays are getting longer, so the room is there.
  • 17 0
 @LawlessLawson: You better shut your mouth before Pivot finds this comment
  • 2 0
 @robw515: I still struggle with this, at 6'3" but with the inseam of a much taller person (37"). All of my bikes have always looked funky, but especially the 26" wheeled days.
  • 11 0
 Liteville did this and also the mullet thing years ago. Too early as it turned out. When the market is not ready...
  • 12 1
 Hey, I'm 63, I'd rather have a set of perky 32's.
  • 2 0
 New standard. Boost 145 front and 160 rear.
  • 2 0
 @robw515: I’m 4’10” and ride a small 29er and it is massive for me
  • 4 0
 @CircusMaximus: Rofl, that's exactly what all the Pinkbike bros were saying a few years ago before 29 became ubiquitous. As a tall guy, I would f*cking love to try some 32's. Bring on the future.
  • 2 2
 @robw515: except 5'2 females are winning world cup races on 29ers
  • 1 0
 That would be a fun experiment to do. Curious to see if stuff keeps getting bigger, or if/when the industry swings the pendulum back the other way. The engineers may believe they’re working towards the perfect bike. The marketers have a slightly different goal: convincing us that the perfect bike exists and is just over the next horizon.
  • 6 0
 @JumpDyna: a 27.5 might have been a much better choice
  • 1 0
 Norco does this with their fluid fs line
  • 4 0
 @mkul7r4: To add to that, boost really helped with the stiffness/strength of 29" wheels. Pinkbike bros also still complain about boost.
  • 2 0
 @robw515: well, no excuse for your 5 2 mates being on 29ers.
  • 1 0
 @robw515: you have a tendency to befriend people with odd sizes! Go visit your doctor!
  • 1 0
 @fiatpolski: As far as I know Liteville did this because they were surprised by the succes of big wheels and didn't have a 29er frame ready. So they rushed to market with their mullet idea – substantiated with a marketing spiel ... the bikes may have changed now but a that time they simply tried to sell Frankenbikes.
  • 1 0
 @englertracing: yeah I just cracked it anyway so I’ll have to get a new bike
  • 54 1
 anyone else surprised road bikes are still 700c????
  • 25 1
 Yes.
  • 3 3
 @brianpark: “there are definitely some terrains and trails that you're faster on the larger wheel size - the rougher stuff” - tell me about road riding again?
  • 18 1
 @mi-bike: With 25c tires many roads are rough.
  • 7 0
 The main advantage of a larger wheel is rollover, which doesn’t matter much on road. And wheels are very not-aero (spokes cutting through air add a surprising amount of drag). I’m guessing road wheel sizes would actually get smaller, if not for UCI restrictions
  • 13 1
 @mi-bike: From what I understand from North American visitors, texting car drivers can prove to be tough obstacles to negotiate. So ideally you want something to roll over those. It's a jungle out there. It is roll over or be rolled over.
  • 3 0
 Not me. The majority of professional road cyclists are shorter to average height. It's only rarely that tall people find their way into the pro peloton. Also, smaller wheels are lighter and more nimble. A lot of road racing is not just in a straight line. You have to ride in a pack, up, down and around corners. A more responsive bike is ideal, I'd say.
  • 12 0
 Yeah, 1st thing that came to my mind...
They should have done that for a while, but road bike world is much more shy and traditionalist than mtb`s world.
Look at the big deal it was for them to have disc brakes.
For a roady, 28mm tyres are kind of ``fat`` even if he`ll gain a bit of comfort and inertia, and he won`t sleep at night because of that.
Mountain bike world constantly searches and try to reinvent itself, also competition rules are looser and not restrictive.
Road bike is completely another world, and if one guy wants to make a Tour de France with a pair of 800c or 900c wheels, he won`t be in the norm and I`m not sure he`ll even be allowed to compete.
I ride a custom mullet gravel bike 650B front/700c rear, and each time I meet some roadies they almost insult me and think I`m Satan Smile
  • 2 1
 I'm surprised they're still using tubes or glued-on tires.
  • 2 1
 @gdharries: Maybe for triathletes or time trial racers. These people won't need the nimbleness as much.
  • 1 1
 I put road tires on a 26" xc bike, I was suprised how jarring it was on roads that werent completely smooth.
  • 2 0
 Not really. For one, if you use bigger wheels your feet will run into the front wheel when turning. Although that happens already so maybe the industry doesn't care. The same rotational inertia, weight, stiffness, and aerodynamic conversations apply to the road market. Roads are usually pretty smooth, and I don't want any more extra mass on the farthest-away point from the axle during a crit accelerating between 17 and 20mph 60 times in an hour. Though for cross racing specifically they could really be onto something.
  • 5 7
 @softsteel: Hahahaha. I always ride my road bike in my regular enduro/xc kit,I don´t care a shit about drag or whatever,I hate myself dress in Lycra.
Roadies look to me like WTF are you doing bro... That and my spare tube hanging in the back of the saddle made the people mad.
Love my 28 mm tires,my ass and hands like it a lot too.
Many roadies have a very poor ridding technique,they only knows how to pedal,that´s all they want to know.
Not very interested at all in new things out of weight reduction and stupid aero shit
  • 2 0
 As a tall person, yes. 60cm+ bikes would look so much better with bigger wheels. The ride would probably be smoother too.
  • 2 1
 With the amount of money in road cycling, especially in Europe, it is mind boggling how little innovation is happening. It's taken them forever to figure out tire pressure, disc brakes, hydraulic brakes, etc. For sure road bikes would benefit from larger diameter wheels for many applications. And yet it seems that not much is happening. Gravel biking has forced some rethinking of drop bar bikes but otherwise it seems needlessly static. Don't even get me started on "standard" chainring sizing for road bikes.

So yeah, put me down as screaming that road bike tires should be larger diameter for most riders. Why is basically nobody trying it? As much as us mountainbikers rag on standard changes, at least this type of biking is advancing quickly. Road biking just recently finally figured out that disc brakes are better. Wheel diameter? Roadies have no clue and no intention to experiment at all.
  • 5 0
 @dfiler: The UCI also stifles innovation and experimentation www.uci.org/inside-uci/constitutions-regulations/equipment which sure doesn't help.

Mountain biking was born from those desiring to innovate and experiment, as you know. Road cycling has been around so long that the traditions are deeply embedded.
  • 1 1
 @gdharries: Good point. Amazing how the UCI has impacted cycling both good and bad. And yet the industry hasn't stepped up. Bikes that wouldn't be race legal would still be worthwhile. Are roadies so lock-step that they only ride racer bikes?

Perhaps so. Look how long "standard" chain ring sizes have been around. Who TF is best served by a 53/39 2x setup? Pretty much nobody. The stupidity of that is simply incomprehensible.
  • 1 0
 @gdharries: there are plenty of tall riders, there just aren't many grand tour riders who are GCS contenders.
  • 3 1
 @dfiler: you can get standard chainrings, compacts, and the faux pro or whatever you want to call it 52/36. Why are you bitching about road gearing where there are tons of choices?
  • 1 0
 You don't want bigger wheels on a road bike as it makes slipstreaming people in front of you less efficient.
  • 2 0
 @clink83: the complaint is that bikes come stock with inappropriate gearing for most people. It isn’t possible to install an appropriate size without changing the crank set. The bolt pattern standard is a poor design for most people’s needs. Again, it’s because road cycling has been slow to adopt improved design.
  • 1 0
 @martinaasa: most road bike riders aren’t slip streaming. There’s for sure a huge segment of the market that would prioritize other factors over slip streaming. And with that said, how do you know the alleged less efficient slipstreaming outweighs other potential efficiency improvements? See... this is why road cycling is slow to adopt improvements.
  • 1 0
 Nope, roadies could have had disk brakes 20 years ago and it’s only now they’re finally starting to adopt them. But I suppose it’s better than mountain bike industry trying to sell us new standards every year. Fat bikes didn’t take off so let’s try plus sized tyres see if that sells. Plus size didn’t sell so let’s try 29ers, 29ers haven’t really taken off so let’s try mullets. Yawn, I’ll be down the skate park riding around in circles on my bmx until they figure it out.
  • 2 0
 @dfiler: also partially incorrect, all shimano road cranks are the same BCD now. You just change the changing.
  • 1 0
 Chainrings*
  • 2 0
 @thenotoriousmic: "29ers haven’t really taken off"

In what world is this a true statement?

Also, mountain bikes barely had disc brakes 20 years ago.
  • 3 0
 @dfiler: Have you ever done a road race? That's where 53/39 comes from and in that arena it makes sense. Sure it doesn't make sense for too many normal riders, but the thing about road is that everything comes down from racing for some reason, at least that is the way most of the advertising dollars are spent. I think people connect with the idea of being fast or the fastest. The same way people want a 800HP car even though they can't use it. Most road bikes ship with 50/34 up front and 11-30 or 11-32 in the rear. With a 25-28mm tire this gearing is good for most climbs IMO. Full on newbie riders should have a 30/34 or 30/36 at the low end though while they build up their fitness.
MTB doesn't really have gearing figured out either though. People look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them I have a 28/50 low gear on my 29er. I like to have the option to have a high cadence if I'm going up a really steep smooth climb. Going below 60rpm isn't so good for the legs.
  • 1 0
 @WheelNut: Yea I didn't want to beat a dead horse, but if you are riding in a pack on flat ground you need a 53/39. For most fit riders they would probably do best with the 52/36. I'm 200+lbs so I need a compact if I'm going to be doing a lot of climbing, but I loved 52/36 with a 12-28 cassette for flat/rolling rides.
  • 2 0
 @WheelNut:

"Going below 60rpm isn't so good for the legs"

It's actually awesome for the legs. Well known doper Lance Armstrong used to train for TT by riding climbs on his time trial bike, in the aero-bars, and in the big ring (only ring?).

It might not be too good for your knees, though.
  • 2 1
 @gdharries: What are you talking about? Ryder Hejadal at 6,3 is short? Chris Fromme, 4x tour de France winner is 6ft 1 Big Mig ring a bell? He was 6-3 Tom Boonen 6-4 . Plenty of taller than average riders.
  • 1 0
 @re-ride66: The UCI actually shares this height data. There's about 190 UCI cyclists who are 1.90m tall or taller. That is, 6'2" or greater.

Comparatively, there were over 3,300 World Tour level cyclists in 2019...and that's just the Elite men.

See the difference?
  • 2 0
 @gdharries: Thats about 5% of the riders, and being 6'2 puts you in the 96th percentile for height. Taller riders are over-represented in cycling vs the normal population by 25% if you really want to get nit picky.
  • 1 0
 @homerjm: haha. I do the same but I roll 38 x 700c and it's deliciously smooth and not that slow.

Keeping up in the bunch rides with some baggies is quite fun.
  • 1 3
 Since you brought up the topic of roadies... I could care less about their tire size, once they stop riding side by side and in packs, blocking traffic FFS. AND it is called a bike lane not line, quit hugging the damn line.
  • 2 0
 @TW80: Roadies are the reason you have paved roads. Be glad there are car lanes.
  • 1 1
 @werics: Haha! I guess we could look at it like that... Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads!
  • 51 4
 This is going to be awesome. Especially when matched up with a 162mm rear end, a 14 speed drivetrain, a 45mm stanchioned fork and a 300mm dropper. The only thing that bothers me is the countless iterations we'll have to go through before we finally get there. And when we do it'll be just in time to hear about someone testing 40" wheels FFS.
  • 36 16
 Would you rather be riding bikes from the 90's?
  • 20 0
 @brandaneisma: I am 45, lived, raced etc. thru the 90's bikes. I am 27.5 guy all bikes right now (except my DJ). Even with 29's, bikes today are better in EVERY way than bikes from back then. The only real exception I can think off is the DJ market. Few minor tweaks, but they are still pretty much big BMX bikes.....which is perfect IMO.
  • 4 2
 14 speed drivetrain. You mean the Kindernay rear hub? Not sure if that 300mm travel dropper is going to make much sense with a one yard rear wheel. Especially with rear suspension.
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy this guy has just designed the Melancholy Bearclaw mk2 for you.
  • 2 0
 Before we get there? We will never get there. Cars have been changing every year for over 120 years.
  • 51 15
 Can’t wait to see ebikers on 36” wheels cuz it allows them “to go further”.
  • 14 64
flag BuildSendRinseRepeat (May 21, 2020 at 10:28) (Below Threshold)
 ... and I can't wait to see analog ebike hating holdouts downsizing to 20" wheels cuz it allows them to get "even less downhill"
  • 65 19
 @BuildSendRinseRepeat: analog and acoustic are BS terms. I’m not a hater or a holdout. I ride mountain bikes. Different sport. Carry on.
  • 21 63
flag ranke (May 21, 2020 at 10:39) (Below Threshold)
 @CircusMaximus: ...as an ebiker whips over you while you stand in the middle of the trail screaming, "That's not the same sport!"
No one cares what you call it.
  • 22 7
 @CircusMaximus: YES. where did those terms even come from?! you have a bike or an electric bike.
  • 27 18
 @ranke: hahaha if I ever see an ebiker actually leave the ground... you whip your 50 pounder, do you??? Lol
  • 18 43
flag huck-wagon (May 21, 2020 at 11:08) (Below Threshold)
 @CircusMaximus: So says the guy who can't get air. Motos are even heavier. Seen those whipped? Keep pedaling and crying about other people's fun.
  • 18 15
 @huck-wagon: ok guy. Butt hurt much?
  • 21 0
 @huck-wagon: 50x the HP and 2x the suspension may have a art in that, no?
  • 6 0
 Haha the whole further thing classic and of course get a better workout haha
  • 9 3
 @huck-wagon: haha pedaling it's what biking is all about
  • 15 2
 I can hear the e-bikes come whining from a long way back on the climbs they should be called Whine-e-bikes
  • 6 1
 @taprider: or eeeeeeeee-bikes
  • 2 0
 @ReformedRoadie: the thing about art is that it doesn't really matter what you think of someone else's
  • 1 0
 All the pros, none of the cons!
  • 5 2
 @taprider: seems to me that other riders do the most whining :p
  • 5 8
 Seem kinda obvious @crysvb:

Electic guitar - Acoustic guitar

Electric bike - Acoustic bike

Digital watch - Analog watch

Digital bike - Analog bike

Whilst ebikes arent for me, anyone who says they don’t whip hasn’t spent 7 seconds on a Sam Pilgrim youtube video.
  • 5 3
 @CircusMaximus: you apparently don‘t see much in your seemingly little world! Sending it on an ebike is not an inkling more difficult than doing it with any other bike. But don’t take my word for it - just try it yourself. If you don’t like it, no problem. But stop blathering about stuff you don‘t have a clue about...
BTW, I own several bikes with and without a motor and riding any one of them is fun and, lo and behold, mountain biking.
  • 2 0
 @DaysToCome: "Brraaaapppppp" is universal
  • 5 1
 @L0rdTom: before electric bikes nobody EVER referred to a bike as 'acoustic' like i said, you have an ebike or bike. that simple. bikes don't need another name because someone put a battery on one.
  • 1 1
 @Heidesandnorth: wrong. What you have are two different things. Get over it.
  • 2 3
 @crysvb: Couldn’t have made the point better, the term “analogue watch” was coined to retroactively separate them from the new-at-the-time digital watches. Just like my stable of analogue bikes.
  • 4 0
 @L0rdTom: how ridiculous. So, you refer to your watch as your analog watch? No, you don’t.
Nobody uses the term...except for ebikers.
  • 2 3
 @CircusMaximus: you only use the term analogue watch if someone else asks what kind of watch it is. Otherwise its just a watch, digital or otherwise.

Similarly, bicycles and electric bicycles are both just “bikes” until someone cares enough to ask what kind it is.
  • 2 2
 @L0rdTom: hahahahaha come on man
  • 2 1
 @CircusMaximus:

I won't ride an ebike until I can't pedal a non-motorized bike, but they are the same thing. One just gives you the legs of Mathieu van der Poel on a slightly heavier bike.

Is MvdP not riding bikes?
  • 4 1
 analog vs digital refers to wave vs segmented form or how measurements are displayed
acoustic vs electric refers to how sound is made (electric can be either analog or digital)
but since real bikes don't make significant sound, maybe the terms should be
Silent Bike vs EEEEEEEE-Bike
  • 1 0
 @taprider: well yeah all the motors are digital DC, whereas my legs have an analogue power wave largely dependant on crank position.

I would posit that for most bikes, if anything your categories should be:

“Deafening clicking freehub bikes”

“Deafening clicking freehub with a bit of electric whirring bikes”

Or is that just me and every other Hope/CK hub owner?
  • 30 1
 I've ridden both 32" and 36" wheels on mountain unis. I was a beta tester for a 36" tire that was developed by a couple mountain bikers (Walt and Matt), I rode that tire exclusively for a couple years. It's a great size for XC, slow to get rolling, but once up to speed it really carries over obstacles. A few years back, Walmart sold a 32" cruiser singel speed bike. I bought one of those cruisers and built up a couple 32" wheeled Munis and rode those for a while, I also did a cut-sew-glue custom tire for the 32" wheels. I found the 32" wheels to be a nice mix of lower weight, faster to spin up, and easier to handle.

36" wheels are really big, if you haven't ridden one, it's quite the experience, comparable to going from a 20" wheel to a 29" wheel, so stability out the wazoo, but a lot of wheel to manage in hairy situations. I could see a 32" wheel for bikepacking and endurance riding, but I think a real racer would balk at the added wheel weight and increased rim flex.

Unicycle.com is selling their Nimbus branded tire in 32" and 36", it's a mixed use tire, so inverted tread, they also sell rims, so a handy person could potentially build a set of wheels for a custom frame/fork, not sure there's a suspension fork that'll clear a 32" wheel, maybe a fat bike more like the Mastodon EXT. The knobby 36" mtb tire I rode does not appear to be in production now, sadly.

Dirtysixer has pics of a bike they sell with an DC MRP fork that fits a 36" wheel, so that's pretty cool.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for your take! I've been really curious on this topic... waiting to hear about the "Next evolution" to go larger/faster/N+1 bike selling point. 32" hits an interesting mark for sure, MUni would probably put some decent load on the rims too. New wheelsize speed advantage on trail bikes? Why not.

Now everyone start selling your garbage and inferior 29rs on the cheap please. It'll add liquidity into the second hand market and get more people riding good bikes that don't suck on the climbs!
  • 7 14
flag WAKIdesigns (May 21, 2020 at 11:37) (Below Threshold)
 IMHO Bontrager is best in the short knob tire business. A 32” XR3 front and XR2 rear would do me for down country
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: My winter tire on my Giant Anthem is a Magic Mary. My summer is High Rollers.

Those are downcountry tires, not the XR3 or XR2.
  • 4 0
 @WakisNo1Fan: #ThisFeelsAwkward
  • 25 1
 “ There aren't that many switchbacks that are so tight that the length of the bike, whether that wheel base is a 1000 or 1200, you're not going to get around there”
Have you ever ridden European alpine trails? I can’t take some switchbacks with my midget 27.5 450mm reach large sized bike.
  • 6 0
 Yeah, where is he talking about? Wisconsin?
  • 7 0
 Also 1000mm to 1200mm wheelbase? His top end is the length of a small Transition Sentinel.
  • 26 0
 We will soon see penny farthings on trails
  • 5 0
 The ultimate 69er!
  • 1 0
 Or penny pennies.
  • 20 0
 'Travis testing a 69er many years ago.' Was expecting a different image.
  • 12 0
 The image is around, different website though. Big Grin
  • 17 0
 Trek + SRAM = Shrek???
  • 5 1
 Sound more like Shite - with that English accent Wink
  • 3 0
 or Tram Big Grin
  • 5 0
 Outta Me swamp
  • 16 2
 Oh no! A company is merely testing out something that you'll never ever have to buy if you don't want to.

The Horror! How can someone disrespect a hobby like that?
  • 13 0
 And so it begins. I'll be the guy buying your outdated 29er next year for next to nothing. Cheers.
  • 13 0
 Travis Brown has the coolest job in the world!
  • 1 0
 I remember him and Lance racing xc in 98
  • 12 2
 While the future is undeniable, and there will be larger wheel sizes, nobody will tell me that I cannot have fun on a 26er!

#26aintdead!
  • 11 0
 I just want a dirt jumper Frown
  • 9 0
 You should buy one!
  • 3 1
 @brianpark: If I want one I'd have one right now. Just a tad broke Frown
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: availability is pretty low for any decent model. You folks should do a supply chain in the covid era article. It's interesting stuff.
  • 5 0
 My LBS did this. They had their ultra light 26” s works bikes and a cheap heavy 29 gary. They did lap time testing over and over and the 29 was the winner. This is for straight xc tho.

Also they did the same with a hard tail and FS and the hard tail for sure “feels” faster, it was slower per lap.
  • 5 0
 Curious if 32"+ tires would even be transportable on anything resembling a standard car bike rack. My 1up rack is already close to maxed out with a Large size 29er and 2.4 tires. I'd imagine that might necessitate having a truck to get to the trailhead, or maybe you'd need a vertical rack with a taller post. There's no way you could bring it on a plane for that Whistler trip and would complicate things for serious racers.
  • 3 0
 Rack companies need to increase their rack sizes ASAP. My XL bike hangs way off my Yakima rack.
  • 10 0
 They’re talking about completely re-designing bikes, and this guy is worried about his car rack...
  • 1 0
 @skelldify: how you are going to get your new bike to the trail is pretty damn important no? What good is the bike if you can't fit it in/on your car and are limited to trails rideable from your house? There are some practical limits to bike design and being able to transport it to the trailhead seems like one of them.
  • 2 0
 @WheelNut: Seriously... I drove a shuttle van for an enduro race, and a lot of those sleds could barely fit in brand new Yakima roof racks which had just being lengthened. Bikes have gotten so long and slack now, if we get 32s and maaaybe 36s they'll be insanely tall too.

A lot of shuttle vans might need to be completely rebuilt if 32s and definitely 36s hit the scene. Hell with a 36 on top, vans might not be able to get through some tunnels.
  • 5 0
 Real talk, are we going to have to go through the whole no boost, and then boost, and then super boost s**t show, or can we cut straight to the money with a properly sized hub on my 2025 cross-country bike?
  • 12 0
 You're in luck, I've got the hub for you! It's a 12x165mm from a 2004 Iron Horse,I always knew it's day would come again.
  • 1 0
 @nozes: Only if I can take the bike along with the hub! I'll need something to ride when I'm stealing downhill KOMs.
  • 3 0
 @nozes: my cousin also has one of those. Msc makes hubs still ask me how I know lol
  • 13 7
 To me, this is an indication "innovators" have either run out of things to innovate or simply not being ambitious enough.
It's like comedians who have no fresh material.
  • 2 4
 Funny he gets paid for this 'thought'.
  • 4 0
 Kinda lame tbh. Its so predictable. Why do we wanna always make things easier; so dull. Obviously youre gunna go down mammoth mtn faster on your 36er; sippin mtn dew at the same time. I want affordable and light down-trail bikes ;p
  • 8 4
 ya the industry should have stopped at klunkers...
  • 4 1
 Seriously, come on bike industry: cheaper and/or lighter!
  • 2 4
 @joebmx88: There's nothing compelling or original about your comment, though it does illustrates my point.
  • 6 1
 Actually I wish more companies would engage in extensive testing of their products like this. It sounds like a very solid and comprehensive test program with timed comparisons across diverse terrain. They are controlling variables to eliminate differences due to other parts and focusing singularly on wheelsize. This is how mtb testing should be done compared to most of the what we hear about in the mtb world.
  • 2 0
 @dthomp325: thats true, iliked how they specceds the same low end tires
  • 7 0
 Soon we'll be saying #29aintdead
  • 6 0
 Does anyone make a 36er bike called "The Yard Sale"? If not, this is me copyrighting the name, right here.
  • 5 2
 Do it and don't stop. All of the ludites here who hated on 29ers that now ride 29ers will jump on board once the new thing becomes normalized. The fearful reptilian brain is hard to to overcome. Just leap over all of the reptiles here and let us know when you get the geo all figured out. The reptiles will be clamoring to be in the club, the herd will come around it always does.
  • 4 0
 Seems like 32" is a pretty big jump and 36" is a huge leap.

I could certainly see room for Mullet-ing modern size L & up 29ers with a 31-32" front wheel.
  • 1 0
 There’s good points all around but there are simply limitations with the human body. Doubt my shorter girlfriend would want a 36” wheel for her enduro bike. I’m 6’4” and I wonder why they stopped at 29”. The question you have to ask is: if designers were working from the ground up, would they choose the same wheel sizes?
  • 2 0
 I think you have to distinguish between optimum front and rear tire size. Because for the rear travel in enduro and downhill and heights under ~195cm (6ft4) , we are definitly at the end of the spectrum if desired rear travel is fixed and the optimum lies somewhere between the existing sizes. What about the front tire, I don't know.
  • 3 0
 Not even joking - I wouldn't at all be surprised if a 30.5" wheel became a thing in the next few years. I for one would be excited if my 2020 model bike was outdated by 2022.
  • 1 2
 That's never going to happen because you need buy-in from so many other places: frames, spokes, tubes/inserts, tires, etc. Think how long it took to get plus and 29" tires in thicker casings. A new wheel size would take at least two years just to develop a proper range of products.
  • 3 0
 @alexsin: I don’t know, 27.5 popped up pretty fast.
  • 3 0
 Tires will be just flat tread that comes on a roll that is joined at your LBS. "I'd like 2 x 27.5 High Roller for the enduro, 2 x 26 inches of Holy Roller for the deejay, 72 inches of Ardent Race..."
  • 14 1
 I’ve never got this “dont build something better because my bike will be outdated” nonsense. Your bike is still just as good as the day you bought it, something better existing does not in any way make riding your bike less fun.

Unless you are a poser.
  • 2 0
 @L0rdTom: you’re right, but boy is it frustrating when it’s hard to get parts for your bike a couple of years after you buy it. Happened when the 26 to 27.5 shift happened and starting to happen now for the 27.5 to 29 shift.
  • 2 0
 If it ain't broke don't fix it. Ok we have bigger wheels for more bike sales. I can still get any parts for my 26 inch wheeled bikes so it's all good. Dirt Jump and Pump track bikes will always be 26 because they are stronger , lighter and most importantly more fun.
  • 2 0
 I’m planning on building a 27.5 pump track bike next summer. At my height (6’6”) I will be able to get a frame that fits me better, and it will still feel as playful to me as a 26 does to most people.
  • 1 0
 @pacificnorthwet:

What frame are you looking at for a 27.5 dirt jumper?

I’m tall too and can’t find many with steep sta, low standover and short cs. (Let alone horizontal dropouts.)
  • 1 0
 @pacificnorthwet: one catch, the jump, been, and roller radii aren’t growing to match your bigger bike. I’d be curious to know how this goes. I’m 6’3” but don’t mind a longer 26” DJ bike.
  • 1 0
 @pacificnorthwet: sorry, berm. Not been.
  • 1 0
 @ozhuck2flat: I'm a year out from building this (borrowing a DJ from a friend for this summer), but I'm looking at something like a Commencal Meta HT or a Ragley Marley. I would size down to a large, and correct the HTA by running either a 100 or 120 mm fork depending on the frame and the balance between decent HTA and BB drop. Both frames have CS lengths of about 425 which is a fair bit longer than a typical DJ but I think it would balance well with the ~125 mm growth in WB to feel like a slightly scaled up DJ. @BiNARYBiKE is right that the longer bike wont fit between the rollers as well, but the goal would be to strike a balance between better fit for me and a decent fit for the application.
  • 1 0
 @pacificnorthwet: Both sound like pretty good choices. I was looking at the Kona Honzo (29), and running it with 27.5 wheels as it has a steep HA and 420mm CS. It's got a much lower bb though so it'd probably not feel too great on 27.5 wheels.

On Ragley's site, the HA at 25% sag is 67deg. That's still pretty slack for a DJ so the steering might feel sluggish.

It's really hard to find something that works well when you're tall so good luck with the build.
  • 5 0
 This is going to wheelie make people mad.
  • 5 1
 People are tired of changing sizes!
  • 2 1
 edit, I repeated your joke cause I'm a dumbass that can't read.
  • 2 1
 No, this is going to make people wheelie mad
  • 4 0
 @marc-c: I feel like we’re talking in circles
  • 2 0
 @nyhc00: I know this website is the hub of all knowledge, but give him some slack - he just spoke out of turn. Nipple.
  • 1 0
 @Linkpin: Another recycled comment.
  • 9 6
 f*ck this. 26r to 36r now? I wish these "testers" were concerned about more than going fast on straight aways and pushing bs marketing.
  • 9 2
 You are so correct. I think Travis Brown doesn’t even mountain bike. I think he’s fake. Just pushing the 36r agenda. I actually went back to 16” trail bike. It’s so flickable and playful.
  • 1 0
 Second picture is him riding that Trek XC bike that had the 50/50 paintjob - one side blue, the other side cream. I remember seeing it in a mag years ago but have never been able to find any more pictures of it.

So I'm not going mad!
  • 2 0
 Scott Sharples had the same paint job on his DH bike.
  • 1 0
 Hey Waki, how about some prototype drawings for the bike companies to copy just like RS did with that inverted XC fork? I'm thinking a 36/ 32 mullet that transforms from a short wheelbase to slack and long wheelbase. Love your art and spirit
  • 3 0
 Why is it that kids go up 4" in wheel sizes every 4-6" in height, but a 5'0" adult and 6'4" adult are both picking between 27.5 and 29?
  • 3 0
 I don't care about my lap times. I care about feel & enjoyment. I like how smaller wheels feel. If it's more fun, I'll ride it more. No other metric really matters.
  • 1 0
 Travis said those big wheel bikes look stupid. I thought about it and yeah, maybe that's true. But then it dawned on me. It looks stupid because it's a bicycle. We just don't think bikes with small wheels look stupid because we are used to them. So that bad reaction to big wheel bikes is our genuine reaction to a bicycle. It's the reaction we would have to any bicycle if we saw one for the first time right now. 29, 32 and 36" bicycle hating, is really bicycle hating plain and simple. A bicycle is a strange contraption, we only tolerate them because we are used to them. Or, we tolerate the ones we are used to because we just don't think about it.
  • 1 0
 Reading this was like watching the first part of Jurassic Park. "We've built this cool shit in the lab and it's also really scary, but we promise it'll never get loose on the public" This interview needed Jeff Goldblum in the background saying "no, NO, NO!!"
  • 1 0
 I think it’s the interesting what he said about 26” feeling faster than 29” almost every time, so unless you are racing, even on an amateur level, the 29” will be the better option. If you are just trail riding for fun a 26” or 27.5” is fine...you don’t have to go as fast to get that on the edge feeling, that if we are honest is one of the main things we are looking for as mountain bikers. Never understood the ‘smooths out the trail’ opinion on 29” wheels as a big positive, as I spend a lot of time searching out technical trails to enjoy the challenge of getting down in one piece.
  • 1 0
 What a great read! I for one love the idea of bigger wheel sizes being an option. As a 6’4” dude I have never had a 26 in bike that felt like it fit right and 27.5in wasn’t much better. 29in feels amazing. Its funny looking back to see how I used to think 29in tires looked funny but now the 26in tire is the sure mark of an outdated bike. I’m surprised of all the haters out there lol.
  • 1 0
 Bigger is nice of riding in such choppy/rooty/bouldery terrain that it otherwise just is a struggle going forward.
If riding in smooth trails I'd really prefer going back to 27.5 to get that lively playfulness back.
Unfortunately for me I ride in really chunky terrain, making 29 the better choice most of the time.

The competitive stage will surely go bigger since it gives easier rolling speed, and people will surely follow since they always follow what the pros do. They just don't understand that increased rollover speed (prio for the pro) is not always equal to increased fun (prio for the amateur).
  • 5 0
 Grabs popcorn...
  • 11 1
 *Closes article due to disinterest* ( I mean its cool and all, but gets old quick.)
  • 6 1
 Brace yourselves...
  • 4 0
 #29isdead it’s all about the 36 now.
  • 5 0
 too soon. We need a mourning period #29snotdead
  • 7 7
 I just don't understand how the bike industry gets away with phasing out wheel sizes like its some sort of fashion, you can still get decent 13" - whatever" rims for cars despite the trend towards larger wheels there. Hopefully some manufacturers buck the trend and continue supporting the many fantastic pieces of engineering that are still going strong on 'older' standards. If I broke a rim on my 2015 VW and found out that I had to buy a new car because no-one built a 15" alloy anymore it would seem ridiculous. Why do we put up with it as cyclists?

I'm not racing, I dont mind if I'm 2% slower than my mates on their 29ers, if I dont have to spend the £5,000 they did to get a similarly performing bike that I paid £600 for second hand. Most of them will never be as fast as vouilloz was on 26"...

Seems like industry collusion from where I'm sat.
  • 9 1
 So is it impossible to buy 26” rims now? The 20 odd options (from low to high end carbon) on chain reaction beg to differ...
  • 2 2
 @katbox, Well said buddy
  • 1 0
 @tomhoward379: ...only 12 are actually in stock, and there's far less choice of colours etc. There are 72 available in 27 5, and 58 in 29", and I imagine alot of those 26" rims in stock wont be restocked when they're sold.

But yeah, maybe I'm just being cynical.
  • 4 1
 So you have to ride even faster, hurting more when crashing, to have the same amount of fun and sense of speed? I'll pass.
  • 4 0
 Trek Fuel 36er release coming tomorrow. Stand by.
  • 2 0
 I am 6-1 riding 27.5, when i do ratios on my 9 yr old on 27.5 its like he's on a 38" wheel. Could we use kids to ser how all this might work relative to body size?
  • 1 1
 The 69er I put together worked pretty well for me, especially considering that it was a full rigid bike.

I'm wondering if I can find a straight 1"-1/8" steer tube 29er fork with at least 170 mm travel to put up front on my 26" wheel Joker. It's got 175mm rear wheel travel. I think it would make a pretty good mullet setup just like that.
  • 3 3
 If instead of 622mm (29er) they would've picked something between 605-610mm you would have:

- No 27.5
- Just one size needed for tyre manufacturers and retailers.
- No issues with wheels not fitting in certain rear suspension designs at desired travel and chainstay lengths.
- No stiffness need for superduperboost ultra.
- All DH bikes on 608mm
- No need for mullet bikes
- No stack issies for the smallest racers.
- No bum hitting tyre issues.
- Less weight especially with enduro tough wheels and tyres.

The people who need something different can then glue 32'' together and be special.

Oh well, too late.
  • 1 0
 Could see wheels with different sizes happening, but is it really needed or wanted, will let tall people get bikes that fit them better & laugh at smaller riders trying to copy them?
  • 1 0
 If one of the tire giants did a quality trail and xc mule for just this, every builder would be tweaking angles on napkins. NBA size people will rip and yes absolutely this is a great idea. Make the tires.
  • 1 0
 in the end we will just revert to penny farthing, 60'' up front for great rollover and 12'' out back to keep the chain stays short!
  • 13 14
 Road and gravel should be the first to adapt 32”. This article makes me super excited for new things to come. Would totally ride a Large sized rigid bike with 32” x 38-42c tires. Honestly, it’s a no brainer for road gravel and XC Marathon. Any road bike above 58 looks stupid with those little wheels
  • 3 1
 The weight and aerodynamic penalty would easily outweigh the benefits.
  • 3 2
 Of you ride a bike over 58. Put the bike down and pick up a horse instead. Or start planting beanstalks
  • 1 0
 I agree. I'm surprised road bike wheels have not increased in diameter. I'm guessing UCI limits to 700c, which is why we are stuck. Just look at how much better road/gravel bikes have gotten in the past several years after UCI started allowing disc brakes. That was a huge improvement that was hampered for years by UCI regs.
  • 3 7
flag WAKIdesigns (May 21, 2020 at 13:15) (Below Threshold)
 @ReformedRoadie: UCI certified road bikes are already carrying 2kg of ballast. Aerodynamics I have no idea,
  • 1 0
 Due to aero losses of larger tires on road bikes i dont think you will see bigger tires there. Gravel however would be interesting.
  • 1 6
flag WAKIdesigns (May 21, 2020 at 14:34) (Below Threshold)
 @fabwizard: how so? You mean drag caused by air traveling on the side of the wheel? But almost every single new road bike got away from droplet section of tubing, they aren’t really caring that much? They are already going for 28c tires on some races on roads with worse surfaces. Amateurs don’t care at all since they already ride bikes with higher stacks so aero losses are already bigger. Let’s be clear about amateurs even on road racing bikes, their hands rarely go to drops. Bigger wheels mean less rolling resistance. Off course I am hypothetisizing, I have no device measuring rolling resistance or wind tunnel to measure aero drag.
  • 4 2
 @WakisNo1Fan: Not gonna lie i'm really looking forward to some of your comments in the future. Even if you're really just @WAKIdesigns taking the piss out of himself.
  • 1 0
 you are mad hahaha. Roadies only need aero-shit bling-bling for the buck stuff. They love bikes who catch your feet when you turn the wheel,you are very optimistic. They would go mad about the drag and weight in the forums for 20 years at least.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Full airfoil section tubes aren't used anymore because they are too heavy/flexible. Most bikes are employing kamm tail section tubes now to improve aero performance without the structural compromises.
Aero drag from wheels is a big talking point in road. Its probably the main reason people aren't going beyond 28mm wide tires.
  • 1 3
 @Baoas: I am not related in any way to this phenomenon. Possibly an insta repost whore I angried.
  • 2 2
 @WheelNut: I don’t know anything about aero but I thought Hambini was talking a lot about problems going on on sides of wheels. Would be interesting to see comparison drag vs less rolling resistance. But then there’s comfort..
  • 1 1
 Whilst Waki creating his own account to troll himself would be the most Waki thing possible, it’s obvious that @WakisNo1Fan: is @double-crown-addict guy.
  • 3 0
 Minaar on 36 still podiuming 10 years ahead?
  • 5 2
 I already put in an order for a 2025 Trek PennyFarthing
  • 2 3
 I don’t buy into the larger wheels for taller riders narrative. At 6’2”, I still prefer 27.5 on my trail bike. I prefer to have more fun over speed on my local trails. I would like to give a 29 DH bike a try. I can see the benefit for DH for me. Trails, not so much.
  • 3 0
 Out of curiosity what trail bikes did you ride to arrive at your preference?
  • 2 2
 @brianpark: I’ve only spent a good amount of time on a Sentinel. I’ve done quick rides on friends 29ers, but nothing to get good feedback on. I liked the Sentinel, but there wasn’t anything that made me feel that it was better or more fun than my 27.5. Definitely more of a chore on the tight, techy trails.
  • 1 0
 I agree. at 6'4 all of my bikes are 27.5. Tried a 29er DH bike which felt very slow and sluggish. The problem imo is not so much the bigger wheel, but the geometry and weight. The best 29er I have ridden was the Scott Ransom. It was so good I didn't even felt the 29er wheels. But too expensive for.
  • 6 5
 I don't really buy the whole 27.5 is "more fun" thing. It was definitely true 5+ years ago when 29ers had crap geometry, but today they are just as flickable and corner harder than 27.5. They still might be too much to handle for smaller riders who can't get the stack height low enough, but I've never had a problem airing out or getting around tight switchbacks on a recent 29er.
  • 4 0
 @schwaaa31: That's a pretty big trail bike. What did you end up going with?
  • 2 2
 I'm another 6'2" person who will never own a bike with a wheel size bigger than 27.5. I've owned a few good 29ers over the years and enjoyed them at the time but for me 29 was really good when bikes had short wheel bases and reaches. Also combined with how bad tyres were at the time the 29-inch wheels were often a revelation. With the more appropriate reaches and will bases on modern bikes I think the 29 wheels are a lot list helpful, especially for my typically tight, steep tracks we have here where I live.
  • 2 1
 I'm 6'6" and maybe you're not tall enough to qualify. At 6'2" you can still ride a standard large frame and enjoy geometry and fit the way most bikes were intended. At 6'6" all that stuff goes out the window - notice how few companies vary chainstay length and seat tube angle by size? 29" wheels and longer rear ends help solve that but you're still part of the big part of the bell curve.
  • 1 0
 @alexsin: Good point. I guess I'm considered on the short end of being tall. I'd imagine for someone at your height, it'd be a much better fit.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. “Fun” often seems to translate to more technical. More fun -> more maneuverable -> easier hit technical lines where precision is key.
  • 1 2
 @schwaaa31: small-tall? nah we’re tall medium.

6’3 is where tall starts, 6’ is where “Adult” starts.
  • 3 0
 Wonder how it felt knocking out Brendan Schaub
  • 1 0
 Schaub rides e-bikes, so clearly he's a pussy.
  • 1 0
 I wonder if Trek selling 27.5 fat bikes and 29+ bikes gave a baseline geometry for this testing since those sizes are already larger than a standard 29er.
  • 3 0
 I have a Stache with Vee Bulldozer 29x3.25's and the outer diameter is right around 31", so not that far off from 32. As far as I know it's probably the biggest tire that will fit (somewhere around 5-10mm clearance in back with the dropouts all the way back).

It's definitely made me interested in trying a 36er or 32+.

I've also toyed with the idea of what a 29+ / 36er mullet bike might be like. Seat angle on the Stache is already too slack, though, so it might not be the best platform to try it.

If we're getting really crazy, think what the contact patch would be like for 32 or 36 fat...
  • 1 0
 Has anybody *actually* done testing between small and large wheels with identical mass moments of inertia on typical DH terrain?
  • 1 0
 The bigger tires would win
  • 1 2
 @clink83: you sound so sure, I'm not so sure.
  • 1 0
 You're gonna be hard pressed to get identical mass moments without introducing additional variables. If tires are to be the same width, then the big wheels will have flimsy sidewalls. If both sidewalls are to be as robust, then the bigger tire will have to be a narrower width.
  • 1 0
 32's not dead? He doesn't come across as much interested in that one. But maybe they're just moving the Overton window so we think 32 is normal.
  • 1 0
 These have been out for 20 years already, raced guys back then from Black Sheep on 36ers, nothing new here for you that don’t know your bike history.
  • 3 0
 Oh boy. Here we go....
  • 2 1
 Bigger wheels are coming! More is fine i just hope it doesnt replace what is.
  • 2 0
 How it's done on the MOTO world?
  • 2 0
 Tomorrow on the front page: first look at the 2021 fuel EX 32er...
  • 1 0
 I guess the question i posted a couple of weeks ago about a new wheel size coming out has got a bit of attention Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Imagine if the UCI capped wheel size 15 years ago. 26" for XC and DH. Would any of this have happened?
  • 2 0
 Speaking of weird ... Where`s the Grim Donut ?
  • 4 0
 It's going to appear in an 'Now THAT was a bike' article the next time we see it
  • 1 0
 Definitely interesting. I would try it for novelty, but being short, 29 wheels are pushing the limits for me.
  • 2 0
 No pictures of subject wheel sizes???
  • 1 0
 "for the people who don't want to listen to an hour of banter."

bah, just listen! what else are you gonna do right now?
  • 1 0
 I'm envisioning bikes that eventually look like Tron cycles. With huge wheels and you're down IN the bike.
  • 1 0
 I'm down.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: ... in the bike.
  • 1 0
 I can’t believe dirtysixer the maker of 36” wheel MTB was never mention
  • 1 0
 Nothing new here Ventana manufactures 36 ers for a private brand Since 2016 Dirty 6er Next !!!
  • 1 0
 Thought this was gonna be a parody article... but y'all are actually serious Rolleyes
  • 1 1
 Day is not far when we all will be having a giant Ferris wheel bolted on to our frames. We will roll over mount everest with ease.
  • 1 0
 Great...my penny farthing is now back in fassion.....cant wait to start sending it on that
  • 1 0
 I would be totally happy with dialed hardtail carbon everything 36er. Size medium please.
  • 2 0
 Pinkbikers really want to see the photos of this 32 or 36er wheeled bikes.
  • 2 0
 First, the Grim Donut. Then...the Grim Pretzel...
  • 1 0
 We're not going to change sizes again anytime soon, so this bs needs to stop. And right quick.
  • 2 0
 69er... nice
  • 1 3
 Omg who read that. Need a whole lockdown for that. Would just love to see yet another wheelsize become king and all of us following the sheep trend and selling our bikes cheap to spend yet another fortune
  • 7 0
 "Omg who read that"

Anyone who was interested, and has an attention span greater than 2 minutes?
  • 3 2
 Can we just not keep changing wheel sizes every couple of years?
  • 3 2
 Should of never left 26 inch wheels. Now look what happen
  • 1 0
 I want that job. Any euro manufacturer listening?
  • 4 0
 Easy just be a successful world cup rider and then show an aptitude for detail oriented, methodical product feedback. Nothing to it!
  • 1 0
 The eventual birth of supermegabustierboost is inevitable.
  • 1 0
 I still enjoy them 69 ers
  • 1 0
 You're all just shills for big wheels!
  • 1 0
 Big big wheel, like big pharma
  • 1 0
 I'm triggered by the thumbnail.
  • 1 0
 So, who should I blame Boost™ on?
  • 1 0
 What a difference a couple inches can make...
  • 1 0
 Mmmm.... Penny farthing you say??? Interesting concept
  • 1 0
 Litetally anyone who just bought their first 29" : FML
  • 1 0
 Anyone else think it's time to switch sports?!
  • 1 0
 Glad I'm not built like a circus freak.
  • 1 0
 32 and 36 inch seems to me ideal for really tall people gravel bikes
  • 3 2
 29.99" confirmed. O_O
  • 1 0
 Thank you.
  • 1 0
 No comments...
  • 1 0
 Yeah, no.
  • 1 1
 "A reader put the question to us a few weeks back"

Was that me?!
  • 1 0
 I think it was The Gru.
  • 1 0
 Don’t you dare!
  • 1 0
 Oh no. Please no.
  • 1 0
 Here we go again
  • 2 1
 So fucking stupid.
  • 1 0
 well, i mean...
  • 1 0
 29' AIN'T DEAD
  • 1 0
 Bontrager?
  • 1 1
 Bigger is better.
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