Testing 27.5 vs 29 With Vanderham and Gauvin - Video

Nov 8, 2017
by Mike Levy  


If you and I are anything alike, you probably want to argue over what wheel size is best about as much as you want to piss on an electric fence. I sure as hell don't want to piss on an electric fence again, but this is a wheel size discussion with a twist: we headed into the forest to watch Rocky Mountain's enduro specialist Remi Gauvin and going-really-f*cking-huge specialist Thomas Vanderham test 27.5'' and 29'' wheels to see which diameter is quicker for them.

Of course, we all know that those two are more skilled than the average Joe, so in came our own average, er, Ken. Enter Rocky Product Manager Ken Perras as the third player.


Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin
Vanderham and Gauvin may have different needs when it's go-time, but this day was all about finding out which bike can be ridden faster.


Rocky Mountain, and specifically Mr. Gauvin, were in the forest looking to find out which bike is faster and, equally as important, which one is easier to ride fast: the 27.5'' wheeled Altitude (150mm of rear wheel travel) or the 29'' wheeled Instinct BC Edition (155 of rear wheel travel). Both machines have similar intentions, travel, suspension action, and close-ish geometry, but differ in wheel size, making this an interesting comparison.

If it were me, I'd chose big wheels all day, every day, but I'm not the guy racing Enduro World Series events for a living, whereas Remi is doing exactly that.


Rocky Mountain Altitude and Instinct
With similar angles and travel, choosing between the Altitude (left) and BC Edition Instinct (right) might come down to what wheel size you prefer.


And because Remi and Thomas were truly looking to find out which bike is faster and not just more fun to ride, some Freelap timing equipment was in order. No guessing here, then. Remember, this day of shuttle runs and timing equipment wasn't about which bike is more fun, or even which bike is better - "better" means different things to different people, after all - but simply which bike was faster under Remi, Thomas, and Ken.



MENTIONS: @RockyMountainBicycles



Must Read This Week

315 Comments

  • + 254
 If 27.5 is good for you, great. If 29 Is good for you, great.
  • + 14
 It's what floats your boat at the end of the day Smile
  • + 34
 PB + RM = GCN YouTube video.
  • + 68
 @greglikesspecialized: water is best I find.
  • + 30
 All they need is to add (YOU WOULDN'T EXPECT THE RESULT) at the title.
  • + 7
 @cunning-linguist: Salt water is bestest.
  • + 49
 Hey Thomas . . . . I'm FAST, way faster than you . . . My kit's clean and my bike is brand new
  • + 6
 @chyu: Here, the writer used "Wheel Size discussion- WITH A TWIST!
  • + 2
 @woofer2609: wow that's even besterer than I'd have thoughtededed!!!! :-)
  • + 61
 26 for life....just had to throw that out there.
  • + 27
 @cmkneeland: With 24" in the rear.
  • - 3
 It's actually simple. Just look at the championship winning bikes of the EWS and the DH world Cup. That's your answer.
  • + 21
 I'm holding out for 32
  • + 5
 Cool test. I think for me personally you'd never know one from the other because it would be a gong show.
  • - 1
 I have 56.5 problem but wheelset ain't one of it
  • + 4
 Nobody cares about your wheel size
  • + 5
 If 26 is good for you? Wonderful.
  • + 26
 I'm defo not surprised that 27.5 is a little slower than 29. I'm more surprised that Vanderham is as fast or faster than Gauvin.
  • + 4
 @EnduroManiac: Gauvin seemed worried to me. He was flying out of the starting blocks like Ben Johnson in 88.
  • + 10
 no thanks. I'd rather be a dick about it.
  • + 2
 @cmkneeland: wanna buy a bunch of used 26 parts collecting dust and cobwebs in my garage??
  • + 1
 @mokydot: No its horrendous for me!
  • + 0
 @BenPea: With the EPO boost to boot!
  • + 1
 @bohns1: I tried 69.85 cm tires this year and it I liked it but there are some adjustments i have had to make.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: OMG thank you for that! Just pissed my pants in the office cry-laughing
  • + 1
 @BenPea: Greatest video of all time! Thanks for that!
  • + 1
 But what if I want old 27"? nobody stops to think about us old men with 40 year old bikes
  • + 3
 @cunning-linguist: Actually, mercury has a much higher density than water and therefore would be the superior boat floater.
  • + 1
 @DonkeyTeeth: it could well be, but I've yet to come across any lake / ocean full mercury!!
  • + 2
 @iantmcg: they already have 32 inch beach cruiser wheels
  • + 100
 The real question is does pissing on an electric fence actually give you a shock ???????
  • + 18
 Yes.
  • + 357
 You'll need a ShockWiz to answer that question.
  • + 23
 @MTBrent: slow clap...bravo, sir, bravo.
  • + 3
 Not if you are on a 29er
  • + 3
 Totally and you get a woody!
  • + 29
 @VPS13 it gives you a shock and it is not metric
  • - 6
flag CALEBTNORMAN (Nov 8, 2017 at 10:25) (Below Threshold)
 It will most likely induce some heavy rebound. Try toning it down three clicks, and report back with any results or improvement.
  • + 1
 @MTBrent: Comment win sir. Ha!!!
  • + 4
 Ye-z-eh-eh-z-eh-eh--z-es-es-z-es-es--z-sz-sz-sz-z--zz-zz
  • + 3
 youtu.be/0bme0JpXQUg
Only if it's your favourite game.
  • + 1
 @MTBrent: Touche good sir!
  • + 17
 [quote]
The real question is does pissing on an E-MTB actually give you a shock ???????
[/quote]

FTFY
  • + 0
 @cmscheip: You win all the internets today
  • + 63
 Fake news.
  • + 35
 Hey, who's the one who faked an injury to avoid riding a 29er?
  • + 21
 @BenPea: hahaha shhhh
  • + 8
 @JesseMelamed: Heal up fast!
  • + 54
 but what if they rode the 29 first 3 laps.. seems like it was set up to show the 29 faster and I bet after 3 laps you have it memorized and its easier to go faster.. Tom should race enduro..
  • + 28
 Except they're riding a home trail (note they say "we're in Vancouver" they all know well, no?

I know my home trails. If I rode one of them six times, three each on one bike, I would expect the times getting faster with each run on one bike (as I got used to that bike), but wouldn't expect that familiarization effect to make a difference (as I already know the trail).
  • + 10
 I've tried that and it isn't really a factor as once you know the trail you know the trail. Three laps on the 27.5 is more than enough on short a track for them to be comfortable. Personally, I've gone to 29 on everything after having both for a season and doing my own back to back comparisons. 29 simply put is a much more composed ride, but with the right bike it is just as playful as 27.5. IMHO
  • - 1
 @Nathan6209: playful - whatever that means... I can get that argument from a person who presents plenty of style and skill in his riding (I personally don't), but I find it quite contradictory for someone to say "I want a playful bike" under one article, and "I want a long and slack bike" under another. Same with "29ers ride like big wagons" but "DH bikes are cool" - Come on guys... I haven't ridden a single 160 bike that feels as heavy and stuck to the ground and requiring you to go absolutely flat out to enjoy it as a DH bike. Tyre choice and suspension setup itself can make more difference in how bike feels, than wheel size.
  • + 47
 @Nathan6209: These guys were looking for fast times; most of us are looking for fun runs. I think you're right, the right 29er can be playful (whatever that may mean to different riders). So much of it is dependent on rider's style, skill, and size. The first two are talked about a lot; the third seems to get forgotten. I'm 6'1", 225# and reasonably athletic (for an old dude); the whole notion that it's harder to rail turns on a 29er makes no sense to me; in fact, at my size, I prefer the more composed ride you describe, and a smaller wheeled bike feels nervous. My wife is 5'5" and somewhere just above half my weight, and while she's wicked strong pound for pound, there's less of her, so a 29er feels like she's having to muscle the bike around in quick transitions between turns. My 12yo, meanwhile, is 5', and to him, a 26 is just about all the bike he wants to handle.

We have bikes in different sizes for a reason. Everything scales, except for the wheel size. That's a bit like if we all rode skis in different sizes - but the sidecut and edge length were the exact same for everyone. Stupid, frankly.

A bigger rider, all other things being equal, will be less affected by the drawbacks of big wheels, and will thus be more able to enjoy the benefits. A smaller rider, all things being equal, will be less affected by the drawbacks of smaller wheels, and will thus be more able to enjoy the benefits. Why that is so hard to figure out and acknowledge I can't understand. That doesn't mean bigger riders should automatically gravitate to 29ers; a big rider looking for a super-responsive trail bike might be better off with a 5010 or Scout or such, and a smaller rider looking for speed in enduro on not-very-twisty tracks might be better of with a 29er. But one wheel size does not fit all riders equally well.
  • + 2
 @g-42: Did you get shocked?
  • + 0
 @g-42: 29ers and turns is a really stupid argument. Geometry is a big factor here and current long travel big wheelers are really dialled these days. Back in 2010, majority of 29ers rode like crap and they were guilty of most things people accuse big wheels of. But these days it is a non issue. I could make an argument that since they provide more grip and get bounced around less, you can commit to a turn much more. Yes there may be some understeer issue, especially if you put some tyres with heavy casings on (which we should) but I can easily bounce a ball and say that smaller wheels may be too twitchy and oversteer. My 275 bike is an entirely different beast with light tyres and 160 fork, as compared to a setup with DH tyres and 180 fork. II also ride harder spring rates and less compression on heavy setup, while on local trails with light version, I like to turn compression up and decrease rebound (relatively to spring rate) and get it poppy. Each to their own. I am not too creative with lines I like to stick to a rather straight line and want the bike to take turns well, then offer a minimum of ability to change lines on the go. I really love long travel 29ers. Having said that, since my local riding is slow and turns are tight and plenty, 275 may be a better choice after all. It's all complicated... but for flat out speed on unknown/ semi known terrain, for most amateurs, I don't think anything beats 29ers.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: You've been electrocuted. Do not not resussitate.
  • + 1
 @g-42: wise words
  • - 14
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 8, 2017 at 14:23) (Below Threshold)
 @PinkyScar: when you bust a nut...
  • + 2
 @PinkyScar: To my core Wink
  • + 4
 From an experimental point of view, I tend to agree. Real science requires controls, like blacking out the products you are on, and blind tests where people do not know what they are riding. Putting wheels in different style frames with different leverage ratios and the like. Also sample sizes of 30 runs is absolute minimum. While their data is significant, its more of a starting point than definitive research. These guys probably all eat gluten free also......so.
  • + 6
 @kevinsliwinski: No such thing as double blind in testing bikes. Any rider good and consistent enough to be worth using in testing/tuning will know what's different, or that something is different. And riders aren't uniform - there's no benchmark for riders. What works better for one doesn't work better for another based on preferences/technique, differences in build,etc.

I've been racing windsurfers for ages; I can tell you that testing/tuning there can be remarkably methodical and productive, but not at all "scientific" in the sense of large n controlled trials. You have two or three riders who know each other well, and you line up to establish the baseline. One guy makes a change (in stance, technique, tune/trim, or in one component like a different fin. You line up again, see if that change bought him a bit of upwind angle, or a bit of speed. Rinse, repeat. Lots of dependencies (some gear requires different technique, and hence opens doors that were closed before). But in the end, lots of small incremental improvements. From what I can tell, mountain bike racers operate the same way.
  • + 3
 *sighs*...Wheel size makes a bike feel/handle totally different. Trying to state otherwise is a bunch of psycho babble.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I agree with that... I've made my fuel ex 29 more playful for me just from said upgrades/alterations.
  • + 1
 @g-42: Agreed... I've been on been big 29bikes so long now that the newer versions feel like agile 26 inch bikes to me at my 6'3 size.. I think part of that is attributed to the fact that when bigger trail type 29ers came out they were in fact more unwieldy and felt like semi trucks, with there poor geometry and set up(going back to 2010 here)... My new fuel ex 9.9 feels like my old Santa cruz blur ltc to me...Minus the bear on a circus bike look/feel.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: small wheels are more agile that's the principle behind a bmx. the question is if big wheels are faster why stop at 29"
  • + 56
 Conclusion:Thomas needs to start racing!
  • + 21
 Poor Remi - turns out the faster bike is the one Thomas is riding! Oh well, still faster than me and 99% of all other mortals.
  • - 6
flag RedBurn (Nov 8, 2017 at 14:12) (Below Threshold)
 no. he s a freerider
  • + 34
 Thomas is a national DH champion.
  • - 10
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 8, 2017 at 14:40) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: yes but your DH courses involve skinnies, hucks to flat, jumps over creeks and sandy slopes. At least that’s how we pretentious Europeans think of DH in Canada...
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: Ok... Sounds like Mt St Anne to me....
  • + 1
 Conclusion: Rocky must have a lot of advertising budget to blow before the end of the year. First the plus bike commercial, now this. Up next will probably be the fat bike ad.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: No offense intended to Thomas, but that was before the sleeve rule and Stevie would be forced to wear the National jersey during race runs.. Everyone who raced knew Smith was the unofficial champ!
  • + 50
 Vandersteez has serious speed. So talented on a bike.
  • + 11
 He is a guest coach on Ryan Leech online course on jumping bikes, in advanced section, and he gives some really good advice. His advice helped me a lot, I finally learned to air jumps instead of squashing them. And he is so bloody humble while he talks, he talks like a kid asked about his drawing, and as he talks in the background then he sends maaaassive jumps in Coastal Gravity park. I'd love to meet him. He also qualified to a DH World Cup so he is not only stylish, he can ride faaaaaast. There can be no doubts about that.
  • + 2
 Only a Shredmate can definitively tell, in conjunction with Shockwiz.

m.pinkbike.com/news/shredmate-the-first-bike-computer-to-track-your-jumps-is-nearly-80-funded.html
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I read the first sentence as "great guest couch"
  • + 2
 Would love to hear him give more info on when he would pick which bike for which type of terrain.

Tom? More please. . .
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I think all instructors on RLC are great yet approachable and humble. Ryan Leech is a great and skilled instructor but he is also great at finding an instructor who can do better than him in certain aspects. Be it pilates, yoga or jumping.

As for Thomas Vanderham, I think he actually has been racing before he got into the freeride thing. Early this century freeride simply was "bigger" than racing so that's what he specialized in. But he never lost the racer style of pedaling and moving on a bike. Later on he indeed has been doing some WC races again, if I recall correctly. I think he was actually on a stormer but was held back by a slower rider in front of him.
  • - 1
 @vinay: I'm going to talk straight out of my bum, but I think Thomas and Brandon Semenuk are outliers in what can be referred to as "freeride world". Maybe Van Steenbergen bros get into that bunch too. They are truly smooth and slice the trail instead of sliding all over the place. They can also do that, but when it counts it seems that they can really carry and generate speed. You just look at them approaching a turn and it seems like they are shooting out of it like a stone from a slingshot.
  • + 43
 This couldn't be filmed in Vancouver. They weren't using a Tacoma as the shuttle vehicle...
  • + 11
 It's Vancouver, what's another 40 grand? Your house probably inflated, err, appreciated, that much in the last week.
  • + 5
 Comment of the day right here.
  • + 6
 Seriously! Pro bikers shuttling laps in an old f150? This whole video is a lie...
  • + 3
 Thought that was filmed on location in Sooke?
  • + 23
 "Average" Ken is clearly not average like I am average. He is like averagely very fast while I am averagely quite slow.
  • + 15
 I've been in races with Ken, and can confirm that he is a lot less average than I am.
  • + 21
 27.5 won the EWS and World Cup.... or was it the riders... Can never remember. More consumer manipulation BC style.
  • + 4
 This years 29er DH development was all rushed except Santa Cruz and Intense. I expect they will perform better next season.
  • + 14
 @SickEdit: Yeah Sam Hill was gutted, he wanted to be on a 29er riding clips.

Lets face it, the proof just isn't there for DH (admittedly over one season), and after 5 seasons of EWS where a 26, then 27.5 has won every season. Just remember, those under-developed DH 29ers were all touted as being consistently multiple seconds faster than the 27.5 equivalents before the season started...
  • + 0
 @NickB01 - Nobody cares. Pros ride 35lbs+ DH bikes and people will still spend 10k on a super light DH bike and then another 4k on ridiculous components to shave the last pound, then chose some stupid tyres in hope they will go under 30lbs...
  • + 5
 @NickB01: Pretty sure Graves won an EWS on the wagon wheels
  • + 6
 @gonecoastal: Greg Callaghans won a few too, but no rider consistently riding a 29er has won the overall.
  • + 16
 @NickB01: apart from Tracy Moseley...
  • + 2
 @Attilauk: touché
  • + 1
 ...
  • + 1
 @Attilauk:
We all know girls biking doesn’t count.
It’d be like a man having a baking show.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: just keeping your personal weight down is the best Rider performance. Keeping the spare tire strap to the frame and not around your waist.
  • + 14
 Did notice the 29er had a coil shock on it compared to the air on the 27.5, wonder how much of an impact that had... to be truly scientific you need to eliminate all outside factors from the test subject but this is still an interesting result.
  • + 1
 Good point. This test proves nothing now.
  • + 6
 they were riding their personal bikes i think. only ken had a coil, and he had it on both models.
  • + 2
 @niccolope: Ah your right, just checked back and it was Ken that had coil and on both bikes while Tom and Remy both have air on both bikes, also good to see the shocks and forks where all consistent, couldn't really tell but i would hope the tyres and brakes where the same too to keep it all fair.
  • + 11
 I liked this 2-part video series as well on the topic and it also included 26in for those that think #26aintdead...
26in/27.5in/29in - What's The Fastest MTB Wheel Size? - Part 1: youtu.be/vhS1HfvBeYA
26in/27.5in/29in - What's The Fastest MTB Wheel Size? - Part 2: youtu.be/kxfrykeSNCE
  • + 3
 Bike Radar = definitive source of wheel size news.
  • + 11
 But Pinkbike said the Instinct BC is "...it's not an enduro bike, despite its travel, and Rocky doesn't pitch it as one either - look at the Altitude if that's what you're after." lol. If I had a dime for every time a slack medium-long travel 29er was labeled as "not an enduro race bike"... well I'd be as wealthy as a dentist, and then I could go buy a new bike.
  • + 1
 They tested the Instinct in stock form. None of these bikes had stock rear shock, which doesn't feel great
  • + 1
 Well Rocky doesn't have the Altitude listed as an Enduro bike either. Only the slayer is in that category on their web page
  • + 11
 Is it bad that I'm impressed that all three of them sound like intelligent human beings? A good portion of the time I want to tell the guys in these videos to stop embarrassing themselves, shut their mouths and stick to riding, but all three of them were very well spoken.
  • + 10
 You have to love videos like this.....
I plotted the data on an XY scatter and the riders followed a pretty consistent improvement path from run 1 to run 6.
The test was incomplete without verification that the 27.5 times were not improving due to knowledge of the track, conditions etc. They also did not complete enough runs to get any meaningful data, they only have type test data from a sample of n=3.
There was discernible no step change in the plot when moving from 27.5 to 29.

Bored at work.... sorry.... best get back to work before the next meeting Frown
  • + 1
 Ya, I thought they should've done at least two rides at the end on the 27.5 just to see. Or moved the format to 2-2-1-1
  • + 11
 Still think the ideal wheel size would be 28"... Maybe we got it all wrong? Think about it, we went 16, 18, 24, 26, then shouldn't we be at a nice even 28" ? What if the best wheel size is between 27.5 and 29??
  • + 11
 Depending on tyres, you might already be on a 28er. That aside, I think we could easily go through another century without another wheelsize. Bike tech is already like a Netflix series. I haven't even finished season 3 yet and I've no time to catch up with 4,5,6 and 7. Do I jump straight to 8?
  • + 3
 Between 27.5 and 29? You must be talking about 28.25" wheels.
  • + 6
 @angelofverdun:
that would be a 666B
if using the 650B metric
  • + 1
 30"!
  • + 2
 I’ve actually thought this same thing, 26, 28, and 30” would be perfect. But it’s too late now...
  • + 6
 It's weird to do this with a 155mm 29er vs. a 150mm 27.5. The 27.5 in general should be able to have at least 10-20mm more suspension travel "for free" in the same basic frame architecture. This plays out in EWS racing where top 27.5 racers typically do run that much more travel than the 29ers.

But here our 29er has 5mm more which is already a significant difference in this context. It's over 3%. And we're making a big deal about being 2 seconds faster over ~60 second tracks. Which happens to also be 3%.
  • + 2
 The RM riders were running longer shocks on their Altitudes to give more travel during the season. I believe Remi was on his race bike during this test.
  • + 9
 Isn't the Slayer their "enduro" sled? I'd be interested in seeing that bike thrown in as well.
  • + 11
 Slayer with 26" would make the article complete.
  • + 2
 @dylandoe: + 100, compatible 26 + Smile
  • + 4
 Guys aren't necessarily running the longest travel trail bikes that their brand has to offer, and in Yeti's case, their burliest trail bike is "only" 6". Graves on a Stumpy, Rude on a 5c for a portion of the season, Remi on an Altitude for much of the season, Santa Cruz guys on bikes other than the Nomad, Carlson on a Trance.
  • + 4
 The bigger bikes are too sluggish.
  • + 6
 Can someone please just put together a legitimate test? Identical weighted bikes, speced identically, COSTING THE EXACT SAME PRICE, using the exact same knob pattern, exact same psi, and shock curve.

Have a large, I mean really, really large sample of riders ride all the bikes for an entire day constantly and rather randomly switching out back and forth between the two frames.

There are an insane number of factors that can make one bike faster than the other. I just want them to stop raising the prices and changing the standards and...and...and....
  • + 1
 This!!!
  • + 1
 Rob Warner, Steve Pete, t-mo and a bunch of UK riders did this at a bike Park, there's a clip somewhere on the net, they did 650b, 29r and plus size. From memory, the end result was plus size only posted one time and punctured every other time, and a couple of guys Inc t-mo were faster on the 29rs but overall 650b was the majority preferred option and quicker.
  • + 9
 I got 29 problems wheel size ain't one.
  • + 5
 I think that is usually the general consensus with new age longer travel 29er's but this was pretty cool to see back to back tests from people who can really tell the difference.
  • + 4
 id be interested to see if they rode the 27.5 again, what those times would be. Im pretty sure that the more i ride a trail, the better i know the lines and will keep improving my speed (up to a certain point obviously). Seems like on Ride #1, I will know much less about the trail than I will on ride #4.
  • + 3
 My thoughts exactly. They should have switched between bikes every run or those two seconds gained could just have come from getting better at the trail.
  • + 1
 Local trails they are all familiar with, and short as well.
  • + 8
 Still, give me a short section of trail that I've ridden for years, and I will ride it better in my fourth run than my first run. Still an awesome test, just pointing out the results have a potential to be skewed.
  • + 6
 2013 called, they want their Rocky Mountain advert disguised as a pointless wheel comparison test back...
  • + 2
 IDK... it makes one of their products look definitely inferior to the other. can't imagine they are thrilled with that. the riders did their best to walk it back with "well, there are more tests" and throwing out words like "comfort," but the bottom line is i bet RM wishes the times were closer instead of having a clear winner
  • + 15
 I'd rather see companies advertising like this than boring banner ads.
  • + 2
 @ksilvey10: The first question I ask the young sales lad when bike shopping is this: which one is faster? And they're usually out of stock on that bike.
  • + 2
 @ksilvey10: Sell a thousand Instincts....sell a thousand Altitudes........all the same money in the bank....but yeah that made me think the same.
  • + 2
 Yes. The electric fences are seeing surges in power consumption.

This off-season, get ready for:
- 27.5plus vs 29 shootout
- "Narrow" rim vs "wide" rim shootout
- Carbon vs Aluminum shootout
- Tire width shootout
- Bike category 1 vs. Bike category 2 shootout

And much, much more!
  • + 3
 I like my 29er. I've never owned a 650 bike, and only ridden a few demos, but compared to 26 the most noticeable thing for me is rear tire grip. Climbing up tricky sections is easier- you can stand up on the pedals without your rear slipping as easily when putting down the power. Descending down ultra-steep and loose chutes also has more noticeable rear tire grip- the wheel has a bit more room to brake before it locks up.
  • + 20
 At Ultra steep stuff and drops the 29er rear tire has especially more grip when hitting your cojones.
  • + 0
 @colincolin: Yes, at Val de Solei a 29er would be tough for shorter and medium height riders, but everything up to that I believe 29ers out perform the smaller wheel sizes. And with modern geometry and shorter fork offsets, 29ers can be playful and give you good trail feedback.
  • - 5
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 8, 2017 at 14:33) (Below Threshold)
 @colincolin: i buzzed my butt in a skate park on 26” bike more times than I ever did on a 29er... if you worry about the butt buzz, it means you adjust for an extremely rare occurrence. Do you also cut your bars to 600mm in case a narrow passage between the trees comes along?
  • + 3
 This debate again! Enough already. Its more about the rider than the wheel size. I am tall 29 works better for me. There are pros and cons. I am faster than some friends on 27.5, and others I couldn't dream of keeping up with.
  • + 3
 Either way, Id never ride a Rocky mountain again. Had 3. All broke. WORST warranty service IN THE INDUSTRY!!! as a former dealer and rider of many brands. 29 for speed, 27.5 for tech and 27.5+ for all around when speed isnt numer 1, but traction is
  • + 3
 First off, I don't have any bias towards one wheel size over the other, it probably depends more so on the trail, but they really should have not all started on the same bike. I am pretty sure that I personally would be faster after several runs without ever switching bikes. Also, funny how they failed to consider that that guy face planted on his 29er obviously resulting in the slowest run of the day. "We'll just throw that run out since he ate shit".
  • - 3
 Did your unbiased member receive an electric jolt?
  • + 3
 @PinkyScar: Nah, on that trail I would have expected the 29er to be slightly faster, but it seemed to me that the test was set up poorly and that the rep was on a mission to prove that 29ers were faster from the start. That led to him pushing a little to hard to prove his point and couldn't keep it on the trail.
  • - 3
 @nightrider76: You have been electrocuted. Do not resussitate.
  • + 1
 @PinkyScar: you're really sticking with this joke?
  • - 2
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: What joke? The joke is the return of wheel size blather, but "WITH A TWIST!"

I've given up.
  • + 5
 Ex engineer leaks how marketing works in the bike industry

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj0uBQ7j5c4&feature=share
  • + 1
 boost blablabla stiff blabla
  • + 2
 Trek did a similar test a couple.of years back and came to the same conclusion ..... except..... they also ran 26 .. and 26 was the fastest down, 29 won overall as it was fastest up, where 26 was slowest from memory and 27.5 in the middle for up and last for down, I might be mistaken though.
  • + 2
 just put a 27.5 backwheel with a proper tire in your 29 er Enduro/Trail Bike, and you have a better descending and cornering Bike for shuttling or bikepark laps with a lower BB and slacker HA. For touring or mellow trailriding use the 29 er backwheel.
If this were allowed in professional DH or Enduro racing, it would be pretty common i think.
  • + 2
 Conclusion: Bike industry trying to tell us to ditch those 2000-7000k 27.5inch bike in order to spend same amount on a new 29 bike because it’s faster... the bike industry went from 142mm to boost , as if 0,06mm could make a difference. It just reminds you that if you have a 142mm bike, it’s “old” technology... also they went metric on suspension... another cool and useless feature to remind you that your 5000k bike is “old” . I am curious what other ways bike industry will find that are non-upgradable, in order to push as on buying “new worthless technologies”.... I still know 26 inch wheel riders that are fast as hell....!!
  • + 2
 I’m a little biased since I come from motorbike racing and found 29’ers to be the most natural transition. But I’m not biased when I say I’ve seen a lot of 27.5 vs 29 comparisons, and have never seen the 27.5 come out on top.
Although they’re usually about this close.
  • + 2
 I just went from a long-er travel 29er (Yeti SB95) to a long-travel 27.5 (Transition Patrol). I can tell the difference, for sure. The 29er does seem to carry it's speed more; for me I only notice it on flatter trails. I was concerned about the BB-drop, but the Patrol has plenty (which is great!). The 29er felt very tall and large. The Patrol feels smaller and more controllable, yet it also fits me.

Bottom line, both work well. I'm super glad I have my Patrol now. That thing is wicked fast on the descents and super fun to ride.
  • + 1
 Just curious, How tall are you?
  • + 1
 This stuff is so hard to compare. They have different bikes AND different wheels so what are they testing? Alright then, nearly identical bikes yet nearly identical wheels too... Then it really depends on the rider style too. The message here is, the bigger wheels maintain momentum better. Nice in that context would be, add 1kg of frame weight (fill the bottle with sand or pebbles or so) and then see if that helps too. But maintaining momentum is only one part of the story. What about generating speed from the ground? I recall Fabien Barel said the smaller wheels allow you to generate more speed from the ground than the bigger wheels. If so, I'd be interested in a test where he (Fabien Barel) tests (nearly identical) smaller and bigger wheeled bikes and see which one is faster. If he is right about what he said, his results should be the opposite of what we've seen here. And then the only lesson we can take from it is, take the bike (and wheel size) that suits your style of riding.
  • + 2
 I would find this a whole lot more interesting if the BC edition came in a version other than the carbon 90 - now I'm just questioning my desire to buy an aluminum altitude Frown
  • + 5
 26 aint dead yet with me!
  • + 1
 It use to be 90% rider and 10% bike.
Marketing brings those who would never ride a bike aggressively into the market. Therefore designing bikes to make it easier on the rider. Basically not making to much work for the biker. We might as well open our phones up to a app or game and just say we all ride mountain bikes/motocross. Cheaper to. Lol
  • + 5
 - What do do for a living?
- I am a professional legend
  • + 4
 The "winner" is the consumer, who can empty their bank account faster on a new 29 or 27.5 RM.
  • + 1
 I had 3 years on a V1 Mach 6 size large Fox 36@160mm with Float X rear shock. Went to a SB5.5 with 160mm 36 and Float X shock. The Mach 6 helped me take my riding to a new level and clean more techy steep stuff. The SB5.5 has destroyed the Mach6 strava times up and down. I was getting 3-4 PRs a ride. Without really trying. The 29er felt comfortable instantly. Like the guys say you just carry more momentum. Bottom line for me at least. Same trails similar bikes in terms of set up and intended use 29er is faster.
  • + 1
 I did a similar thing except went from a Mach 6 v1 to a Yeti Sb6c.
  • + 3
 26 all day are still the most fun who cares how many second faster you are if your not in a race at least for bike park 26 still rules
  • + 1
 For me, I don't give a rats ass about the wheel size since I'm still riding 26" wheels on dirt and 700c on road. I thought it made more sense for enduro racers to get 26" or 27.5" wheels since these types of races are timed on the downhill sections and no time is taken for going up. So, 29'ers can claim all the speed they want but it's the manoeuvrability they suffer on the technical downs. But if you're technically good with the bike, go with whatever floats the boat.
  • + 1
 Both bikes must be specced identically, then they all need to do 6 flat out race runs on one day with 27.5, then another 6 race runs the next day with 29er at the same time of day. Weather also plays a role but they would have to choose 2 days of reasonably similar weather.
  • + 1
 Welcome to 2014 guys-the year Specialized released the 160mm 29" Enduro, with the geometry Rocky Mountain apparently just now stumbled on.
Everybody who owned/rode a 29" Enduro back then already knew what these guys are apparently just now finding out.
Given equal bikes(travel, geometry etc.), the one with 29" wheels is gonna roll faster, roll over bigger obstacles smoothly, and with its long travel is gonna suck up just as much as any other bike with 160mm travel, i.e. the bigger wheels make for a faster Enduro/AM bike
The 'new' 29" Enduro has 165mm travel
  • + 1
 Yeah except they tested 29ers with more travel than the 27.5, and left the equal travel slayer out of the test, not sure why.
  • + 1
 still running 26 wheels keep off the brakes and fast enough for me most of the wheel thing is marketing to sell you the next best product but in the real world they are all good its the riders that put the speed into the wheels
  • + 1
 The trouble is with PB Dude is that they're far too like the English tabloid newspapers,they have the same old stories about the same old bs year after year,"It's going to be the coldest winter on record for 100 years"(two months in advance),celebrity this and celebrity that,nothing of real content,PB have been doing the wheel debate regularly in some form or another for years now,not once have i seen the wheel debate entitled "Historically,what wheelsize was more fun ? and why we can't have it",i don't come to PB for anything else other than the classified adds these days,i'm just sick to the back teeth of the industry talking AT me depicting that i'm stupid,down vote my comments please,but think about just how relevant they actually are,i'v been reading this BS for far too long now!!
  • + 4
 Please, please PLEA$E Bike Industry! Create a new wheel $ize for 2018! I miss the insightful commentary $O MUCH!
  • + 0
 Really enjoyed this video. Good content! As a 29er fan I'm pleased with the result too. If you make another one of these you could do a couple simple things differently to make it more scientific. After each run you could get the riders to rate that run out of 10. 10 being their fastest, cleanest run and lower scores being messier, slower runs. You can then know you're comparing similar runs to each other and not 3 perceived sloppier runs to 3 perceived better ones etc. You could get half of the riders to ride the 29 first and the 27.5 second, rather than all riders doing the same. I think feeling really comfortable on the trail and knowing the trail and conditions really well by the 4th, 5th and 6th runs could really skew the data in favour of the 2nd bike. It seemed all 3 of the riders got faster as the day went on and that could have effected the results. 2 seconds seems like a lot! Great content!
  • - 1
 Not to mention the 29 had a coil we the 275 had air
  • + 1
 That's right, don't forget to thank Gary Fisher for those bigger wheels cause he's the man that when he came up with the concept of bigger wheels all the bicycle community laughed at him.
  • + 1
 Thank him for popularizing. Thank Wes Williams and countless others for incubating and progressing the concept of large tires on 700c rims.
  • + 0
 I'm 6'3". I went to a Rocky Mountain demo recently and rode the Altitude and Instinct back to back on the same loop. Tight switchback trails and rocky descents in the Ozarks. The Altitude was definitely more fun, the Instinct made everything feel boring and harsh at the same time. I thought at my height my next bike would probably be a 29" but that demo made me pretty confident with staying 27.5. I guess it says something that their EWS guys run Altitudes as well.
  • + 5
 26 AINT DEAD
  • + 2
 Noticed not all bikes set up the same... looks like some had X2 Shock and others Dhx2 coil. That would make a difference in feel also. Some had DI2 also....
  • + 2
 It looked like Ken, the brand rep (or what ever his title was) was riding the coils back to back, and it also looked like his Instinct BC was a blank frame without logos etc maybe an old proto?
  • + 1
 Ride what you have!, i think. For this tests, 29ers used to be ugly, this Instinct beats the Altitude on looks, and is faster, more rear wheel travel, so simpel choise! How does it compare to the Slayer?
  • + 1
 I think 29ers are more efficient. So if both bikes are the same in terms of potential speed, perhaps at the end of a long EWS day the rider is less fatigued and can threfore be faster.
  • + 1
 Would there be any benefit to running a low profile tyre? Most tyres add about 3inches to the rime diameter. Perhaps a low profile thicker sidewall tyre could be good in some conditions.
  • + 1
 I finally bought the hype and got a 29er. It's truly an amazing bike. But I hate the wagon wheels. I've been counting the days till I'm allowed to trade up. 650b is next for me.
  • + 5
 26 aint dead ! Smile
  • - 2
 about to be...
  • + 3
 26 is alive and kicking. Smile
  • + 3
 Too bad there is a 2k difference between the Altitude A70 and the Instinct BC.
  • + 4
 Still 26!
  • + 2
 Wow, you guys DO NOT want to offend the sponsors..... Those balls of steel are only good on the track huh???
  • + 1
 Would a good way to test these things be to do a no pedal run so that effort is not a factor? It comes down to gravity, the terrain and wheels rolling over stuff?
  • + 4
 no, because the wheel size pedal differently; the smaller wheels in theory can accelerate faster out of a slowdown (turn), while the larger wheels make it easier to pedal over rougher ground
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: Right, so that highlights the different advantages and disadvantages without a 3rd party influence. That does make sense though about cornering that the wheels under some kind of effort will be naturally slower but it seems like it could be just as hard to control effort with means of not influencing a result
  • + 2
 @AznKiDrew: My point is that you need to pedal during a race (unless you're Gwin) and the different sizes will give you different performance characteristics, so testing them without pedaling will lose some of the comparision.
  • + 0
 @hamncheez: isn't actual BB height relatively close on the two bikes (assuming same rims/tires/pressure)? The BB drop on a 29er is greater than 650b, which is one of the arguments for 29'ers having better cornering grip.
  • + 0
 @hamncheez: Exactly. I suck at carrying speed so constantly having to accelerate that larger wheel sounds like a chore. Plus my trails aren't that fast and have lots of tight turns.
  • + 3
 The only thing I learned is that Vanderham should be racing Enduro...
  • + 1
 The only time i care if it's a 26, 27.5 or 29 is riding on long boring fireroads, then the bigger the better. Bombing down singletrack it makes little difference to me.
  • + 2
 this video shows how was made 27 and 29 Wink

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj0uBQ7j5c4&feature=player_embedded
  • + 2
 had a good laugh but I think it's true though.
  • - 1
 I don't see 27.5 going away. Not everyone races or cares about times. The 29er is always going to be faster pointed downhill. Ride that bike up, down and with long trails that are flat and a 27.5 will shine. EWS races are pointed downhill but that is not real life.
  • + 1
 I felt the 29er advantage the most on flatter ground, where it noticeably maintains its speed more easily. I think physics backs that up too. I don't think the advantage is as clear for downhill, where momentum can sometimes work against you.
  • + 1
 28.25 FTW! Just rode my 27.5 bike this weekend with 2.6 tires (that measure ~28.5 in diameter) and it felt like best of both worlds.
  • + 3
 Holding out for 30.5" wheels!
  • + 1
 10-4 dat!
  • + 4
 #fakenews
  • + 2
 Kept waiting for the "be a dick about it" moment in the video. Pleasantly disappointed.
  • + 3
 EW. Is that a 29er. !?!
  • + 4
 26
  • + 3
 My wife told me size matters, so I bought a 29er...
  • + 2
 I ride that trail alot...I *think* TV might be a wee bit faster than me doe ;-)
  • + 2
 Would have been interesting to see them add the 27.5+ wheels in the mix on the BC edition with 2.8 minions.
  • + 1
 Agreed and then also put some 26+ wheels with 26 x 2.8 Minions on the Altitude.
  • + 2
 Did they actually put up a time summary, or did I just miss it? Would be good to see overall times.
  • + 2
 so it's come to this: shuttling dark side laps for corporate vids. aie
  • + 1
 just a quick, generalized rough calculator estimate: 4 seconds out of 120 seconds = 3.33% faster
  • + 2
 Screw it. Let's just make 28.5. Done.
  • + 1
 patent that before someone else does
  • + 2
 Which is fastest? THE SKILLEST RIDER...
  • + 1
 I did some of my usual DH trails on my 29r hard tail the other day and my wheels were in very bad shape after Frown
  • + 1
 Remember when "the kid" was dropping Big Stump like a curb...Will the 29er let me do that?
  • + 0
 When I first got my 29er, a move from a 26, I was often over cooking corners.... just coming in way faster than I was used to on my home trails. Faster for sure.
  • + 0
 How do you know it was faster?
Was it not the limitation of the larger wheel skidding due to not enough force over a small enough area to dig in, then the larger gyroscopic action not wanting to turn in?
(I just ride, every now and then just now only unfortunately)
  • + 1
 @betsie: I know that I was faster on a friends 29 by the fact the I wasn’t doing brake checks. However, since I am getting on a structured and good training regime, And I will not sell my 275 bike, I know that next year I will be braking even lesson a 275 bike...
  • + 1
 Should go to a different track and do test backwards - take out track familialarity gained from first runs before swapping
  • + 1
 If this was last year, this would have been a 275 vs 275+ video. The industry is still pushing big travel 29ers hard.
  • + 3
 26+.
  • + 1
 man ill stick with 26 tbh, I mean I have a 29er and handling doesn't go much farther than enduro with that thing
  • + 2
 The main finding is that Tom should start racing Enduro...
  • + 0
 Awesome video! Comparisons are super helpful and interesting to watch. I liked the anticipation for the result, and the discussion.Thanks guys.
  • + 1
 So if these guys didn't get to shuttle up and had to pedal each bike, would a 26" e-bike been faster for a complete lap?
  • + 1
 Yes, without even sweating
  • + 1
 The real question is how do we get that full Turq version of the instinct???
  • + 1
 Bla bla bla... depending the trails where you ride.
27.5 my choice . Maibe 26 + hardtail in the future
  • + 2
 2015 called, wants its features and articles back
  • + 3
 Neither
  • + 1
 36er is where it's at man, amirite?
  • + 1
 Isn’t this just a boring ass sales video on which RM to buy.

Plus since when did Ben Affleck ride mtbs haha
  • + 2
 "Pick a wheel size and be a dick about it".
  • + 1
 The best word in this article was the very subtle "again" after "don't want to piss on an electric fence".
  • + 1
 It's not just about which is faster but that 29ers roll over obstacles better, giving a rider more confidence
  • + 1
 I want to see more videos like this,from other teams/brands. Also curious about tire spec setup and psi in the suspension.
  • + 2
 And I agree that Vanderham needs to get into the Enduro game.
  • - 1
 I'm going to go on a whim here and say that Rocky didn't hire the same dudes to film this that made "In the Valley of the Sun" Maybe it was your in-house filmer, but please hire us next time Rocky! www.levelvisuals.com
  • + 1
 At 5'11 I personally love a 9er and my Maiden Ultimate but I'd chose the big wheel benefits all day every day!
  • + 2
 Hey look a dead horse...
  • + 1
 Waiting for the test to determine which one is more fun.
  • + 1
 Didn't we kill this debate already?
  • + 1
 Getting paid to ride bikes, yeah i'll ride whatever.
  • + 2
 Ride and smile!
  • + 1
 So new test which colour of bike is faster!
  • + 1
 Rocky Mountain is about to sell a shit ton of new Instincts...
  • + 2
 What fun was more bike?
  • + 2
 26
  • + 0
 I'll say it now, the new instinct is the best looking bike to be paired up with orange fox lowers.
  • + 1
 Well, there you have it!!!! 26 is dead!
  • + 1
 Love the "time will tell" tattoo idea Smile
  • + 1
 We grow tired, who cares! Use PED!
  • + 1
 As long as all wheel sizes still puncture, they are all equal.
  • + 2
 I'll take both please
  • + 1
 @BoneDog I'm fortunate enough to have both bikes. I've been running the Altitude since they were released (May I think) and the BC Instinct for three weeks.
Both bikes are awesome. Considering there similarities in frame design/travel/HA they are both very easy to ride and adapt to but have very different characters.
The Instinct seems to have all the usual 29er benefits without any discernible drawbacks. The Altitude is more fun to ride but less forgiving.
The Instinct is an amazing bike but after three weeks I'd choose the Altitude if I could only have one.
  • + 1
 same test: boost v. non boost
  • + 1
 I'm pretty sure that TV can boost every jump, with every size wheel...
  • + 1
 these vid is a waste of time
  • + 0
 Thank you for this testing session. I was never in the wheel size bandwagon. I still find it interesting to know.
  • + 2
 Yaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn
  • + 1
 29er my left ball with gorgonzola!!!
  • - 2
 Experience of world class riders has absolutely nothing to do with all the rest of us. 26 and 29 both work just fine, thank you.
  • + 2
 26?
  • + 8
 Except for the fact that these guys probably log more miles than the rest of us, are paid to ride their bikes professionally, are connected to the manufactures who actually make the bikes to help with input, and so on and so on....
If I want a weekend warriors opinion (such as myself) I need to look no further than the comment section.
  • - 1
 @rockyjonny: Exactly. And none of that has any bearing on any of us. But keep drinking the cool aid, pinkbike kids.
  • + 0
 Thank You. I look forward to your weekend reviews and comments @rockyjonny .. Because your not getting paid to be bais.
  • + 1
 bias
  • + 0
 Just go ride your damn bike.
  • + 1
 Coconut? Can't tell.
  • + 1
 29>27.5
  • + 0
 Shit like this is why I gave up riding bikes. Just total BS.
  • + 1
 #runwhatyoubrung
  • + 0
 Ride what ever u want .. I bet Sam Hill is faster than both on a monocycle
  • + 0
 Yeah, but what size unicycle wheel does he ride?
  • + 1
 thanks for the insight.
  • - 3
 My Jeffsy 29 CF Pro with 160mm Pike and DB Coil Inline Shock is consistently between 25 to 30 seconds faster on my home DH (5 min riding time), compared to my old Nicolai Helius AM with 170mm Lyrik Coil and DB Coil.
  • + 11
 No it's not.
  • + 2
 30's... just shows how wrong your old bike was for you then. Nothing to do with wheel size.
  • - 1
 Once I start riding my local trails with no brakes, I'll bump up to a 29er.
  • + 0
 I could outrun either on a huffy.

Mtb is 80% rider 20% bike
  • + 1
 Haha skills with Phil says otherwise
  • - 1
 PB,you're boring the sh1t out of me!!
  • + 0
 Agreed, I want 32" wheels next year, got to be faster again! what a load of bs. Ride what suits you.
  • - 1
 If you look at them side by side for long enough they look the same.
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