Burning Question: Why Have Some Pro Riders Downsized to a 27.5" Rear Wheel?

Apr 13, 2022 at 17:08
by Matt Beer  



Racers can be quick to set trends through the trialing of various components, geometries, and suspension settings, however, once they find a groove, changing their habits can be next to impossible. When 29" wheels first came along, there was some hesitancy from shorter riders, and rightfully so. Even though they are scientifically faster in theory, each rider has their own unique setup quirks which can feel unnatural to others, including wheel sizes.

Front wheels can articulate, but the rear cannot. Could the centripetal force of the larger rear wheel be too much for shorter riders to leverage quickly into a turn? Is this why the 27.5" rear wheel has regained a position on World Cup and EWS podiums? How does the plowability of the 29" front wheel count for all of that confidence to motor through the bomb holes? What makes more of difference for straight-line stability - big wheels or the distance between them? What about head angle?

The level of physics needed to unravel the movements on a bike is mind boggling. Before you throw a floating center of mass like a human pilot, you need to understand that they all handle the bike with their own style, too.

In-house Pinkbike statistician, Seb Stott, broke down the timed results and weighed in with his impressions on back to back runs using both rear wheel sizes. The take away: lots of data and no clear answer.

With looming pressure to deliver the best result, many racers under six foot simply dealt with a full 29" wheeled bike, but their hunger for minimizing seconds on the clock eventually got the better of them. That led to a wave of downhill and enduro athletes taking a step back to a 27.5" rear wheel, whether that was an equipment choice mandated by the team or their own decision.

One thing is for certain, when it comes to these two gravity fed disciplines, all of the top guns are opting for the larger front wheel diameter. As the interviewees will allude to, the ability that the 29" wheel has to silence rough terrain is unrivaled.

We caught up with a few riders that have recently reverted to, or are at the very least, toying with the smaller of the two wheel sizes.




Connor Fearon, 2021 Australian DH National Champion - @connorhoyhoy


What bike(s) are you currently riding and has it been specifically designed for mixed wheels (29 front, 27.5 rear)?


To confuse things, I have a Forbidden Dreadnought enduro set up with front and rear 29” wheels and a DH specific Dreadnought set up with 27” rear/29” front wheels. With the use of a different link in the linkage you can adapt the frame to either wheel size option.

What prompted the change and were you pressured to ride a full 29er platform?


There is no pressure either way from my sponsors. Just through trialing both set ups I've gone with what works for the occasion.

What is the most notable benefit of the smaller rear wheel for you?


The main difference is the extra range of movement over the back of the bike whether it be swinging off the back down a steep section or trying to squash a jump. You can also feel the bike become a bit more nimble.

What is the most notable disadvantage of the smaller rear wheel for you?


Rolling speed over flatter sections.

How much traction, stability, and rolling speed do you feel is lost with the 27.5 rear wheel?


I don’t really feel a loss in stability, and the loss in traction and rolling speed is probably so minuscule that the average rider wouldn’t notice.

Do all of your other bikes use the same size wheels for familiarity/training purposes?


Like I mentioned before, my enduro bike is set up with 29” front and rear. I find for the purpose of longer enduro type of riding the cons of the mullet setup outweigh the pros. That said, I do not feel I need time to adapt to each setup when swapping over.

Could you adapt quickly to either wheel size if the track suited one wheel more than the other?


I think I could easily adapt quick enough, but unless we went back to a track like Mount Stromlo or Pietermaritzburg I wouldn’t consider it.

Have you done specific timed testing on both wheel sizes? If the 27.5 is slower, why stick with it?


I haven’t done timed training regarding the wheel size setup. My approach is to ride what feels better.

Would you ever go back to a full 29 setup?


Not that I can foresee!




Miranda Miller, 2017 UCI DH World Champion - @mirandamillermtb


What bike(s) are you currently riding and has it been specifically designed for mixed wheels (29 front, 27.5 rear)?


I’m riding a Kona Process X (medium) and it has a flip chip to accommodate both 29/27.5” rear wheel.

What prompted the change and were you pressured to ride a full 29er platform?


The idea of a mullet was one that I was always keen on and the Operator has the option, so I had already ridden a mullet on my DH bike when the Process X came out. On my DH bike I would tire buzz quite a lot and would get "stood up" in corners. I would sometimes feel that I was just “along for the ride.”

My Process X also has an adjustable chainstay - 450mm and 435mm. I felt that 450mm was too long for me, but in the 435mm setting with the 29” I felt really awkward and struggled to lean the bike over. It’s hard to describe but it never was comfortable for me. With the smaller rear wheel, I’m more comfortable in the short chainstay and feel like I have a better fitting bike. (I also run an angle set to make my bike steeper, which decreased my front centre and makes the balance between my front and rear more comfortable. I struggled to be in the short rear end with a longer reach and really slack bike. Head angle has changed from 63.5 to approx 64.2)

What is the most notable benefit of the smaller rear wheel for you?


I feel that I’m able to use my legs more in my riding - it puts me in a stronger body position to be more active through my legs and feet. Push into corners, move fore and aft, etc... Cornering is better as I’m able to lean and push the bike more, as well as when riding unknown terrain I find it easier for me to change direction quickly if I’m on a wrong line.

What is the most notable disadvantage of the smaller rear wheel for you?


It’s very noticeable on flatter, bumpier terrain how much better the 29” rolls and in some rough sections the 29” takes less energy to generate the same amount of speed.

How much traction, stability, and rolling speed do you feel is lost with the 27.5 rear wheel?


I feel that my traction is maybe better because I’m more confident in leaning and weighting my bike, but rolling speed is noticeable. Stability…I don’t really know. Not much?

Do all of your other bikes use the same size wheels for familiarity/training purposes?


I ride full 29” on my Hei Hei, and my DH bike and enduro bike are mullet.

Could you adapt quickly to either wheel size if the track suited one wheel more than the other?


No. After timing between the two wheel sizes I went back to full 29” on my X and had found that I had already adapted to having more clearance over my rear tire and was getting pretty sketchy on some steeper, and stepped trails on the North Shore. I still enjoy 29” but I spend so much time on my X as a mullet that I don’t believe I could just throw on a 29” race it and feel confident. I could ride it and be fine but wouldn’t race it at this point, because it’s not what I’m used to or enjoy the most.

Have you done specific timed testing on both wheel sizes? If the 27.5 is slower, why stick with it?


I have. I found the times similar but sometimes the 29” was easier to go the same speed but it wasn’t as enjoyable and I didn’t feel as in control. So maybe I had to work a little harder but I felt “sicker" haha. I’m an emotional rider, it’s important to be having fun and feeling confident. After my timing I decided to give full 29 another go but like I said above, just didn’t enjoy it anymore. I had experienced the other side...

Would you ever go back to a full 29 setup?


For smaller and XC bikes, etc.. of course, but for enduro or DH, I doubt it. But never say never.




Camille Balanche, 2021 UCI DH World Champion - @cam.bal

Camille Balanche took the opening win in 2021 and has started off her 2022 campaign in the same fashion.

What bike(s) are you currently riding and has it been specifically designed for mixed wheels (29 front, 27.5 rear)?


I’m riding the Commencal Suprême V5. It’s a mullet - 29 front, 27.5 rear and it has been specifically designed for it.

What prompted the change and were you pressured to ride a full 29er platform?


Commencal went from a full 29’’ to a mullet in 2021, so I was more or less designated to ride a mullet in 2021. I ride whatever they develop. For me, full 29’’ or mullet is not important as long as I feel good on the bike and that the bike is fast.

What is the most notable benefit of the smaller rear wheel for you?


It is easier to move around in the back and I find it accelerates quicker. Even with my long legs, I never had a problem with a full 29er though.

What is the most notable disadvantage of the smaller rear wheel for you?


Maybe less traction riding off-camber.

How much traction, stability, and rolling speed do you feel is lost with the 27.5 rear wheel?


I don’t feel that the bike is unstable with a small wheel in the back. About the rolling speed, under 40km/h it’s probably even better with 27.5 since it accelerate faster. The average speed during a race run averages around 30km/h depending on the track, so I don't think there is a big advantage for the full 29er.

Do all of your other bikes use the same size wheels for familiarity/training purposes?


No. All my trail bikes are full 29’’ and my DH in mullet, but for 2022, Commencal had built the Meta SX trail bike in a mullet as well. I don’t think it’s a problem to jump from one to the other.

Could you adapt quickly to either wheel size if the track suited one wheel more than the other?


I could probably, but I like to have one bike and stick to it. Otherwise you are always asking yourself if you did the right choice and we don’t have a lot of laps to set up the bike and ride all the lines as it is. It would also not be possible for a team like us with five riders to travel with both 27.5 and 29’’ spare rear wheels. We would need a new trailer just for that haha!

Have you done specific timed testing on both wheel sizes? If the 27.5 is slower, why stick with it?


Nope. We received the new Suprême V5, which is a mullet, and simply rode it. The engineer and the developing team are doing enough testing, plus the bike is not compatible with a 29" rear wheel.

Would you ever go back to a full 29 setup?


If Commencal is going back this way, yes. I've ridden and I liked both.




Andréane Lanthier Nadeau, 3rd place - EWS La Thuile, 2021 - @andreaneln

Rocky Mountain Race Face Team - Loudenvielle France

What bike(s) are you currently riding and has it been specifically designed for mixed wheels (29 front, 27.5 rear)?


I am currently riding a Rocky Mountain Altitude - it has not initially been designed for mixed wheels size.

I now run a front shock mount designed for the geometry to remain consistent even with the mixed wheel size. So this was awesome support from Rocky to get this machined and onto my race bike.

What prompted the change and were you pressured to ride a full 29er platform?


I was in spot where I was having a harder time reaching top speed while feeling comfortable on the medium 29er. The bike was definitely fast, but I felt like I wasn’t in control. At 5’6’ and a bit I am in the middle between a small and a medium frame, being a racer I prefer the stability at speed that the medium frame gives me. So I guess the main question that prompted me to give mixed wheel sizes a try was, "What’s faster?”: Being a bit more comfortable on mullet, or is the slight discomfort I have on the 29er?

I think you have to also consider what type of riding you are doing. I would evaluate my answers differently if I was doing DH, for enduro I think I personally give “comfort” a higher importance as we find ourselves riding trails we don’t know as much really fast and it might involve more unplanned decision making.

What is the most notable benefit of the smaller rear wheel for you?


My position on the bike is much better, I can confidently move “within my bike”. I feel like I have more control of where my bike is and my handling is more confident — leading to more speed as I feel able to control my bike.

What is the most notable disadvantage of the smaller rear wheel for you?


I think you can notice the small wheel potentially getting slightly hung up on chunky bits of really fast rolling trails, i.e., a bouldery fast straight line. To me this is easily outweighed by the benefits I have from the mullet.

How much traction, stability, and rolling speed do you feel is lost with the 27.5 rear wheel?


Being a rider who very much drives my bike with my legs and hips, I don’t feel like I lose traction or stability. I actually enjoy the feel of the rear wheel. Sure, I am probably giving away some rolling speed compared to a 29er.

Do all of your other bikes use the same size wheels for familiarity/training purposes?


My XC bike is full 29er, I have a Slayer set up with a DH fork that is also mullet. I spend most of my time on my mullet Altitude because I think there is a lot to be said about maximizing your choices. At some point there is always going to be pluses and minuses. You just have to make a choice and work with what you’ve have.

Could you adapt quickly to either wheel size if the track suited one wheel more than the other?


I have thought about that. I think if I was racing to be at the pointy end of the field in DH I would potentially expand on that idea, but given the fact that my discipline is enduro I feel more confident having one set up that I can be 110% confident on in any track.

Have you done specific timed testing on both wheel sizes? If the 27.5 is slower, why stick with it?


I have done back/forth testing with full 29 and mullet. I gave “priority” to the 29er as it was the simplest and most readily available option for my racing. I did not have a shock link at that time so the recipe to maintain geometry was a bit more complicated. I wanted to see the 29er times be quicker, because “physics” points that it should be the faster bike. It would also be slightly simpler to carry spare rims and tires when we race abroad.

So, in my testing I gave the “advantage” to the 29er, as in the timed laps where I had optimal track knowledge and less fatigue were on the 29er. Whereas the mullet timed laps were when fatigue was setting in.

My results were fairly similar in time, what made the biggest difference was that I felt so much more comfortable at the same speed on the mullet. For me to hit the same time on the 29er I had to push really hard outside of my comfort zone, whereas the riding on the mullet felt “safer”. That’s when I knew my decision was made.

Then I also did back and forth with Thomas Vanderham where he was filming me with a GoPro and the visual difference in my body position was impressive. I looked more stable and confident on the mullet and I think that directly translates to faster times (for me). That solidified the final decision for me. Heading to the races with the mullet at the beginning of 2021 I immediately felt like I reconnected with my top speed, more in control, confident in my decision making, and how the bike would react.

Would you ever go back to a full 29 setup?


I've been pondering about it. I feel like I’ll potentially end up there, but for 2022; mullet!




Remi Gauvin, Top 30 Overall Enduro World Series, 2021 - @remi.the.semi


What bike(s) are you currently riding and has it been specifically designed for mixed wheels (29 front, 27.5 rear)??


The bike I ride 90% of the time is the Rocky Mountain Altitude and it is designed around 29" wheels.

What prompted the change and were you pressured to ride a full 29er platform?


Rocky Mountain is pretty open to letting our team try new things. MX was something that the team expressed interest in, and because of the versatility of the Altitude platform with the Ride 9 chip, it is actually able to be implemented with only a few small changes. So no, there was no pressure to stay on a full 29" set up.

What is the most notable benefit of the smaller rear wheel for you?


I am still in a testing phase of the MX set up and have not done enough back to back testing to confirm whether it is the end all be all answer, but so far I am really enjoying the bike in an MX set up. Ass to tire clearance is a big improvement when you get into extreme positions which is pretty normal in race settings and direction changes seem slightly easier.

What is the most notable disadvantage of the smaller rear wheel for you?


The disadvantage would be roll over on medium to larger square edge hits. It can feel slightly harsher on those impacts than a 29" wheel. The smaller rear wheel also can take some weight off the front wheel in cornering situations but that can be compensated for in suspension and bar height set up.

How much traction, stability, and rolling speed do you feel is lost with the 27.5 rear wheel?


So far without back-to-back testing I would say it is hard to notice a major difference in grip or rolling resistance.

Do all of your other bikes use the same size wheels for familiarity/training purposes?


Most of my time training is spent on my Altitude. The other bike I spend time on is my Element XC bike which is full 29 inch.

Could you adapt quickly to either wheel size if the track suited one wheel more than the other?


It’s possible to go for the “horses for courses” approach but generally I would rather stick to one set up and know how it reacts to all types of terrain.

Have you done specific timed testing on both wheel sizes? If the 27.5 is slower, why stick with it?


Not yet. We will see.

What wheel combo are you leaning towards for this race season?


Very likely that full 29 inch bikes will still be part of my life for a long time.




Dakotah Norton, 2021 USA DH National Champion - @daknorton

Dakotah Norton seems to be settling into life at Intense just fine.

What bike(s) are you currently riding and has it been specifically designed for mixed wheels (29 front, 27.5 rear)??


I'm currently on a prototype Intense DH bike mixed wheel bike that was designed specifically for 279 (29 front, 27.5 rear).

What prompted the change and were you pressured to ride a full 29er platform?


For me personally it was a switch between manufacturers and the change was just what the current platform the new team was using.

What is the most notable benefit of the smaller rear wheel for you?


The most notable trait was the ability to squash jumps and ride lower in the bike off of steps or ledges on the trail.

How much traction, stability, and rolling speed do you feel is lost with the 27.5 rear wheel?


I have a hard time seeing a big difference in the traction, stability, or rolling speed - honestly, I can't notice a difference.

Do all of your other bikes use the same size wheels for familiarity/training purposes?


I have recently built a mullet trail bike to keep all of the bikes the same, along with my E-bike. I did feel like on a 29er trail bike there was a bit of a difference in how low I could ride over the rear wheel in terms of comfort on steeper trails.

Could you adapt quickly to either wheel size if the track suited one wheel more than the other?


If there was a flat track that would really benefit a full 29er I would be interested in switching back over. I think right now, the steep tracks tend to benefit the mullet setups.. for the most part.

Have you done specific timed testing on both wheel sizes? If the 27.5 is slower, why stick with it?


I have not done any testing back to back.

Would you ever go back to a full 29 setup?


I would not be opposed to the idea. I rode a full 29er through all last year and felt I did just fine on it. In my opinion, there is a trade off for everything. If you did have the choice it would be what are the benefits that suit you as a rider.




Forrest Riesco, Top 15 Val Di Sole WC, 2019 - @forrestriesco

Forrest Riesco

What bike(s) are you currently riding and has it been specifically designed for mixed wheels (29 front, 27.5 rear)??


I'm riding a Commencal Supreme MX V4 for downhill, which is designed for mixed wheels. The original design (V4 2021) was built around full 29" wheels and then adapted to mixed with minimal changes. For trail riding, I have a Commencal Meta HT setup as a 29er.

What prompted the change and were you pressured to ride a full 29er platform?


The switch to a mixed wheel setup on my downhill bike was primarily to take advantage of the updated geometry on the Commencal Supreme MX V4. I wasn't convinced a smaller rear wheel had advantages for a taller rider like myself at the time, but was willing to try it.

What is the most notable benefit of the smaller rear wheel for you?


Not buzzing my butt as much. As silly as it is, that's a big benefit. I'm also able to initiate corners easier and faster with less effort. This might lead to the ability to pull out of close calls too.

What is the most notable disadvantage of the smaller rear wheel for you?


Rolling speed is lost for sure. The rear end gets hung up on square edge hits like rocks and roots, which is very noticeable.

How much traction, stability, and rolling speed do you feel is lost with the 27.5 rear wheel?


Again, rolling speed over rough terrain. Stability differences are almost all positive (easier to initiate movements). A loss of traction is not noticeable to myself personally.

Do all of your other bikes use the same size wheels for familiarity/training purposes?


My initial thought was that if I raced a mixed wheel DH bike I would have to ride a mixed setup on all my bikes for familiarity. But now after trying it, I realized a trail bike, DH bike or XC bike are all so drastically different in geometry and the trails you ride them on I don't need a consistent wheel size across all my bikes.

Could you adapt quickly to either wheel size if the track suited one wheel more than the other?


I don't think the time I would gain from switching back and forth would be greater than being comfortable and knowing the bike. On the World Cup circuit I'm not sure there's enough variance in the tracks to make this necessary.

Have you done specific timed testing on both wheel sizes? If the 27.5 is slower, why stick with it?


I haven't done back to back timing. There were clear suspension and geometry improvements from the past model full 29 I had to the current mixed wheel bike I'm now riding. So that made the choice to go to a mixed wheel setup easy for me.


Would you ever go back to a full 29 setup?


Yes. I would be interested to try back to back testing with a 29' rear wheel to see the pros and cons of it again. As a taller rider I think I could take advantage of the bigger wheel.






231 Comments

  • 256 1
 All these pro opinions and I skip to the comments to hear the real juicy nuggets... From a bunch of nuggets
  • 111 1
 Here's the real problem

"the loss in traction and rolling speed is probably so minuscule that the average rider wouldn’t notice."

He's calling us all out for our shitty skillsets!
  • 60 1
 @everythingsucks: Obviously Connor doesn't understand how to properly set up a bike and he is probably running the wrong frame size as well. The only thing holding me back from UCI podiums in multiple disciplines in my addiction to the playfulness that only 27.5 can produce. For me, it's all about the passion, not the clock.
  • 30 0
 I'm a nugget. I like small wheels bc I don't race. They are more fun in the air.
  • 8 0
 @luckynugget: yes you are
  • 13 22
flag KK11 (May 5, 2022 at 15:01) (Below Threshold)
 …..why? Because 29s suck.
  • 2 0
 @everythingsucks:
I didn't even know he knew us Frown lol
  • 21 2
 Mullet is the future, to get the full experience, your haircut should match
  • 11 14
 Flashed thru to the comments - my takeaway was go Mullet if you are sending Mega Whips on the regular, otherwise standardize 29 front and rear. Having mixed Tyre sizes is just another thing to manage that we can do without.
  • 12 2
 @threesixtykickflip: nope, 27.5 all round is actually where it's at
  • 9 1
 @VtVolk: Whereas with me, its my uncanny ability to drink whatever alcohol i see that holds me back from UCI podiums.
  • 3 0
 @threesixtykickflip: not everyone runs the same tires on both ends. Between softer compounds in front, firmer casings in back, narrower widths in back, and/or actual tread pattern, many riders already use different tires front and back, so a different diameter doesn't matter.
  • 3 1
 @sportstuff: As well as the past, back in the day we ran a 26 front and 24 rear
  • 1 0
 @everythingsucks: you really nailed it with your profile name hey?
  • 2 1
 @VtVolk: Wow, that's pretty high level sarcasm. Probably less than 100% of the Pinkbike audience is able to decode that.
  • 1 0
 @sportstuff: that's what I came here to see
  • 1 0
 @freeinpg: I just want to fit in here Frown
  • 152 0
 Highly unfashionable I know, but I ride 27.5 front and rear, obviously people point and laugh.
  • 30 10
 The best all-around setup.
  • 16 3
 Until they see your effortless style while descending...
  • 95 0
 @Snyderjl: I'm the same on my 27.5, except with styleless effort.
  • 21 3
 26 creates more style and send plus they basically impossible to knock out of true
  • 22 6
 27.5 here. Links up better in corners, especially supported corners like berms. Better for jumping. More playful. Love it.
  • 3 9
flag MT36 (May 5, 2022 at 14:56) (Below Threshold)
 This place is hysterical. How can that comment get downvotes? ahaha
  • 17 0
 @Jakegk2006: i would 100% be back on 26" if there were still decent tyre options for trail/enduro available, I was going to change my 650b to 26" but for the lack of tyre choice.
  • 12 0
 What I'm getting out of all this is that for max style, send, durability, playfulness, low rotating mass, I should be running 12" f/r. I'm on it - will be back tomorrow to tell you how it goes.
  • 5 0
 @ctd07: Maxxis and Schwalbe make great 26" tires/tyres? My son runs DHR2 F/R in 3C and DC on his 26" enduro/freeride bike.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: thanks for the info, from what I could gather there's no dd or exo+ casings in 26", but also nowhere seems to sell them, I did notice Schwalbe list most their range in 26" but again less casing and compound options that you would actually want and not available anywhere for me
  • 3 0
 @ctd07: Check out bike24.com; they are based in Germany. I order tires from them for my son's 26" enduro bike. They have a large selection of 26" maxxis in various compounds and casings.
  • 1 0
 @ctd07: yeah that’s true, no DD or EXO+.

Magic Mary 26” in Super Gravity is likely what you want then. It’s a like 1050g and a step down from the heavy Super Downhill casing.
  • 5 0
 Got you beat. I ride a 26” in the highly unfashionable “alloy” or aluminum as some might call it. Wait a minute…..metal frames are coming back right, shit!
  • 1 0
 Me too. i am tall and 27.5 just works form. when tmullet then back to 27.5 matched.
  • 2 0
 I believe most of the tangible differences with 29 wheels for gravity biased riding are to do with the rotating mass more than the actual size of the wheels.

The negative side of low speed, tight manoeuvring, and the reduced clearance are far greater than the benefits for me. That means I simply enjoy myself riding 27.5” both ends more. I do ride 29” bikes too, and my next bike will likely be 29” and if the bb clearance is high enough, I will switch both ends to 27.5”
  • 2 0
 @ctd07: for me the reason why I’ve given up on 26” is rim availability just as much as tyre choice. In fact I find decent 26” tyres at my lbs’ more frequently than I find decent 26” rims.
  • 106 1
 "Any chance of going back to 26?"
"Nope"
"Where are we on 31ers?"
"Not gonna happen"
"Fine, we'll just switch between 27.5 and 29 in 2-3 year cycles"
"Brilliant"
  • 15 5
 dude i wish somebody would use 26 they are so sick. what they should do is start an only 26 division that would just be raw as fuck
  • 1 6
flag mior (May 5, 2022 at 14:29) (Below Threshold)
 @Jakegk2006: some companies make a "play" bike, 130mm travel, slacker and more trail focused. pretty popular in flatter parts of the uk

www.mongoose.com/collections/dirtjump/products/fireball-m20

ive seen others, but i am blanking on the company name
  • 7 0
 @mior: das a dirt jump bike
  • 1 0
 @Jakegk2006: 26” still my favorite size. All about the fun. BTW Spank makes great 26” rims.
  • 71 0
 It's pretty simple, if you're tall enough (and big/strong enough) you're gonna run dual 29s for ultimate roll over/momentum. If you are shorter, the mixed wheel set up is an answer from the heavens. I think it's been one of the best improvements for the women's field since basically ever. Not as choppy and demanding as a dual 27 set up, not as cumbersome and fatigue-inducing as a dual 29.

Also, if you're sort of in the middle and can comfortably ride both, then it becomes track dependent. Fast and wide turns? 29. Steep choppy bits with sharp chute-like corners? Mullet.

Every 'test' I've seen of these has been exactly the same... On the same track with the same rider, the difference is negligible. Particularly when wide open. Put an average height rider in a super steep twisty choppy track, and you'll see SOME results.
  • 54 0
 I'm going to need you to dumb it down to a "_____ good, _____ bad" format for me.
  • 12 1
 @Lanebobane: mullet good, 29er bad. because Jason Lucas said so.
  • 21 0
 I mostly agree, though even tall riders may benefit from a smaller rear wheel on really steep terrain. But there's a more interesting issue lurking ...

If optimal rear wheel size is dependent on the rider and situation, we've probably arrived at about the right size.

If optimal front wheel size is never less than 29" for DH, enduro, and XC racing, there must exist situations where a larger front wheel would be beneficial.
  • 3 1
 @R-M-R: I'm waiting for a bigger front wheel, although a 29 x 2.8 is not bad. Here's another interesting issue, wheel sizes have gone 20", 24", 26", 27.5", 29"...continue the pattern.
  • 6 7
 @R-M-R: Absolutely. I bought my first dual 29. I am 6 feet tall and live in SoCal. It's so incredibly unfun on the majority of trails here (as the were cut by hikers or 26 inch free riders 20 years ago if its a pirate trail).

I am almost certainly going back to dual 27.5, but I wouldn't mind a dual 27.5 bike that could take a 29 front wheel and fork and adjust geo a bit to be slacker but stay in touch of rideable geo.

I think the weird bit is that, objectively, the majority of mountain bike riders are not racing. So they don't need the 29 front or rear anyway, but I think people really enjoy the feeling of "the bike riding itself". And it's something I hate about my dual 29. I'll admit, every now and again I get in a situation where I gently caress my 29 front wheel and thank it for keeping me out of the hospital. But I'd rather just continue to be a more skilled and active rider, than get bailed out by my bike so often that I start to ride like a moron.

But I'll take a bike that can do 2 or even 3 settings for sure. Whoever gets geo adjust to run 3 diff wheel settings will be a legend (stumpy evo could be close even tho spesh has declared full blown war on 27s). But i'll take a dual 27. With geo adjust for 29 front. Sure.
  • 1 0
 @lepigpen: The eternal debate of fast vs. fun! Sometimes those goals are aligned, but often they're opposed, like tire traction vs. rolling resistance, suspension control vs. comfort, wheel size, or geometry. People often discuss the merits of these things as though there's a universal answer, when it often depends on the terrain, rider, and objectives.
  • 5 0
 @R-M-R: Yep. I get really frustrated when things get overly homogenized, particularly within an activity that is wickedly diverse. Seeing some brands (Scott, Orbea? Specialized technically) not offer a single 27.5 bike in their line up is frustrating.

And while some places have modern trails and/or bike parks that are caught up with the times and the design of bikes... A lot of places aren't. And either have old hiking/freeride trails or just limited space if you want to risk it to build a pirate trail, which both make 27.5 a much more valid experience (regardless of ride style).

I absolutely see the merits of dual 29, but now having seen them I'm comfortable in my decision to go back to 27s or give a mullet a go now that they are being purpose built and can be an all around bike and not just a bike park side piece.
  • 8 3
 I'm 6'5", plenty strong enough and ride mullet now, DH and Enduro/Trail. Never got on with the full 29 set-up. It's nothing to do with height/size, it's about what is comfortable and quickest for you.
  • 3 0
 @lepigpen: Major brands usually cater to the middle of the bell curve, in terms of market interest - that's how they got big, after all. Small brands can chase niche interests, whether that's a 6-bar linkage, an ultra-simple single pivot, outlier geometry, gearboxes, 3.5" tire clearance, or less popular wheel sizes. If a customer's needs are even more niche, there are ultra-niche brands that can make a custom frame to suit.

You can always get what you want, but when what you want isn't what most people want, you have to search harder to find it.
  • 6 0
 @R-M-R: Shout out to Giant for releasing the modernized Trance X in 27.5 this year. Now let's just glance over at that dusty Glory page...

Hard to decide between Trance X and Canyon Spectral, but I'm glad they exist. Keep 27 aliiive
  • 2 0
 @tremeer023: The pattern {20, 24, 26, 27.5, 29} follows a logarithmic curve if you ignore the period.
  • 6 0
 @boozed: The unfortunate part is 27.5 is basically a misnomer. It's way closer to 27, it's like 27.15 or 27.2 I think, whereas the other measurements are probably about bang on. Bikes are a liiie!
  • 4 0
 @boozed: never ignore the period, also never directly acknowledged the period
  • 5 1
 @Freakyjon: me too. 6’4. Ride full 27.5. Not opposed to a mullet but do not like full 29 at all. Have a banshee spitfire and wouldn’t mind throwing a 26” in back for even more fun.
  • 2 0
 @boozed: your math knowledge is probably better than mine so I'll take your word for it lol. The point I was making is that a 32" front wheel has been hinted at, but I think the optimal size could be closer to 30". I would expect a 32 to be too heavy and ungainly is tighter twisty stuff. Haven't tried one though, but a 29 feels close to the edge already.
  • 3 0
 It’s pretty reassuring to realise there are other tall riders out there who prefer 27.5”. I ride 27.5 on my downduro and enduro. I have 29” on my trail bike, but would prefer 27.5” on that too. It sucks that there aren’t more 100-135mm 27.5” bikes on the market with modern geometry (and a bottle mount!). I’m looking pretty hard at the 27.5” trance, but I’m not sure if I can deal with giant’s QA again.
  • 2 0
 @Afterschoolsports: banshee spitfire. But you have to build from the frame up.
  • 4 0
 @lepigpen: "live in SoCal. It's so incredibly unfun on the majority of trails here "

I also live in SoCal and ride dual 29, totally fun for me. Last bike was dual 27.5, also fun. Traded bikes with my friend for a night (26" Uzzi vs E29, both of us the same height and weight), and still fun. Not sure what you are doing to not have fun on our trails.
  • 1 0
 @tremeer023: what's the pattern? 4, 2, 1.5, 1.5, ?

Also, the 26 to 27.5 to 29 naming does not match the actual rim diameter difference. Go by ETRTO, and it's 559 to 584 to 662, so silly imperial names should be 26 to 27 to 28.5, if we kept the starting point of 559 = 26". f*cks your pattern right up.
  • 2 0
 @lepigpen: It's spot-on "27" if we start from the actual size of a "26" rim. Actual beat seat diameter of 26 is 559mm, 27.5 is 25mm/1" more at 584mm, and 29 is 38mm/1.5" more at 622mm.

29 got called that because a 2.25 tire on a 622 rim is pretty damn close to 29 inches, despite the fact that a 559 (26er) rim needs only a 2.0 tire to get that close to 26.0 inches.

Either 29 should have been 28.5 based on rim diameter difference, or it was the perfect time to ditch the stupid imperial measurements and go metric/ETRTO and specify rim bead seat diameter instead of overall diameter with one specific tire size, but I guess Gary really liked that "29er" name.
  • 2 1
 @tremeer023: "expect a 32 to be too heavy and ungainly is tighter twisty stuff"

And tons of people said that about 29ers. For some definitions of "tighter twisty stuff" it's definitely true, but for many people the trade-offs are worth it. Could be the same for 30 or 32, won't know until it happens and riders can weigh the trade-offs.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: yeh like anything it'll have to be tried and tested but, a bit like frame reach, it will be interesting to see where it settles.
  • 1 0
 @tremeer023: Yeah I was just being silly! And also bored at work with Excel at my disposal...
  • 39 1
 When you simply don't want tread marks on your ass.
  • 3 0
 Or you don't want the dreaded ass-buzz-into-front-wheel-smackdown crash. If even a shredder like Kovarik can get bit by it (youtu.be/kWCOW0pwqzE?t=521 "I think my tire hit my butt and threw me over"), what chance do mere mortals stand with a huge ass wheel up the ass?
  • 4 0
 @justinfoil: You see this a couple times a week on Friday Fails. It looks like the rider locks up their rear brake out of fear, but it's actually an unfortunate butt buzz with enough force to stop the rear wheel dead. The bigger the forces, the more extreme the OTB result. Mullet setups mitigate this danger.
  • 4 0
 @JXN1: Sure do. Also, excellent use of "mitigate".
  • 38 0
 Missed opportunity to interview someone with an actual mullet...
  • 35 1
 "What prompted you to try a mullet and what changes have you noticed?"

"My partner was very attracted to me and would sometimes be overly flirtatious. Since switching to a mullet, that is no longer an issue."
  • 6 0
 @R-M-R:

"would you ever consider cutting your hair and not looking like a 90s caricature of a man from the South?"
  • 30 0
 I have a friend, a Serbian, a machinist by trade, but a cyclist, artist and iconoclast by proclivity. We were recently discussing the Odessa Steps scene in Sergei Eisenstein's classic 1925 film Battleship Potemkin. The Cossacks begin to massacre the peasants including a mother who lets her baby carriage go as she's shot. In one of the most famous scenes in all of cinematic history, it proceeds to bounce down and down the steps, becoming the unifying centerpiece of the entire horror. I had recently watched the scene on YouTube and pointed out to my friend that this traditional baby carriage, with what looks like 20" front and 24" rear wheels with suspension between chassis and carriage, is remarkably stable and never appears to crash. My friend, who understands Slavic tragedy as much as anyone replied, "You see? It was the first mullet".
  • 3 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: Poetry in motion.
  • 5 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: 20 front and 24 rear, wouldn't that be a fringe?
  • 28 0
 Take away from this article: people remember that mountain biking also includes turns and corners, and straight line plowability is not the be-all-end-all. This enables the bike industry is "release" revolutionary new wheel size - a full 27.5 bike!!!!
  • 20 0
 It's almost as if small medium an large bikes for small medium and large people. Will work better with small medium and large wheels......
Who would've thought......¿
  • 4 3
 This is exactly the problem that modern MTB has. Bigger wheels are (marginally) faster, but only bigger riders can ride them. So the playing field is no longer level. For all the sh!t the UCI get for maintaining standards in road racing, it ensures that everyone rides an equally fast bike. Allowing mixed wheels goes a long way to levelling the field, but it's not perfect.
  • 3 0
 @Mike-Jay: wheelbase is also key for straightline speed in the rough. Bigger riders demand longer reach. Chainstays are fixed or bigger for taller riders, head angle remains the same. So taller riders get longer bikes.
The UCI doesn’t manage to give everyone an equal bike. They try, and I will give them credit, but again when some geometry properties are constant, and others are height dependent, then everyone is not getting the same thing.
Where the goals are aerodynamics and pedalling efficiency; the thing you measure is not necessarily the exact cause of the problem.
Or to take it back to mtb, if the UCI set a standard wheelbase for DH bikes, Minnaar is going to have to choose either a steep head angle, or a tiny reach to meet the rules, but Danny hart is getting a grim donut copy.
  • 6 1
 @Mike-Jay: the tiny females riding bigger stuff than you do on XC 29ers says that's not true.
  • 4 0
 @Mike-Jay: I don't disagree with you, but on the other hand.. havnt the larger riders (such as Greg Minnar) been saying they never really felt like their bikes "fit" properly until full 29ers came out? So they've been riding at a disadvantage until now? Don't think there's a way to ever really balance it out.
  • 8 2
 Have to throw in personal preference an riding styles too. I'm 6ft in me boots an 29 just feels dead an life less to me, despite offering 1mph avg speed increase on a 25ish mile trail ride. That 1mph just isn't worth the extra hard work hauling the wheels through multiple twists an turns in my fave tech, flowy single trac lines.
27 feels good but I hate the way the 27 rear wheel feels dead and heavy in the air. Also the BB drop to counter the wheels axle rise give me way to many pedal strikes.
My perfect wheel size choice for trail an DH/FR bikes would be 26/27 mullet. Full 26 for DJ an plat/jib bikes. BUT! That's just me an my (yaaawn) bmx back ground ride style.
we all know the media and the industry don't want the costs of producing multiple bikes with multiple sizes. I mean there are so, SO many varied and different bikes available at the mo, more than there's ever been!! Buy only one company offers bikes that fit my needs... and I heard they break... a LOT.
Any long term rider can pick an choose a custopm build to siute they're needs an shred till dead, apart from the media's AND the PB's forum nerds insistence that 26 is dead, 27 is dead.. how long till 29 is dead? With the growing popularity of mullet set ups I reckon full 29 is dead will start to show in forums this summer!!
Another thing to take great consideration in too. is we all different sizes, with different ride styles that take the advantages of all the different wheel sizes. We still all ride different parts of the world with different terrains.
I think the next few years will see an industry wide acceptance of the mullet but, the world's top FR'ers STILL riding custom made 26inch rigs that aren't available to the public.. maybe that acceptance will include 26/27 as well as 27/29
I bloody well hope so! It will be the ONLY thing getting my £€$ for a new bike/frame.
P.S
If you made it this far I must apologise for the badly typed long winded opinion. I've just had a broken an dislocated wrist, smashed ribs yuge hematoma from waist to knee an two bruised black heels.
I'm on a LOT of pain meds.
Cheers gonna poop an then nap zzzzzzz
  • 1 0
 @Clink1983: way bigger stuff than I do! But they don't really ride as much travel as a DH bike, so it's not quite the same
  • 1 0
 @DownhillDoozy: I don't think there's an easy answer. I depends if bigger wheels give an advantage or not? I think a 29/27.5" mullet setup is probably the best bike for WC DH to standardise bikes across everyone, as much as I hate myself saying it.
  • 1 1
 @Mike-Jay: and bigger stuff than I rideSmile ride what what you want, but the idea that 29ers only work well for tall riders is pretty silly.
  • 26 5
 Burning Question: What Happened To Fantasy XC?
  • 20 2
 havent we gone over this like 1k times?
  • 15 1
 And still no one is talking about the 27.5/29 reverse mullet. Conspiracy!
  • 7 3
 Actually this would be a true mullet bike. I’ve never understood why people are calling a 29 front/27.5 rear a mullet bike. It’s business in the front (short hair,smaller tire) party in the back (long hair, bigger tire). What am I not understanding? Please refer to Ape Drape by the Vandals for more explanation.
  • 3 0
 @lightsgetdimmer: business in the front party in the back is the answer.
  • 5 0
 @lightsgetdimmer: big wheel is the business and small wheel is the party, easy.
  • 3 0
 @lightsgetdimmer: it's not the wheel diameter to hair length comparison that matters, it's the phraseology which has been stated already.
  • 11 0
 You mean to tell me that I can now have 29" front / 27.5" rear and be an obnoxious, opinionated, pompas ass with both wheel sizes now? Sign me up!!
  • 1 0
 this is not receiving the credit it deserves.
  • 14 2
 Just ride and enjoy what you’ve got... simple
  • 2 0
 WHAT‽
  • 3 0
 Pick a wheel size and, you know...
  • 1 0
 And how do you know what to get if you haven't got anything yet? Whatever "they" tell you to get? But "they" are often wrong, as evidenced by the exact situation that prompted this article...
  • 9 1
 little known fact among the PB commenter elite these days apparently, but MTB's were originally intended from the very beginnin to be 29er. However, at the time, getting knobby 29er tires proved to be too expensive, so Gary Fisher et al reconfigured for 26 to be more cost effective.
  • 11 2
 Every fact is unknown by the PB commenter elite.
  • 7 6
 So what you're saying is, if they could've found knobby 29 rubber right off the bat we could’ve made bikes lame much sooner
  • 3 1
 And also, back then all they where doing was bombing fire roads. No jumps, steeps, rooty twisty single track. Rock gardens
  • 1 0
 @warmerdamj: I accidently downvoted you for that comedy goldFrown
  • 1 0
 @Clink1983: it's ok, we were born in the same year so I'll let it slide.
  • 1 0
 @Jakegk2006: I actually don’t think anyone got your sarcastic twist on MTB history.
  • 8 0
 29 v 27.5 is almost as stupid and boring a question as 2st v 4st in the Mx world.

Ride what you like; what suits you best or what suits what you are doing with the bike and don’t worry what someone else is doing.

But I guess all the advertising and media have to earn a living
  • 10 0
 Mentioning the rider heights would have been helpful since height was mentioned in the introduction.
  • 1 0
 Wouldn't it be inseam? Such a gross name for a measurement, but that's the limiting factor for clearance over your rear wheel.
  • 7 1
 It’s weird how no one really mentions pumping. A smaller wheel is going to pump terrain better. There were a couple comments about pumping out of corners faster but not much on straight away roller type pumping.
  • 3 2
 Depends on the speed and the terrain.
  • 3 0
 @BiNARYBiKE: I mean overall speed will depend on terrain but the amount of acceleration gained from pumping will be greater on a smaller wheel, that is physics.
  • 7 3
 Went mullet on my specialized enduro a few months ago and would argue I'm faster because I don't have to muscle the bike as much to hold its line in sketch corners or to get playful. It squares off corners 100 times easier when needed, too. Depends a lot on your riding style
  • 7 2
 So for me -
29/27.5 high pivot ebike/shuttle
27.5/26 DH high pivot single speed
26/26 slope bike.
Not sold on the 29er front for the Jumpy park stuff, but do like my 26 mullet setup...
  • 5 0
 Im really wanting to try out a 27.5/26 mullet, what bike did you do it on??
  • 2 0
 @NoahJ: I have a banshee darkside in full 27.5 and am thinking about trying a 26er on the back for extra fun factor! (If I can find a wheel)
  • 3 0
 Sounds like a dream fleet!
  • 1 0
 @NoahJ: I had 26/27 on an NS Surge Evo HT. It was nice, a true do it all HT I could smash out25-30mile trail loops of twisty tech single track an then take it to the DJ's and our private minil FR spot and it did it all with no sacrifice of advantages in either ride style.(P.S 6ft in me boots)
Though
I had a 140 27 fork with a 26 wheel in so, the 27 wheel made the front end a little less tweaky, not that it was a problem before, it just felt a little better. I really liked it an I was a 26 fo lifer. I think ALL my trail FR/DH bikes will be 26/27 from now on..... IF the industry will allow it Frown
  • 3 0
 @NoahJ: Darkcycles scarab, Shes an old girl almost 20years, been with me for 12. Just swapping forks for dvo onyx dc and a 359 vibrocore front wheel for 2 weeks of morzine this year. Fits Me spot on as only 5'7" and short arms/legs lol
www.pinkbike.com/photo/22241409
  • 1 0
 @NoahJ: I have an old RM Slayer SXC70. Current fork is pretty clapped and not easy to service or find parts. I've toyed with the idea of getting a newer 27.5 fork and making that a 27.5/26 mullet. I think it'd be dope and actually benefit from the slight slackening of HA, Problem is its straight steerer which really limits my options.
  • 7 0
 So wait, is my 26"/24" mulleted 2003 Norco Aline out of date or ahead of the curve?
  • 4 0
 I'm 5'9", a 'Medium Man' as Sam Hill would say. I find 27.5" just works better for someone of my stature so I stuck with the wheel size and bought a V5 Nomad. I think rider capability has way more bearing on trail speed than wheel size and it's better to have a bike that fits 100%. I like the agility of the 27.5 inch bike, never felt I needed the stability of a 29er to go fast. It does not surprise me that some people are migrating back.

I have to laugh out loud when I read reviews of 27.5" bikes that state. "Oh, we forgot how much fun these small wheeled bikes were".
  • 2 0
 I also laugh at that shit. I ain't a pro, raw speed doesn't effect my paycheck (shit, it's more likely to hurt it, if I hurt myself going Mach Stupid). I ride for fun, and I only want to maximize my time having fun. If I get 3% further (Fisher's original hype for 29ers was a vague 3% more distance in the same time, or same distance 3% faster, or something), it doesn't f*cking matter. If I buzz my ass and get smacked down (because rear travel and steeps are fun), or fold a big wheel in a slightly off landing (because bracing angles and 100 kilos), the fun time is reduced.
  • 5 0
 I thought that there would be a lot more who choose it for handling, but most of them just wanted more clearance or a better position
  • 4 0
 I’m currently without a bike. Looking at transition spire and patrol. Don’t really know what to get. But by the time the cash is there, I can see what’s available lol
  • 2 0
 I have the new patrol. I can corner it significantly easier than my old sentinel despite it having a longer wheelbase. Not sure why the smaller rear wheel helps so much with that, but I love it. I used to hate big sweeping berms, now they are my favorite trail feature.
  • 3 1
 Have 3 rides on the new patrol set up mullet. Was hardcore "27.5 IS LIFE" for a long time. Then an Orbea Rallon (full 29) and Giant Reign 29 and had plenty of fun on those. But so much ass buzz / feeling like I have to ride too far forward / slow to initiate corners...

I'm 5' 8" and really enjoy / prefer steep janky old school trails.

The Patrol has been an ABSOLUTE RIOT so far. Exactly what I've been missing. So pysched. You won't be disappointed.
  • 2 0
 @Nwilkes: What do you think about a full 27 patrol? Been thinking of doing a build with a double crown 27 fork and cascade link
  • 2 0
 @Nwilkes: Ass buzz alone I would think is enough to turn off any non-pro-racer (ie: tenths of seconds don't effect your paycheck, at all). It's annoying AF when minor, and can be devastating when major.

I would only ride 29er rear by choice on a hardtail and/or if I lived someplace quite flat. I also love the steep and janky, and 27.5 rear already gives enough butt buzzes on a 144mm travel bike to be annoying.
  • 1 0
 @pinkbikeeye: yo man a few days late here... I'm sure it'd still be a hoot full 27.5. I just ride enough stupid techy janky things that I want the insurance policy up front lol. I'm not a big jumper guy but definitely jib and play around a whole lot and don't feel like the big front wheel is a negative at all.
  • 4 1
 I've got some good time on a couple different MX bikes. I really liked one in particular, the Bronson. This set up worked better for me than any full 29er I've ridden but at the end of the day full 27.5 is the best for me.
  • 2 0
 Is that the V4 Bronson or did you mullet the v3? i have a V3 am mullet curious...
  • 1 0
 @MT36: It was a V4 Bronson. It's worth checking out....you may really like it, lots of folks do. Both mullet setups I have ridden were designed around the mixed wheels I just still like the way a 27.5 front wheel feels cornering. I feel like I can weight it better...
  • 2 0
 @otterdirt: Thanks. Yeah the V4 is getting insane reviews.
  • 2 0
 @MT36: I had the V3, and didn't like the V4 when I demo'd it. went with a Scout instead.
  • 1 0
 @pinkbikeeye: What did you not jive with on the V4?
  • 4 0
 I got a mullet it was cheaper than all the other haircuts at the time. And when gazing in the mirror I think dam, you lookin good mullet man!
  • 2 0
 You got ripped off! Obviously a bowl cut is the cheapest, duh. A good mullet take some skill, whether you want a nice straight fringe and even back, or some good feathering in the back. Any idiot can follow a bowl with clippers, it's like tracing!
  • 4 0
 I once won a set of Kendra tires from a race series I won. I rode on dual 26”. Since I was once a pro, this is what I recommend!
  • 2 0
 "Even though they are scientifically faster in theory"

Makes no sense. "scientifically faster" would mean it was tested experimentally using the scientific method and shown to be faster within the bounds of the experiment. That's not "in theory" anymore.
  • 7 6
 'It’s very noticeable on flatter, bumpier terrain how much better the 29” rolls and in some rough sections the 29” takes less energy to generate the same amount of speed."

This is exactly what I felt as an average rider in decent shape riding almost exclusively flat, bumpy trails... my mullet experiment was forced by supply chain issues in late 2020; rather than no bike I got a cheap 27.5" wheel for my 29er trail bike. I loved it, but when my nicer wheelset came in I was blown away at the improved speed and 'clawing' traction on punchy climbs; I also found I washed out the rear end less often when really pushing hard through flat corners. That could be as much technique as anything else, but I found the mullet set up felt like it was really carver corners, but in reality gave up traction faster than a dual 29 set up. Sample size of 1, I'm good to continue rocking 29ers. I've been 29 exclusive for trail bikes for 12 years, I've seen the evolution of wagon wheel geo and tires, and watched 27.5 rise and fall... I think the mullet is another fad.
  • 7 1
 @mattP76 explain this.
  • 6 20
flag MattP76 (May 5, 2022 at 12:44) (Below Threshold)
 If you believe all that bollox you will believe anything the industry tells you. It's a fad and will vanish. Whether you want to believe it or not.
  • 6 1
 @MattP76: I do wonder if some of these fads are actually better, but only for a small portion of the bike riding community. Like shorter riders probably like the 27.5" rear, or even full 27.5" bikes, but manufacturers don't really focus on them because they are a small percentage of their total sales.
  • 7 1
 @MattP76:
Funny because I have ridden 26, 27.5, 29 and Mullet, and I prefer the mullet out of all of them. It corners better (for me), No buzzing arse on vertical chutes (for me), jumps well (for me) and is faster than 26 and 27.5 (for me)
  • 6 2
 @MattP76: I'm with Matt. Mullet bikes are the work of the devil and the international criminal court should make it a crime for anyone to even think about using a mullet!
  • 4 0
 @DylanH93: after riding the spectral 29 and then the mullet, im sold on the mullet on that bike.(ie i felt it was beneficial to me so i bought one)
I initially tried the idea on the altitude and it really woke that bike up in the back end.

I was 100% with you guys on it being a fad until i got to ride a 29er then a mullet of the same bike back to back.
  • 2 0
 @DylanH93: you probably agree because your name follows the same naming style. (jk)
  • 1 0
 Mulleted my 21 Meta TR race with a WRP meta mullet linkage. The comment about the bike standing up in corners on the 29er was the biggest difference for me. The mulleted bike leans and carves. I find weight balance has improved too - feels more centred and less washy in the front.
  • 1 0
 I have a stumpjumper EVO and got the aftermarket shock link to allow a mullet setup. I'm 6'1" with a 34" inseam - tire buzz is not a factor. After swapping back and forth a few times between full 29 and mullet, i found the difference to be more subtle than expected. That said, the mullet is slightly less effort to initiate turns at the expense of slightly more trail feedback felt through the pedals. I have stuck with the mullet because corners are a little more fun that way. No idea what it did to my speed or timing.
  • 5 0
 The heights of the riders sure would have been helpful
  • 1 0
 I'm 5'4". Was on the market for a new frame this year so rode every bike I could get my hands on (mostly mates's bikes which are often a bit too big). My current ride is a 27.5" ht that I've also briefly tested as a mullet with a shorter travel 29" fork. There was this 29" trail bike that I really enjoyed. 135mm rear travel, 150 front, short overall wheelbase and reach...a medium that's closer to a small. This bike felt very natural and a lot of fun everywhere...untill I entered a steep section on a familiar trail. I had to stop as I felt so high up on the bike and ready to get tipped over the front. It was as if the particular section of trail suddently got a lot steeper.

Longer travel 29ers felt like the front end was too high and I was riding a scooter. They also felt like too much bike and I lost a lot of feedback from the ground.

My own ht as a mullet was very interesting but the frame wasn't designed for it so there were important compromises (angles, fit). But loose turns and technical sections felt a lot safer without any adjustment period.

In the end I got a full 27.5 frame mostly due to availability and wanting to use the parts I already own. I will use a 2.6 front and 2.4 rear tyre to get a micro-mullet effect though. If I had the option, a purpose built mullet would be my ultimate enduro bike. Not for racing only, as I only do a couple of races ayear
  • 3 0
 I find it weird that you dont time test. Two different setups and the goal is to go as fast you can down a hill...why not bring out a stopwatch?
  • 1 0
 Unless you go smaller with today's bike geo's, doesn't the longer reach seen in today's specs make it harder to get over the rear wheel in the steeps. Compared to bikes of the past. Thus reducing the need and chance for rear tire buzz. Aren't current bikes optimized to where you don't have to get back over the rear wheel (as much)?
  • 1 0
 Depends how steep of stuff you're riding, and to an extent how much travel you have. Notice some riders stated they like mullet on DH or enduro, but have full 29 on their trail bikes: less travel, less time on crazy steep stuff.

Yes, longer front-centers reduce the need to get in the back-seat, and longer reaches tend to keep you more forward relative to the rear axle. But don't forget that with long droppers, it's often times getting "down" as opposed to just "back", and with longer travel, the tire is coming "up" a lot, creating potential for interference even without getting way into the back seat old-skool style.
  • 1 0
 I went the other way: mullet to full 29. 2017 Foes Mixer moved to 2021 Foes Ridgeback 29. I think the mullet was more playful, climbing was easier due to same gear but smaller wheel, and on trail manuals were easy. The Ridgeback rolls better everywhere and especially in CO’s rocky chunder. I think the 29 is faster uphill because it does roll better. They are very similar overall but I do miss the fun factor and easy manuals of the Mixer. Maybe next bike will be new Mixer or Squeeb mullet.
  • 1 0
 Camille has a great attitude, just ride what they give her and go win. Let the engineers sort out what's best. Since I'm never going to be as fast as her, I nerd out and fiddle to make up for talent. I have a 29er Spire and a 650 Throttle hardtail. They're both great. I may try the small wheel on the Spire for giggles.
  • 1 0
 It's so hard to accept the own bike might not be the best option. I'm rather small but I ride full 29" for years now. And I like it. My reach is actually long enough so I don't buzz very often.
I have come to the conclusion now, that a mullet would be the better choice for me. Which is actually bad, because I will ride my bike for some time still :-/
  • 1 0
 I currently own a full 29er(marinAlpine Trail7 Size Medium) and love how fast it goes once it gets going and tracks over the rough but on the steep technical trails I buzz my butt ( 5ft 9) that I did ride on my old 27.5 Nomad and it's become off putting when I hit said sections.
My favourite type of riding is the technical steep get to the bottom and still be alive trails So I've just placed an order for the commencal Meta Sx!
Only time will tell if confidence will return on a mullet but I'm up for the challenge.
  • 1 0
 Interesting in PB comments that even some taller riders don’t get along with 29. At 6ft I demoed the new megatower after hoping they’d have a mullet and it still just doesn’t feel right. I’m going to demo it again as maybe one ride isn’t enough but some of the comments of how it just rides itself or your just a passenger etc I can understand. The turning traction is pretty impressive vs 27.5 nomad 5 but the rest I’m just not sold on. The mullet sounds to me where I want to go, more front rollover yet keep the behavior of being able to push it into berms and feel like I still have control.
  • 1 0
 Age 60 this year. Age 11 rode my sister’s 14 inch wheel Raleigh back from the shops, launched off a grass verge and steered into a garden wall. Cracked the wall, scarred knuckles etc. etc. Then rode and raced BMX from age 18 - broke my collarbone. Fast forward and many trips to Les Gets / Morzine area as an oldie on many 26 ers and only minor damage.
Many bikes in between including 24/7, Black Market etc. 26ers.
Now have Cotic hard tail 29er and Whyte fs 27.5. No body breaks.
THE WISDOM -
Big wheels better, small wheels bring pain.
Small wheels the best fun - mostly when arsing around.
Big wheels fast over distance, but not always fun.
At 5ft7inch I said I’d never have a 27.5, now I mostly ride the 29er hard tail.
NEVER ride your sister’s bike.

EXCEPT -
Probably the most fun bike I’ve ever ridden, week in week out, is my Cotic Solaris 29er. XC, trail, single track etc.
Try stuff - your trail, attitude, skills, ambitions, preferences, physique blah blah are unique to you so if it works all good.
…but really, never ride your sister’s bike (unless it’s a Solaris).
Tyre volume vs wheel size anyone ? What is 29 front 27+ rear ? A fat mullet ? Fat arse, fullet, 97+ ..? (bike marketeers, please contact me for license)

P.S. keep sarcasm real, and pedal.
  • 3 1
 "changing their habits can be next to impossible" still trying to state that riding 27" is due force of habit. Trust me, if you try something better, it's hard to go back.
  • 5 1
 Why did we not showcase someone running 27.5 front/ 29 rear.....
  • 1 0
 True mullet setup there
  • 4 0
 which is best for shredding blue trails tho
  • 4 0
 Ripping it on the dual 650 B
  • 3 0
 I down sized to 27.5 both front and rear and it's made my bike a lot more playful I really enjoy it
  • 5 5
 «The level of physics needed to unravel the movements on a bike is mind boggling.»

-not really, what’s mind boggling is former-bmx-rider-now-turned-mtb-expert-journalists failure to to recognize that rider and bike moves together as a system when riding, and as thus must be analyzed as a system. Minor changes in tyre width, tyre size, geometry etc changes the feel of the bike, but has little overall effect on the linear nor the rotational inertia of the system. I.e. the rollover effect of a 29r front wheel can be achieved on a 27.5 with longer wheelbase and slacker head angle. The wagon wheel effect can be achieved by using heavier tyres and rims etc.
  • 3 0
 Hah no you can't. A 29er wheel works better because it's physically bigger. You can't make up for it by stretching wheelbase and slackening head angle or heavier wheels. What are you talking about?
  • 1 0
 I'm also interested in this explanation. How geo can compensate rollover especially on the square edge obstacles? My thinking is that suspension might reduce the hung up effect for smaller wheel
  • 1 0
 @littleskull99: Rollover is a factor of diameter, loading (weight balance), suspension (tire and fork/frame), and more, all effecting the timeframe that the wheel can be lifted vertically by a certain distance without upsetting the bike/rider system balance. Slacker head-angle gives the fork (suspension) more time to take up the vertical aspect of the rollover (managing the rollover effect). Big soft tires (also part of the suspension) can completely eat bumps of a certain size without even needing to lift the axle vertically (minimizing the rollover effect). Longer wheelbase makes it easier to manage weight balance (loading), allowing the wheel to quickly move vertically but with minimal upset to the rider (mitigating the rollover effect).

The weight thing is that some of the 29er momentum bonus comes from simply being heavier.
  • 2 0
 But the GOAT is still on full 29”...
Anyhow, can we get opinions from tall riders as well? The only tall guy here is forrest riesco if I’m not mistaken
  • 2 0
 "able to initiate corners easier and faster with less effort. This might lead to the ability to pull out of close calls too." the real truth!
  • 2 0
 Burning Question: Why does Pinkbike keep getting DH Word Champion's winning year wrong?
  • 3 0
 36/ 29 is the business.
This comment will age well. Smile
  • 1 0
 For NBA players, sure.
  • 2 0
 After hearing the other two Rocky riders, interested in Jesse's take on the mullet setup
  • 1 0
 jesse has answerd the question several times
  • 1 0
 @HeatedRotor: sorry I’m so dumb for askin
  • 2 0
 anyone have a count on how many times the word "playful" has been used in the article and comments?
  • 3 0
 TLDR; When you're too short to ride a 29" rear.
  • 1 0
 Said the actress to the bishop...
  • 2 1
 Shorter riders want the smaller rear wheel so the rear tire doesn’t scrape the crack of their ass and balls, or coutchy, (for the ladies) on the steeps.
  • 2 0
 Some of you are over-complicating this issue. Just buy a Nomad and all of your life's problems will be solved.
  • 2 0
 Does anyone remember the Trek 69er ? a guy had one round here, we all pointed and laughed.
  • 3 1
 The lack of timed testing (proper testing with lots of data) was a bit shocking.
  • 4 1
 burning question…who gives af?
  • 5 3
 Thank you for not putting this behind the paywall.
  • 4 2
 Just curious, I have the Beta filter on, is there a lot of stuff going up behind there?
  • 2 0
 @kylar: Uh, view Pinkbike in an Incognito browser window for an unfiltered experience. Please check your email for my bill.
  • 2 0
 @suspended-flesh: huh, never would have thought to use it for such a…wholesome…reason.

And all I really saw was someone going off about the horrors of having to ride the same bike for two years. Not as bad as I thought.
  • 1 0
 @kylar: actually that one wasn't about horrors, bike was solid for 2 years.
  • 4 1
 27.5 is the new 26
  • 1 0
 Not until a new size comes out and the industry just up and stops producing 27.5 stuff overnight. Yeah, there are a few line-ups conspicuously lacking 27.5 and a handful of (usually XC oriented) products that are 29er only, but 95% of new products (forks, rims, tires) are still coming in 27.5 and 29. Where-as 26er products kinda just stopped being made in a hurry.
  • 2 0
 John Deere reverse mullet coming soon to an LBS near you
  • 3 1
 Look at dirt bikes for a clue .
  • 6 6
 It’s not really a burning question, but Pinkbike has to sell clicks so I guess it’s a profit question ….

Mullets are stoopid.
  • 2 0
 Waiting for G Minnaar to try the 32"/29" setup.
  • 4 4
 "Why Have Some Pro Riders Downsized to a 27.5" Rear Wheel?"

Because that's what their sponsors are now trying to sell to you.
  • 2 0
 Next up 28.25 vs the world.
  • 2 0
 So that I can tell my riding buddies my big wheels are holding me back
  • 2 0
 Ews champ ain’t doing it, just the jerrys.
  • 1 0
 Jack's a tall drink, plenty of room for a big wheel under those legs. He also rides a pretty downsized frame, should we all follow suit? Then someone has to tell all the PB editors they've been way wrong on the "longer" part of longer, lower, slacker.
  • 4 3
 Because millions of MX riders can’t be wrong
  • 5 2
 MX is a totally different beast where the smaller rear wheel means they can use a smaller motor and still get a good acceleration (A bigger wheel requires a bigger motor for the same acceleration). The real question is why does MX use a bigger front wheel?
  • 3 1
 This is actually just wrong. Motocross bikes usually run the same outer diameter on the front and rear wheel. It's just that they arrive at said identical outer diameter in the rear, by utilizing a taller tire on a smaller rim - to improve traction on the rear wheel which drives the bike forward. But the wheel (tire+rim) is the same size front and back.

Motocross bikes don't have a Mullet setup.
  • 1 0
 @Muscovir: The 2022 Honda CRF 450r has 80/100-21 Front (27.30" diameter) 120/80-19 Rear (26.56" diameter). 2022 KTM 450-F has same size front tire and a 26.80 diameter rear tire.

450 MX bikes tire diameter differences are not as extreme as a 29F/27.5R mullet MTB but it still uses a larger diameter front tire.
  • 2 0
 @Muscovir: so you're saying if you want your MTB to be more "moto", you need 29 front, 27.5-plus-plus rear... mullet rims, equal overall. Plus tires live on!
  • 4 2
 'cos they're better
  • 2 0
 They are literally not. Didn't you read the article? Some of the worlds best riders saying that there is barely any perceptable difference at all.
  • 1 0
 Connor fearon doesn't need front tires anyhow
  • 1 1
 I'm definitely faster in my mullet. Business in the front, the party out back.
  • 2 0
 27.5 ain't dead!
  • 1 1
 Because its better in rougher terrain..
  • 2 3
 29ers for real men like minnaar and pierron, mixed wheeled for the weaklings
  • 1 0
 27.5 all the way
  • 1 0
 Speed and Power.
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