What wheel size I should use 27.5” or 29”? 26” – a thing of the past?
Let’s start by saying that point of view depends on where you stand. That might be a cliché, but nevertheless it’s also true with the choice of wheel size. Ask anybody who ride on 29” and you can be quite sure to hear that this is the best option, ask someone with 26” wheels 😉 and you will hear similar answer, only the praise will go to old good 26”. Other people might tell you that size doesn’t matter, but is it really true? Years are passing by and we still do not have a definitive answer to this question. So, let’s do some brainstorming and tackle this problem from more practical perspective with only a pinch of theoretics. Shall we begin?
Our decision depends on three factors:
- what kind of terrain are you going to ride – downhill, more technical enduro trails, or perhaps many miles of dedicated bicycle paths?
- what is your riding style – do you prefer slower pace, or do you consider yourself as speed demon?
- what is your height – short people tend to have problems with heavier/bigger equipment.
26” wheel is indeed becoming a thing of the past with one last application being a dirt/street bike. Bikes with such wheels can also be find among older, mostly second-hand downhill bikes in the category “quality bikes up to 1000£”. For sure you understand how rare it became, if you have ever been forced to look for 26” tubes among your friends or on parking lot next to the trails – a wild goose chase if you ask me! Of course, we are still able to buy parts for these bikes (26” wheels and tires, dampers) and they are cheaper for that matter, but when you think about a new frame or bike you have to forget about 26”. Most bike companies and manufacturers withdrew 26” mountain bikes from their offers few years ago. This kind of MTB had always been and still is a great fun with most potential for jumps and tricks, perfect for dirt jumping, but will it be any good for everyday riding?
For the undecided ones who do not feel intimidated by big wheels, there is an interesting alternative called Mullet bikes where front wheel is bigger than rear. Currently you can find this type of bike in portfolio of NS Bikes, who offers hybrid models, such as Define. Combination of big 29” wheel in the front and smaller 27.5” wheel in the back guarantees good rolling in uneven terrain and optimal manoeuvrability of the whole construction. But that’s only one of many options – if you want your biking dreams to come true, we are here for you.
You see, our Bike Builders team is really crazy about two-wheels, and for this very reason we offer custom machines – bikes built exactly to fit the rider’s preferences and expectations to bring him or her 100% joy of riding. So, if you are not sure, what you want to change in your bike, or if it’s time to buy a new model, you can count on our help. We specialize in custom-built bikes, but in our offer, you will also find second-hand MTBs, which we put our work and effort into, so they are just as new ones 😉.
To summarize, each wheel size has its advantages and disadvantages. This article was aimed at showing you in more practical terms, what outdoor conditions are optimal for each type of wheel, so that the rider can utilize its whole potential. If you cannot decide, try focusing on your individual needs, riding style and most importantly – type of terrain you are going to ride in. Remember that not only wheels are of importance, but also frame appropriately matched to rider’s height and weight. Last but not least, we should think about right amortization, since bigger wheel requires less of it than smaller, 26” wheel. Before you make these important decisions, it is best to test the bike on trails. If you are from UK, the best (and fun) option might be to visit a bike park with bike rental place, such as Cannock Chase or Forest of Dean, and test the MTB of your choice during whole-day ride.