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  1. #1
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    Death of the 26" wheel bike?

    With all the talk revolving around 29ers and 27.5 bike in recent years is there any reason to even consider the 26er as an option any more?

    29er are great XC cross country bikes. They're great over long distances and handle well going up hills. And now that the 27.5 revolution has caught fire what's there to do with the 26" wheel? After contemplating my future plans I though about which bikes I'd like to build in the near future and my plan boils down to this this: I still plan to ride a FS 29er as my every day XC bike and eventually would like to build up a 27.5 as a long travel fun AM rig to huck around the trails. My current AM rig is a 26er Pivot Mach 5. Which is plenty capable but it's noticeable poor climber and harder to ride over long distances compared to it's bigger wheel brother. So what's going to happen to the 26er? Will 26er be reserved primarily for DH? Your thoughts?

  2. #2
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    26ers are still a lot of fun, and there is NO reason to ditch a good one just for the sake of upgrading. I only race 29er because they are so much faster for the groomed courses, but 26ers still have their use, and my Mach 4 is not going to be sold. That said, if you are in the market for a new bike, the latest designs for 27.5 ibis and santa cruz are outstanding, and a much better investment than a 26er all things considered. but that is only if you are buying new. jr

  3. #3
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    Aren't the top enduro racers on 26ers. I think they are still best for that type of riding or racing.

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    Given that the 27 rolls over things better/safer than 26, that is the major advantage, plus you can run a slightly thinner tire for the same real estate of traction. 26ers will make sense for far fewer people in the future when buying NEW. There are some great deals around right now for 26ers as people ditch them willy nilly in pursuit of the newer, better thing. Still doesn't mean 26ers aren't fun and shouldn't be kept. nuff said jr

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jredling View Post
    Aren't the top enduro racers on 26ers. I think they are still best for that type of riding or racing.
    I thought I read somewhere enduro racers are going to 27.5 and that Enduro is taking over DH racing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jredling View Post
    Aren't the top enduro racers on 26ers. I think they are still best for that type of riding or racing.
    A lot of new 27.5 bikes are aimed at the Enduro market, so likely many pro riders will be using them in 2014.

  7. #7
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    26" bikes turn better , weigh less, are easier to jump, and are stronger.

    The Enduro races prove that fast riders are fast on any size wheel. The 27.5 did not give a big enough advantage to overcome talent and skill.

    If I were you, I would get a bike like the Ibis mojo HDR. It can handle both sizes.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by saidrick View Post
    26" bikes turn better , weigh less, are easier to jump, and are stronger.

    The Enduro races prove that fast riders are fast on any size wheel. The 27.5 did not give a big enough advantage to overcome talent and skill.

    If I were you, I would get a bike like the Ibis mojo HDR. It can handle both sizes.
    What about climbing and long distances on the saddle?

  9. #9
    Zaf
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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    What about climbing and long distances on the saddle?
    Climbing efficiency will come down a bit more on Suspension design and setup, and gearing than wheelsize. There are compromises in all areas, 29'ers will roll over things a little more easily, but have a bigger front end and take a little bit more effort to manual/lift when it comes to larger objects. 26" might need a little bit more body language, but they are easier to move around in such a way.
    Go with what you feel comfortable on for the riding you're doing, because in the end, good bikes will go on being good bikes, bad bikes will be bad bikes and it's very rarely a result of the size hoops you're stick on them, but the bike itself.

    I feel more comfortable on a 29er, I like the way the wheel behaves, it generally feels more intuitive to me. But I wouldn't give up my 26" Fuel EX for the world, because it's such a rewarding bike to ride. Hard one to describe, because the 29er's not boring, but I'd compare it to poking a stick a loyal dog, he'll sort of look back at you as to say "What you just did there, that wasn't cool, lets try not doing that again even though you got out of it unscathed."
    The 26" though...more like a rabid hyena, in which it'll just bite you. The payoff is that when you do manage to clear lines on it, it is just THAT much more rewarding.

    I don't think the wheel is dead. If it is, it won't die overnight, but it has helped in making their components a lot cheaper, it might help bring more people into the hobby by driving costs down a bit simply because it's no longer "in vogue".

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    What about climbing and long distances on the saddle?
    I am not qualified to answer that question. I have never been a good climber. I don't put enough time in the saddle to be a good climber.

    29er's require more effort to climb with , but they reward you with faster climbing speeds.

    But in my opinion, climbing comes down to bike design more than wheel size.
    Any wheel size can be good or bad at climbing based on its geometry , weight , suspension design and how it fits the individual rider's body.

    The riders fitness level and skill level can also make a bad climbing bike look good.

  11. #11
    LCW
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    Death of the 26" wheel bike?

    26" will make a "comeback" when the hype of 27.5 dies down and bike manufacturers need something "new" to hock

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCW View Post
    26" will make a "comeback" when the hype of 27.5 dies down and bike manufacturers need something "new" to hock
    haha yea

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrawie View Post
    Given that the 27 rolls over things better/safer than 26, that is the major advantage, plus you can run a slightly thinner tire for the same real estate of traction. 26ers will make sense for far fewer people in the future when buying NEW. There are some great deals around right now for 26ers as people ditch them willy nilly in pursuit of the newer, better thing. Still doesn't mean 26ers aren't fun and shouldn't be kept. nuff said jr
    I just started experimenting with larger volume tires (2.25 vs 2.1) on a 26er HT that I use for XC riding in the desert. I seriously think the 26er still has its place. The gearing is better and they spin up faster. You have less of a rotation weight penalty for going to a larger volume tire... and those larger volume tires really soak up the chatter on the trail. Will my next bike be a 27.5 or 29er? Yes, but I hope they keep making 26ers. Unless I am totally blown away by my next bike, I know that I will always want a 26er in the stable.
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  14. #14
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    700C killed 27". But a few 650A designs persist. I think 26" is enough different from 650B to hang around, especially internationally. As the wheel size for adult bikes goes up, it may also generate a niche for another wheel size for children's bikes, or 26" bikes for smaller women who aren't Emily Batty.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    I just hope my 26er doesn't die while I'm riding it; that would hurt.

  16. #16
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    Just like there are quite a few people who don't fit on a 29er, there are a significant number of people who don't fit on 650b/27.5. Heck, I occasionally build 24" frames for really small people for whom 26" is too big.

    26 won't die. Neither will any of the other mainstream sizes.

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  17. #17
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    Yeah i think 2 to 3 years from now, 26" will be phaseout. so either get a 650b or 29er bike if you are upgrading. Personally I prefer to ride 650b than a 29er.

  18. #18
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    26ers will still exist in some fashion, but I'm not going to invest any serious $$$ in a new 26er. If you have a bling 26er now either plan to keep it and wear it out or sell it fast while you can still get a decent re-sale price....although it could already be too late for that.
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  19. #19
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    Another thought related to this topic. But has anyone else noticed how much CHEAPER 26er parts are compared to 29er and 27.5? Right not the prices of 27.5 parts is approaching their weight in gold and 29er parts are still relatively high. I could probably put together a 26er FS for less that half of what it would cost to put a 27.5 together right now. (Average cost of a fully built 27.5 looks to be aroun $3k) Back a few years ago it was almost unheard of to see bikes priced above $2k except may a few high end Specialized S-Works and Scott Limited Edition bikes.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    Another thought related to this topic. But has anyone else noticed how much CHEAPER 26er parts are compared to 29er and 27.5? Right not the prices of 27.5 parts is approaching their weight in gold and 29er parts are still relatively high. I could probably put together a 26er FS for less that half of what it would cost to put a 27.5 together right now. (Average cost of a fully built 27.5 looks to be aroun $3k) Back a few years ago it was almost unheard of to see bikes priced above $2k except may a few high end Specialized S-Works and Scott Limited Edition bikes.
    No - I have not noticed that at all. The same type of wheels are the same price in 26 or 29 (or 27.5 if available). Same thing for forks. Tires maybe a few bucks more, but I just don't get how you claim to be able to build a 26 bike for "half" of the cost of a 27.5. Where are you shopping??

  21. #21
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    Check Craigslist or forum classifieds - decent 26" parts are (hyperbole warning!) practically free.

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  22. #22
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    I haven't tried 27.5 yet and 29 doesn't suit the trails I ride. Its good for climbing fireroads though. My next race bike will be a 26 and will be built specifically for super d and enduro racing.
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  23. #23
    DLd
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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    I thought I read somewhere enduro racers are going to 27.5 and that Enduro is taking over DH racing.
    Most companies are making their initial push into 27.5 in the exploding Enduro market, that's true, but the people actually winning the races at the highest levels, like Jerome Clementz are still on 26'er. Bike check: Cannondale Jekyll of EWS-Champion Jerome Clementz | Enduro Mountainbike Magazine
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  24. #24
    DLd
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    I think it's more likely that people are coming to the slow realization that 29 inches overshot the sweet spot for mountain biking and the 29'er fad is finally coming to a close. It might still be a good wheel size for noobs, for instance I might start my mom on a 29'er, but if you like to "ride" the bike, rather than just ride along with the bike, 26 or 27.5 is going to be where it's at.

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  25. #25
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    Road bikes seem to have stabilized on the biggest wheel that can fit in a bike fitting most adult men.

    I'm pretty happy with my 29er, but I've set it up with a -17 degree stem and it only has 100 mm of travel. So if I wanted more travel, I could see it being a problem.
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  26. #26
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    I'm in the camp that 29er is a good bike for people that don't have the greatest technical skillset or want to use the technology to increase their speed on an xc race. As far as it being the perfect bike for the "all mountain" weekend warrior type I think it's not quite it. I read a lot about them and really debated purchasing one at one point or another. However I am a cheap ass and just keep upgrading my 26" bike instead. I finally did breakdown and ride a few 29ers and overall just didn't see the hype for my style of riding. Overall in the tight fast technical stuff that I really enjoy the steering just seemed sluggish and I felt like the bike and my intentions of what I wanted to happen weren't always on the same page. I could see the 29ers advantage in the long fire road type climbs and the sweepers and flow type trails. I haven't ridden the 27.5 wheel just yet, however am working on building some wheels for my bike since it is one that you can slap some 650b's on. From what I've read and the people I've talked to I think the 650b is going to be a good compromise. It's just unclear to me if that really lasts. My hesitation with it is that I feel like I don't necessarily need/want a bike to make my trails easier. I like the challenge of the smaller wheel making me push my skillset. I think even if 650b takes the market you will see people over time go back to the 26" wheel just for the challenge in the same manner you have seen people go back to rigid frames/forks and single speeds. The 26er will never go away, it's really just a question of what you like to ride on and what is trendy at the time.
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  27. #27
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    This is great, it's like the 29er board circa 2004 or so!

    Believe it or not, the first time I ever saw a 29er, I said (and I quote!) "Probably pretty good if you just want to ride the fire roads".

    Shows what I know. Sigh.

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  28. #28
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    Looks like Bike Radar is pretty much confirming it.

    650b Mountain Bikes and the Death of 26" - YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    Looks like Bike Radar is pretty much confirming it.

    650b Mountain Bikes and the Death of 26" - YouTube
    Yep - not like that's an ad for specialized or anything . . . . Watch the related video "less is more" where the guy on the hardtail is "keeping up" with the guy on the DH rig - totally convincing. What a joke.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Check Craigslist or forum classifieds - decent 26" parts are (hyperbole warning!) practically free.

    -Walt
    Yeah - that's right. I probably mistakenly thought he was talking about new parts, since there isn't much of a used market in 650B parts. New parts are pretty comparable in price, but the used 26" parts and bikes are very difficult to sell.

  31. #31
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    You can't 'kill' the 26 inch. It's a concept, not just a part of the market.

    650b is a bunch of hoopla to me. 29ers are cool I guess, but I'd rather take a 700c monstercross bike on the trails I'd consider 'good for 29ers'

    And that's the thing for me, why aren't Rock Lobster's Monstercross bikes the new craze? The answer: he isn't a marketing monster. Still, his bikes sell well, race/ride excellently.

    Personally, I won't be getting a new 650b mountain bike for a while. I'll probably get a Chromag where I can call the company and know who welds the bike.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnowAgenda View Post
    I predict the top Enduro riders will be on 29'ers next season.

    It sorta has to go that way if 27.5 infiltrates the DH scene...
    That will be a huge surprise IMO. After seeing the videos of Jerome riding 29 I have a feeling he will be on 26 or 275 for EWS still. Hes already a small guy and the 29er seemed like it just slowed him down and made him bike more carefully.. could be wrong

    Plus, 29er wheels get THRASHED by big dudes when they ride aggressively.

    My riding buddy who is 320 sold his 29er and bought a 26 because he couldn't get a wheelset to stay true for more than a few rides (even with flow EX's laced to CK's) granted he does ride like an animal but still... never had that issue with 26.

  33. #33
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    I am up to my eyeballs in 26" bikes, forks, wheels, and tires. So I certainly hope the 26" wheel isn't dead! When I go on Ebay, I almost always search for 26" frames. I want to get a TNT Turner Flux some day (a 4" bike with no hydroforming would look seriously retro these days!).
    My next purchase is most likely an On-One 456 Evo2. They look so bad-ass in raw steel with some fat 2.4 Continental X-Kings.
    Where I live, the shops carry Trek and Specialized almost exclusively. There is a ton of 29ers here. So we won't be seeing 27.5 taking over anytime soon.
    Also, where I live, Fat Bikes and Gravel Grinders have more buzz over them than 27.5.
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  34. #34
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    I'm surprised in the video that the Giant rep said they had an end date for their 29er line. That shocks the hell out of me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    Looks like Bike Radar is pretty much confirming it.

    650b Mountain Bikes and the Death of 26" - YouTube
    Let me read between the lines: Giant lied last year about 29ers being good( they had spent a year studying the 650b, at that point), since they now think they're bad and have an "endgame". But you should totally think that we are not lieing now about how the math shows the 650b to be better than everything else.

    Cough ,cough... Enduro World Series results begs to differ.

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    I actually ride a 26" hardtail that is a little under 21 lbs. Here in Iowa this makes sense to me since the trails can be technical, but nothing too demanding for my bike and skill set. I like having to pick the right line, and use all of my skills to ride the more difficult sections. Riding a bike that makes this easier would take some fun out of the experience. If I still lived in Idaho my bike would be different. While out on the trails I have seen guys with 29" full suspension bikes clear sections without even paying attention to their lines, doing a manual etc. Where is the fun in that?

  37. #37
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    A big wheel long time naysayer...

    ...only now having ridden some 27.5 bikes that were the same style as my current whip have I decided to make the jump. I have sampled every style and price point of 29'er bike available from base level off the racks to ultra fancy custom numbers and everything in between over more than a dozen years. Every single one of them felt like I was sitting up on a bar stool after being over-served. A year and half ago my opinion finally changed after riding a Kona Honzo. This was the first big wheeled bike that employed a unique (if not radical) geometry (slack front end/steep seat angle/short chainstays) . I said right there and then that this would become the geometry that all AM/Enduro bikes will have. Now they all do.

    Then, this fall I test rode 2 different 27.5 bikes back to back against my steed on the exact same trail, line for line. The wheels did make a huge difference in the ability to maintain faster momentum and roll over trail chatter. This is old news for 29'ers. However conversely, the bikes did not suffer from the strange geometry issues that most 29'ers have.

    I don't think 26'ers will disappear. There are too many of them already out there and years of components will be needed to keep them rolling. I would recommend to anyone considering a 26' bike to sample a 27.5" bike of the same ilk. I believe that you will find that the aforementioned benefits without the geometry hang ups are worth the change
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  38. #38
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    yes it's dead, but it's a zombie now and will eat you!
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    Quote Originally Posted by team_wee View Post
    yes it's dead, but it's a zombie now and will eat you!
    Cotic #26aintdead Video - Pinkbike
    Anyone else notice that he was pushing his bike up the hills? There lies the problem with small wheels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    Anyone else notice that he was pushing his bike up the hills? There lies the problem with small wheels.
    The best descents sometimes involve hills which are not climbable.
    That's not a problem, but a small trade-off...

  41. #41
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    It's pretty obvious 26"still has people that will buy them. I bought my Rune and got a set of 650b dropout right away. I still ride 26 and till I have a reason to change I wont.
    I like to fart when I'm in front of you on a climb

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by 94krawler View Post
    It's pretty obvious 26"still has people that will buy them.
    No doubt. A 26er will work better for some people on some trails.

    The question isn't whether 27.5 is so amazing that 26 has no place.

    The question is whether companies will bother supporting two similar wheel sizes and if not which will they pick.

    A number of companies have already answered that question by getting rid of most or all of their non-DH 26ers.

    Someone should start a Niner-esque company called Sixer and make only 26ers for the discerning rider.

    If most companies get rid of their 26er models than you may not have a lot of choice when you go to buy one in 3-4yrs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfJava View Post
    Anyone else notice that he was pushing his bike up the hills? There lies the problem with small wheels.
    You have it backwards.

  44. #44
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    "I feel more comfortable on a 29er, I like the way the wheel behaves, it generally feels more intuitive to me. But I wouldn't give up my 26" Fuel EX for the world, because it's such a rewarding bike to ride. Hard one to describe, because the 29er's not boring, but I'd compare it to poking a stick a loyal dog, he'll sort of look back at you as to say "What you just did there, that wasn't cool, lets try not doing that again even though you got out of it unscathed."
    The 26" though...more like a rabid hyena, in which it'll just bite you. The payoff is that when you do manage to clear lines on it, it is just THAT much more rewarding."

    Zaf, sounds like your the perfect candidate for a 27.5 bike, just think, a bike that does all your that your 29er does, but feels alot like your 26er.
    Last edited by Hurricane Jeff; 12-07-2013 at 12:09 PM.

  45. #45
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    Talk more about your DISS Jeff, the one that does it all but still feels like the 26.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

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    If manufacturers really stop making new 26ers we have no choice. They learned a lesson on 29ers. They will limit our choices and get rid of 26 and the sales of 275s will automatically be strong. What a bunch of crap. I hate it. The performance increase of 275 over 26 is not large enough for the changeover to be worth it from a consumer standpoint. It only benefits the manufacturers. I have 20 years worth of accumulated 26 wheels, tires, frames that will now be relics. So stupid. I believe in simplicity, and the less wheel sizes the better. 2 was plenty. I assume 29ers will stay around, but theoretically if they went away and 26 goes away and just 275 was used it would be awesome. Sales over time will decide this issue in the end. But we can't buy what isn't for sale.

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    My DISS is still rocking, I love this bike, although I don't ride it as much as I used to. I spend more time on my converted SC Blur.

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    Death of the 26" wheel bike?

    Some of the best riders I have ridden with in my area are on 26ers. And some are on 29ers. And some are on 650b.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA View Post
    I just started experimenting with larger volume tires (2.25 vs 2.1) on a 26er HT that I use for XC riding in the desert. I seriously think the 26er still has its place. The gearing is better and they spin up faster. You have less of a rotation weight penalty for going to a larger volume tire... and those larger volume tires really soak up the chatter on the trail.
    True that ... fat bikes aren't going anywhere ;-)

  50. #50
    Unpredictable
    Reputation: Ridnparadise's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    Agreed about bigger bag tyres and also tubeless. Then there's better forks (eg Pike), carbon wheels, wider and better bars and then you can even ignore all the hype and keep your mind on the ride, rather then "your" ride. Guess what - 26 actually is pretty good...

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