Mountain Bike Wheel Sizes 26" vs 27.5"(650B) vs 29" vs Pugsley-"FAT BIKE"
East Coast Riding In New York State.
Bikes; Ventana El Ciclon
Yeti ASR SL
Trek Super Fly 100 carbon
Is the standard 26" mountain bike wheel dead. It's too early to say. Consider this ride a 26" hardtail or full rigid for a bit then switch to a 26" full suspension. Wow what a difference in terms of roll and pump absorption over roots and rocks.
Now take that 26" suspended mountain bike and ride a 27.5" or 29" suspended bike. In regards to bump absorption the later two size take square edge hit better and rolls over roots a bit smoother. The sensation going from the bigger wheel suspended bike back to the 26" suspended bike will feel like the comparison between a rigid 26" and suspended 26".
There's is a difference in contact patch with a 26" where with the larger diameter wheels the contact patch to the trail surface is greater increasing traction.
As for climbing this varies on grade and length of the climb. With the 29" wheel you will either feel like you are taking big steps forward or not where the bigger wheel feels heavier and looses momentum going into a climb. This is where 26" and 27.5" I feel work better no matter what the variable may be. 27.5" wheel will give you the big wheel roll but still retain pep and momentum going up. On steep climbs on board a 26" wheel you can almost feel the smaller contact patch where the wheel is on the cusp of breaking loose not so with the 27.5" or 29".
Now for letting it loose on the twisty stuff. The 26" will feel the liveliest but will suffer if the trail is rocky. 27.5" on fast corners will require a bit more of a hard lean at the apex. Go ahead traction is there and if you are leaning heavy on the brakes to avoid going off the trail that's fine the 27.5 will jump back to speed like the 26". The 29"er feels big in similar situations. Requiring scrubbing speed or serious handling to carry it through. If scrubbing speed is required then you have to get it rolling back up to speed.
I just started my comparison of these 3 wheels sizes and will continue into the end of next year 2012. Updating from time to time.
I didn't forget about the Surly Pugsley. For me this is the ultimate bike. Yes this big looking cartoon-ish bike. Off the bat I will say I prefer my suspended bike on rocky strewn trails. Knowing how one feels going over rock gardens over the other the brain say why torture yourself. But hey plenty other people ride full rigid single speeds over this type of terrain.
The pugsley is the ultimate do anything go anywhere bike. Depending on build it can be set up for slow all day exploratory rides or closer to an XC racer with a longer stem and lower drop from saddle to handlebar height. Mine is set up closer to XC. At 34.5 pounds with minimal tread this bike rolls nicely and pedals quite similar to a non "Fat Bike". So where does this bike fit in? Every where. Serious this is a great bike all year round. If the trail is wet a little slick add some leaves into the mix during the Fall months this bike will rail and not skip a beat. Go on a group ride watch the rider in front of you going through a wet section or damp trail surface the bike begins to dance changing lines sometimes even requiring to stop to make a save from going down. With the Pugsley it floats and keeps going carrying it's speed.
In the dryer months when the trail can get loose same applies carry your speed lean into the turns and let it go this bike will stick. Riding over loose gravel or sand not a problem the front will not dig in and stop like a normal bike would.
Climbing with it's wide foot print select the right gear for the weight and wheel size and it will climb.
The mission here no matter what the conditions are go ahead keep pedaling you can.
And when it's get colder and the trails are covered in snow why head to the gym. Yeah it's warmer but it smells and there's no scenery. On the East Coast the conditions need to be right. Our snow can be heavy and wet which can sink even the Pugsley. Deep powder, fresh powder or packed multi-use trails are best especially in the early morning hours when the trail is frozen.
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