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  1. #1
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    Future of 26" vs 27.5" Wheels for Trail Bikes

    For mid-travel bikes 4.5-6" of travel, is everything moving to 27.5"? I thought I read something to the effect that orders of 26" tires from dealers have been dead in the water while sales of 27.5" tire have been on fire. That sounded somewhat unlikely given the low number of 27.5" wheels that must be currently in use, but it got me to start thinking about the future of 26" vs 27.5" wheels. I'm thinking about waiting to see how everything shakes out with 27.5" and what new bikes come out in that wheel size.

    I've tried several 29" bikes last year and disliked all of them as they felt so clumsy other than when going in a straight line. I tried a 27.5" SC Bronson and could definitely feel that the 27.5" rolled better than a 26" wheel without losing much in agility.

  2. #2
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    my guess is 650b will take over in the trail/ am catagory but 26'' bikes of any variety will never go away.

  3. #3
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    Aslong as there is a diverse rider base we will have options. As the number of riders decreas so will options. Leaving us with what ever the most cost effective one to produce is...



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  4. #4
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    About 2 weeks ago I visited a few shops here in SLC, UT. Seemed like all but the freeride/DH oriented one had pretty much given up on 26" tires (not bikes, but tires). 2/3 to 3/4 of their stock was 29er.

    So much for supporting the LBS if I have to go online to buy tires. And I'm not buying a new $3000+ bike because I can't find a $50 tire.

  5. #5
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    Doubt there's much of a future for 26" wheels, except for a few niche markets like dual slalom/dirt jump, maybe downhill bikes for at least a few years, and unicycles...lol. I wouldn't be surprised if the major manufacturers drop their 26" lines for the most part in the next 2 years. Maybe you'll see a few city-cruiser types in that size, but otherwise I'll predict wal-mart will be where you'll find 26" mountain bikes (until they too change). It's just too costly to have 3 different wheel sizes and 27.5 solves the problem for some of the riders that 29 couldn't. The two sizes will be 29 and 27.5. And there is plenty of stock, molds, machine equipment and everything else in support of 26 so that it will be around for quite a few years to come. Supplies will possibly get low well into the future (many years), but I predict it will always be available due to those niche markets where it will still exist, just that it will be in shorter supply with less options and possibly higher price. By the time this is the case, no one will care likely (5-10 years).
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  6. #6
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    A 650b frame is just a 26er with good mud clearance*, I can see lot's of 'under wheeled' bikes popping up in the near future.

    * I rode a Bronson with 650 then 26 wheels this weekend, honestly couldn't tell the difference.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Doubt there's much of a future for 26" wheels, except for a few niche markets like dual slalom/dirt jump, maybe downhill bikes for at least a few years, and unicycles...lol. I wouldn't be surprised if the major manufacturers drop their 26" lines for the most part in the next 2 years. Maybe you'll see a few city-cruiser types in that size, but otherwise I'll predict wal-mart will be where you'll find 26" mountain bikes (until they too change). It's just too costly to have 3 different wheel sizes and 27.5 solves the problem for some of the riders that 29 couldn't. The two sizes will be 29 and 27.5. And there is plenty of stock, molds, machine equipment and everything else in support of 26 so that it will be around for quite a few years to come. Supplies will possibly get low well into the future (many years), but I predict it will always be available due to those niche markets where it will still exist, just that it will be in shorter supply with less options and possibly higher price. By the time this is the case, no one will care likely (5-10 years).
    What exactly is the problem you speak of? As far as I see it, 29ers didn't solve any problems. 29ers took advantage of momentum with the cost of agility, which works perfectly for some, and not for others. It could also be body dimensions, as I see a lot of taller guys riding 29ers, where they felt too big on 26" before. And I don't care what reviews you read, manualling and hopping any 29er will always be more awkward than the same geo bike with 26" wheels. If a wheel size takes care of a riding problem, I think the problem lies with skill, rather than the design of the bike.. I finally rode a Bronson and I cannot dis the bike in any way, but I did not feel "faster" or "better" or anything more than my SB66, but then again I haven't ridden anything that compares to the SB66. The only thing I felt was the new, different bike feel. I will ride 26" until I no longer can, which sadly, seems to be coming sooner than I had ever thought...

    The bike industry has to make money. If they didn't come out with new standards every year like tapered headtubes, new iscg tab sizes, forcing people to 15mm TA rather than 20mm, etc. that are "proven to make you 16% faster and 14% lighter" than we wouldn't have the technology that actually does make the bikes better. Just my 2 cents...

  8. #8
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    I was riding when they first tried to push 29's in the 90's .... they were lame then & they are lame now! 27.5 is pure marketing hype nothing more. There will always be good 26 tires & wheels available ... think about it you can still get quality 24" wheels & tires & they have been out of the main stream for years.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    What exactly is the problem you speak of? As far as I see it, 29ers didn't solve any problems. 29ers took advantage of momentum with the cost of agility, which works perfectly for some, and not for others. It could also be body dimensions, as I see a lot of taller guys riding 29ers, where they felt too big on 26" before. And I don't care what reviews you read, manualling and hopping any 29er will always be more awkward than the same geo bike with 26" wheels. If a wheel size takes care of a riding problem, I think the problem lies with skill, rather than the design of the bike.. I finally rode a Bronson and I cannot dis the bike in any way, but I did not feel "faster" or "better" or anything more than my SB66, but then again I haven't ridden anything that compares to the SB66. The only thing I felt was the new, different bike feel. I will ride 26" until I no longer can, which sadly, seems to be coming sooner than I had ever thought...

    The bike industry has to make money. If they didn't come out with new standards every year like tapered headtubes, new iscg tab sizes, forcing people to 15mm TA rather than 20mm, etc. that are "proven to make you 16% faster and 14% lighter" than we wouldn't have the technology that actually does make the bikes better. Just my 2 cents...
    And then came carbon rims and other advancements that made the bigger wheels easier to accelerate, while still rolling better over things. Yes, major manufacturers may stop selling mainstream 26" bikes soon. No, you will not have any problem getting parts and wheels for years to come. Is 26 the best just because you are used to it? Because it's what most of us started on? Was it ever "designed" for off-road? Who knows, but 29" is here to stay. It's not going anywhere and has become solidly entrenched in the XC market. If you notice, 26 bikes were already getting fairly rare in the hardtail market, with most going to 29. Now the other choice will be 27.5, and it will be more consistent with the rest of the line-up.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  10. #10
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    I personally felt 27.5 was the worst of both worlds when I demo'd. Heavier and sluggish compared to 26" but didn't roll noticeably better. I've heard this sentiment echoed by a lot of non-marketing people.

    Of course, many people will let the marketers tell them what to ride.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    I personally felt 27.5 was the worst of both worlds when I demo'd. Heavier and sluggish compared to 26" but didn't roll noticeably better. I've heard this sentiment echoed by a lot of non-marketing people.

    Of course, many people will let the marketers tell them what to ride.
    To each thier own. More options more better

  12. #12
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    The 29er didn't solve any problems for ME anyhow (I think 29ers, along with 650b solves some problems for the market - via creating a new fad, next best, or new black).

    I have fun on my 29er, but not sure it allows me to do anything I can't on my 26. Makes pumping small transitions on a trail a bit of challenge, but I can do it. Rolling over steeps is a little different, popping into a manual and maintaining it is a bit harder - but I can manage, tight tech moves are more of a challenge because there's just more bike to negotiate. Because mine is a overbuilt XC model, I stay away from bigger drops and jumps, but I'm comfortable enough to hit most of them. I prefer my 29er for more XC oriented rides because its a lighter build than my 26, but if I had the same thing set up as a 26er - I'd probably get rid of the big wheels. Going to 29 reminded me of when I first tried to ride a mountain bike after spending 15 years riding bmx/street on a 20 inch bike.

    (Maybe I shouldn't describe it as "more difficult" but just different, as I can do most everything on the 29er than I can on the smaller bike. For a while, I figured it might make me a better rider, but it really only made me good at riding the same terrain on two different wheel sizes).

    Suppose at some point I'll try the 650b thing out of curiosity - but not tilll they sort through a few geometry fads first. For now, I'm not finding deficiencies with my 26 setups - so I don't see the need to switch to 650...

    BUT adding another ride to the stable is almost always a great idea...
    Last edited by jhazard; 07-08-2013 at 08:19 AM. Reason: Landsharks
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    If a wheel size takes care of a riding problem, I think the problem lies with skill, rather than the design of the bike..
    What he said...
    The overwhelming majority of riders in my area (SE PA) are on 29ers. Those that had skills on 26" wheels, still have those skills on the 29er.

  14. #14
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    That's it, I'm throwing out my brand new bike with 26" wheels in the garbage as soon as I get home. Why didn't somebody tell me!!

    Actually, I did like the 650B wheels. I just didn't like the bikes they were on as much. Of course, now Ibis has come out with a 650B varient for the Mojo. . .go figure.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by reformed roadie View Post
    What he said...
    The overwhelming majority of riders in my area (SE PA) are on 29ers. Those that had skills on 26" wheels, still have those skills on the 29er.
    Agree with this 100%. I am usually the only one in a group riding a 26" bike. Pretty crazy. What is scarier is that if you go to the LBS, there are almost no MTBs anymore. Talking to the shops I have been told that MTBers are too cheap, buy everything on the internet and want it installed for pennies. Only low end kids stuff. The whole industry is changing.
    On MTBR, the reputation is infamous.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Agree with this 100%. I am usually the only one in a group riding a 26" bike. Pretty crazy. What is scarier is that if you go to the LBS, there are almost no MTBs anymore. Talking to the shops I have been told that MTBers are too cheap, buy everything on the internet and want it installed for pennies. Only low end kids stuff. The whole industry is changing.
    LOL...my LBS is primarily mountain and a mix of 26" and 29". They are probably the premier bike ship in Atlanta.

  17. #17
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    I'm waiting for the 650b/26 tweener bikes to come into fashion. 27.5 up front and 26 in the back. Seriously if you think about it there's really no need except for aesthetics to have the same size wheels on both the front and rear. 26er in the rear would shorted the chainstay while 27.5 up front would gobble up any bumps. It would be the ideal combination.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemonaid View Post
    I'm waiting for the 650b/26 tweener bikes to come into fashion. 27.5 up front and 26 in the back. Seriously if you think about it there's really no need except for aesthetics to have the same size wheels on both the front and rear. 26er in the rear would shorted the chainstay while 27.5 up front would gobble up any bumps. It would be the ideal combination.
    Won't happen. Doesn't have the appealing name of the 69er.

    Future of 26" vs 27.5" Wheels for Trail Bikes-slorence764_2071_600.jpg

    The Tween6er sounds awful.

    Took a demo on a Bronson this season. It was a fun bike, but I don't think that was strictly because of the wheels. They're only a portion of the equation. I hope that 26" trail bikes stay around forever, but I think the tweeners will start winning out. Cyclists really enjoy buying stuff.

  19. #19
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    I don't have a clue how sales on 27.5 are going but I have a feeling many people are not ready for an in-between size that doesn't offer substantial advantages over 26 inches. Given people are slow to change their habits and 29ers have needed a while to take off, I'm surprised most manufacturers dropped their 26inch bikes. My guess is that their sales will go down in the short term, but I'd like to see some real numbers.

    Peopel in my area are not even on par with regards to 29er availability. The shops carry little to no 29er tires, it's a shame.
    Check out my SportTracks plugins for some training aid software.

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    I just recently started riding again after a few years away from biking & was surprised that most of the local shops in my area have totally drank the 29'er cool-aid & are actively against 26'ers ... IMHO this is stupid & also means I hardly buy anything local.

    It was pretty funny Listening to the ridiculous sales pitch for the 29'ers 99% of which was total BS .... I do think 29"s have their place ... just not anywhere I ride there are a lot of gullible people out there that buy anything the shops or mags tell them to buy. If Specialized came out with a bike with A 20" on the rear & a 29" on the front, paid a pro to win on it & the mags to say how great it was .... a stunning amount of people would line up to buy it .... scary.

    I have a 2013 Transition Covert 26 BTW can't imagine it being any better with different wheels.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    LOL...my LBS is primarily mountain and a mix of 26" and 29". They are probably the premier bike ship in Atlanta.
    Well, that is pretty cool. There are still a few shops around here that are MTB specific but they are becoming rarer and rarer. Around here (SE PA), the shops seem to support the road/tri market manly. More old guys with money doing triathlons than hitting the trails.
    On MTBR, the reputation is infamous.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemonaid View Post
    I'm waiting for the 650b/26 tweener bikes to come into fashion. 27.5 up front and 26 in the back. Seriously if you think about it there's really no need except for aesthetics to have the same size wheels on both the front and rear. 26er in the rear would shorted the chainstay while 27.5 up front would gobble up any bumps. It would be the ideal combination.
    Hi Mr. Lemonaid,

    That is what I said when I added a 650b wheel to my bike a little over 2 years ago. Here is what I wrote about it then:

    Stop Talking…Close the Forum…Keep the Secret!
    Originally Posted by michaelsnead

    Hey Folks,

    Here is my shopping list:

    ZTR Flow 650b - 32 Hole Black - NEW $93.00
    Stan's 35mm Valve Stem With Rim $4.00
    Pacenti Neo-Moto 650b x 2.3 Tire $49.27
    DT Swiss 240s Front 20mm Thru Axle $188.48
    Magura Storm SL Rotor $29.95
    Shipping $18.00
    Spokes $32.00
    Wheel Build $40.00
    $454.70

    Well I finally got this wheel built and rode it the last three days. Those rides included playing on my home grown bike park, a tour of the local XC loop and a classic AM ride featuring a long climb followed by a fast DH run back to the car.

    Based on the benefits I enjoyed on those rides I’m only kidding a little bit about the title of the thread. I’d really like to keep this secret weapon from the hands of my buddies. I want them to think I’ve suddenly acquired some skills instead of having found a technological breakthrough.

    Back in 2005 I said this about the Gravity Dropper adjustable seat post in a review I posted on this site. At that time, to my knowledge, they were the only current manufacturer of a product like this:

    “It is not often that you can say that you were there and participated when a sport experiences a revolutionary jump due to a change in the equipment design or material. It is always a moment when after it happens you wonder why it didn’t happen before the moment it did. If you skied when shaped skis came out or kayaked when planning hulls were introduced you know exactly what I mean. I believe that, with this product, mountain biking is about to go through a similar experience to both of those sports. Shaped skis and planning hulls dominate their respective sports and I believe that it won’t be long before GravityDropper has that same position in the world of mountain biking. The benefits that the product brings to the rider are such that it warrants that level of acceptance. To poorly paraphrase Warren Miller you want to buy one of these now because if you wait you’ll only be a year older when you do.”

    Now, there are 8-10 companies competing with Gravity Dropper and adjustable seat posts are one of the hottest products in the mountain bike world.

    After what I just experienced I’m seeing the introduction of a 650B front wheel to a traditional 26 inch mountain bike to be another revolutionary jump similar to the ones I described above!

    Therefore I propose we keep this secret between us….except for a few friends!

    Because the older I get the more advantages I need!!

    My sincere thanks to all of you who supplied the information and support I needed to play in this sandbox!!!

    Take care, have fun, be safe!!!!


    Here are some pictures of my ride:
    Future of 26" vs 27.5" Wheels for Trail Bikes-michaels-bike-002.jpg

    Future of 26" vs 27.5" Wheels for Trail Bikes-michaels-bike-003.jpg

    Have fun however you get dirty,


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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil View Post
    I don't have a clue how sales on 27.5 are going but I have a feeling many people are not ready for an in-between size that doesn't offer substantial advantages over 26 inches. Given people are slow to change their habits and 29ers have needed a while to take off, I'm surprised most manufacturers dropped their 26inch bikes. My guess is that their sales will go down in the short term, but I'd like to see some real numbers.

    Peopel in my area are not even on par with regards to 29er availability. The shops carry little to no 29er tires, it's a shame.
    I'd argue that the in-between size DOES offer substantial advantages. The downsides are minimal for most people, with benefits that appeal to most people. It makes sense from a marketing standpoint to eliminate the 26" wheel for cross-country and trail applications, since the advantages of bigger wheels lend themselves perfectly to trail applications. Dirt jumpers and freeriders generally don't benefit from larger wheels, so there will always be a demand for 26" wheels. Downhill is interesting, but they will see the benefits to larger wheels in the near future, I believe.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    I personally felt 27.5 was the worst of both worlds when I demo'd. Heavier and sluggish compared to 26" but didn't roll noticeably better. I've heard this sentiment echoed by a lot of non-marketing people.

    Of course, many people will let the marketers tell them what to ride.
    I personally feel that 27.5" wheels are perfect for most trail and all-mountain applications. Roll better than a 26" wheel, but retain more agility and playfulness than a 29er. Worst of both worlds? What is your riding style and terrain? Do you log in miles of rolling terrain with a bunch of twisty turns and switchbacks randomly thrown in? You must be riding at the extremes of trail riding... I ride a bit of everything, and 27.5 is a perfect compromise for my trail riding. I don't choose my wheelsize based on marketing, but I won't limit my choices on the opinions of others, either.

  25. #25
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    Different horses for different courses. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Anyone who disagrees has not ridden each wheel size enough over different trails. The size of the rider also matters.

    Where will the industry go...

    I'd guess the industry will give the middle of the road, trail bike category, over to the 275. 29" will take over most of th xc realm. That leaves a smaller share for the 26".

    Personally, I really like a 275 out back. On rugged, natural, non-buffed trails 26" wheels do lack roll-over and I find they "spin-down" too quickly in the chunk. I know that sounds cliche but it is true. 29" wheels take a lot less energy to keep rolling through chunky trails but are bit flexy and bulky for AM riding . The limiting factor in an experienced rider's arsenal is usually not skil, but rather energy. Anything that helps buffer that very weak link has a lot of merit. A 275 out back and a 29 up front works well for me, at my size, on my trails. Never tried a 275 on both ends but am eager to do so.

  26. #26
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    Topics like this make me happy to own a single speed...

    Just ride...

    Theres no debate cause no one has facts

    And of you like somthing..... well thats just like your opionin man

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I personally feel that 27.5" wheels are perfect for most trail and all-mountain applications. Roll better than a 26" wheel, but retain more agility and playfulness than a 29er. Worst of both worlds? What is your riding style and terrain? Do you log in miles of rolling terrain with a bunch of twisty turns and switchbacks randomly thrown in? You must be riding at the extremes of trail riding... I ride a bit of everything, and 27.5 is a perfect compromise for my trail riding. I don't choose my wheelsize based on marketing, but I won't limit my choices on the opinions of others, either.
    Pretty standard singletrack. Good flow, LOTS of rocks and roots. Great stuff.

    Look, I know it REALLY hurts a lot of people's feelings when someone tries the latest and greatest and doesn't declare it to be the next coming of Jesus. I just wrote what I felt.

    When I was looking to buy a new bike last year, I had no agenda other than buying the bike that felt the best for my terrain. I took a VERY rare approach to the process: I demo'd all three wheel sizes on my local trails. Yeah, I know, crazy I had no pre-conceived notion of what I wanted because I hadn't ridden since 2006. I had no reason to convince myself that my current bike was the best because my current bike was six years old and barely rideable.

    Actually, I lied a bit. I did have a pre-conceived notion: I demo'd bikes at a bike expo with the thought of proving to myself that the newest technology, 650b wheels, was the best for me. I wanted a 650b bike because I thought it was cutting edge and I've always been a bit of an early adopter (think Onza clipless pedals and RockShox Mag21s...I started riding in the 80s!). So I went out and demo'd the 650b to prove it was the bike for me.

    Just to be sure, I rode a 29er and a 26". Again, I did something that I understand is just crazy: I bought the one that felt best. The 26", 25 lbs, 5" travel trail bike.

    My second choice was the 29er HT. There were parts of my local trails where the 29er felt better but the 26" was better the majority of the time. The 650b NEVER felt like the better choice.

    Sorry, Media, Marketers, and Fanboi's, I chose what I liked.

    If the industry stops making 26" tires tomorrow (not likely...next year? Next decade?) I'll ride mine until they are bare and then *gasp* go out and demo more bikes. Who knows, maybe 27.125 will be all the rage

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    Pretty standard singletrack. Good flow, LOTS of rocks and roots. Great stuff.

    Look, I know it REALLY hurts a lot of people's feelings when someone tries the latest and greatest and doesn't declare it to be the next coming of Jesus. I just wrote what I felt.

    When I was looking to buy a new bike last year, I had no agenda other than buying the bike that felt the best for my terrain. I took a VERY rare approach to the process: I demo'd all three wheel sizes on my local trails. Yeah, I know, crazy I had no pre-conceived notion of what I wanted because I hadn't ridden since 2006. I had no reason to convince myself that my current bike was the best because my current bike was six years old and barely rideable.

    Actually, I lied a bit. I did have a pre-conceived notion: I demo'd bikes at a bike expo with the thought of proving to myself that the newest technology, 650b wheels, was the best for me. I wanted a 650b bike because I thought it was cutting edge and I've always been a bit of an early adopter (think Onza clipless pedals and RockShox Mag21s...I started riding in the 80s!). So I went out and demo'd the 650b to prove it was the bike for me.

    Just to be sure, I rode a 29er and a 26". Again, I did something that I understand is just crazy: I bought the one that felt best. The 26", 25 lbs, 5" travel trail bike.

    My second choice was the 29er HT. There were parts of my local trails where the 29er felt better but the 26" was better the majority of the time. The 650b NEVER felt like the better choice.

    Sorry, Media, Marketers, and Fanboi's, I chose what I liked.

    If the industry stops making 26" tires tomorrow (not likely...next year? Next decade?) I'll ride mine until they are bare and then *gasp* go out and demo more bikes. Who knows, maybe 27.125 will be all the rage

    But... dude... that... doesn't make sense...all the reviews... all the hype... how could it NOT be the best?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    But... dude... that... doesn't make sense...all the reviews... all the hype... how could it NOT be the best?
    In my opinion, for most people on most trails, it IS the best. Ride what you want, but physics is physics. I stated my opinion. Just because it jives with popular opinion doesn't make it wrong. People like different things. My experiences have nothing to do with reviews and hype other than my own.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    Look, I know it REALLY hurts a lot of people's feelings when someone tries the latest and greatest and doesn't declare it to be the next coming of Jesus. I just wrote what I felt.

    Sorry, Media, Marketers, and Fanboi's, I chose what I liked.

    If the industry stops making 26" tires tomorrow (not likely...next year? Next decade?) I'll ride mine until they are bare and then *gasp* go out and demo more bikes. Who knows, maybe 27.125 will be all the rage
    Well, at least you sound informed despite your condescending attitude. My experiences are much different than yours. That doesn't make you right, and it doesn't make me right. I buy the bikes that I felt work the best for me, just like you. Congratulations if you aren't media, marketing, or a fanboi, although I'm pretty sure you're a fanboi of 26ers. At least you could tell a difference, and actually, 650b's are closer to 27.2".

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    Pretty standard singletrack. Good flow, LOTS of rocks and roots. Great stuff.

    Look, I know it REALLY hurts a lot of people's feelings when someone tries the latest and greatest and doesn't declare it to be the next coming of Jesus. I just wrote what I felt.

    When I was looking to buy a new bike last year, I had no agenda other than buying the bike that felt the best for my terrain. I took a VERY rare approach to the process: I demo'd all three wheel sizes on my local trails. Yeah, I know, crazy I had no pre-conceived notion of what I wanted because I hadn't ridden since 2006. I had no reason to convince myself that my current bike was the best because my current bike was six years old and barely rideable.

    Actually, I lied a bit. I did have a pre-conceived notion: I demo'd bikes at a bike expo with the thought of proving to myself that the newest technology, 650b wheels, was the best for me. I wanted a 650b bike because I thought it was cutting edge and I've always been a bit of an early adopter (think Onza clipless pedals and RockShox Mag21s...I started riding in the 80s!). So I went out and demo'd the 650b to prove it was the bike for me.

    Just to be sure, I rode a 29er and a 26". Again, I did something that I understand is just crazy: I bought the one that felt best. The 26", 25 lbs, 5" travel trail bike.

    My second choice was the 29er HT. There were parts of my local trails where the 29er felt better but the 26" was better the majority of the time. The 650b NEVER felt like the better choice.

    Sorry, Media, Marketers, and Fanboi's, I chose what I liked.

    If the industry stops making 26" tires tomorrow (not likely...next year? Next decade?) I'll ride mine until they are bare and then *gasp* go out and demo more bikes. Who knows, maybe 27.125 will be all the rage
    Nice post about your experience right up till you say sorry media, marketer and Fanboi's. You did the right thing, try all three and picked the one you liked best. Other people have done the same, me for one, I tried all three and ended up choosing the 27.5. Just because the 27.5 is the latest thing to come out, by choosing it or by companies marketing it, doesn't make anyone who does like it a ill-informed person who buys only what is marketed to them or a fanboy.
    And by the way, you are a victim of the dreaded Marketers, the fact that you bought a bike means you were marketed too. The LBS having demo bikes is marketing, sponsored by both the LBS and manufacture. But this is a good thing, choice and marketing provided you and others a chance to experience all three and pick what is best for you

    Enjoy your new bike, as I will enjoy my regardless of wheel size.

  32. #32
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    Not sure what will happen with 26er and 27.5" wheeled bikes in the future. I suspect the 26" wheel will be around for a long time but with a decreasing share of the market.

    All I know is that there isn't one 26" bike on my Interbike dance card for this year yet. Maybe I'm a Kool-Aid drinking leming but all the new bikes that interest me are either 650b or 29er.

    Having said that, I should also say that I get to ride quite a few different bikes and have been keenly interested in the 650b since I first rode a Carver Ti 650b Killer B four years ago and a Ventana El Bastardo the following year.....but when I bought a new bike earlier this year, it was a 26" 160mm travel AM/FR bike.

    I still believe that's the best wheel size given current selection of forks and tires for that category. That may change next year (maybe it already has).
    I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth...
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    Well, at least you sound informed despite your condescending attitude. My experiences are much different than yours. That doesn't make you right, and it doesn't make me right. I buy the bikes that I felt work the best for me, just like you. Congratulations if you aren't media, marketing, or a fanboi, although I'm pretty sure you're a fanboi of 26ers. At least you could tell a difference, and actually, 650b's are closer to 27.2".
    I didn't mean to appear condescending. I always try to inject a little humor into my posts and some of the snarky comments were more intended to be funny than condescending.

    And I wouldn't consider myself a 26" fanboi. I'm in the process of spec'ing out my next bike and it will be a 29er SS. I have five different trail networks I ride regularly and two of the five are flowing, smooth, and rolling. These trails tend to remain open when it's wet so I ride them when it's raining. My demo experience tells me that this is great terrain for a 29er SS so that's my next bike.

    I wouldn't want that same 29er HT on my favorite trails, as they are tight, twisty, rooted, and rocky, but the SS will be a nice backup bike.

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    you will always be able to get the size you need. None of these sizes are really new. And if wal-mart has it....the industry has to change to feel different. And when wal-mart catches up, they will change again. I love my 29er because it eats up my poor riding skills. Hell...if they made a 32 inch that was affordable, i'd ride it.

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    how much is there a difference between 650b with a 2.3 tire and a 26 with 2.5 tire?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by pizon View Post
    how much is there a difference between 650b with a 2.3 tire and a 26 with 2.5 tire?
    Alot!! If you measure in kool factor.

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    Diameter or weight? You could mount a fatbike wheel and come close to a 29er in diameter...might be a little heavy though
    Now that there are more tires available, as well as forks and frames with clearance, this question becomes less valid...IMHO anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fix the Spade View Post
    A 650b frame is just a 26er with good mud clearance*, I can see lot's of 'under wheeled' bikes popping up in the near future.

    * I rode a Bronson with 650 then 26 wheels this weekend, honestly couldn't tell the difference.
    Quoted for truth.

  39. #39
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    It's going to be fun to watch when the industry re-releases 26" wheels in 5 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    It's going to be fun to watch when the industry re-releases 26" wheels in 5 years.
    I've had this same thought, but would push the timeline out closer to 10 years. I can already hear manufactuer's marketing departments waxing nostalgic about agility, playfullness, and the rider finesse required of this once dead standard.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    I didn't mean to appear condescending. I always try to inject a little humor into my posts and some of the snarky comments were more intended to be funny than condescending.

    And I wouldn't consider myself a 26" fanboi. I'm in the process of spec'ing out my next bike and it will be a 29er SS. I have five different trail networks I ride regularly and two of the five are flowing, smooth, and rolling. These trails tend to remain open when it's wet so I ride them when it's raining. My demo experience tells me that this is great terrain for a 29er SS so that's my next bike.

    I wouldn't want that same 29er HT on my favorite trails, as they are tight, twisty, rooted, and rocky, but the SS will be a nice backup bike.
    Gotcha. I think having two different wheel sizes already makes a third size rather pointless... You have 26" and 29", which covers everything that you ride. I have a 26" and 27", and those cover everything that I ride. To me, a 29er would compromise my preferred riding style and trails too much, while a 650b is about perfect for the majority of them. If I could only have one bike, it would definitely be a 650b. Just out of curiosity, what would yours be?

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    I feel we as cyclists tend to be "next greatest thing" kind of people... so I suspect 27.5 will take off pretty quickly. I also think that 27.5 fits well market-wise because a lot of people have been on 29ers for a few years and it's sort of like re-selling them 26ers-but without requiring them to admit 26ers were actually alright. (like if you get used to a 29er and then hop on a 27.5 and say "hey this maneuverability stuff is fun!)

    I don't have any issues with any of the sizes... I just think marketing is a humorous beast.

  43. #43
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    Im not gonna lie if i was rich id own 3 of each size

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    In my opinion, for most people on most trails, it IS the best. Ride what you want, but physics is physics. I stated my opinion. Just because it jives with popular opinion doesn't make it wrong. People like different things. My experiences have nothing to do with reviews and hype other than my own.
    The physics are that a 27.5 tire in the same width and model and as a 26" tire is 5% larger and 10% heavier, and a world cup team claims it is 1-2 seconds per minute faster.

    There is no way in hell that matters on the trail. None. I am not a pro, and neither are you. When I go on the trail, I'm not riding for time and if I were I'd most likely be inconsistent from lap to lap based on first fitness and secondly technical errors. I could never turn in two performances consistent enough for the difference in rolling resistance between a 27.5 and 26" tire to matter. And neither can you.

    Now, some 27.5 bikes have revised geometry. A Santa Cruz Bronson is not a replica of their 26" bike that preceded it. It has a slacker head tube angle, longer top tube, and steeper seat tube angle. It rides different. NOT the tires.

    Today there are many, many more times 26" wheels, tires and forks than 27.5. By next year that won't be true, in part due to any 27.5 fork automatically being nearly perfectly suited for 26" use as well. And in 2 years, no doubt 26" will be on the way out.

    So if you want a new bike and not a 29er, fine, get a 27.5. That is perfectly sensible.

    If you have a very competent 26" bike, however, I utterly reject that the 27.5 tire size alone is anywhere near worth upgrading from 26". A new bike frame could be. A new fork could be. It depends on what you've got now, and what you test/buy tomorrow.

  45. #45
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    Future of 26" vs 27.5" Wheels for Trail Bikes

    This interview with Scot Nichol of Ibis about the HDR is a great read, shedding much light on this topic:

    http://m.bikemag.com/news/exclusive-...-new-mojo-hdr/

    Example:

    Scot Nicol: Like all questions related to wheel size it comes down to terrain, riding style and size of the rider. Around our shop 650b seems to be winning. Many of the guys in the shop were constantly switching back and forth last summer, but if you look at their HD’s right now they’re all 650b. We don’t need all the travel for the trails that we ride, but we do appreciate the added traction of 650b wheels. If we take a trip to Northstar to do lift riding this summer most of them will be putting the 26″ wheels back on.
    Also:

    By the way, in the pet peeve department, we keep hearing that the industry is shoving this 650b thing down consumers’ throats to be able to sell more bikes. I think this is a totally misleading statement, we were totally influenced by our customers on this development. There was no “shoving” anything.
    Just one insider's opinion, of course, but certainly putting his money where his mouth is. Same as industry giants, Spesh and Trek, whose lack of 650b bikes in their line ups speaks volumes in itself.

    3 general opinions out there about 650b/27.5":

    1. Sucks and irrelevant. Too close to 26" to make any difference. Worst of both 26" and 29" worlds. All about marketing.

    2. Perfect "Goldilocks" hybrid, best of both worlds, especially for trail and AM uses. Rider pushed development; not industry. Greatest thing since sliced bread. Will eventually push 26" out of mainstream and into niche markets (dirt jump, dual SL, huge travel lift served freeride).

    3. Who gives a crap what anybody else thinks/does? Ride what you like & let your riding do the talking. More choices is inherently good for riders and bike industry. 3 wheel sizes will be around to choose from for foreseeable future. Shut up & ride.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    The physics are that a 27.5 tire in the same width and model and as a 26" tire is 5% larger and 10% heavier, and a world cup team claims it is 1-2 seconds per minute faster.

    There is no way in hell that matters on the trail. None. I am not a pro, and neither are you. When I go on the trail, I'm not riding for time and if I were I'd most likely be inconsistent from lap to lap based on first fitness and secondly technical errors. I could never turn in two performances consistent enough for the difference in rolling resistance between a 27.5 and 26" tire to matter. And neither can you.

    Now, some 27.5 bikes have revised geometry. A Santa Cruz Bronson is not a replica of their 26" bike that preceded it. It has a slacker head tube angle, longer top tube, and steeper seat tube angle. It rides different. NOT the tires.

    I disagree. I can feel a definite difference between the wheel sizes. Just because you aren't in tune with your bike doesn't mean everybody else isn't. I've ridden both wheel sizes back to back on the same bike. They roll and behave very differently.

    Today there are many, many more times 26" wheels, tires and forks than 27.5. By next year that won't be true, in part due to any 27.5 fork automatically being nearly perfectly suited for 26" use as well. And in 2 years, no doubt 26" will be on the way out.

    So if you want a new bike and not a 29er, fine, get a 27.5. That is perfectly sensible.

    If you have a very competent 26" bike, however, I utterly reject that the 27.5 tire size alone is anywhere near worth upgrading from 26". A new bike frame could be. A new fork could be. It depends on what you've got now, and what you test/buy tomorrow.
    I do agree with the last part. It's not worth the average rider selling all his 26" stuff to get the latest and greatest 650b. However, if you're in the market for a new bike, a lot of people, and I'd say the majority of people, will like the feel and performance of a 650b.

  47. #47
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    This is my thought, as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    It's going to be fun to watch when the industry re-releases 26" wheels in 5 years.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I disagree. I can feel a definite difference between the wheel sizes. Just because you aren't in tune with your bike doesn't mean everybody else isn't. I've ridden both wheel sizes back to back on the same bike. They roll and behave very differently.
    First, let's take this back to a generic discussion. I take no offense to your statement, but if we start saying that anyone who is on one side of an argument simply has a riding and/or perception issue, that leads to nowhere. Anyone can make a statement like that about any issue.


    That said-- In your test, did you use the same tire model as well, and same width? Did you know which tire was which before riding?

    There are two main issues, and I am speaking generically so as to be clear that I am not criticizing you.

    1. Confirmation bias. If a person believes something, they are likely to be biased in one way or another prior to experiencing it. 27.5 is new and hyped up-- If a person is is excited about it and they believe it is better, they are more likely to have a positive impression when they ride 27.5.

    2. Perception actually can create reality. This is not a controversial statement, when you really think about it. If I think I can climb a difficult hill, I am more likely to do it than if I assure myself that it can't be done. Obviously, belief alone cannot make the impossible possible. But if someone actually does feel a difference between two tires* and they further believe that one is better, then it would not be any surprise that they could perform slightly better on the tire they prefer. If you feel faster, sometimes it does make you faster.

    Technically, a person could construct a scientifically valid experiment to exclude these factors. The first requirement is that the testers do not know what they are testing.

    Let's build a field of ten Bronsons, five with 26" and five with 27.5" wheels of the same model and make sure that all decals are removed from the wheels. If you were to pay Schwalbe to produce a run of 26x2.25 and 27x2.25 Racing Ralphs with no markings, that would be ideal, but if not perhaps you could simply black out the lettering and ask test riders to stay on the bike and not to adjust or inspect anything. Let's find ten riders who are of similar build to where they can ride the same size bike. We will put some sensors and electronics on the bikes and tell the riders we are doing some stress / durability testing and we'll need them to push hard, and to give their impressions of each ride whether verbally or in writing after each run. We ask about handling, speed, etc. And the electronics are gathering metrics about how fast they're going, how sharp they turn and brake, and so on.

    Now the riders go on a trail one after another, spaced out so they have clean individual runs, and thinking they are testing durability. But then we write down what they say after riding each bike, and we look at the data. They ride each bike in random order.

    Then we'd know not only if the tire size mattered for true performance, but we'd also know if riders could tell the difference in weight and rolling resistance.


    Obviously, real life isn't like this. If you like a bike, buy it.

    And my footnote from above-- * I would guess that a rider who doesn't know the difference before riding 26 and 27.5 and goes on feel alone is more likely to notice the difference in wheel and tire weight than in rolling resistance. Just my opinion.

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    Re: Future of 26" vs 27.5" Wheels for Trail Bikes

    Well, besides the increased rollover they would also feel increased traction while climbing, cornering and descending. Lot of them would also feel higher stability at higher speeds.
    They will see as well that the sizes of those tires are different, because they are and it is pretty visible...

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzanova View Post
    Well, besides the increased rollover they would also feel increased traction while climbing, cornering and descending. Lot of them would also feel higher stability at higher speeds.
    They will see as well that the sizes of those tires are different, because they are and it is pretty visible...
    that is the premise of 29er vs 26.

    but would they actually notice for 27.5 vs 26 if there weren't any labels and you didn't have the 26 and 27.5 side-by-side for visual comparison? we're talking about 5%. a 26x2.35 is the same height / circumference as a 27.5x2.2, excluding differences due to tire model.

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