1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
Results 1 to 18 of 18
  1. #1
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    I don't know what I'm missing

    I'm upgrading bikes soon and I don't know what wheel size to buy, shocker right?

    I have been riding the same fully rigid 26er for years and have minimal experience with a 29er. I wouldn't know what I'm missing if I just upgraded to another 26er. The full suspension 26er at the local shop is $1,000 cheaper than its 29er brother.

    Bottom line, are those 3 extra inches really worth it if I'm already comfortable and accustomed to 26 inch wheels?

  2. #2
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    Remember, 29 is being phased out by 27.5 -- which will be replaced in a few years by something else.

  3. #3
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    I was told that most companies are experimenting with 27.5. They just put those size wheels on a 29er frame and it throws off the geometry of the bike.
    Should I go with a 26er and wait 3-4 years until they find a good geometric balance for 27.5?

  4. #4
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    There is not a thing in the world wrong with 26. I have a 29er and my riding buddy who rides a 26 dusts my a$$ on a regular basis. He is a better rider than me plain and simple. Would he be even faster on a 29? I suppose that is where the debate lies. I can tell you this much, I am jealous of the 26 guys every time I look at the price on wheelsets!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDocTx View Post
    There is not a thing in the world wrong with 26. I have a 29er and my riding buddy who rides a 26 dusts my a$$ on a regular basis. He is a better rider than me plain and simple. Would he be even faster on a 29? I suppose that is where the debate lies. I can tell you this much, I am jealous of the 26 guys every time I look at the price on wheelsets!
    Good point. I recall buying a car. It as a special order and I opted for the 18 inch wheels rather than the standard 17s.. The day after I ordered it, the salesman called and said that for the same price I could get the 19s, which were way cool. ... Until I'd driven 18,000 miles and had to replace the high performance tires that came on the 19 inch wheels. They were $350 each -- and good for only about 20,000 miles. The moral: there is the initial cost and also maintenance costs.

  6. #6
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    That's what a demo is for. You run your trail with different options to see which is most fun. See if you can switch off with a friend or rent something. You need more info.
    You can't think much about spending decent money without the right information.

  7. #7
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    Why wouldn't you give what is currently now the standard for HT (a 29er) a try?

    Edit: Didn't see the bit about wanting a FS - still...29ers are proven...but...there are choices so go ahead and try one out and a 27.5 at the same time and see which you like.

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by TiGeo; 11-30-2013 at 06:32 AM.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

  8. #8
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    I agree wholeheartedly. I've had the privilege of Scott and Specialized demo trucks come to my area but that was before I really understood the basics of wheel sizes and my riding style.

  9. #9
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    that's ultimately what will end up happening. I think as more companies make 27.5, the 26er will fade and become a relic used by a select few and the 29er will always be a beginner's first option.

  10. #10
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    The geometry of a 29er is fine (as is 27.5 & 26). There is nothing inherent to any of those wheel sizes that precludes good frame design.

    What determines the best wheel size is the type of trails you will be riding, and most importantly, your personal preference. Don't buy into the hype that 27.5 is magically the perfect wheel size. Bigger is better in some ways and smaller is better in others. 27.5 is a compromise between the two, no doubt about it.

    For hardtail or limited travel FS XC racing, it is going to be hard to beat a 29er, especially with today's improved wheel technology that results in stiffer, lighter wheels. I see that you are considering FS. A 29 hardtail may be a good compromise to a 26 FS.

    For downhill bikes with lots of travel, 26 or 27.5 is the only option AFAIK.

    For all-mountain and enduro type riding, any of the three sizes are available.

    Here is what you need to do to make the decision: See what other people are riding on your your trails. Around here it is 80% 29er hardtails. We have mostly trails that are classic XC. Fairly smooth, some roots, not many rocks, no real jumps or anything, lots of twists and turns, and lots of climbing. Concentrate your search on what enthusiast-level riders in your area are using. Keep in mind that 27.5 is still not very popular due to the fact that they haven't been all that available until recently. I have never ridden one.

    Finally, RIDE the different sizes, of different manufacturers. IMO a Trek handles very differently than a Giant. Factory demos are great and worth some driving. Look on the major brand web sites for dates and locations. The SE bike expo at Georgia Intl Horse Park, site of the first Olympic MTB race in 1996, is in March. All of the major mfgrs are there, and plenty of bikes to try and great XC-type trails. There is also a section with lots of rock faces, great for testing FS. If they have something like that up your way, or if you like to travel....

    Friends that you make at the trail are a good resource too. Some LBSs have demo bikes that you can take to the trail to try, or maybe rent. Riding around the parking lot, taking advantage of curbs and any lawn, grassy banks, and stairs can't really permit a fair evaluation, but is better than nothing.

    Our state park rents mountain bikes. As I recall it is $30 for 2 hours, not cheap but worth it in your case. Ours has 29ers only.
    Last edited by DennisF; 12-03-2013 at 08:08 AM. Reason: Correct month in which SE Bike Expo occurs

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReedMattison View Post
    I'm upgrading bikes soon and I don't know what wheel size to buy, shocker right?

    I have been riding the same fully rigid 26er for years and have minimal experience with a 29er. I wouldn't know what I'm missing if I just upgraded to another 26er. The full suspension 26er at the local shop is $1,000 cheaper than its 29er brother.

    Bottom line, are those 3 extra inches really worth it if I'm already comfortable and accustomed to 26 inch wheels?
    If your 26er feels good and you are happy with it I don't see a reason to upgrade to a 29er. However make sure to demo the 29er and see if it feels better or worse. Then you will see if it's worth the extra $1000.

  12. #12
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    Two things:
    I don't think a 29er is really $1000 better than the same bike with 26" wheels. Some people even think it's worse. I do like the bigger wheels better, and I've been riding mountain bikes for years, the same as everybody else.

    You can say "ass" on this forum.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    The bottom line is this: you have already been given great advice by some very experienced folks here, but in the end you have to try the different bikes and see what you like. You shouldn't buy any bike without testing it out anyway, so test out a few.
    NTFTC

  14. #14
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    Another thing that hasn't been touched on is why the 29er is $1,000 more than the 26" wheeled bike. It could be a situation where the 29er might be carbon or have much better component spec...which, in that case, it would very likely be worth the extra cash. These guys are spot on with their advice. Test ride as much as you can and then figure out what you like the best and go for it.

    When I was shopping for my most recent bike, I test rode both 26" and 29" bikes and ultimately bought a 26" bike because it felt way better to me.

  15. #15
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    Being 6' 215 lbs I feel more at home on a 29er although I had ridden 26 for 20 plus years before I got my first 29er 2 years ago. I always felt big on a 26 but on a 29er I feel like the bike is the right size for me. As everyone will say to each their own, I still have both 26 and 29 but the 29ers get 90% of my ride time.
    Giant XTC 2 29er
    KHS Flagstaff 29er FS
    Neon Bow Trials Bike
    Norco Fluid 9.2 29er FS
    Norco BIGFOOT FATTY

  16. #16
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    If you are under 5 foot 6 inches tall I would look at 26" bikes.

    Apart from that, 27.5 seems a good compromise.

  17. #17
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    I'm about 6' and still put plenty of miles on my 26" FS bikes. My buddy is 6'-5" has been riding at least 20 years and ended up going with a 26" for his newest bike after a lot of test riding different bikes and wheel sizes. It all comes down to what feels best to you and works best for the type of riding you like to do. There are some advantages to bigger wheels, and some advantages to smaller wheels; everything is a trade-off. Don't let some company's marketing department tell you what's going to work best for you.

  18. #18
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    A correction to my previous post--the SE Bike Expo is in March this year, not Feb.

    Southeast Bike Expo

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