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Should I buy a 26 or 29 Mountain bike?

Overview

In mountain biking, selecting a wheel size is just like selecting a sports team. There are people who advocate for both 29 and 26 inch wheels, and this debate goes on in competitive and manufacturing arenas.

Traditionally, mountain bikes have used 26 inch wheels; however the introduction of the 29er, with bigger 700c-sized tires and wheels uprooted this legacy, and is taking over so much of the mountain biking market to the extent that it could altogether replace 26-inch wheel bikes.

For the time being, both of wheels have a place in various mountain biking styles due to the distinctive riding uniqueness each provides. But the question that is often in the minds of many people is: Should I buy a 26 or 29 Mountain bike?

Are you a 29er or a 26er?

When choosing the right mountain bike size, you need to must forget about the length of the crank, saddle height or size of the frame. The most important thing that needs to come to your mind first is; are you a 29er or a 26er?

For one to get a clear answer for this question, they first of all need to understand the differences between a 26 and 29 mountain bike. A 29er mountain bike is build to operate on 700cc pair of wheels. On the other hand, a 26er runs on 650cc wheels.

The 29er Mountain Bike

29 mountain bike wheels

Before we dive deeper into which bike will work best for you, it’s important to take a look at this bigger wheel size and note how it generally affects the biking experience.

What does it do well?

  • Rolls over roots and rocks easier because of its wider circumference
  • Covers more distance per pedal revolution
  • Higher volume of air in the tires ensures smooth out ride
  The world or racing has greatly embraced the 29er for these amazing benefits it has brought to the trail.

What are its drawbacks?

  • Larger weight as a result of larger wheels
  • Tricky to maneuver in twisty, tight single track
  • Longer travel {5.5″ and above} 29s feel really big
  • Geometry and sizing issues with small riders
  • Large diameter needs stiff wheel fork and build to prevent deflection
 

This is definitely not good news at all. And though the 29er zealots might probably tell you that these things aren’t true, the fact is that you’re adding larger wheels to the bike than traditional 26 inch, therefore you are going to experience some negative side effects too.

The 26er Mountain Bike

 

When you think about what the 26 inch bike platform in the mountain biking platform, it’s actually pretty easy and simple. You get some cool benefits of 26ers that you can’t really derive from the 29ers.

What does a 26er do well?

  • Rolls over rocks and roots easier due to the wider circumference
  • Smaller size equals smaller weight
  • Smaller radius doesn’t call for stiff wheel fork and build in order to prevent deflection
  • Ideal for short riders
 

What are the drawbacks of a 650B?

 
  • Doesn’t roll over roots and rocks easily because of its smaller circumference
  • Short distance covered in every pedal revolution
  • Geometry and sizing issues when converting your 26er to 29er

Summary

When you are choosing between the 26er and 29er mountain bike, there are a couple of personal questions, which you will need to have clear answers for, before making your final decision. As with other many things in life, there aren’t any right answers that fit every person.

How you want your bike to react and how you ride it is the most crucial factor when making your decision, and not what your friends bought and say is the best.

However, when choosing between the two, you will have to consider the following factors;

  • How tall are you
  • How much travel are you really hoping to achieve?
  • What kind of trails do you often ride?
 

Once you get clear answers on these, then you will an easy time when shopping for a right mountain bike that completely suits your needs.

 

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