Let’s have a look at the 26er and the 29er Mountain bike, see what the difference is and talk about which is better?
26ers Mountain bikes were the one and only option a few years ago. They were the size wheel that was standard on a mountain bike every one who owned a mtb had a 26 inch wheel. this was the norm. No one had anything else and no one thought any different until the 29er came out. For those who don’t have a clue, A 29er is a larger size wheel that has a faster rolling speed.
29ers were really first seen in the MTB XC racing World Cup scene where they looked completely out of place and unusual. The larger wheel size looked somewhat odd compared to the small 26er wheels racing round and were a becoming a hot topic of conversation.
This question certainly split people in half. Some were completely sold on the 29er and others remained faithful to the 26er. Questions over the handling, speed, weight and ability for mtb was discussed intently and most people seemed to be sold on the larger wheel size. But since then conversations over the 29er vs the 26er continued to be a common topic over which is better?!
26er mountain bikes were and are still used in trail riding, downhill mountain biking and xc racing. The wheel size makes them small, nimble and fast reacting and are still widely used and are a recognised choice amongst the mtb and downhill scene.
The argument was and still is that the larger wheel is faster and gave riders an advantage when racing long distance races or xc races. Not to mention the extra ability they have for tackling large features, creating more stability due to the longer wheelbase and more grip due to a larger contact area on the ground. Acceleration wasn’t as quick off the mark and some argue that they are not as nimble in tight twisty complex courses. But even that is now questioned as the like of Greg Minnaar is now using the 29er wheels size in the downhill world.
But this didn’t seem to be a problem even for the smallest of riders. Even 5’0 females were opting for the larger wheel size.
Riders would say that the larger wheel helped them roll over difficult technical obstacles better. Climb faster and cover more ground.
Once one or two started to use this wheel size. The whole elite mountain bike field started to follow as they were worried that riders were getting an advantage over the 26inch wheel bikes and soon the whole field were aboard the 29er.
But whist this was the wheel choice of the professionals a lot of trail riders, freeride, downhill mtbers and Sunday trail shredders were still opting for the 26er as they were renowned to be more fun out on the trails. And were taken less seriously.
Even after a good 5 years of presence in the mtb market the 29er and the 26er are still very much a divided passion. And both still play a huge part in mountain biking.
If you are torn between the two then it has to be down to personal taste, comfort and passion. For speed performance, competitiveness and endurance you will tend to find riders will choose the 29er. The avid trail rider, Sunday shredders and fun seeking adrenaline junkies will feel their heart is with the 26er. But having said that you may find that there could be the odd 27.5 wheel size in there just to make things even more complicated…..
Join the debate and let us know what your choice of wheel size is and why. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Share with us on the #YourRide or @probikekit