Is Bigger Better?

The question that might never be answered…

There are many pros and cons for each wheel size.  Mountain bikes with 26″ wheels are generally quicker and lighter, but in order to get similar ride qualities between the two, a 26″ bike will require more suspension than a similar 29er bike.

The Pros: A 29er’s larger wheels roll over rocks, ruts and roots easier than a 26″ wheel. Think of it this way, you are riding over most obstacles and not into.  The contact patch is larger due to the larger diameter wheel…more tire on the path at all times = more traction. Coming from my roadie background, the 29″ wheel (700c) will make me feel more at home (ride height). 29er bikes are showing up big time in the racing scene too — check out the latest 29er wins by clicking HERE.

The Cons: Larger wheels need larger frames…add the two together and you get more weight than a comparable 26″ bike. The larger front wheel needs more frame clearance when using a suspension fork, so therefore you end up with a high front end.  This often requires a negative degree stem and also makes the bike easier to fit for taller riders and not as easy for shorter riders (toe overlap, handle bar height, stand-over height can create issues). Due to the larger wheels and frame, the bike is less agile than a 26″ bike, so tight singletrack, switchbacks and large rocky sections will be a bit trickier to ride.

This isn’t exact, BUT…

Say you are driving down this fire road:

Would you rather drive this? (26″ XC Hardtail)

Or this? (29er XC Hardtail)