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  1. #1
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    26-inch versus 29-inch Wheels

    I've been riding for years on pavement with an original Trek 520 Sport-Touring bicycle with standard size (29-inch) wheels. I would like to start riding "off road" and am looking for a suitable mountain bike.

    By "off road", I mean off pavement but still remaining on established dirt, gravel or cinder roads, jeep trails, or established bicycle trails. Nothing cross-country or extreme riding for me.

    On a mountain bike, what are the pros and cons of 26-inch versus 29-inch wheels, especially in lieu of the type of riding I am contemplating?
    RJ Emery
    Central NJ - Ride Custom Re-Built Original Trek 520

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjemery View Post
    I've been riding for years on pavement with an original Trek 520 Sport-Touring bicycle with standard size (29-inch) wheels. I would like to start riding "off road" and am looking for a suitable mountain bike.

    By "off road", I mean off pavement but still remaining on established dirt, gravel or cinder roads, jeep trails, or established bicycle trails. Nothing cross-country or extreme riding for me.

    On a mountain bike, what are the pros and cons of 26-inch versus 29-inch wheels, especially in lieu of the type of riding I am contemplating?
    just to be clear, 29'' refers to the tire size once your get above a 52mm wide or so tire on a 700c rim.

    You have not been riding around on 29'' size tires on your 520 sport touring bike. 700x35's don't quite count as 29er. petty semantics? yes. but that is the way it is.


    And for the riding you are contemplating, any basic xc MTB would be fine, regardless of wheel or tire size.
    I might even go for a surly xcheck type bike where you could fit 700x45's or so and build it on the stout side to take some abuse.
    Last edited by C Law; 01-25-08 at 10:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by C Law View Post
    You have not been riding around on 29'' size tires on your 520 sport touring bike. 700x35's don't quite count as 29er. petty semantics? yes. but that is the way it is.
    Oh, yes I am riding on 29-inch rims/tires. I had the forks spread and put on the wider hubs/rims/tires, that because I weigh a tad more than Grand Prix racers. The bike rides a lot better now, too.

    About the only thing original left on my original Trek 520 is the frame, which I thought fit me very well. All other components or accessories have been replaced. The original 520 also came equipped with a Maillard Helicomatic hub. Try getting that repaired in any bike shop today.

    WRT mountain bikes, 26 inch wheels just seem too small for big riders, especially if one is not riding cross-country.
    RJ Emery
    Central NJ - Ride Custom Re-Built Original Trek 520

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    what tires are you running? how did you bend the rear stays out to fit larger tires?

    Anyway, if you are running 700x55 (OR SO) tires on your bike already, why not just use it for the light offroad riding you are describing?

    seems like it would fit the bill nicely, no?
    Last edited by C Law; 01-25-08 at 10:47 AM.

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    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjemery View Post
    Oh, yes I am riding on 29-inch rims/tires. I had the forks spread and put on the wider hubs/rims/tires, that because I weigh a tad more than Grand Prix racers. The bike rides a lot better now, too.

    About the only thing original left on my original Trek 520 is the frame, which I thought fit me very well. All other components or accessories have been replaced. The original 520 also came equipped with a Maillard Helicomatic hub. Try getting that repaired in any bike shop today.

    WRT mountain bikes, 26 inch wheels just seem too small for big riders, especially if one is not riding cross-country.
    So, you spread the rear triangle to fir a 135mm hub? How wide of a tire are you running?

    I would really like to see some pictures of this bike. If you can in fact fit 700c wheels, with 29er tires in an old trek 520, that would make a killer monster cross bike. However, sadly, i do not believe 29er tires would fit on that bike.

    PLEASE POST PICS!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlatFender View Post
    So, you spread the rear triangle to fir a 135mm hub? How wide of a tire are you running?

    I would really like to see some pictures of this bike. If you can in fact fit 700c wheels, with 29er tires in an old trek 520, that would make a killer monster cross bike. However, sadly, i do not believe 29er tires would fit on that bike.

    PLEASE POST PICS!!!!!!!!!
    For the mechanical details you would have to ask the bicycle mechanic I used for the overhaul. That effort was done several years ago.

    As for pictures, I don't have a digital camera with which I could post images.

    The bicycle is in winter storage, so I don't have it handy to verify details. It comes out of winter storage as soon as it is warm enough for me to wear riding shorts.

    However, all of the above is a side topic and off the topic of this thread.
    RJ Emery
    Central NJ - Ride Custom Re-Built Original Trek 520

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    Quote Originally Posted by C Law View Post
    Anyway, if you are running 700x55 (OR SO) tires on your bike already, why not just use it for the light offroad riding you are describing? seems like it would fit the bill nicely, no?
    The bike with its tires as presently equipped would be suitable as is for hard pack dirt roads, but not suitable for loose dirt, gravel or cinder, as one would find along an abandoned railroad right-of-way or even some converted railroad ROWs that have been designated bicycle trails.

    Here in NJ, it's the RR ROWs that interest me the most, as well as the access roads that parallel utility lines. In the Western USA states, I would be taking more back country routes and trails.
    RJ Emery
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    Sounds like your mind is made up on a 29er MTB, your just in denial about it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by born2bahick View Post
    Sounds like your mind is made up on a 29er MTB, your just in denial about it!
    That may be. No one thus far seems to be able to offer anything pro or con regarding either size wheel.

    The only advantage I can fathom for a 26-inch wheel is a lower center of gravity, very useful for stump jumping, but I like to keep my wheels mated to Mother Earth.
    RJ Emery
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjemery View Post
    That may be. No one thus far seems to be able to offer anything pro or con regarding either size wheel.

    The only advantage I can fathom for a 26-inch wheel is a lower center of gravity, very useful for stump jumping, but I like to keep my wheels mated to Mother Earth.
    Pros and cons that I have read about are just give and take. The 29er is harder to accelerate, but rolls easier once at speed. in short tight corners it would be at a dissadvantage, but rock gardens and baby heads, it has an advantage, because it will roll over obstacles a little better. It's just give and take, you give a little in one part of the course but you take back some in other parts.
    For the riding you describe, the 29er would seem a great choice. The center of gravity should be slightly lower on a 29er. But longer chainstays and seatstays could mean a little more flex in the frame. Again give and take, we can kick it around for weeks but what a 29er gives, seems to be what you want.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjemery View Post
    The bike with its tires as presently equipped would be suitable as is for hard pack dirt roads, but not suitable for loose dirt, gravel or cinder, as one would find along an abandoned railroad right-of-way or even some converted railroad ROWs that have been designated bicycle trails.

    Here in NJ, it's the RR ROWs that interest me the most, as well as the access roads that parallel utility lines. In the Western USA states, I would be taking more back country routes and trails.
    you got 29er tires on there and you still don't think that you can ride through loose dirt and gravel with it?

    That is a 29er tires forte. Riding through loose stuff with greater traction and more flotation.

  12. #12
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C Law View Post
    just to be clear, 29'' refers to the tire size once your get above a 52mm wide or so tire on a 700c rim.

    You have not been riding around on 29'' size tires on your 520 sport touring bike. 700x35's don't quite count as 29er. petty semantics? yes. but that is the way it is.

    Very petty semantics and completely wrong! A 700C rim has an effective rim diameter of 622mm (24.5"). Adding a 52mm tire brings the outer diameter to 674mm. Do the math and you'll find that the outer diameter of the '29"' wheel is actually 26.5"...a very long way from 29". I don't know of anyone who runs a 5" wide (and tall) tire...which is what you'll need for a '29"' wheel.

    A 26" wheel has an ERD of 559mm which is only 22". Even a 27" wheel has a diameter of 24.8".

    The designation 29er is a marketing ploy- no more, no less - and has nothing to do with reality.
    Stuart Black
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Very petty semantics and completely wrong! A 700C rim has an effective rim diameter of 622mm (24.5"). Adding a 52mm tire brings the outer diameter to 674mm. Do the math and you'll find that the outer diameter of the '29"' wheel is actually 26.5"...a very long way from 29". I don't know of anyone who runs a 5" wide (and tall) tire...which is what you'll need for a '29"' wheel.

    A 26" wheel has an ERD of 559mm which is only 22". Even a 27" wheel has a diameter of 24.8".

    The designation 29er is a marketing ploy- no more, no less - and has nothing to do with reality.
    another (mod edit) dissin' my math! seriously, wtf dude?

    hey (mod edit), you forgot to add the tire on the other side of the rim!!!

    why assume an outside tires diameter and circumferencewhen schwalbe actually has the numbers!

    hmm..lets see, lets pic the 60-622 tire(a nice 29er to be sure) that would be a 60mm tire sitting on a rim diameter (or BSD) of 622mm (aka a 29x2.3'' tire)

    you get a circumference of 2350mm. so.....hmmm...lets see 2350/pi=748.4cm approc. (hate those irrationals)

    translate in inches and you get 29.4''.

    so, what has nothing to do with reality?

    it's too bad you are such a (mod edit) when you post in here because it looks like you have alot of riding experience and such
    Last edited by C Law; 01-25-08 at 01:08 PM.

  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C Law View Post
    another (mod edit) dissin' my math! seriously, wtf dude?

    hey (mod edit), you forgot to add the tire on the other side of the rim!!!

    why assume an outside tires diameter and circumferencewhen schwalbe actually has the numbers!

    hmm..lets see, lets pic the 60-622 tire(a nice 29er to be sure) that would be a 60mm tire sitting on a rim diameter (or BSD) of 622mm (aka a 29x2.3'' tire)

    you get a circumference of 2350mm. so.....hmmm...lets see 2350/pi=748.4cm approc. (hate those irrationals)

    translate in inches and you get 29.4''.

    so, what has nothing to do with reality?

    it's too bad you are such a (mod edit) when you post in here because it looks like you have alot of riding experience and such
    Okay. I made a mistake. I'll admit it.

    I have never called you any kind of name nor implied that you are a (mod edit) nor used any kind of explicative towards you. Everybody has an anus, pal, we just don't think it's out best feature. Most of us don't want to put them on public display...but I guess you ain't like most people.

    By the way, 748.4 centimeters translates to 294.6". Even you can make a mistake.
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    Senior Member IAMTB's Avatar
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    Sounds like you're in the market for a MonsterCross bike. My advice would be to get a Surly Karate Monkey or Cross Check and use as many of the parts off your current bike as possible.

    BTW the 26 vs 29 debate is never ending. You'll be lucky to get 2 good responses in 50. For your purpose you will just want the one that feels and rides the best.
    Pulling the trigger as often as possible.

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    Sounds like you could just toss some cyclocross tires on your existing bike and you could handle those types of trails no problem. I've taken my touring bike on rail trails with 700x35c semi slick tires - 700x40c cross tires at a medium low PSI with more knobs would have been perfect.

    A 26 or niner would be fine for dirt roads/fire roads. A 29er would probably (maybe?) better for a long haul ride, either would be good I bet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Okay. I made a mistake. I'll admit it.

    I have never called you any kind of name nor implied that you are a (mod edit) nor used any kind of explicative towards you. Everybody has an anus, pal, we just don't think it's out best feature. Most of us don't want to put them on public display...but I guess you ain't like most people.

    By the way, 748.4 centimeters translates to 294.6". Even you can make a mistake.
    Sorry dude, but I assume people are (mod edit)when they post authoritatively about things they haven't a clue about. Like when you come in here occasionally and jump into the disc brake threads. It would be only mildly troubling if you were a noob (as that happens all too often here), but you are an experienced cyclist with years of accumulated knowledge, so it is even more offensive to me that you would post authoritatively, mocking me even, about things you seem to make up in your head.

    Hey man. I don't know everything about bikes. Far from it. I lurk in alot of subforums to accumulate knowledge. Try it.

    Sorry for the Derail OP

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C Law View Post
    Sorry dude, but I assume people are (mod edit) when they post authoritatively about things they haven't a clue about. Like when you come in here occasionally and jump into the disc brake threads. It would be only mildly troubling if you were a noob (as that happens all too often here), but you are an experienced cyclist with years of accumulated knowledge, so it is even more offensive to me that you would post authoritatively, mocking me even, about things you seem to make up in your head.

    Hey man. I don't know everything about bikes. Far from it. I lurk in alot of subforums to accumulate knowledge. Try it.

    Sorry for the Derail OP
    I think a better way to deal with people is to point out that they've made a mistake..which you pointed...and show them where they are wrong. You don't need to call them names. Civility goes a long way. Lack of civility just reflects poorly on you...not me.

    If I make a mistake, I'll generally own up to it. I've done it several times, just as I did above. However, if it isn't a mistake and is an opinion, that's very different. I won't revisit disc brakes since that just opens a can of worms that doesn't need opening.

    The 29er designation is an opinion. At what point do you call a bike something other than a 29er? If it has 55mm tires? What about 50mm tires? At that point it becomes a 28.5er...new name? Why not just call the bike a 700C mountain bike and be done with it? It would help alleviate confusion to just say what everyone should know in the first place...it's just a mountain bike with road bike wheels. But then I guess that the guys in marketing wouldn't have something new to sell
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I think a better way to deal with people is to point out that they've made a mistake..which you pointed...and show them where they are wrong. You don't need to call them names. Civility goes a long way. Lack of civility just reflects poorly on you...not me.

    If I make a mistake, I'll generally own up to it. I've done it several times, just as I did above. However, if it isn't a mistake and is an opinion, that's very different. I won't revisit disc brakes since that just opens a can of worms that doesn't need opening.


    The 29er designation is an opinion. At what point do you call a bike something other than a 29er? If it has 55mm tires? What about 50mm tires? At that point it becomes a 28.5er...new name? Why not just call the bike a 700C mountain bike and be done with it? It would help alleviate confusion to just say what everyone should know in the first place...it's just a mountain bike with road bike wheels. But then I guess that the guys in marketing wouldn't have something new to sell
    thanks for running to the mods, by the way..... boo hoo


    29er is when the tire diameter is greater than 29''. pretty easy to figure out. when it is less, call it whatever you would like. You are good at making things up

    you are in desperate need of a fagerlin beatdown.

  20. #20
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    Hey, it's Friday, guys. Let's be glad we all got through the week and lighten up a bit, eh?

    Have a on me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by C Law View Post
    thanks for running to the mods, by the way..... boo hoo


    29er is when the tire diameter is greater than 29''. pretty easy to figure out. when it is less, call it whatever you would like. You are good at making things up

    you are in desperate need of a fagerlin beatdown.
    Boy are you clueless. I have never run to the mods about anything...ever! If they want to censure you for being a jerk, it's up to them. I'm a big boy and can take it. I did not request them to edit your posts. You, by using language that is against the rules, brought that on yourself. Personally, I'd like them to leave the posts as is so that people can see you in your glory.

    Only tires that are over 57mm will result in a 622mm rim giving you a 29" overall diameter (not including knobs). That's a tire over 2.25". Everything else falls short. Do the math yourself.
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Very petty semantics and completely wrong! A 700C rim has an effective rim diameter of 622mm (24.5"). Adding a 52mm tire brings the outer diameter to 674mm. Do the math and you'll find that the outer diameter of the '29"' wheel is actually 26.5"...a very long way from 29". I don't know of anyone who runs a 5" wide (and tall) tire...which is what you'll need for a '29"' wheel.

    A 26" wheel has an ERD of 559mm which is only 22". Even a 27" wheel has a diameter of 24.8".

    The designation 29er is a marketing ploy- no more, no less - and has nothing to do with reality.
    I would like to apologize for the errors in the above post. I made an arithmetic error and neglected to take into account all of the tire in calculating the overall diameter. As C Law has pointed out, the size of a 622mm rim with certain tire combinations is 29".

    I apologize to rjemery for hijacking this post even if I had the best of intentions.

    I'd also like to apologize to the moderators for dragging this discussion down to the level to which it has descended. Your job is hard enough without my making it harder. I told myself that I wouldn't let past patterns of behavior happen again if I came back over here and I have let you and myself down.

    I would also like to apologize to C Law for having made the errors in calculation and, rather undiplomatically, used them against you. Although I don't agree with you on everything you said, you were correct to point out my errors.

    Finally, rjemery, I will post some thoughts below on using 622mm rims on mountain bikes. Some of it is opinion and some of it comes from long experience with 700C wheels on road bikes.

    Again, I am sorry for my actions.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Boy are you clueless.I have never run to the mods about anything...ever! If they want to censure you for being a jerk, it's up to them. I'm a big boy and can take it. I did not request them to edit your posts. You, by using language that is against the rules, brought that on yourself. Personally, I'd like them to leave the posts as is so that people can see you in your glory.
    you've been talking to my wife haven't you.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Only tires that are over 57mm will result in a 622mm rim giving you a 29" overall diameter (not including knobs). That's a tire over 2.25". Everything else falls short. Do the math yourself.
    that was my original point!

    Depending on volume, (remember a 52mm tire isn't neccessarily 52mm tall, it is usually taller in my experience but it depends on casing) most 2.1 or narrower tires that fit on a 622mm bsd rim aren't 29er tires, they are monster cross tires.

    but, when I go downstairs with a ruler and measure my bikes, all of my 2.1 or bigger tires measure 29'' in diameter.

    but, like you said, its all really petty semantics......

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Finally, rjemery, I will post some thoughts below on using 622mm rims on mountain bikes. Some of it is opinion and some of it comes from long experience with 700C wheels on road bikes.
    I would be most interested in reading your opinions. We are all here to learn. Some need to learn more than others about more than just bicycles.

    Regarding bicycle wheel and tire sizing, I have come across the following:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_wheel#Sizes and
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire_sizing.html
    RJ Emery
    Central NJ - Ride Custom Re-Built Original Trek 520

  25. #25
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjemery View Post
    I've been riding for years on pavement with an original Trek 520 Sport-Touring bicycle with standard size (29-inch) wheels. I would like to start riding "off road" and am looking for a suitable mountain bike.

    By "off road", I mean off pavement but still remaining on established dirt, gravel or cinder roads, jeep trails, or established bicycle trails. Nothing cross-country or extreme riding for me.

    On a mountain bike, what are the pros and cons of 26-inch versus 29-inch wheels, especially in lieu of the type of riding I am contemplating?
    Although I haven't ridden a 29er mountain bike, there are a few issues that I have experienced from other applications of the same sized wheel. A 622mm (700C) rim uses longer spokes than a 559mm (26") rim. Longer spokes make for a bit weaker wheel. I've broken spokes on both sizes of wheel but by far the majority have been on the 700C.

    Due to it's larger diameter, a 700C wheel and tire combination would be heavier than an equivalent 26" wheel and tire. Heavier wheels translate into more power needed to keep the bike moving. Most people try to lighten their wheels to make riding easier.

    29er bikes tend to have less clearance in the forks and chainstays. If you ride where it's muddy, this can become an issue. It's an issue on 26" bikes too but most of them aren't nearly as tight as the 29ers I've seen.

    Gearing on 700C wheels is usually taller in both the high end and low end. A 44/22 crank with an 11-34 cassette will have a 117" high and an 19" low. A 26" wheel with the same gears will have 104" high and 17" low. Not much but most mountain bikes need a lower gear rather than a higher one. Combine the taller gears with a heavier wheel and I'm not sure you are gaining anything.

    For your purposes, however, I don't know that it will make a big difference. You aren't going to gain any of the advantages of larger wheels rolling over stuff but you aren't going to be penalized too much in the gearing either. If you plan on riding on the road more, the higher gears may be advantageous. Additionally, the 700C rims will offer more choices for slicks and semi-slicks if you end up riding hard surfaces more.

    If it were me, I'd probably stick with a 26" wheel mountain bike. I just get tired of fixing wheels
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