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Old 06-22-13, 09:16 PM   #1
Watchdog
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Time for a new bike for my wife - wheel size?

Almost bought her a road or cross bike a couple of years ago and now I'm glad we didn't. She's highly unlikely to ever go on long fast road rides.

She will mainly ride the bike to run errands in the city, and to ride beginner level dirt trails with our kids. I'm trying to decide what kind of bike to get her and debating between a hybrid/urban bike or a HT. I'm leaning towards the HT as she likes the more secure feeling of wider tires on a MTB.

So the one thing that I've noticed (it's been a long time since I was in the market for a MTB) is that there are now three different wheels sizes. I don't think she'll care too much which wheel size she has. The main thing I'm concerned about is buying a bike and finding out that the wheel size we bought for her is the one that does not survive and it's harder to get tires and tubes for it in the future.

I'm seeing that most HT's are 29'ers so maybe I won't even have a choice. Any comments on the whole wheel size issue? The 650B size seems interesting but I'd hate to buy a bike with 650B wheels to find out in say 4 or 5 years that it's hard to find tires, tubes, spare wheels, or perhaps a replacement fork for that size.

Comments?
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Old 06-23-13, 01:17 AM   #2
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I don't think 26" wheels are going anywhere. They'll still be available in five years time for sure, and for the usage you describe I don't see how she will ever bend or break a wheel so I wouldn't see that as a factor. Ask her what she likes, get her on a 29er and a 26er of the same brand and ask which feels more natural.
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Old 06-24-13, 12:40 PM   #3
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In theory she's a better candidate for a 29er. The main justification for a 26er is that it is nimble on a tight twisting mountain bike path. A 29er is easier to roll over most obstacles. But it is mostly a matter of taste so I agree with the previous advice: if you are able to have her try one of each, buy the one she likes best and feels most confident and secure on.
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Old 06-24-13, 03:27 PM   #4
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I may depend on how tall she is. If she's shorter-statured, a 29er MTB may not be the way to go. The mfrs have to do ugly, kludgy things to make the big hoops fit small frames. But since so much of her riding is townie-type things rather than dirt, she may find a 26 won't roll as fast as she'd like. Actually, a 700c hybrid may be the best bet. I'm looking at the Giant Roam or Rove for my wife right now, although at 5'-11", she could easily fit a respectable 29er MTB. But the Roam is a mostly-pavement bike with tires a bit wider (40) than the average cyclocross tire and plenty capable (IMO) for some mild dirt/gravel forays.
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Old 06-25-13, 07:09 AM   #5
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That pretty much nailed it. My wife and I actually rented a pair of Giant Rapid bikes when we were in Ohio over Memorial Day, and they were pretty nice. However, we did have a section of fairly rough gravel to & from a relative's house, about 1 mile of that was all my wife wanted to take. It has some washboard and 2" rock.

If it's smooth gravel, no worries, but if you're on rough gravel I would advocate something with a suspension fork, like the Roam. I doubt very much the Roam would give up much on bike paths, either.

If you're looking for a townie type of bike with a suspension fork, Cannondale has that pretty much dominated with their headshok-equipped Adventure models. The cheaper ones don't have an air headshok though-- just an elastomer. Still, it works fine for absorbing bumps and cracks in bike paths and good paved roads, and it looks like a city hybrid.


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And finally, since we are in the MTB forum after all, I would like to say that if you'll be on rough gravel or trails a lot, obviously you get a mountainbike. With the right tires they're fine on bike paths, and they're obviously ideally suited for rough terrain.
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Old 06-25-13, 06:09 PM   #6
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How can you expect an answer without telling us how tall she is?
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Old 06-26-13, 09:58 AM   #7
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If your wife is under 5'10" and not a skilled or experienced rider, she may hate a 29er... on smaller sized frames (less than large/19) there is the whole wierd toe overlap thing going on... I know quite a few women who stopped riding 29er because of a bad experience with the toe overlap... but as you said, might be hard to find a 26er hardtail unless you are looking for an XS frame size...
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Old 07-01-13, 01:41 AM   #8
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How can you expect an answer without telling us how tall she is?
She's 5' 5"
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Old 07-01-13, 08:45 AM   #9
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She's 5' 5"
I don't think you really have a choice - but then again I do see really short people riding 29ers. If nothing else try 650B if you can't decide or find a 26er...
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