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When did 26 inch wheels begin phaseout?

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When did 26 inch wheels begin phaseout?

Old 10-16-21, 07:42 AM
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When did 26 inch wheels begin phaseout?

26" wheels are obsolete these days I'm told, yet were standard on mountain bikes since their beginning. When were the last bikes (widely available, commonplace ones) made with 26" wheels? I'm thinking perhaps 2005 or so.


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Old 10-16-21, 07:55 AM
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On MTBs they are not phased out. There's a lot more diversity in wheel sizes now as well as many variants and specializations of "non-road bike."

What phase out are you talking about? On English 3-speeds?

Is there an underlying issue for you, perhaps tire availability?

Not to be snarky, but it doesn't seem very simple. Honestly, you can still build a road bike with 559 rims if you need to.

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Old 10-16-21, 07:55 AM
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Closer to 2013.
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Old 10-16-21, 08:29 AM
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26"/559mm wheels do seem to have become "obsolete" In the US and other wealthy countries, where MTB's are mostly ridden by people who can afford to spend money on bicycles for recreation, and equipment is subject to fads and fashions. But the size was so prevalent for such a long time that 26" rims and tires should be available for a long time to come. Also, 26" remains the standard for everyday transport and utility bikes among poorer people in countries like Mexico, and I suspect in much of the rest of the world as well. My Mexico touring bike is an old MTB with 26" wheels. I can find find low-end but serviceable parts for it in any village bike shop in the country.
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Old 10-16-21, 08:36 AM
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Bianchi introduced the first 700c Mountain Bikes in 1992, although I don’t think they really envisioned these monsters with YUGE 700x200 tires.

I never used it off roads much but my Project 3 rode pretty well on New England single track with 700x41 tires.
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Old 10-16-21, 08:46 AM
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they're not being phased out. i still see so many 26" mtb's on people's car rack frequently. in fact, i'd have to say in my area the size is as popular if not more than other sizes. those big wheels can be intimidating. perhaps 26" wheels are not as prevelant as before, but phased out....no
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Old 10-16-21, 10:06 AM
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Trek currently lists on its website 32 new bike models available with 26" wheels. Higher end mountain bikes tend to come with 27.5 or 700c/29er wheels now, but 26" certainly hasn't been phased out.
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Old 10-16-21, 10:32 AM
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While we're on the topic, when did rim brakes and QR axles become obsolete? Asking for people who are on the wrong forum.
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Old 10-16-21, 10:47 AM
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26" wheels became obsolete for me when I sold my 1985 Univega Alpina Uno last month. Now it's just 700c in my stable.
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Old 10-16-21, 11:52 AM
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26 ain't dead. 26" wheels are not obsolete.
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Old 10-16-21, 02:02 PM
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I’d guess that rim brake 26” wheels will be getting scarcer and scarcer given the prevalence of disc brakes these days. That said, I did buy a 26” rim brake wheelset (Sun rims, Shimano hubs) from Velomine fairly recently.
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Old 10-16-21, 02:12 PM
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Unfortunately it's turned into a kids bike wheel size. With some dirt jump and trials stuff. Also maybe those paratrooper folding bikes if they still make them?
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Old 10-16-21, 02:50 PM
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26" wheels are still used a fair amount for cruiser-style bikes... maybe not high-end, but "widely available, commonplace" for sure.
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Old 10-17-21, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by johnnyace View Post
26" wheels became obsolete for me when I sold my 1985 Univega Alpina Uno last month. Now it's just 700c in my stable.
A better question should be "when did nutted hubs become obsolete?" Sometimes a guy has a flat on his mountainbike and can't get the rear wheel off to fix it, and is at the mercy of strangers, begging for a wrench to remove it...
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Old 10-17-21, 09:48 AM
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BTW, four different high performance (and price) 26" tires available right here.
Several less expensive 26" tires available here.

I could go on and on, a simple amazon search got me over 1,000 hits. I'm sure many were off-topic and/or duplicates, but scanning down I saw tires from over 10 bands just on page 1.

There's no phase out, 650b and 700c sizes are just taking up more of the market.

I'm focused on tires, but bikes, rims, and wheelsets are available in many different price points even now with supply chain issues.
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Old 10-17-21, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by wesmamyke View Post
Unfortunately it's turned into a kids bike wheel size. With some dirt jump and trials stuff. Also maybe those paratrooper folding bikes if they still make them?
I guess I'm just a kid at heart.


@Andy_K and @aggiegrads can verify, however, that dirt jumping is done at your own risk.
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Old 10-17-21, 10:08 AM
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narrowing the question, one area where 26" wheels have been phased out is elite cross-country mountain bike racing, where even very small riders (for example Sina Frei who is under 5 feet tall) use 29" wheels. In that specific realm, the turning point was around 2012 or so. The Olympic Cross-country race in London that year included riders on all three wheel sizes (26, 27.5, 29), but 26" was least common. It was pretty quickly after that that 26" disappeared altogether from world cup and olympic level races, but I don't know the exact date of the last race in which someone rode 26".
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Old 10-17-21, 11:10 AM
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They lasted a little bit longer in downhill. For a few years, seven or eight years ago, some companies were trying to have 29 inch cross country bikes, 27.5 trail bikes, and 26 downhill bikes.

It’s an accident of history the 26 inch tires were ever used at all. When the Marin guys first sold mountain bikes, 26 inch was the US standard not-Schwinn beach cruiser tire size, that had recently featured in a fad for BMX cruisers. They were the only balloon tires that they could find with any tread.

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Old 10-17-21, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
They lasted a little bit longer in downhill. For a few years, seven or eight years ago, some companies were trying to have 29 inch cross country bikes, 27.5 trail bikes, and 26 downhill bikes.

It’s an accident of history the 26 inch tires were ever used at all. When the Marin guys first sold mountain bikes, 26 inch was the US standard not-Schwinn beach cruiser tire size, that had recently featured in a fad for BMX cruisers. They were the only balloon tires that they could find with any tread.

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Interesting to think that we're really coming full circle... what we now call 700C was originally "28-inch" because 1.5"-ish tires were used to make a comfortable big-diameter wheel for the rough roads of the 1890s. It seems like many styles of bikes are trending back to that, and as much as I like my 26"/650B bikes, I can't fault the logic of 700C/29er/whatever you want to call it.
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Old 10-17-21, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by thook View Post
they're not being phased out. i still see so many 26" mtb's on people's car rack frequently. in fact, i'd have to say in my area the size is as popular if not more than other sizes. those big wheels can be intimidating. perhaps 26" wheels are not as prevelant as before, but phased out....no
No. They have been phased out on new bikes. With the exception of a few youth bikes, you won’t find them in any bicycle manufacturer’s catalog You can still get tires, rims, and wheels but they aren’t “cutting edge” stuff anymore.

There’s lots of 26er” out there in the used market but for use in new model bikes, 26” just about as dead as 27”.

Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post
Closer to 2013.
Go back another 10 years. They really took off around 2013 but the writing on the wall was there in 2005.
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Old 10-17-21, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by PatTheSlat View Post
Trek currently lists on its website 32 new bike models available with 26" wheels. Higher end mountain bikes tend to come with 27.5 or 700c/29er wheels now, but 26" certainly hasn't been phased out.
I only count 19. One is a kid’s “hybrid” bike which looks mostly like a small hardtail. Most of the others are cruisers with pretty awful wheels on them.

Just to be clear, I’m not a fan of 29ers. They have a whole host of problems that make the marginal gain in rolling over things seem only, well, marginal.
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Old 10-17-21, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
No. They have been phased out on new bikes. With the exception of a few youth bikes, you won’t find them in any bicycle manufacturer’s catalog You can still get tires, rims, and wheels but they aren’t “cutting edge” stuff anymore.

There’s lots of 26er” out there in the used market but for use in new model bikes, 26” just about as dead as 27”.



.
cutting edge...no. but, if they really have been phased out, it hasn't entirely caught up with part of what i see being sold as well as what people are purchasing. often when i go up to vehicles with bikes on the back....mtbs or otherwise...i'm surprised to see the mtb's are mostly 26'ers. 29ers are obvious, but i look because i wonder if people are getting 27.5'ers. i really don't see those very often
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Old 10-17-21, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
A better question should be "when did nutted hubs become obsolete?" Sometimes a guy has a flat on his mountainbike and can't get the rear wheel off to fix it, and is at the mercy of strangers, begging for a wrench to remove it...
You're definitely not off in thinking this, for sure. I suffered several flats in quick succession after that day, and also like that day, couldn't find the cause. I was cursing nutted hubs! Sure, I could have replaced the hub/wheel with something that had a QR, but that bike was too small and a heavy beast, anyway. Interesting thing, after putting the much narrower Schwalbe Marathons back on (along with the fenders)... no flats. So something about the Rene Herse Rat Trap Pass tires seems to have been the issue, but like I said, couldn't find anything.

At any rate, I sold it to a nice fellow who is the head groundskeeper for the Portland Timbers.
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Old 10-17-21, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by thook View Post
cutting edge...no. but, if they really have been phased out, it hasn't entirely caught up with part of what i see being sold as well as what people are purchasing. often when i go up to vehicles with bikes on the back....mtbs or otherwise...i'm surprised to see the mtb's are mostly 26'ers. 29ers are obvious, but i look because i wonder if people are getting 27.5'ers. i really don't see those very often
That may be a function of where you live. Here in Colorado, I see far more 29ers than 26” on the back of cars and on the trail.
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Old 10-17-21, 06:44 PM
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I did forgot about the beach cruisers, and maybe BMX cruisers? Can't even really count the fat bikes, they started to use 27.5" rims/tires.

Currently have a dozen or so 26" bikes, it's not too bad getting tires/rims. Parts shortages have messed it up more than anything.
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