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26" question

Old 02-15-21, 09:08 PM
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Road commuter
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26" question

I have not mountain biked for years. It's been all road, mostly commuting. Plus some track riding. For pure fun factor I find 26" wheels to be the best for me. Maybe 27.5. But 29" feel too large, though of course they are great for going over the big stuff.

Since I am recreational only, there is nothing wrong with 26" right? My old old old MTB is 26" of course. but looking to upgrade.

Thanks...
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Old 02-15-21, 09:16 PM
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I agree with you, and I'm still riding my old 26" bikes. But 26" wheels have been made "obsolete" by mainstream manufacturers. You aren't likely to find any decent new bikes that use them. But there are tons of old MTBs out there that are just as good as they were 20 years ago.

If you want something new, 27.5" (584) is pretty close to 26" (559) and that small difference wouldn't stop me from getting a new bike, if that's what I wanted (I don't.) Be careful about "upgrading" with a newer bike. Depending what you have now, a new bike in a reasonable price range might be much heavier than your current bike.
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Old 02-16-21, 12:05 AM
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Absolutely there is nothing wrong with 26" wheels on a mountain bike. In fact with the small frame size I use, Its perfect.

With larger frames there's nothing wrong with 27.5" thats popular now either. Both sizes have their advantages. For med size or larger frames I wouldn't rule out either if you really like a specific new bike and it feels right.

Perhaps for serious competitive mountain biking there is a specific size that works best depending on the course. Sometimes its 26", Sometimes larger.

As far as being obsolete goes, I could care less. In fact a 26" tire is one of the criteria I used when buying a new bike in 2018. I know I'll be able to buy new 26" tires for my bike longer than I'll ever need anyway.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 02-16-21 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 02-16-21, 12:25 AM
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There are a lot of factors that go into it.

Depends how tall you are. A large rider will get a lot out of 29. A smaller rider might appreciate 27.5 or 26.
Looking for new + modern tech. Not a lot in 26 size.
Riding modern mtb technical trails. A lot are now being made with FS, disc and 29r capability in mind. Flow trails or non technical stuff can usually be ridden with 26.
And budget. If it's limited, a good used 26r might do. If you are spending enough for new, and the above works in its favor, you would get more bang out of a 29r. Larger gear range, better suspension, better brakes, better clearance.
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Old 02-16-21, 01:50 AM
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For your kind of riding any kind of bicycle will do.
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Old 02-16-21, 05:22 AM
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Does your current bike really need anything other than new cables, grips, tires, and paint?

Powdercoat paint jobs are surprisingly cheap and super durable.

You could have a “new” bike for $300 in your ideal perfect color that rides just as nice as a $2K brand new gravel/adventure bike.

There are companies making great tires for 26” wheels, and tire tech has come a long way from where it was 20 years ago.
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Old 02-16-21, 06:52 AM
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I just built a new frame and fork for my old 26" MTB, modified the stem for threadless, painted it in vibrant 80s colours, put it all back together and it rides fantastic.

But everyone thinks it is uncool. Well I don't care. 90s MTBs are coming back into style. You heard it here first.
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Old 02-16-21, 07:31 AM
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My mtn.bike is older, and has 26" wheels. My height would allow me to go with larger wheels if I was to buy a new bike, which I'm not planning on. If I was buying a new bike, I'd probably go with a larger wheelset, as I do ride some trails with rocks and roots that a larger wheel would roll over easier. I'm doing ok with the 26'ers, but feel that larger would be better for the trails I ride. All depends on what trails you are riding and whether you feel ok on the bike with larger wheels.
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Old 02-16-21, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
But there are tons of old MTBs out there that are just as good as they were 20 years ago.
Where do you come up with false ****? What factual basis do you have to prove this?

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Old 02-16-21, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by guy153 View Post
But everyone thinks it is uncool. Well I don't care. 90s MTBs are coming back into style. You heard it here first.
Ummmm....yeah.

So is Aqua-Net and 80's hair.
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Old 02-16-21, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
But there are tons of old MTBs out there that are just as good as they were 20 years ago
Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Where do you come up with false ****? What factual basis do you have to prove this?

Man, you are so eager to go negative on anything surrounding the subject.
Re read the quote.
The old mtb's are as good as THEY were 20 years ago.
Ummm... Yeah. They didn't turn into cheese.
A top of the line 2000 mtb is still a top of the line 2000 mtb.
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Old 02-16-21, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Man, you are so eager to go negative on anything surrounding the subject.
Re read the quote.
The old mtb's are as good as THEY were 20 years ago.
Ummm... Yeah. They didn't turn into cheese.
A top of the line 2000 mtb is still a top of the line 2000 mtb.
Yes I read it. My point is they aren't very good 20 years ago compared to bikes now.
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Old 02-16-21, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Yes I read it. My point is they aren't very good 20 years ago compared to bikes now.
He did not say they were. You accused him of false **** but his statement was 100% accurate.

It's not his error you chose to quote him out of context in order to make your own rhetorical statement.
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Old 02-16-21, 02:35 PM
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Ride what you got.

I was a 26" holdout until 2018. I now have a 29er (with 2.1" tires) and boy, is it easy to ride the technical single track here in central Massachusetts! Just point and pedal. Amazingly capable. No thinking involved. Tons O'fun.
After a couple years with it though, I'm starting to miss the skill required to clear technical sections on a 26" bike; not enough to go back, but enough to appreciate what it took to pick and execute a successful line on such a boney machine.

Last edited by Brett A; 02-16-21 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 02-16-21, 02:46 PM
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If you are enjoying riding what you have, keep it.

But if you are wanting to upgrading to something new, you’re not going to find anything 26 inch and new that is considered an upgrade.

While I think that most people over-blow the importance of wheel size, I can’t see any reason one would choose a 26” bike over a 27.5 or 29er at this point unless this was for dirt jumping.

I say this as someone who is still riding a FS 26er as my main MTB. It is a great bike, but I am under no illusions that it is due to the small wheel size, and a 27.5 version of this would be even better.

The discussion around wheel size often gets confused with the discussion around geometry. What makes bikes from 2020 more capable than bikes from 2010 is less the wheel size, than it is the geometry.

Last edited by Kapusta; 02-16-21 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 02-17-21, 10:08 AM
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29 also rolls over imperfections in the trail vs. falling into the ruts like a 26" tired would do.

Picture the difference between a full size truck and a Honda Civic going over the same pothole...The pothole would hardly be felt in the truck, where as it'd probably feel like it was swallowing up your Civic because of the difference in wheel sizes.
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Old 02-17-21, 10:54 AM
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I "upgraded" from a 26" Schwinn to a 27.5" Giant FS-I still miss that old Schwinn and all the crazy things I could do on it. Maybe I just miss my youth (71 now). I rode several 29ers before I got the 27.5 and they always felt unwieldy to me. I'm 5'10". But after riding a FS bike I was convinced that was what I wanted. My mistake. I lock out the rear suspension on most trails because I like it stiff and then I'm just dragging extra weight around, except when I hit a more technical trail, which are few and far between around here. Then I readjust it. My first true MTB was a Raleigh 26" hard tail. Hated the shifting on it-for some reason couldn't keep it tuned. I traded it straight across for the Schwinn hard tail. We were both happy.
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Old 02-17-21, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
29 also rolls over imperfections in the trail vs. falling into the ruts like a 26" tired would do.

Picture the difference between a full size truck and a Honda Civic going over the same pothole...The pothole would hardly be felt in the truck, where as it'd probably feel like it was swallowing up your Civic because of the difference in wheel sizes.
That's the theory I know but it's not quite Civic vs Truck. Here is a superposition of a 26" MTB frame design and a long-low-slack 29er, aligned at the top of the front tyre:




As you can see it's about a quarter of the circumference before the two tyre outlines start to diverge noticeably. It's hard to see how this can make much difference except on very large ruts.
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Old 02-17-21, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Ummmm....yeah.

So is Aqua-Net and 80's hair.

aqua net 80’s hair works for me!
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Old 02-17-21, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Yes I read it. My point is they aren't very good 20 years ago compared to bikes now.

i get what youre saying but youre verbage is confusing

i have a 95 Marin Team Issue with a Tange Prestige frameset, fully rigid that was (and still is) an amazing bicycle. Being rigid, it can still roll with a modern gravel bike if its wearing skinny tires, or mount the 26x2.2’s and it is still just as capable now as it was in 1995. Fast, light, responsive.

Ditto for a ‘00 Yeti FRO - but i would say the vintage Rock Shox front end makes it a little less versatile for wanting to just roll gravel, and if it ever needs a rebuild, its going to be a pain

that said — those bikes are still enormously capable machines and are fun to ride on occasion

However - i ride my 140 trailbike now 95% of the time. Its just so much more comfortable than the old XC race inspired geometry and seating positions of the 90’s - and i have no real racing aspirations anymore

That said - with some minor tweaks of the cockpit on either one of those old bikes (namely for me, a shorty stem and some riser bars, plus a switch to a 1x drivetrain ). - these wont be competitive with a full suspension trailbike, but would be very competitive if you compared them to some of the steel bikes makers like Surly, Salsa or Soma are putting out

im just not going to do anything gravity oriented on an old bike like thaat, but i wouldnt do it on a Surly either
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Old 02-17-21, 12:18 PM
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26in

26 in wheels are the most popular tire size world wide for 100 years......you also have the widest selection of tires available.....and way cheaper.........26 in wheels are stronger and lighter because they are slightly smaller.....you produce more torque on a smaller wheel......you can have just as much fun as on any other tire............it takes a more skilled rider to roll on 26s dude........bigger tires might give a advantage if you were competing with pro racers........but if youre that good someone will buy you a 29er and pay you to race it..........

Last edited by homelessjoe; 02-17-21 at 12:23 PM. Reason: claify
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Old 02-17-21, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Road commuter View Post
I have not mountain biked for years. It's been all road, mostly commuting. Plus some track riding. For pure fun factor I find 26" wheels to be the best for me. Maybe 27.5. But 29" feel too large, though of course they are great for going over the big stuff.

Since I am recreational only, there is nothing wrong with 26" right? My old old old MTB is 26" of course. but looking to upgrade.

Thanks...
i made a case in a prior response about 26” wheels being fine (the example of my old Marin) —. If its a high endy 26’er you already have, there might be a case for spending a few bucks to upgrade it, or more specifically to better personalize it for your intended use

But i wouldnt spend too many dollars on upgrading something mid range or lower.

but if by upgrade you mean getting a new bike - there really isnt anything in 26” except for some BMXish dirt jumping type bikes. 27.5” also seems to be going away unless its a “plus size” (3” tires). 29’ers have won the war. I am on the short side (5’8” ) - it took me 2 or 3 rides to get used to the sensation of riding a 29’er, but now that i am used to it, i likely wouldnt go back. The modern 29’er geometry is much more sorted and friendlier for “medium height” guys like myself than the original Fishers and Niners from 15 years ago.
But i happily will ride a 26’er and have done so if for some reason my big bike is not available.
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Old 02-17-21, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
29 also rolls over imperfections in the trail vs. falling into the ruts like a 26" tired would do.

Picture the difference between a full size truck and a Honda Civic going over the same pothole...The pothole would hardly be felt in the truck, where as it'd probably feel like it was swallowing up your Civic because of the difference in wheel sizes.
An absurd dramatization. In reality it's like a Honda Civic versus a Honda Civic with slightly larger tires. Those larger tires have pros and cons.
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Old 02-17-21, 10:08 PM
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To be honest what you're going to feel between pretty much any 26" mountain bike and pretty much any 27.5/29" wheeled mountain bike is more due to pretty significant changes in geometry in more recently designed bikes than the wheel sizes per se. If you're used to most any 26" wheeled mountain bike, the relatively long wheelbase, slack head angle, short stem, wide bars, low bottom bracket, etc will lead to a bike that feels considerably less responsive at low speeds, on pavement, etc. This is in favor of fairly considerable gains in stability at speed. This generally feels worse for parking lot rides, and on trail until you adapt to the steering of a recent bike. 26" to 27.5" is really a pretty minor difference in rolling diameter--it's closer to 26" than 29" in actual rim diameter.

In realistic terms, there are basically no 26" wheeled mountain bikes beyond the very entry level for an average sized adult for general trail riding purposes--there are only a few dirt jump, and increasingly rarely, downhill bikes available in 26". If you want something that feels a little bit more like what you're used to, consider looking at XC targeted bikes with 27.5 wheels.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by cpach View Post
To be honest what you're going to feel between pretty much any 26" mountain bike and pretty much any 27.5/29" wheeled mountain bike is more due to pretty significant changes in geometry in more recently designed bikes than the wheel sizes per se. If you're used to most any 26" wheeled mountain bike, the relatively long wheelbase, slack head angle, short stem, wide bars, low bottom bracket, etc will lead to a bike that feels considerably less responsive at low speeds, on pavement, etc.
Yes exactly. Also a 650B (or 29er) hardtail these days will typically have an air suspension fork with (by the standards of the late 80s) loads of travel. Many of the old 26" MTBs were rigid fork anyway. The disk brakes also make it easier to tackle scary descents with more confidence.

A 26" fully rigid MTB is still a lot of fun though. You just can't ride as difficult stuff for a given skill/confidence level.
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