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-   -   The future of 26" wheels (https://www.bikeforums.net/mountain-biking/976028-future-26-wheels.html)

streetstomper 10-09-14 04:03 PM

The future of 26" wheels
 
I don't really ride off road, but my absolute favorite bike does have 26" wheels, on which I have the fattest Schwalbe Big Apples. I've seen several posts in various subforums here where people said 26" rims and tires are becoming harder to find. I know 29ers and now 650b have been on the rise, but figured quality 559 parts would still outlive me, given all the legacy bikes out there. Has the decline of the 26" wheel really started to pick up speed of late?

jimc101 10-09-14 04:15 PM

Guess it depends where you are and who you talk to, 29er's seem to have come and gone already, fat bikes are very niche, 27.5(650b) is being pushed as the next big thing.

For 26" with the amount of legacy hardware there is out there, wheels won't be an issue, full suspension frames will (are) become(ing) harder to find, but probably not HT frames.

With MTB's everything is currently very specific, you need a different bike for almost every type of riding, also remember that the push for these new wheel sizes is driven by manufactures wanting more sales; as everyone had 26" bikes, they needed to kickstart the market.

Give it 5-10 years and 26" will probably be back as the next best tire size, great for all the riders who have started in the time it wasn't being pushed. Not much is new in bikes, it's all a big circle of evolution.

JimPz 10-09-14 06:06 PM

It's not necessarily the 'decline' of 26" wheels, but the tire MFG's have to make tires in 26, 650b & 29' sizes, if the make a 1000 tires in 1 size, they are not now going to make 3000 tires for 3 sizes, they are still only selling 1000 tires, so the split it up 3 ways. If you are a bike store you also can't stock every tire in every size. All this lead to a more limited selection.

qclabrat 10-09-14 06:21 PM

don't think 26" wheels are a foot in the grave
just a the law of economics and marketing impacts
we see this all the time in cars, electronics, etc
the marketing engines will soon slow and a winner will prevail btwn the 27.5 and 29
I have a few 26", one 29 but no 27.5, one 26" has really chunky tires making it close to a 27.5
I'm not particularly tall so the 29 doesn't work for all applications, but in the right conditions, the 29er is sweet

Dave Cutter 10-09-14 06:26 PM


Originally Posted by JimPz (Post 17203351)
....... If you are a bike store you also can't stock every tire in every size. All this lead to a more limited selection.

I don't think it will alter available selection so much. If I am selling anything retail I have to consider cost per square foot and return per square foot. If return is high why would I limit my retail space? Fringe sizes become limited in selection.... because of the limited customers. The old... supply/demand equation.

JimPz 10-09-14 07:06 PM

I do work in a bike store, while 650B tires are currently 'fringe', 29 er & 26" tires are basically splitting our tire selection. While I don't support the 'decline' theory of 26inch, they sell less because of other size options. We will only carry so many tires, that leads to less choices of any one size (26, 29, 750b). Technically selling 'less' could be considered a decline, but a consider a decline as leading to obsolescence, in this case, it more size options.

headloss 10-09-14 07:11 PM

Way too many 26" tires/wheels out there for it to be an endangered species anytime soon... I think you are safe for at least the next ten years if not double that.

I do think that 650b will continue to grow in market share and displace 26" to some extent, especially with the growing popularity of disc brakes and the ability to swap out wider 650b wheels with 700c wheels while maintaining tire circumference on a single bike. That's a big advantage for those of us who like to have multiples pairs of wheels for the same bike. I can only speak for myself, but I'll only be buying 700c or 650b based bikes for now. Not that I would hesitate to buy a nice bike at the right price just because it has a 26" wheel, it just wouldn't be my top choice.

DorkDisk 10-10-14 05:20 AM

Its still a bit early to tell if 650 will completely take over 26, but if it does it will probably lead to a similar situation with 8sp drivetrains - still available but not in the high end. There are no 8sp XTR level cassettes now, just basic models

LesterOfPuppets 10-10-14 05:39 AM

I'm guessing high quality Knobby choice will continue to dwindle but won't entirely disappear. I've noticed a couple of online stores have more 29 choices than 26.

I'm hopeful wheels and rims won't disappear completely either, plenty of touring 26" riders still.

With any luck, as said above, 26 will be the next big thing in 5 years or so:)

xuwol7 10-10-14 01:00 PM

26" (559) will be around forever, as long as Walmart etc are selling them they are not engadgered.
I can even go into Ace Hardware and most small hardware stores and find 26" tires and tubes, I even see the 26 x 1 3/8"... lol
They are the "standard" for all mountain bikes and always will be (why fix what is not broken0.

osco53 10-11-14 01:14 AM

Ride your 26er into the ground, enjoy it, and if the day ever comes when you cannot get a part.

Get a new bike.

simple :P

Mccfry 10-11-14 04:21 AM

I'm in the market for a new bike, 650b seems to be the best of both worlds, the problem is there are no road tires. Scoured the internet and continental are the only ones I could find that make a fat road tire in 650b.

Zephyr11 10-11-14 06:37 AM


Originally Posted by Mccfry (Post 17206925)
I'm in the market for a new bike, 650b seems to be the best of both worlds, the problem is there are no road tires. Scoured the internet and continental are the only ones I could find that make a fat road tire in 650b.

I just Googled 650b slick tires and got several results. Look harder.

LesterOfPuppets 10-11-14 12:11 PM

There aren't a whole lot. I imagine more will come available as more people get 650b rims, though.

This would be my go-to 584 fat roadie, if I had the wheels for 'em.

Compass Bicycles: 650B Tires

http://www.compasscycle.com/images/gb_650_42_large.jpg

streetstomper 10-11-14 12:39 PM


Originally Posted by xuwol7 (Post 17205301)
26" (559) will be around forever, as long as Walmart etc are selling them they are not engadgered.
I can even go into Ace Hardware and most small hardware stores and find 26" tires and tubes, I even see the 26 x 1 3/8"... lol

That's great, if all you want is Walmart-quality tires.

xuwol7 10-11-14 03:49 PM

You are missing the point streetstomper, 26" tires will go away when the bicycle chain goes away.
I can see where the 700c replaced the 27 x 1 1/4 wheel, but you can go anywhere in the world and get 26" tires, there are certain standards that just plain work with the bicycle.

hybridbkrdr 10-12-14 09:57 AM

There's a cro-mo 26" mountain frame at Nashbar. It's very low-cost. Nashbar 26" Cro-mo Mountain Bike Frame I'm not sure if it takes a tapered fork or not though.

roccobike 10-12-14 01:03 PM

I've watched as the owners of 29ers predicted that in five years or so the only 26 inch bikes on the market would be basic, entry level. Didn't happen, but the advent of the 650 seems to be threatening the 29er! Then I read recently where folks riding technical trails with hairpin turns are dusting off their old 26ers cause the larger wheels don't favor those tight turns. IMHO the 26er will be around for a long time and there will be higher quality bikes built with 26 inch wheels and high quality parts.

Canker 10-13-14 02:51 AM


Originally Posted by roccobike (Post 17210199)
I've watched as the owners of 29ers predicted that in five years or so the only 26 inch bikes on the market would be basic, entry level. Didn't happen,

It pretty much has. Yes there are still some highend 26ers out there but not many. The vast majority of 26ers if you can find one at all are basic entry level jobs. 27.5ers very well could turn both 29ers and 26ers into niche products. We will just have to wait and see.

patentcad 10-13-14 09:11 AM

I'm buying a new MTB, the Scott Scale 700SL, coming off a 2008 model MTB with 26" wheels. After researching it, riding them, I really preferred the 27.5" wheel size. 29" may roll easier, but they're too heavy, not agile enough. 650b seems to be the ideal size.

roccobike 10-13-14 01:07 PM

Wish I had kept my old FSR XC. I'll bet I could replace the fork, slip some 27.5" wheels in there and ride. THen I could try a 27.5 without having to buy. But, it's gone so, not sure I can try that with the Stumpys. Time to go for a ride.

fietsbob 10-13-14 02:40 PM

Dont write Eulogies, 26" wheel bikes still sell, and all those in existence already , will need new tires some day.

patentcad 10-13-14 08:45 PM


Originally Posted by fietsbob (Post 17213277)
Dont write Eulogies, 26" wheel bikes still sell, and all those in existence already , will need new tires some day.

According the the LBS, 26" is pretty much dead already.

Ramona_W 10-13-14 09:12 PM

If manufacturers create frames with the lower standover height many women need and pair these with the 27.5" wheels, it could result in some very interesting looking bikes. If not, I guess, we'll be limited to riding "Walmart quality" bikes. ;)

Zephyr11 10-14-14 02:29 AM


Originally Posted by patentcad (Post 17214373)
According the the LBS, 26" is pretty much dead already.

I have definitely noticed this at some shops, but it depends on the audience. For example, there's a shop in Boulder called The Fix that specializes in DH, FR, and DJ bikes. Even with a lot of DH bikes going 27.5", I imagine that not every category will be so willing to run big wheels.



Originally Posted by Ramona_W (Post 17214445)
If manufacturers create frames with the lower standover height many women need and pair these with the 27.5" wheels, it could result in some very interesting looking bikes.

Yep. Not only standover (since a lot of long travel XS bikes don't have that much standover), but designing little bikes without toe-overlap without screwing too much with headtube angles. I read an article a long time ago that made an argument for wheel sizes that were appropriate to the frame size. I'd add "appropriate to the intended use" in addition to frame size and say that'd be perfect. I'd happily run 24" and 26" on all of my bikes. Cervelo makes their little tri bikes with 650c wheels as opposed to 700c, so I can't imagine it would be too much of a stretch to see 26" on some of the little mountain bikes that are normally 27.5".


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