What’s really better? 26 vs 27.5 vs 29 vs You

There’s a lot of debate going on about which mountain bike wheel size is best, and it’s going to continue for quite some time.

Yes, 29ers roll easier and make a lot of aspects of mountain biking easier.  Yes, 26ers are more maneuverable and in many ways are still the most fun wheel size to ride.  And lets not forget the 27.5, or 650B, hailed as the great compromise between both…

But, is there something you’re forgetting?

Before you think you’re missing out and being ‘held back’ by your current wheel size, consider the most important factor that affects your performance on the trails:


Don’t let your wheel size become your excuse. Enjoy the bike you’re riding right now, embrace the challenge of getting better and work hard at it.

Ultimately it’s you, your fitness, your mountain bike skills and your attitude, not wheel size, that determine how much better you can become.

Have a think for a moment.  What skills can you work on to become a better mountain biker?

How to Master your climbing skills

How to Corner better than ever before

How to Descend with more speed, confidence and control

How to ride over obstacles more easily

Neat Tricks to get you motivated for mountain biking


  1. Matthew 4 years ago

    I wish everyone had this kind of attitude….no wait, no i don’t. Then it would be harder to beat them because I’m training smarter haha. Good word 🙂

  2. Martin 4 years ago

    I agree Chris, I also find the bike geometry plays a bigger role than wheel size. Cyclying is the same as surfing in a way, different surf conditions require different equipment. At the end of the day its all about the ride ….

    • Profile photo of Chris Carter
      Chris Carter 4 years ago

      Absolutely. Bike geometry and suspension performance (the ride as you say) often seem to be forgotten in favour of rushing to buy something that has a certain wheel size.

  3. MissedThePoint 4 years ago

    I can’t argue with this article. Chris summed it up very concisely. I can only emphasize some points, such as I got a nice boost of confidence and crashed less attempting new and challenging things on a 29er, which made many things easier. My more experienced buddies says that’s a downside, since it makes their fav XC trail boring, due to the lack of a challenge.

    • Profile photo of Chris Carter
      Chris Carter 4 years ago

      Hey, if the 29er has boosted your confidence and helped you crash less then that’s a Good Thing. Full stop.

      And lack of a challenge? They must be looking in the wrong places! 😀 When a trail or section of trail becomes easier that’s the opportunity to then push your limits to ride even better, faster, stronger, smoother. Familiar, and so called ‘easy’ trails still have so much to teach us as we strive to perfect every facet of our mountain biking skill.

      Look out for my next blog post which includes a tip to make old, familiar trails new challenges all over again. Currently editing it as we speak…


  4. Len 4 years ago

    I have just purchased a 29’er after riding my old steel framed 1980’s rigid 26’er, and just love the ride and stability.

    OK, so I fell off at the top of a very steep hill, but after reading on here about body position, I will have another go 🙂

    • Profile photo of Chris Carter
      Chris Carter 4 years ago

      Excellent, Len. Enjoy that new bike and all the tech and design improvements it offers!

  5. Casper 4 years ago

    When i bought my Trek Cobia 29’er i didn’t even see it was a 29’er until i got it. Well that happens sometimes, when u are looking for something else than wheel size! but damn, i LOVE IT! My big brother keep sayin’ “YEYE now the 29’er shows off again!” (he rides 26)

  6. Rik 4 years ago

    When buying my first MTB, what size wheels should I go for? I’ve never ridden an MTB (well I did, but not seriously) but I’m really eager to start.
    When looking between mid-segment bikes I noticed the 26″ bikes are equipped just a tiny bit better then the 29ers.

    I’m checking out you beginners tips to be well prepared for my first rides. 🙂

    • Profile photo of Chris Carter
      Chris Carter 4 years ago

      Hey Rik, a 29er can make a lot of facets of general mountain biking easier for a newbie. Take some 26ers and 29ers for a test ride – that’s the best option. (A good bike shop will let you do that) Get a feel for which bike works for you, your height and size – which bike and wheel size you feel most comfortable on – which feels the easiest to pedal. The more bikes you test ride the easier the decision becomes, because the best bike for you starts to become obvious.


  7. izi 4 years ago

    I never own any 29er before so I cant comment much on it. However before I switched from 26 HT to 26 full sus, I did a lot of research online. One thing I read bout using 26 is that u are able to learn more as 26 requires more skills? Most of my friends are using 29 and one thing for sure… They are fast.

  8. Ken Wong 4 years ago

    Hi Chris,
    I’m relatively new to MTB, and a late starter, over 50! I am a social rider and have ridden a little on the road and with the kids. I love MTB and after a lot of research on MTB web pages, reading about it and talking to the guys in the shops, I decided to purchase a 29er. Its a Giant Talon hardtail, and received great reviews and came top of the list for mountain bikes around $1,000 from a MTB website in the US. I love it and just ride when I can. I find my back is coping it a bit though and wondered if I should have purchased a dually instead. Anyhow, great site, and one I frequent all the time, you’ve put a lot of well thought out and useful material here, well done.

    • Profile photo of Chris Carter
      Chris Carter 4 years ago

      Awesome. Thanks, Ken. Enjoy the Talon. Have you considered a carbon flex post to help with your back? They can make quite a difference by taking the edge off harsh bumps and square edges. Perhaps well worth the expense.

      Check this article out: (there are other brands, too) http://teambobbydazzlers.com/2012/10/review-of-syntace-p6-carbon-hi-flex-seat-post/

      Cheers, Chris
      (p.s. let me know how you go with a flex post if you buy one – I’d be interested to know)

      • Ken Wong 4 years ago

        Hi Chris,
        thanks for your reply. I had a look at some other sites regarding the P6 seat post, got some very good reviews. Bike Radar did some testing on it and said that the more seat post exposed, the more beneficial, they said at least 150mm would be a minimum to gain benefit, I have just that exposed on my bike. Am keen to try it out and will purchase one if I can find a local dealer, they have a directory but may need to do a mail order. Anyhow, will let you know how it all goes. Again, thanks for your help.

  9. Lincoln 4 years ago

    G’day Chris

    I’ve just stumbled on to your site lots of informative information. Im just started to mtb & im riding an older style 26″ GT i’ve had for a few years not realy of road material more of a cruiser. Im looking at a 29er ht around $1100 what do you think of the Giant talon 0 2013. I like riding a bit of everything. Or can you suggest a couple of bikes, i cant afford anymore than that price. What are the main things if you can only get a few average conponents to look at is it fork, frame, crank set ect. around that price range.

    Regards Lincoln (Dunsborough)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow MTBtips #TheGrooverMethod

Site © 2016 MTBtips.com. All rights reserved. Site Produced by Focused Results.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?