this is my first time here however I am a long time stackexchange user. I am planning to get a new MTB. Haven't ride for a long time 10y ago, as a kid I was always riding a MTB (I had an old low budget MTB and I don't want to ride it anymore).

I was considering to get this bike:

As you can see it's a 29er. Basicly I wanted to get 27.5 or 26 however at every store at my country they are telling me that 29ers are the best.
Can anyone of you more experienced users tell me why should I prefer 29'' tires?

Also what can you tell me about the bike? I don't have much experience since my last ride on a mtb was about 10y ago.

This bike is 720eu at my country and I am getting it at a 20% (570eu) discount and this is as high as possible for my budget. So am i getting something worthy for the price?

  • For starters, have a look here.
    – Vorac
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 11:18
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    Other than that, the bike looks like an average entry level cross-country bike, that can serve you well in the city, tours and not too rough downhills.
    – Vorac
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 11:21
  • Well thanx Vorac.. I guess tomorrow I'll be going to buy the bike so the final decision is then. I must admit that 29ers kinda look a little stupid to me - mostly due to their size - but I don't know I guess I'll have to get used to it :)
    – Spirit
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 11:28
  • I haven't ridden such. The thread that I linked to IMHO concludes that they are just a fashion thing. The guys at the LBS are rather enthusiastic towards them. This movie also leans towards 29ers, though it compares a lower end full-suspension to a higher end 29er.
    – Vorac
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 11:30
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    They aren't necessarily better, especially for shorter people - find something that goes with the style of riding you do (you should be allowed to take it on a test ride). Also, to point out the obvious, if you're just pootling around town, you're probably better off buying a hybrid (e.g. Trek 7.2 fx) rather than a MTB - you'll get slick tires, lower weight, rigid fork, rack & fender mounts, etc.
    – Batman
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 15:56

6 Answers 6


I recently got into mountain biking (last summer) and I had to find the answers to all these same types of questions. The answer to your question is not a simple one. You actually have to answer a few more questions before you can know which is the right size wheel for you.

First of all you won't want anything smaller than 26". You won't be able to roll over a lot of obstacles without a decent sized wheel. The benefit of the 26" wheels is that they tend to be more maneuverable, they weigh the least amount and thus roll faster, and if you are not a tall person then the 26" will be easier to find a frame that fits you right.

The 29" wheel allows you to go over more obstacles more easily. They are great if you have long legs. And they are less likely to be suddenly stopped by obstructions.

Then there are the 27.5" wheels. The brand Giant actually did a lot of research on these and have pegged them as the best compromise between the 26" and the 29". They tend to be closer to the 26" when it comes to weight and speed. But closer to the 29" when it comes to angle of attack and the ability to go over obstacles.

Last summer I started out with a 26" hybrid on the trails (yes I said hybrid, it is what I had to work with at the time). I rode with two friends that had real mountain bikes. One had a 26" and the other a 29er. Riding a hybrid definitely held me back.

But I did get a chance to ride both of their bikes and what I found is that it is essential to have a bike that is built for mountain biking when you do this. Both felt smooth as butter compared to the hybrid. Both performed well.

My friend Josh that had the 29er had an easier time going down some rock steps and over some obstacles. But Bill, the one with the 26er, was able to climb more quickly. That said, Bill is also a lighter person than Josh. So that probably added to the differences.

Overall I think the experience with both was about the same. It was really just having an actual mountain bike with strong parts and good derailleurs that mattered the most.

However I will say this, if you are going to spend a good amount of time on paved trails too then you will want to consider the lighter, faster wheels (26 or 27.5). If you are shorter or a low weight person then the large 29ers might require to much of your energy to pedal.

In the end, even though I am not that tall (5'7") I ended up with a 29er that I purchased recently. I did this because I have large strong legs and wanted to go over the obstacles more easily. I think in the end it is more preference though.

Also, Giant has invested a lot into the 27.5" bikes. So they might be worth a look since they have lots of confidence in them.

More info on that: http://www.bicycling.com/mountainbikecom/bikes-gear/giant-bets-big-275-inch-wheels

  • Which begs the question: What the heck is a 27.5" wheel?? What is the ISO rim size? Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 21:26
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    There's a lot of personal preference in the size selection. I'm 6'2" and prefer a 26" wheel. :-) Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 22:51
  • @pthurmond | Thank you for your thorough explanation. I bought the Cube 29er that is in the link of my question. It's a really nice bike and I am utterly satisfied.
    – Spirit
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 11:01
  • @DanielRHicks | I've read that the 27.5'' wheels are for shorter people that want a larger wheel. Well I am kinda short 5'5'', but I haven't noticed any problems so far. I guess one must be much shorter to notice any big difference :)
    – Spirit
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 11:56
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    Even 26 " is even too big for a properly shaped small frame. A lot of women(shorter on average) have issues finding a properly designed bike because businesses all clamor for the center of the market and try to push the old one size fits none sales line.
    – Max Power
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 5:39

Simple answer 29er wheels roll better that 26" wheels this means better rollover and higher speeds. These are good things for mountain bikes. The trade off is, because they're a larger wheel they require a larger frame. This is especially true for suspension. Usually 29er don't have the same range of suspension as 26" wheels. The larger wheels compensate for some of this on rough ground, but that doesn't help if you're taking large drops.

So really it comes down to what kind of riding you want to do. If you want light trail use and cross-country riding the 29er is ideal. Since you're considering a hardtail I think this is you.


As posted above the larger diameter 29" wheel makes it go over the trail more smoothly. You could draw some circles on a piece of paper of increasing diameter, then hold a ruler against the edge of the circles on by one, & it will be apparent the larger diameter circle matches the shape of the ruler (the trail) better. That's the motivation for some riders, especially performance mountain bike racers, preferring 29 inches. In my opinion however, for casual trail riding, especially for those 5' 9" and shorter, riding a smaller diameter wheel (26 or 27.5) makes the bike more nimble & easier to handle. Finally there's the issue of maintenance, repair, & parts availability. Eventually your wheel assembly will require some new parts to get it rolling again, and it may be easy to find repair parts for one wheel size than others. So ask your shop tech about that before deciding.


This question found its way to the top of the pile so I'm adding an answer that has the benefit of 8 years more evolution.

As mentioned in the answer from NRiding, 29" wheels simply roll over objects better leading to less rolling resistance and a faster ride. In addition, a 29" wheel has a larger tyre volume and allows lower pressures - we now know that this allows you to roll faster on MTB trails too.

Over the last 10 years we have seen evolution of mountain bikes to fit larger wheels without compromise. Initially 29" wheels were picked up by XC racers, whilst riders in other disciplines claimed they were clumsy or the bikes had bad geometry with big wheels. Now we see riders of all sizes in all disciplines choosing (some bike brands have a choice of wheel size) to run 29" wheels because they are simply faster.


To be honest, it what makes it fun for you and what you like, I used to do MTB on a 2006 Gary Fisher hardtail MTB and I lived it, since that I changed to road bikes started from a cheap one, a GMC Denali then a Vilano and finally a Specialized Allez E5 with carbon fork. Since that I needed to go off-road again, My girlfriend had a 2014 Giant-liv MTB with 27.5 wheels. When I tried it yes they are fast enough on the road but whrn it comes to MTB i had to go to to one of my personal favorites.

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A GT 2001 iDrive 5.0 full suspension 26-inch wheels, yes I did modified it for races with Mavic rims, para race fire 2.1 tires, preload and lock front suspension, and I just ordered a 1*12 drivetrain and cassete. Believe I live in Baja so I race a lot on the hills and in the end there is no difference, it comes to your ability and your training sI have won some races against top-end 29 bikes and sometimes I lose so just enjoy it and get out there and train.

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to bicycles! Your experience is interesting, but doesn't answer the question why the OP is encountering people telling who claim that 29" wheels are better than older 26"/27".
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 17:37
  • 1
    I think the underlying implied answer here is that they're different but they're all still wheels of the round and rolling persuasion, and that it doesn't really make as big a difference as one might expect (or a salesperson might try and sell you)
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 9:42

I've literally test ridden several thousand bicycles of all shapes and sizes.(It was a paid job for several years.) The only real reason to select 29" is if you are matching the wheels to a large frame. For medium and short people the frame geometry gets all screwed up. The rest is marketing and placebo effect. For extra small frames they should be making 24".( The difference in rider weight will more than counteract the effect of the smaller tire in most situations.) Unfortunately, business managers in this industry get stuck in some unhelpful mindsets, pushing product based on a strange bad combination of novelty reduced inventory.(Also a lot of urban myths or just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and not enough real engineering.)

Large wheels also mean longer forks, so more flex and more weight. Also less clearance for shock travel. The wheels themselves are weaker or heavier. All of which counteracts the 3% improvement in rolling over bumps.( Tire width and pressure selection has more effect on rolling. )

And gear ratio, 29ers inherently have 11% higher gearing. If you spend much time in low range going uphill it will be noticed.

  • 2
    I think the reason for 29" was less novelty and more that it used a common existing rim size so they didn't have to invest as much. 27.5" was based on an existing but very uncommon size.
    – ojs
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 6:52
  • 26 was and is very common. 27.5 is a both an insignificant change and totally non-standard so lacking economy of scale. (Already got enough of that jazz from Shimano and their ever changing sprocket widths.)
    – Max Power
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 7:03
  • 26 is not very common at all - show me a new race level MTB bike using 26" wheels. 26" was never a good wheel size and we have seen over the last decade that racers in all MTB disciplines have migrated to bigger wheels. Many professional women riding small and medium frames are also choosing bigger wheels even when their bike brand offers a choice of wheel sizes.
    – Andy P
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 7:43
  • 1
    Back in the day when first MTBs were built, 26" was the only size for which wide tires were available at all. It's now being phased out but for a long time it was the only option. 27.5" is by the way the same rim size as 650B so was obscure but not completely non-standard when it appeared.
    – ojs
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 9:12
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    "And gear ratio, 29ers inherently have 11% higher gearing. If you spend much time in low range going uphill it will be noticed." -- This just means 29ers should take smaller chainrings.
    – RLH
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 14:44

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