Looking for a new mountain bike? You’ve probably noticed that mountain bikes tend to have either 27.5 or 29 inch wheels. Why the two different sizes? And which one’s best? Read on to find out!

The basics

kona blastWhen 29ers came onto the scene, the main alternative was 26 inch wheels. The jump to 29 inch wheels made a big difference to the way the bike rode. Since then, 27.5 inch wheels have become available as a bit of a happy medium between the two wheel sizes! To find out more about 29ers, take a look at our article: What is a 29er?

So, if 27.5 is the ‘best of both’, then why do people still make 29ers? Well, it’s not that simple!

_A5A2814Horses for courses

29ers and 27.5 inch wheel bikes both ‘feel’ very different and perform differently out on the trail. Depending on what you’re going to be doing with it, as well as the kind of ride you prefer, one wheel size or the other might be best for you!

Of course, owning a 29er won’t stop you from riding anything that you could do on a 27.5 bike, and vice versa! It’s all about your preferences.

kona fire mountainOn a 29er, you sit ‘in’ the bike

The bottom bracket of a 29er is lower compared to the wheel axles, and the wheelbase (the length of the bike from the bottom of each wheel) is longer. This (combined with the big wheels) makes for a stable and fast ride – especially through sections which are fast to begin with! The big wheels iron out the bumps and obstacles of the trail, and there’s a bit more grip available too.

On a 27.5 inch bike, you sit ‘on’ the bike

kona bikesOn the other hand, a bike with 27.5 inch wheels gives more of a sense of being ‘on top of’ the bike. Rather than feeling like you’re ploughing through the terrain, you’ll need to react more to it. At the same time, the bike feels more nimble in tight sections. 27.5” bikes tend to feel faster to accelerate, too. Even if they might pick up speed at the same rate, a bike that ‘feels’ fast is great fun! A 27.5” bike generally feels a lot more ‘chuckable’ (i.e. reacts more quickly to steering) than a 29er.

kona bikes

…but not as much as on 26 inch wheels

Compared to a 26” bike, a 27.5” bike is much more balanced. You can still change direction really quickly, but you can also flow through fast sections more easily than with 26” wheels. It’s great fun, and the wheel size you choose is often more about the kind of riding you do.

So, what wheel size should I go for?

If you do more fast, flowing trails, a 29er works well. If you find yourself in a lot of tight, twisty ones, look at 27.5!

Courses for horses

kona close upIt’s also a good idea to take the rider into account when you’re picking a wheel size. Just about anyone can pick any wheel size they want, but people who are much bigger are generally more comfortable on a 29er, while people who are much smaller might be happier on a 27.5 bike. This is by no means a hard and fast rule, but it can be a good starting point if you’re really not sure!

Mountain bikes at Halfords

So, there you have it! Different wheel sizes can give a different ride, but both are great fun! Pick the one you prefer, but don’t worry about being left out of certain trails because your wheels are one size too big or too small!

Hopefully now you’re in the know about different wheel sizes! So, want to try a new wheel size? Or looking for a new mountain bike? Take a look at our range of mountain bikes here.