With the widespread adoption of the 29er mountain bike in manufacturing and the mountain bike community, the growing debate of 29er vs. traditional 26″ mountain bikes is getting hot amongst riding groups. If you are in the market to upgrade your current mountain bike or get into the sport, your options are wider than ever which is a good thing for the sport but can be debilitating when looking to purchase a new rig.
For years, I have been riding a 26″ while wishing for a 29er, it has been a long journey taken considering the fact that I wanted to be sure before I blew the bank for my next purchase. A road bike has never worked for me, and our roads are not polite to her……trust me, when you are on a road bike in Nairobi, half of your ride will be filled with sadness. I am an adventurous person, I like to be in the woods, cycling into Karura forest, Arboretum and to the Gilgil hills, many times I commute to work on my bike between 30km to 80km, depending with the errands.
After a test on different bikes, ..you can name them, my body and my heart settled on the 29er, my body because am a tall guy, I wanted the luxury the 29er provides for guys like me. My heart because am passionate about cycling, I commute a lot on my bike and trust me, when you are sitting on a 29er, you get this feeling that you are on top of everything, you are under control, the bike gives you control. When confronted with the woods, the rocks, the roots and the sliding floor, the 29er is on top of it all, helping you manage the task at hand. I do not mean to say that the 26″ can’t do this, don’t get me wrong, but when you are on a 29er, the terrain belongs to you.
In the short travel and hard tail mountain bike market, the 29er mountain bike has almost completely taken over. This recommendations are used in conjunction with the height recommendations below.
- HT and 100mm travel and under: 29er or 650B
- 120mm to 130mm: 29er or 650B
- 140mm: 650B (27.5) or 26″
- 150mm to 160mm: 650B (27.5) or 26″
- 160mm+: 650B (27.5) or 26″
While on my honeymoon in South Africa, I visited this small restaurant at the Durban WaterFront, its home for cyclist and dog lovers. While enjoying coffee, I picked a flyer for a bike shop that was literally five blocks from where we were staying, and I visited them. Good news is that it was christmas and they had something on offer, something I was looking for, a 29er bike. The moment that followed was just me trying to get financing for the bike and since my wife is also the family accountant, I had to go through her. I left Durban with my bike and managed to send it to Nairobi before I left South Africa, and sixteen days later, it arrived.
I have since assembled the bike ready for its maiden ride, I can tell you, everything is worth every Rand I put on the bike. The Giant 29er comes with all the comfort and performance that a cyclist would love and want to enjoy. It’s luminous green colors makes you visible from a while distance, the tyres keeps you on the ground and with the wide handlebar, your control is not compromised and if you enjoy the benefits of being tall, cycling a 29er gives you room for your height and comfort.
As mentioned before, 29er mountain bikes do take more to maneuver through tight single track. If all of your riding is filled with tight turns in trees, you will want to try out a 29er on your own local trails before making a decision. On the other side of the spectrum, if your trails are more open and rocky, the 29er wheel size can really excel and bring more speed as you can hit sections faster.
As of 2016, the 26″ wheel is seeing its way to the “remember when” category. 27.5″ wheels have essentially taken over that market to the point that you rarely even find a 26″ tire on a long travel bike. We’ll now just refer to the 26″ tire as the size dedicated to Walmart bikes. With 27.5, 27.5 plus and other new standards, the 26″ wheel is officially dead.