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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In response to the various post about "which wheel size is better" I have under taken the job of unofficial wheel size tester. After many years of riding and unscientific testing I can now present my results.

Test Bike 1: A quick handling 26" wheeled single speed.
Test Bike 2: A custom-made rigid 650b wheeled geared bike.
Test Bike 3: A 29" wheeled full-suspension frame with a steel front triangle and aluminum rear.

Results: Bike 1 climbs all but the steepest hills incredibly well. It handles quickly, but it's not sketchy unless it's really steep and loose. It loses ground to the other bikes on slight downhills and on pavement. It's the lightest bike in the test. An advantage of the 26" wheels is that they more easily pack into the rear of a car when taking out-of-town trips.

Bike 2 climbs great, has very neutral steering, and is a great downhiller. It loses ground to other bikes when the trail has significant wash-boards, or where there is extended sections of trail covered in baby heads. It's a bike that you want to ride all day long, and the "in-between" 650b tire size gives me something to talk about at the top of a climb as I wait for my buddies to join me.

Bike 3 is a bit heavier than the others, which slows it down a little on the uphill. However, on rocky downhills, it's smoother than the others. It's climbed and descended mountain passes in excess of 10,000 feet. The large 29er tires take longer to pump up after flatting, but this gives me more time to eat a Cliff bar and chat with buddies. It's also the only bike in the test that requires a rear shock pump to keep the backend from sagging.

Which is the winner? Drum roll please..... They're all winner!! All three wheel-sizes are round, and roll up and down hills. Again, this is very unscientific, but using my fun gauge, there is a three way tie for first place!

The test fleet:


 

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Which is the winner? Drum roll please..... They're all winner!! All three wheel-sizes are round, and roll up and down hills. Again, this is very unscientific, but using my fun gauge, there is a three way tie for first place!

The test fleet:


I agree with this. I don't really think there is a perfect wheelsize. There are way to many variables such as what trails you ride, your skill level, your riding style, your height, etc. It kind of reminds me of the HT vs. FS debate that has raged for years. Neither is better, they are just different. I say ride what makes you happy. I have no love for 29ers, but if others do, than thats great for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Fwiw, there is a 99.9% chance that I built and then later converted that Bontrager frame to a single speed...;)

Cheers,
KP
And if this one ever breaks, I'll be calling you to build me one that rides exactly the same but with 650b wheels. :)
 

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Ovaries on the Outside
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I have a bonty too! Nice riding bikes they are.

I'm gonna need you to post your powertap, gps, and rectal thermometer data to verify this. Also, which one is the most "flickable"? Everyone knows that's the most important attribute of a bicycle.

-W
You've been killing the sarcastic comments recently. I wish I had noticed you were in Boulder earlier. Next time I'm in the state can I check out your shop?
 

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I'm gonna need you to post your powertap, gps, and rectal thermometer data to verify this. Also, which one is the most "flickable"? Everyone knows that's the most important attribute of a bicycle.

-W
I am confused, 29er guys keep telling me that rollover is the ONLY attribute of a bike that matters.
 

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In our shootout, the 650b was a hardtail and the other 2 were dualies. Hard to compare with that aspect added in.

Other observations besides flickability:

1) "Rollover" and "contact patch" are not "overhyped" AFAIC. For me, bigger wheels are clearly superior/easier going down AND up in technical terrain. The bigger the better. I clean stuff I can't on the 26'er, pure and simple. Need more time to compare 650b and 29.

2) The 29'er is "not that bad" as far as "nimble" or "flickable" or maneuverable. But it is less so than the other two. See no. 1 as to why that is not that big a deal.

3) Gearing: **deleted for fear of more ridicule**

4) Our guy on his 26'er is a better athlete and rider than the other 2 of us, and he kicked our ass and cleaned everything whatever bike he was on. You can buy new wheels, but you can't buy new parents.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm gonna need you to post your powertap, gps, and rectal thermometer data to verify this. Also, which one is the most "flickable"? Everyone knows that's the most important attribute of a bicycle.

-W
Classic! If I submit the "test" to MBA I'll use "flickable" to describe every bike. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yeah, what he said.......
The Groovy's fork has plenty of room for a 29" wheel, and it was the same brake set-up as the Vicious 29er. I intended to try the Groovy as a 650b/29er combo, but haven't done it yet (I've only had the bike for a few years and haven't found the time yet). ;)
 
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