Spoke Magazine

MTB wheel size debate – Eurobike 2012

Posted by Caleb Smith on Saturday September 8 2012

Alex Rankin gets all the inside word you’ll ever need on the 650b/27.5 wheel size. Is it all marketing or do you believe the hype?

Categories: Off topic

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  • Procrastinator…

    Ok so I’m supposed to be devoting my brain to some academia right now, but:

    This is quite a difficult situation, 26″ is the most common size in the world, and it will continue to be in countries where bikes are just transport. This will also keep the price of 26″ wheels, tyres, forks the cheapest and so they will remain for cheap bikes because I know from experience price conquers all in this market.

    29 has taken off and has real advantages to certain riders in certain situations. 650 gives some of that advantage to a wider spectrum of shorter people and longer travel bikes. I see marketing hype making 26″ redundant in high end, with 29 for xc and short travel, 650b for longer travel.

    Whatever happens, at least one wheel size will be eliminated from high end, and I hope it happens fast otherwise there will be a limited number of forks/tyres, and prices will be higher than they need to be in our already expensive sport. Think about the logisitics of a company/distributor/shop having to keep 3 sizes of everything, it will limit choice and make things expensive thorugh diminished economies of scale. (Taking into consideration other features like axle configurations, DH, UST or regular casing, preferred tread patterns, length of travel, etc.)

    Once things settle down to one or two sizes, there will be the same amount of choice currently in 26″ for parts/tyres. Prices will then have the potential to creep down, and you won’t have to worry about not being able to get decent parts for your awesome bike you’re about to buy that you intend to keep for a long time.

    I just want to ride awesome bikes and not have to wade a minefield of hidden or high costs and uncertain approaching obsolescence.

    Congrats, you made it through my rant!

    • forrest trump

      I was once involved in the world of skateboarding; similar things would happen, e.g. the sizes of equipment would inexplicably change, with ‘increased performance’ being the reason given.

      The reality was that any business has a finite market; unless you ‘innovate’ and change the size you rely on wearing out stuff rather than having something ‘innovative’ to sell.

      The reality is that there will be minimal performance advantage for the majority, but, the sales will come through as 650B becomes the ‘most wanted’ item.

      Oh, and my mate who owned the skate company told me the major players get together and ‘decide’ the next innovation – we, the suckers, buy into their stories

  • andrew

    Bring it on. If you are an avid fan of the 2nd hand market like I am then this just means more 26inch parts/bikes potentially being sold.

  • danny devito

    The whole ’29ers aren’t suitable for the vertically challenged’ spiel is inaccurate and played out, unless of course you’re legitimately vertically challenged like me