An everlasting debate in the mountain biking world, 26-inch and 29-inch tires have their advantages and disadvantages. According to a six-month study by Cycling News, when it comes down to it, the choice is best left to terrain and the rider instead of science.
The selection between 26-inch and 29-inch tires can mean big differences for serious riders. Endurance athletes who want to maintain speed throughout the course often choose a larger-diameter tire, while short-distance racers are able to be more explosive in their acceleration and reactive with smaller tires.
Velo News reports 29-inch tires are better for cross-country events, make ascending rolling hills easier and descending steep hills safer. In contrast, 26-inch tires are better for longer hills insomuch they are lighter.
Mountain bikers who are more concerned with fun than fast times can choose a bike on its own merit, its components and the price tag.
For those who take their bikes to explore other countries, 26-inch tires are more common. Don't expect a small shop in the middle of the Vietnam countryside to carry two-niners.
A key factor for any mountain biker is his own stature. For males, if you are 6 foot tall or above, a 26-inch bike might be too small. A bigger bike will not only be more comfortable but will also allow you to accurately adjust your positioning to maximize output and prevent injury.
Article Written By Thomas Hollowell
Since receiving a BA in literature, Thomas Hollowell has been a professional writer for nearly 10 years. He has contributed to a variety of publications on travel, health, and lifestyle including NHA Magazine, Hustler, Yale Q2, among others. He has written two nonfiction books. He is a USAT Triathlete.