Not long ago, mountain bikes didn’t come with any wheel size options. The standard was 26-inch and there was nothing else to choose from. But since 27.5-inch and 29-inch mountain bike tires entered the market the battle of 27.5 vs 29er started.
Now MTBers go on with the 27.5 vs 29er debate because both of them have their pros and cons. In this guide, we’ll find out which one is the best mountain bike wheel size, you should consider.
The 29ers are reserved for smaller frames these days, which were once reserved for cross country racing and taller riders. On the contrary, 27.5 mountain bike wheels are better suited for riders with a more playful style of riding.
So, the question that we are going to address here is, which mountain bike tire size to consider…!! We will have a close look at both the mountain bike tire sizes and see which one of them comes on top.
27.5 vs 29er: In a Nutshell!
|Attributes||27.5-inch MTB wheels||29-inch MTB wheels|
|Cornering and traction||Good||Excellent|
|Weight and size||Light and small||Heavy and large|
|Fit||Better for shorter riders||Better for taller riders|
|Maneuverability and handling||Excellent||Good|
Cornering & Traction
First up in the comparison of 27.5 vs 29er is cornering and traction. This one is a no brainer because, with more surface area, 29ers are better than 27.5 tires. You can conveniently find the surface area of the tires of your MTB by having a look at the mountain bike tire size chart or mountain bike wheel size chart. Of course, the 29er is broader in surface than the 27.5-inch tire like the Maxxis Aggressor EXO/TR Tire.
And with greater surface area, the 29er has more contact with the ground. With more of this, the tire will offer better cornering and traction and has a direct impact on the overall acceleration and we will discuss that point in the text below.
Weight & Size
Next in the comparison of 27.5 vs 29er is weight and size. This one is closely related to the point that we have just explained. Again, the 29er is going to be larger as compared to the 27.5-inch wheel with a larger diameter. With a larger size, it is going to be heavier as well. Now if you are a casual rider, the weight difference between both these tires won’t matter much.
But, if you are looking for competitive riding or something that you can use for long distance riding, the weight will be a top priority for lighter weights. In such a scenario, a wheel size that is smaller and lighter will be a better option for you. Because your bike weighs lighter and you can put in less effort and go long distances without difficulty. You can also opt for tubeless tires to reduce weight if you want.
The third attribute to consider in the comparison of 27.5 vs 29er is acceleration. Discussing the point further from above, as 29er wheels are larger and they have more surface in contact with the ground. Therefore, they won’t offer much acceleration. 27.5-inch wheels have an advantage here because they have less area in contact, hence, they can accelerate much better than the 29ers .
For high-speed action, 27.5-inch tires are suitable while for a more controlled ride, 29ers are the best. 29ers take longer to reach a certain speed while the other options don’t take much time. However, you need to consider the fact; 29ers are far more efficient than 27.5-inch wheels once they reach the top speed. With a higher rotational mass, the acceleration will be slower but they also come with better momentum.
It is the angle that the wheel forms when it is on the ground and touches any square object. Shallower angles are better because the wheel can roll over that object easily. Here the 29ers are at an advantage because they get in contact with a square object and form a shallower angle as compared to the 27.5-inch wheels.
It means that these tires are better to roll over logs and rocks and roots that you will face on your trial run. This is exactly the reason why most of the riders feel more confident when they are on their MTB with larger wheels. The 29-inch tires are more suitable for even and smoother trails.
The 29ers are better suited for taller riders. Larger wheels can influence the overall construction and geometry of the bike frame. It can affect more as compared to the 27.5-inch wheels. For shorter riders, this can be a huge problem. Therefore, it is recommended to test ride your bike before you finalize your purchase decision.
It might be a rule of thumb that the 29ers can fit taller riders better but that doesn’t mean 27.5-inch tires won’t work for them. The matters are just traction, acceleration weight, and attack angle. Therefore, make choices according to your riding style and preferences.
Maneuverability and Handling
The bike wheels with smaller diameter are better in terms of maneuverability and handling than the larger wheels. Since larger wheels are fitted into longer bike frames, therefore, cornering the bike into tight turns can be very difficult.
If you prefer to ride twisty trails frequently, you need to go for smaller 27.5-inch mountain bike trails. They feel more comfortable and can retain plenty of snappiness from the original 26-inch wheel size.
The 29ers might not be very easy to maneuver but they can roll over obstacles extremely well. So the snappy feel of the smaller wheels won’t be gone here as you can rollover the obstacles instead of maneuvering your bike around them.
So Who Should Choose The 27.5-inch Wheels?
The 27.5-inch wheels are not very old but they have bridged the gap between the 26-inch wheels and the 29ers. With these MTB wheels, you can easily maneuver your bike from the obstacles and roll over them just like the 29ers. But the bike manufacturers still haven’t found the holy grail of MTB wheel sizes. So there are some merits and demerits associated with these 27.5-inch wheels.
All other variables being constant, a bike with 27.5-inch wheels is far easier to manage than a 29er bike. These wheels make it easier to navigate if you prefer to go through twisty trails with tight corners. These wheels respond better to the rider’s input.
Therefore, these wheels will be great for smaller riders who might have some trouble handling larger 29er MTBs. Smaller wheels have lighter weight so you can be more playful on the trail and can make those fast moves and quick turns without much fuzz.
However, a 27.5-inch wheel might be faster but at high speeds, your bike won’t feel as stable. It might be a plus for the Reuters who prefer their ride to be snappy at high speeds. But they have a larger attack angle and for that, they hit the obstacle and tend to stick into it a lot easier than the 29ers. Therefore, the nature and frequency of your rides will matter a lot when choosing the attack angle and size of the wheel.
Performance Positives & Negatives
These wheels are faster to accelerate if you compare them to the 29ers. And this is because they are smaller in size and weight. You won’t need much effort to spin them when you are riding them. If you prefer to ride trails with numerous obstacles that will slow you down, this is indeed the right choice for you to consider.
It will also prove to be a useful option on a trail with lots of twists and turns. These wheels will also perform great on winding trails where you don’t have much speed to work with. But 27.5-inch wheels will be a lot slower in building up momentum as well.
Furthermore, for short and punchy climbs, the 27.5-ich wheels are better, as they are easy to maneuver and lightweight. But if you are looking to ascend on gravel trails with smooth single tracks then 29ers are better.
And Who Should Choose The 29ers?
A couple of decades ago the 29ers were introduced to the market but they didn’t make many vibes. They were more geared towards short traveling cross country bikes and they very quickly became directly linked with those mellow terrains. But now, you will see 29ers on every type of adult bike that you can find on the market. But they come with their positives and negatives as well.
The 29ers’ Feel
Since they have a low attacking angle due to their larger diameter, they roll over various obstacles effortlessly. It’s not easy to maneuver 29ers, but you don’t need to maneuver them either because you can easily roll over the obstacles. So they are essentially your MTB monster trucks. Many people prefer to ride using larger wheels.
But there are some compromises that you have to make as well. As the 29ers are bigger, they are more challenging in handling and maneuverability. They will prove to be useless when you are riding through brisk and twisty turns.
They also become a lot more awkward to handle for small riders. These tires are better suited for larger rigs therefore, it just a bit too much for any short rider to handle.
Performance Positives & Negatives
One of the huge benefits is their ability to quickly build momentum and you can reach high speeds. Therefore, these wheels will be great when it comes to straight trials with not many twists and turns. Even on the climbs, these wheels will maintain their momentum for a longer distance.
These wheels offer superior traction because they are larger and heavier than the 27.5-inch wheels. With a greater surface area in contact with the ground, you get better traction and control over your ride.
But of course, with more surface area in touch with the ground, you will have reduced speed. You can’t zip through any terrain but build your speed and momentum, slowly and steadily.
29ers are more adept at high speeds but they are not great in building it up. Since heavier objects take more time to get moving, 29ers are slower than 27.5-inch wheels. You might think that the speed is better than anything and 29ers are built for it.
But they are only good when they reach the speed. Building this speed is a whole different ball game. And if your trail is full of obstacles that require you to accelerate or slow down then you need to go for a smaller pair of wheels.
So you can categorize mountain bike wheel size into two categories: 27.5 and 29 inches. And when you compare 27.5 vs 29 mountain bike, you will find that both of them have their positives and negatives.
When comparing 27.5 vs 29 mountain bike, weight and size will be a primary factor. 29ers are heavier and they are more in contact with the ground. It means that they offer better tractions and control and can roll over obstacles in your path,
27.5-inch wheels are smaller and better in terms of maneuverability. They are designed to go through the obstacles instead of rolling over them. 27.5-inch tires can speed up quickly while 29ers are slow to build moments but are more stable at high speeds.
If you prefer to be more agile on twisty trails, you need to go for the smaller tire. And if you prefer to go for a smoother ride over a straighter trail then 29ers should be your choice. 29ers have more long-term efficacy as compared to their 27.5-inch counterparts. But they both have their merits and demerits.