A lot has been written in bicycling circles about wheel sizes, pushing bigger and easier-rolling wheels as the ‘next new thing’, all the way up to mongo 29″ wheels with sometimes iffy toe clearance, and then reversing back down to smaller and more manageable wheels as the ‘next next new thing.’
Here, we’ll try to set all that promotion aside and objectively look at two wheel sizes side-by-side: 26″ and 27.5″. Since we sell both, we don’t have a vested interest in the outcome. It’s more about what meets YOUR needs.
5 benefits of CHANGE bikes with 26″ wheels
INTERNATIONAL COMPATIBILITY. Touring bikes, tandems, and mountain bikes have been built with 26″ wheels for decades. In some countries, that’s all you can find. If you need replacement rims, tires, or especially inner tubes, you can find them anywhere in the world.
TIGHT SPACES. Will your new bike need to fit in a very tight space? Will you travel with it much? The 1.5″ smaller diameter of a 26″ wheel also makes a difference when folding. (On the other hand, the new bikes in the largest size, for example, need to ship in a box that’s about 1″ taller).
TIGHT TURNS. Where are you going to ride, and are you new to mountain biking? If you’re riding a twisting, technical track through the woods, or perhaps a small person trying to handle a lot of bike, a larger wheel may not be to your advantage. 26″ wheels are full-size, yet small enough to turn quickly and unexpectedly.
WEIGHT LIMITS. A CHANGE bike with 26″ wheels weighs about 1.6 lbs less than a bike with 27.5″ wheels.
COST. Just like 26″ wheels are more established, so is the cost. You could be riding a bike with 26″ wheels for $200-400 less than one with 27.5″ wheels.
5 Benefits of CHANGE bikes with 27.5″ wheels.
ROLLING EFFICIENCY. A bigger wheel carries more energy, especially on flat or downhill terrain, so you can go faster with the same effort. Are you racing?
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES. With a larger diameter, the angle of attack is less for a 27.5″ wheel, making for a smoother ride among rocks and jagged terrain.
INTERNAL CABLING. Less exposed cabling means less need to clean and grease exposed shifting and brake wires.
COLORS. No longer limited to black or…well… more black, now you can now opt for Arctic Blue or Pine Green as well.
FUTURE EXPANDABILITY. Want to add more water bottles? Extra braze-ons are included. Want to bump up to 29″ wheels or 700c? There’s plenty of room. Even if you decide on a whole new fork, the new frames follow the latest tapered steerer standard.
That’s a lot of data. Now what?
If anything, the points above show that there are unique benefits to each size. Both are good choices. I’m personally a big fan of the colored frames and internal cabling, but am also happily riding a CHANGE 611 with 26″ wheels as my “gravel bike.” I’m already riding an excellent rugged folding bike, so I’m not looking to change.
Buying new, I could go either way:
- The CHANGE 611 rugged hybrid and CHANGE 612 mountain bike have 26″ wheels.
- The CHANGE 811 rugged hybrid and CHANGE 812 mountain bike have 27.5″ wheels.
What questions are in your mind as you look at the two sets of gravel/off-road bikes?
Biking made easier.