Back in the day, you could only find the 26-inches mountain bike wheel size, which used to be the standard sizing for mountain bike wheels from cross-country to downhill mountain bikes. But in the modern days, most mountain bikes come with either 27.5 wheel size or 29-inches wheel size, while the original 26-inches wheel size is reserved for dirt jump, junior or kids bikes, and free ride bikes.

Now that there is more than one sizing appearing in the market, some people might find it confusing and challenging to decide which one they should get for their usage. To understand the different benefits of both sizes of wheels, we have compiled the information you needed through this article. Get through your reading before deciding to purchase your mountain bike.

Mountain Bike Wheel Size

Mountain Bike Wheel Size

The mountain bike wheel sizes are measured in inches and referred to by the diameter of the wheel. The old mountain bike tire size was 26-inches until the invention of the 29-inches wheel took place in the mid-2000s. Since then, the existence of the 26-inches wheel has slowly been replaced as many bikers approved the 29-inches mountain bike has lower rolling resistance to increase the gripping power of the road.

The 29-inches wheel gets the universal appeal for being great for both rough terrains and moderate surfaces. Hence, it only took a couple of years for the 29-inches wheel to become everyone’s ultimate choice for the short travel cross-country mountain bike, especially the hardtail mountain bike.

Until later, some people found that a 29-inches wheel was a bit difficult to maneuver around the tight courses; the added weight and rotational inertia is said to make it less popular for enduro and downhill racing. This concern was brought to the table and birthed the innovation of the 27.5-inches wheel size.

Historically, the 27.5-inches wheel or also known as the 650b according to Sheldon Brown measurement, is not entirely new as the 27.5-inches wheel had been found in French utility bikes and tandems. However, the usage of a 27.5-inches wheel for mountain bikes is non-existence before the late 2000s and early 2010s.

This 27.5-inches wheel has successfully addressed the issue that riders had during their ride with the 29er bike wheel while still offering most of the benefits as the 29-inches. It has lower rolling resistance and more grip than the 26-inches while being significantly lighter and easier to maneuver than the 29-inches.

Regardless, that doesn’t mean one size is better than another. There’s no such thing as the default perfect wheel size for riders. It’s all depending on the type of rides you are going to do, your personal preferences, as well as your height. You can get more insight into the benefits of both larger and smaller mountain bike wheels below, so keep scrolling through.

Benefits of Larger Mountain Bike Wheels

Now that you have known a little bit about mountain bike wheel history and how to measure mountain bike wheel size, the next critical piece of information you should be considering is to know the benefit of each different size of bike wheel for you. We will be starting with the larger one.

The larger mountain bike wheel, or the 29-inches mountain bike, has the same diameter at the rim as the standard road bike wheel size; the 700c. The keyword for a larger mountain bike wheel size is smooth, efficient rolling, better traction, and straight-line speed. The two things to consider having a larger wheel are:

The Angle of Attack

The Angle of Attack

First, we all realize that the mountain trail is usually rougher and more buffer, giving the larger tire more control over such surfaces. If you are wondering what an angle of attack is, it refers to the angle between the vertical line from the axle to the ground and the line of the axle to the bump.

To put it more simply, when all the things on the ground are being held constantly, larger mountain bike wheels can roll over obstacles and maintain speed on rougher terrain better than the smaller wheel because of the angle at which the object comes into contact with the wheel. For better visualization, you can look at the picture above.

Contact Patch Size

Contact Patch Size

The larger wheel size will also give you a larger contact patch size which means once the tire is rolling on the ground, there will be a bigger patch of knobby rubber that makes contact resulting in easier braking, technical climbing, or even cornering.

While it doesn’t necessarily mean that a bigger wheel is better at technical climbing and cornering than a smaller one, it still indicates that riders will have more traction relative to a smaller wheel in the same situation.

Benefits of Smaller Mountain Bike Wheels

Modern mountain bikes only have 27.5-inches bike wheels, except if you are looking for a dirt jump bike or kids’ bike, you will be able to find the 26-inches one. The smaller wheel will help riders to pick up speed faster than the larger wheel. Besides, longer spokes will result in less tension and strength.

The smaller mountain bike wheels are also known to work better in several ways. It will also take less movement of the arms to produce the lean angle required for cornering. The smaller mountain bike wheel is generally lighter, giving less gyroscopic effect on the wheel, righting the bike and fighting against riders’ effort to lean the wheel.



The bike wheel size chart particularly affects the bike frame as it needs to be engineered around the wheels. Generally, bikes with larger wheels will have longer chainstays, wheelbases, and taller stack heights than smaller wheeled bases. Hence, you will notice that some bike manufacturers didn’t produce 29-inches bikes in XS and S sizes.

If you are looking for what mountain bike wheel size for height, usually, the 29-inches wheel will be suitable for adults whose height is over 170cm. But for more accuracy, you can head to our other blog post on finding a perfect mountain bike sizing or directly come to Rodalink and let the professional team assist you in finding the ideal bike according to the bike wheel size guide height that matches your riding preferences.

Rodalink is located in Jurong East and East Coast, providing various types of bikes, accessories, parts, and apparels from the world’s renowned brands. At Rodalink, you will find only original and high-quality products at the most affordable price. You don’t have to worry about breaking your bank while getting the best equipment to support your biking journey.

Aside from this, Rodalink will ensure to deliver your purchased bike right in front of your doorstep in ready-to-ride form, so you don’t need to go through so much hassle finding tutorials on how to assemble a bike part by parts. If you are purchasing non-bike products for over SG$200, you will also get your purchased item delivered to you without any shipping fee charges.

So stop contemplating and start your biking journey right away by visiting Rodalink. Getting the utmost riding experience without breaking your bank account is only possible if you buy from Rodalink.

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