Why 29-Inch Wheels On A Mountain Bike? (Explained)

Why 29-Inch Wheels on a Mountain Bike

It’s easy to notice mountain bike wheel sizes when you look at them. Some have smaller wheels, while others tend to be very sizeable.

The first impression is usually that the different wheel sizes have different aesthetic appeals. While that’s true, the essence of variable sizing is performance.

The added elevation of larger wheels is often an issue. For example, you’ll get more elevation on your bike with a 29-inch wheel than a 26-inch. So why the difference?

Increased stability and traction stand out for riders among the many benefits of having a 29-inch mountain bike. That’s why they are popular among professional riders and even amateurs alike. Also, due to the added balance 29-inch wheels give, riders can easily navigate obstacles on their mountain bikes. 

The essence of having 29-inch wheels on mountain bikes is to enjoy the features other wheel sizes don’t offer. Thus, this article will cover the features of 29-inch wheels.

You’ll also learn when 29-inch wheels become essential to a mountain bike and who can use them. That’ll also help you decide if you should use them or not.

Why Do Some Mountain Bikes Have 29-Inch Wheels?

Why 29-Inch Wheels on a Mountain Bike

Some mountain bikes have 29-inch wheels, giving riders different features from other wheel sizes. That’s because a mountain bike’s wheel size affects its performance.

In the 2010 season, 29-inch wheels came onboard as alternatives to the 26-inch wheels. Before that, 26-inch wheels were the only size available to riders.

Thus, most riders didn’t have any issues with wheel sizing. But, after 29-inch wheels entered the scene, they noticed that they offered them something different.

Apart from the obvious variety, 29-inch wheels gave a different riding experience compared to 26-inch wheels. Riders were more confident when using them.

Thus, 29-inch wheels became popular among professional riders and amateurs alike. Who wouldn’t want a product that improves their riding experiences?

Riders discovered it was easier to face obstacles when using 29-inch wheels than with 26-inch wheels. So they could go over some obstacles instead of avoiding them.

The days of running into a frenzy over roots or stumps when riding mountain bikes were cut short. It’s priceless how helpful that is to riders.

Another factor driving the popularity of 29-inch wheels is their success in professional racing. Lately, it’s riders using 29-inch wheels that win downhill races.

Also, the racing grounds are where bike brands test their technology and designs. So, their success in racing has seen 29-inch wheels increase in demand.

What gets results and wins races in professional racing is now 29-inch wheels. Thus riders also want to use a system that has proven results.

In the end, more bike makers release their versions of 29-inch wheel bikes to meet the demand.

Should I Go for a Mountain Bike With 29-Inch Wheels?

Choosing to get a mountain bike with 29-inch wheels depends on if it’ll give you the riding experience you want. Different wheel sizes work differently for riders.

That’s why there are still multiple wheel sizes for mountain bikes until this day. You can only get some good features on one wheel size. It just depends on how you plan to use it.

Based on facts, 29-inch wheel mountain bikes are best for long distances. But they could be more efficient over short distances. One reason for that is the issue of speed.

Due to the size, it takes more effort to accelerate 29-inch wheels from rest. So they’re not the best choice if your rides will have frequent stops.

For example, a ride in your neighborhood park. Except your neighborhood park is very large, you’ll need more strength to keep riding after a short while.

You’ll gas out due to how often you have to move your bike into motion from rest. But that usually takes lesser effort with 26-inch or 27.5-inch wheels.

Consequently, those wheel sizes have a faster acceleration than 29-inch wheels due to a lower rotational mass. But the narrative changes when you’re riding long distances.

It’s easier to keep 29-inch wheels in motion when they reach their top speeds. That’s because they require lesser effort to maintain momentum than 26-inch and 27.5-inch wheels.

So, you can save a great deal of energy when riding a mountain bike with 29-inch wheels for longer rides.

Another factor to weigh when opting for 29-inch wheels is your height. They favor taller rides over shorter ones. So, only one set of persons can get a natural riding position.

If you’re average in height, you won’t have the best riding experiences using 29-inch wheels. Using 26-inch or 27.5-inch wheels will be the best choice for you!

The table below outlines the pros and cons of 29-inch wheel mountain bikes to help you decide if they’ll suit you.

Great traction.Slow acceleration.
Shallow attack angle.Larger wheels mean more weight.
Suitable to taller riders.Shorter riders may need to find a better fit.
Efficient on longer rides.Not suitable for short-distance rides.
Faster top-end speed.Difficult to maneuver.

How Tall Should You Be for a Mountain Bike With 29-Inch Wheels?

A rider should be 5 feet 6 inches or taller to conveniently use a mountain bike with 29-inch wheels. Otherwise, you may not enjoy your riding experience on such a bike.

The bike frame’s size is the ideal factor that determines a rider’s height. But the large wheel can add a significant boost to make the bike size bigger.

In such a case, that’ll be a problem for shorter riders, especially on a bike with a large frame. Also, it’ll make balance on the bike an issue. Either at rest or in motion.

Also, moving the bike around during rides becomes tedious due to the size difference.

For taller riders, however, mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels easily fit. That’s mainly due to the added elevation. Thus, they feel more comfortable during rides.

So, shorter riders that want to use mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels should ensure the bikes have smaller frames. Otherwise, the bikes may not fit.

The table below shows a sizing chart recommending bike combinations based on rider height, frame, and wheel sizes.

HeightFrame Size (Inches)Wheel Size (Inches)
4’10” to 5’3″13 to 1424 to 26
5’4″ to 5’7″15 to 1626
5’5″ to 5’9″16 to 1727 or 27.5
5’9″ to 6’0″17 to 1827 or 27.5
6’0″ to 6’3″18 to 1928 or 29
6’3″ to 6’6″19 and above.29

The sizing chart isn’t meant to be definitive but only should guide your decision. You can only be sure a bike will be your fit if you test it.

Why Do People Love Mountain Bikes WIth 29-Inch Wheels?

People love mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels because of the added traction and stability. But other factors stand out as well.

If you can cope with the weight and low acceleration of 29-inch wheels, you’ll have good riding experiences with them.

The section below highlights standout features riders can enjoy when using mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels.

#1. Traction

Due to a larger contact patch, 29-inch wheels offer greater traction than smaller wheel sizes. So it helps them easily adapt to various terrains.

You can safely ride your mountain bike through a slippery area with 29-inch wheels. Yet, the fear of losing control gives way to a larger tire footprint.

The large wheels also make your mountain bike suitable for climbing and descending.

#2. Stability

The large wheel size also enhances control and balance during riding experiences. Smaller wheel sizes only offer a little when you use them.

Since you can’t maneuver 29-inch wheels easily, they tend to be firmer and resistant to sudden changes in direction.

#3. Attack Angle

Your 29-inch wheel will form a shallower angle when it gets on top of an obstacle. That makes it easier for the wheel to climb up and over.

But that’s different with smaller wheel sizes. The angle is higher, and it takes more effort to climb over obstacles.

So riders can feel more confident using 29-inch wheels because they won’t have to avoid too many obstacles. Instead, they can easily go over rocks and roots on trails.

#4. Efficiency on Longer Rides

Despite their slow acceleration, 29-inch wheels are easier to keep in motion once they reach top speeds. Thus you can conserve energy better on longer rides.

Also, these wheels are faster than 26-inch and 27.5-inch wheels because of the faster top-end speeds. So, they’ll be the fastest option for riders using open terrain.

Josh Matthews

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