Unfortunately, if 26 ain’t dead then it’s certainly looking up a one-way ticket to Switzerland. There are now only a handful of new bikes still running the nearly obsolete standard and most are merely “26 compatible”, meaning that although you should be running the 27.5 wheel, the option is there if you still have a load of 26 inch components kicking around.
Of course, you could just bung 26 inch wheels in any bike, but you risk cocking up the geometry and ending up in a right pickle. So, here are the best options for those of you still keeping it real on the smaller wheel:
Rose The Unchained
Rose’s The Unchained is the bike of choice for British World Cup rider Katy Curd. The former 4X World Champion piloted it to fourth at Fort William this year but a nasty concussion disrupted the rest of her season.
The bike is available in two build options, one at £2,250 with Rockshox and one at £4,000 with Fox, but Rose also offer a customisation service where you can build nearly limitless number of kit combinations to find a ride that suits you best.
Commencal Supreme Park (2015)
Designed with the help of Red Bull Rampage competitor Pierre-Edouard Ferry, the Commencal Supreme Park is designed for jumping and turn slapping as opposed to outright speed. It boasts shorter chainstays and a slacker head angle than the Supreme Comp and, of course, 26 inch wheels.
The bike is the 2015 model, but Commencal is still selling it and with a hefty discount of 20% meaning you’re looking at €2,200 (£1,850) for the whole thing.