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The Facts and Feelings of 26 vs 29 | Be Very Afraid

So which is faster, a 26” 160mm bike, or a 29” 140mm? Steve Jones takes a look… 

From Dirt Issue 126 – August 2012

Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones.

Tough times. Tough conditions. Tough sport. There’s not much money around, it’s been pissing down for months and there’s always pedalling to do somewhere. Get fit or get home. And then your mate goes and buys a 29” bike which means you’ll only ever be riding behind on a typical UK trail.

Really? Look, we’ve only just begun to come around to the lightweight 26”x160mm idea – they’re faster downhill and generally more versatile than 26”x140mm, unless of course you live east of the old river Exe – Tees line. On top of that 29/26 has created an even bigger divide and has been carving up people’s heads globally.

Is that it then? The end of 26? “Hold your Welsh horses” I hear you say. Look I’ve tried to be objective, but as a general–duty trail bike I fully believe the end is near…except of course that once you venture off the beaten track into terrain more battlefield than the ‘cat litter trail centre business’ the opinion has been that 26×160 will still dominate. Lets have a look at the facts.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The aim of this test is to see whether 29×140 is faster than 26×160 on the harder side of UK trail riding terrain. More than that, it is to get some idea of the sensitivities of the various wheels, and of course the fun factor. In an attempt to take some of the speed out of this feature (to many riding is not about being the fastest) I’ve deliberately brought in a virgin 29 rider and a cross–country bike for comparison. Four bikes and two riders then, riding a shorter travel 29 against a longer travel 26. Reigning UK Gravity Enduro champion Rob ‘Box’ Cooksley and Trans Provence Expert winner James Richards.

ROB COOKSLEY

Height  5’ 8”

Bikes  Intense Carbine 26×150 and Intense Tracer 29×140 (both coil Cane Creek Double Barrel shocks)

JAMES RICHARDS

Height  5’ 8”

Bikes  Trek Rumblefish 29×120 and Trek Slash 26×160 (both air Fox) 

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