Riders agree: Bigger is better

Pablo Snazzy of Over the Edge Sports shows the three tire sizes: from left, 26 inches, 29 inches and 27.5 inches.

There are two types of dropper posts, a hydraulic one, left,  and a spring loaded one.


Hail to the Dropper Post

Gizmos and gadgets are always popping up — and in the case of mountain biking — up and down.

One of the more recent innovations is an adjustable seat post.

Ryan Cranston, owner of Ruby Canyon Cycles, gushes over the “dropper post.”

“It’s one of the bigger, more important innovations since suspension for mountain bikes,” he said.

The gadget allows mountain bikers to adjust the seat post height without stopping. This comes in really handy when the trail gets steep and dicey going downhill.

“Man, it’s awesome,” Matt Weeks said after a recent ride in Moab. “When I hit the downhill, all I had to do was hit the button to drop my seat. Awesome!”

Weeks was riding the Poison Spider trail and decided to make the quick return trip via the infamous portal trail that hugs the mountainside with sheer drop-offs. It’s not a trail for the faint of heart.

“You really want to drop your seat to make it a safer ride,” Weeks said. “And I hate stopping.”

The seat can be adjusted up or down by using a button attached to the handlebars.

Cranston said the dropper post is being stocked on more bikes but it can be added. The post, which can be hydraulic or other cable systems, costs more than $300, but Cranston said “once you have one, you will never want to ride without one.”

Greg Luck from Over the Edge Sports in Fruita agrees.

“It’s a great innovation,” he said. “It makes for a safer ride, a more stress-free ride.”

Besides the dropper post, Luck said tubeless tires are another great innovation of the past several years.

“I never get flats now. I don’t know why I didn’t use them sooner,” he said.

If he does get a flat, which he says is very rarely, he carries a tube with him that he uses to get him home.

It’s the most debated question this side of the big bang theory.

And now this question has crept into the world of mountain biking.

Does size really matter? After all, it’s only a couple of inches.

The question is now a matter of three sizes ­—­ 26, 29, and the latest in the evolution of mountain bike wheels, 27½.

For years, virtually all mountain bikes came with 26-inch wheels, then came the big-wheel revolution when the 29-inch wheel was introduced.

Quite simply, the 29-inch wheel changed the industry, and many mountain bikers quickly switched to the bigger wheel.

“I’m never going back to a smaller wheel myself, never,” said Ryan Cranston owner of Ruby Canyon Cycles in Grand Junction.

And he’s not alone. He said the larger wheels have made for a more enjoyable mountain bike ride.

“The overall fun factor is higher,” he said “It rolls over bumps, momentum is better and the overall ride of the bike and experience is more fun.”

As Mitch Moran pulled his month-old 27½-inch bike up to his pickup at the Kokopelli trail head in Loma, the smile on his face and the dirt on his bike told the story of a fun ride.

“Man, that was fun,” he said, adding that he just rode Horse Thief Bench. “Best singletrack in the state.”

His buddy, Tony Martinez, who was visiting from Durango, rides a 29-inch bike.

The two compared notes and both agreed that the bikes are much better than their old 
26-inch bikes.

“I can’t believe the difference,” Moran said. “It just feels faster, the roll of this bike is noticeable. The technical stuff didn’t bother me at all, either. Super fun.”

“I love the bigger bike. My back doesn’t hurt like it did with my old bike,” Martinez said. “It doesn’t feel like a bigger bike when I’m on it but it’s faster and just more fun.”

Virtually everyone talks about the roll factor with the bigger wheels and that means more speed and more momentum to get over obstacles.

After the industry introduced the 29-inch bike and the fun factor soared, the simple question that must be asked now is why is there now a 27½-inch wheel?

Greg Luck of Fruita’s Over the Edge Sports says the answer is very simple.

“The 29 is very popular but I think the 27½ is driven by industry,” he said.

The goal is to sell more bikes, Luck said, and a new wheel size adds to the inventory and gives customers another option.

Even though the 27½-inch wheel has been around for years, this is the year that it’s really being stocked more.

Both Luck and Cranston said their inventories are predominately 29-inch bikes with a few 27½-inch wheel sizes and even fewer 26-inch bikes.

Cranston estimates that he has 90 percent 29-inchers and when it comes to the 26-inch, he only stocks them for entry-level kids getting into the sport or for shorter adult riders.

The 27½-inch wheel is also known as the 650B and Cranston said the size is more like 27.2, but who’s counting?

Luck said the difference between 29 and 27½ is so minor that it doesn’t affect the ride, the main thing is that they are both better than the 26.

“The thing to me, it doesn’t matter the size of the wheel, the new bikes are great,” he said.

Luck agreed that the larger wheels make for a much more enjoyable and comfortable ride and customers flocked to the 29-inch bikes when they were introduced.

“There’s just more control and stability on the bigger wheels, and they roll over things so much better,” he said.

He also said their shop stocks mainly lower-quality 26-inch bikes and the larger wheels are for the more serious mountain biker.

Cranston said he will stock more 27½ wheel sizes as the vendors increase their manufacturing schedule. But regardless, the state of the industry, like any industry, is to give customers what they want.

Whether it’s 29 or 27½, mountain bikers have spoken, and bigger is better.


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