How to Buy the Best Mountain Bike: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

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How to Buy the Best Mountain Bike: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Whether you crave singletrack ascents or full-pad downhill riding, here's what you should know about finding a bike that's perfect for you.

3. Wheel size matters—do I want a 29er or 26er?

Though many bikers ride with 26-inch wheels, more bikers are buying a slightly taller 29-inch wheel. This year’s 29ers are already outselling 26ers—the first time the larger wheel has overtaken the market.

But trends aside, when it comes to choosing, it all depends on your riding style. The larger diameter 29-inch wheel rolls smoothly over obstacles like logs, rocks, and roots absorbing more impact. Because the wheel is larger, however, these bikes are tougher to maneuver on tight turns and technical terrain, and they don’t accelerate as well. 26-inch wheels are more agile and are generally better for faster riding with quick turns and technical lines. “Big wheels are just harder to throw around, unless you’re a big guy,” Lopes says.

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