What Mountain Bike Wheel Size Should I Ride: 27", 27.5" or 29"?

Ever had a doubt about what wheel size you should use when riding your mountain bike?  With the help of professional downhill racer, Phil Metz--Skills with Phil, and endurance, cross-country racer, Stephane Roch, follow along to learn about MTB wheelsize, preferences, and the optimal conditions for the three different wheel sizes.

The Best MTB Wheel Size for My Ride

27" Wheel Size

Built for avid tricksters and kings of maneuverability, size 27 will allow you to do more tricks and harder ones because the bike handling becomes so much easier with smaller wheels. If you are looking to do a lot of tricks, stay away from 29 since it can become cumbersome and take away from your riding experience.

27.5" Wheel Size

This is Phil's favorite set up. The 27.5 (also known as 650b). Just a touch more stability and momentum carrying without going full cross-country.

Special Note on 27.5"+ Tires

These wheels appear to be simple but actually has the same diameter as the 29". This means that you are able to run lower tire pressure for added stability. In general, this tire is the most forgiving and recommended for new riders because it offers the best of 27" and 29"s.

29" Wheel Size

Perfect for long distance riders and cross-country bikes. Larger tires like the 29 hold momentum better than smaller ones, which is why this size is preferred among distance riders. Generally, cross-country bikes do not have as much suspension as other mountain bikes so larger wheel size will improve the rolling-over large rocks or obstacles--but that's another conversation entirely.

Final Verdict

  • 29" - long distance riding for holding momentum
  • 27.5" - balance of stability, control, and momentum preservation
  • 27" - have plenty of energy to burn and want to nail every trick in the book

Challenge yourself to harder terrain with mountain bike tires designed for your next ride.