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27.5 or 29 in tire?


This topic contains 9 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  d4n 3 years, 5 months ago.

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    I was wondering what people think for all around trail riding especially for don valley riding witch tires would be best, 27.5 or 29 inch? Thanks, Michael.



    Hey Michael, I’d recommend the tires that fit on your rims?

    I think the answer really comes down to what you’d like to accomplish on said wheels. if you’re looking for an edge (albeit slight) on the technical stuff a 27.5 potentially offers some additional handling and requires every so slightly less skill and strength to navigate tough terrain. If you’re looking to roll over the world, carry momentum like a freight train, and don’t mind a hike up the technical stuff 29’s might suit your style. If as your name suggests you’re a SS kinda guy I think 29’s the way to go. I know a few guys that do the SS29’r and they seem to just love it.

    Best answer I can give you is go try some Demo’s out and see what you jive with.

    2 users thanked author for this post.


    Hey Michael,

    Great question. We second everything that BlurredLines has posted and it really comes down to preference. The one thing about the Don compared to a lot of other trail in Ontario is that it is tight, twisty and very punchy. I ride an XL for all my bikes and have both 27.5 and 29er full suspensions plus a 29er hardtail.

    The speed on the 29er is noticeable and really nice for the open sections of the trail or the rooty off cambre sections that you just want to rollover. However, on Climbmax, Motown and Rimjob I am often wheeling my bike to get around the tight switchbacks and it can be exhausting to say the least. On my hardtail Salsa I often find my bar within an inch of my top tube to make the switch backs on sections of Climbmax.

    Conversely, the 27.5 Santa Cruz 5010 I have ridden in the Don might not be as fast but it sure is more playful. There is a noticeable difference in wheelbase and chainstay length making this bike a lot more enjoyable in the air and on the tight technical stuff throughout the Don.

    To make this even more confusing, there has been a renaissance of 29er bikes over the last 18-24 months with the development of more trail friendly 29er bikes which only adds another layer of complexity to this debate. Traditionally, 29er bikes were/are more XC oriented (steeper angles and racier geometry) however, with the release of the Trek Remedy 29 in late 2014 and subsequent release of 5″ trail bikes from Yeti, Pivot, Santa Cruz (and numerous others) you are now seeing more 29er bikes with 27.5 geo/suspension. Add in the fact that this new subculture of 29er bikes can now run 27.5+ wheels and you are quickly approaching, what some believe to be, the one bike quiver OR a huge barrel of monkeys which makes the decision making process even harder.

    With all that being said, the Don is an outlier for Ontario mountain biking. Having ridden almost every trail in the province on both 27.5 and 29er rigs I have to say that for majority of the province you can get away with a 29er and sail over everything. There are few – if any trails – that push you as a rider to grind, push and slog through the tight technical stuff more than the Don does. In fact, I would say that if you can ride the entire Don without dabbing you are going to be fine to ride just about anything in the country – shy of a 12 foot high skinny on the north shore.

    So where does this leave you…Ask yourself where you are going to be doing 90% of your riding AND what type of riding you want to do. For the Don, Buckwallow, Three-Stages and heavy technical riding you will be happy with a 27.5. If you are going to ride the Albion, Don, Durham, and Kelso with the plan of keeping the wheels on the ground a 29er will fly through all of this.

    If that doesn’t help there are always demo days around the province that you can take bikes out and try them for yourself. Surprisingly, there a large percentage of people end up somewhere different than they began when it comes to the debate of 27.5 vs. 29er. So always ride a bike to make sure.

    Hope that helps – somewhat.


    P.S. Keep an eye out for more details on our demo day in the Don, we should be making an announcement next week.

    5 users thanked author for this post.


    Wow amazing answers, thanks guys maybe I’ll just buy both lol! I think I’m gonna need a bigger apt!lmao! One bike down two more to go!



    Add in the fact that this new subculture of 29er bikes can now run 27.5+ wheels and you are quickly approaching, what some believe to be, the one bike quiver…

    This is a great point. It will definitely be something I will be look at when my next bike purchase rolls around. A lot cheaper to buy another set of wheels you can swap out than another frame and all the fixing. Plus, you don’t have the hassle of additional space need to store a whole gaggle of bikes.



    I agree about 29″ bikes and the Don. I came from a 26″ and my first rip through on the 29″ I was finding it very difficult to get around switchbacks that would have normally been very easy. I also noticed that the bike absolutely rips on any sort of open track and climbs like a beast. I bought a 29″ because there weren’t a lot of 27.5″ bikes in my price range and I wanted a bike that would be the best if I ever decided to do any XC events. But since I live 5mins from the Don and ride there almost exclusively… maybe I should have gotten a 27.5 🙂



    I think the only real factor in wheelsize with regards to handling is the axel height. Smaller wheels give you a lower centre of gravity which is nice on turns and are lighter and the benefit of weight loss is pretty obvious. I think when it comes to navigating terrain the geo becomes more of a factor than wheelsize. There are lots of contemporary 29ers that can handle tight twisty stuff very well. Short chainstays and lower BBs can take a lot of the negative traits out of wagon wheel builds, while allowing for all the nice stuff like better roll over.

    I think for hardtail bikes in the don 29er is the way to go. I went from a 26er hardtail to a 29er and the main difference I noticed was how much more momentum was maintained with the bigger wheels. The 26er just felt plain slow. But, if you’ve got a bunch of squish off the back that will help maintain the forward momentum while adding traction and taking the edge off far better than a big wheel can, and this negates the need for bigger hoops on a full-sus bike if you ask me.

    27+ is a whole other can of worms which I’m still not convinced by, but if getting a frame that could fit Bplus tires & wheels I would (had I known last year!)



    I have a ’14 29er rockhopper comp HT and a ’09 26er rockhopper comp disc, and I have tried my friend’s ’15 Jamis Trail 27.5 HT.

    I started with my 26er years ago and there was about a 10 year gap since I got back into it. When i did, I went with the 29er. I find with the technical stuff and the tight switch backs and steep climbing, the 29er struggles. I had to get a – minus degree stem and riser bar to get the geometry right in order to keep the weight on the front wheel down, yet not too steep that my seat was higher than my handle bars. The extra weight of the 29er is also noticeable, especially when you’re getting tired. On most of the XC stuff however, the 29er just flies. it’s like a monster truck of a MTB. It takes a bit to get the momentum going but once it’s going, it’s going!!

    The 27.5 i tried was very nimble and noticeably lighter. Lower to the ground as well and plowed through stuff just as well as my 29er.

    The 26er well, is the original and a classic. Accelerates the quickest, is the lightest, the lowest to the ground (risk of peddle strikes) and in my opinion, the funnest to ride, yet the slowest.

    The don valley trails were made during the 26er era, keep that in mind. I would recommend the 27.5 over the 29er, no bigger than 2.2″ thickness for XC unless you’re gonna do the DH/All mountain crazy stuff..then you’ll need 2.3 and thicker.


    Joe Seven

    I have a lot of fun in the Don on 26″ wide rims x 2.4″ tires (5″ travel trail bike). Unfortunately I have nothing else to add.



    I think when it comes to navigating terrain the geo becomes more of a factor than wheelsize.

    This is very true. Recently i switched my ride to a ’15 Kona Taro Trail 29er, built for aggressive riding while being nimble. The chianstays for a 29er are very short, the geo is slack and aggressive and I’ll say when comparing it to my rockhopper 29er, i completely forget i was riding a 29er at times. It felt like a 26er!

    If you do go 29er, I would get a slack geometry rather than XC. The more top tube clearaance, the better you’ll be able to lean the bike.

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