Your essential guide to 26 inch trail bikes
With the wheel size debate dominating mountain biking this year, it’s easy to get the impression that 26in wheels are dead. That’s far from the case; there are still some very good trail bikes on the market available with 26in wheels. In a way, now is a good time to buy a 26in trail bike because the bikes, after 20 years of development, are about as good as they’re ever going to get.
Steer clear of the wheel size debate and bag yourself a quality 26in trail bike while you still can. Here are five to consider.
1: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Evo
Specialized might be pushing 29ers, but they haven’t completely abandoned the smaller wheel size. The Stumpy is an excellent choice, it’s been honed to perfection over the years and you’ll struggle to find a better riding, more fun trail bike. You get 150mm of travel from the custom tuned Fox Float CTD Evo shock, with Specialized’s clever AutoSag for easy set up, and Revelation RC3 fork up front. It’s well kitted out too, with Roval wheels and Specialized’s Butcher/Purgatory Control 2.3in tyres and Formula C1 brakes.
More information: Specialized Stumpjumper 26
[part title="Yeti SB66"]
2: Yeti SB66
The SB66 from Yeti, while available now in 29in and 650b wheel sizes, is still currently available in the 26in wheels the new bike first launched with several years ago. The SB66 is a 150mm trail bike and utilises the unique Switch Technology, a suspension platform based upon a dual-link design that uses an eccentric link that switches direction as it moves through its travel. This design allows a compact linkage arrangement with a stiff rear triangle, and is completely sealed to the elements with four bearings, and also allows them to precisely tune the suspension action.
More information: Yeti SB66 26
[part title="Ibis Mojo HD"]
3: Ibis Mojo HD
The long-running Mojo HD from Ibis can still be bought with 26in wheels. Though it’s been around for a good few years now, the carbon frame still looks good, it’s dated well. The frame packs 140mm travel in this guise, though the upper shock mount and shock could be switched out for a set that will eke out 160mm of travel. In 140mm mode and with a 150mm fork the bike has a 68-degree head angle, which sounds just right for UK trail riding. You can now also buy a new rear swingarm if you wish to upgrade to 650b at any point…
More information: Ibis Mojo 26
We chatted to Ibis Cycles boss Scot Nicol last year about the whole wheel size debate, see what he has to say here.
[part title="Trek Fuel EX 6"]
4: Trek Fuel EX 6
Trek have pretty much completely abandoned 26in wheels on their full suspension models, switching over to 29in and 650b. But they still have three 26in Fuel models in the category they call ‘singletrack trail’ and this is the £1,650 entry-level model. Bike Magic has reviewed the Fuel several times over the years (here and here) and every time the 130mm bike has impressed with its fun riding character and dialled suspension. Trek’s proprietary DRCV has a clever dual stage shock that gives the bike great pedalling on smoother terrain, and genuine big hit capability.
More information: Trek Fuel 26
[part title="Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon"]
5: Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon
US manufacturer Pivot were an early adopter of 29in wheels, and recently have added a 650b bike to their range, but they haven’t yet removed the excellent Mach 5.7 Carbon. Like all Pivot’s full-sussers, the Mach uses Dave Weagle’s DW Link, a pair of short linkages connect the swingarm to the mainframe and control the rear wheel path and suspension tune. There’s 145mm travel from the Fox shock and the use of carbon saves about 300g over the alloy version.
More information: Pivot Mach 5.7 26
So there you go, five very good 26in trail bikes, proving that, for now at least, there is still life in the 26in wheel size. How long these bikes continue to be available for remains to be seen though...