Mountain Bikes have developed from their introduction in the early 80's, long gone are the full rigid bikes with minimal tread on the tyres and heavy steel frames. MTB's now come in more shapes and sizes than you can shake a stick at. Suspension was a big turnaround for MTB's in the early 90's with the introduction of suspension the possibilities started to escalate and was quickly followed by the introduction of rear suspension which lead to whole new sports evolving inside the MTB category. Mountain Bikes now come in 2 classes Hard Tail(Rigid) & Soft Tail(Rear Suspension). Frame material's have changed through the years using all sorts of various exotic materials such as magnesium & Titanium but the mainstay of bike are produced now using either Aluminum or Carbon Composite with the old Steel frame aswell.
The Wheel Debate!
Mountain Bikes have devloped now into 3 distinctive wheel categroies 26", 27.5"(650B), 29"(29er)
So how do you know which wheel is best? We will start at the top and work down.
29er, this wheel is perfectly suited for the larger rider and also for the XC & Marathon racer, the larger wheels although are slower to accelerate once up to speed are easier to keep up to speed. This makes it much better for road, canal and off-road use where it tends not to be too rocky & technical as although the the larger wheel base offers greater stability cornering is sacrificed slightly.
650B, The new Kid on the block! (not exactly) 650B was 1st introduced in the 60's but died a death but just like Take That its back bigger & stronger and is now at the the helm of MTB offering the benefits of both 29er & 26" this wheel is here to stay and is the peoples choice for Trail Centers, off-road and even downhill.
26", the grandad of the wheels sizes the original and some say the best 26" it small and nimble and great for acceleration & conering giving the bike a tighter wheelbase, its smaller size also makes it a very strong durable wheel and was run for both XC, 4X & downhill racing.