HOW THE NUMBERS STACK UP
We measured the three bikes for comparison’s
sake on paper. There may be some clues here as to
why certain bikes ride the way they do, and there
may be numbers that contradict the ride evaluation.
In these cases, we always side with the ride evaluation. In the words of the late, great motorcycle racer
Gary Nixon, “If the computer is contradicting what
my input as a rider is telling you, let the computer
race the motorcycle.”
The shootout winner earned its position by duking it
out on the trail. In the asphalt jungle, there are other
factors to consider. The 29er rider will have plenty of
upgrades to choose from in tires, wheels and forks, and
the 26er rider has even more. The 29- and 26-inch
hoops are here for at least the lifetime of the bikes. The
27. 5’s future is not so clear. While Jamis and KHS have
both committed to the wheel size (as well as custom
builders like Kent Erickson Bikes and Form Bikes), it is
still a format that is found only on the fringes.
Mountain Bike Action stated previously that in a perfect world a series of quantitative tests comparing
rolling resistance values over varied terrain could find a
convergence point where the tire's air volume is optimized for sucking up big hits, the overall wheel weight
is minimized, and the diameter of the tire delivers the
lowest possible rolling resistance. This would result in
an exact wheel and tire size that is best suited for the
Don’t hold your breath. That statement was made
over five years ago and we still only have 26-, 27.5- and
29-inch wheels to choose from. The fact that many
product managers have never ridden a 27.5-inch wheel
is even less encouraging. Our shootout conclusion doesn’t duck the question in hopes of a yet-to-be-agreed-to,
pie-in-the-sky solution. It is based on what we just rode
and what you can buy today. You just have to understand that going with the 27.5-inch wheels makes you
an early adopter of a design, and you are betting on a
dark horse. Of course, that is one very fast, sweet-riding
dark horse of a hardtail. ;
26er jammin’: The smallest wheel size, even
though it didn’t have the lowest gearing, left
the other two bikes in its dust from a dead
stop. The small wheels are the best for
pumping the trail, lofting the front wheel and
slicing tight sections.
The 27.5er comes alive: Don’t think of the in-between wheel size
as a compromise; instead, this bike takes the best attributes of the
other two wheel sizes. It feels right, right from the first pedal. So
what is holding back its acceptance?
DRAGON RACE 29ER DRAGON 650 DRAGON TEAM
Price $2700 $2700 $900 (frame only)
Country of origin Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan
Weight 27. 5 pounds 27. 5 pounds 25.1 pounds
Frame tested 17" 17" 17"
Bottom bracket height12.75" 12. 5" 12. 5"
Chainstay length17.75" 16. 75" 16. 75"
Top tube length 23. 75" 23. 5" 23. 75"
Head tube angle69° 67° 69. 5°
Seat tube angle73° 73° 73. 5°
Standover height30.75" 30. 5" 30"
Wheelbase 43" 43" 42. 25"
Frame material Steel Steel Steel
Fork travel 3. 9" 3. 9" 3. 9"
Crankarm length 175mm 175mm 175mm
Handlebar width27" 28" 27"
Stem length 95mm 80mm 95mm
Head tube height* 37. 75" 35. 5" 34"
Chainrings 42/32/24 42/32/24 42/32/24
Cassette 11-36, 10-cog 11-36, 10-cog 11-34, 10-cog
(11-13-15-17-19- (11-13-15-17-19- (11-13-15-17-19-
21-24-28-32-36) 21-24-28-32-36) 21-23-26-30-34)
Lowest gear (feet) 5.1(feet per crank rotation) 4. 8 4. 8
Tallest gear (feet) 29 (feet per crank rotation) 27. 5 26
Rims American Classic American Classic American Classic
MTB 29 Tubeless 650BXC MTB 26 Tubeless
Tires WTB Wolverine ( 2. 2") WTB Wolverine ( 2. 2") WTB Wolverine ( 2. 2")
Front wheel 4. 3 pounds 4. 2 pounds 3. 7 pounds
Rear wheel 5. 2 pounds 5. 2 pounds 4. 6 pounds
Tire and tube 2.1 pounds 1.9 pounds 1.7 pounds
Jamis (800) 222-0570
*We measured from the ground to the top of the head tube.