A Look at Mountain Bikes
Before jumping into full suspension 27.5's we will quickly touch on the basics of mountain bikes. In the past decade mountain biking has soared in popularity; its gone from a niche relatively unrecognised sport to an established worldwide passion. Particularly interesting is the evolution in mountain bike riding – these days there is no such thing as one single form of MTB. On the contrary – you can find everything from endure to XC to downhill and plenty in-between! The roots of off-road cycling can roughly be traced back to the 1860's in the form of cyclocross. At the time, cyclocross was used in the off season to maintain fitness and training in preparation for the next road season. Today mountain bikes come with some of the most advanced tech in the industry in a variety of shapes and sizes. So let’s check out the 27.5”…
Getting to know the 27.5" Full Suspension Mountain Bike
27.5” MTBs are the new kids on the block, with their major release into the mass consumer market in 2014 they are winning hearts and filling garage spaces at unprecedented rates. Some enthusiasts may be aware that this isn't the first attempt of introducing the 27.5" wheel size to the market. Through the 90's 27.5's (dubbed 650Bs at the time) were first introduced, but didn’t really take off at the time as the sport was still growing and did not have a large enough consumer market to call for yet another MTB model.
Boy have things changed!
Today, it looks like the wheel size is here to stay particularly in the full-suspension category where it's slowly gaining ground on its older cousins.
So why 27.5"?
Though critics fall on both sides of the fence as to the benefits of the literally middle-sized wheel, many are inclined to agree that the 27.5" is stiffer than a 29" wheel, provides the smoother roll of a 29" (also called 29er) and maintains most of the agility and acceleration of a 26" wheel.
Those on the other side of the fence however, argue that something ‘in-between’ can’t ultimately deliver the best features that are inherent and specific to each of the 29er and 26”. How much of a noticeable benefit to the rider is yet to be formally established.
Full Suspension, Dual Suspension & Softail?
Essentially these terms are all refer to the same style of bike; a mountain bike with front fork suspension and a rear suspension of some kind. For simplicity's sake, when browsing for a mountain bike on BikeExchange we use 'Dual Suspension' as the category type.
More about the 27.5" Full Suspension Mountain Bike
Where is the 27.5" suited to riding?
Being a dual suspension mountain bike means that this bike excels at rough and steep terrain but is less suited to flatter tracks.
Enduro / All-mountain riders have taken to the 27.5" DS MTB like a fish to water, so much so that the bike is recognised for being the top choice for this riding style second to none. The mountain bike is also starting to see use in the Downhill discipline, the wheels are strong enough to handle the large drops and small enough to maintain manoeuvrability whilst providing the increased ability to roll over dips and bumps due to the larger wheel size.
It is important to note that this is just a guideline on where most manufacturers intend their bike to be used. Changes in suspension travel and dampening as well as frame material will affect the bike's suitability for certain disciplines. For example a travel range inside of 120mm and stiffer dampening would lean towards the bike being used on cross country trails whereas softer dampening and suspension travel greater that 120mm would be better suited to Enduro and Downhill riding.
Common Features of Dual Suspension 27.5" Mountain Bikes:
- Front and rear suspension
- Greater lateral wheel rigidity compared to 29ers
- Greater manoeuvrability compared to 29ers
- Smoother translation over bumps compared to 26"
- Slightly heavier vs hardtail bikes
- Easier to accelerate vs 29ers
Points to Remeber
Because suspension naturally absorbs some of the downwards pedalling power, dual suspension bikes are inefficient at riding on flat sealed surfaces at speed as this effect increases the softer the suspension. However some suspension brands and models offer the ability to "lockout" the shocks, effectively making the ride more rigid and greatly reducing the negative effects of suspension on flat terrain.
Dual suspension bikes are often slightly heavier due to the rear suspension, though as technology improves the difference in weight is slowly reducing.
Dual suspension mountain bikes often represent the pinnacle of mountain biking technology featuring items such as; remote systems, drop seats, carbon frames, hydraulic disc brakes and lockout shocks. The trade off for all these goodies comes at an increased initial price tag. Frame material and groupset model will also have an impact on the bike’s cost.
Popular 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bike Brands
Too help you on your way here's a list of popular mountain bike brands, be sure to check out similar models across different manufacturers.
- Search for Cannondale 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for Giant 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for GT 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for Lapierre 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for Merida 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for Norco 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for Rocky Mountain 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for Scott 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
- Search for Trek 27.5 Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes.
How to Make the Best 26" Full Suspension Mountain Bike Purchase
Mountain bikes can be expensive (particularly full suspension mountain bikes), but they’re worth it! That said the scope of bike models and costs means all preferences and budgets are covered, so you will end up finding your MTB sweet spot!
Set your budget first and then choose a mountain bike that not only fits it but also suits your style of riding. Some of the things to keep an eye out for (when comparing models) are changes in the drivetrain, frame material and suspension model. Carbon frame bikes often feature the pinnacle of mountain biking technology resulting in a steeper price tag, but it’s worth it if you’re a serious rider and committed to crossing the line at the pointy end. If shredding seconds off your race time isn't a priority, then opt for alloy framed mountain bikes. Disc brakes and seat suspension also tends to ramp up the price.
Size & Geometry:
Make sure the mountain bike fits you and is the correct size for your height. Comfort is usually key here, "if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't." A poor riding position can result in health issues or impede your ability to control the bike. Sizing and geometry can be so detailed and involved, which is why we strongly recommend being sized and fitted by a professional no matter your skill level.
Compare different brands and models of dual suspension mountain bikes, this will make it easier to find the mountain bike that you like. Remember to check previous years models in your hunt for the bike that's right for you.