Editor’s note: A version of this story ran in the November issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.
(BRAIN) — When the 27.5-inch wheel took the mountain bike market by storm about five years ago, many hailed it as a magic bullet that would all but replace the other sizes because it combined the best characteristics of 26-inch and 29-inch wheels.
The industry and consumers immediately embraced the 27.5-inch wheel and sales of 26-inch models began to slide. Even downhill bikes adopted the 27.5-inch wheel and some enthusiasts also eschewed the 29er in favor of the “just right” middle wheel size, which dominated mountain bike sales at the IBD for several years.
But fast-forward to today, when progressive frame geometries have allowed brands to retain the advantages of bigger wheels — namely speed, better traction and rollover — while providing desirable ride characteristics associated with smaller wheels. This has spurred a 29er resurgence that is challenging the middle wheel size head on.
According to The NPD Group, which tracks retail sell-through data, 29er sales spiked in 2018. Full-suspension 29er sales grew 45 percent in dollars from September 2017 through the end of August 2018, while 27.5-inch mountain bike sales fell …read more