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July 6, 2022, 8:56 a.m. -  Mike Ferrentino

I don't think there's going to be any broad push toward a new wheel size anytime soon. The wheel sizes that define the entirety of mountain biking are all rim diameters that already existed. It's as if, when it comes to wheels, mountain biking doesn't really _do_ new. The 26" standard that embodied the first three decades of mountain biking was lifted from pre-WW2 Schwinn cruisers, and I suspect the only reason Ignaz settled on those for his "paperboy" bikes was because he got a sweet deal on a raft of leftover German scooter parts sometime before the depression hit. Mountain bikers had the good fortune of being just barely preceded by BMX and the lucid foresight of that sport to include a 26" cruiser class for the geezer dads who wanted to race but didn't want to get killed by their own slow reflexes on 20" bikes, so we had an available market of alloy 26" rims to draw from. 29"? Exact same bead seat diameter as every bike in the TourDayFrance for the past, ummm, hundred or so years, maybe longer. Once upon a time there were also 700a, 700b and 700d rims that were all slightly different in diameter, but 700c became the defacto standard for road cycling, and therefore was a super easy adaptation into the 29er. Same with 27.5, or 650b as it used to be known. Been around forever, got a new life thanks to Kirk Pacenti. So, if we follow the pattern that has defined mountain biking since it began, the only new wheel sizes we can expect to see will involve either 630mm bead seats (a whopping 8mm jump in diameter over 700c) scavenged from old 27" road bikes or else a rousing new wave of gigantic wooden rims as we explore the Ordinary route. I better stock up on mustache wax, just in case...

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