This can only be answered with a relative answer, which will need to consider the size of the person riding the bike and the terrain they will be riding on.
For example, a person taller than six feet will want to use the larger 27 plus-sized wheels, which will make the pedal sizing a better fit.
Then you will have to think about the population that is shorter than six feet, which will want to use the smaller 26 inch wheels to minimize vertigo or any imbalance issues.
Then you will have to think about speed, frame, and wheel size ratios and the overall performance goal for the mountain bike.
What are the Differences?
The differences are quite plain, the sizes are different by a few inches, and then you have the ability to climb over the larger objects, with the larger wheel size, that finds their way onto the trails.
Of course, there will be other specifications that will differ, but the primary aspect separating these two-sized wheels will be the benefits to folks over and under the height of six feet.
As riders become more comfortable with the smaller-sized wheels but need a few more inches to make that difference around the turns and over the bumps in the trail, then upgrading to a larger size will be a benefit.
Which One is More Popular?
As we compare these two sizes of wheel, there is only going to be a minute difference in the units that have been purchased, but the 26 inch wheel will continue to be the most popular size on the market.
So then you will have the 27.5 wheels, which will correspond with the number of riders over six feet.
There are not going to be wide varieties in the mountain bike tire manufacturers, but they’re around going to be the bigger names. Some of the more popular brands will include:
- Continental Tires
- Maxxis bike tires
- Michelin bike tires
- Specialized tires
Can you put 27.5 Wheels on a 26 inch Frame?
To get to the skinny of it, yes, a rider will be able to put the larger diameter tires on the smaller 26 inch bike frame. However, it will take some adjustments to the braking systems and possibly the pedal and chain systems.
This will give the rider a light-frame bike with a larger diameter wheel that will increase the acceleration ability and allow for easier transitions off obstacles and larger natural features (boulders, logs) along the trail.
One will also benefit from the lighter weight in endurance-type scenarios and when carrying the bike through impassable sections of the trail.
What Will Happen?
This will cause the frame to be lighter than what the larger wheel-size bikes will typically be, giving a rider the ability to hit jumps harder.
Along with being able to push the bike as much as possible to get the most extreme experience that the mountain bike and tires have to offer.
Smaller and younger riders might struggle with tire and wheel size, but people over the six-foot mark in height will enjoy this setup. Again, the geometric advantages will be in favor of being smoother throughout the ride and over any obstacle.
What Are the Cons of it?
The cons of the larger wheel size will show up with the younger and more petite people. Children, especially the toddler age and shorter kids, will have a harder time getting onto a bike of this size, let alone riding around comfortably without falling.
Another con will be when you have a shorter or more petite person who will struggle to mount the bicycle but also they have the power to push the pedals and generate forward thrust.
This can also be an issue when going to the trail’s patches of sharper turns and curves.
Final Thoughts on Are 27.5 Wheels Better than 26 Inch
There is not much that can be said about getting larger-sized tires beyond what has already been mentioned.
This means that with the knowledge that taller people benefit from the larger diameter bicycle wheels but also that the shorter person will struggle on that same sized bicycle setup.
After looking into these two sizes of tires, the standard 26 inch tires that will be smaller than our example will be the best starting point for beginner riders.
However, the more advanced riders will want to consider the larger tires for endurance riding along with any rough terrain trails on the bucket list.