What's the Difference Between a 26-Inch and 28-Inch Wheel on a Bike?

What's the Difference Between a 26-Inch and 28-Inch Wheel on a Bike?

The debate among mountain bikers between 26 inch wheels and 28 inch wheels is one of the most contested and undecided aspects in competitive cycling. There are riders who support one size or the other exclusively in their particular sport, and because each wheel size has its particular benefits and drawbacks, neither has completely taken over the market. Understanding the differences between these sizes and what the implication is for the rider can help you decide which style of bike is best for you.

At first glance, it may appear that the only difference between a 26-inch wheel and a 28-inch wheel is 2 inches of diameter. However, the difference in size is rarely exactly 2 inches, due to varying widths and depths of the tires used.In addition, the intended purposes, wheel material and bicycle style of these wheels vary significantly.


26 Inch Wheels

26 inch wheels were initially popular for mountain biking because their smaller wheel size increased their handling and maneuverability, which was a benefit for off-road riding. In addition, the smaller spoke length and rim diameter increased the wheel's strength, which decreased the amount of maintenance a mountain bike needed. These aspects continue to make the tire popular for mountain biking today, and also account for the tire's widespread use across the rest of the globe, especially in underdeveloped nations.


28 Inch Wheels 

28" is actually the wheel diameter of the bicycle, which is based on its tire size. A small wheel has a low circumference and must have its own rim that will sit over the tire. Other riders sometimes think that a smaller bike can be more nimble, but it’s much more because it will not be able to get up on inclines.


Difference between 26-Inch and 28-Inch Wheel

As mentioned above, there are differences that make each of the wheel sizes suitable for different bikes and uses. In the case of E-bikes, here are the biggest differences between the 26-Inch and the 28-inch wheels:

Fit - Most bike frames fit only one size of wheel — or two very similar sizes of wheels. The 26-inch wheels and 28-inch wheels are dissimilar enough that you should not try to switch one for the other.

The 28-inch wheels are too large to fit in a frame for 26-inch wheels, while the brake assembly on a bike using 28-inch wheels will not reach far enough to work with 26-inch wheels. If you're a beginner or unsure which is right for you, consult your local bike shop.


Function - 26-inch wheels with decimal widths, such as 1.75 inches, appear primarily on adult mountain bikes, with some comfort, hybrid and cruiser bikes also using this size. Other types of 26-inch wheels were used on older Schwinns, English roadsters and French bicycles.

The 28-inch wheels that are 1 1/2 inches wide appear on English, Dutch, Chinese and Indian rod-brake roadsters, and may also be called F10, F25 or 700B. Tires measuring 28 x 1 5/8 x 1 1/4 inches are a Northern European designation for 700C tires. Some German companies designate 700C tires as 28-inch tires with decimal widths.


Speed – For the off-road bikes, there is a significant difference in speed, making the 26-inch bike tires much slower than the 28-Inch wheels. The 26-inch mountain bike tires have better traction in off-road conditions. That makes them faster.

Used materials – before the 1980s, steel was the standard wheel material. In the 21st century, aluminum wheels became a standard option. The fractional 26-inch tires are an older style, and they are always in steel. The 28-inch bike tires in Asia and Netherlands are steel, while the others, in the US, are typically aluminum. (Pump an electric tire in 4 easy steps.)


Finally, mountain bike wheels and road bike wheels come with different bicycle wheel sizes to allow you a choice for best performance, convenience, and comfort. Go with the standard size wheels and frame size that will give you the exact bike fit for your height and riding experience that you need.

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