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Question
Hi,  I am trying to get back into riding bikes and I am going to get a mountain bike. I am trying to decide between 26"and 29" wheels.  I know that it is a matter of personal preference and that going to a bike shop and testing the bikes will help me determine more than anything. So here's my issue. I have slight scoliosis and was born with a club foot. While my club foot has been corrected unfourtunately the leg that had the club foot has almost no muscle whatsoever. The leg actually looks like I have about half the calf muscle that the other leg has. I'm not going to let this stop me from riding but I do need a bike that is going to be easier to pedal. One that I can get up speed easier with less effort.  Maybe you can help thanks

Answer
Hey Cory!

Well the 6'er v. 9'er is very fresh for me. I just went to riding a 29'er last year. My impressions are that the 29'er does cruise over stuff much more effectively, the speed downhill seems greater (unverified), and the grip is better since you have a bigger footprint on the ground. The plus side of the 26'er is that it accelerates better, it climbs better - both accountable to less rotating mass, and, I think, it handles crisper. I feel I can throw around a 6'er better, but I do like the increased speed that the 9'er has.

In your case I would think a 26'er might be a better choice because of the less effort it takes to get up to speed and up hills. There are 650b bikes out there and I have heard that they are the best of both worlds, I have not tried one long enough to say for sure, so I will stick with the 26'er recommendation.

A couple of other things you may want to consider. A pair of cycling shoes and clipless pedals increases your efficiency when pedaling. I would think that it might make a huge difference with your foot and weaker leg.

And, in time, you may want to look at the lightest wheelset that you can afford. Again, rotating mass. If you can keep that as low as possible I think you will have more fun cycling.

If I can answer any more questions for you please ask!

Oh, make sure the bike fits you properly! I think in your case that is essential, not just how you look on the bike but someone that will take measurements. Find a good shop that will work with you on that.

Cheers!

Tad

Bicycling

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Tad Hylkema

Expertise

I can help you with bicycle fitting problems (proper fit, numb hands, etc.), Buying help (Which type of bike, brand, so forth), basic repair problems (Flat tires, poor shifting, noises, etc.), technique questions (How to climb better, how to ride in traffic...), and even basic training questions (first race, long tour, or just a weight loss program). Some repairs are better left to the experts, we used to call this category "home repair gone bad." However, many fixes are simple and can be done by most. I will simply tell you if you should try it or take it to a shop. I will even help you ask the right questions when you walk into a shop so you can feel more confident. If I don't know an answer I can find out and get back to you.

Experience

I have worked in bicycle shops or the bicycle industry since 1984. I started racing around that time but rode bicycles and did some touring before that. I have managed large shops in the upper Midwest, been invited to join a professional team as mechanic, which I turned down so I could open my own shop. I have built wheels for two US National Champions. I have also been a consultant to retailers and manager of a bicycle fitting system company here in the US. My greatest joy is helping people get into riding and be more confident about their riding and bicycle.

Publications
Various regional enthusiast publications.

Education/Credentials
Doesn't really apply but I do have a BA in English/History (Both very marketable - that is why I stayed in bicycles!) And had been working on my Master in Education before I thought better of that.

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