We’ve already gone down to the nitty-gritty of the 27.5 inch wheel’s perks and drawbacks, so let’s take a look at what manufacturers have to offer for 2014 in terms of entry-level models, a category of bikes attractive especially thanks to their pricing.
To figure out if you actually need a 27.5 inch mountain bike, we’ll mention the basic advantages compared to the other two mainstream sizes, 26 and 29 inch.
Basic facts about 27.5 inch mountain bikes
In what regards the weight issue, 27.5ers will be, indeed, slightly lighter than 29ers, but heavier than 26ers, if we’re looking at the same class of bikes. Price will not stand as a strong point either, production costs of their components being high for the moment due to amortisation matters, but it will adjust itself over time (probably). Another thing you should take into account are the spare parts, which if not rare, will take some time in order to get to you. There is some light in the dark however, since you can use 26” inner tubes for 27.5 inch wheels and tires.
Strictly reffering to entry-level categories, don’t expect too much from these bikes in terms of performance. The entry-level range includes bicycles suited for recreational rides, rather than for serious riding purposes. Of course, there’s no stopping whoever wants to race on such a bike, but we wouldn’t get our hopes to high regarding the final outcome. Bottom line – specifications should be durable and resistant, being able to take abuse on rough terrain, but this is not a rule, and it’s worth talking to your local bike shop on this topic.
Technically speaking, a 27.5 inch wheel will roll over obstacles more efficiently than a 26” one, but it doesn’t match a 29” wheel’s performance. However, the 27.5 and 26 inch wheels are very similar in terms of ride feeling, and that’s why most manufacturers opted to rule out the smallest of these sizes from their future plans.
What can a 27.5 inch entry-level mountain bike offer?
Well, it can help you ride over obstacles easier, it has a higher rolling speed, but isn’t that responsive when you want to accelerate, and, when compared to a 26”, its price is pretty high for the moment being, and it puts on more weight. On the other hand, entry-level 29ers are even heavier, and some times even have lesser specifications, so we advise you to purchase such a bicycle only if the larger format really helps you. As for the 26” mountain bike, the future looks bleak, as only 20% of manufacturers expressed their desire to still have them in their 2014 range.
The contender line-up
We’ve browsed around the internet to discover what did some manufacturers prepare for this year, the list including premium, but also on-the-rise brands. All bicycles present have a short description, but we’ll draw the final line at the end of this article.
Bergamont Metric 4.4 2014
German manufacturer Bergamont included the Metric 4.4 model in their line-up, an 6061 alloy hardtail, a Suntour XCM 100mm-travel fork, a Shimano Deore rear derailleur, and a pair of Tektro HDC 300 disk brakes, with 180/160mm rotors. At its lowest weight, the Metric 4.4 tips the scale at 13.9 kilograms, having an MSRP of 599 euros.
Cross Euphoria G24 2014
With a 538 euro price tag, Euphoria G24 treats us with the same Suntour XCM 100mm suspension fork, a Shimano Acera rear derailleur, Tektro’s HDC 300 disk brakes, and Schwalbe Rapid Rob tires, without any word on weight.
Cube Analog 27.5 2014 – The lightest
Cube comes forward with an alloy frame used also for higher models, but with an according price. So, for 649 euros, you’ll get 13,4-kilogram 27.5 mountain bike, specified with a Suntour XCR 100mm fork, a Shimano Deore rear derailleur, and a pair of Shimano BR-M305 brakes with 160mm/160mm rotors.
Drag Hardy Comp 27.5 2014 – The cheapes/The heaviest
Hardy Comp is the most basic-specified mountain bike from this list, which doesn’t make it that cheap, but only less reliable out there, on the singletrack. Specifications include a Suntour XCT fork, a Shimano Altus rear derailleur, a 3×7 drivetrain, and a pair of hydraulic Shimano BZR-M375 disk brakes. For the 410 euro it costs, we figure you won’t mind the 15.6-kilogram weight.
Felt 7 Sixty 2014 – The most expensive
Premium manufacturer Felt offers the 7 Sixty, specified with an 6061 alloy frame, an 100mm travel Suntour XCM suspension fork, 3×9 drivetrain, Shimano Deore Shadow rear derailleur, and Tektro HDC 180mm/160mm disk brakes. With a MSRP of about 700 euros, it’s the most expensive of the bicycles presented here, but even so its weight isn’t mentioned.
Ferrini R3 27.5 2014 – Best value
Maybe less known to the general public, Ferrini R3’s will probably win some hearts thanks to its 483-euro price, given that it’s fitted with a Suntour XCM fork, a Shimano Acera rear derailleur, Avid DB1 brakes, and a 3×8 drivetrain. Also, the 13.9 kilogram weight might turn some heads.
Focus Black Forest 27R 4.0 2014
Focus throws in the game an entry-level specified with a Suntour XCT fork, Tektro HDC 300 disk brakes, and a Shimano Acera rear derailleur. No word on the weight however, but the price will revolve around 600 euros, slightly larger that what Focus used to practice in the past.
Haibike Edition SL 27.5 2014
Haibike Edition SL plays the appearance card, rather than offering a higher specification chart, which is why you’ll find on this bike a Suntour XCT fork, a Shimano RDM 280 rear derailleur, 3×8 drivetrain, and Shimano M375 mechanical disk brakes. It also features a 14.6 kilogram-weight and has a price of 499 euros.
Kross Level R3 2014
The idea of a fashionable 27.5er seams to appeal also to Polish manufacturer Kross, which specifies the R3 with a Suntour XCM 100mm-travel fork, a 3×8 drivetrain, a Shimano Alivio rear derailleur, Avid DB1 disk brakes, and Schwalbe Smart Sam tires, all for a price of 538 euros.
KTM Ultra One 27 2014
KTM’s offer includes a two-color scheme model, with a rather basic specification chart that includes a Suntour XCM fork, Shimano M395 disk brakes, with 180/160mm rotors, a 3×8 drivetrain, Shimano Alivio rear derailleur, and Continental X-King 2.2-inch wide tires. The MSRP hits 538 euros, while weight reaches 14.4 kilograms.
Merida Big.Seven 40 2014
Merida Big.Seven 40 2014 also relies on a Suntour XCM fork, a 3×9 drivetrain, Promax DSK hydraulic disc brakes, and on a pair of Shimano Altus derailleurs, while it tips the scale at 14 kilograms, at least officially. MSRP is 550 euros, and you can pick between two color schemes.
Stevens Tonga 2014
Although it doesn’t have a self-standing 27.5 inch range, Stevens makes use of this format for the smaller size mountain bikes it manufactures. Tonga is a good example, the 14-inch frame being offered with the 27.5” wheels, all other sizes being available only with 29” wheels. This basic model features a Suntour XCM fork, Tektro Draco II brakes, Shimano Alivio rear derailleur and a 9-sprocket cassette. Having a weight of 14.3 kilograms, its MSRP reaches 599 euros.
After a brief look over the list, it’s clear that premium brands don’t have very important differences in what regards price or specifications. So, if the price is lower, that means that somewhere, costs were cut, this may involving a lower number of sprockets, a lesser set of brakes, and so on. The cheapest bicycle comes from Drag, but it’s also the heaviest, and has only a 7-speed cassette.
The most potent bicycle among the ones presented is the Cube Analog, thanks to its superior fork, rear derailleur and brake set. With a weight of 13,4 kilograms, it tops most competitors, but these features have a price of 650 euros, not one of the lowest. KTM and Kross also have competitive offers, but Ferrini’s model is by far the best value 27.5er from this list, although the 60 euro difference leaves a lot to your own choice.
The up-coming fight for this level appears to be merciless, at least as far as 2014 is concerned, mainly because of the largely similar prices. Handling, looks, and warranty are also matters to be taken into account, but this comes down to how every brand will manage its strategy.
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