I am currently riding a 26" wheel on FGFS bike and I'm going to keep riding it for a while because I think it will finally help me learn to land 180's* consistently. The shorter wheelbase makes spinning easier and the smaller wheel can take more abuse.
When I was in Fruita I was practicing brakeless nose mannies across the slickrock on the trail and I was really trying to work on my technique, and I noticed that my right foot was forward. Then I realized that I also had my right foot forward when I bunny hopped. This struck me as odd because when I ride fixed gear, the only type of freestyle I've been riding as of the last few years, I ride with my left foot forward. For trackstands, for bunny hops, rock walks, grinds, everything. My left foot is the dominant one. For a while now as I've been trying to get better at tricks I've noticed that I do a lot things awkward (like talk to girls, or meet your dad). I want to spin left with my left foot forward (most folks spin with the opposite foot forward), I nose pivot one way but slider opposite; my steez was/is all fucked up. Anyway, the fact that my normal dominant foot is the trailing foot on my fixed gear explains some of the weirdness. I am now hoping that I can learn to ride with an ambidextrous bunny hop. (way less speedchecking when approaching an obstacle, and should help me spin to left better)
Since my FGFS bikes first day, it has been my favorite for everyday life (if you think riding a fixed gear is fun, wait till you ride a monster truck fixie (monstertrack)), however lately I only seem to ride it when I go out on a trick session.
I know I'm going about saying what I want to say in a very obtuse manner, but walk with me.
There's this place in Minneapolis called the Loring Greenway and there are all sorts of crazy banks and planters but everything was made skate proof.
You can still ride it on a bike but the uneven stones definitely up the challenge. At this spot there is a bank over stair gap that I have been looking at for a while and last week I did it on the NS (Brauer crushed it on the Fatback). The next step will be to do it on the fixie with 26" wheels. It is a line that I'm stoked on and eventually want to film and I'm not going to film it until I can do it with the 700c's. It'll be hairier, which I think makes it better and pulling the line with big wheels will make me feel like I've really got it dialed.
I definitely don't want to say or come off as being opposed to 26" wheels since they are a piece of progression that makes a lot of sense. What I'm having trouble with is this: what makes a smaller wheel size front and rear somehow different than a small front wheel and 700c back, or a fat tire, or bmx cranks, or long top tubes and short stems or anything else we've done to track bikes to make them more suitable for tricks is beyond my explanation, but I can't help but feeling in my gut that some piece of the puzzle which makes up my love affair for these types of bikes has been lost.
The best way I can describe it is in terms of this: in climbing (I've always thought calling it "rock climbing" sounds way too yoga studio and uncomfortable, climbing is much easier on the lips and ears) there's a concept called style. There are multiple ways to get up something, at the base level, you can do it with aid or you can do it free. Doing it with the least amount or no aid is considered better style.
26" wheels are better for smaller frames and guys are going to be doing crazy shit on them. However all things being equal, a trick done on a 700c wheel just seems more compelling to me. There is a definite difference between the two (BMX dudes say fixed gear riders have no style but I feel that a definite style has developed, and anytime a style changes there are going to be people on either side of the fence (there was Herc, and then there was Flash. to use an analogy) and at this point in this sports development I get more stoked on seeing a big wheel do something. Sure there are plenty of dudes doing mind blowing stuff on 26" wheels, but I can't deny that I'd rather see it done on a 700c wheel. Big tricks on big wheels just seem more definitive and have a bigger "holy shit I can't believe he just did that" factor.
Let me use recent history to illustrate the point. If you were at Midwest Mayhem and saw Wonka hit that wallride, perhaps the biggest thing yet done in the history of ever on a fixed gear, you'll recall that it was pure fucking magic. That moment was electric. He went for it a few times, then hit it and crashed, then charged that motherfucker and nailed it.
Just like that what you thought was possible changed.
If it would have been done on a smaller wheel, i just don't think it would have been so affecting.
Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike 26" wheels, I embrace them. I think the bikes can look really good with 26" wheels and super fat tires. The crop of dudes who are stoked on it are going to push what can be done on a fixed gear to new limits. They're just not going to push what can be done on a 700c wheel.
Don't worry, I'm not going to start a "save the 700c wheel" campaign or anything like that. I was just thinking about my bike, and how I use it, and for me while a 26" wheel is better for tricks, a 700c wheel is better for life and I'm willing to compromise trickability to increase everyday usefullness. I miss my FGFS bike being my favorite bike to ride.