29 vs 26 - what are your experiences?

Read an aweaome review of a 29er Gary Fisher in a 2002 Mountain Bike Magazine (I am the MTB historian/archivist for NS, donchta know?)

Some highlites:
*Pros: momentum; rolls over larger obstacles with ease
Cons: inertia; heavier wheels, not for small riders
Ideal Buyer: You’re a tall, eccentric “dad” with plenty of cash and miles of rolling terrain

"The Gary Fisher handles better than any 29er I’ve ridden so far. And that begs the question - “So what?” After all, other than enjoying a little marketing hype, what makes a 29 inch wheel bike desireable? The additional weight? The sluggish handling? The longer wheelbase? The challenges it poses in fitting to smaller riders? The lack of available rims, tires, and forks? Sure theres that whole “big wheels roll over stuff better” argument, but I don’t think that offsets the disadvantages.*

And thats one to grow on.

I don’t think I’m going Kona this time around, Randy. From talking to various people, though, I think I’ve determined that 29ers aren’t for me even if I could get a bike that fit.
Giant? Scott? Rocky? Trek? Specialized? can’t wait to see what non-Kona you pick.

As I approach new bike time, I’m sizing up all the possibilities and a couple of 29’ rides have caught my eye, but I’ve never ridden a 29er so I really don’t know what to think. Can anyone share some insight from personal experience? Keep in mind that my riding style is wheels on the ground and fairly technical terrain.

I have not ridden one myself but I have been told they are smoother over a trail that has been beaten in by 26ers. A disadvantage I have seen at races is that since both wheel sizes use the same gearing (cogset/chainrings) it is harder to climb the same hill on a 29er and as a result some riders have to shift down to a smaller chainring than those on a 26er. However, everybody at least wants to try one and I am sure at some point 29ers will outnumber 26ers.

Calling for riderx! Share some Jubei stories with us for Sue’s benefit!

I have a 29er single speed and love it. Since my bike is rigid the
29 inch wheels really make a difference in smoothing out the trail,
its actually surprising how you can keep up with people with full
suspension bikes.

Leaving the actual bike out of it and talking about the wheels you
will notice the weight of the wheels and tires, so tire and wheel
choices are important to your riding style. They weigh more than a
26 inch wheel so you notice it more taking off but once up to speed
they roll along nicely. Since the 29er scene has taken off in the
last little while there has been alot lighter wheels, tires and
tubes showing up and now with the introduction of the 36 tooth rear
cassette the actually weight issues of the wheels is becoming even
less of an issue. With choices of suspension now going up over 5
inches of travel and some FS bikes weighing in the mid 20 pound
mark they are appealing to alot more people.

I would be careful buying a 29er if you haven’t tried it first. You
may not be able to get it to fit you right with the bigger wheels
and difference in frames .

I have been riding the big wheels since mid season 2008. In that time I have had 2 different frames, a steel frame (which Mobster now has) and my current frame which is aluminum. Both were built up as single speeds. The big wheels really helped smooth out the terrain, but they are not a subsitute for rear suspension.

Tires and wheels are heavier, but there are lighter options such as Maxxis Crossmarks, Maxxis Aspens, Kenda Karmas, Small Block 8s, and racing ralphs. Rims keep coming down in weight as well. My current 29er wheels set is surpisingly light.

Huge contact patch, you can maintain grip through wet and loose terrain easier because of the bigger patch of rubber on the ground.

Some people may say that 29er wheels are weak. I ride my 29er as hard as I ride my dual suspension and only ever had to have my machine built wheels trued once. Mobster rides his rigid 29er quite hard as well, you have to work to stay ahead of him on any trail and his wheels have held up great.

Mobster said the most important thing about 29ers, the fit. I would highly recommend trying some before ever buying one, you could hate the feel of it.

Mudderhucker asked about which 29ers I found interesting but I missed his chat. So in answer to that question, there’s a new 29" Kona Hei Hei, the Santa Cruz Tallboy and the Turner Sultan are 3 I’ve drooled over a little.

The Yeti AS-R5 is still rockin’ my world though.

Notes on the Cannondale 29er 2

The new ship 29" wheel definitely isn’t so new anymore. I’m cautious of new ideas, but this one has proven itself even if it was / still is a bit slow to catch on in NS. I’ve only been on a few, but the ride is… to summarize it in one word… powerful. Not powerful in the leg pumping, lung busting, heart blasting kind of way, but powerful in the sense that the 29" wheel hammers through trails. In my notes I said the 80 mm C-Dale 29er had flow like a 100 mm dually. It kind of seems like I contradicted myself by saying that the hardtail is noticable, but the flow comparison is about how easy it rolls over obsticals, you still get bumps on the bum buy you just don’t get bounced around. Clear as mud? The other 29ers were different types of bikes that the C-Dale, but they all share that powerful feeling.

It seems that most companies have solved the small bike big wheel problem, but a small frame with the big wheels may perform differently on account of the shorter wheel base.
I haven’t been on a dually yet, that would be interesting. But the hardtails are a treat… especially if you’re partial to hardtails like I am. Hopefully you can get out for a ride of some sort on one of your options.

I suspect that my next bike will be a 29er.
http://www.cogeyed.com/cannondale-29er-2

Mudderhucker asked about which 29ers I found interesting but I missed his chat. So in answer to that question, there’s a new 29’ Kona Hei Hei, the Santa Cruz Tallboy and the Turner Sultan are 3 I’ve drooled over a little.

The Yeti AS-R5 is still rockin’ my world though.
All I can say about your 3 29er choices is one of these things is not like the other. You have chosen 2 of most drool worthy 29er dually frames there are and a Kona. I am not knocking the Kona but feel it is not in the league of the other 2.

All I can say about your 3 29er choices is one of these things
is not like the other. You have chosen 2 of most drool worthy
29er dually frames there are and a Kona. I am not knocking the
Kona but feel it is not in the league of the other 2.

Most likely a big difference in price too.

There is a demo Sultan on the Turner site.

29er:
Pros: Smooth over bumps/obstacles, easy to get to speed, super easy to get up hills.

Cons: wheels can be heavier based on build, maneuvarability in tight terrain.

The cons aren’t huge in my opinion. I think a 29er is a perfect option for someone 6’0’ and over. Even if I had the proper size Jubei, I would still lean towards a 26’ wheeled bike at this point.

I have two bikes that can be used as 69ers and frankly they work great. The 29’ front wheel is easy to get up over obstacles and it maintains speed well. I also keep the steering capabilities of a 26’ frame/bike as well.

I’ve never had the slow steering problem with mine, but with some
29ers it is a problem. It actually steers better in the tight stuff
than my Trance. I think some of this problem can be traced back to
the fit of the bike and with companies putting more money into 29er
r&d it’s going to be less of a problem.

The bigger heavier tires are not always a bad thing . The 2.35
Panaracer Rampage I run are like little monster truck tires and
hang on to no end and with the extra air volume they really take
the edge off the bumps . I think the advantages of their size far
outweigh the penalty of their weight.

My 29er is the fastest handling bike I have ever owned. This could be because my frame is from a small company that specializes in 29er frames and not a large bike brand that took their 26er frame and made it fit the big wheels just to have a 29er in the line up.

Mobster is spot on, it is all about getting the fit right. Messing around with stem lenghts, flipping the stem for negative rise, flat bars, bar width, headset spacers, and bar sweep all can make a huge difference in getting the 29er to feel right.

My 29er is an xc single speed and for that application I think there is nothing better.

As far as geared and fully suspension 29ers go I have no idea, but I would love to try a Sultan.

Mike, your comments about size are interesting - given my less-than-Amazon stature it’s something I’ve wondered about. The weight difference also sounds like a bit of a downer to me… I want to lighten my regular ride so a bike that is likely to feature a weight handicap right off the bat might not be the way to go.

Word in the reviews is that most manufacturers have solved the small frame versus big wheels problem, but a test ride would be the only thing you could really trust.

I never noticed the increased weight from the wheels… but I didn’t get much technical riding in, and I do have some reservations about how a 29er might handle on some of our more rugged terrain here in NS.

Sue, you need to tailor your next bike to your riding style, your preferred terrain and your physical attributes. Both wheel sizes have advantages and drawbacks- figure out which size works best with your personal criteria.

There are lots of 29’er proponents out there, especially in the ss crowd. No surprise since the 29’er rolls well and maintains momentum better which is the key to ss’ing. Folks who ride in a lot of rolling terrain benefit from this momentum factor too. Lots of bigger riders seem to love the stable ride too. All valid points.

26’ers offer you a bizillion wheel and fork options that are still not offered in 29’ers. They can be built up lighter than a comparable 29’er. They accelerate faster and you can loft the front end easier over rooty sections. They also handle quicker which can be an advantage in really techy terrain.

Keep in mind that toe overlap and wheel flop can be an issue with really small 29’ers.

At least choosing new steeds is a fun and rewarding task!

Rather than read anything above, doesn’t Sue ride a 13 1/2 or 15" Kona Hot?
I don’t think they make 29" bikes that small, for good reason.

Problem solved.

Kona 29ers start at 16", problem definately solved.

I don’t think I’m going Kona this time around, Randy. From talking to various people, though, I think I’ve determined that 29ers aren’t for me even if I could get a bike that fit.