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29" Mountain Bikes

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Does anybody have any experience on them? I already have a Santa Cruz Superlight, so this would be an additional ride. I'm thinking about getting it as a single speed hardtail. I would use it for fire roads and easy single track.

It seems like the main selling point is speed and the negative is a slight diminishment of maneuverablity in tight situations.

I haven't researched enough to know who makes 29'ers. One local store is selling a custom Paul Taylor bike called "aussi bastard" which looks pretty sweet. But $3,500 is more than I'll be spending.
post #2 of 16
I fI was going single speed, i would go with a lighter, more nimble 26". I hear one of the downfalls of a 29" is the rolling inertia that is required to get and keep them rolling.
post #3 of 16
29ers are funny: slower than 26" to accelerate, but decent on loose over hardpack. I like my FS mtb or my roadie better than a 29er on almost any terrain, except (maybe) fire roads. IMO, 29ers are analogous to all mountain skis: can take them anywhere, but won't like it as much as a more specialized tool. That said, you could probably call up a shop like Paradigm in San Anselmo & demo a 29er.

If you're just looking at riding fire roads and/or commuting, and you want to go fast, then you might even look at a CX bike or a SS CX. The CX would be lighter, tough enough, better on the road, and probably faster on non-technical riding. See lots of them on Eldridge Grade (at least the lower parts) after work.

Taylors ARE sweet; Bicycle Odyssey in Sausalito sells a lot of them. They also sell, Bianchi, which makes some relatively affordable CX bikes:
post #4 of 16
Check out the Great Divide Mountain Bike race. Canada to Mexico unsupported on mixed trail and roads. Hardtail 29ers seem to dominate it.
post #5 of 16
Before I bought my 26er, I test rode a 29er and preferred it. However, I couldn't find one inexpensive, so I bought a used 26er. Since then I found a used Gary Fischer Rig, a single speed 29er. For a 29er it was pretty light and I loved the larger wheels, but I missed the gears. I read about 69ers (or 96er as some call them), and I had to try it. I put my 29" wheel on the front of my 26" bike. That's the ticket. It combines the stability and rollover ease of the big front wheel with the acceleration of the smaller drive wheel. I love it.
post #6 of 16
In Durango there is a large single speed contingent. The Thursday nite rides will get 30 people showing up, and there are many more around. There seems to be a definite move to the 29er.

I've got a friend in town who has a frame buiding company (3D Racing) and has a 29er single speed I've tried. It rolls over everything more easily so it is smoother going up and down. It also has a bigger contact patch with the ground, so you have more control, especially in places like fire roads, but there the main benefit of rolling over obstacles is useless. If you are a big guy it seems to make sense to go with the big wheels, the bb is no higher, so your center of gravity is acutally lower compared to the hubs giving the bike a very solid feel. For a small person it probably doesn't make quite as much sense.

$3,500 seems ridiculously high. My buddy just built one for guy with a totally custom frame, top line parts including disc brakes, Reba fork, carbon seat post & bars, XT cranks, plus it has cable guides and a special dropout that gives it the ability to be used with gearing if you don't like the single speed. Total bike price was under $2,500. I'm not really a single speed kinda guy but my next mt. bike will definitely be a 29er, but I'm 6'5".
post #7 of 16
mudfoot is on to the main point about 29ers-they make a great platform for some folks-but, they don't work well on the cheap. Basicallly, everyone I know who's become a full-tme 29er fan runs about 1000.00 worth of after-market wheel and wheel related products (stan's flow rims on I9 hubs etc). and they mess around endlessly searching for the perfect gear set up.

I've spent time on a few 'budget 29ers-not bad\, but cursed by the sluggish wheels and slow handling-and I've had extensive time on friends high-zoot bikes and the money invested in wheels and technology makes a huge differenece--and yes even more so than a similar expense on a 26 incher.

So-if you go 29er, be prepared for a good bit of experimentation and big investment in wheels and light cockpit parts.

That said-my 29er buddies won't ride anything else--
post #8 of 16
I ride a 29r SS every day that I am home, year round. It's pretty flat here so I push a 32-16 gear ratio. I ride a lot of mud and some snow, mostly single track. The large tires really help with traction and roll over much bigger obstacles than my 26". 29r's rule on flowing single track, but some very twisty, technical trails with abrupt transitions will make you really work.
I think the bike has made me stronger and a better rider. But it would probably kill me if I still lived in the mountains.
post #9 of 16
I've tracked a lot of comparison time with 26ers and 29er while on any given ride by simply swapping pedals. Here are the most salient observations I've found during that time:

26ers spin up faster from really slow speeds than 29ers

26ers negotiate changes in line through technical terrain more quickly and precisely then 29ers

29ers carry momentum better than 26ers

29ers roll over momentum robbing terrain better than 26ers (read: rocks and sand)

29ers are less apt to get "stuck" in very steep technical downhill terrain than 26ers

29ers have better traction climbing and cornering than 26ers

other things not ride related:

26er wheels build up stronger than 29er wheels (all things being equal)

then there's the whole discussion about CS length on geared 29ers that are more limiting for both the HT or full sus than 26ers

there are still more rim and tire options for 26ers than 29ers

At the end of the day I believe that if you can wait and watch this play itself out then I believe you're going to see 27.5 squeeze right down the middle and make a triumphant breakaway.

27.5 will obviously strike a compromise with the various ride characteristics between the 26 and 29. I find the 26/29 difference very noticeable. So I think there's plenty of room for that compromise. If you factor in the industry's need for norm and the ability to design geared rear sus around 27.5 that works well for climbing then I think they will finally seal the deal and establish a new wheel size norm.

Finally, I believe that 29er SS HT will remain as a standard in spite of the 27.5 because of the 29er ride characteristics that most benefit the SS rider

...we'll see how it goes
post #10 of 16
I think 27.5 will dry up and disappear, but I've been wrong before. The last thing we need is a third wheel size.
post #11 of 16
27.5 = 650B

good 650B blog here

White Brothers has several fork options
Lots and lots of frame builders are on board with corrected Geo not to mention the multitude of 26" conversion projects
a few good rim choices already
several tire choices - this is the biggie since rims are easily rolled to different sizes and frames are easily made to size.

So far 650B is moving forward a lot faster than the 29er movement did when it first began. I think this is because the specialty market realizes that wheel size is worth another look since the 29er movement knocked the established norm.
post #12 of 16
Originally Posted by epic View Post
The last thing we need is a third wheel size.
imagine if the ski industry stopped developing ski design after the elan scx?

granted it was good - but it certainly got a lot better
post #13 of 16
I have a hard enough time getting 26" UST tires. IMHO it's only in the last year or so that there have really been enough choices for 29" and my friends that ride 29" still bitch about the selection available to them.

650B may be the best thing since pumpkin pie, but I'll never know because 26" and 29" already offer enough for me.
post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by epic View Post
650B may be the best thing since pumpkin pie, but I'll never know because 26" and 29" already offer enough for me.
Channeling Jules? Nice.

Back to couloir8, looks like you live in SF; where exactly will you ride this bike? (I'm in Marin, so maybe we could hook up for a ride and/or I'll know more about the terrain you want to ride this bike on.)
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Dino- I'm thinking of getting this bike to ride Railroad Grade, Hoo koo E Koo, Eldridge Grade (down!), Rock Springs, China Camp. To those of you who don't know Marin, these are all moderate fire trails and easy single track.

Other slightly more technical or steep rides that I can't see myself on a SS are Coastal Road out of Tennessee Valley, Dias Ridge, Tamarancho and the list goes on...
post #16 of 16
Got it. 29er would be mo' bettah unless you're riding to the Headlands/Mt. Tam from SF. Dunno if this saves bux, but you could look into going with a rigid fork & roll with something like 2.2 nevegals:

Check out sheldon brown's gear inch calculator for your gearing choices. I found out I could run a 29t front & ditched my granny ring (& I usually go up Eldridge from Ross):

I'm out for most of the next two weeks, but I'll be riding T'giving weekend. PM me if you want to ride.
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