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29er vs. Hardtail vs. FS

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Interesting article testing different setups as objectively as possible. 

http://www.velonews.com/article/97597/despite-the-world-s-results-velonews--matt-pacocha-says

I was particlarly happy to see that the fastest bike in the test was my exact ride, the Paragon ht 29er.
post #2 of 23
 One of the things I found interesting about the test is "we abstained from pedaling out of corners". Since one of the advantages attributed to 26" wheels is better acceleration, it seems to me like the test was biased in favor of 29ers.
post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post

Interesting article testing different setups as objectively as possible. 

http://www.velonews.com/article/97597/despite-the-world-s-results-velonews--matt-pacocha-says

I was particlarly happy to see that the fastest bike in the test was my exact ride, the Paragon ht 29er.

I hate these test where they try to limit wattage and keep weights the same, this test is flawed and most are. limiting wattage while climbins is stupid, even dumber is not pedlaing on DHs, IN XC races I try to match the hardtails climbing, and then throttle them on DHs and fast flats pedaling where they are hitting the brakes.

The worlds were won 26er hardtails, on a course that would IMO would actually favor a FS bike. Non did well though? is this due to bike design, or riders? My guess is mostly riders.

I would like to see a test where they put 3 riders from the WC test all three(well 4) bikes and just let them go as hard as possiable.

for instance use Adam Craig, Julien Absalon, and JHK each ride a hardtail 26er, FS 26er and hardtail 29er on a couple different course. why those 3? they are argueable the best example of a FS rider, 26 hardtail rider, and 29er Hardtail rider in the world.  Let them go full bore, no power metr or caosting bullshit

My guess is on each course this would bethe results...

adam Craig would find his his anthem advance SL was faster than a XTC carbon
Julien Absalon would find his carbon hardtail 26er was the fastest
JHK would find his superfly was the fastest

point being the top riders pic what they feel comfortable on and probably pick the right bike for them, if you feel you have the right bike for you great! go race the damn thing, dont sit here and try to convince others 29er are the only way to go.
post #4 of 23
 I think the results would be Absalon is faster on any of those bikes than any of the other riders on any other bike.

I wonder if we'll see Adam Craig run any 29er stuff next season since Giant has them now.
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 One of the things I found interesting about the test is "we abstained from pedaling out of corners". Since one of the advantages attributed to 26" wheels is better acceleration, it seems to me like the test was biased in favor of 29ers.

While the test "constrain" was biased in favor of 29'er, he did later use it on short track races. And he found the acceleration of 29'er not a hinderance.

I don't own a 29'er. But I ride a cyclecross on single tracks. I too, found the acceleration of "big wheel" surprisingly good. As long as there's enough traction for the wheel to "bite", that is.

I think the "other bias" of the author's test course was it only being "semi-technical". As he found out later, on truely technical terrain, the lack of rear suspension really hurts, both in comfort, AND in wasted energy when the "drive wheel" lose contact with the ground.

I suspect the author might find the big wheel acceleration much much worse on loose surface, another condition he didn't test.

But his conclusion is not about 29're vs 26'er. It's hardtail vs softtail. I think that was long ago concluded? 

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

While the test course was biased in favor of 29'er, he did later use it on short track races. And he found the acceleration of 29'er not a hinderance.

Sure, but that's just his subjective opinion, not part of the instrumented test. I think we need to get the Mythbusters on this. Can Grant build a biking robot?
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

Sure, but that's just his subjective opinion, not part of the instrumented test. I think we need to get the Mythbusters on this. Can Grant build a biking robot?

He did say he won the race...

That's no less "instrumented" than the other "test" he did.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post




I suspect the author might find the big wheel acceleration much much worse on loose surface, another condition he didn't test.
 



why do you suspect that?

If anything this is where the big wheels excel at, acceleration on a loose surface is usually limited by tractions and float. the 29er will sits up higher in the muck due and they also have longer and skinny contact patch than a 26er.

Also the fact that the wheels are heavier means they are more resistent to peak acceleration force cause by pedaling or braking, mean they are less likely to spin out and less likely to lock up a wheel under breaking. This is actually pretty simple tim the tool man taylor physics to understand why this is true and what you said doesnt make any sense at all.

lastly the bigger wheel will tend to feel more stable due to the gyroscopic effects of a more weight rotating around, its the same reason a top remain spinning while its rotating fast enough. These are all the positives to sit and here and say they(29 inch wheels) are good for nothing would be a dumb thing to say. Its also pretty dumb to sit here and say the 26 hardtail is dead. I mean there is the madrid WC XC race;).

IMO the perfect 29er course will have tons of little rock, logs, roots be more straight than turny or flowly, Davis, WV is a perfect example.

with that siad the 650B wheel size is something to look at. I am in the expensive process of trying to build one myself to be that kid on the block with something new and cool and most importantly potential faster than either set up.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

These are all the positives to sit and here and say they(29 inch wheels) are good for nothing would be a dumb thing to say. Its also pretty dumb to sit here and say the 26 hardtail is dead.
 

Who's "sit here and say"? 
 

 

The author of that article did go out and test rode the different kind of bikes over a test course multiple times. He even took a lot of pain to set up the bikes as close to each other except the wheel sizes. That's a lot more than what you're "sit here" and blasting him of!

While I don't exactly agree with ALL the conclusion of that article, I do find MANY of its conclusion similar to my own experience. His "test course" doesn't include all of the possible surface and terrain conditions. But he did cover just enough variety to make a valid enough for the "hold out" of 26" hardtails, IMV.

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 One of the things I found interesting about the test is "we abstained from pedaling out of corners". Since one of the advantages attributed to 26" wheels is better acceleration, it seems to me like the test was biased in favor of 29ers.

Avoided standing up too.  Thats just where a 26" ht is fun....blasting it out of corners.  good test though, all in all I thought for just confirming and quantifying the rolling advantage.
post #11 of 23
Although my skill level is far from the guys in this test I just bought a 29er HT (Haro Mary) on the advice of my riding partner. Yesterday I took it to my favorite workout loop. Nothing technical, just 10 miles of rolling singletrack. I can't believe the relative level of effort. I was riding one gear higher almost everywhere, not counting the gearing difference caused by the larger wheels. Comfort was greatly improved as well.  I'm sold.
post #12 of 23
One of the advantages of a 29er (HT or FS) that is not often mentioned, but is particularly attractive to me as a big guy, is the lower center of gravity in relation to the hubs.  As a very tall rider who has spent a lot of time trying not to go over of the bars on 26" bikes, the larger tire contact patch means much better breaking, climbing and cornering traction, but the BB is the same height as my 26er, which means it is significantly farther below the hubs so it gives a very solid balanced feel, particularly for a big/tall rider.
post #13 of 23
It's sort of a strange feeling at first since it rides more stable yet I feel higher off the ground. First couple of switchbacks were an adventure.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

One of the advantages of a 29er (HT or FS) that is not often mentioned, but is particularly attractive to me as a big guy, is the lower center of gravity in relation to the hubs.  As a very tall rider who has spent a lot of time trying not to go over of the bars on 26" bikes, the larger tire contact patch means much better breaking, climbing and cornering traction, but the BB is the same height as my 26er, which means it is significantly farther below the hubs so it gives a very solid balanced feel, particularly for a big/tall rider.

your post is pretty spot on except for one thing. Cornering traction will go down due to contact patch shape. You are correct that braking and climbing traction do go up. Your perception of cornering traction might feel like more, but remember feeling faster is not always faster.

Give the same size tire let just say 2.35 cause thats a pretty common size now a day, the larger the wheel the longer and skinnier the contact patch shape becomes while it becomes narrower. IF you ask why I say shape its because contact patch size will stay the same regardless of tire size, or wheel size. The only thing changing wheel sizes or tire sizes does to you contact patch is change the shape and not the size.

basically given 2 tires infalted the same PSI,with the same tread on the same bike, with the same rider, they will have the same contact patch no matter what. IE a 1.7 tire inflated to 40 psi will have the same size but not the same shape contact patch as 1.9,2.1 and 2.35 all inflated to 40 psi. The wider the tire the more cornering traction you will have but your braking and climbing traction actaully go down believe it or not. Also the wider the tire(give if in theory it weighs the same as the skinnier tire which is never the case), the faster it will roll on rough trail. Where this comes into the 29 vs 26 debate is the fact(not opinion but fact) that a 26 will have exactly the same size contact patch as a 29er, given that everything else is the 'same". The shape will be different though. the 29er will have the contact patch that is longer and skinny thus better for braking, climbing traction, and approach angle. where as the 26er will have a wider shorter contact patch, which is better for turning. Last time I checked its much easier to exceed corning traction than braking or climbing traction, so thats part of the reason for my bias on bike choice.
post #15 of 23
BwPA:

Thanks for the analysis. I think part of the reason the 29ers I've ridden seem to corner better is that they have been tubeless and on lower pressure than my 26", but I also think the lower center of gravity in relation to the hubs makes it feel like I am not hanging out over the turn so much and therefore more stable.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

 Last time I checked its much easier to exceed corning traction than braking or climbing traction, so thats part of the reason for my bias on bike choice.

 

For the less skilled among us not exceeding corning traction is easy, slow down. The other two I have less control over. Hey, who said one size has to fit all.
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesmith7 View Post




For the less skilled among us not exceeding corning traction is easy, slow down. The other two I have less control over. Hey, who said one size has to fit all.

I dont quite get your post..... if you get grippier tires and learn how to corner properly you can save lots of energy and go much faster and further besides having more 'fun".
post #18 of 23
The review basicly reconfirms what I have been hearing for the last few years. I sort of would like to get a steel 29er. But I am not in a big hurry.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post



...

While I don't exactly agree with ALL the conclusion of that article, I do find MANY of its conclusion similar to my own experience. His "test course" doesn't include all of the possible surface and terrain conditions. But he did cover just enough variety to make a valid enough for the "hold out" of 26" hardtails, IMV.



For a XC racing emphasis the article's spot on. 

The dirtjump or long-legged all-mountain hardtail is not dead, but occupies an interesting niche in that except for people really into dirtjumping, some types of freeride terrain and pump tracks, etc., it does nothing well but is fun at virtually everything -- except racing --  if you change tires up for different uses.

For people wanting to ride in diverse conditions on one bike, most will still be happier on an all-mountain FS bike, though.



 
post #20 of 23
Arguing about which is better is like arguing that whatever skis you prefer are the best because <fill in blank>

Besides - you're all wrong.  Haven't you heard it' all about the 650B now?  ... best of both worlds

FWIW - I rode 26" wheeled hardtails from 1984 until last year, until I got my Superfly (still a hard tail).  I won't be going back to 26", but maybe to 650B ... full squishy ... when I'm too old to suck it up.
post #21 of 23
After over 20 years on a 26er, the last 10 of which where on a custom FS frame with 4" of travel front and back, I got a Niner RIP 9, with 4.5" travel front and back.  I have now ridden it in almost every kind of terrain, including steep rocky technical, desert, and full speed twisty single track.  I am 6'5", so the 29er feels like it is more my size.  A much more solid connection to the ground, and my center of gravity being lower in the bike due to the higher hubs is a huge advantage.  I can comfortably rail high speed corners sitting down where I would have needed to stand on the 26er. 

Because my position on the bike is a little more upright, and  I now have disc brakes and better rear suspension, it it hard to tell exactly how much of the improved feel is due to just the bigger wheels, but there are noticeable differences.  More solid feel all around, slightly slower to accelerate, but rolls way faster.  Not a lot of difference climbing,  except with rough trail it rolls a little better, but it feels way more solid when I stand on a climb.  The bottom line is that I am going faster on the flats and downhill, and I absolutely love it on fast twisty single track.  I thought it would do tight switchback corners with more difficulty, but that is definitely not the case.  Riding it has a different rhythm than the 26er, which takes a little getting used to.  I can never see going back to smaller wheels.
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

...  Riding it has a different rhythm than the 26er, which takes a little getting used to...

 

There's a powder vs bump skiing analogy in there somewhere.
post #23 of 23
After all those years on the smaller wheels, and the last 10 on the same bike, I was very comfortable riding.  The 29" wheels have not so much a different feel as a different timing on turns, switchbacks, rolling up and down steps, etc., so it does not quite feel "natural" yet.  I assume that in a little while longer I will quit noticing differences, and it will just be "the way it is," and that's when it'll finally feel like it's my bike.

It is like the difference in types of skiing.  Every day you need to figure out the rhythm of the snow before you can really ski it to the max, and it's the same with a new pair of skis, or a new bike.
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