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  1. #1
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    27.5 vs 29 for XC Racing Hardtail

    Hi guys, I am choosing between a 27.5 XC race bike against a 29 XC race bike, from what I researched, for XC race bike, 29er is the best but I learned also it is great for large frame sizes, since I am 5 feet 5 inches, I will be in small size which I think might have some downside, kindly help me choose between the 2 sizes, I am thinking of the 27.5 for me because it might be a better fit but I am also thinking of the 29er for its speed and rollover advantage as I am trying to get into podium

  2. #2
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    Considering a proper training you could get into podium on either 27.5 or 29, what's your budget?

    What kind of terrain you'll be racing this season?
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  3. #3
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    terrain is not that technical that is why I am considering a 29er, but I am thinking for my size, 27.5 might be a better fit

    I am looking at scott scale 900/700 sl

  4. #4
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    Go on and ask for demo bikes in both sizes.
    I think itīs the right thing to do, you got to feel it. We can only tell about our feelings, not yours when riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VICpt View Post
    Go on and ask for demo bikes in both sizes.
    I think itīs the right thing to do, you got to feel it. We can only tell about our feelings, not yours when riding.
    for the 2 bikes I mentioned, I don't think I can get a demo bike

  6. #6
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    good question

    Quote Originally Posted by blurxc11 View Post
    Hi guys, I am choosing between a 27.5 XC race bike against a 29 XC race bike, from what I researched, for XC race bike, 29er is the best but I learned also it is great for large frame sizes, since I am 5 feet 5 inches, I will be in small size which I think might have some downside, kindly help me choose between the 2 sizes, I am thinking of the 27.5 for me because it might be a better fit but I am also thinking of the 29er for its speed and rollover advantage as I am trying to get into podium
    Other than some of the professional riders, i am not sure there has been a lot of quantitative analysis of 27.5 vs 29 with optimum equipment on both. And because the pros have their communication filtered by the sponsors, the details on these tests seem a little fuzzy. Next year, many of the pro riders will have a choice of wheel size (except for specialized and trek) but we won't see who chooses 27.5 HT over 29HT at the pro UCI level until late spring. This year didn't count, because only scott (Nino) and a couple smaller manufacturers had a race worthy 27.5, but in the spring we will see...these guys and gals will choose one over the other if their sponsor makes both and they can get a 5 second advantage on a 5 km loop.

    I would expect we will also start seeing some amateur racer experiments on timed loop comparisons and power output in the next year, but i can't find anything like that right now.

    If anyone else knows of something quantitative, I'd be interested in seeing it.

    There is a thread on wheel size choice on the xc racing forum, but it all seems pretty subjective at this point.

  7. #7
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    I'd say get the frame fits you better despite of the wheel size, spend as much as you can on wheels and get your favorite transmission for it, even for your height I'd lean towards a 29er
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  8. #8
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    I really like 27.5 for an all-around trail bike, but for a racing hardtail I would choose a 29er. I think they are faster overall. On rough courses they will roll through the rough stuff better, and on smooth courses they will maintain momentum better.

    As far as fit, there are lots of small riders, including lots of women, who race on 29ers. Even at 5'5" you can find a 29er hardtail that will fit you well.

  9. #9
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    I posted to this thread on the 29er forum. Don't know how to cross post

  10. #10
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    I ride both, well actually a 9'erB carbon HT (650b frame with a 29" front wheel stuffed up there and a 35mm drop on my Fox fork). For me it's perfection with the tight technical singletrack we have in the southeast. Short wheelbase, front tire rollover, good rear tire acceleration.

    At your height I would not ride a 29er, I'd go with 650b. But the right wheel size really depends on many factors. Your height, riding style, and terrain to be ridden. There really is no perfect wheel size.

  11. #11
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    I'm with Michael9218. Switched to 29ers in 2004 and loved them for their traction on the climbs, corners and anti-endo ability. I have had several; Milkmoney, Karate Monkey, Niner Air 9 Carbon, Lysnky and a few others. None were every quite right hence the search. They are wicked fast on the flats, carry momentum great over small rollers, awesome for SS but...I have had problems at slow speed technical work and high speed tight corners. Slow speed technical work when you are a 5'6" low watt rider (me) can be difficult when you need to lift that wheel or pop over an obstacle with a burst of power. Large wheels are hard to accelerate from a stop and a low bottom bracket and a short torso/legs makes it difficult to throw your center of gravity around to help make your moves. Not impossible but it has always been a fight for me. In the corners I find it hard to weight the front wheel. Easier on the older 29ers with high bottom brackets. With the low bottom brackets the seat is lower so to get the bars lower still you have to slam the stem. It is possible to get your bars low but then you have your shifters or levers slamming your top tube when you go down. Then there is toe overlap with bigger tires...I am a better rider on the 29er then I ever was on the 26er but the size is not without issues. Now the 27.5. Rode a Scott scale 730 or 735 a few weeks ago at Brown County Indiana. Perfect. Bars level or below saddle no problem. Still room between the levers/shifters and top tube with bars turned. Comfort? Absolutely. My personal ride that day was a Karate Monkey and I was running 23 pounds in a 2.1 tire. The Scott with its flexible seat stays and 30lb PSI Schwable was more comfortable which shocked me. Cornering was spot on intuitive. It just fit me. I know us normal sized people...around 5'6" ;-) can and do whoop ass on 29ers but i do believe the 27.5 is a magic size for most our size. I think part of the problem with slow speed work on a 29er for me is leverage. Shorter people have shorter arms and to move the larger wheels we have to move our body more and use a higher percentage of our strength/mobility in doing so. It is more difficult to exert control at extremes. Larger bars help but then that adds to our arm extension problem. Same for getting weight on the front. Longer top tubes to relieve overlap and we have less weight on the wheel. Add the bar top tube collision problem and bar heights are higher. To corner fast you have to keep great form with your chest low and arms bent. When you do it right cornering is fantastic. Get tired, lose your form, and suddenly your front end is sliding out. I have loved 29ers despite not quite getting them to just right but my test ride on a stock Scott 730 made me believe I can go faster more consistently on a 27.5. Ordered mine already. If I endo a few times I may change my tune but that lower dollar ride was the best bike for me I every threw a leg over and I have ridden some nice ones. Best of luck.

  12. #12
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    It is a lot less about wheel size. Much more about fit and maximizing the bike for it characteristics. I am going to try 27.5 this fall and quit trying to make a 29er something it is not, a low front end super nimble race bike.

    I would advise to take your seat height and apply it to a 29er of your choice and see if the fit can get to level or under level seat to bar relationship easily. If no then go for 27.5. That was my logic. I am 5"5' and a Cat1/Open guy locally.

    EndoAgain "I have loved 29ers despite not quite getting them to fit just right but my test ride on a stock Scott 730 made me believe I can go faster more consistently on a 27.5."

  13. #13
    dwt
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    27.5 vs 29 for XC Racing Hardtail

    Quote Originally Posted by EndoAgain View Post
    I'm with Michael9218. Switched to 29ers in 2004 and loved them for their traction on the climbs, corners and anti-endo ability. I have had several; Milkmoney, Karate Monkey, Niner Air 9 Carbon, Lysnky and a few others. None were every quite right hence the search. They are wicked fast on the flats, carry momentum great over small rollers, awesome for SS but...I have had problems at slow speed technical work and high speed tight corners. Slow speed technical work when you are a 5'6" low watt rider (me) can be difficult when you need to lift that wheel or pop over an obstacle with a burst of power. Large wheels are hard to accelerate from a stop and a low bottom bracket and a short torso/legs makes it difficult to throw your center of gravity around to help make your moves. Not impossible but it has always been a fight for me. In the corners I find it hard to weight the front wheel. Easier on the older 29ers with high bottom brackets. With the low bottom brackets the seat is lower so to get the bars lower still you have to slam the stem. It is possible to get your bars low but then you have your shifters or levers slamming your top tube when you go down. Then there is toe overlap with bigger tires...I am a better rider on the 29er then I ever was on the 26er but the size is not without issues. Now the 27.5. Rode a Scott scale 730 or 735 a few weeks ago at Brown County Indiana. Perfect. Bars level or below saddle no problem. Still room between the levers/shifters and top tube with bars turned. Comfort? Absolutely. My personal ride that day was a Karate Monkey and I was running 23 pounds in a 2.1 tire. The Scott with its flexible seat stays and 30lb PSI Schwable was more comfortable which shocked me. Cornering was spot on intuitive. It just fit me. I know us normal sized people...around 5'6" ;-) can and do whoop ass on 29ers but i do believe the 27.5 is a magic size for most our size. I think part of the problem with slow speed work on a 29er for me is leverage. Shorter people have shorter arms and to move the larger wheels we have to move our body more and use a higher percentage of our strength/mobility in doing so. It is more difficult to exert control at extremes. Larger bars help but then that adds to our arm extension problem. Same for getting weight on the front. Longer top tubes to relieve overlap and we have less weight on the wheel. Add the bar top tube collision problem and bar heights are higher. To corner fast you have to keep great form with your chest low and arms bent. When you do it right cornering is fantastic. Get tired, lose your form, and suddenly your front end is sliding out. I have loved 29ers despite not quite getting them to just right but my test ride on a stock Scott 730 made me believe I can go faster more consistently on a 27.5. Ordered mine already. If I endo a few times I may change my tune but that lower dollar ride was the best bike for me I every threw a leg over and I have ridden some nice ones. Best of luck.
    I'm 5'9" and have the same issues with slow speed maneuvering and tight corners at speed on 29". By removing all spacers between headset and stem except for 1mm washer; inverting the stem and using a flat bar; I can get my bar even height with saddle. Note that WC XC champ, Nino Schurter, switched to 27.5" for the handlebar height. He's 5'8", not so short, but prefers a super aggressive position with seat much higher than bar. Couldn't get it with 29". Also note that even that far forward and steep HTA, he doesn't endo. IME, 27.5" puts enough wheel in front of you so it feels stable enough. You can also get a Works or American Classic Angleset and knock a degree off your HTA which will put you more comfortably back but might compromise your XC speed.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  14. #14
    LMN
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    Unlike many I have had the opportunity to ride extensively two nearly identical specced bikes in both 27.5 and 29. Both bikes are Orbea Almas, both with XTR and Fox forks, the wheels are the same, and both are built to fit a 5'5 rider.

    When I jump between bikes I don't really notice a difference in wheel size. What I do notice are the slight differences between bikes. Differences, like tire TPI, a couple of mm in bar width, different tune characteristics of the forks. The biggest thing I notice though is a difference in front end height. Despite my best efforts I can't get the bar on the 29er where I want them.

    Both bikes have sections where they seem to perform better. With the high front end the 29er is very comfortable on steep descents. But the high front end also makes it a real struggle to find front end grip on flat sweeping turns. The 27.5 seems to accelerate out of turns a lot better, on the 29er I find I have to wait a bit longer before stepping on the gas. A lot of places the bikes feel exactly the same; I don't notice any difference in roll over, both feel like hardtails on rough terrain and there is no noticeable difference in rolling resistance.

    Despite best of intensions I haven't done any testing with a power meter. I know according to strava I ride both bikes at similar speeds up and down on all types of terrain.

    I had to pick one it would be the 27.5. I can get the desired fit and it is lighter.
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  15. #15
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    Smooth or Rough trails?

    Smooth - Go with 27.5 or 26
    Rough - Go with 29r

  16. #16
    JCL
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    Quote Originally Posted by canuck_tacoma View Post
    Smooth or Rough trails?

    Smooth - Go with 27.5 or 26
    Rough - Go with 29r
    Agreed.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwt View Post
    Note that WC XC champ, Nino Schurter, switched to 27.5" for the handlebar height. He's 5'8", not so short, but prefers a super aggressive position with seat much higher than bar. Couldn't get it with 29". Also note that even that far forward and steep HTA, he doesn't endo.
    Wheelsize has nothing to do with Nino not endoing...he's a badass:
    Nino Schurter at Hafjell in Hafjell, Norway - photo by vanja - Pinkbike

    Also note - Nino was riding a 650b bike before Scott even had them for sale, AND they have a 29er, so no, it is not marketing...

  18. #18
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    Your legs, lungs, and guts will be what determines whether you make the podium. Most likely if you demo some bikes you'll find some you like, some you hate, and one or two you love. Don't get hung up on the wheel size too much, they will all go fast if you pedal hard.

    That said, you're on the very low end of the spectrum to fit on a 29er, so if I had to *guess* I'd say you're better off on 27.5 (that's what we're calling it now, right?) or maybe even 26". Just depends on the fit and geometry that suits you best.

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  19. #19
    dwt
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    27.5 vs 29 for XC Racing Hardtail

    Quote Originally Posted by reformed roadie View Post
    Wheelsize has nothing to do with Nino not endoing...he's a badass:
    Nino Schurter at Hafjell in Hafjell, Norway - photo by vanja - Pinkbike...
    Yeah he is. And that pic shows the high saddle he likes clearly. Here's another:



    I bet most of the readers of this forum (at least the non XC racers) do that **** on double squish bikes with slack HTA's & with dropper posts. Gotta give props to XC racers who ride fairly gnarly terrain on HT's with steep HTA's, especially those who have their bikes set up like Nino. My nuts hurt just thinking about that high fixed saddle.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  20. #20
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    Don't get caught up in the "29ers are best for xc riding/ racing" argument. While they might be better on most courses than a 26er, 27.5 xc bikes are just starting to arrive on the scene, I believe you'll start hearing about the great all around abilities of the 27.5ers here soon. I'm 6' tall, race cat 1, I've ridden, raced 26ers, 29ers and 27.5ers, the 27.5's have been the fastest in all my testing.
    I have done a simple test with surprising results, coasting down some local studder bumped fire roads, my Blur XCc walked away from all of my friends 29ers. All of us weigh the same, our bikes are in a few pounds of each other, all full suspension, I know this isn't totally scientific, but the results were amazing, thought the 29ers would pull away, might be some unseen factors involved ie; tire inflation, brake drag, etc.

  21. #21
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    thanks guys for the response, currently I have a Santa Cruz Blur XCc (11.3kg), I was thinking of upgrading to either a Scott Scale SL 700/900 (around 9kg) which I can get for a discounted price from an LBS, but now after the comments I received from XC racing forum and here, where in, there will be not much significant improvement in my speed if I change my bike, which I believe also (the skills and fitness of the rider is much more important than the bike) I decided not to purchase a new bike(27.5/29). Is changing a tire, bring more significant improvement (sorry off topic in this forum)? Currently I use racing ralph 2.25 tubeless(I went for tubeless as I am afraid to get flat tire), I race non technical course, normally between 40 to 50 km

  22. #22
    jrm
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    Ditto on most of whats already been said except for posts suggesting that race course variables dictate wheel size. If your racing sprint events then id say go with a 27.5" bike. If your racing endurance events i'd say consider a 29er. If your racing both sprint and endurance events i say do yourself a favor and ride a 27.5" bike. YMMV
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwt View Post
    Yeah he is. And that pic shows the high saddle he likes clearly. Here's another:



    I bet most of the readers of this forum (at least the non XC racers) do that **** on double squish bikes with slack HTA's & with dropper posts. Gotta give props to XC racers who ride fairly gnarly terrain on HT's with steep HTA's, especially those who have their bikes set up like Nino. My nuts hurt just thinking about that high fixed saddle.
    Agreed that Nino is a certified BA. I don't get the concern that so many people have with high seatposts. It is no more than learning the technique shown in the Nino photo. Pretty simple really. Weight back....drop butt. Done. The bike will handle really well actually under these circumstances.

  24. #24
    dwt
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    27.5 vs 29 for XC Racing Hardtail

    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Agreed that Nino is a certified BA. I don't get the concern that so many people have with high seatposts. It is no more than learning the technique shown in the Nino photo. Pretty simple really. Weight back....drop butt. Done. The bike will handle really well actually under these circumstances.
    True, I learned in the 90's: high seats, low narrow bars, long stems, steep HTA . Raced XC ( not well, but put my ass on the line), definitely did my share of endos. But times have changed and I'm older, more interested in full suspension trail riding than riding or racing XC, my seat is closer to even with the bar height, HTA slacker, stem shorter, bar wider, seat on a dropper post. If I do hit the deck, not via endo anymore. Usually, a slow speed balance mishap doing steep descents in exactly the position we are discussing.

    Dropper posts make getting the weight back and dropping the butt much easier, plus easier to keep the front under control if you have to shift a tad forward.

    Anyway, back to Nino. His riding position is radical even by World Cup standards. Plenty of riders, male and female, are much shorter than he is, and are fine racing 29'ers in a more upright position, which he won't do. And which is why he's on a 27.5" wheeled bike.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  25. #25
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    "Your legs, lungs, and guts will be what determines whether you make the podium."

    While I agree (to a certain extent) that it truly is about the "engine", if you were to clone yourself and plop yourself on two different bikes for a race.....well...there would always be a difference.

    Maybe one second at the finishline...but a diff.

    Some races are won by seconds.

    I think this is where people get caught up in all of this...

    I have lost races by mere seconds and I have won races by mere seconds. It matters to some of us.

    The trick is finding out which bike is ideal for us as INDIVIDUALS. Also, the course can dictate a change of bike for ideal time also....argh!

    Not simple by any means..

    My point? There IS a "best" wheelsize and frame for you out there somewhere, so keep asking questions and keep testing bikes. By the time you find out which bike is "perfect", there will be a new size to choose from...haha.

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