Wow. I can't believe the polarization among bikers over wheel size! It was quite entertaining to read all the zealous (perhaps, religious) opinions on this and the 29er forums.
But what's wrong with more choices and being open-minded? And if you tried all three sizes and decided on the one that you like or that fits you best, who can say that you're wrong?
For me, I am in the market for a new bike -- my currently rides are rigid, single, steel, and 26. I have always been skeptical of 29er, but wanted to give it a try this time. And guess what, after getting different advices from this forum regarding what fit my riding style and actually trying a dozen or so 29ers, I really liked its attributes and didn't notice much of its negatives. This despite my vertically challenged frame of 5'6".
I actually liked Santa Cruz and the Tallboy 1 the most, but could not comfortably clear its standover, so instead got the missus' approval for a SC Superlight 29 with better clearance!
Then, I read about about the release of an updated Tallboy 2 with lower standover, so wanted to try that before finalizing my choice. Then I was further bombarded by the recent sleuth of 27.5 marketing and dismissed its "Goldie Locks" approach as just silly.
But last week, when I stopped by a local LBS to check if they have the Tallboy 2 (they did not), I was offered to try a Santa Cruz Solo 27.5. What the heck, it was my size M, so I went for it. Just to make sure, I also tried the Superlight 29 again. Both bikes are identically spec'd ("R" kit in Santa Cruz lingo), aluminum, size M -- something that I would have purchased. I found that the Solo fit me much better, even though it was about 2 pounds heavier. I found it had a "light feel" (even compared to my 24 lb single speed), good climber, and superb descender. I liked the Solo A LOT!
But to be an informed buyer, I decided to not make up my mind until I ride the new Tallboy 2 that I was set on. I did yesterday. Again, it was the same "R" spec and size M, still a pound lighter than the Solo, and with better clearance than the Tallboy 1. But it did not feel as responsive, easier to maneuver, or "light" as the Solo. This LBS did not have a Solo in stock for comparison, but had the heavier Bronson--also, size M and R spec--so I asked to ride that back to back to compare. And yet, even with the weight penalty, I still liked the feel and ride of the Bronson more than what I thought was my prior favorite, the Tallboy 2.
So what did I take away from all of this actual test rides and research? I like a 29er more than my current 26er bikes, but I like the 27.5 best. It just fits my size and feels better. (BTW, I ride cross-country and like climbing, not AM, etc.)
And while I like the Bronson more than Superlight and Tallboy, I LOVE the Solo!
I am working on the missus to increase the new-bike budget from $2,500 to $3,300. And to decide between White/Gray or Orange/Blue. The order form will be submitted in a week or two.
So, yes, the barrage of silly marketing speak convinced me that 27.5 is just right for me. Some actual test-riding helps as well.
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