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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    First test ride on a 27.5er 29er fan perspective -

    AS a later in life adopter of riding the mts, I have become a pretty avid rider and in the past 3 years my riding, passion for the sport and skills have all gone up. For perspective - 46yrs young, 5'6", 165lbs. Live in Denver CO. Ride at least 3x per week and more if possible. I used to stick to only trails I knew and were low technical when I started - now I will ride anywhere and anything.

    Current Bike - Kona Satori 29er. One of the benchmarks for a longer travel, short chainstay extremely capable, fun and good "value" bike.

    Previous Bikes - Giant Anthem X29, Yeti 575, Spec Stump FSR

    For me - the 29 and especially the Kona - has made me love mt biking. I can ride up and over or down and through most everything I've been on whether front range or west - like Fruita/Moab. I take more chances and realize it's more the bike's ability to handle it and save my bacon than my skill as a rider. I dont have bmx or motox background at all.

    Before I bought the Kona (after numerous back to back demos against other bikes) - i demoed a high spec 26 bike in carbon that rhymes w beti and frankly a bike i so wanted to love. I didnt. Couldnt stand the small wheel after riding 29 for a solid 18 mos previous. At the time the kona felt right and simply disappeared on the very first ride - allowing me to do things i've never before done on a bike.

    Well - as an ADD rider - all kinds of shiney things have popped up and 27.5 seems to be the industry shiney object I can't ignore. Skeptical it would replace my 29 - based on reading others riding perspectives, but I'm open minded and NOT afraid of change... hey - i did just get married a couple weeks back

    So - with anticipation - after many new bike releases - i've been awaiting the option to get on some demo rides. Primary interest in:
    Kona Process line
    Ibis HDR
    SC Bronson and Solo
    Giants new trances

    Low and behold I got the chance by sheer randomness to get on an Intense Carbine 275. Shop demo bike so not a full on top spec - but pretty good with nice set of XT der's, Sun Charger tubeless, Reverb dropper, RS Revelation frt. CTD Kashima rear. Kenda Nev 2.4 frt/rr, Avid 5 brakes

    So - off we go:

    The ride - Apex - a nice technical trail here in the front range - technical sections, rock strewn, tight switchbacks, trees, some roots, some flow sections etc... bottom line - great route to test a bike for all around conditions and trail riding that would prove a bike for most riding scenarios

    after some minor setup in shop - got to lot and dialed a bit more - shock pressures, rebound baselines, tire pressures, seat height etc...

    What I noticed immediately:
    - easier to pedal up to speed and found myself a few gears deeper in the rear right off the bat.
    - liked the immediate feel of the rear. rocks and square edge no issue or finesse needed
    - while the wheel looked as wide/wider - still didnt see or feel as much in front of me
    - felt the trail more under me - was not muted out by the wheel/tire size
    - the bike in now way was "twitchy' but yet coming from a veritable tank of a bike and the mass of the 29 wheels - its the word that comes to mind
    - first switchbacks - wheel def carved a tighter inner line
    - first technical rock sections - cleared the up and over on all of em
    - waterbars/setups - same - no issues
    - didnt feel as "planted" to the ground - this has both positive and negatives
    - downhill - wow - very fun, more nimble and I did not get into any trouble even on the worst of it

    I havent checked my runtastic mtb app which logs a lot of great info - but believe my overall ride was very similar to my 29. prob faster in some ways (climbing - not has heavy or many watts to get up to and maintain speed, or energy needed to get up and over some rocky sections) and slower in others - 1st ride on a foreign bike - always some hesitancy

    my overall realization - i think i could drop to the tweener size and be a happy rider! The bike actually surprised me in many ways - and that's a great thing! I am not stating that I will run out and buy the Carbine - but it worked well and I felt almost immediately comfortable - some tweaks in build and cockpit - wider bars, shimano brakes, wheels/tires(??). And some tweaks to sus settings - to fine tune for me - and the carbine is a real winner. 275 - seems to legitimately have a place - for a guy like me and Im sure as sales numbers a couple years out will suggest - many others.

    Looking fwd to trying the others on the list as well as some of the new 29ers from Salsa, trek and the Kona process

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: madsedan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Nice write up, and for others like me that also came from 29er's as our first real bike going to smaller wheels was an epiphany in many ways. I went from only hardtail 29ers to a full squish, short-travel, 26er and replaced with 650b full squish and love it. No fear in riding almost anything anymore where I had serious hesitancy issues on the 29er hardtail.
    Hardrock 29er, Niner EMD9, Cannondale F29, Camber Expert, 650b Nickel all gone.
    2014 Giant Anthem 27.5 here.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: sandyeggo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Excellent review/write up. After riding a 650b bike for the last year and a 1/2 (after spending the last several years on 29ers and before that 26ers), I've determined that 650b is the right wheelsize for me (42, 5'7" and a good 10 pounds more than you).
    2015 Trek Stache 7 SS
    2015 Cannondale Bad Habit
    2015 Niner RLT

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