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  1. #1
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    First ride - NOW POST RACE - on a 29er and FS... not what I'd expected

    I've been mountain biking for 20+ years on aluminum 26" hardtails. I made the switch this week. Prior to 8:AM today, I'd never riden a 29er or a full suspension bike. My rationale for not even demo'ing or borrowing either was "What if I like it?" I wouldn't ride one 'til I was ready to buy one.

    My first ride was a moderate-paced 12 miles (racing tomorrow, did two laps to pre-ride the course) on trails I've never been on. Conditions were damp to wet, some dry smooth sections, some very wet with lots of large exposed roots.

    Oh, the bike - a 2012 Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 1. I had rear set at my weight + 5 pounds and the Lefty at 75% of my weight. ProPedal was Open. Rebound was in the middle setting. Racing Ralphs tubeless at 28 psi (both).

    Overall - LOVED IT! I was afraid I'd lose that connection to the trail... and with it, some of the fun. Nope! The bike took the bone-jarring hits and rattles and left all the good parts.

    Descending is where I expected something very different, something disconnected. It wasn't there. Right away, the bike felt oddly comfortable given the huge change in bikes. But descending wasn't that different - just a lot smoother.

    It was the climbing that surprised me. In general, I love climbing. It's my strength in XC racing. I was afraid I'd be giving some of that up going to the big wheels and rear shock. I was blown away at how well this thing climbs. I intentionally took a clumsy line up a very steep section of exposed wet roots. The same section on the hardtail 26" would have a 50/50 chance of bouncing, spinning and loosing enough momentum to not clear the section. The Scalpel just soaked it up, stayed planted and went right up. That section was the "That's what they're talking about" moment for me. I get it now. I'm officially a 29er FS convert!

    Still have a lot to learn, e.g. surely some tweaks to the rear shock, the Lefty, the tire pressure, riding style... but I came out of the woods convinced I'd be faster on that bike - after 1 ride - than the old one.
    Last edited by OldZaskar; 02-17-2013 at 08:33 AM.
    Mountain bikers who don't road ride are usually slow.
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  2. #2
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    That's a big change. I took baby steps, from 26 hardtail to 29 hardtail to a 29 fs. 29 hardtail showed me that I can go straight over the rough. 29fs showed me I can do some of that sitting down, and a lot less punishment. Congrats on the bike.

  3. #3
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    I had a similar experience late last year. I had completely rejected the idea of even trying a 29er. In my mind it wasn't going to be as much fun, I was going to feel disconnected from the trail, 29ers couldn't take big hits, they were too slow in the twisty stuff etc, etc.

    Then one of my mates who is a specialized dealer convinced me to come out and try a few bikes at a demo day, I was blown away. The first bike I took out was an S-works stumjumper fsr 29, I have never been so comfortable on a bike I was riding for the first time. It killed all my preconceptions of what a 29er was.

    I had fun for the next few weeks test riding a handful of other 29ers, Tallboy c, Tallboy LTc, Transtion Bandit 29, Trance 29. It was all good fun, but in the end the stumpy was the one I wanted to ride again. I got my Stumpy expert carbon 2 weeks ago now, and it continues to impress me with it's capabilities every ride.

    Climbing is amazing, I just don't have to think about line as much on techy climbs, the big wheels seem to keep on rolling. Fast, rough downhill sections is where I find it really shines though, I can't believe how much speed I can carry, and it just feels so much more stable. I'm definitely a 29er convert now too, didn't think I'd ever be saying that!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    I've been mountain biking for 20+ years on aluminum 26" hardtails. I made the switch this week. Prior to 8:AM today, I'd never riden a 29er or a full suspension bike. My rationale for not even demo'ing or borrowing either was "What if I like it?" I wouldn't ride one 'til I was ready to buy one.

    My first ride was a moderate-paced 12 miles (racing tomorrow, did two laps to pre-ride the course) on trails I've never been on. Conditions were damp to wet, some dry smooth sections, some very wet with lots of large exposed roots.

    Oh, the bike - a 2012 Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 1. I had rear set at my weight + 5 pounds and the Lefty at 75% of my weight. ProPedal was Open. Rebound was in the middle setting. Racing Ralphs tubeless at 28 psi (both).

    Overall - LOVED IT! I was afraid I'd lose that connection to the trail... and with it, some of the fun. Nope! The bike took the bone-jarring hits and rattles and left all the good parts.

    Descending is where I expected something very different, something disconnected. It wasn't there. Right away, the bike felt oddly comfortable given the huge change in bikes. But descending wasn't that different - just a lot smoother.

    It was the climbing that surprised me. In general, I love climbing. It's my strength in XC racing. I was afraid I'd be giving some of that up going to the big wheels and rear shock. I was blown away at how well this thing climbs. I intentionally took a clumsy line up a very steep section of exposed wet roots. The same section on the hardtail 26" would have a 50/50 chance of bouncing, spinning and loosing enough momentum to not clear the section. The Scalpel just soaked it up, stayed planted and went right up. That section was the "That's what they're talking about" moment for me. I get it now. I'm officially a 29er FS convert!

    Still have a lot to learn, e.g. surely some tweaks to the rear shock, the Lefty, the tire pressure, riding style... but I came out of the woods convinced I'd be faster on that bike - after 1 ride - than the old one.
    You also picked a good bike to go with as your first FS bike (2012 Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 1). That bike climbs faster than a 14 year old boy at the playboy mansion.
    On MTBR, the reputation is infamous.

  5. #5
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    I really put myself in the hands of the guys at the shop. They helped me pick the right road bike (Scott Addict SL), they've seen my other mtn. bikes (the setup, etc.), I've ridden with them... They basically said "I know you're unsure which one is right for you... but we ARE sure" I think they nailed it again.

    From...


    To...
    Mountain bikers who don't road ride are usually slow.
    Roadies who don't mountain bike are usually d***s.

  6. #6
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    Re: First ride on a 29er and FS... not what I'd expected

    Cockpit setup and position has a more significant effect on your ride differences between these two bikes way more than wheel size. Damn.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

  7. #7
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    ^those^ pics shot at different angles (higher on the copper bike); makes the bar on the Scalpel look higher.. Cockpit setup ended up being very similar to the old bike. 10mm drop from seat to bar on the old vs. 9mm on the new; saddle to bar, etc. Much wider bar 580 vs. 700 was definitely noticeable, but not for as long as I expected.
    Mountain bikers who don't road ride are usually slow.
    Roadies who don't mountain bike are usually d***s.

  8. #8
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    Re: First ride on a 29er and FS... not what I'd expected

    Beautiful bike mate, looks fast!

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2
    Real men do it in the dirt

  9. #9
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    Re: First ride on a 29er and FS... not what I'd expected

    I'd still contend that higher, wider (12cm!) bar is bigger difference than wheel size.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

  10. #10
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    Wide bars are sweet for sure, i love my 700mms!

  11. #11
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    Try taking it slower man, take baby steps until you get used to the new bike. You made quite a big change there..

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    I really put myself in the hands of the guys at the shop. They helped me pick the right road bike (Scott Addict SL), they've seen my other mtn. bikes (the setup, etc.), I've ridden with them... They basically said "I know you're unsure which one is right for you... but we ARE sure" I think they nailed it again.

    From...


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    Lefty's are such a trip... never ridden one but I'd like to try one out... they look like there would be balance issues

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasDesertRat View Post
    Lefty's are such a trip... never ridden one but I'd like to try one out... they look like there would be balance issues
    They track extremely well. I like the Lefty a lot, but they arent like owning a Fox or a Rock Shox when it comes to maintenance and parts. The ride experience more than makes up for all that, though...

  14. #14
    Rod
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    Congrats on the new bike. I made the switch as well, but I didn't get a 29 fs. I'm very happy with my hardtail, but I may get a fs frame.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmoo View Post
    That's a big change. I took baby steps, from 26 hardtail to 29 hardtail to a 29 fs. 29 hardtail showed me that I can go straight over the rough. 29fs showed me I can do some of that sitting down, and a lot less punishment. Congrats on the bike.
    That's how I did it too. Spent years on 26" hardtails. Last year I got a Tomac Flint 29r and got back in to racing. I was really fast on it. But still lacking on the rocky stuff chasing guys on full suspensions. So I got a good deal on a Salsa Spearfish and did a frame swap about 2 weeks ago. Started setting PRs on the first ride. I can just rip over the rocks now. I almost don't have to pick a line. The other thing that really surprised me was how much more controllable it is when sliding both wheels. On the hardtail if I got both wheels sliding it almost always ended in a really bad fast crash. I can drift the salsa with total control.

  16. #16
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    I can relate...the first time I rode a FS 29er I didn't feel impressed at all...the second time was my new bike and I loved it. It's odd how we talk ourselves out of so many good things.
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  17. #17
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    Great choice!

  18. #18
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    Congrats on the 29er! Man I understand the whole thing of "this is what everyone has been talking about" Granted my MTB experience is 1 season thus far but going from a 26" to a 29er hardtail was like night and day. I have more confidence and feel more comfortable on my 29er on the trails than I ever have on my 26. In fairness my 26 is a cheapy thing so nto fully fiar to compare but... Things i used to avoid now I just look at like "Hell Ya I got this" and I role right through. To most of you what I avoided was just normal barely pay attention too but to a rookie, its a bit on the nerves, well WAS a bit on the nerves. Welcome to the world of 29ers, its a life like no other.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    The bike will be here Monday. I'm stoked. But also, I'm wondering what to expect? After sooooo long on a 26" hardtail, should I change anything about my riding style? Should I make these changes "on purpose" (whatever they are) or just ride and let it happen? A buddy was telling me how - when he made the transition from 26 to 29 - he was overcooking turns... carrying more speed than he was used to on the same trail/turns ... I imagine the list goes on and on.

    I don't want to over think this. But I'd love any tips or advice that you guys can think of... thinking back to when you made that transition.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
    Yes, you are over thinking it. It's a bicycle. The only tip you need is knowing how to ride one. We all make constant micro-adjustments while riding. Likewise we quickly adjust when going from one bike to another. That also applies when changing from one 26" to another. We may not like the differences due to changes in geometry or even wheel size but there are no secrets.

    What I did notice when I first got on a 29" bike was that it rolled over rocks and roots easier on the trails I'd ridden for years. Climbing was easier, as was descending but I adapted to the bigger wheels in about five minutes.
    So was I right?

    Congrats on the new bike it looks really nice.
    The trouble with having an open mind is that people will insist on trying to put things in it.

  20. #20
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    That is one beautiful bike and I'm sure it's a blast to ride. Congrats!

  21. #21
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    I did exactly the same thing... Never rode a FS or a 29er until I laid down the cash and owned one. In the first quarter mile, I knew I did the right thing.
    NICE Cannondale.
    I like turtles

  22. #22
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    I think your story is a great one and shows what I have thought all along: if you can ride, going to a 29er, a FS, etc. isn't that big of a deal. No need for baby steps. It also shows that you don't need to demo a bike etc. to get one you like. That bike looks sweet BTW!

  23. #23
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    Yesterday was the second day on the bike and the first race. It was a 2-man, 6-hour race. The course was mixed - lots of tight flat turns in a pine forrest (think loose corners covered with pine needles), two water crossings, lots (!) of roots, rocks, etc.

    I did 30+ miles at race pace. There is NO WAY I could've ridden that (rooty) course on the old bike at that pace, that long. My quads were on the verge of cramping on the last two laps. Typically, those sharp hits are the ones that do me in - those cramp-inducing bumps. But it wasn't there. I was able to stay seated on steep technical climbs and "protect" the legs. Our team finished 2nd in the two-man open (no age group) category. I'll take it! And guys - we hear all the time "It's not about the bike". Well yesterday, it was about the bike. I really felt like it carried me that last lap.
    Mountain bikers who don't road ride are usually slow.
    Roadies who don't mountain bike are usually d***s.

  24. #24
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    Congrats!
    That's one badass bike.

  25. #25
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    Nice story. My buddy has that bike, it is a beaut!

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