I've only been riding 29" wheels for about a year and a half. I picked up a Redline D440 and upgraded the heck out of it. I'm a fan of bikes that are either fully rigid, or fully suspended. I don't like 'hardtails', just a personal preference. Recently I got bit by the 29er full suspension bug after a 80 minute demo on a $6000 Specialized Camber. A few of the other bikes I had in mind were the Camber (cheaper version), The Giants, Scott Spark 960, and the Tallboy Al.
I got the (XL) bike with XT parts, a 120mm X-Fusion Slide 29 fork, wireless speedometer, and a Crankbrothers Kronolog post for about $2400. The cranks are old school XTR with a White Industries Limbo Spider and a 'Tuf Neck' 110/130 bmx chainring with the teeth ground off, for a bashguard. The drivetrain is 18/28/38x12-39, ten speed. A 28t middle ring is perfect for 60% of my riding. The 38x12 combo is as high a gear as I need off-road. The low gears in the granny ring (18x28/32/36/39) are sweet, for me. Some people might ask why I want/need 18.7-16.4-14.6-13.4 inch low gears but I'm not setting up my bikes for other people..
So far, the best compliment I can give the bike is that I don't notice it. It does everything, seamlessly. Sure there are bikes that accelerate faster, corner quicker, or have more travel, but this bike is so easy to tune in to. I was pulling bunnyhops and manuals within 5 minutes of getting on. This bike is not the lightest in my quiver, but it's the most capable climbing. It keeps its speed well on flat or rolling sections and is super confidence inspiring on descents. The single-pivot brake jack isn't really noticeable. For my first full suspension 29er, I am really happy with it.
Another local rider has a XL Superlight 26. I am going to put my 650b wheels on it one of these days and do some test loops to compare bikes. I'll try to post the results of our
27.5/29 comparison sometime soon.
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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