Is it time for me to get a FS 29'er?
I have ridden mountain bike for about 10 years now. I started off slow, and then it quickly became a passion (or an obsession, depending upon who you asked :) ) My current ride is a 2002 Giant AC. I have taken that bike on all the local trails, DH'd with it out west, and did some urban riding in various cities. It's been my all purpose bike, and I have scarcely had any misgivings about owning it. But, now... now it mainly just sits in the house, and I am starting to wonder if maybe the spark is gone. I no longer look at it and think of all the possibilities. It just sits there and acts as a temporary rack for clothing.
So, now I wonder if I can reignite my passion for riding with a new bike. Many riders seem to be ranting about 29'ers these days. I admit to having suspicions, probably mostly due to my ignorance. Obviously, the basic principles of cycling apply. Still, I wonder, have the bugs been worked out? Is there a wide enough variety of parts (tires, wheels, forks) that I won't be annoyed at having a bike that is inferior to comparably priced 26er? Are the bikes as strong as 26'ers? Do 29" wheels stay true? Are they flexier than 26" wheels? Is the ride quality superior enough that it will make it worthwhile to buy such a bike?
Here's my current riding situation: Mid 40's, about 220lbs, love technical singletrack and challenging trails, although I don't always get to ride it. I like lite urban stuff, although I have tapered off a bit on that lately. I want durable full suspension, with a good range of adjustability (compression AND rebound). Do they make 5" travel 29'ers? It's what my AC is set at now, and it seems to work for me.
Obviously a good bike isn't cheap, but I don't feel like maxing out my credit to get one. What do you recommend?
Wait a year and see where 27.5 goes? (that should get things flaming!)
Please don't start anything here. I need information, not a battleground. :p
Originally Posted by skinewmexico
It worked for me. I just got a 2013 Giant Trance X 29er. I have ridden more in the past three months than I have in three years! It has changed the way I ride, the bigger wheels just roll over everything goin both uphill and down. I am in my mid 40's as well and feel like my passion for riding MT bikes has been reignited. See if you can rent one for a day or two and go ride you local trails, you may be surpised bow much faster you are.
Here is a pic of my current ride at the Confluence area of Auburn, CA
Very nice looking bike, Rob. I'll check out the local shops to see if I can rent one for a day or two. Thanks for the info.
Originally Posted by rollinrob
To attempt to answer your questions, at least as far as parts go, there's a fairly good range of wheels, good adjustable forks etc for 29ers. That was a problem about 5 years ago. As far as the strength of the bikes go, I've seen plenty of big guys ride 29er trail/AM bikes hard with no more issues than comparable 26" wheel bikes. It's definitely possible to get wheels that will stay in true and be durable (think a nice build using Stan's Flow rims or similar).
Originally Posted by bikedreamer
There's plenty of good frames/bikes with around 5" of travel around- Niner Rip/WFO, Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, Specialized Stumpjumper, Transition Bandit/Covert, Banshee Prime, Kona Satori (and I'm sure I've forgotten some, do a search). Try and get some test rides so you can see for yourself what works for you.
As far as the benefits of 29ers go, there are lots of threads on here about that. I've found that they do seem to roll over small bumps a bit better than the smaller wheels (including 650b), also, they carry speed and momentum a bit better than the smaller wheels. They do accelerate a bit more slowly but I think the momentum and rollover benefits far outweigh this.
Generalised statements that you will find in these threads like "26rs are more maneuverable than 29ers" or "I rode a 29er and hated it" annoy me as I think they are unhelpful-for both of those we're left to wonder what bikes the guy was testing. As an example, I know a short travel, relatively steep XC race bike like a Spec Epic (with either wheel size) will feel much more nimble and maneuverable than a longer travel, slack bike like a Spec Enduro or a SC Nomad (more like the OP's AC). But I know which I'd rather ride down the steep fast technical trails I like to ride (and it's not the light race bike as that's not what it's designed for). I'm much more interested in the geometry and general setup of my bikes than with what size wheels they have. I could build a trailbike/AM bike I'd like with any of the three wheelsizes, but I'd choose a 29er for the reasons I listed above.
Other people will have different opinions and that's cool too. As I said (and it sounds like the OP is going to do) get test rides as that's by far the best way to decide what works for you.
Switching from an older Superlight 26" FS to new Superlight 29" FS far exceeded my expectations. It's overall much smoother and faster, and just more enjoyable. The only downside, for me, of the 29", is the slower handling as compared to the 26" equiv, but as morphosity as said, this is very much a relative thing. My 29" SL handles sharper than my 26" Butcher, for example.
They definitely make 5" 29ers, although that's about the limit. You may not need as much travel with the 29er--some people say that the biggers wheels are equivalent to an extra inch of travel, and while I think that these things may not be equated in such a manner, the smoothness added by the wheels is tangible. And strength, parts availability, etc, are no longer issues. In fact, at my LBS, I think they have more stock of 29er parts than anything else.
If you haven't ridden 29er yet, you need to try it out. It definitely rides differently. A new bike can really help put the spark back in your riding, but if you're not riding much now, I don't see how a new bike is going to change that long-term.
I will also add that bikes have come a long way in the last 10 years. My 29er has much better parts than my old 26er. Not necessarily more durable, because my old bike was plenty durable. But better shifting, more efficient pedaling, smoother, lighter, etc. Maybe try a new type of bike like a fatbike to ride in the mud and snow.
+1 on this. A new bike is probably not going to keep you riding long-term. I think the best way to keep the passion going long-term is to beg or borrow 1 or more riding buddies. For me, that makes all the differrence. I've got one friend locally that I ride with regularly. We have a friendly competition going, and we really push each other. I do enjoy riding alone occasionally, but I've found that I just don't ride as hard. Plus it's easier to cancel a ride when it's just you versus planning it with someone else.
Originally Posted by Barheet
At your age and weight, a 29er FS makes sense (I'm 48 and 230, so no offence intended). It's kind of like cheating, but you just have to find harder trails. I'm riding a 2012 GT Sensor 9r Elite. Travel is 120 front and rear. Ride is plush, and the I-drive rear suspension pedals great, so the bike will wheelie and climb easily. $1650 at Performance Bike with the full LBS service and $165 in Performance points (occasionally cheaper if there is a sale), or around $1200 online at Giantnerd. If you can find a better 5" FS 29er at that price, buy it.
But first find a buddy, dust off the hardtail and go for a ride so you can be amazed when you buy your new bike!
Any misgivings you may have about 29ers can be cast aside. The technology is tried and true at this point. It is very difficult to answer whether a new bike will re-ignite a spark for you. It might at first, but some other suggestions about riding partners could be good. I would also add some suggestions like getting into trail building/maintenance and finding new places to ride (even if it means more car time to get there). I also won't profess to tell you if a 29er is for you. There are so many variations in riding styles, venues, fit considerations, etc. that I really think the best advice would be to rent, borrow or demo some bikes to see what you like best. Good luck!
Thanks to all that replied. Very well thought out responses, and very eloquent.
I have ridden with a lot of people with a range of cycling skills in the past, but I tended to find that most group rides were too slow. Nowadays, however, I've gotten a bit out of shape, so the frequent stops and lack of average speed may be just what I need. :)
I will take a few 29'ers for a try. And maybe it's time to spruce up the AC a bit. Maybe a paint job and a few minor mechanical tweaks will make it feel like a new(er) bike.