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  1. #1
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    29 or 26 for newbie racing?

    Hello, making my first mountain bike purchase in the next couple of weeks. Live in MA. will be doing mostly local mountain bike trails, commuting to work on the road, paved dirt rail trails, and want to get into racing. Would I be better off with a 26 or 29er? Are disc brakes important? looking at either specialized hardrock, or trek 3 series. Thanks for the help and input!

  2. #2
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    Either one would work,but for the type riding you are going to do 29er. Nether of those bikes is a race bike,you could race them .Have you thought about used?

  3. #3
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    It might be best to leave the racing aspect out of it for right now. Start worrying about racing when you are in racing shape. Getting into racing shape will take thousands of miles of riding -- more or less depending on how athletic you are and how hard you work.

    So, to log those thousands of miles you'll need a suitable bike for the trails that are available to you. What type of trails are available to you? How many hours of riding do you plan on doing a week?

    The bikes you list might be suitable but probably too low-end. Disc brakes are advisable for most but the easiest types of riding. I'd go for a 29er unless the riding will be very twisty and technical or you are pretty short (which is good for racing) in which case you may want to look at 27.5 or 26ers.

    If you shop prudently, you'll always end up with more bike for the money if you buy used.

    These boards are full of information but nothing beats personal interaction. Look for local mountain bike clubs/groups. Talk to the folks in your bike shop about who rides where and about getting into racing. Do they have shop rides? Can you join an easy group ride on a rental/demo? Anybody selling their used bike...?

    Take your time and do your homework and you'll end up spending your money more wisely.

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Go to a race and see what people are riding.

    I think 29ers are a little faster. Disc brakes are more tolerant of bad weather than Vs.

    Racing is a whole new level of time commitment and expense. As others have said - just ride for a season before you think about competing. If you have to work toward things, pick a couple endurance events, 50 miles or so, and do them as rides rather than races. Better yet, look for something like a poker run.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    For paved riding and XC racing, you're likely better off with a 29er. In MA, depending what sort of riding you like the most and where you're usually going to be riding, it's up in the air. I'm a M******* too; we've got a plenty of good techy trails around and I know lots of people that prefer smaller wheels for them (myself included). Where are you located, and where will you be doing most of your riding?
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  6. #6
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    I live in Rutland, Im new to the mountain bike seen, so ill probably start off at rutland state park, the local rail trails, ans see where that takes me. Probably nothing too crazy, just local trails. Theres a 10 mile race in the area, thought i'd do that to check out how everyone rides and for the experience.

  7. #7
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Just make sure you can ride the course without stopping. If they have a beginners' class, that ought to be prepared enough.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    I'm just a couple towns north of you. You're in luck as far as location. You've got a ton of good riding nearby. Millbury, Upton, Sutton, Leominster are just a few popular popular spots. Also, like Rutland, a ton of other towns have trail stashes worth checking out. And within an hour or two's drive, you've got enough trails to keep you entertained for years.

    New England Mountain Bike Association and other local groups have been busy for a good number of years around here, so there's lots of purpose-built singletrack to be had. A good amount of it tends to be on the twisty side, no huge climbs but plenty of shorter ones, as well as a lot of roots and granite. On a little tangent, but NEMBA is worth joining, not only for the whole trail building angle, but also a fair amount of shops will hook you up with 10% off your purchases if you're a member (disclaimer - this discount usually doesn't apply to complete bikes, but will probably get you something). If you get into the sport at any sort of ongoing level, the membership should pay for itself, at least. Good to hit up a trail work session or two sometime; great way to meet riders that can give you local advice.

    Unless you've got a some BMX or MX background, I'd tend to think a 29er would probably be your best choice to start out with. You want to be on a correctly sized bike too - what's your height and inseam (just to give you a general idea of where you probably fit)?

    You'll want to test ride a few bikes and see what feels best to you before buying. Gear Works in Leominster has a big selection of 29ers in stock (only one 26" on the whole rack - makes me wanna cry). Some good folks over there. Bicycle Alley in Worcester is also good AFAIK, Landry's might be the next closest big shop after that. There a bunch of other smaller places around too.

    If you're at all comfortable with a wrench and a little haggling, in general, a used bike is probably going to be your best deal.

    This guy is asking almost full price -should be able to slice at least a hundred or so off.
    2013 felt 980 29er

    Not super racy, but I'm a fan of FS bikes myself...
    Specialized Mountain Bike

    More...(keep in mind - sizing will limit your choices - and negotiate!)

    Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29er XC Mountain Bike

    2013 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disk 29er 15.5"

    2013 Giant revel 1 mountain bike used 1 time xl

    Gary Fisher Sugar 3+ large mountain bike

    XL Giant Men's Mountain Bike, Deore, Disc Brakes, Serviced, MINT

    Scott Mountain Bike, Disc Brakes, Front Suspension, Serviced, NICE

    If you do end up getting into riding and get a good idea of what type of trails you enjoy riding most, give me a shout and I can probably point you at more stuff that you'd like.
    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the great advice, I was thinking about purchasing from bicycle alley in Worcester. I'm 5"11, and thinking about joining nemba for some good experience and to learn from some others. I'm leaning more towards the 29er.

  10. #10
    T.W.O.
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    For racing 29er HT is the way to go. By default, it's lighter than 26 FS. Race course usually pretty well-groomed enough for the 29er HT. Disc brake system is not a must but highly recommended. Make sure to say hello to all of the sandbaggers for us on your first race

  11. #11
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    FWIW, lighter isn't always faster, and there's only so much grooming you can do when it comes to New England trails. You'll never see anything remotely resembling the dirt sidewalks you see XC races utilizing in a lot of other places.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    FWIW, lighter isn't always faster, and there's only so much grooming you can do when it comes to New England trails. You'll never see anything remotely resembling the dirt sidewalks you see XC races utilizing in a lot of other places.
    I agree. Racing is a the only time I'd recommend a 29HT to anyone. Give me a 26 FS any day, it's definitely more fun than 29er for me on the same trail.

    Most race courses I've been to are not too rough, many bite-size rough sections are there to test the skills and add to difficulty but over all more groomed than trails we ride, generally speaking of course

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