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Thread: 700c vs. 29er

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    700c vs. 29er

    I'm after a new ride this summer and, having taken a hard look at my riding over the past 5 years, I had pretty much settled on one of the newer 700c based bikes (Trek DS, Giant Roam, etc) because, if I'm being honest, beyond semi daily commuting in summer, I have only on occasion ventured off the crusher-dust trails in our area.

    Now that it comes down to it though, I'm getting cold feet about investing a grand or so in something which may restrict me from venturing into nature (rare as it may be).

    Some thoughts/questions:

    - This is going to sound trite, but how tough are the aforementioned 700c based bikes? Phrased a more practical way, how would they stack up to my 5 year old Giant Rincon (which while decidedly entry level, sure took a beating without greif)?

    - What is the bottom line difference between 700c and 29er bikes? Are we basically talking about the width (ok, diameter to be picky) of the tire? Literature for the Trek DS points out the frame can accommodate either tire (though I assume a rim swap wold be in order)....so does that mean their DS is just a 29er with a narrower tire and less travel in the fork?

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    I had a similar but different delimma. My road bike, which was used mostly as my commuter but with weekend group and solo rides thrown in was stolen. When I got my insurance money, I had to pic out a new bike. I actually ended up going with a nice 2012 Giant Anthem X 29er from Craigslist. I have more friends here who go offroad than on, and I only have a year left in San Diego so I figured I take advantage of the offroad opportunities while I could, but keep a large diameter wheel under me.

    I'm commuting a few times a week on it now and while I really miss the speed of the road bike, especially in a headwind, but I feel like I'm getting stronger. I'm saving for a second wheelset so I can slap a set of skinny tires on during the week and easily swap them for the offroad tires on the weekends.
    Last edited by Smudge13; 04-03-2013 at 09:16 AM. Reason: spelling...

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    dru
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    The rims are the exact same diameter 622 mm. A 700c bike will have considerably skinner rims than 29er. You may be able to go as thin as a 28 but a 32 is more likely on a 29er. Obviously a thin 700c rim will fit a 23.

    The bikes you are interested in are hybrids, they have the worst of both worlds. Better than a 29er on the road but worse than a road bike. Worse than a 29er off road, but better than a road bike (obviously)

    For light trail riding they would be fine, but why not get a cross bike? With 23s they are almost as fast as a road bike.

    Drew
    occasional cyclist

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    Thanks for the thoughts folks.

    Cross is out of the question. My wife (also shopping) cant deal with the road-like body position and (psychological or not) I couldn't live without a sprung fork.

    What this is boiling down to, all else being equal, is a question of frame "toughness" (and certain other components like pedals etc) . I checked a shop at lunch and between their 700c hybrids and 29ers the rims were identical save for, literally, just 2mm difference in the width!

    So it becomes a question of do I get a 29er and slap 700x35 small block eights (or whatever) on it and end up with probably a slightly heavier bike (compared to a hybrid at the same price point), or do I favor the majority of my riding and go for the hybrid with the mindset that I can slap 29x2.1s on it some day if need be (but have to "take it easy" off road compared to the 29er)....

    Decisions, decisions.

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    i don't get it, what does your wife have to do with your bike? you get a cx bike, she gets a mtb bike. By the way, what do you mean by "road like body position" I realize your a bit of a newb but come on, don't be totally closed minded, you do realize that when you are riding the flats or the hoods of a road bike, you are practically as upright as you are on a mtb. The bottom line is an entry level 29er is going to weigh over 30 lbs and an entry level cross bike is going to be 10lbs below that. You probably wont be doing log overs on a cx bike but if your only going on dirt roads occassionally now, that isn't a problem. If your not going off road at all, why are you so sure that you need a suspension? put 35s or 38s on the cx bike and call it a day.

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    When you bike exclusively together, wife has everything to do with it. How much fun would two people have together if one rides a DH and the other a road bike? Extreme example, but the point stands.

    I admit I know little of cross bikes, but a little googling and a bit of touch-and-feel in store all reveal they are road bikes with slightly different geometry and tire clearance. Thank you for your thoughts on the topic, but they just arnt a fit for either of us.

    Fact is, if we had spent a grand each 5 years ago on 26" XC bikes, we probably wouldn't be here but as it happens we are in the market and dig the whole bigger diameter thang. Of the two options in this topic's namesake, we like the idea of the narrower tire since that speaks to the the vast majority of the miles we will put on the bikes. The question really is "are the 700c hybrids" sturdy enough for an occasional outing on the bumpy double track at the nature park?". Probably cant be answered except by personal experience but some anecdotal input from any who care to share is appreciated.
    Last edited by XC_Noob; 04-04-2013 at 11:51 AM.

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    okay, well here are the bottom lines. 700c and 29er are the same thing sizewise. period. When someone says 700c, they are talking about a road bike that typically (but not always) has rim brakes whether they be caliper, canti, or v brake and narrow tires as large as about 38c. As soon as you say 29er you are almost always talking about a bike with seriously knobby tires 1.75" or greater and disc brakes. You know your wife best and as they say happy wife, happy life but honestly, if your not going to revisit the type of bike then you really need to revisit your need for a suspension fork. the money spent on a decent suspension fork would be better spent on a 2nd set of wheels that you could have slick tires on for road riding/commuting and knobbies for the times you do go hit that doubletrack. if you are willing to reconsider your suspension needs then you should consider something like the surly karate monkey but quite frankly, it doesn't sound like you do any serious riding so the cheapest entry level 29er is probably more of your speed. and you could each get one for about $500 each. Surly Karate Monkey Complete Bike 2011 > Complete Bikes > Cross-Country Mountain Bikes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    it doesn't sound like you do any serious riding...
    Getting slightly OT here, but what is the magic formula for serious riding? 14 hours a day in the saddle? A certain 10-mile time to beat? Size of stump routinely surmounted? Size of my wallet perhaps?

    Thanks again for your input, though I'll be honest and tell you it hasn't been very helpful but I will take the blame for that and apologize for a poorly worded title (which I see now implies this is a tire discussion) and/or a poorly worded OP (which didn't clearly state my question). I didn't reach out to the community here to tell me what bike to get, but rather to help me fully understand the differences in construction between so call Hybrids and 29ers before I made a decision between the two.

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    Quote Originally Posted by XC_Noob View Post
    Getting slightly OT here, but what is the magic formula for serious riding? 14 hours a day in the saddle? A certain 10-mile time to beat? Size of stump routinely surmounted? Size of my wallet perhaps?

    Thanks again for your input, though I'll be honest and tell you it hasn't been very helpful but I will take the blame for that and apologize for a poorly worded title (which I see now implies this is a tire discussion) and/or a poorly worded OP (which didn't clearly state my question). I didn't reach out to the community here to tell me what bike to get, but rather to help me fully understand the differences in construction between so call Hybrids and 29ers before I made a decision between the two.
    My apologies if I insulted. in your first post you stated " if I'm being honest, beyond semi daily commuting in summer, I have only on occasion ventured off the crusher-dust trails in our area." So perhaps you commute 10k miles a year but in terms of off road riding, you sound like you don't get out much. You also joined the forum a smidgen over 4 years ago and have very few posts which in and of itself doesn't indicate anything 100% but it could just be you thought you were going to get into the sport and never really did. At any rate, now that I understand your question better, I am better equipped to answer you.

    Frame materials. 29ers, CX, and hybrid bikes all can be made out of steel, aluminum and carbon. of the three, yes, the 29er is going to be the heaviest frame built the "toughest" however even within that realm there are lots of differences.

    Geometry- This is where some of the biggest differences are going to occur. Even on a ridgid 29er such as the karate monkey I linked above, the design of the frame is for a fork which a much longer axle to crown measurment. A bike like the karate monkey can also easily be run with an 80-100mm suspension fork without throwing off the geometry. You would not want to do that with a cx bike and a hybrid can go either way as many of them are designed with 60mm suspension forks but keep in mind that those types of hybrids are really typically called "comfort bikes" and are designed to be ridden on paved streets with a suspension to give people more comfort like a car. To be brutally honest, geared towards senior citizen types looking to dabble in cycling.

    a hybrid 29er is sometimes called a "dual sport" bike because it does have the ability to hit some more serious trails but not advised to go doing seriously aggressive riding.

    A true 29er designed for serious riding will often have a frame that is "gussetted" that is you will see additional material between the headtube and downtube for greater strength in that critical area. a 29er in the $1000 price range is probably going to have a suspension fork that may or may not be decent but will probably weigh in the neighborhood of 4-5 lbs while a ridgid steel fork will only weigh about 2lbs. IF your going to be riding on the road, save the weight and go ridgid. there are plenty of people that ride serious XC on ridgid bikes.

    regarding your wifes aversion to the "road bike positioning" a lot of people are intimidated by road bikes and think "that will hurt my back" I'm a personal trainer, it couldn't be further from the truth. first of all, the position on a road bike actually stretches out the lower back so cycling provides relief for a lot of people. 2nd. within the realm of all bikes there are various setups. There are flat out crit racing road bikes with a saddle that is 5 inches above the handlebars and super steep aggressive angles and there are also road bikes that are "gran fondo" and setup with much more even handlebars. The same thing is true in MTB. A XC racing machine may have the saddle significantly above the bars and be very aggressive. then you have the opposite in downhill bikes where the seat is very low and bars very high and much slacker angles.

    So after all of this, here is my basic advice to you. IF you never go off of drops and jumps a 29er is probably a bit overkill as an entry level 29er is going to be very heavy. A flatbar hybrid type bike with a ridgid fork is probably a better option. with knobby 32-38c CX tires, it will still get great traction on dirt trails and give you MTB positioning on the bike and be snappy on paved roads. IF you will be hitting some small jumps, drops, log overs etc, consider the 29er, especially if you have rocky terrain or lots of logovers as the bigger wheels get over that stuff easier, your tire choice will be a huge factor in how the bike rides on the road. I have Geax Mezcals which are lite knobbed lightweight for speed and i have Geax sturdy which are monstrously heavy with big knobs. The traction of the sturdys is awesome but man do they suck to ride on the road. The mezcals are great on the road but man, let that trail be a little bit damp and it's a scary proposition.

    Pictured below are the following. A cannondale Bad Boy. This bike was designed around a MTB frame but is meant to be sort of an Urban Messenger assault bike. It can probably fit up to about a 1.75" knobbie tire but i'm not sure it could go to a full on 2" mtb tire. This is an older one that has a headshock so it has a little bit of suspension and the head shock can be locked out. IT's pretty lightweight and nimble so it does great on the paved roads but also can handle some offroad action.

    Next is the diamondback Trace This is a "dual sport" 29er. I bought this frame to build up to see if I would get into mtb coming from my road background. the fork on this thing is a monstrous 5.5 lbs and it doesn't even have a lockout. it's like a pogostick and a total piece of crap. Notice there is nothing particularly beefy around the headtube on this frame and the head tube is 1 1/8" straight steer tube.

    Below are pics of my Yelli Screamy. Notice the Tapered Headtube as well as the gussetting. The manitou tower pro fork isn't the lightest by any stretch, it's still about 4 lbs but it's performs great. This one is 120mm and it has lockout. The pics don't really illustrate it well but the rear end of the Yelli is MUCH beefier. Starting with the seattube the diamondback takes a 27.2 seatpost while the yelli is a 30.9. the chain stays and the seat stays on the yelli also have MUCH bigger tubing which is going to be stronger.

    700c vs. 29er-2012-11-16_10-55-01_489.jpg700c vs. 29er-2013-01-24_15-21-22_820.jpg700c vs. 29er-yelli-screamy.jpg700c vs. 29er-yelli-screamy-3.jpg

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    Thank you for taking the time to script that awesome rundown on construction. Exactly the sort of info I'm after. Photos add about a thousand words as the saying goes. You've given me new things to look for when hands-on evaluating bikes.

    You'll have to forgive my overreaction and cynicism when "serious riding" is mentioned. A snobby local bike shop has made me somewhat jaded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by XC_Noob View Post
    Thank you for taking the time to script that awesome rundown on construction. Exactly the sort of info I'm after. Photos add about a thousand words as the saying goes. You've given me new things to look for when hands-on evaluating bikes.

    You'll have to forgive my overreaction and cynicism when "serious riding" is mentioned. A snobby local bike shop has made me somewhat jaded.
    No worries my man, I know how you feel. there is a lot of snobbery in this sport. What are you guys riding on now? is it possible that some modifications can be made to your existing bikes? The diamondback frame you see above was a very good frame and for someone who weighs 150lbs, that fork would work fine. I weight 250, it bounces like crazy. impossible to ride on paved roads with speed and really tough to climb hills on it. The yelli is an absoulte machine. that bike climes like a beast, decends like a beast and can take abuse. I don't abuse it cuz i'm a newb and my skill suck, but at 250 lbs, I want something I trust underneath me and I fully trust it. It would probably be overkill. The cannondale bad boy is a really cool, I have no idea what the pricepoint is on them now. the one pictured was selling used for $450 at my bike shop and I test rode it. Its really geared towards street use but with some slightly knobby tires it would be fast as all get out on some single track. A skilled rider would shred trails with it.

    At the end of the day, wheels are the biggest difference maker in upgrades on most bikes. For serious trail riding, you really want at least 2" mtb tires and rims stout enough to handle some abuse and 32 spokes. For speed, you could go with much lighter rims/spoke/tire combo and shave serious total weight as well as rotational weight and have a much nicer riding bike on pavement. When I'm commuting on pavement, I like going fast. while my mtb is comfortable it is so slow. I can sustain 19-20 mph on my carbon race bike on the road. On my surly disc trucker touring bike unloaded I'm lucky to sustain 16 mph and on the 29er I'm lucky if I can do 13 or 14 steady because the tires are so heavy and running at low pressures for the trail.

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    Just for redicilous silliness. I put a set of contintal 700-42mm cross tires on my cross bike and rode some trails with it. It works, but no where near as well as a traditional mtn tire. But then it is a huge cross tire, not a mtn tire.

    But i have my cross set up with flat bars, its kinda like a light weight mtn bike. Still fun to ride alot. Plus i use it to do alot of dirt roads and light trails.

    Bikes are what you make of them, and should reflect your personality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by XC_Noob View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts folks.

    Cross is out of the question. My wife (also shopping) cant deal with the road-like body position and (psychological or not) I couldn't live without a sprung fork.

    What this is boiling down to, all else being equal, is a question of frame "toughness" (and certain other components like pedals etc) . I checked a shop at lunch and between their 700c hybrids and 29ers the rims were identical save for, literally, just 2mm difference in the width!

    So it becomes a question of do I get a 29er and slap 700x35 small block eights (or whatever) on it and end up with probably a slightly heavier bike (compared to a hybrid at the same price point), or do I favor the majority of my riding and go for the hybrid with the mindset that I can slap 29x2.1s on it some day if need be (but have to "take it easy" off road compared to the 29er)....

    Decisions, decisions.
    If you wife wants to ride to work, to brunch, to pick up groceries, and the occasional weekend jaunt, I think a hybrid is the way to go for her.

    As for yourself, I think a mountain bike is fine for commuting but hybrids are pretty terrible for mountain biking. So if you want to ride more than smooth dirt roads or gravel doublewide paths, I'd go with a mountain bike. You'll still be able to keep up with your wife but may have to pedal harder. I mean, she's not trying to drop you or anything right?

    My wife prefers to ride at a leisurely pace, so I can keep up with her on my mountain bike no problem when she is on a road bike. Heck, these days I'm pulling a 25 lb trailer with a 20 kid and 5 lbs of kiddie stuff on a hybrid (way heavier than your mountain bike would be) while my wife rides a road bike. I'm working way harder but she's not spitting in my face and then zooming off. She enjoys her ride and a mellow pace. Of course, YMMV depending on wifey.

    Ride what you think you will enjoy because...well...you'll enjoy it more.

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    I have a Jamis Dragon that has Spinergy 29er Xyclone disc wheels on it that I use for a commuter. It has a pair of Continental Gators in the 25 mm size on it, and holds 120 psi no problem.

    Naturally, it holds regular 29" mtb tires just fine, too.
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

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    You need to assess the likelihood that you're going to ride proper off-road trails.

    Hybrid bikes (like the Roam) are for on road use only. They will survive the occasional dirt road riding, but they will never excel. Most of the hybrid bikes can not be fitted with larger volume tires which is a fairly important part of off-road trail riding. They also have more upright seating positions and are overall designed with pavement in mind. Even with knobby tires, a hybrid bike will never be suitable for off-road trails.

    29er (or any off-road trail bike) is the only option you should consider if you plan on riding off-road trails. One benefit of a 29er is that it can be fit with skinny tires and used on road with a minimal difference to a hybrid bike. The riding position will be a little more "aggressive" meaning you'll be bent over more at the waist, but if you can deal with that then it's no big deal. It would be a similar riding position to a proper road bike, actually.

    A mountain bike can be made to function as well as a hybrid on road but a hybrid can not be made to function as well as a mountain bike off road. If you expect to tackle off road trails, even occasionally, you should only consider a mountain bike.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    A mountain bike can be made to function as well as a hybrid on road but a hybrid can not be made to function as well as a mountain bike off road. If you expect to tackle off road trails, even occasionally, you should only consider a mountain bike.
    ^^^...I agree with this...^^^

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Raton View Post
    I have a Jamis Dragon that has Spinergy 29er Xyclone disc wheels on it that I use for a commuter. It has a pair of Continental Gators in the 25 mm size on it, and holds 120 psi no problem.

    Naturally, it holds regular 29" mtb tires just fine, too.
    i weigh 250lbs and put 110 psi in the front tire and 115psi in the rear with 25mm tires on m y racing bike. Chances are you are running WAY too much pressure.
    if there was ever a myth in road cycling it's that super high pressure = faster. unless you are on the smoothest of smooth surfaces, you want a little bit of tire drop when your on a narrow slicks. Also you do run the risk of blowing out the sides of those rims with pressure that high, I've seen it happen, it aint pretty!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    i weigh 250lbs and put 110 psi in the front tire and 115psi in the rear with 25mm tires on m y racing bike. Chances are you are running WAY too much pressure.
    if there was ever a myth in road cycling it's that super high pressure = faster. unless you are on the smoothest of smooth surfaces, you want a little bit of tire drop when your on a narrow slicks. Also you do run the risk of blowing out the sides of those rims with pressure that high, I've seen it happen, it aint pretty!
    Well, I guess I been pretty lucky, because I've been running those pressures for 2 years and thousands of miles, with no problems. I have pinch flatted when running 90psi in those tires, though. Thanks for the warning.
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

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    Re: 700c vs. 29er

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Raton View Post
    Well, I guess I been pretty lucky, because I've been running those pressures for 2 years and thousands of miles, with no problems. I have pinch flatted when running 90psi in those tires, though. Thanks for the warning.
    90 would be too low for me on a 25c as well but I bet you would have a more comfortable and faster ride

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    This is an older thread but very helpful.

    Please correct me if Im wrong but it seems a MTB is much more flexible. Is there any way to Add "cushier" tires to a road bike or something dirt gravel friendly ?

    My GF wants a new bike and light weight /lean over/drop bars /larger wheel circumference is what she thinks is ideal however a road bike would prevent her from any sort of comfortable non pavement riding no ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by manmythlegend View Post
    This is an older thread but very helpful.

    Please correct me if Im wrong but it seems a MTB is much more flexible. Is there any way to Add "cushier" tires to a road bike or something dirt gravel friendly ?

    My GF wants a new bike and light weight /lean over/drop bars /larger wheel circumference is what she thinks is ideal however a road bike would prevent her from any sort of comfortable non pavement riding no ?
    The practical limit for most road bikes is a 700x28c tire. Tires larger than that typically do not fit. This makes for a cushy road ride, but does not give you a good ride off of pavement.

    Drop bars, skinny tires, bad brakes and aero riding position do not make for a good off road experience for someone who is unfamiliar to riding off pavement so that pretty much rules out a road bike. Even a cross bike would be a poor suggestion unless your GF has experience riding off road. But if you are looking for a bike with the ability to ride mostly on road with the occasional trip to dirt roads then a cross bike could be your answer. If you are looking for a bike which could be used for off-road trails then a mountain bike is the only thing I am comfortable recommending.

    Major caveat is that if someone is an experienced bike rider, a cross bike is a ton of fun both on road and off. I liked my old one so much I took a frame building class and largely copied it for my new bike. A huge challenge and a totally new experience when that comes out for a trail ride. Just because it's not a beginner's bike doesn't mean it's a stupid bike.

    Perhaps it's time to do a dirt demo of a couple bikes.
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    Either will work...

    Quote Originally Posted by XC_Noob View Post
    What this is boiling down to, all else being equal, is a question of frame "toughness" (and certain other components like pedals etc) . I checked a shop at lunch and between their 700c hybrids and 29ers the rims were identical save for, literally, just 2mm difference in the width!
    700c or 29er of similar price will have no appreciable difference in frame/component strength/durability for the type of riding you describe: pavement, gravel roads, groomed bike trails, occasional smooth single track. A cross bike (or a stout touring bike like the Surly trucker) is a good suggestion, but you insist on a suspension and upright bars. Personally, I would not want suspension for that type of riding as it adds weight and complexity for minimal gain, but it's your choice, man. Bike industry has pretty much convinced everyone it ain't a real offroad bike if it ain't got suspension. I run 700x42 cross tires on my trucker and it handles light to med offroad (roots, occasional fist-sized rocks, short drops) quite well. I switch to narrower, lighter tires for extended road riding.

    Get a nice hybrid with 1) the best component spec in your price range and 2) in a color you like and you'll be happy with it. Or apply rules 1) and 2) to a 29er. You will be equally happy.
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    Consider dropbar or dirtdrop expedition rigs?

    zebrahum is right about the limits of true road bikes, but there is a small, yet growing number of offroad riders using dropbar mtb bikes, cross bikes, and touring bikes to venture off pavement. The 2012 Tour Divide was won by Jay Petervary on a Salsa Fargo, a dirtdrop expedition rig that can run tires of mtb dimensions. Also check out the Surly Crosscheck and Long Haul Trucker, both of which can run rubber up to, I think, 700x45c. I have 42c w/ fenders on my own LHT. The Fargo is pretty close to any rigid mtb in terms of the type of terrain it can handle, but can also be rigged for pavement. The other two, set up properly, shine on fire roads, gravel roads, and non-technical singletrack. All are very versatile, flexible rigs that would seem to fit your GF's needs.
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    If you are hesitant about cross bikes because of their "roadish" riding position, keep in mind it can be adjusted to be more upright with a different stem and bars. Those are not expensive modifications to make.

    And as already mentioned, a 29er can be good a commuter just like a hybrid, but on the trails you'll see the difference. If you ask me, commuting is not where performance matters that much. You're just going from one place to another. It's a different story if you commute 20 miles each day, but at that point one could say a separate commuter is justified.

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    As the original poster I thought I'd drop back in for a sec. I decided, seemingly against the resident grain, on the Trek DS 8.4 and have been loving it for several weeks now (my wife is on the Neko SL and loving it even more I think). For my money, it was simply the right mix of features and fit.

    The DS is perhaps a little unique in that in terms of geometry its very close to a Cross Country hardtail (the Giant Roam which was also on my list I found to be a more upright casual posture). Comparing to the "true" 29ers from Trek and Cannondale at about the same price point, it was pretty much a wash in terms of components. Really, the same bike (tires notwithstanding) with a different fork: one which is a good pound or pound and a half lighter at a cost of travel. I can hear the groans and "whats the point?!?" comments, but at the end of the day, if you feel safe hitting a choppy section of the trail with a rigid, good for you, I applaud your skill, but I feel I have better control and am safer with a little give up front.

    Clearly (as evidenced in this thread) these are not a bike everyone has a use for but the one take-away I'd like to leave those in a similar situation with is that there is a wide breadth of product in a given category and we shouldn't write off all "hybrids" just because they don't fit someone else's idea of ideal.

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