WRC Demo Day & 29er's
So, first off, thanks to Wheat Ridge Cyclery for the demo day.
Yeti, Specialized, Trek and Gary Fisher were all present with tons of bikes and Fox was there to customize your own suspension as well if you wanted. Where else can you take a brand new bike out for an hour plus ride and really put it through it's paces...for free? Great job WRC.
Anyway, so my buddy and I wanted to get some decent saddle time in on some 29er's. We took out an Epic and a Stumpjumper 29er and rode the MW/DR loop.
What was surprising were our findings....
To preface, nothing at all against Specialized (I loved a lot about the bikes), and, I'm not trying to pick a fight here with the 29er crowd since this is all just about our preference as a couple of local trail riders...but we were both underwhelmed with the 29er ride. (Our normal bikes are Giant and Trek 26", 5"travel trail bikes for a frame of reference.)
So yeah, I quickly could see that the rolling mass of the 29er had some advantages. Less trail chatter etc. and even more pronounced at speed. Also, the platform overall is more stable, that is a given. But, I didn't like the slow steering and the lack of acceleration. I also found the bottom bracket and cranks to be similar in height to my 26", so no advantage there. The bike was not nearly as responsive as a 26", and coming from a BMX and moto background, I like to do a lot of rear wheel stuff (drops, manuals), bunny hopping, etc., that was more difficult on the 29er.
So anyway, I guess that's why 26" is still in the game. And again, my main criteria was just which platform I had the most fun on...I'm not coming from a competition standpoint here at all. But, I was shocked. I thought I would love the 29er. But hey, thanks again to WRC for the chance to do this and find that out without having to make a huge purchase.
Now, one thing both my buddy and I did really like was the 2x10 SRAM setup. Very, very nice. I'll be looking for that on my next bike.
So what say you? Again, not to cause any kind of contention, but has anyone else found a 26" to be a preferable ride?
2011 Santa Cruz Nomad
2011 Specialized P1
1999 GT Zaskar
Originally Posted by GL1
Thanks for the perspective. How was the bike through the switchbacks? I haven't had a chance to ride a 29er yet but I would consider one. I guess like everything in life, there are tradeoffs. I know that 29ers roll over stuff more easier but couldn't you compensate on a 26" with suspension travel? I noticed that most 29ers tend to have less travel anways.
The 2x10 SRAM sounds like a step in the right direction. I've been running 1x9 and don't miss the gears. Wonder if manufacturers will ever start offering bikes stock with a 1x10 configuration.
skillz to pay billz
29ers excel in the XC traits more so than the bmx end of the spectrum.
Yeah, the switchbacks were not great with the 29er. I did notice that. You've got to carve a big arc and in some cases it's was not possible to make the turn on the 29er (these would be switchbacks I have made numerous times on my 26"). Now, that having been said, on more rolling/sweeping/wide bermed turns, the 29er actually held a better edge and with more speed. So that was interesting. The 29er did roll obstacles (both up and down) a bit easier than the 26", but, again, even going down some of the technical descents, I could feel that I had lost some of my "quick" steering control...that is to say I could not maneuver as quickly to get right on the best line. But again, with the 29er you didn't have to "pick" a line as much anyway. Still though overall, I like the feel of smaller wheels. They are easier to move around, jump, drop, manual, etc. and, I like the feel of a fully active 26" suspension. There must be something to all that because hey, jump, downhill, freeride bikes aren't going to 26". It's like Nooby said, the 29er traits really come out more on XC type trails and riding.
Originally Posted by mtbklutz
As far as the 2x10, I have been running 2x9 on my XC hardtail for a few years and yeah, I never miss the granny...especially if you have a 34 in the rear. There is nothing on the front range most guys can't easily climb in 34x34. But, the 2x10 has even better ratios and, we were especially impressed also with just how quickly it shifted both in the back and up front. It was so snappy and quick shifting.
2011 Santa Cruz Nomad
2011 Specialized P1
1999 GT Zaskar
hehe ...you said "member"
I ride both, but with different setups (26" Enduro w/ 6" travel and 29" hardtail Stumpy)
Obviously, the hardtail is for more XC riding vs. the Enduro, but the steering of the 29" wheel absolutely has a different feel to it.
I had considered a full suspension 29'r, but after having logged over 500 miles on the hard tail, I'm glad I have it. I realize that budgets prevent a lot of people from having multiple bikes, but I enjoy the option of the varied rides.
one thing I've noticed, you definitely grow into a comfort zone on those larger wheels. They won't replace your 26" bike, maybe just "compliment" it a bit.
“Me fail english? Thats unpossible.” - Matt Groening
I would suggest next time you demo a Fisher 29'er. They have a much nicer balance and handle much better than many of the other 29'ers out there. I think the company has put a lot of work into a creating a good design. I liked the RIP 9 by Niner bikes, too. I was totally unimpressed by the Pivot and Ellsworth 29'ers, which both felt sluggish to me. YMMV
I drank the 29er koolaid- turns out it was POWERade
jake7, you're 6'7" tall, right? I wonder if 29ers are just a better fit for guys like you.
Originally Posted by jake7
A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett