I visited the Dark Side
And it was not that cool. I rode the lastest carbon wonder 29" AM bike from another "I" manufacturer. VPP was my suspension of choice for 8 years prior to my HD and I found their latest offering fine from that perspective. Rollover was noticeable, but not life altering. Climbing on the wagon wheels was meh. Descending was meh.
From an empirical perspective I am a Strava addict and the times were no better climbing or descending on it. I compared it on both long road climbs where it should have crushed my HD and rockier ST climbs where it also should have crushed my HD. Descending I set one PR, but more likely because I am learning the trail. Other than that a lot of top 2 or 3 type of stuff climbing and descending.
In the end my experience was very similar to the article posted on MTBR earlier this week. I was expecting some life altering results and what I got was it is a bike, nothing more or less. Comes out of tight corners slow because of the wheel weight, handled fine, rollover was OK, but overall not worth switching bikes. I am interested to try the lastest SWorks Enduro 29'r since the wheels will be more comparable to my setup. I also like the geometry and chainstay length. Just wanted to share my experience with everyone.
Re: I visited the Dark Side
Can u post the url of the article of mtbr? I'm very interested to read.
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Interesting that you weren't noticeably faster on the 29er. I split last year between two long travel 29ers (Norco Shinobi and Transition Bandit) and can say with certainty that I was faster on both bikes (up & down) than I am on my HD. Rollover was significantly better on the big wheels as well. If I were into racing, I'd be on a 29er hands-down...but I'm not...and small(er) wheels are just more FUN. They make for a more flickable bike, are easier to handle in slow technical/twisty singletrack and are easier to pump & jump with. I found that the big wheels muted the trail for me...and if I wanted a mute trail I'd just ride doubletrack...
Interesting comments. I've ridden a few decent 29'ers and never really found the Kool-Aid to be that satisfying. The Pivot 429 was the last bouncy 29'er I tried and while it was a decent riding bike, I didn't love it by a long shot.
So I finally built up a relatively cheap On-One Scandal hardtail 29'er, mostly because I had a bunch of parts lying around, was curious, and the frame was on sale for dirt cheap. The bike built up nice and light (21lbs-ish) with nothing special parts. This will be my XC bike for the next year or so at least, while my beloved HD is now my Everything Else bike.
So after a few rides on my new 29'er, what do I think? It's a decent bike. I notice the wheels being bigger and definitely can feel that mass getting up to speed. Overall though, I can tell that I'm not going to be having nearly as much fun on this thing. I love the flickability and playfulness of the HD (and my old SL too) and I do think the wheel size plays a part in that. Lighter weight 26" wheels make for a really fun bike. It also doesn't hurt that I'm 5'8" and fit my 26" bikes perfectly.
That said, I'll be doing plenty of XC riding and racing on this new 29'er and I am definitely planning on spending some time on a 27.5 HD soon to see what that feels like.
Overall I find that riding bikes, of whatever wheel size, is infinitely more enjoyable then posting about them on the intarwebz.
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