I've been wanting a Maverick 29'er for a couple of years now, ever since Ethan spilled the beans that they were working on one. With Maverick's untimely demise, my dreams went up in smoke. I couldn't wait for the possibility that some other company will come to the rescue and carry on with the 29'er, so I had to come up with a Plan B. After reading 69erSycip's inspirational post on his successful conversion of a Durance to a 69'er and consulting with Ethan, I took the plunge and converted my Matic. I ordered a Stan's NoTubes Crest rim and some spokes, and used an extra Mav front hub I have to build the wheel. Ethan supplied me with the necessary parts to convert my SC 32 fork. I was curious how different my experience would be from 69erSycip's since he used a Durance (different front end geometry) and a DUC 32 fork. I'm guessing I have about 3.5" of front end travel now, would it be enough?
I had to wait until the weather cooperated here in Ohio for a trial run. The trails are finally dry enough to ride on without damaging them. I chose to give it a trial by fire the first time out at the Mohican State Park trail. For the majority of you who don't know about this trail, it is considered the premier mountain biking trail in Ohio. It has a little (or a lot) of everything you want in a cross country trail. Lots of climbs, some quite steep and up to a mile long, equally long descents with switchbacks, rock gardens, pump track-like rollers, mud, sand, gravel, roots large and small, you name it. It's one 24 mile loop of pure fun.
The course starts with a long climb, very steep at first. My first impression was that the front end was "light" compared to before. With the larger front wheel, I'm guessing I put considerably more weight on the rear wheel. I had tried to compensate for this by lowering my handlebars by 3/4" by removing a stem spacer when I set things up. I never felt the front end was out of control, but I was forced to climb the steepest hills sitting on the tip of the saddle. The upside? It was much easier to lift the front end over large roots and rocks. Rocky uphill sections were the most challenging, but even then, it was manageable. With more weight on the rear wheel, I never lost traction while climbing. Coming downhill was fantastic. The bike seemed stable and took short steep drops with aplomb. Fast downhill hairpins that have given me fits in the past seemed easier. This trail doesn't have enough tight twisty sections to get a good feel for how it would handle this, but those places that did require deft handling seemed no better or worse than in 26" mode. I found that I didn't miss the reduced fork travel at all. Maybe I haven't had the fork set up to use all the travel in the past, and I certainly wasn't doing any jumps or ledges, but I feel I had more than enough travel.
In sum, I'm quite pleased with the results. I think I have most of the best aspects of a 29'er, yet still retain the Maverick platform and the lighter weight of a 26" rear wheel. I can't see a reason to convert back to 26", but it's nice to know it is relatively fast and easy to do so. In summary, I would highly recommend this conversion to anyone considering it on a Matic. With 69erSycip's thumbs up on the Durance conversion, it appears we have a viable alternative to the Maverick 29'er that's not to be.
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Thread: Matic 69'er Project
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