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  1. #1
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    29er's and western Oregon

    The 29er movement seems to be gaining a lot of steam, and I'm interested in hearing from people who either own a 29er or have at least test ridden them on local trails in Oregon.

    Many people say 29er's are the way to go for a variety of reasons, while others say the dissadvantages outweigh the advantages. I think a lot of this has to do with where and what you ride. A lot of these people ride in places like SoCal and Moab, on terrain that's quite different than we have in the forrests of western Oregon. Their terrain has less elevation change, and is often more rocky and less rooty than what I see in a typical forrest ride here. Climbing is a big part of every ride I do. Finding a route that has less than 1500 ft of elevation change on a 5-7 mile loop is difficult.

    I'm interesting a new full suspension bike, and would like to hear some of your thoughts about 29er's on western Oregon specific terrain (uproots, some rocks, lots of climbing and tree lined decents with tight corners, very few airborn jumps).

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mightymouse
    The 29er movement seems to be gaining a lot of steam, and I'm interested in hearing from people who either own a 29er or have at least test ridden them on local trails in Oregon.

    Many people say 29er's are the way to go for a variety of reasons, while others say the dissadvantages outweigh the advantages. I think a lot of this has to do with where and what you ride. A lot of these people ride in places like SoCal and Moab, on terrain that's quite different than we have in the forrests of western Oregon. Their terrain has less elevation change, and is often more rocky and less rooty than what I see in a typical forrest ride here. Climbing is a big part of every ride I do. Finding a route that has less than 1500 ft of elevation change on a 5-7 mile loop is difficult.

    I'm interesting a new full suspension bike, and would like to hear some of your thoughts about 29er's on western Oregon specific terrain (uproots, some rocks, lots of climbing and tree lined decents with tight corners, very few airborn jumps).
    29ers work just fine in WEsTern Oregon. Lots o' us have them.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    29ers work just fine in WEsTern Oregon. Lots o' us have them.
    Thanks shiggy, for absolutely no helpful information in that post. As a guy who probably holds a lot of information and has a lot of experiences to comment on, do you care to include specifics beyond "they work" and "people own them"?

  4. #4
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by mightymouse
    Thanks shiggy, for absolutely no helpful information in that post. As a guy who probably holds a lot of information and has a lot of experiences to comment on, do you care to include specifics beyond "they work" and "people own them"?
    How about "your mileage may vary"?

    There are no absolutes. Those of us the ride 29ers here have few issues or we would not be using them. There is no inherent problem as related to the conditions here. 29ers are a viable option.

    Will you be happy with how they perform? I have no idea. Heck, there are people that do not even like mtbs!
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  5. #5
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    I don't know what Shiggy's problem is thinking people might have different opinions or experiences than he does. I don't have that problem, everyone should think like I do or else they're messed up. And I think the disadvantages of the 26 inch wheel to the 29er makes me wonder why they even still make them for adults. But in full disclosure I live in western Washington not Oregon. Not that I don't like Oregon I really love it but I think the economic solution to Oregon's problems would be to turn the whole state into a wilderness area. The first one that allows bikes. You all can still live there just get rid of all the cars.

  6. #6
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    I ride both 26ers and 29ers in Oregon, they both work good for me. I'm definitely not a 29er fan boy, my last bike purchase was a 26er, but my next is going to be a 29er.

    You're going to get a dozen opinions and they'll be all over the board. So, I say, ride what you like.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  7. #7
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    Oregon fluff

    Native Oregonian here. I have been riding mountain bikes for twenty years. To keep it in perspective, I am thrity-three years old and the first ten years of my mountain biking days were more urban assault and less dirt riding. In my youth ages 6-13 I rode motorcycles on trails in the Mt. Scott area as well as some national forest land near Bear Creek. Long story short, my access to riding dirt bikes in the Portland 'berbs became less and less as the land got swallowed up by urban development. So, with the loss of motorcycle trail riding came urban bmx/mountain biking.

    As my cycling skills developed I started to take more interest in riding off-road. With that interest came a desire to find a bike that a) fit my lanky 6'6" frame and b) was fun to ride. Well, I ended up building a steel Fat Chance Yo Eddy with front suspension and 26" wheels. In 1999 29ers were just becoming reborn in Colorado, or something. The "Fat" rode like a Cadillac and still does. That bike helped me progress my skills even more, but in seven years time I felt I had found the limits of 26" steel hardtail and I wanted something different.......

    In 2006 I purchased a custom FS 29er. With a big change in the bike i was riding(steel hardtail), to this rock eating, big wheeled monster (FS 29er), there was a steep learning curve. The 29er topped with full suspension was difficult to wrap my head around. After riding the 29er for 40+ hours I was able to understand the advantages that came with the bigger wheels. To this day I am developing cycling skills to improve my ability to ride 29" wheels.

    You have to want to get stronger when you start riding a 29er, because you don't have a choice. It takes more power to get 29" wheels moving, but once you get them moving all you have to do is keep them moving. Easier said than done, right? Well, if nothing else when you ride big wheels you, as a rider and the engine, start looking for ways to keep the big wheels rolling so you don't have to pedal so hard. With this new sight line and right mind you, the rider, start developing increased handling skills in order to control the speed developed by the big wheel motion. Then it is all about using the speed to your advantage.

    29er mountain biking a lot like motorcycle trail riding, in that, the big wheels will roll over and through more technical singletrack than one's 26"-wheel-brain can comprehend. In order to maintain speed of the big wheels the rider has to be willing to trust the larger contact patch by pushing and leaning the bike into turns rather than steering and picking through corners like you would on a 26" wheel bike.

    If couldn't already tell....I'm sold on the 29er, it's right for me. However, I did move back to riding a steel hardtail 29er. Personally, I don't feel like I need full suspension for the type of cross country singletrack riding we have here in Oregon. I am more efficent and probably faster over all in my hardtail. It is not to say I won't own a FS 29er someday but at that point I will still have a hardtail 29er in the fleet.

    Bottom line: People can talk/write until they're blue in the face about the advantages and disadvantages of X and Y, but until you try it for yourself you will never know if it works for you. Go demo 29ers on the types of trails you ride and make the decision for yourself.

    BFE
    Last edited by BIGfatED; 11-13-2009 at 10:41 AM.

  8. #8
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    thanks for the thoughts guys

    Quote Originally Posted by BIGfatED
    You have to want to get stronger when you start riding a 29er, because you don't have a choose. It takes more power to get 29" wheels moving, but once you get them moving all you have to do is keep them moving. Easier said than done, right? Well, if nothing else when you ride big wheels you, as a rider and the engine, start looking for ways to keep the big wheels turning so you don't have to pedal so hard. With this new sight line and right mind you, the rider, start developing increased handling skills in order to control the speed developed by the big wheel motion, and then use the speed to your advantage.

    29er mountain biking a lot like motorcycle trail riding, in that, the big wheels will roll over and through more technical singletrack than one's 26"-wheel-brain can comprehend. Maintaining speed of the big wheels the rider has to be willing to trust the larger contact patch by pushing and leaning the bike into turns rather than steering and picking through corners like you would on a 26" wheel bike.
    Nicely said. Learning to change your riding style to use the advantages of the 29er to make the disadvantages less detrimental. Seem simple, and makes a lot of sense, but it's helpful to hear you say you've noticed your own evolution while making the switch.


    Is there anything to the fact that 6'4" 220lbs guys will see more of a benefit from a 29er than a 5'10" 160lbs guy?

    BFE

  9. #9
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    One more opinion. I live in Eugene now, but have spent the bulk of my mtb riding in Colorado and California, and have ridden a lot in Moab, and of course places like Sedona, Fruita, etc. So, my riding is mostly a survey of western US I guess. My favorite place to ride is Tahoe.

    Anyway, now that I've been on a 29er for a couple years, but still ride a 26" full suspension bike as well, my take is that I simply don't plan to ever buy another 26" wheeled mtb. The only disadvantage I've heard people come up with is the longer wheelbase, and thus they're harder to manual. True, and maybe that matters if you do a lot of dirt jumping, but for trail riding, I don't notice it at all. Technically the wheel takes more to accelerate, but again, unless you're a pro racer or something, I can't imagine that's actually going to be something you really notice in your riding.

    What I find is that 29ers just work better in general - *for me*. I fit 29ers better (I like the feeling of sitting "in" the bike), they clearly rider over rough and bumpy terrain better, and it is as if they give you 2" more suspension. My 29er also seems to steer and corner more desirably.

    That said, it may depend a bit. Your choices are more limited, although there's quite an array of 29ers these days, and in Western OR, you simply don't need anything with more than 4" of travel for trail riding, so it shouldn't matter. In fact, the bigger travel 29ers (RIP9, even the Tallboy, etc.) are potentially overkill for terrain here. I'd be eyeing a Jet9 (and I was until the issues, but am still planning/hoping to get one next year as my standard suspension ride).

    My current 29er is a fully rigid Niner MCR9. I love it. I am still shocked I like it, given I'd ridden at least 4" travel full suspension bikes since about '95, and as mentioned my other bike is a 6" travel Giant Reign, with Lyric fork, and so on (a beefy bike, and total overkill for Oregon, but works great in Tahoe and so on). I have ridden my Niner in Moab, and it's ok in a couple spots, but you want suspension pretty quick there

    My ideal stable would be the rigid Niner for winter and mild rides here, a Jet9 for general Oregon riding, and then a Tallboy, RIP9, Lenz, or other similar 4-5" travel 29er for places like Tahoe, Moab, some parts of Colorado, etc. Someday...

    Oh, I'm 6'2" 180lbs. I think the taller you are, the better fit you'll get from a 29er, but the advantage isn't restricted to tall folks.

  10. #10
    juan
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    I've noticed it's taller folk who seem to generally get into the 29ers. To second some of the other opinions, that doesn't mean if someone's under 6ft they aren't gonna like it. I think it's one of those things you gotta just by and try or ride your friends' a few times to see if its really for you. They do take a little getting used to, especially the handling, but man they climb like mountain goats and eat up the terrain we have out here. Fast.

  11. #11
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    Thanks headangle! You're exactly the type of rider I was hoping could shed some light on this question for me. I've been leaning towards a 29er for a few months now, ever since I rode the north rim trail on Mary's Peak following two guys on 29ers. One was fully rigid, the other was a hardtail, and it was a thing of beauty to watch them clear some narly uproot sections that brough my old 26er hardtail to it's knees. The reason I feel the need to post is because I've not had a chance to ride any FS 26er bikes, and until the demo events kick up again next year, I feel that there's a big gap between what I'm riding and what's out there.

  12. #12
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    29 v 26

    I have always ridden 26" wheeled bikes and I am 5' 9", 165 lbs....average. I got to demo a Knoa 29er FS last summer and I could see the advantages of the big wheels. They really do roll over the roots better than the 26er with a much smoother ride. That said, I really didn't feel the need or urge to run out and upgrade to a 29er bike. To me, my impression, was that the wheels felt big and a bit…well, big . As previously stated, I would probably get use to this and just adjust, but I just don’t feel the need to go big.

    I do have friends that are much taller than me that love their 29ers. They always say that the bike fits them much better and that they felt too big for the 26er.

    For me I will stick with the 26er.
    I ride at ludicrous speed

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tool addict
    Not that I don't like Oregon I really love it but I think the economic solution to Oregon's problems would be to turn the whole state into a wilderness area. The first one that allows bikes. You all can still live there just get rid of all the cars.
    This has nothing to to do with the question at hand and we could care less about your opinion.
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  14. #14
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    Sorry, you guys made it too easy...
    Quote Originally Posted by kidwoo
    The internet sounds like a tough place to ride.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996cc
    This has nothing to to do with the question at hand and we could care less about your opinion.
    You couldn't be more wrong. Don't use "we" when you're speaking for yourself. I agree wholeheartedly with Tool Addict and worship his opinion.

    Back on topic, I've got two 29ers (rigid SS & FS) and love them both. I also love my {dozen or so} 26" wheeled bikes, but I'll never buy another small wheeled bike. FWIW I'm 6'3", 195#, been riding off-road since 1985, ridden 75+ mile days a half dozen times.

    --Sparty

    P.S. I also love both my motorcycles, but that's another forum.
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  16. #16
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    um... i like bikes...

    i love all my bikes equally... but i have to say i've been infatuated with my monocog 29er s.s. since i bought it about a little over 2 years ago now... if i'm free-riding and doin "gnarly" stuff.. i like my 26 fs...if i'm down for a good work-out, both cardio, legs and upper body... i love my 9er...

  17. #17
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    For western Oregon trail riding, if I had to pick just one "do it all" bike, it would be a 100 mm full suspension 29er.

    Hands down.

    I could give up the 120 mm 29er trail bike -- with great regret -- and the 29er hardtail -- without ever really missing it -- but not the Mama Bear 100 mm double boinger.
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  18. #18
    meatier showers
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    Right on. My 100mm FS 29er hits the spot. The perfect bike, except for whenever conditions dictate something different, like my rigid singlespeed, or my hardtail, or... or... or...

    --Sparty

    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo
    For western Oregon trail riding, if I had to pick just one "do it all" bike, it would be a 100 mm full suspension 29er.

    Hands down.

    I could give up the 120 mm 29er trail bike -- with great regret -- and the 29er hardtail -- without ever really missing it -- but not the Mama Bear 100 mm double boinger.
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  19. #19
    Daniel the Dog
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    Depends

    On where you ride. I have a 29er and a 26er and I use different bikes on different trails. Nothing magical about wheel size. Both wheel sizes have their strengths and weaknesses. I like having both bikes.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaybo
    On where you ride. I have a 29er and a 26er and I use different bikes on different trails. Nothing magical about wheel size. Both wheel sizes have their strengths and weaknesses. I like having both bikes.
    What type of trails do you prefer the 26er on?

  21. #21
    newfydog
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    All laws of physics cease to exist in Western Oregon. The dirt, rocks, mud,hills are like nowhere else, A 29er simply will not function there.

  22. #22
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    1996cc


    This has nothing to to do with the question at hand and we could care less about your opinion.
    Actually I quite clearly stated in the first two lines I was about to spew opinions. So if you read past them you must have cared. Sorry you didn't know. As for on topic, the OP was begging for opinion and started to whine a little when he wasn't getting any. Glad to be of help when I can.
    thanks for carin'

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tool addict
    Actually I quite clearly stated in the first two lines I was about to spew opinions. So if you read past them you must have cared. Sorry you didn't know. As for on topic, the OP was begging for opinion and started to whine a little when he wasn't getting any. Glad to be of help when I can.
    thanks for carin'
    well, to be fair, you own the 3rd least helpful reply in this thread, behind Shiggy's first two of course. At least he was able to increase his post count by 2 without adding any value to the knowledge of this forum. Is that better whining?

    For that matter, I really do appreciate those who've replied with real information trying to answer the questions I've asked. You've given me a few new things to consider that I might not have without your thoughts. I'll be riding a few 29ers this weekend, and hopefully things will be more clear after that.

  24. #24
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    I'm a short guy (5'7") and have been riding 29"ers in Western Oregon since 2003. I bought a Karate Monkey the year they were introduced, shifted it to commuter duty and replaced it with a custom Vulture 29"er a couple years later, and then got a Lenz Leviathan FS 29"er a year and a half after that. Following are my opinions about 29"ers.

    Only real downsides IMO are weaker wheels for the weight (or heavier wheels for the strength, depending on how you want to look at it) and a pound or two of extra weight, much of which is rotating mass and hinders acceleration.

    IMO fit is no longer a downside for most riders above 5'6". It used to be tricky to design a 29"er that handled quickly enough for tight terrain without your toes buzzing the tires, but the new longer-offset forks have solved that problem for most riders.

    29"ers do NOT climb slower than 26"ers of the same weight. Yes, it's true that because of the extra rotating mass the bike doesn't pick up as much speed on each downstroke of the pedals ... but also because of the extra rotating mass, the bike retains more speed between downstrokes. It evens out. A 29"er may indeed "feel" more sluggish on climbs, but it's an illusion. In fairness, feel is important, and if you can't get used to the feel of a 29"er then it is not for you.

    29"ers have had a rep for slow handling, but this is more a function of how some bikes have been historically designed rather than a inherent drawback. With the right trail figure (sufficiently steep head angle and/or sufficient fork rake) a 29"er can IMO handle quickly enough for the twistiest terrain Oregon has to offer, with greater stability than a comparably nimble 26"er. In general, 29"ers are much better in this respect than the models that were popular when they were first gaining momentum.

    Upsides? Better rolling over technical trail surfaces, with less speed lost. Much easier to climb in technical terrain like the stair-step stretches of the Tillamook's Browns Camp loop. Better high speed stability on the descents. Better low speed stability, making (IMO) it much easier to balance yourself around tight switchbacks.

    That's my 2c. Others may disagree, but I was an instant convert to the concept back in 2002 when I took my cyclocross bike on technical terrain for the first time. Of course the ride was rougher, but even with 32mm of tread I couldn't believe how much better the big hoops rolled over big rocks and logs.
    "People like GloyBoy are deaf. They are partisan, intellectually lazy & usually very angry." -Jaybo

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mightymouse
    I've been leaning towards a 29er for a few months now, ever since I rode the north rim trail on Mary's Peak following two guys on 29ers. One was fully rigid, the other was a hardtail, and it was a thing of beauty to watch them clear some narly uproot sections that brough my old 26er hardtail to it's knees.
    Funny you mention North Ridge on Mary's Peak. If you want to absolutly slay this trail you should ride a 6"+ travel 26er with a short wheelbase and short chainstays. Put a remote seatpost on it too. You can carry so much speed into the root sections that you just roll over them. Because of the shorter, more nimble geometry the switchbacks are ridden faster then with a 29er too. However, you HAVE to carry a lot of speed into the roots, otherwise the suspension soaks up the momentum and you stop dead in your track.
    My point is, if you ride classic XC style and slowly bounce over stuff, a 29er might be a good option for this trail. But if you are not afraid to carry speed into root sections then a long travel 26er kills it. Guess it depends what your riding background is.

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