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Thread: 26er or 29er?

  1. #1
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    26er or 29er?

    Hi all,
    I'm thinking of selling off a few of my old bikes and building up a rigid SS bike but I'm unsure of whether to go with the bigger wheels or not.

    The bike will be ridden over a lot of different terrain/obstacles, small jumps and drop-offs etc and I want a bike that will put me back in touch with the trails and really go back to basics and help me improve my technique.

    I've put some rigid forks on an old bike and ridden that around and it's really fun, but it's a bit of a botch job as the forks are too short for the frame and I'd like to move to a steel frame for SS purposes. I know I can handle the feel of a rigid 26er but I'm wondering if a 29er would be better to reduce the feel of some of the stones in the trail.

    The things I'm worried about with the bigger wheels is that they might make some technical bits a bit easier, and seeing as the bike is to improve my technique, I don't really want that and I want the bike to be snappy and I've heard the bigger wheels are a bit more sluggish to accellerate.

    I'm 5'11" if that factors into the equation, though I think I should be fine on a bigger wheeled bike.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carrot
    I know I can handle the feel of a rigid 26er but I'm wondering if a 29er would be better to reduce the feel of some of the stones in the trail.

    The things I'm worried about with the bigger wheels is that they might make some technical bits a bit easier, and seeing as the bike is to improve my technique, I don't really want that and I want the bike to be snappy and I've heard the bigger wheels are a bit more sluggish to accellerate.

    I'm 5'11" if that factors into the equation, though I think I should be fine on a bigger wheeled bike.
    Based on above, go a 29er steel frame. If you are willing to spend the money for a good set of light wheels, they will be fine and won't be sluggish. I think the trade off is well worth it - I got rid of my 26 SS and went to 29er full rigid SS. Riding full rigid, you'll want the tad more forgiving rid of 29er wheels I think.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carrot
    Hi all,
    I'm thinking of selling off a few of my old bikes and building up a rigid SS bike but I'm unsure of whether to go with the bigger wheels or not.

    The bike will be ridden over a lot of different terrain/obstacles, small jumps and drop-offs etc and I want a bike that will put me back in touch with the trails and really go back to basics and help me improve my technique.
    Nothing wrong or necessarily different in this regard from a 29'r. It will be heavier, and will carry more speed downhill. As for obstacles, it's a trade off. It rolls better, but it's also somewhat more difficult to handle especially on tighter trails.

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot
    I've put some rigid forks on an old bike and ridden that around and it's really fun, but it's a bit of a botch job as the forks are too short for the frame and I'd like to move to a steel frame for SS purposes. I know I can handle the feel of a rigid 26er but I'm wondering if a 29er would be better to reduce the feel of some of the stones in the trail.
    That's a harder question to answer. All rigid bikes take a good deal of technique on the rougher stuff. Again, the 29'r will roll over the ridable rough stuff better, but it's somwhat more difficult to handle on the tighter stuff due to basic geometry.

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot
    The things I'm worried about with the bigger wheels is that they might make some technical bits a bit easier, and seeing as the bike is to improve my technique, I don't really want that and I want the bike to be snappy and I've heard the bigger wheels are a bit more sluggish to accellerate.
    I would say most of this is true, except the first part. I find the 29'r can make some trails more difficult. Specifically tighter or more obstacle strewn ones. It's just a larger and more difficult bike to handle. It also requires somewhat more power when climbing. But it more than makes up for it in other areas, such as carrying momentum and rolling over certain terrain elements. On more open stretches you wont find a better, more stable mtb.

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot
    I'm 5'11" if that factors into the equation, though I think I should be fine on a bigger wheeled bike.
    You should be fine on a 29'r. I'm 6'0 with a 33" inseam and I ride an 18" frame in a 29'r and it's a good fit.

  4. #4
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    I have a steel 29er SS. You're tall enough, and the handling will depend on the geometry of the frame. Some manuf have that all worked out - mine is easy to maneuver in the tight, technical stuff and it accelerates great. The skills I'm learning to descend quickly on the rigid 29'er have definitely translated to getting down hill on my 26" FS. Love 29" wheels - they're really fun.
    :wq

  5. #5
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    I ride both 26 and 29 rigid SS.

    I do find that the 29 dumbs down techy stuff and generally makes trails a little less engaging. More skill/attention needed with 26.

  6. #6
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    I have a 26" rigid SS and a 700C/29/Biggun as well. The 26" is stiff - like, crazy stiff. Steel fork, stiff Al frame - very punishing on the hands. The Big Wheel is Al with a carbon fork - holy crap, what a difference in ride! The 700C is way more plush, and I attribute that entirely to the fork. I will never run a steel fork again! That said, there is no suspension, and taking either of these bikes on a trail with rocks and roots means I have to get my fillings replaced on a regular basis.

    If you want to get in touch with the trail, a rigid SS will do it, and a Big Wheel will give you the added benefit of enhanced traction and more stability. Geometry depends on the bike - my Misfit diSSent handles quite well, with no penalties compared to my Brodie Unibomber. The diSSent is way more stable on descents, and definitely rolls through crap better...

  7. #7
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    Being roughly the same height as you (6") I picked up a KM and had my 26" steel rockhopper. For a while I rode the KM almost exclusively and it is a very good bike and definitely improved my confidence, but I switched back to the Rockhopper for a variety of reasons and really enjoyed everything it brought to the table.

    Recently we started tackling tougher trails with long, technical downhills and I decided I would give the KM another try, given it had the disc brakes and more volume and everything else, but it wasn't smoother, it was way more clumsy and I didn't notice that I was getting over anything better.

    Of course, this comes with several caveats; the KM fork is really stiff, so even with low psi, there is a lot of feedback of the nature that makes you lose your childhood memories. The second is that I had switched my front tire to a 650b, which I think rolls over anything as well as a 29er and combined with an apparently sweet stock fork (it is from '89, so steel and decent quality) on the Rockhopper, it was actually smoother.

    The moral of the story is that there are a lot of choices out there, so make the right one based off the type of riding you are doing. I'm guessing a larger volume tire and a different fork would really smooth out the KM, and if you end up liking 29er handling, you'd be set. I'd just buy a better fork, a 650b wheel and call it even.

  8. #8
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    12er

    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

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    I don't own a 29er, but I rode one on a few occasions when I was debating.

    I currently ride a converted hardtail SS which is 26". I found the 26 vs 29 debate to be take some, give some.

    I found the 29er to be nicer when rolling over stuff. Whenever I'd hit a rock bed I found the 29er to be a bit easier to just... go.

    However, when I'm flying down a hill on a tight trail and I'm just weeving in an out of stuff, I definitely prefer the 26 inch wheels. I liked the snappiness and responsiveness I felt with the standard 26" wheelset. The 29er felt a little more cumbersome to deal with. But like I said, it made up for it on the technical stuff.

    Take some.
    Give some.

    All down to preference, I would say.

  10. #10
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    I was in the same boat as you and all my friend's were anti-29er. None of them owned them but rode them once and did not like it. So i followed their advice and went 26 ss. Rode if for 6 months and then rode a friends 29er.
    Guess what i went shopping for the next day........ 29er.

    I am 6'2 and it was just a no brainer, like a few others said, get a good wheelset and forget about all the drawbacks you hear. IMO you don't have to be tall to ride a 29er either. I have many friends that are 5'6 or shorter and ride them and just kill it!!!!

    What you don't hear much is that with the bigger footprint i feel like i can even climb better on the 29 than the 26., technical loose climbs.

    Now that i have my 29 and my friends are all on 26, a few of them have commented. I get it!!! They said "I can just see the advantages of the 29" and these were guys that have the same riding ability as myself. Just my 2 cents.


    Believe me....riding rigid, whether it be 26 or 29 is still a challenge no matter what!!
    A rigid 29 is not going to enable you to just point it through anything, i think it's superior to a 26 on downhill but it' still rigid and still a lot of work and takes skills.
    It will make you a better rider for sure!!





    Quote Originally Posted by Carrot
    Hi all,
    I'm thinking of selling off a few of my old bikes and building up a rigid SS bike but I'm unsure of whether to go with the bigger wheels or not.

    The bike will be ridden over a lot of different terrain/obstacles, small jumps and drop-offs etc and I want a bike that will put me back in touch with the trails and really go back to basics and help me improve my technique.

    I've put some rigid forks on an old bike and ridden that around and it's really fun, but it's a bit of a botch job as the forks are too short for the frame and I'd like to move to a steel frame for SS purposes. I know I can handle the feel of a rigid 26er but I'm wondering if a 29er would be better to reduce the feel of some of the stones in the trail.

    The things I'm worried about with the bigger wheels is that they might make some technical bits a bit easier, and seeing as the bike is to improve my technique, I don't really want that and I want the bike to be snappy and I've heard the bigger wheels are a bit more sluggish to accellerate.

    I'm 5'11" if that factors into the equation, though I think I should be fine on a bigger wheeled bike.
    Last edited by cbrock450; 07-26-2009 at 07:39 PM.

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