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  1. #1
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    New question here. Move to a 29er, or Stick with a 26er?

    Good day,

    So this is my year to finally get myself a Fuel. I was at my LBS the other day and was just feelin the waters in regards to the Fuel 26ers. The LBS manager was really talking up the 29ers as he said he just switched himself after resisting them for so long.

    So I was wondering if there was any converts who could share their experience/thoughts/pros & cons about switching. I'll give you some back ground info.

    Current Ride: Trek 4300
    Trail Types ridden: Single Track, rocks/roots, fire roads etc.
    Location: South Western Ontario, Canada
    Height: 5'10"
    Bikes interested in: '14 Fuel Ex 8 26er, Ex 7 29er
    Type of Riding: XC - No Racing (yet)

    Just looking for peoples experiences moving from a 26er to a 29er, both good and bad. Thanks
    Evolve or Die

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Good - the new 29er is a lot smoother.

    Bad - between bigger wheels and FS, it's a lot more bike to wrangle if I'm not really flowing on a trail, putting my foot down a lot, etc. It's a lot harder to fit in my car.

    Neutral - I notice my counter steering action more. I have to make line selections on a somewhat bigger scale. I've been trying to apply some of this to the 26" bike too, and I think it's improving my riding on both bikes. Basically, I think 29ers reward smoother riders and punish tentative riders more than smaller-wheeled bikes.

    Bottom line: I'm very happy with mine, and since I wanted a bike that would help me be smoother and faster, I think the 29er was the right choice. I moved recently, to an area with rougher trails, and was getting beat up more, so having the bike ride a little smoother is really nice. I think I have more fun on the new ride.

    Before you commit to the Fuel, try it with the compression damper on the shock all the way open, and try some other FS bikes.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Like in other threads about the new fuel, I have always reccomended anyone consider the ex8 29er if they are looking at the ex7 29. The small price increase includes a number of upgrades but not least importantly the 12x142 axle kit and wheel. From what I have been told, the duster is not convertible, so to utilize the 12x142 standard and the stiffer through axle kit, you would not only need to purchase the axle kit, but a new wheel, or replace the hub with an appropriate one in the rear wheel. The other upgrades are obviously less of a factor I would think, but the axle kit is something that forced me into the ex8 as the 10mm standard axle is substantially smaller.
    In terms of 29er vs 26er fuel, I can't offer much as I've only owned the 29er. I don't feel it is too big or clumsy and the speed it carries is a bonus, especially over roots and lighter xc or fire road type trails. It can be a bit tougher to handle really tight small turns, but the obstacle rollover and general stability and climbing traction are well worth it to me.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N900A using Tapatalk
    10 Gary Fisher Cobia - 13 Trek Madone 5.2 - 14 Trek Fuel Ex8

  4. #4
    Love4Mtns
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    Seems like a matter of preference.

    Opinion: 26 vs 27.5 vs 29-inch Wheels - Pinkbike
    Trek Fuel EX 9.8 | Flow Mountain Bike (watch the video)
    Flow?s First Bite: Trek Fuel EX 9.8 29er ? First Ride | Flow Mountain Bike

    I read these articles plus many more reviews. Both are great bikes, but for me, it came down to the fun factor. I test rode both bikes. While the 29er cleared terrain more easily, I had a bigger smile on my face riding the 26er. Moving to FS from a hardtail, both bikes will tackle terrain much more easily than your 4300.

    You should test ride both bikes on the trail and decide from there.

  5. #5
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    I used to race back in the 90's now just trying to get back into shape. I have an '08 Fuel EX9 26", and a '14 Fuel EX8 29er. Kind of nice having pretty much the exact same bikes, except for yearly changes.

    I got my 29er simply due to wanting to try it. It was between a '13 Fuel EX9 26", or a '14 EX8 29er, and I was very curious to try the 29er.

    I do like it. I ride a 19.5" on both bikes, and the 29er definitely rides larger. I could probably have gotten an 18" 29er, but that's ok.
    The 29er definitely rides like a larger bike. I have compared the 29er like a motorcycle in handling. Much more sluggish, but solid. I do feel the 29er roll over things easier, and roll smoother.
    To me still, the 26" just feels like a true mountain bike.

    I had told the wife I would ride them both, find which I liked better, and sell the other.
    I think I will be selling neither. So far, I have wanted to ride the 29er more, but I am not convinced it will be that way when the weather turns, and we can put in some good rides.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the great replies. Here are my concerns

    1) Loss of the "flickability" in the twisty stuff
    2) Greater rolling mass, do you feel it?
    3) Loss of acceleration.
    4) Climbing ability on technical climbs

    I have ridden a 26er since I was 13. I know how they feel, I know how they react. I am very skeptical of a change to something this different.

    Unfortunately we are still buried under a few feet of snow here, so testing will have to wait till April.

    Again thanks all. Its nice to see peoples experiences with the change. I'm one of those research, research, read, talk, think, read more then decide kind of guys. If I haven't beaten the subject to death in my head, I haven't thought about it enough lol.
    Evolve or Die

  7. #7
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    I think you'll notice (1) the most on the 29er, with (2) and (3) being about equivalent. (4) seems like something you'll find is easier on the 29er.

    FWIW I am on a Fuel EX 8 2011 and contemplating a move to the Remedy 650b. I'll probably go to a 29er when I get my next hardtail.

  8. #8
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    Heres the "do I feel it" for the 4 points you have.

    Here is the prism of my riding. I am not currently in any kind of good riding shape. My strength on uphills is very low right now. Technical ability, I still beat almost everyone I ride with, but back in the day, there was hardly anyone around that would best me in a technical section.

    1) Loss of the "flickability" in the twisty stuff

    Yes. Absolutely. The bike has a longer wheelbase. The larger wheels, and larger wheelbase do not maneuver nearly as well. You do notice this. HOWEVER, is it a problem? No. That is why it is a very stable, planted feeling bike. If i ran extremely narrow, tight singletrack, it might be a bid annoying

    2) Greater rolling mass, do you feel it?

    Yes. The bike feels a little "stronger" on the roll. It is not an issue though, especially with the 24/36 low gearing. It does not bother me, and again, I am not strong right now at all.


    3) Loss of acceleration.

    Yes, slightly. The lower gearing negates the majority of this, but my EX9 does punch up much faster. On slick uphills, I am LOVING the larger, slower wheels, which do have a larger contact patch as well. Again, me being out of shape, I would not say it is a detriment.

    4) Climbing ability on technical climbs

    I prefer the 26" a little. Quicker punch up to speed, but the ability of the 29er to go over some things slightly easier I think offsets it.

  9. #9
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Re: Move to a 29er, or Stick with a 26er?

    Quote Originally Posted by TREK 4 Life View Post
    1) Loss of the "flickability" in the twisty stuff
    2) Greater rolling mass, do you feel it?
    3) Loss of acceleration.
    4) Climbing ability on technical climbs
    I'll play...

    1) Yes. This cuts both ways, however. If I choose a good line on my 29er, it's easier for me to ride it. Probably part of it is that it's steeper, but the 26" bike sometimes gets away from me on roots and bomb holes.

    2) Nope. Unless you stuck fancy wheels on it, you won't either - the Fuel's going to come with lighter wheels, possibly enough to offset the larger diameter. Tire selection plays into this too.

    3) Not really.

    4) Between the rear suspension and getting away with a bit less tire pressure, I think I'm better. I've continued to chip away at my Strava times, including a couple PRs right after getting the new bike and a second-best in competition on a race course I've done a ton of times, so the stop watch is, at least, not contradicting me. Actually the experience that moved me from "curious" to "have to have one" was demoing a Specialized Camber on one of my frequent loops. I was faster on the descent, which I expected, but I was surprised to find I was faster on the way up too. And it was a smoother ride on both, which was what I was curious about. I'd been thinking about a 29er hardtail before that day - the Camber was the first FS bike I've ridden, either wheel size, that I've ended up wanting.

    I realize I was a bit ambiguous earlier. My 26" bike is an '07 Specialized Hardrock with mostly aftermarket parts, including fancy tires. My FS 29er is a '13 Kona Hei Hei. I have saddle time on a bunch of different bikes. I started making an effort to ride more different bikes when I began to see the light at the end of the Master's Degree tunnel, and thinking a new bike might be a nice present for myself. (And that I'd be able to afford one!)
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Thanks again everyone. I am definitely keen to test out the 29er in the spring. 1 month to go! lol
    Evolve or Die

  11. #11
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    Just so long as you're not letting the weather stop you from riding. Snow is a fun and interesting challenge, and you don't actually need a different bike to ride in it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    I bought the 26 inch ex 8 last year on a crazy mark down. I tried a 29er which at the time was the rumblefish, I also tried the remedy 8. The ex8 came out as the most nimble by a long way. I figure I still made a good choice despite the 26 inch wheel supposedly being dead

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by alishock View Post
    I bought the 26 inch ex 8 last year on a crazy mark down. I tried a 29er which at the time was the rumblefish, I also tried the remedy 8. The ex8 came out as the most nimble by a long way. I figure I still made a good choice despite the 26 inch wheel supposedly being dead
    Not dead at all. Infact, while I was changing the brakes on my 29er, I rode my old 26". Set a PR on a LOT of stuff on the "inferior" 26" bike. The course is a very smooth place as well. Should be ideal on the 29er...

  14. #14
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    When I rode a 29er, spesh camber and stumpy, the trail just felt flat. They were fast bikes, but no real pop about them. Why would you want that? just get a road bike.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Just so long as you're not letting the weather stop you from riding. Snow is a fun and interesting challenge, and you don't actually need a different bike to ride in it.
    Alas, where I am, when it snows, it snows BIG. I have 0 access to any trails/sidewalks/roads. I could do the roads I suppose, but with the snow banks how they are currently, I would be a sitting duck for any motorist on a cell phone. In the winter months I am stuck with my trainer.
    Evolve or Die

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TREK 4 Life View Post
    Alas, where I am, when it snows, it snows BIG. I have 0 access to any trails/sidewalks/roads. I could do the roads I suppose, but with the snow banks how they are currently, I would be a sitting duck for any motorist on a cell phone. In the winter months I am stuck with my trainer.
    Same here right now. Currently we have 8-14" of dense crusty snow that you sink down into, and that just does not ride well. I tried to ride into the snow here yesterday. Soon as the rear wheel hit the snow, it was nearly a dead stop.

  17. #17
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    I was fortunate enough to buy two bikes last year...13 Fuel Ex 7 and Superfly AL 29er HT! The Squish is nice but really loving the Superfly...it's so light and just a blast to ride on. My son currently riding the Fuel. I ride in So Cal desert area with lots of different terrain and tons of rocks. I'm 6'1 225 and I feel more comfortable on the 29er..
    JUST DO IT

  18. #18
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    So I finally got the chance to get out and do some tests. Tested a 29er, and 26er. Thanks so much for everyone's opinion and input, but I ended up with the Trek Fuel Ex 8 26er. The 29er just felt sluggish on the get up and go, and turning felt like I was trying to turn on sand, it just felt heavy. But as they say, each to his own.

    Thanks again.
    Evolve or Die

  19. #19
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    I have a Fuel EX 9 2011 and now I built myself a 29" HT. My 29" is 3KG's lighter and is going to be uses for XC races. But for fun on my local paths my 26" EX 9 is amazing. Evene though the wheels are 400g heavier it feels lighter to steer around objects etc.
    For XC speed it's 29".
    For fun on the paths its 26" for me.

  20. #20
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    I was a 26er holdout for a LONG time. It wasn't until I started seeing 26er prices plummet and ONE FATEFUL test-ride of a 2013 Trek Superfly 100 AL....did I put my 2010 Giant Anthem X2 up for sale.

    The new 29er(2012 Trek Superfly 100 Pro - full SRAM XX 10-speed) rolls over anything I had to formerly dismount, on the 26er.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  21. #21
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    Do you like your Superfly better than your RM Element 999 RSL?

  22. #22
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    26er forever!

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