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  1. #1
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    26er vs 29er experiment at the 24 hours of Old Pueblo

    26er or 29er – Which was Faster at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo? | Mountain Bike Review

    Gotta get in there and mix it up! If you're trapped indoors today that is.

    fc

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    In 2011 I had an 'old school' mid 1990's chrome moly framed 26" with v-brakes that weighed 24lbs.

    2012 I bought a Trek Superfly AL Elite 29" w/ custom wheels, etc. got it down to 22.5lbs

    I Live and race in midwest - 29er fork and brakes are light years better - I realize article was on single speed - but otherwise I am not really surprised by results.

    I thought it was cool having about the only bike with rim brakes and then winning/podium finishes against carbon 29ers

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    awesome find

    thank you

  4. #4
    Always Learning
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    Yawn....!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    Yawn....!
    No kidding. Horribly unscientific comparison.

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    I think its a very interesting test.
    Probably not very scientific, but it agrees with other more scientific approaches(different riders, powermeters, and so) in which 26er was more efficient than the 29er.
    Not trying to set the thread in flames, but, there's a really scientific test proving that 29ers are really better?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Puxa! View Post
    I think its a very interesting test.
    Probably not very scientific, but it agrees with other more scientific approaches(different riders, powermeters, and so) in which 26er was more efficient than the 29er.
    Not trying to set the thread in flames, but, there's a really scientific test proving that 29ers are really better?
    hmmm, I must've missed the memo. I've never seen a "scientific test" that said 26" bikes were more efficient. For that matter, I've also never seen one that showed that 29ers were significantly more efficient.

    The only remotely valid comparison I've seen was published in Mountain Flyer Magazine (Jan or Feb, 2012, can't find it online to verify).

    The author took two very similarly set up bikes, a 26 and 29, and over a number of weeks rode them over multiple courses. Some were clearly suited for the 26, others for the 29. To keep it fair, he measured time and power over each course on each bike. He noted not only the speed differences and power differences, but also how they "felt".

    Turns out that there isn't a nickel's difference between the two wheel choices until you factor the feel that you as the rider like and your skill level. The skill level comes in when you consider the additional stability with the 29er wheel.

    The only truly meaningful differences in times between the two bikes were on courses that were so clearly favoring one bike over the other that the result wasn't a shock. In essence, in a really, really twisty (really, really!) course, the 26" was a little faster. On an almost pure fire-road course, the 29er was a little faster. On all other courses, the differences between the bikes in terms of elapsed times and power output required to achieve the times were well within statistically insignificant limits, almost wholly attributable to 'noise'.

    For most of us, it boils down to what we like. For the pros, it boils down to what the sponsor is trying to push on the marketplace. The riders don't revolt when they're asked to ride one size or the other, as they know (or should know) it won't matter.

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    I'm sorry I can't post links with my phone(at least I don't know how to), but there was a guy with a blog who did two tests, with power meter and things like that, in different terrains, and the results were that both sizes were very close, with a slight advantage to the small one. And there was a magazine test, with different riders, equivalent bikes, different courses in different days, lots of measuring devices, and the result was slight advantage to the 26er.
    I agree with you in your final statement, If i was paid to ride, I'd ride what the sponsor would give me, but as most of us pay to ride, we ride what we like.

    However, what I find interesting is that the big brands that are pusing the 29er is better movement, and have all necesssary resources to make a definite test to prove them right or wrong, did not do it(or at least, did not share the results)
    I've tried HT and FS 29ers and did not enjoy them as I was told I would, and so I started questioning wether all this info was good or not.


    Oh, I just remembered a "test" from Specialized. Christoph Sauser, two laps, one with each wheelsize, and the 29er was some little seconds faster, with a higher heart rate...Now that was a good test

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    zrm
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    So in other words different wheel sizes have different advantages and disadvantages. No real shocker there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudge View Post
    For the pros, it boils down to what the sponsor is trying to push on the marketplace. The riders don't revolt when they're asked to ride one size or the other, as they know (or should know) it won't matter.
    I agree

    When the manufacturer comes out with a new product, the pros ride it and it is pushed into the market place and we are made to think if we do not buy it, we will be at a disadvantage...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    So in other words different wheel sizes have different advantages and disadvantages. No real shocker there.
    The real surprise is how small the measurable differences are.

  12. #12
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    I think wheel size is more relative to frame and rider size. I'm 6'3" and 29er wheels are a no brainer compared to 26". My prediction: 650b will dominate the market in 5 years; reason being, average male height is 5'10". 26ers were too small, 29ers are too big, but 650b will be just right because that's where the majority of riders will fall in line.
    DO RIGHT AND FEAR NO MAN

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudge View Post
    The real surprise is how small the measurable differences are.
    1-2 minutes in a hour is a big difference for just changing equipment if you think about it.

    If lap average was 15mph for 1 hour lap: 1 minutes = 1,320 ft

    Or about a 5 watt difference - 5 watts may not sound like a lot but with the the authors experience (seasoned rider) it may take a year of training to make up that difference on conditioning alone

    The faster bike is over 4 football fields in front of you

    My disclaimer: I hope I got that right....
    Last edited by scottz123; 03-06-2013 at 02:47 AM.

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    I totally agree it would take a lot of training to go 2 min/hr faster....if all a guy has to do is go back to the smaller wheel I'd certainly do it. And I'm 6' 4".




    Quote Originally Posted by scottz123 View Post
    1-2 minutes in a hour is a big difference for just changing equipment if you think about it.

    If lap average was 15mph for 1 hour lap: 1 minutes = 1,320 ft

    Or about a 5 watt difference - 5 watts may not sound like a lot but with the the authors experience (seasoned rider) it may take a year of training to make up that difference on conditioning alone

    The faster bike is over 4 football fields in front of you

    My disclaimer: I hope I got that right....

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    Quote Originally Posted by scottz123 View Post
    1-2 minutes in a hour is a big difference for just changing equipment if you think about it.

    If lap average was 15mph for 1 hour lap: 1 minutes = 1,320 ft

    Or about a 5 watt difference - 5 watts may not sound like a lot but with the the authors experience (seasoned rider) it may take a year of training to make up that difference on conditioning alone

    The faster bike is over 4 football fields in front of you

    My disclaimer: I hope I got that right....
    The circumstances under which that "test" was done are so freakishly unscientific as to yield no legit conclusions.

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    The problem I have with this "test" is those time differences from lap to lap were similar to the lap time differences I had at 24 hrs of Moab when I did it and I was on one bike. Most people's lap times get progressively slower and then the last lap in the day time is faster than your lap times at night as the body's circadian clock kicks in and you have daylight to see better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudge View Post
    The circumstances under which that "test" was done are so freakishly unscientific as to yield no legit conclusions.
    I'm sorry...I thought you said "The real surprise is how small the measurable differences are".

    Nobody wants to hear their 29er wonder bike - may be slower....

    Me included!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottz123 View Post
    I'm sorry...I thought you said "The real surprise is how small the measurable differences are".

    Nobody wants to hear their 29er wonder bike - may be slower....

    Me included!
    The earlier comment about minimal differences was not referring to this specific comparison, but rather merely a comment on the lack of surprise that there are advantages/disadvantages.

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    Hmmm, I suppose if wheel size really mattered (which it doesn't) then why not simply go back to 24 inch wheels? Cannondale (and others) tried this in the early 1990's. If smaller wheels really made you faster then why aren't there any 24 inch wheel bikes out there at the races?

    Bottom line: 29er vs 26er = No difference at all. What matters is how the bike feels. If 29er feels nice then ride it. If you like 26er better then ride it.

    The point is: just go ride your bike and enjoy it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wjphillips View Post
    Bottom line: 29er vs 26er = No difference at all.
    I thought one had 26" wheels and the other 29" wheels?

    Posters with comments - what are you guys riding?

    I am on Trek Superfly AL elite last season - first season on modern bike - weighs a little over 22lbs. With the longer wheelbase compared to 26" 24lb bike I came off of am not that impressed. Brakes and forks way better on Trek, though.

    I live in midwest with rolling terrain.

  21. #21
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    I'm a bit confused about the comments that say "it doesn't matter, ride what you like". Guys, it's the XC racing board so it's all about going faster. I like riding my Moonlander but I'm not going to spend time and money traveling to races with that bike, right? It's hard to tell if a bike is a minute faster per hour but that is a hard-fought minute and it's worth the discussion.

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    The only thing that is certain here is that there has to be a difference in performance between 26" and 29" wheels. They're different sizes, so they'll perform differently. The "no difference" contention really is the only empirically wrong piece here.

    The funny part is that all of us KNOW what the differences are. We've read about, talked about and experienced these. It's not rocket surgery. 29" wheels accelerate (climb) and turn slower. But 29" wheels roll over roots, rocks easier (faster) - which can translate to lower fatigue, higher speeds - depending on conditions (picture those last three words bolded).

    So, the obvious part that we've all known... each bike has its strengths and weaknesses relative to the other. In a perfect world, your sponsor would provide one of each and not dictate which to ride where and when.
    Mountain bikers who don't road ride are usually slow.
    Roadies who don't mountain bike are usually d***s.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottz123 View Post
    I'm sorry...I thought you said "The real surprise is how small the measurable differences are".

    Nobody wants to hear their 29er wonder bike - may be slower....

    Me included!
    Reading that article leads me to believe that any gains on 29er vs 26 are minimal. There is more variation in riding than there is on the bike. Remember also that since we ride dirt trails conditions change all the time. I also road bike and I have 7 mile loop that shows 20 rides with in 30 seconds, but on dirt the conditions change. Rocks move winds shift dirt gets harder or softer.

    So what I take away from this test is that differences are small and each wheel size has its advantage and dis-advantages. I ride a 26" hardtail and I know a weakness of my talent is very tight switchbacks. So given that moving to a 29er probably would make that worse and make my riding less enjoyable as I like to ride a lot of tight twisting rocky trails and do the occasional race. The rockiness may favor the 29, but I need and like a tighter handling more maneuverable bike. Plus at 5'7" I am not very tall. Am I giving up speed on race course with a 26" hardtail? Possibly depending on the course, but probably a lot less than that what can be corrected with little smarter training and skill development.


    Now if you are looking to win races and have skill and fitness to do it here is what you do.

    You bring 29HT, 26HT, 26FS, and now even 27.5 HT. Pre ride the course with all bike and select the one that gives you the best lap time for that course. In the end it may provide the 30 seconds you need to take the win. For those of us who cannot train to ensure 100% peak fitness at race time it probably won't make a difference.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    The author of the article never attempted to make this his masters thesis. The lack of scientific control is a given. This article is an opinion piece, not a scientific article.
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    Exactly and it was really a wash. Even if you could get very accurate numbers in time trail format things change when introduce traffic and variable conditions. Some place may suit a certain bike type for a certain rider skill set and then 1 mile later it all changes. The big question is does the time gained where a certain wheel size is stronger counter any time lost where that same wheel is weaker? Beyond that some riders fitness and skill level may be accentuate or minimized by a certain wheel size.

    Even we you get very scientific I think the real issue is that the differences are still so small as to be overshadowed by other harder to control factors. All you are left with is opinion and "feel".
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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