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  1. #1
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    Anyone still XC racing 26er's anymore?

    I'm from Illinois and really starting to get into the XC racing scene. I currently ride a Felt Q720 2011 and I'm curious to know if anyone is still XC racing 26er's anymore here in the Midwest? I feel as though the Midwestern community of XC racers have made almost a full conversion to 29er. Just wondering if I'm the only dude left in the Midwest trying to keep up on a 26er while XC racing!? haha.

  2. #2
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    Run what you brung!

    I remember a story about Marla Streb racing either a stage race or a Super D, and all she had was a light XC bike. She raced that against some all mountain bikes and did just fine!

  3. #3
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    Re: Anyone still XC racing 26er's anymore?

    I'm in Minnesota and a lot of guys are racing 26. Maybe a little under half I'd guess. They're more nimble which helps in the tight twisty stuff. Whatever you do, don't get caught up in the wheel size hysteria! Your bike is not inferior....I get smoked by guys on 26ers all the time

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    Re: Anyone still XC racing 26er's anymore?

    I also live in Illinois. At the race I was in Sunday there were still several 26ers. I'd say probably only 30%, but then again it wasn't a tight course. Technical, but not tight, so the big wheels were nice.

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  5. #5
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    I'm still racing on a 26 and decided to stay 26 after riding a bunch of 29ers. I don't feel inferior or better, but I do know that i'm having more fun.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 8iking VIIking View Post
    ...Whatever you do, don't get caught up in the wheel size hysteria! Your bike is not inferior....
    There are easily 10 sub-forums on mtbr where this needs to be posted!
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  7. #7
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    I have timed myself a few times on a local xc lap, both with my 'winter bike' (28 pound 26er with crappy shock) and my 'race bike', a 24.5 pound kona 29er hardtail. I can usually lap just a little quicker on the race bike, maybe 20-30 seconds faster on a 20 minute lap. There's other variables, so it's not really scientific (the 'winter bike has heavy wheels/tires, how I'm feeling, weather etc). I should time a lap on my old ti 26er hardtail, that would be a better comparison. I raced the old bike a couple of times last spring, and finished very similarly to how I was finishing on my 29er. I think the 29er has a little advantage over the more rooty rough stuff, but it's subtle, but for most of us it's not more than 1 finishing spot, -which is significant if that's the difference between 1st and 2nd, or 3rd and off the podium, which is why I primarily race the 29er.

  8. #8
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    Here in Missouri 98% of the racer guys and gals are on 29er. Usually the only people on 26" wheels are first time or first year racers.that being said, I'm thinking about going back to 26 for the pure wheelie fun/ techy challenge aspect of riding.

    29 smooths the trail out for sure and if you can maintain speed it hauls, but its up to you to decide whether its fun and 'for you'.

  9. #9
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    I'm building my 26er anthem x back up. Should be around 23 pounds. I'll be doing one race for sure on it (iceman). I'm going to sell my anthem 29er frame, and get a carbon hard tail frame to transfer all the stuff over to. Then I'll have a soft tail 26er and a hard tail 29er to choose from.

    Around here (midwest), 90% of the racers are on 29er. Usually its only kids I see on 26er.

  10. #10
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    I race in the St. Louis, MO area and it seems like everyone is making the move to a 29er, including me. I no longer even own a 26" bike.

  11. #11
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    I have a 29er HT and a 26 FS...guess which one I'm using on my next race...

    Yep...the 26...

  12. #12
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    I live in PA and in our local series, 99% of guys are on some form of 29" bike. That being said, one of my teammates still races on a 26" bike. He races on the road most of the time, but will come out to one or two races on the year. It's pretty entertaining. He's the type of guy who has a gut and doesn't look that fast and he is on a 26"er. Typically top 4 in his age group for Cat 2.

    Point is, race what you have and be fast on it. 29er is probably a bit faster, but
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  13. #13
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    I raced in my very first XC race 1 week ago and I raced what I had a 26" bike. My 2nd race this past Thursday was full of mixed sizes.. some of the fancier guys were riding the 29" bikes but I didn't feel like I had any less fun by riding my 26.

    Matter of fact this winter I'm not looking for another bike but upgrades for my current bike, and training so that I can race in the Sport/CAT2 group next season. I don't see the need in spending the cash on another bike unless I break the one I have.

  14. #14
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    I race a 27.5er or 650b in lay man's terms..been racing it for 2 years now. Most of the racers out here in Cali are on 29ers, still quite a few 26ers though.
    There is a lot of talk regarding 27.5, I see it as the ultimate XC race bike, as well as just for about anything else. I race cat 1 and do not give up anything to the guys racing 29ers as a matter of fact, I seem to be faster in most sections.
    If anyone on this post is upgrading to a new bike, you owe to yourself to look at 27.5ers, Giant is going all in on the size and most manufacturers are following suit, I believe they will overtake 29ers here soon, that's my guess at least .

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    Good Stuff everyone, thanks for chiming in! I was just curious about what others are thinking and riding. I love my 26er, and will keep riding it as long as it is good to me!

    Happy Trails and Good Riding!

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    Re: Anyone still XC racing 26er's anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    I race cat 1 and do not give up anything to the guys racing 29ers as a matter of fact, I seem to be faster in most sections.
    Actually, you do give up some things to 29ers. And guys on 29ers will give up some things to 27.5ers. The notion that 650b takes the best aspects of 26 and 29 without compromise is simply nonsense. They will never roll over things as well as a 29er, and they aren't as nimble as 26, they are a compromise between the two. Plain and simple.

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    Yep, still got my 140mm 26er racing...........Especially at Downieville.

    I will admit though that I'd love have my wife up at Packard Saddle (top of the climb at Downiville) to swap an 18 lb hardtail climbing rig with my 140 mm AM rig.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  18. #18
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    What basis are you getting your info from? maybe the 27.5 is the optimum wheel size. Just because 26ers have been the norm for over 20 years doesn't mean that they are the ultimate in the handling arena, and because 29ers have a bigger circumference, doesn't always translate into bigger is better. Offroad motorcycles have evolved over the years and have pretty much settled on a standard wheel size which riders and manufacturers have proven to be the optimum size, off road racing vehicles have also, maybe 27.5 is that optimum size size for off road bicycles.
    I've been riding mtb's since 1982 and in that time I have ridden all over the World and on different terrain on different size tires and wheel sizes, I believe that they got it right with 27.5, maybe down the road there will be another wheelsize(hopefully not) that will be a game changer once again( I feel 27.5 is the "for now" game changer)
    You may be right that 27.5 may give something to both 26" and 29" wheels, but until they make a bike/ wheel system that can change on the fly(not holding my breath) you have to pick one and for me and a growing number of riders, 27.5 is it.

  19. #19
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    Re: Anyone still XC racing 26er's anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    What basis are you getting your info from?
    Physics?

    I'm not turning this into another wheel size debate, but larger wheels are able to roll over obstacles with less loss of momentum than smaller wheels. That is fact. You may be right, 27.5 may be the perfect happy medium, but it annoys me when people proclaim them as being "the BEST of both worlds" when they aren't

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 8iking VIIking View Post
    Physics?

    I'm not turning this into another wheel size debate, but larger wheels are able to roll over obstacles with less loss of momentum than smaller wheels. That is fact. You may be right, 27.5 may be the perfect happy medium, but it annoys me when people proclaim them as being "the BEST of both worlds" when they aren't
    Best of both worlds or does not do anything well

    So, the 650B (27.5) is not as nimble as a 26er.

    It also does not roll over the rocky stuff as well as a 29er.

    The 650B (27.5) does have the fewest tire selections. It's king there.

    Hummmmmmmmmmmm

    I have the perfect solution.................2 bikes

    Bring the 29er for those places where you need good roll over and XC courses.

    Bring the 26er for the DH runs, technical climbs and descents. Also, for those times where you want to have more fun flicking the bike around.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg View Post
    Best of both worlds or does not do anything well

    So, the 650B (27.5) is not as nimble as a 26er.

    It also does not roll over the rocky stuff as well as a 29er.

    The 650B (27.5) does have the fewest tire selections. It's king there.
    I think what Viiking is getting at is...

    Saying that its the "best of both worlds" implies its as nimble as a 26er yet rolls over stuff just as well as a 29er.. when it fact it doesnt..

    Its more of a Jack of all.. Master of none..

  22. #22
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    I believe in the physics behind a larger wheel rolling over obstacles, tell me something I don't know or even debated.
    I really don't want to start a debate over the 3 current wheel sizes, I think your wrong on your with your doubts over "the best of both worlds", and I'm willing to bet that you have never even put time on a 27.5 wheeled bike to make that assumption, but that's OK. I get my knowledge from owning, riding/ racing the 3 sizes, yes, 27.5 to me is the "best of both worlds"

  23. #23
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    Having just bought my first 29" wheeled bike I can say that each of the wheel sizes have their advantages and disadvantages. The bigger wheels definitely roll over obstacles better than 26" but they accelerate slower. While you ma argue that you don't have to pick up your front wheel as much with a 29" as you do with a smaller wheel, you will have to pick up your front wheel from time to time and it's not nearly as easy with a 29". 26" is more nimble in tight stuff but on less curvy stuff where big wheels get to stretch their legs they are faster.

    I'm very interested in 27.5 but have yet to ride one so I can't comment on them.

    To be quite honest, I'm a bit underwhelmed with 29" wheels. With all the hype from the niner-bots I was expecting it to be vastly superior plus get a blowjob but in the end it's just a bike. If 26" wheels suit you go with them, it probably won't make a big difference in your race performance.

  24. #24
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    I know of the roll over advantage of 29" wheels, your points on slower acceleration, handling in tight, slow stuff as well as having a harder time manualing the front wheel over obstacles is what turned me off also. Whatever bike you ride, your still going to look for the best line while climbing and descending. I've been fortunate enough to have spent time on all the sizes in a lot of conditions, 27.5 is my choice....BTW, I'm 51 years old, 6' tall, weigh 165lbs and race cat. 1.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    I know of the roll over advantage of 29" wheels, your points on slower acceleration, handling in tight, slow stuff as well as having a harder time manualing the front wheel over obstacles is what turned me off also. Whatever bike you ride, your still going to look for the best line while climbing and descending. I've been fortunate enough to have spent time on all the sizes in a lot of conditions, 27.5 is my choice....BTW, I'm 51 years old, 6' tall, weigh 165lbs and race cat. 1.
    I rode my first 29er in the late summer of 2008 (2009 HiFi Deluxe 29). I worked for a Trek dealer at the time. 1 day after the test ride I ordered one, built it up with my own parts, and loved it. I switched to a Superfly hardtail the next season and have been on a 29" hardtail ever since - until this season.

    On a whim, I built up a Superlight as a 650b conversion. I missed being able to toss a bike around in the air, being able to manual obstacles, being able to switch lines with a slight weight shift and a turn of my hips. I loved the ride, and next bought a Blur XC Carbon to convert, which I'm currently racing.

    The 650b is the most enjoyable to ride of the wheel formats, for me. It does not roll over obstacles as easily as a 29er - but the difference is very minimal, and the lighter weight of the wheels/tires/frame means I can run full suspension at the same weight as my old 29" hardtail - which goes a long way towards equalizing the rollover difference. Not to mention the added control and lower overall fatigue that comes with FS over HT.

    It's a lot easier to get the bars lower than the saddle (for me, at 5'10" and riding a large frame) with the 650b. No endo-prone feeling like when I ride a 26" bike after being used to a 29".

    Momentum - not as good at holding speed while coasting as the 29", but again it's subtle. Much easier to reaccelerate out of turns and up bursty climbs. Gets to top speed more quickly.

    Sure, it's a compromise - but so is a 29er (doesn't roll like a 36er, now does it?) as well as a 26" (not as flickable as a BMX bike). All bikes are a compromise of some sort. For me, so far, it's the best compromise.

    39 years old, 5'10", 145 lbs, racing Pro/Elite XC and endurance.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    I believe in the physics behind a larger wheel rolling over obstacles, tell me something I don't know or even debated.
    I really don't want to start a debate over the 3 current wheel sizes, I think your wrong on your with your doubts over "the best of both worlds", and I'm willing to bet that you have never even put time on a 27.5 wheeled bike to make that assumption, but that's OK. I get my knowledge from owning, riding/ racing the 3 sizes, yes, 27.5 to me is the "best of both worlds"
    Define "put time on......"
    A full Demo day at a local park riding the rocky trails, with tight switchback climbs and descents? Toss in some fast flowing single track at the top too. Certainly not a parking lot cruise, but not as good as a demo as a Polly Creek DH ride at Downieville.

    Something for a 29er at the same park another day. I'm only fan of the 29er with a hardtail climbing.

    Then I have my own 26er rig I ride there a lot because it's fun.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg View Post
    Define "put time on......"
    A full Demo day at a local park riding the rocky trails, with tight switchback climbs and descents? Toss in some fast flowing single track at the top too. Certainly not a parking lot cruise, but not as good as a demo as a Polly Creek DH ride at Downieville.

    Something for a 29er at the same park another day. I'm only fan of the 29er with a hardtail climbing.

    Then I have my own 26er rig I ride there a lot because it's fun.
    Nobody has to convince you that 650b is a good option for it to succeed. Many people like it, and the bikes are coming. Lots of them.

    It won't be for everyone, but it's the best for me (and for Jeff, apparently). More choices = better for all.

  28. #28
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    My definition, "put time on".... rocky trails, check, tight switchbacks, check, climbs and descents, check, flowing single track, check. I owned a couple 29ers, still own one, never ride it anymore, never really like them.
    Usually the people that knock something new, be it a bike, a component or in this case, a new(er) wheel size, have not put time on the item to make a qualified judgement.
    When I developed the first adjustable height seatpost (the Elevator Shaft) back in 2001, most said that I'm fixing a problem that doesn't exist, now, the adjustable height seatpost is one of the most demanded products, especially to the all mountain, trail bike riders. Give it time, mark my word, 27.5 is coming in a big way, I guarantee that they will dominate the off road market within the next 5 years.

  29. #29
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    Re: Anyone still XC racing 26er's anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    Offroad motorcycles have evolved over the years and have pretty much settled on a standard wheel size which riders and manufacturers have proven to be the optimum size, off road racing vehicles have also, maybe 27.5 is that optimum size size for off road bicycles.
    Yep, dirt bike have standardised on 18" rear.

    And 19" rear...


    Road bikes have long standardised on 17" rear, or 16.5"...

  30. #30
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    I am in Texas and still race a 26. 2010 Trek Top Fuel to be exact. I race Cat 2 currently and don't lose to many 29ers. First race this year was a flat open trail and I took first by 1 minute and 43 seconds on my outdated 26er. I am sticking with my 26 for now.

  31. #31
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    Re: Anyone still XC racing 26er's anymore?

    Quote Originally Posted by reelmcoy View Post
    I am in Texas and still race a 26. 2010 Trek Top Fuel to be exact. I race Cat 2 currently and don't lose to many 29ers. First race this year was a flat open trail and I took first by 1 minute and 43 seconds on my outdated 26er. I am sticking with my 26 for now.
    Perfect example showing that the motor is by far the most important part of the bike. Nice work!

  32. #32
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    I was watching World Cup XC race coverage, and the commentators were saying that pretty much everyone is on 29ers now because they are definitely faster. They said that the guys that are too short for a proper setup on a 29er, are riding the 650s. I'm sure the difference is small though, and if money is tight, you can get screaming deals on really good used 26ers now. Personally, on technical descents, I just feel safer on a 29er, knowing I'm less likely to endo on a rock/root.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rdalcanto View Post
    I was watching World Cup XC race coverage, and the commentators were saying that pretty much everyone is on 29ers now because they are definitely faster. They said that the guys that are too short for a proper setup on a 29er, are riding the 650s. I'm sure the difference is small though, and if money is tight, you can get screaming deals on really good used 26ers now. Personally, on technical descents, I just feel safer on a 29er, knowing I'm less likely to endo on a rock/root.

    Who won the race? I didn't get to watch it. Were they on a 29er's or 650B's?

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabrielus View Post
    Who won the race? I didn't get to watch it. Were they on a 29er's or 650B's?
    Nino Schurter on a 650b hardtail

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    And in style too.

    Mucho respect for Absalon. 6th with broken ribs!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SandSpur View Post
    Nino Schurter on a 650b hardtail
    Julie Bresset who won women's XC was also on 650B, and she won Gold in the Olympics last year on 26".

    Sooooo 29ers are faster is bs imo. They are just different styles of riding.

    Hehe I just took my old 26er FS rig from 1999 that is 3-4lbs heavier than my 29er HT and has V-brakes and set 4 PRs with it easily, erasing a couple that the 29er set. I found the 26er to flow and thread through the trail a lot easier as it was nimbler. The 29er is bigger, taller, and more difficult to flow it through tight and twisty stuff.

    And I never understood the whole 29er feeling safer ordeal. To me they feel less safe because they are taller and flimsier (Giant points this out) with their big wagon wheels that have more leverage against you. The safest feeling bike I ever rode was a Giant Trance 27.5, that thing felt like it could tackle anything, awesome geo and suspension!

    And don't get me wrong I love my Scott Scale 29er, I enjoy rolling around on the big wheels, and i like the geo and fit...but I just started riding my 26ers again and started realizing a lot of things.

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