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  1. #1
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    How many tried a 29er for XC racing but went back...

    to a 26er?...just not warming up the slower acceleration and higher static bike weight?
    Maybe some of you test rode a 29er and said no to begin with.
    I just built a 29er hardtail which I think is a great training bike because of the ride quality but I feel faster on my 26er hardtail.
    Wanted to check in with the guys who take their amateur racing seriously and see what you say. I know there are those that race your 29ers...but wondering just how much of a minority 29er racers are and will continue to be for the known weight difference.

    I casually asked the owner of my lbs who has been well connected with Trek for many years when we will see Lance on a 29er....since seems like a natural progression from the road. He said without equivocation...never. Lance is the ultimate weight weenie and apples to apples plain and simple a 26er with same technology can be built lighter and therefore will accelerate and climb faster.

    Thoughts?

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    It sounds like this LBS owner has gotten in your head. So a Trek dealer says "You'll never see Lance on a 29er." What a surprise! [You won't see Lance on a 29er until Trek sells one.] If Lance were the "ultimate weight weenie" he'd ride a hardtail, no?

    Where do you race that you don't see tons of serious amateurs racing big wheels?

    Don't race the bike that feels faster, ride the bike that is faster. Also, don't judge a bike until you've ridden it a bunch. And since you own both bikes, what exactly is the weight penalty between the two? It's silly, you have the nice situation of having both in your hand, go test them and choose the one you go faster on.

    The whole 29/26 thing has been discussed ad nauseum, there's no point in going down that road.

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    i went back to a 26" race bike.... much happier now.

  4. #4
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    Who cares about Lance on a 29er, that's hardly the measure of the top dawg in MTB racing, the real question is whether you see Julien Absalon on a 29er now that Orbea has a carbon 29er in their line. If he can be faster on a 29, he'll be riding one, if not he won't.
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    i started out racing on a 29er (bought my first xc bike around february 06)

    i raced all the way into CAT1 using my AIR9. at the first US Cup race last year i rode hard and didn't do so well (9th place i think). i decided that my 29er was holding me back. shortly after that i got my 26" hard tail (had never had a 26" race bike before). the bike immediately felt much faster. at the next US Cup race (Sagebrush doesn't count IMO) I was 4th and had moved up into the thick of things.

    i believe that 26" FS is even faster than the HT. this year i raced Fontana on Allison's Epic from last year and was 5th fastest amateur overall (2nd AG). i wasn't even on top form yet, but will never know how good i could have been... DOH!

    29ers have their place and that place is getting bigger as the bikes shed weight with new parts and tires. with carbon 29er HT's coming in below 20lbs i would say that things have improved tremendously.

    to put things into perspective though, my AIR9 was 23lbs in race trim and my Sworks HT was 19.5lbs. that is 3.5lbs and a significant portion of that was rotating mass in the wheels and tires. the Epic was tipping the scales at 22lbs but the energy saved through suspension more than makes up for the weight on MOST courses IMO.

    one other note: i feel that one of the most significant changes made between those two bikes was in the BB/bearings. the XTR BB has a great deal of drag in it. the Sworks bearings (BB30) is by far a better setup.

  6. #6
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    Yeah, probably never see Lance on a 29er: http://tiny.cc/myw2f

    Personally, I couldn't go back. Being 6'4" the improvement in fit is just too big of an advantage for me. But I can totally understand why someone would prefer a 26er for some situations/courses. I also think you will see more pros adding a 29er to their stable of bikes to be used depending on the course. I think for most a 29er HT and 26er FS would be a great combo to have and would cover most courses.

    What is interesting is the number of top women Pros using 29ers.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme
    i started out racing on a 29er (bought my first xc bike around february 06)

    i raced all the way into CAT1 using my AIR9. at the first US Cup race last year i rode hard and didn't do so well (9th place i think). i decided that my 29er was holding me back. shortly after that i got my 26" hard tail (had never had a 26" race bike before). the bike immediately felt much faster. at the next US Cup race (Sagebrush doesn't count IMO) I was 4th and had moved up into the thick of things.

    i believe that 26" FS is even faster than the HT. this year i raced Fontana on Allison's Epic from last year and was 5th fastest amateur overall (2nd AG). i wasn't even on top form yet, but will never know how good i could have been... DOH!

    29ers have their place and that place is getting bigger as the bikes shed weight with new parts and tires. with carbon 29er HT's coming in below 20lbs i would say that things have improved tremendously.

    to put things into perspective though, my AIR9 was 23lbs in race trim and my Sworks HT was 19.5lbs. that is 3.5lbs and a significant portion of that was rotating mass in the wheels and tires. the Epic was tipping the scales at 22lbs but the energy saved through suspension more than makes up for the weight on MOST courses IMO.

    one other note: i feel that one of the most significant changes made between those two bikes was in the BB/bearings. the XTR BB has a great deal of drag in it. the Sworks bearings (BB30) is by far a better setup.
    You are a very strong rider and congrats on your success and thanks for sharing your experience. In addition to what we feel by riding each bike, we no doubt are also shaped by what others ride. For some reason you felt like trying a 26er and the results speak for themselves. Your results is what I feel on a qualitative level every time I ride my 29er. Biggest benefit is its ride quality but I am considering going 26er dual suspension so I can have my cake and eat it too. I do believe the 29er HT is an excellent training bike however...low complexity and great rollover. It just takes a bigger engine to power a Cadillac.

    As to the poster that said the lbs has gotten into my head...that is laughable. The purpose of my query here is based upon my personal experience of riding each bike. What the lbs owner said who btw sells a lot of 29ers simply reinforces how I feel.
    My evolving view is the bike that Lance rides...carbon fiber dually is the way to go and maybe my next bike. I like many aspects of my 29er don't get me wrong...it just doesn't have the same acceleration.

  8. #8
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    I'll weigh in on the opposite side. My last race bike was a 26" titanium hard tail that weighed in at 21.5 lbs ready to rock.

    My current race bike is a 29" Salsa Mamasita that sits at 24lbs ready to race.

    I would never go back to the little wheels. Though the 26er was a faster bike (I could stay almost entirely in the big ring), I just feel more comfortable, stable, smoother, and can take high speed corners and steep climbs a lot better with the big wheels. The extra confidence given to me on the 29er is worth a lot more than the few advantages the smaller wheels give me. Also, when I'm letting her go all out on downhill sections, I feel MUCH more comfortable on the new bike. I was lucky that when I bought the Salsa, it came with Reynolds carbon wheels with DT240s hubs, so the wheels are nearly as light as the American Classic racing wheels I was using on the 26er. This probably helps things quite a bit, but I would never go back to the weee wheels. Many of the central TX trails I ride are full of beach ball sized rocks and wheel eating divots. The bigger wheels have a huge advantage on these types of trails (though you won't see too many big rock gardens in the races out here). If our races were nothing but zig-zagging through the trees in super sharp turns, I would have kept the 26er. For everything else, I'm all about the big wheels.

    All that being said, if funds allowed, I would have a lightweight, full suspension 29" race bike as I am a big fan of the rear squish. Unfortunately, that would cost an arm and a leg, and I need those to ride with :P

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishlips
    Yeah, probably never see Lance on a 29er: http://tiny.cc/myw2f

    Personally, I couldn't go back. Being 6'4" the improvement in fit is just too big of an advantage for me. But I can totally understand why someone would prefer a 26er for some situations/courses. I also think you will see more pros adding a 29er to their stable of bikes to be used depending on the course. I think for most a 29er HT and 26er FS would be a great combo to have and would cover most courses.

    What is interesting is the number of top women Pros using 29ers.
    Yeah...didn't see Lance on that Superfly at Leadville tho which is a perfect course for it.
    Gary Fisher and Trek are joined at the hip so don't really see a confict, in particular if LA continues to ride for Trek on the road which he will even though Fisher is trying to make another run at road bikes.

    I am 6'1" so I get you on the size thing. At 6'4" the long wheelbase of the 29er does make a lot of sense. I like your comment about having two...a 29er HT and 26er dually...makes a lot of sense. Totally agree about the surprise about women racing 29ers. Intuitively because of their size and power, one wouldn't think this would be a good fit, literally.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    Who cares about Lance on a 29er, that's hardly the measure of the top dawg in MTB racing, the real question is whether you see Julien Absalon on a 29er now that Orbea has a carbon 29er in their line. If he can be faster on a 29, he'll be riding one, if not he won't.
    Orbea has had a carbon 29er for years. Absalon even tested it for the Olympics. But stuck with the 26er.

    Of course none of us are Absalon. If I set my Alma like he does I would end up up on my head.

    You have to choose the best bike for yourself.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    Yeah...didn't see Lance on that Superfly at Leadville tho which is a perfect course for it.
    Gary Fisher and Trek are joined at the hip so don't really see a confict, in particular if LA continues to ride for Trek on the road which he will even though Fisher is trying to make another run at road bikes.

    I am 6'1" so I get you on the size thing. At 6'4" the long wheelbase of the 29er does make a lot of sense. I like your comment about having two...a 29er HT and 26er dually...makes a lot of sense. Totally agree about the surprise about women racing 29ers. Intuitively because of their size and power, one wouldn't think this would be a good fit, literally.
    I predict it won't be long before Trek comes out with a 29er. I think their dealers (at least those not selling Gary Fishers) will eventually demand it given their continued rise in popularity. I know Travis Brown was recently riding a prototype 29er aluminum hardtail, which was identified as a GF prototype, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Trek prototype.

    As for the shorter women liking the 29er, I would guess it is the stability and the ability to roll over stuff better that attracts them to a 29er. You do get this tank-like quality (both good and bad) with a 29er.

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    Good comments jd. Seems like a horses for courses thing. I don't ride courses with big bolders so no doubt my point of view is framed by the fairly benign courses I ride.
    Generally genres of different bikes come into being for a reason...there is a following based upon a given set of conditions. Your uber light wheels also make the 29er more comparable even though the same weight economy can be derived by spending $1K for a 26er wheelset. I do love the ride and handling of my 29er without a doubt. I never feel my 29er is sluggish in the least and in fact takes much less wheel correction on the open path which no doubt contributes to speed. Once you get those big wheels turns they are nice.

  13. #13
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    I'd love to try out a race 29er HT. I raced locally at the sport/expert level on my Dos Niner set up around 23-24lbs or so, and my Epic isn't a lot lighter.

    I'm sure the front suspension and weight savings from something like the new S-Works Stumpy 29er HT would be sweet.

    But, I really think it's a lot personal preference, and once you get down to similar set-ups and weight I'm not sure either/or would you hold you back more than the other.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Orbea has had a carbon 29er for years. Absalon even tested it for the Olympics. But stuck with the 26er.

    Of course none of us are Absalon. If I set my Alma like he does I would end up up on my head.

    You have to choose the best bike for yourself.
    Can you elaborate, please?

    Back to the subject at hand:

    I had a 29er HT when I first started riding. I bought a 26er FS, and despite the fact that my 29er was lighter than my 26er FS (initially), it was a slower bike on the local terrain, both uphill and down. And, now that I've really learned how to ride in a respectable manner, and my bike is set up properly, I think the difference would be even greater.

  15. #15
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    What is your current bike/build? Weight difference between the 26?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by miss rides a lot
    What is your current bike/build? Weight difference between the 26?
    Anthem X out of the box: 25.9lbs

    Changes---
    Fork: Fox F32 RL --> SID XX
    RD: XT-->XX
    Shifters: F/R XT --> R XX
    Cassette: 11-34 XT --> 11-36 XX
    Cranks: 22/32/44 XT --> 38t e.13 DH ring on XT
    Bars: Race Face Evolve --> Salsa Pro Moto Carbon
    Wheels: Mavic 317s on WTB LaserDisc Lite hubs --> NoTubes Crests on WTB LDL (f), DT 240s 10mm TB (r)
    FD: XT --> MRP 1.X
    Saddle: WTB Silverado Thinline --> "custom" Bontrager
    Tires: Michelin XC2 Dry --> Aspen 2.1 (f), Bontrager XR0 2.1 (r)

    Currently at 21.8lbs, should be below 21 shortly.


    My GF Paragon was 28lbs out of the box, and I got it down to 23lbs even, I believe.

  17. #17
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    courses will depict to a large degree how effective the different wheels sizes/suspension have. i still feel that a light FS 26" is going to be the best compromise for all conditions. though the gap has closed down significantly. if things continue to develop it may be close to a draw between the two.

  18. #18
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    le duke, your anthem x is light! I'm on my way there. currently at 24 pounds. I already switched wheels to stans olympic wheelset. Just need my chain guide to go 1x9. I have a few xtr parts as well.

    I went shopping last year to buy a 29er hardtail. Ended up coming home with my 26" anthem x2. Super happy with my purchase! It rips the single track around here very well. The tree roots and rocks are no problem now.

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    Fakie,
    That Gaint X2 anthem is on my short list. Anybody know how it stacks up to the Al Trek Fuel DS?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    Can you elaborate, please?
    He has a long and low front end. He rides with a lot of weight over the front end. I put a lot of weight over my front end too but not nearly to the same degree that he does. His set-up does not match my riding style at all.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Orbea has had a carbon 29er for years. Absalon even tested it for the Olympics. But stuck with the 26er.
    Isn't this new Alma 29er that the Luna gals are riding some major magnitude lighter and stiffer than the previous carbon Orbea 29? It would be interesting of Absalon was the first World Cup win on a 29er after the Fishers and Specialized racers have not quite done it.
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    as already alluded to in a different thread, Absalon was interviewed in a recent issue of a French VTT mag. He was really, really clear on that he does not "believe" in 29ers

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    You americans are really into your fads yeah? Over here there are very few people on 29'ers. Considered just another fad like 'Y' bikes and other junk like that.

    Dont look at the top guys, look at the guys from 50th -> 150th on the grid at a euro WC. no one on them. When 50% of these guys are on 29'er, then I'll consider them.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe90mccall
    You americans are really into your fads yeah? Over here there are very few people on 29'ers. Considered just another fad like 'Y' bikes and other junk like that.
    it's because here "we" always adopt "their" fads once "they" already have moved on

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    True, but we let them suffer with the junk first ;-)

  26. #26
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    I rode a 29er Epic and my 26 Epic and smoked the 29er time. All variables were consistent and even gave myself some time to get use to 29. I'm just much faster on 26 so that's where I stay. Others may be different.

    My SS is a 29er, but that's my training ride.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme
    i started out racing on a 29er (bought my first xc bike around february 06)

    i raced all the way into CAT1 using my AIR9. at the first US Cup race last year i rode hard and didn't do so well (9th place i think). i decided that my 29er was holding me back. shortly after that i got my 26" hard tail (had never had a 26" race bike before). the bike immediately felt much faster. at the next US Cup race (Sagebrush doesn't count IMO) I was 4th and had moved up into the thick of things.

    i believe that 26" FS is even faster than the HT. this year i raced Fontana on Allison's Epic from last year and was 5th fastest amateur overall (2nd AG). i wasn't even on top form yet, but will never know how good i could have been... DOH!

    29ers have their place and that place is getting bigger as the bikes shed weight with new parts and tires. with carbon 29er HT's coming in below 20lbs i would say that things have improved tremendously.

    to put things into perspective though, my AIR9 was 23lbs in race trim and my Sworks HT was 19.5lbs. that is 3.5lbs and a significant portion of that was rotating mass in the wheels and tires. the Epic was tipping the scales at 22lbs but the energy saved through suspension more than makes up for the weight on MOST courses IMO.

    one other note: i feel that one of the most significant changes made between those two bikes was in the BB/bearings. the XTR BB has a great deal of drag in it. the Sworks bearings (BB30) is by far a better setup.
    I have contrasting story to emphasize "horses for courses (and riders)"

    I've had the opposite experience as whybotherme. Went from 4" travel 26 incher to 29er hardtail, hardtail's only .5 lb lighter (and aluminum vs. carbon no less).

    I'm definately faster this year than last year, XTR cranks and all. Of course that's last year vs. this year, even though my power tests don't show it, I think my fitness is better this year. Went from podium CAT 1 last year to a couple podiums in Pro (Utah state series).

    To summarize: I don't think it really matters as long as the bike fits, and helps you to address the weaknesses in your skillset.

    When you get on the right bike for you, you'll know it right away.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe90mccall
    You americans are really into your fads yeah? Over here there are very few people on 29'ers. Considered just another fad like 'Y' bikes and other junk like that.

    Dont look at the top guys, look at the guys from 50th -> 150th on the grid at a euro WC. no one on them. When 50% of these guys are on 29'er, then I'll consider them.
    When I see your name in the 50th->150th on the grid, then your opinion will mean something.

  29. #29
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    It is purely a personal decision. Look at Willow Koerber- moved to a 29er, and found herself on the podium at Worlds last year, and leading the WC series earlier this year. You can find stories both ways- the work for some people, they don't for others. If they don't work for you, no big deal- sell the bike and enjoy your 26ers.

    There is no magic bullet...
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    Quote Originally Posted by jd1072
    I just feel more comfortable, stable, smoother, and can take high speed corners and steep climbs a lot better with the big wheels. The extra confidence given to me on the 29er is worth a lot more than the few advantages the smaller wheels give me. Also, when I'm letting her go all out on downhill sections, I feel MUCH more comfortable on the new bike. :P
    I have to agree with jd1072, two years ago when I bought my 29er I had been riding a 26er for months training for a race. I bought a Gary Fisher Paragon a week before the race and instantly my times improved greatly. I really feel the preference for a 29er or 26er is based somewhat on physical makeup. I am fairly tall and just felt like the 26er was too small for me. Once I rode the 29er I felt like I was on a bike that was made for me physically. I don't know if anyone else feels this way but the 29er made a huge difference for me.
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    Lets be honest - the minuscule weight difference between a 29er and 26er will not determine the outcome of a race. What does matter is the riding style that the bikes encourage - the 26er is a much more flickable, nimble machine that is highly susceptible to momentum-robbing terrain. the 29er is a steamroller that smooths out the trail but makes it more difficult to maneuver quickly.

    Personally, I've raced 29" wheels the last two years and have ridden 26" bikes on many occasions since. All I can say is - It's a good thing the 26" wheels accelerate so quickly since they get hung up on everything, you have to do a lot of accelerating!

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner
    It is purely a personal decision. Look at Willow Koerber- moved to a 29er, and found herself on the podium at Worlds last year, and leading the WC series earlier this year.
    Interestingly Willow's last race on a 26inch bike was the Bromont World Cup, where she had a significant lead when she flatted.

    Willow is the example that world class events can be won on a 29er, but not an example of someone getting faster because of a 29er.

  33. #33
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    I didn't "go back" from a 29 to a 26, but when shopping for a bike I tried a couple 29ers and was a bit..... underwhelmed. They where OK, but due to all the hype maybe I was expecting something to make me go "holy s**t, how have I lived without this" like I was when I first got disk brakes. I got a good deal on a 26" carbon s-works epic and am very happy with my choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Willow is the example that world class events can be won on a 29er, but not an example of someone getting faster because of a 29er.
    Just curious- what was her best international finish before she started riding a 29er? Right... : )

    But seriously, I think she's proof that wheel size doesn't matter. That you can win a WC on 26 or 29, and that it's really down to personal preference and what fits your style of riding.

    There is not a "one-size-fits-all" rule to be drawn from this...
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    [QUOTE=jbogner]Just curious- what was her best international finish before she started riding a 29er? Right... : )

    [QUOTE]

    3rd at Mt. Saint Anne in 2003 I believe.

    Not the same as 2nd but pretty close.

    Actually Willow has place in the top 5 at world cups a fair bit over the yeasr. She has never managed to get the consistency or her strong finishes are overshadowed by another american or north american rider.

    At both Saint Ann and Bromont last year she looked really good but mechanical problems cost her a bit. At Saint Ann she was the second fastest rider on course and IMHO she could have won Bromont.

    Hopefully she can get over Offenburg and have some strong rides at the last couple of world cups. But not too strong, it would be nice to keep the world cup leaders jersey in the house.

  36. #36
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    [QUOTE=LMN][QUOTE=jbogner]Just curious- what was her best international finish before she started riding a 29er? Right... : )


    3rd at Mt. Saint Anne in 2003 I believe.

    Not the same as 2nd but pretty close.
    I'd be willing to wager that there are a lot of guys who could care less what size wheels Willow is running.

  37. #37
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    [QUOTE=zrm][QUOTE=LMN]
    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner
    Just curious- what was her best international finish before she started riding a 29er? Right... : )



    I'd be willing to wager that there are a lot of guys who could care less what size wheels Willow is running.
    I'm sure you're just referring to the general enthusiasm that her fans have for her riding skills...

    http://www.willowkoerber.com/bio.php

    2004 3rd MSA
    2005 4th MSA
    2007 5th Champrey; 4th St.Felicien; 6th overall World Cup
    2008 6th Bromont
    2009 6th Pietremaritzburg; 5th MSA; 7th Bromont; 1st Windham ProXCT
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How many tried a 29er for XC racing but went back...-koerber-kini.jpg  

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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    I'm sure you're just referring to the general enthusiasm that her fans have for her riding skills...
    Of course. What else would I be referring to besides her world class fitness and riding skills?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    When I see your name in the 50th->150th on the grid, then your opinion will mean something.
    Guy's a multiple national champion and very experienced international racer. Are you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by flanman
    Guy's a multiple national champion and very experienced international racer. Are you?
    As to his comment on it being a fad? Mountain biking itself is still in such an infancy that we could call it a fad. Hard to label equipment as it comes along as being a fad in such a young industry. Disc brakes. Front suspension. Rear suspension. Wheel size. 5 speed. 7 speed. 8 speed. 9 speed. 10 speed. And on and on. Who's to say what the wheel size of choice will be a few years to many years in the future?

    Even Ned is on the big wheels now. No shortage of his accomplishments in the pro ranks over the decades...

    But now I've ventured way off course from the original topic of any XC racers having tried the big wheels only to revert back to the small wheels....
    Last edited by BruceBrown; 06-13-2010 at 12:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe90mccall
    You americans are really into your fads yeah? Over here there are very few people on 29'ers. Considered just another fad like 'Y' bikes and other junk like that.

    Dont look at the top guys, look at the guys from 50th -> 150th on the grid at a euro WC. no one on them. When 50% of these guys are on 29'er, then I'll consider them.
    I've not ridden in Europe, but many of the pro courses I've seen race footage, they look extremely technical, lots of steep drops and tight turns (Dalby, Offenburg, Houffalize). Same with Canada. I see no advantage to 29", possibly disadvantage.

    The majority of US courses seem to be less single track and more wide open, very strict about 'IMBA sustainable grades'. (Bonelli, Sea Otter, MJC) IMO these courses give advantage to big wheels.

    Anyone else see it like that?

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    Even though mountain biking itself was a fad begun in America, and 26" wheel size became the standard just because that was the best source for big tires at the time, I think it's safe to say now that both wheel sizes have plenty enough market share.

    Every bike, regardless of design, must either make you faster or slower, either amplified or negated by whatever confidence level the feeling of the bike gives you. It should be measurable.

    Americans are taller on average. Whereas for people of average or shorter height a 29er is debatable, at a certain height (6'-2"?) the bigger wheels become the obviously better choice.

    No need to continue the fight for survival I am thankful this market war has allowed for more choices in sizing besides just the frame. In the future I would like to see more choices in crank length and more progress in better shifting lightweight drivetrain technology than the derailleur.

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    First, Lance has already been on a 29er - http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8ailI49YKi...ong-mtbike.jpg

    Second, the reason for Lance being on a 26 FS at Leadville is not be about the bike. The race obviously had a ton of media coverage and it only would look right if Lance was on a Trek. Inside sources say that Lance wanted a 29er for Leadville but will always ride a Trek in an event like that for publicity reasons. The guy from your LBS has no clue what he is talking about.

  44. #44
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    I am curious what all the die hard 26" riders might learn about their competitors on 29" bikes if they tried one on a familiar trail to suss out the positives and negatives of big wheels compared to small wheels. Know thine enemy and all that...
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

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    Both sides of the plate...

    Love my 29er. Makes me much better when I show up for technical race courses that I haven't ridden before. Also, no endos. It is a confidence-inspiring ride. BUT, on a course that I know well, and when I have been riding more MTB, I am faster on my 26er. If I rode MTB a lot more, and raced all the time, I would have a Cannondale Flash Ultimate. Period. But since I don't, my heavy 29er is very forgiving and makes the most out of my meager riding skills, and that just makes it more fun in the end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    I am curious what all the die hard 26" riders might learn about their competitors on 29" bikes if they tried one on a familiar trail to suss out the positives and negatives of big wheels compared to small wheels. Know thine enemy and all that...
    I wouldnt mind hitting a demo ride to see what its like on a trail that I know and ride frequently. there is one coming up for gary fisher bikes. Maybe I'll check it out. my ride on a giant xtc1 29er wasnt all that impressive to me. from all the reviews I read, I too was expecting more I guess....

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_co2
    I've not ridden in Europe, but many of the pro courses I've seen race footage, they look extremely technical, lots of steep drops and tight turns (Dalby, Offenburg, Houffalize). Same with Canada. I see no advantage to 29", possibly disadvantage.

    The majority of US courses seem to be less single track and more wide open, very strict about 'IMBA sustainable grades'. (Bonelli, Sea Otter, MJC) IMO these courses give advantage to big wheels.

    I would say your assessment of the course is pretty good. But the courses in the US are challenging in their own way and riders who ride and train in those conditions have a definite advantage on them.

    The majority of most courses do not favour one wheel type over another. There may sections on a course that favour one bike, but generally they cancel each other out.

    However, some riders will be more successful on a certain wheel type.

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    It's usually mentioned as a negative, but 29ers have longer chainstays. For me, at 6'-3", this is an advantage. Steep climbs and fast corners are much better with a bit more weight on the front wheel.

    I went from a FS 26er to a HT 29er and loved the way the bike handled. I'm back on FS and took the 29er weight penalty to keep the longer chainstays.

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    Not living up to the hype

    Quote Originally Posted by Fakie1999
    I wouldnt mind hitting a demo ride to see what its like on a trail that I know and ride frequently. there is one coming up for gary fisher bikes. Maybe I'll check it out. my ride on a giant xtc1 29er wasnt all that impressive to me. from all the reviews I read, I too was expecting more I guess....
    I got my 29er in 08 when I was planning on a Giant Trance. Another sales guy told me to take it for a spin before I left, and I was hooked. But with all the hype these days, it sounds like you are going from a 26" bike to an F-22. It's still a human-powered machine in the end. I will say the exception is a singlespeed. I'll start some ruckus there by wondering why anyone would want a rigid 26'' singlespeed over a rigid 29" singlespeed. I think the 29er is unarguably much better a maintaining momentum, which seems to me more important than flickability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slohr
    It's still a human-powered machine in the end. I will say the exception is a singlespeed. I'll start some ruckus there by wondering why anyone would want a rigid 26'' singlespeed over a rigid 29" singlespeed. I think the 29er is unarguably much better a maintaining momentum, which seems to me more important than flickability.
    Very good point on the SS, momentum is much more important than flick.

    I would assume that most people, like myself, have a 26" rigid SS because its a cheap buildup of old spare parts

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    something that isn't brought up much...

    muddy races are no bueno for 29" tires. bigger diameter means that they pick up more mud, and the mud they do pick up has a higher impact on rotating mass.

    Allison still wants a darn 29er HT for racing though...

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    True in fact but disagree in practice; 29ers tend to dig in better and leave 26" bikes squirming in the mud.

    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme
    something that isn't brought up much...

    muddy races are no bueno for 29" tires. bigger diameter means that they pick up more mud, and the mud they do pick up has a higher impact on rotating mass.

    Allison still wants a darn 29er HT for racing though...

  53. #53
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    no more racing the niner for me

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    to a 26er?...just not warming up the slower acceleration and higher static bike weight?
    Maybe some of you test rode a 29er and said no to begin with.
    I just built a 29er hardtail which I think is a great training bike because of the ride quality but I feel faster on my 26er hardtail.
    Wanted to check in with the guys who take their amateur racing seriously and see what you say. I know there are those that race your 29ers...but wondering just how much of a minority 29er racers are and will continue to be for the known weight difference.

    I casually asked the owner of my lbs who has been well connected with Trek for many years when we will see Lance on a 29er....since seems like a natural progression from the road. He said without equivocation...never. Lance is the ultimate weight weenie and apples to apples plain and simple a 26er with same technology can be built lighter and therefore will accelerate and climb faster.

    Thoughts?
    I got a 29er hard tail last year and used it for a race for the first time Saturday because my 26 full susp is out of order. I've been on it about 15 times for some good rides and though it's fun to ride it's not fast by any means. I was slower than usual at this race course and felt like I got it handed to me because the ride is so different. It was great on the non tech but soon as the twists and bumps came it was like riding a truck compared to a race car (speed wise) I won't race it again except for fun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    True in fact but disagree in practice; 29ers tend to dig in better and leave 26" bikes squirming in the mud.

    haha.. i have a picture from some riding in Durango that would illustrate my point pretty well i think!

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    True in fact but disagree in practice; 29ers tend to dig in better and leave 26" bikes squirming in the mud.
    I have never observed that to be true.

    I have ridden in crazy muddy conditions with some best 29er riders in the world and they certainly didn't appear to have any advantage over the 26inch bikes.

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    As it has been said, it is all about preference. I came off an Ellsworth Truth that weighed in at 23~24lbs to an Air9 that weighs 23lbs. I can definitely say that I am faster on the 29er platform (race body weight on the Truth was 165~170lbs, on the Air9 ~180lbs). I can whip it around just as easy as the Truth (except in really tight corners). In my races I usually get the holeshot everytime and am consistantly in the top 3 going into the woods. So I do not experience acceleration problems or any of that stuff that is said to be a negative with 29ers. I will say this, you can not expect to use the same gearing on a 29er that you use on a 26 bike. My Truth was setup as a 3x9 with the standard 44-32-22 crank setup with a 11-32 cassette. My Air9 is setup as a 2x9 running 42/28 up front with an 11-34 cassette. Some things that do not get weighed in during threads like this is that there are a lot of variables such as rider's skill and bike setup that can influence one's opinion or experience between the 2 platforms. For me the choice was clear and it took more than a demo ride, but with the proper setup (gearing, handlebar width, stem length, etc) the 29er was the better choice, and I'm only 5'9".
    Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    I have never observed that to be true.

    I have ridden in crazy muddy conditions with some best 29er riders in the world and they certainly didn't appear to have any advantage over the 26inch bikes.
    The unknown variable is the tires. What type of tires were they running? Any hardpack tire regardless of size is going to slide all over the place, but it is hard to compare with out two identicle tires going over the same terrain. From experience I notice my 29" tires hook up better in mud, but this is depending on the tire used.
    Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    29ers tend to dig in better and leave 26" bikes squirming in the mud.
    I always wonder how one concludes such a thing. You studied 20 racers, 10 on 26" bikes and 10 on 29ers, in muddy conditions. All were equipped with power meters and required to put out only 'x' watts. Naturally, tires and air pressure, the latter corrected for rider weight, where set equal. Then you measured the time for riding through the muddy section? The mean 29er time was lower than the 26" time?

    Or is your assumption just based on experience?

    I would question the opposite statement (26 faster than 29) in the same way.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedraceratl
    The unknown variable is the tires. What type of tires were they running? Any hardpack tire regardless of size is going to slide all over the place, but it is hard to compare with out two identicle tires going over the same terrain. From experience I notice my 29" tires hook up better in mud, but this is depending on the tire used.
    Everybody had muds on. Bonti-Mud-Xs on the 29ers I had Maxxis Medusa on my 26inch.

    I have used both types of tires extensively in the mud. The Mud-Xs hook up a bit better but are painfully slow.

    You are right about tires though. They made a huge difference, it is truly amazing how much better mud tires are in the wet.

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    It is just my assumption based upon experience. It was my observation last year and early this year, being particularly wet periods, that 29er riders made the podium more frequently in very muddy conditions. I don't ride with the best in the world, but then again wouldn't that make equipment choice more relevant? I don't think it's such a hard thing to believe that larger wheels (or to be more accurate, larger total diameter) gets one through thick mud better.

    Don't make me use my jeep/ATV analogy, because I find those "sports" to be vulgar, nonetheless they are quite popular around here and what works for them in mud is obvious.

    I would agree that tire choice in mud makes a bigger difference than wheel size.


    Quote Originally Posted by quax
    I always wonder how one concludes such a thing. You studied 20 racers, 10 on 26" bikes and 10 on 29ers, in muddy conditions. All were equipped with power meters and required to put out only 'x' watts. Naturally, tires and air pressure, the latter corrected for rider weight, where set equal. Then you measured the time for riding through the muddy section? The mean 29er time was lower than the 26" time?

    Or is your assumption just based on experience?

    I would question the opposite statement (26 faster than 29) in the same way.
    Last edited by TunicaTrails; 06-14-2010 at 11:59 AM.

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    that 29er riders made the podium more frequently in very muddy conditions


    how do you know that this was due to wheel size?


    I don't think it's such a hard thing to believe that larger wheels (or to be more accurate, larger total diameter) gets one through thick mud better

    how do you know that the size difference is significant enough to have an effect on that. Maybe other factors have a much larger impact rendering the size difference insignificant?

    Reading your posting reminds me of Kabush's statement: "I don't believe in the church of 29ers". Personally, I'm more an agnostic. Rode both but haven't really felt any real difference with a 29er. Not the least comparable to when I rode first with a suspension fork or when I first used disc breaks in wet conditions.


    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    It is just my assumption based upon experience. It was my observation last year and early this year, being particularly wet periods, that 29er riders made the podium more frequently in very muddy conditions. I don't ride with the best in the world, but then again wouldn't that make equipment choice more relevant? I don't think it's such a hard thing to believe that larger wheels (or to be more accurate, larger total diameter) gets one through thick mud better.

    Don't make me use my jeep/ATV analogy, because I find those "sports" to be vulgar, nonetheless they are quite popular around here and what works for them in mud is obvious.

    I would agree that tire choice in mud makes a bigger difference than wheel size.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by flanman
    Guy's a multiple national champion and very experienced international racer. Are you?
    It's interesting that a guy who calls 29er a fad is using Sram XX drivetrain. That could be considered MUCH more of a fad than 29er. But then again those in America Jr. don't usually make much sense.

    Its funny that some hold on to the idea that a tire size will make them a faster rider (regardless of what size). Its like those golfers that spend $300+ on a driver or putter because they think it will make them better golfers. Ridiculously good marketing.

    I have both 26er and 29er. I'm much much faster on my 26 than the 29. The 29 had some advantages, however given my riding style, I find myself to be much faster on 26. I changed my 29er to SS rigid.

    Some will throw so called 'facts' about the advantage of one over the other, but enough research and testing (google it) has been done to show that neither one has a distinct advantage. If somebody feels faster and is faster on 29er then ride the 29er. All I want to do is get from point a to point b as fast as possible. I don't care what bike it requires to do it.

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    29ers are not a fad. when we were in Austin Texas for the Pro XCT race we saw a mexican dude with no helmet (looked like the gardeners we have locally) riding a Haro 29er on the side of the street.

  64. #64
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    your LBS is full of shiet...

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7

    I casually asked the owner of my lbs who has been well connected with Trek for many years when we will see Lance on a 29er....since seems like a natural progression from the road. He said without equivocation...never. Lance is the ultimate weight weenie and apples to apples plain and simple a 26er with same technology can be built lighter and therefore will accelerate and climb faster.

    Thoughts?

    I ride both... depending on the mood, trail, conditions...

    and ya... your LBS is full of shiet... here is Lance racing a 29er Superfly.

    ~every end is a new beginning...

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe90mccall
    You americans are really into your fads yeah? Over here there are very few people on 29'ers. Considered just another fad like 'Y' bikes and other junk like that.

    Dont look at the top guys, look at the guys from 50th -> 150th on the grid at a euro WC. no one on them. When 50% of these guys are on 29'er, then I'll consider them.
    Well Mr. Team Focus MTB, looks like the Germans are joining the "fad". Focus is now building 29ers but the first run won't be Carbon.

  66. #66
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    Maybe carbon is a fad too.

  67. #67
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    Fads are definitely fads.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  68. #68
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    Is there anything else in mountain biking that arouses as much acrimony as wheel size?

    Maybe Micky Mouse vs Bugs Bunny bells.

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm
    Is there anything else in mountain biking that arouses as much acrimony as wheel size?

    Maybe Micky Mouse vs Bugs Bunny bells.
    Yeah,

    -hardtail vs full susp
    -twist shift vs trigger
    -road training for mt bikers vs no road training for mt bikers
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  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    Yeah,

    -hardtail vs full susp
    -twist shift vs trigger
    -road training for mt bikers vs no road training for mt bikers
    +
    baggies vs spandex
    high volume tires vs skinnies
    riding when its wet
    steel frames
    rigid bikes
    bar ends
    drop bars
    gatorade
    camelbaks
    clipless pedals
    36T cogs
    bike color
    training wheels
    pacifier color
    breastfeeding
    best conception position
    ... and so on.
    My other bike is a /7.

  71. #71
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    Weight training vs. not weight training
    UST vs converted tubeless
    Carbon frames vs ti-frames
    LSD vs. Intensity
    Training on the road vs. training on the dirt
    short races vs. long races

  72. #72
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    Helmet vs no helmet
    Seat vs no seat

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Weight training vs. not weight training
    UST vs converted tubeless
    Carbon frames vs ti-frames
    LSD vs. Intensity
    Training on the road vs. training on the dirt
    short races vs. long races
    or LSD versus Insanity

    and of course Shimano vs SRAM
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

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    Dr. Leary would be proud of you for pointing out the dichotomy. And of course Dr. Hoffman's "Bicycle Day" was ridden well above threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    or LSD versus Insanity

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by WebInt
    Helmet vs no helmet
    Seat vs no seat
    Haha, Good one

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    Gears vs one Gear
    XC vs Trail
    Trail vs All Mountain

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    Dr. Leary would be proud of you for pointing out the dichotomy. And of course Dr. Hoffman's "Bicycle Day" was ridden well above threshold
    I am a child of the 60's...
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    Isn't this new Alma 29er that the Luna gals are riding some major magnitude lighter and stiffer than the previous carbon Orbea 29? It would be interesting of Absalon was the first World Cup win on a 29er after the Fishers and Specialized racers have not quite done it.
    I asked Luna gal Shonny Vanlandingham at Xterra Southeast this past Sunday about her new Alma HT in transition before the race. She raved about it and said she was SO happy Orbea was a sponsor. It was probably the sexiest bike I've ever seen (except maybe a custom Seven Ti 29er with a Carbon Lefty a few spot down on the rack). She went on win the women's with a smokin' bike time. The course in Alabama really favors 29ers and I'm sure those pros have a few bikes to choose from depending on the course - but the top 5 men and 1st female finishers were riding big wheels.

  79. #79
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    What I get from this thread is that, yes, some people have tried 29ers and gone back, and prefer 26ers. So, Contrary, to what some people will say, it is not just an unchallengable truth that 29ers are the superior technology and will replace the old 26".
    I think I read in MBA (ha ha), that the 26 inch hard tail may be on its way to extinction.

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    While the arguements are constantly back and forth the one in particular that gets me is if you are over x' x" then its a no brainer. I am 6' 3", a 29er is not my obvious choice, in fact its my last choice. Putting an already tall guy on a taller slower handling bike does not yeild pure bliss as many have stated.

    I'll keep my 26" carbon hardtail

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    My prediction: Lance on a Trek 29er at Leadville this year

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...bicycles-26615

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    "GeoffKabush Major blow to Church of 29er today; according to their gospel of world domination Fisher should be absorbing Trek brand."

    "JeremyHK @GeoffKabush Ha! Actually, this is the just the next logical step in that whole 29ers taking over the world thing."

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by EthanDM
    My prediction: Lance on a Trek 29er at Leadville this year

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...bicycles-26615
    With this news I wonder what people think of 29er vs 26er on a course like Leadville with less singletrack and more fireroads. Does the bigger wheel give a big advantage or not?
    Originally Posted by XC62701
    Agreed...make it longer. I want to know death is an option

  84. #84
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    Not sure if the "slow handling" tag is overstated. I don't consider either of my 29ers slow handling. My Fisher actually handle better than many of the 26ers I've owned IMO. I'd say at least half of the local race scene here is riding 29ers now. If they were really that much slower no one here in New England would like them as we have some seriously tight single track around here. I suspect the early 29ers may have been slow handling, I don't know because I just started with the 29ers over a year ago. All I know is, since moving over, my confidence is 1000% better.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    I am curious what all the die hard 26" riders might learn about their competitors on 29" bikes if they tried one on a familiar trail to suss out the positives and negatives of big wheels compared to small wheels. Know thine enemy and all that...
    I took at Specialized Epic 26 and 29 to my local trail. Rode both on the same day and then did TT test first with 26 then rested a couple days then with 29er. Repeated test one more time starting with 29er but at another trail.

    The first trail was a lot of climbing and switchbacks. 26er was about 4.2 minutes faster on that trail. 29er acceleration really hurt the time. The second trail was much more open. 26er was still faster but around 2minutes (don't have that exact time in front of me). 29er held momentum better and floated through the sand good. But 26er acceleration was much better.

    My 29er is now a single speed rigid. I race my s-works epic.

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcracer87
    i went back to a 26" race bike.... much happier now.
    this. i still have my 29er but it doesnt get ridden. my 2 26ers get ridden a few times a week.

  87. #87
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    when 29ers first started coming out i got one and never looked back. not satisfied with the tire and wheel choices i kept two 26" xc racing bikes, but they were no fun to ride because the 29ers made my racing weaknesses go away.

    now that we have 29er choices like we do in the 26" versions the whole 29er debate should be put to rest.

    i got rid of the 26" bikes i never rode. i kept comparing them, but they were inferior to my 29ers.

    either a 29er works better for you or it doesn't. its a longer wheel base and longer chainstays. and all the characteristics of that. they are not slower or not less flickable. if you felt that, ride one that has a steeper geometry. my jet9 is very very nimble. some consider it too fast handling.

    of course i am faster on a 29er. you may not be. but after going back and forth for a few years 29ers won out. you don't win a race being more flickable. you win by going faster.

    going faster includes more traction, better momentum and higher top speed. acceleration is not much of a factor. i don't feel any slower accelerating on a 29er, but i do feel all the advantages above. especially the traction. i don't need to accelerate cause i never slowed down to begin with.
    Out riding, leave a message

  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by OilcanRacer
    when 29ers first started coming out i got one and never looked back. not satisfied with the tire and wheel choices i kept two 26" xc racing bikes, but they were no fun to ride because the 29ers made my racing weaknesses go away.

    now that we have 29er choices like we do in the 26" versions the whole 29er debate should be put to rest.

    i got rid of the 26" bikes i never rode. i kept comparing them, but they were inferior to my 29ers.

    either a 29er works better for you or it doesn't. its a longer wheel base and longer chainstays. and all the characteristics of that. they are not slower or not less flickable. if you felt that, ride one that has a steeper geometry. my jet9 is very very nimble. some consider it too fast handling.

    of course i am faster on a 29er. you may not be. but after going back and forth for a few years 29ers won out. you don't win a race being more flickable. you win by going faster.

    going faster includes more traction, better momentum and higher top speed. acceleration is not much of a factor. i don't feel any slower accelerating on a 29er, but i do feel all the advantages above. especially the traction. i don't need to accelerate cause i never slowed down to begin with.
    LOL, sounds right.

  89. #89
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    WTF the safety bike was invented over a hundred years ago....

    Guess what we still have various different tires sizes.....

  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by OilcanRacer

    either a 29er works better for you or it doesn't. its a longer wheel base and longer chainstays. and all the characteristics of that. they are not slower or not less flickable. if you felt that, ride one that has a steeper geometry.

    I think this statement ALMOST sums it up perfectly. But, a 26" bike IS more flickable than 29". The same way that a bmx can be flicked better than a 24" trials bike, which can be flicked easier than a 26" bike.

    Regardless of bike weight, rotating mass, or headtube angle, (all within reason) a smaller wheel and wheelbase is more maneuverable. The question is: is this extra maneuverability better or worse for you, your riding style, and your preferred trail? It makes sense that most tall people prefer 29ers, their longer arms and torso create too much maneuverability on a 26, making it feel twitchy and less stable.


    I would suspect back in the 90s when DH designs were going wild, riders were debating similar things about 6" travel bikes vs 10" travel bikes. "the 6 has more control, why else would they use short travel and HTs for dual slalom races?" "take your 6 off a 12 foot drop and tell me if its better!"

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