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  1. #1
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    When to switch to 29er?

    I want to try XC racing next year. I currently own a 26" FS 4" travel bike (Ibex Asta). My mountain biking skills are mediocre at best. I've raced many things in the past (running, swimming, road bikes, triathlon, even cars) but never mountain bikes.

    Should I:
    1) Ride the 26er as long as I can
    • It will make me a better mountain biker. The 29er would let me get away with bad habits
    • Better to crash the old bike while learning than a new one


    2) Buy the 29er now
    • New toys are fun. Carpe diem. BIG WHEELS WHHEEEEE!
    • It'll give me confidence over rough stuff and make the rides more fun, which will get me out more, which is what it's all about.
    • It'll match my riding style of attempting to ride straight over everything. Use the proper tool for the job!


    I'm so tempted to buy something now but my better judgement is holding me back. I rode a Giant Anthem and it was quite fun, but a limited test ride.

    I realize this is a semi-pointless debate. But hey, discussing bikes is fun. If anyone faced a similar dilemma I'm curious what you did and how it worked out.

  2. #2
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    Are you planning on doing a hardtail 29er? if so, you will have to completely change your riding style of liking to go over everything and a hardtail will give you less confidence in the rough stuff over your 4 inch travel right now. just something to think about. also, for xc, having 4 inches of travel in the rear is going to bog you down on the climbs obviously, so if you do go the full suspension route, get something that can be locked out easily or has some other sort of anti bob system (pro pedal, brain, etc.)

  3. #3
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    Why not both?
    2008 Redline Monocog 29er SS/Rigid
    2013 Marin Mount Vision XM7

  4. #4
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    Really depends on the type of races you plan on doing and how serious of a racer you want to become. I did my first ever mtb races last (36 y.o.) both of which were on the endurance side at 32 miles and 50 miles long in Colorado. The 32 mile course was more technical in nature and had shorter, punchy climbs whereas the 50 mile race had long sustained mountain climbs but very little technical. I rode a 26" Pivot Mach 5 for both and did well enough to get hooked. Any by well enough I mean finished both and beat my personal goals. I have no illusion about ever winning one of these races.

    I've asked myself the same question and most likely I'll ride the Mach 5 again this year and if I'm still into racing will get a 29er for 2015.

    But hey if you can do it, I'll echo why not both?

  5. #5
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    I think that technique is critical irregardless of wheel size.

    Ride a bike that you really enjoy to ride. Could be a FS 29er, hardtail 27.5 or even a SS rigid 26er.

  6. #6
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    Here is my perspective after 3 years of MTBing:

    I began MTBing on a cheap 26" hardtail. I learned base skills and found my love for the sport. Eventually I wanted to get serious and upgrade to a new bike. I found that after you reach the $1500 price point, most bike OEMs stop making 26ers. So I bought a 29er hardtail. My first reaction was "holy crap this thing rides like a dream". There wasn't one second of remorse after the first time I put it on a trail. I immediately started posting better laptimes due to the speed of the bike (better components, air fork, weight) and how you don't have to hesitate to go over obstacles with such a big wheel. At some point I brought the bike in for maintenance and rented a 29er FS. And laptimes improved again. So I bought a 29er FS. Hard obstacles that I wouldn't dare try on a hardtail became realistic on an FS to the point where a trail wasn't "fun" without these challenges. I used to look at people going over aggressive rock gardens like they were crazy. Now I'm doing core exercises during the week so I can improve my balance over the bike when I'm twisting my way through them.

    So I guess my point is, the more you equip your bike to handle, the more you will push YOURSELF to handle. So I say go for broke and get 29er FS. My first was a Giant Anthem like you rode and it is still my go to bike for everything.

  7. #7
    Has skills-will travel
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    Have you taken a test ride on a new 29er? If you haven't, how would you know for sure the Pro's you listed are real for you and your style of riding? Once you have test rode a new bike, ask yourself - will it make mountain biking more fun and will will it motivate you to ride more than your current bike. If the answer is no to both - than stick with your current bike, if the answer is yes and you can afford it - buy the new bike.

    When I test rode a 29er, it did roll over things easier. Yet, I felt bogged down climbing and coming out of corners. Also, when there are tight switch backs that I didn't have to think about on my 26er - the 29er was tough to make it around. Probably if I rode the 29er more than just one day, it would become a better bike for me, yet the bike wasn't going to make the experience more fun for me nor was it going to motivate me to ride more. Therefore, I'm still riding my 26er HT. Although it looks like I won't have the 26 option when I finally do buy a new bike.

  8. #8
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    The 29er will go away like the 26" wheel and be replaced by 650b. If money is burning a hole in your pocket, buy 650b.

    You don't *have* to buy a new bike. The discount is good on used equipment, especially 26" wheeled.

    26/29/650b is not going to mean the difference between a podium, or not.

  9. #9
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I mostly skimmed the responses. Here's the deal.

    You suck at racing. It's okay, that's why there's a beginners' category, and we all started there.

    You don't know if you like racing.

    Until you can get through a whole race without shooting yourself in the foot, it doesn't matter if you ride a carbon feather wonderbike or a 6" travel beast with flat pedals.

    So if you want a new bike anyway, sure, whatever. But don't worry about getting a bike for XC. Figuring out pacing and stopping making rookie mistakes is going to be the biggest change you can make in your first season.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
    I'd rather be riding
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    Agreed with Andrew, also how big are you? I rode a 4" fs 26" bike for several years and was never quite comfy. Swapped to a 29" hardtail last year and it works much better for my 6'2" frame.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by zippinveedub View Post
    Agreed with Andrew, also how big are you? I rode a 4" fs 26" bike for several years and was never quite comfy. Swapped to a 29" hardtail last year and it works much better for my 6'2" frame.
    This^^^^

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by matto6 View Post
    I want to try XC racing next year. I currently own a 26" FS 4" travel bike (Ibex Asta). My mountain biking skills are mediocre at best. I've raced many things in the past (running, swimming, road bikes, triathlon, even cars) but never mountain bikes.

    Should I:
    1) Ride the 26er as long as I can.
    Yes... Ride the 26 as long as you can. When you start racing there will more of a factor of basic skills and fitness. No reason a 26" bike won't work. I ride 26" hardtail and race on that when I do race. I race as challenge to myself and for the direct competition. I don't race to reach the podium. I could change my bike, but it will still be me on the bike having to ride it. I am not going to gain much as I am generally mid pack and no bike in the world will make me a winner.

    Now if you just want the 29er then that is different.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  13. #13
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    Buy a 29er becuase you want to ride one and race what you ride.

    I raced in my local series last season and did pretty well overall, top 5 finish in my Cat 2 age group on the season. I raced some races on my steel 29er hard tail and some on my carbon 29er fs bike. Both are bikes I enjoy riding, racing or not.

    I have been riding for close to 20 years and I am still trying to get some skills. Bike and equipement won't give you skills. Time on the bike gives you skills. 26, 29, 27.5...you need to ride and then ride some more, then some more and maybe there will be a skill.

    True 29ers do roll over small things easy, but you still need to have skill in technical sections. The are fasted once up to speed, but slower accelerating out of corners. I think they also take way more skill to ride through the twisty, turny stuff than a 26" bike. Each platform has benifits and disadvantages for sure.

    Point is, get a bike you like to ride and then race that. If you are really concerned about what to race, check out your local series. See what the guys in the Cat 1 group are racing and that should give you a pretty good idea of what you should consider. Understand though, that this may not be the most fun everyday bike.
    - 2013 Pivot Mach 429 C
    - 2010 Niner MCR
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  14. #14
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    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I've decided I'm getting a 29er for no reason other than I want one. As Shmack said: "get a bike you like to ride and then race that". It'll get me out more and that's a good thing.

    To answer the questions: I'm 6'0", 165 lbs at race weight. I definitely don't want a hard tail at this point.

  15. #15
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Hard to argue with that reason. New Bike Day is fun. Pics when you get it.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Interestingly enough I also have an Ibex Asta and I've been mulling over picking up a new bike, although I'm looking at 27.5 Trail bikes instead of a 29er. My friends are asking me to join them for a few races in the summer, so I'm taking it up as an excuse to pick up a new bike.

  17. #17
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    OK I've almost pulled the trigger on an Anthem 29er 3 times now but something is holding me back. Can you guys tell me if I'm over-thinking this?

    On road bikes I've always found myself most comfortable and also putting out the most power with a fairly forward saddle position (hence relaxed hip angle). I'm concerned that my prefered hip angle combined with the Anthem's longer chainstays it might put my weight balance too far forward.

    Would a more forward weight balance a good thing for a beginner? Of course while descending I'd be off the seat so the saddle position is irrelevant. But still I keep thinking a bike with a shorter chainstay might make more sense for me. If it helps, I'm 6'0, 34 inseam (32 pants), and would buy a Large anthem.

    I know "Just go ride them." I have, but I can't much from riding around a parking lot. A lot of the bikes are hard to find this time of year too.

  18. #18
    The Fastest of Bananas
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    Demo a ht 29, you'll either fall in love or hate it. I say ride the bike that puts a smile on your face

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  19. #19
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    OP, yes, you're over thinking it.

    Weight distribution definitely matters. But it's really hard to draw useful conclusions about how a bike will handle by looking at the geometry charts. Ride an Anthem and see if it gives you trouble in real life. You could be pleasantly surprised.

    If you can't take one off-road, just try manualing off a curb. Try a couple sizes too.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
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    When to switch to 29er?

    When I got on my Talon 29er I was shocked at how well it fit me. I love it


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  21. #21
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    Never. Everyone knows niners are dead and 650b is what you should buy...



    Seriously though, IF $ isnt an object get whatever your want at your leisure. If racing is your only goal, demo a HT 9er and see how you feel. If you wanna race and recreate, Id point you towards a squishy bike, regardless of the wheelsize.

  22. #22
    XC Hack
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    I rode a Santa Cruz Superlight 26 for about a year and a half before going to a 29er. It was my first bike in 20 yrs (rode a Fisher Paragon HT into the ground then quit until 2 yrs ago). Into my second season of racing, I went to a 29er after noticing that all the guys in my new race group (Sport 50+) were on them. I demo'd both HTs and FS bikes. I loved the momentum carried by the 29er. I almost went with an HT for its sprint and climbing but I realized that a carbon HT was going to beat me up too much as a daily bike so I went with a short travel FS (a Kona Hei Hei Supreme). I love it--it's light and certainly race worthy but I never feel beat up on it. Racing wise, I placed better and could hang better with the others--on rolling and flat ground, I used to have to keep pedaling when they coasted lest fall off pace. Now I could coast when they did and not drop back. A 29er saves me energy and rolling over stuff is less effort. I'm 6-1 and the 29er fits me much better. I learned to get around tighter switchbacks by changing my lines and shifting weight. It's second nature now.

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