26" vs 29* - yet another test- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    26" vs 29* - yet another test

    I don't know if this one was up here already, at least I did not see it.

    The German mtb magazine Bike has an article about 29ers in the September 2009 issue, and this magazine carries some significance in Europe. The article came out very positive about 29ers and the author seems convinced that 29ers might be the next big thing (in Europe).

    The test was having pro mtb racers Carl Platt and David Voll race two carbon hardtails (Stumpjumper 26" and Stumpjumper 29") around a 4,5 km loop with a 215 m altitude difference with both easy and technical parts. At least Carl Platt seems to have had some major long distance race success.

    The result was the following:
    Mean time 29": 13.20 min
    Mean time 26": 13.36 min
    Mean power 29": 309 W
    Mean power 26": 297 W

    The rider still said that it felt subjectively better to ride the 29ers, even though they use slightly more power. The merits of this test could, and should, naturally be debated, but the Bike and its sister magazine Tour generally make a lot of effort to make the tests objective.

  2. #2
    LMN
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    By the numbers looks pretty close to a dead heat.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUZZA
    MBT action states that 29ers take longer to get up to speed and are geared 1.5 times higher..so I would say your mag is full of crap,personally I feel slower on a 29er other than downhill however needing a bike that climbs is essential where I ride,slightly more power is an understatement, you add in slow steering and you can keep 29ers...make great pro downhill bikes though eh? oh wait they have little to no presence on the pro circuit! why is that?
    Gearing is obviously different on a 29er.
    I feel significantly faster on a 29er and I have decided that 26ers are good for people with weaker bike handling skills, less power and DH.
    So if you have the juice to push the bigger wheel go 29.

    Soon enough someone will figure out a stout 29 wheel and a way to get 7 inches of travel and you will see them on the DH scene.

  4. #4
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    Their is a difference of around 4 percent more wattage used by the 29er. There is a difference of around 1.2 percent more speed by the 29er. Looks like the 26er is more efficient per watt put to the ground.
    My brain went from "you probably shouldn't say that" to WTF!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider
    Mean time 29": 13.20 min
    Mean time 26": 13.36 min
    Mean power 29": 309 W
    Mean power 26": 297 W
    By the numbers looks pretty close to a dead heat.
    uhhhh --- 16 seconds over 4.5 k is over 2 minutes at the end of 40k. The question is can you sustain the extra 12 w

    the watts bug me though It'd be interesting to see some comments from the riders -- Does it mean they were unable to sustain higher outputs because of the smaller wheels? I'd like to see their analysis. And how many runs they did.
    Last edited by clydeone; 09-05-2009 at 03:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider
    The result was the following:
    Mean time 29": 13.20 min
    Mean time 26": 13.36 min
    Mean power 29": 309 W
    Mean power 26": 297 W

    The rider still said that it felt subjectively better to ride the 29ers, even though they use slightly more power. The merits of this test could, and should, naturally be debated, but the Bike and its sister magazine Tour generally make a lot of effort to make the tests objective.
    Do they report standard deviations with those means?
    Without that info, those fairly small differences in the means might not mean anything at all.

    It would be interesting to see where on the course the 26er and 29er were most different.

    Any chance of a link? We don't get German bike magazines here unfortunately. Only the fully peer-reviewed Mountain Bike Action (that was a joke).

  7. #7
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by clydeone
    uhhhh --- 16 seconds over 4.5 k is over 2 minutes at the end of 40k. The question is can you sustain the extra 12 w

    the watts bug me though It'd be interesting to see some comments from the riders -- Does it mean they were unable to sustain higher outputs because of the smaller wheels? I'd like to see their analysis. And how many runs they did.
    Watts are watts. If you can only hold 300 for 2hrs then that is all you are going to do no matter what the wheel size. 12 watts is a rather significant number.

    The question is why were the watts higher? One hypothesis is on the 29er the riders put the power down in places where they didn't on the 26er.

  8. #8
    mvi
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    Just watched the WC race in Australia and the statement made in Velonews ("26 HT might be dead"'The future is 26FS or 29), might be premature. All I saw in the lead 10 was 26HT except Todd Wells in 8th.
    Differences might be very course/rider specific. Time will tell.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by can't get right

    Soon enough someone will figure out a stout 29 wheel and a way to get 7 inches of travel and you will see them on the DH scene.
    Never in a million years.

  10. #10
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    were you both being sarcastic. or just one of you?

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=551146

  11. #11
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    Why do people need 29inch wheels to be successful in racing? I mean if you need this to validate choice of wheel size that you ride then you should probably re-evaluate your reason for riding mountain bikes.

    Where is the comparison between 26erHT and FS. Trail bike against Hardtail. Horse against bike. Serious where does all this quantification stop?

    Here: I ride a bike cause I like to ride it. Doesn't matter that I am not more efficient than Julian Absolon or Todd Wells. Does matter if I am faster than some European I have never heard. Doesn't matter if I use more watts per mile than Racer-X. What matters is when I put my ass on the saddle and my hands on the bars and start riding my face uncontrollably moves into a smiling position and I couldn't find a location where I want to be more and where I care about watts, speed or Magazine test results less.
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  12. #12
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockcrusher
    Why do people need 29inch wheels to be successful in racing? I mean if you need this to validate choice of wheel size that you ride then you should probably re-evaluate your reason for riding mountain bikes.

    Where is the comparison between 26erHT and FS. Trail bike against Hardtail. Horse against bike. Serious where does all this quantification stop?

    Here: I ride a bike cause I like to ride it. Doesn't matter that I am not more efficient than Julian Absolon or Todd Wells. Does matter if I am faster than some European I have never heard. Doesn't matter if I use more watts per mile than Racer-X. What matters is when I put my ass on the saddle and my hands on the bars and start riding my face uncontrollably moves into a smiling position and I couldn't find a location where I want to be more and where I care about watts, speed or Magazine test results less.

    That is because you are not a racer. These thing matter if you are racing.

    But I hear you. I had today far and away my best ride of the year. The bike I was on wasn't the fastest bike out there, but man was it ever fun.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Watts are watts. If you can only hold 300 for 2hrs then that is all you are going to do no matter what the wheel size. 12 watts is a rather significant number.

    The question is why were the watts higher? One hypothesis is on the 29er the riders put the power down in places where they didn't on the 26er.
    Yeah thats the point of my question Watts r watts if you can hold 307 it *shouldn't* matter the wheel size -- you should be able to hold it.

    That's why I'd like to see comments from the riders or analysis from the magazine on the difference -- your hypotheses certainly makes sense.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by clydeone
    Yeah thats the point of my question Watts r watts if you can hold 307 it *shouldn't* matter the wheel size -- you should be able to hold it.

    That's why I'd like to see comments from the riders or analysis from the magazine on the difference -- your hypotheses certainly makes sense.
    but terrain vs wheel size(in whichever direction) might dictate wether or not you're able to hold 307 for an entire race.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    but terrain vs wheel size(in whichever direction) might dictate wether or not you're able to hold 307 for an entire race.

    admittedly -- most of the information on training with a power meter is from the road -- AND I know I'll get filleted for this, however this information does generally show us that a person's ability to generate power for a given period of time is primarily governed by type and amount of training they've done and how well rested they are. If they are able to match the position on both bikes, they "should" be able to sustain the same wattage on either bike.


    There's a piece missing and so far I like LMN's explanation

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    but terrain vs wheel size(in whichever direction) might dictate wether or not you're able to hold 307 for an entire race.
    I don't think so. Terrain vs. wheel size may allow one to be quicker for a given power output but the power output would be constant for a true max effort.

    Having done a fair number of test loops with power meters, I know there is fair amount of variation in power outputs, even at what seems like the same effort. In order for tests to be really meaningfull there has to be a lot of tests.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockcrusher
    Why do people need 29inch wheels to be successful in racing? I mean if you need this to validate choice of wheel size that you ride then you should probably re-evaluate your reason for riding mountain bikes.

    Where is the comparison between 26erHT and FS. Trail bike against Hardtail. Horse against bike. Serious where does all this quantification stop?

    Here: I ride a bike cause I like to ride it. Doesn't matter that I am not more efficient than Julian Absolon or Todd Wells. Does matter if I am faster than some European I have never heard. Doesn't matter if I use more watts per mile than Racer-X. What matters is when I put my ass on the saddle and my hands on the bars and start riding my face uncontrollably moves into a smiling position and I couldn't find a location where I want to be more and where I care about watts, speed or Magazine test results less.
    I completely agree. If people are so interested in what's faster, that's a better question for a racing forum than a biased 29er forum. 99% of us ride because we like to ride. Ride what makes you smile.
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  18. #18
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    Are F'n serious. At this point in time who gives a rats. If 29" feel good then ride them.

    Maybe Europeans are shorter ;-)
    Sit and spin my ass...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zion Rasta
    .....
    Maybe Europeans are shorter ;-)



    .....and faster...

  20. #20
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    Any splits? It would be nice to see if one bike had significant time advantages in certain portions of the course.

  21. #21
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    I didn't find the article online, so theres no link.

    The article did not mention the number of laps performed nor any statistical measures.

    The course was divided as follows:
    Section 1: Wide dirt road, slightly ascending, 1.4 km and 100 m altitude
    Section 2: Steep footpath, unrhythmic and technical, needs traction. 600 m and 75 m altitude.
    Section 3: Very technical trail with roots and steps, line choice important. 400 m, 35 m altitude.
    Section 4: Downhill, first technical, then wide dirt road, narrow spruce slalom, a few hairpins and finally a steep fall line to the finish. 210 m altitude.

    The numbers (section: 29", 26") in minutes:
    Section 1: 4.56, 5.04
    Section 2: 2.45, 2.48
    Section 3: 1.56, 1,58
    Section 4: 3.40, 3.43


    Personally I think these numbers are all close enough for the test to be fairly inconclusive, and that neither wheel size is significantly faster than the other.

    My own interest in this is purely selfish. If 29ers gain foothold in Germany it means better parts and bikes availability and better prices for me. I find that for me at 192 cm 29ers suit me better.
    Last edited by Outsider; 09-05-2009 at 11:04 PM.

  22. #22
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    That is interesting- I expected bigger margins at various sections, especially one and two, in favor of the 29er.

    Any word on what the testers rode on their personal XC rides?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    ...
    Any word on what the testers rode on their personal XC rides?
    Nope, the article just said that they were skeptical about 29ers. Being European pro mtb riders, they have certainly only been on 26ers before.

    I just though of a possible explanation why the riders felt like they were using less effort even though the put more power to the rear wheel (the power was measured by a powertab rear hub). A 29er rides softer and with more stability and perhaps you need to use less upper body power to correct for the bike moving with the terrain, something which would not show up on the power meter. How does this sound?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockcrusher
    Why do people need 29inch wheels to be successful in racing? I mean if you need this to validate choice of wheel size that you ride then you should probably re-evaluate your reason for riding mountain bikes.

    Where is the comparison between 26erHT and FS. Trail bike against Hardtail. Horse against bike. Serious where does all this quantification stop?

    Here: I ride a bike cause I like to ride it. Doesn't matter that I am not more efficient than Julian Absolon or Todd Wells. Does matter if I am faster than some European I have never heard. Doesn't matter if I use more watts per mile than Racer-X. What matters is when I put my ass on the saddle and my hands on the bars and start riding my face uncontrollably moves into a smiling position and I couldn't find a location where I want to be more and where I care about watts, speed or Magazine test results less.
    BEAUTIFULLY PUT!!

  25. #25
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    Although I have done a little trail riding with my 29er I usually spend most of my time on the road and one big difference with the 29er is maximum speed. For some reason the 29ers can hit higher maximum speeds on a straight downhill section of a road. Perhaps the wheels are better at overcoming friction but I feel the 29er is definitely much faster down a long a steep descent. Although the fastest I have ever clocked myself on a any bike is 32 mph I believe I have reached speeds of 35-40 mph on a 29er.

    Although my carbon hardtail 26 may not have the maximum power that a 29er has I feel that it accelerates better, of course it is four pounds lighter and has a better crank. I feel that the question isn't so much whether or not a 26er or a 29er is better but what sort of course and area are you riding in?

    I think a bike choice should be based on how and where you're going to use it. Tight and narrow courses should benefit a 26 and long steep descents on even long flat stretches of trail should favor the 29.

  26. #26
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    My interpretation: they used more power on the 29ers and they went faster. Without any other info all I can say is Duh!
    My rides:
    Lynskey Ti Pro29 SS
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  27. #27
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    For me it's just a question of more confidence on the 29r. Confidence = faster.

  28. #28
    jms
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    Bingo! We have a winner

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider
    I just though of a possible explanation why the riders felt like they were using less effort even though the put more power to the rear wheel (the power was measured by a powertab rear hub). A 29er rides softer and with more stability and perhaps you need to use less upper body power to correct for the bike moving with the terrain, something which would not show up on the power meter. How does this sound?
    Bingo! We have a winner.

    I've been endurance racing them for the last three years and this has been my take on 29ers too. On sketchy or loose climbs, I don't have to fight the bike to keep it on line, which allows me to relax my upper body significantly. On long sandy climbs it's pretty obvious to me.

    The last race I did out of Bend was nothing but loose terrain, and where the 26" wheeled bikes were burying themselves, my bike would "float" a bit better over the duff and sand, and frankly that saved my butt out there.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by juan_speeder
    Never in a million years.
    Never in a Gazillion years.
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  30. #30
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    Neither riders may be full 29" specialists just yet? I KNOW I get the most of a 29" bike in my size. Most riders take more than a few rides to really tap into the full potential of 29" wheels.

    Heartrate recorded while pushing those greater watts would be interesting to learn. Pedal harder when the going gets tough...does seem very plausible. The increased comfort and control will help in the fight aginst fatigue.

    Wow, a Gemran magazine AGAIN finds reason to consider 29" as a BIKE to RIDE. When, you think, will the firs 29" bike be spotted in German bike store, without great discount upon discount price tags, to get the bugger off the floor already?
    Klok - XC - Skate - Ski

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    Neither riders may be full 29" specialists just yet? I KNOW I get the most of a 29" bike in my size. Most riders take more than a few rides to really tap into the full potential of 29" wheels.

    Heartrate recorded while pushing those greater watts would be interesting to learn. Pedal harder when the going gets tough...does seem very plausible. The increased comfort and control will help in the fight aginst fatigue.

    Wow, a Gemran magazine AGAIN finds reason to consider 29" as a BIKE to RIDE. When, you think, will the firs 29" bike be spotted in German bike store, without great discount upon discount price tags, to get the bugger off the floor already?
    Pushing the wheels over rougher terrain would be easier than a 26r no? I would think "where you ride" plays a big factor in efficiency. In New England the trails are pretty rough with baby heads and roots everywhere. It seems it takes more energy to keep a 26r going than a 29r in this type of terrain. As a comparison, I did some riding out in Winter Park CO a number of years ago. I'm not sure it would be as much of an advantage there.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    ...
    Heartrate recorded while pushing those greater watts would be interesting to learn. Pedal harder when the going gets tough...does seem very plausible. The increased comfort and control will help in the fight aginst fatigue.
    ...
    Yes, the heart rate is sorely missing from their analysis. It was recorded but not mentioned. I'm terribly slow at writing in German, otherwise I might try to contact the author and get some more data.

  33. #33
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    You likely need 4% more power output to gain 1.2% more speed, so I'd class that as identical which makes sense to me.

    Terrain plays a major role though here, harder terrain well rocky / rooty would put the 29er in favour, but then the riders ability ( mine being average ) would compensate for this to, where as 29er makes me a better rider kinda. Which is also likely why the 29er is faster there pushing harder.


    They should do the test with your average 29er user though, large and over weight where the 29" wheels helps us hugely, not the pro racers.

  34. #34

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    Just a thought for your review, guys. The frame geometry of a 29er has a larger BB drop. Wouldn't that make the bike more stable as you pedal? If it is more stable, wouldn't you tend to use larger gears and/or pedal harder? Higher watts? I've never ridden a 29er, looking to get one. I'm still riding a full rigid/canti MTB that I got back in '94. Just gettng back into cycling after a very long absence.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turveyd
    .........

    They should do the test with your average 29er user though, large and over weight where the 29" wheels helps us hugely, not the pro racers.

    most of the 29er riders i know are not overweight.

  36. #36
    Daniel the Dog
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    Not one or the other

    I like the 26" bike better for the riding I do in the Gorge, but in the Central Oregon I find the 29ers better due to the wider open spaces. It is really place specific to me. But, a lot of guys think I'm full of crap and don't know what I'm talking about because they race or have an opinion. Oh, well, we each have our experiences and beliefs. By the way, if 29er were clearly superior in every way downhillers, freeriders, and cross country racers would use them and be the majority. But, they don't! So what....

    Jaybo

  37. #37
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    its all about personal preference. i, personally like 26er ht's. my dad likes 29ers. i havent found any big signifance riding a 29er over a 26er. i spent all last season on a superfly and i didnt like it one bit. i still love my 26er ht. it all depends on personal preference.
    Ride & Smile

  38. #38
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    The only test I need...

    pimpbot rides 26er
    pimpbot rides 29er
    Which one is faster? Dunno....

    pimpbot has more fun on 29er.

    Test over.

    your results may vary.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    most of the 29er riders i know are not overweight.

    But are they just bigger lads ie 6foot+ which although not over weight more than most XC Whippets which is 9-10stone area. ( 140lbs )

  40. #40
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    I like 29 because I can ride slower. Yes, slower. The majority of my rides are in technical rocky terrain. I don't need as much momentum to clear the tombstones. Most crashes are minor. I ride more relaxed. I ride longer.

    Agreed, it's all about personal preference.
    .

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  41. #41

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    sb joked about 29ers in germany. Most of them are available as same as here in Poland.

    On the other hand all time it is treated as sth exotic and rare to meet at many shops. Distributors offer pruchase for order. But it is fact. People in Europe are sceptics and seems to afraid of any changes.

    I suppose that dealer from Czech Republic and Poland will not have any Spec 29ers too because of their high price. year ago on a very popular marathon I was only one with a 29er from a 500 riders who came from a whole country....

  42. #42
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    Attention: I have quickly run statistical analysis of these numbers (in 10 seconds, in my head), and find that these numbers are 100% meaningless.
    There are no standard deviations given, no statistical tests used to prove whether or not the difference has any statistical significance, etc.

    There is a 16 second difference between the two, which can be attributed to ANY number of factors other than wheel size, PLUS that 16 seconds could just as easily be 100% random.

    This is meaningless, close the thread, go to bed. 29" wheels are not BETTAR IN ALL RESPEKTS than 26" wheels. Just different.
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  43. #43

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    Im thinking all time about this dispute 26 vs 29 too because also in Polish bike magazines always sb ask if that is better than 26, when 29ers are presented . But when I see that Specialized give same price for S works 26 and Sworks 29 than I agree with these who claim that is only matter of personal prepositions. 29ers give us some new choice possible and speculations connected with it

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider
    Nope, the article just said that they were skeptical about 29ers. Being European pro mtb riders, they have certainly only been on 26ers before.

    This German BIKE mag article created a LOT of buzz at Eurobike this year for sure, at least we heard it in our booth.

    There was not only 10X the interest this year compared to last, but several BIKE mag folks were in the booth taking pictures and asking for more "test" bikes so this is a good sign.

    More updates will be posted here.
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