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  1. #1
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    29er or full suspension

    Hello everyone - wanted to get some input on which bike may work best for me.

    I am considering upgrading to a second bike rather than replacing parts on my current Hardtail.

    I am 5'4" and 175ish. I have a stocky build but am a bit on the chubby side right now. I am working on that though. I should be about 160.
    I like to ride your standard XC trails, thoroughly enjoy doing features, more so than just trail riding.

    Right now I am leaning heavily to a full suspension, but wanted to make sure I give the 29er's a fair look. I have a couple buddies who either have a 29er or a full suspension. None have both. I am going to be riding their bikes some and get the feel for them. I see people talking about how a shorter rider can still do fine on a 29er, but what they are calling short is 5'6"...I am another 2" shorter. Will a 29er not have as much benefit to me?

    So which route did you go and why (i understand most of you who answer will have went with the 29er)? Please don't just give a one-line answer, please help me understand your decision and why you chose the one you did. Any regrets? Would you have decided differently now that you have had your bike for a while?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    If you want to go a Fs route there are quite a few good 29ers. Like Rip9, Spec Stumjumper FSR 29"etc. Test as many 29" FS as you can in S. There are numerous short riders out there.

    Specialized and giant have good value for the buck on their FS 29".

    Short and 29er?
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=370509
    Willow Koerberger is just 5'2" so another 2" shorter than you, how about this,huh?

  3. #3
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    They do make 29" wheeled full suspension bikes, so with that in mind, your question could be clarified to either: 26" wheeled FS or 29" wheeled Hardtail? or; 29" FS or 29" hardtail?

    Personally, I can't wrap my brain around 29" wheels having enough tangible benefits for someone under 5'8" or so to to make them functionally advantageous in most instances. BUT, I'm 6'4", so it's all conjecture on my part.

  4. #4
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    Rudy,
    I work for a bicycle company which sponsors a pro mtb team. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time with our pro athletes and the debate regarding 26 fs and 29 hard tail arose. Obviously, they both have there positive attributes and a couple negatives which all comes down to personal preference however, just about all the racers agreed that the 26 fs bike is never the "wrong" bike to have, and yes, for some race courses the 29'er is preferred and even one of the racers prefer the 26" hard tail for all courses. So I guess what I'm trying to communicate here is that even at the top level of racing, there is no set preference and it all comes down to what your looking for in a bike. Unfortunately, It may be difficult to demo all of the flavors currently available to help you decide but rest assured, in this day and age all of the bikes are going to be great. In my experience, in trying to define verbally what some of these bikes are like I would describe a 29'er as offering a sedate(but not slow), planted, shurefooted ride, where a 26 I would describe as spritely, quick(but stable), eager type of ride. There's many other verb's I could come up with but these are what come to mind.
    And just to throw you a curve ball, there is the 650B(27.5") wheel which morph's the best of 29 and 26 in to one package which works out great for a trail bike, may be not an XC racer but a nice blend.
    Best, rob

  5. #5
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    rudy,
    its pretty simple, test ride what you are going to buy or what is available to ride in your area. there is on common theme among 29er's, all of them ride diferently it seems. some make you feel tall, some dont, some turn slow, some dont, etc...

    you'd be surprised how many 6k bikes you can get one and not feel good about the way they ride for you. and then every once in a while, you get on a bike and you say wow! this bike feels awesome.

    if you test ride any sized wheeled bike and you feel like it was made for you, then get that bike!

  6. #6
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    amen hobiesmith!

  7. #7
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    Not sure your pricepoint, but for $2169 you can get a Small Salsa Big Mama FS 4"F/4"R Travel 29er. It says 5'5"-5'9" for the range, but that is general, the sizing specs given are high IMO. I fit on the L @ 5'10" and the recommended range is 5'11"-6'3" YMMV...

    http://www.speedgoat.com/Catalog.asp...186&Prod=18589

    This is an awesome bike. Check one out if you can.

  8. #8
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    What's your budget? If it's over $1500 I'd probably lean towards FS, if it's under I'd lean more toward hard tail. I've heard that shorter guys may not be as comfortable on the taller 29er bikes. I'm 5'11 and weigh quite a bit more than you, I'm on a tight budget too so I went with full rigid 29er.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rvanderveur
    Rudy,
    I work for a bicycle company which sponsors a pro mtb team. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time with our pro athletes and the debate regarding 26 fs and 29 hard tail arose. Obviously, they both have there positive attributes and a couple negatives which all comes down to personal preference however, just about all the racers agreed that the 26 fs bike is never the "wrong" bike to have, and yes, for some race courses the 29'er is preferred and even one of the racers prefer the 26" hard tail for all courses. So I guess what I'm trying to communicate here is that even at the top level of racing, there is no set preference and it all comes down to what your looking for in a bike. Unfortunately, It may be difficult to demo all of the flavors currently available to help you decide but rest assured, in this day and age all of the bikes are going to be great. In my experience, in trying to define verbally what some of these bikes are like I would describe a 29'er as offering a sedate(but not slow), planted, shurefooted ride, where a 26 I would describe as spritely, quick(but stable), eager type of ride. There's many other verb's I could come up with but these are what come to mind.
    And just to throw you a curve ball, there is the 650B(27.5") wheel which morph's the best of 29 and 26 in to one package which works out great for a trail bike, may be not an XC racer but a nice blend.
    Best, rob

    Well put-
    I Just wish I could ride more!


  10. #10
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    Lot's of good points, and somethings to think about! here's my take on why I went 29er full sus.

    On a 26 it is much "snappier" but that lasts (for me at least) about 10 yards from take off and then I feel like I'm winding up on the pedals. Up shift ya, but I still end up spinning more to keep going. With the 29er you take off a tad slower, but once you are moving it seems I can just sorta glide along. Point in case, the other day I was riding with a group of 5 guys, 2 29ers and 3 26ers. while just cruising down a fire road, shooting the breeze, trail was pretty flat, a bunch of them were *****ing/laughing at how loud my hope hubs were when coasting, which was pretty often. While they were all spinning along the 2 of us on 9ers could just coast and actually I had to hit the brakes lightly to keep off their back tires and stay with the group. The 9ers just keep going once they start. good thing!
    On a 29er, shorter people I know (including myself) have stated the "feel" of riding a 29er is more of a riding "in" the bike where a 26 feels like riding "on top" of a bike
    I also feel a little more "stable" on the 29er specially at slower speeds. I can stay up right much easier and not drop a foot.
    29er's are longer, a tad heavier but with more and more companies investing in the 29 market these issues are becoming pretty close to nill.

    I still have both, I almmost never ride the 26 unless I break something on my 29er
    I have a friend who is like 5ft nothing. She has a gary fisher Hifi and a fisher ss 9er. She has sold off all her 26 inch bikes... sooo you should have no issues getting a 9er to fit your size. I will say that Fisher is probably the biggest pusher of the 29 inch wheel and has more frames designed around shorter people. might be a tie with Fisher and Niner brand.

    Salsa's Big momma is on sale alllllll over the net for like $5-600 bucks for the small frame right now. seems kinda more an all mtn frame to me but you might wnt to check it out is you are not scared of building you own bike...?
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
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    Budget

    Thanks for all of the good points...I really was not thinking about a FS 9er (not sure why), but will definitely consider now.

    I would say the top end of my budget would be around $1500.

    I am not afraid of building a bike, but don't think I can build one for what I can buy one for...?

  12. #12
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    If you only have $1500 total, I would advise against any FS bike, 29er or otherwise. Unless you buy used (always an option, by the way), you're just not gonna be able to nab a true high-quality FS bike for that pricepoint, unfortunately.

    Now, you could get yourself a damn fine 29er singlespeed for right around there, however.....

  13. #13
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    I had this same dilemma about two months ago and purchased a 2010 Flash 3 29er hard tail.

    I liked it but wondered if I was missing anything on a 26" bike. So I started shopping and ran across a 2010 Scalpel Carbon one slightly used.

    I've been out of biking since the early 2000's but have flip flopped back and forth between motocross and biking. So I can handle a bike on trails, it's just my endurance that is lacking right now on the inclines.

    Anyway, I started alternating my two bikes a couple of times on my rides to find out which I was faster on. I was faster each time I went riding on each bike so that didn't really work out.

    Kind of left me with it just comes down to your conditioning and time on a bike. A pro could take a huffy and dust us all.

    So then I just started on picking out the likes and dislikes. At first, the Scalpel felt a lot faster but I think that's a perception. One thing I noticed I don't like, people indicate they are more nimble but I find that's not necessarily a good thing for the single track around here. The front end skates more with a 26" tire for me than the 29". I actually had my front end wash in a simple turn on the 26 and did a face plant and I've never had a sketchy feeling on solid ground on the 29er.

    Obviously over roots and rocks, especially up inclines I like the 29er a lot better. However if you are riding relatively smooth inclines, the 26 bike takes less energy to climb on.

    On smooth, rolling trials, I like the 29's because of the momemtum and speed you carry once you're going.

    With all that said, the thing I'm not sure about is my Flash 3 weighed 27 lbs and my Scalpel weighs 23.

    So I'm contemplating on building carbon or Titanium bike and trying to get it around 23 so I'll have a real apples to apples comparison.

    One other thing, I did bounce around more on my 29er but that's running 40PSI in the stock tires and wheels. My next one I plan on trying Stans and running a much lower pressure.

    With that, if I'm putting 15 to 20+ miles on a ride, I found myself grabbing the Scalpel and my under carriage isn't fully conditioned yet and it's a bit smoother but the other it's noticeably lighter when riding.

    I were going to go all out on a ride, I'd lean towards the 29er as it just feels more stable in corners and hauls down hills and on flats.

    But in reality, there isn't anything I could on one I couldn't do on the other and I'll probably just end up with one of each.

    You can never go wrong having a back up. And as has been said, you'll find that there will be certain places you'll like one over the other.

    If you have a budget, then I would recommend just getting the best value you can and get as the best components and a good wheelset.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wrex Everything
    If you only have $1500 total, I would advise against any FS bike, 29er or otherwise. Unless you buy used (always an option, by the way), you're just not gonna be able to nab a true high-quality FS bike for that pricepoint, unfortunately.

    Now, you could get yourself a damn fine 29er singlespeed for right around there, however.....

    What are the weak points in a Santa Cruz Superlight D XC?

    Right now I would like to get a good solid frame design, with decent components and upgrade as I can afford or I break something. I know this is the wrong way to go about it as it makes the end bike cost more than if I just bought it outright, but I really want to get off of my 30+lb hardtail. If it were a 30lb FS I wouldn't mind the weight, but for a HT it is a bit heavy.

  15. #15
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    Take the or out of the title and you will have a answer not a question

  16. #16
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    $1500 Budget FS 29er...

    GT Marathon 9r
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...#ht_3339wt_920

    Richard Bikes is a reputable company. You can also check out Performance Bikes (they had some in store, but not showing up online)...shipping vs. tax...

  17. #17
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    Have fun

    I have a 29er and a 26er and ride both at different times. I ride in a rough area and find HT's uncomfortable regardless of wheel size.

  18. #18
    Daniel the Dog
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    Also

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaybo
    I have a 29er and a 26er and ride both at different times. I ride in a rough area and find HT's uncomfortable regardless of wheel size.
    Get a Salsa Big Mama frame for $599. Great deal for a great frame.

  19. #19
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    For people who like to ride HT...

    This is only from a racing perspective:

    I found I couldn't take the beating of a 26 inch HT for more than about 2hrs anything longer I would need to ride a 26 inch dually. I won't get into the debate on which is faster but for me I just prefer the feel of a HT for racing (especially for climbing) and the extra comfort of the 29er HT allows me ride much longer while still retaining all the benefits of a HT. I mainly focus on races 5hrs and longer so the 29er HT was a perfect race bike for me. I still prefer the 26er dually for recreation and training rides (more comfortable) and as a second bike in 24hr solos.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by rudy1337
    Thanks for all of the good points...I really was not thinking about a FS 9er (not sure why), but will definitely consider now.

    I would say the top end of my budget would be around $1500.

    I am not afraid of building a bike, but don't think I can build one for what I can buy one for...?
    actually I have found just the opposite. If you don't mind last yr's models on things like handle bars, stems and such you can find wicked deals... Like right now you can get Easton carbon handle bars (monkey light) for 70 buck at JensonUSA.com, also check out Exotic Carbon (carboncycles.cc/) for parts at really low prices. Sram and shimano parts can be had at less than 1/2 price if you shop around.

    My biggest personal issue with fully assembled bikes is I never what the combo of parts they put on it, so I end up tossing 1/2 the stuff and buying parts anyway. costs more. But like I said it's more a personal thing.

    The GT Peese listed above does look like a decent deal though.!!

    Just a quick list of parts to give ya an Idea..

    Salsa Big Momma small 29er frame - $599 (all over web, look for free shipping also)
    Manitou Drake 29er fork - $379 (JensonUSA)
    or
    Rockshox reba race dual air 29er - $399 (blueskycycling)
    or
    Rockshox Tora SL air 29er $249 (greenfishsports)
    Cane Creek s-3 headset - $29.95 (pricepoint) I found mine for 15 bucks on Ebay... but it was an inset (no cups)..
    Sram X-9 Derail & shifters - $144 (pricepoint)
    Easton XC monkeylite (08') bars - $65 (jensonusa) i got these myself and was really impressed!!
    Easton EA70 Stem - $19 (JensonUSA)
    Truvativ Stylo's 3.3 - $99 (blueskycycling)
    Sram PG 970 cassette - $27 or PG 950 for $20 (Greenfishsports)
    Sram PC 970 Chain - $19 & PC 950 - $15.99 (wheelworld) Personally I have changed to KMC chains and find them really nice, but haven't used really long enough for a true judge of them, just don''t use a Sram chain on a shimano cassette or a Shimano chain on sram cassette, not sure why but there is often issues
    Shimano Deore Front Derail $10 (wheelworld) have to check pull and tube size though but get the idea?
    Jagwaire Ripcord cables and housing - $23 in Orange would be sweet on that bike (treefortbikes) hyper and others models cheaper

    sitting at $1400 and still need wheels and brakes, but you can change or downgrade stuff as I have listed mostly mid-high end stuff, (alum bars are like 20 bucks, cheaper cranks can be had around $50 for last yrs stuff, X-7 or even X5 derails can save a few bucks)
    not going to go on, wheels can be had all over for really good deals and are kinda personal choice (though the new Easton XC models are on pretty good sales all over the web)
    Tires are pretty reasonable over at Bike29 I've found the conti race and Mtn Kings to be about the best for the area I ride and at 35 bucks...? great tire at a great price.!!

    seat & seat post all can be had cheap, or you scab a bunch of stuff off other bikes if you have stuff on a bike you like already and save $$$$$$$

    the point is you can build a nice bike for WAY under what you can buy a pre-built if you look around and can often get much higher grade parts, again if you don't mind last yrs stuff
    Last edited by thomllama; 08-19-2010 at 07:33 AM.
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  21. #21
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    I have to admit I went from a full sus 26er FR bike to a non sus 29er bike. My decision was based primarily on my desire to spend less time monkeying with suspension settings, air pressures, and maintenance and more time just jumping on my bike with a cursory check of tire pressure and a shot of lube on the chain.

    Over the last few years I have ridden it as my only bike, on all types of trails from uber technical descents to 24hr races on mostly fast twist single track.

    Recently I have been entertaining the thought of getting a more free ride oriented hardtail, but still haven't entertained getting a full suspension. Why? I can get way more bike, both in value and durability for the dollars on a hardtail than a full suspension bike and durability and dollars are my 2 biggest deciding factors.
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  22. #22
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    roadrunner1 just bought up a Kona Hei Hei 4-days ago for $1499. Nice bike, full suspension and known for their lower stand over (aka - friendliness to riders otherwise unable to join in on 29er fun). Check with rr1 and find out where it came from, specs, etc. I would choose this over the GT...

    Quote Originally Posted by roadrunner1
    I'm excited, pulled the trigger on my first 29er a couple of days ago. Got a deal that I just could not pass up- Brand new 2009 Kona Hei Hei 2-9er. MSRP was $2,599.99, I picked it up for $1,499.00. I was going to get a 2011 Specialized Epic 29er, but this deal was just too good and I saved lots of money, and still got a good bike. I currently have a 26" Kona Hei Hei Supreme and have really liked the bike.
    Should have my 29er sometime this week

  23. #23
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    Just buy something and go ride already why don't ya . . .



    Ha Whatever you decide glad to see your getting back into riding a lot more, having a new higher end bike will certainly make it more enjoyable on longer outings.

    See ya soon on the trails.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  24. #24
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    Well I am real close at pulling the trigger for Salsa BM build. I guess this is the one time it is beneficial to be short. The small frame is all that is left. HOWEVER....I found the Kona Hei Hei for $1499. I am assuming it is the same place that roadrunner1 got his.
    I am still leaning to the Salsa build, but the Hei Hei is very tempting.

    Which route would you go?

  25. #25
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    At your size/weight, nothing. That is a great deal, I assume the one from cambria. It doesn't have top end components but who cares? If you want something good for all round use that is a great option.

    With that said, $1500 buys a LOT of bike in a 29er HT. You could grab yourself a decent frame in the $500 range in steel or AL, a custom $500 wheelset (hope pro II, stans) and that leaves $500 for everything else. For the rest hit up jenson and pricepoint's sale items, you can easily do carbon bars, seatpost, decent brakes, etc... And end up with a very nice bike.

    You mentioned that you like to ride features. If that means skinnies, ladders and boulder rolls I'd go the HT route. If that means 4+ foot drops, gaps and the like I'd go 26er FS.

    Quote Originally Posted by rudy1337
    What are the weak points in a Santa Cruz Superlight D XC?

    Right now I would like to get a good solid frame design, with decent components and upgrade as I can afford or I break something. I know this is the wrong way to go about it as it makes the end bike cost more than if I just bought it outright, but I really want to get off of my 30+lb hardtail. If it were a 30lb FS I wouldn't mind the weight, but for a HT it is a bit heavy.

  26. #26
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    Kona cheaper overall and you can order and reide almost now, just look at geo closely and make sure it fits.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  27. #27
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by rudy1337
    Hello everyone - wanted to get some input on which bike may work best for me.

    I am considering upgrading to a second bike rather than replacing parts on my current Hardtail.

    I am 5'4" and 175ish. I have a stocky build but am a bit on the chubby side right now. I am working on that though. I should be about 160.
    I like to ride your standard XC trails, thoroughly enjoy doing features, more so than just trail riding.

    Right now I am leaning heavily to a full suspension, but wanted to make sure I give the 29er's a fair look. I have a couple buddies who either have a 29er or a full suspension. None have both. I am going to be riding their bikes some and get the feel for them. I see people talking about how a shorter rider can still do fine on a 29er, but what they are calling short is 5'6"...I am another 2" shorter. Will a 29er not have as much benefit to me?

    So which route did you go and why (i understand most of you who answer will have went with the 29er)? Please don't just give a one-line answer, please help me understand your decision and why you chose the one you did. Any regrets? Would you have decided differently now that you have had your bike for a while?

    Thanks
    I'm 5'9" and have a Niner MCR 9. I love it! I'm actually getting ready to buy another FS bike ( I have two already ), and to be honest with you, I am going to buy a 26er! I just think for full suspension, and my height, a 26er is easier to whip around. For a hardtail though, 29er for sure.

  28. #28
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    I went from a 26" dually to a 29er HT. I just like simplicity. A minimalist, if you will. It is what it is. The dually was more comfy, but I ride, pack it up, and go home. Works for me. Still puts a smile on my face, and to me, that's what it is all about. Ready to roll the next time out. No fuss.
    "Caught my first tube this morning....sir!"

  29. #29
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    I have a 26" FS and a 29er hardtail. It's nice to have a choice, depending on the trail and my mood.

  30. #30
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    Anyone know much about the Fox 32 F80 RL 80mm? It seems like some can be adjusted, others can't. Fox's manual for this fork said not to adjust the travel.

    I am not looking to get a bike to race and 100mm travel fork would be more desired for how I ride.

    Thanks

  31. #31
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    Get a 29er single speed. Full rigid.
    MUD


    My weiner is 10.5".....Oh wait...I'm holding this ruler backward.

  32. #32
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    Going the build route

    Well I bought the Salsa Big Moma frame last night. I saw that Speedgoat was completely out of stock (which had happened overnight). So that motivated me to get my mind made up. I figured I would have always said what if, if I had got the Hei Hei. So I am going to take a shot at building one. I have a buddy who was a bike mechanic that I can lean on for help as needed. What items are best to have a shop do? BB and Headset?

    Let the education begin.

    Thanks to everyone who has given me input, it was greatly appreciated.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by rudy1337
    Well I bought the Salsa Big Moma frame last night. I saw that Speedgoat was completely out of stock (which had happened overnight). So that motivated me to get my mind made up. I figured I would have always said what if, if I had got the Hei Hei. So I am going to take a shot at building one. I have a buddy who was a bike mechanic that I can lean on for help as needed. What items are best to have a shop do? BB and Headset?

    Let the education begin.

    Thanks to everyone who has given me input, it was greatly appreciated.
    nice, Wish I had the $$$ right now to get one, my 29er just got a broken rear triangle

    ya, headset and BB are good to get a shop to do... though the BB is pretty easy to do and the tool is around $20 bucks.. about what the shop will charge you. you may want to have them face both first too... so it might still be better to have the shop do it.?

    love to see picture as you build
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by rudy1337
    Well I bought the Salsa Big Moma frame last night. I saw that Speedgoat was completely out of stock (which had happened overnight). So that motivated me to get my mind made up. I figured I would have always said what if, if I had got the Hei Hei. So I am going to take a shot at building one. I have a buddy who was a bike mechanic that I can lean on for help as needed. What items are best to have a shop do? BB and Headset?

    Let the education begin.

    Thanks to everyone who has given me input, it was greatly appreciated.
    I would have the shop do the headset, and connect the cables for the derailleurs. The BB is easy, just buy the tool. Also if you are installing the fork yourself, you will need the tool to install the star fitting inside the fork tube.
    Enjoy your big wheel!!!

  35. #35
    mtbr member
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    Jun 2008
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    Just wanted to give everyone an update on the BM build. Finished it up Thursday night, tweaked the shifting some on Friday. Rode it Saturday evening and again this morning.

    WOW!!! Granted I am new to Mtn. biking...but this thing is awesome! It's lighter than my HT and is absolutely awesome climbing I hit some hills I never could get up on my 26" HT and now I am climbing them in the middle ring!

    Thanks for everyone's help in walking me through some of my problems with my first ever bike build. Thanks to you guys I was able to build something exactly (well almost...bought a 3 x 10 Dyna-Sys and wanted a 2 x 10 setup...but I am taking the big ring off and adding a BG so I still end up with the 2 x 10) the way I wanted and it is a super sweet ride.

    Thanks

  36. #36
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
    Reputation: thomllama's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Posts
    4,237
    Quote Originally Posted by rudy1337
    Just wanted to give everyone an update on the BM build. Finished it up Thursday night, tweaked the shifting some on Friday. Rode it Saturday evening and again this morning.

    WOW!!! Granted I am new to Mtn. biking...but this thing is awesome! It's lighter than my HT and is absolutely awesome climbing I hit some hills I never could get up on my 26" HT and now I am climbing them in the middle ring!

    Thanks for everyone's help in walking me through some of my problems with my first ever bike build. Thanks to you guys I was able to build something exactly (well almost...bought a 3 x 10 Dyna-Sys and wanted a 2 x 10 setup...but I am taking the big ring off and adding a BG so I still end up with the 2 x 10) the way I wanted and it is a super sweet ride.

    Thanks
    well, where's the pictures?
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  37. #37
    mtbr member
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    Jun 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama
    well, where's the pictures?

    haha...hopefully coming soon, depends on the work load this week. Will definitely try and get some up soon.

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