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  1. #1
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    29er Hardtail Comparison

    I'm partial to hard tails as that's all I've ever ridden. I like the idea of less maintenance and less overall cost as well as the technical skill it takes to ride a HT on trails where all you see are full squish's.

    I currently ride a Diamondback 27.5 Sync'r and may be looking at upgrading at some time in the future for something with a bit more up to date geometry and a little more slack of a head angle. I love the 27.5" wheels as it makes the bike fun and easy to jump around on.

    I've read that with geo now, the same 29er which felt a bit sluggish to me are now a lot more fun and give a similar feel to the 27.5 couterpart. What geometry (or bicycle) would you suggest looking into to get the nice, playful feel I'm looking for?

    PS I took my DB Sync'r to Windrock in TN and had a blast. Bike did great, granted a little jaw shattering but none the less best time of my life.

  2. #2
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    It depends on how playful. Assuming you're not doing 360's and using it like a bmx you can get something with a slack HTA and still have a playful bike if it has short chainstays. My Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead is easy to manual and get off the ground yet also confidence inspiring. I feel much more comfortable doing dumb stuff on it than my old Giant Fathom.

  3. #3
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    Another vote for the Pedalhead, best hardtail I've ridden.
    Lrg GG Pedalhead 29/27+ (for sale)
    XMed GG Smash 29/27+
    Lrg Fezzari Signal Peak 29/27+
    Lrg Pivot Shuttle 27+ (wife's)

  4. #4
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    One bike I've ridden similar to the GG Pedalhead is the Trek Stache. A little steeper head angle, similar "manual all day" short chainstays. It's elevated drive side chainstay let's it fit a 3.0 tire as well. Non-pro tip: That 3.0 tire tucked under there will bite your calf if you get lazy and don't switch feet between corners :-o Worth a test ride as they're fairly easy to find. If you're not into the 3.0 tire feel I'd forget the Stache though, the BB gets crazy low with normal 29er tires.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Another vote for the Pedalhead, best hardtail I've ridden.
    I've been in this game 30 years and have owned MANY bikes, I absolutely love my Stache 7. No matter what I throw at it she just laughs and begs for more. I do however think the Pedalhead is a great bike.

  6. #6
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    Never quite jived with the looks of the Pedalhead. My hardtail is a Production Privee Shan GT, steel 29" or 27.5+, 120-160mm fork. Comes in a number of paint jobs and is a stunning bike in person

  7. #7
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    Nukeproof Scout :FTW:

    'Born to ride!'
    "Mountain biking: the under-rated and drug-free antidepressant"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    Nukeproof Scout :FTW:

    'Born to ride!'
    Came here to suggest this.

    The Nukeproof scout comes in 3 different price points ($1000m $1350, $1700), with a 29'er, and 275+ version at each price point.

    The Vitus Sentier is also available in very similar price points and wheel sizes. The main difference seems to be a slightly less slack HA (66 vs 65) than the nukeproof, and different tire selections, but otherwise they are pretty similar.

    The Whyte 901/905 aren't 29'ers, but they are a 27.5+ bike with even more slack geometry (64.5 HTA, 74.5 STA), with longer reach, and shorter fork offset than both the Nukeproof, and the Vitus.

    And Diamondback has a carbon Sync'r coming out in the spring, its another 27.5+ bike (that again, will probably fit 29'er tires if wanted). IIRC, its got a 66 degree HTA, and 74 degree STA, so it is different than the Sync'r that you already have in both frame material, and geometry.

    Good luck finding something that works for you .

    The Santa Cruz Chameleon, and Salsa Timberjack are both available in 29'er versions, but both share similar geometry to the sync'r (~68 degree HTA's on all of those). So if you're looking for something more slack, I'd start with the Nukeproof, Vitus, or Whyte (personally).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by logmeister View Post
    PS I took my DB Sync'r to Windrock in TN and had a blast. Bike did great, granted a little jaw shattering but none the less best time of my life.
    Btw, if you plan to regularly ride places like Windrock I'd recommend prioritizing a slack head angle and 29" tires (I don't want to be on plus tires at 35+mph). You could get a bike that can take both 29 & 27.5+ (like the Pedalhead) if you want to have your cake and eat it too.

    Also, riding a hardtail at Windrock is kinda bananas. I could see rolling down some blue trails on a hardtail and I might take my Pedalhead some time but I often feel under gunned on my 150mm FS there. I'd love to see someone giving a hardtail the beans going balls to the wall down Windrock.

  10. #10
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    Seems like the SC Chameleon would fit into this discussion, somewhere between the GG and Stache as far as geo.
    Do the math.

  11. #11
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    define "playful." it turns out that everyone's idea of having fun on a bike is different. do you want a bike that you can just point down the trail and monster-truck over everything like it's velco-ed do the ground, or a bike that like can pop and fly around like a BMX bike?

    advice will vary widely, but I have found that:
    1. less bottom bracket drop will result in a bike that is easier to hop around on. most people look at BB height from the ground, which tells you how likely you are to hit your pedals on objects on the trail. BB drop tells you where your center of gravity ("center of mass" for you pedantic physics nerds) will be. a lower BB will make the bike more stable at speed and a higher one will make the bike easier to throw around.

    BB drop on a 29er hardtail will range from about 50mm to 70mm. my Jabberwocky has a drop of 68mm, while the Karate Monkey I'd like to buy has a 55mm drop and the Canfield Nimble 9 is 49, if I am not mistaken. the problem with this numbers is that they are measured with different forks, so the more fork you have, the less drop you will have most of the time. the drop increases as the fork moves through its travel.

    of course, a dropper post will make a much bigger difference when it comes to getting your weight where you want it.

    2. reach and stack. look at these two numbers carefully. ETT is mostly useless in this regard because you're not sitting down (hopefully!) when you are wrangling the bike over the kind of terrain that requires a "playful" bike. I like to take reach and stack and find the effective down tube, that is, the hypotenuse of the reach and stack, and use that for a better overall picture to compare one bike to another. however, reach is the most important number here. a medium 29er hardtail might have a reach of 410mm or 450mm. I think a short stem is essential for handling the front end of a mountain bike, so don't rely on a short stem to make a bike that is too long fit better. stem= handling, frame reach= fit. those are two separate but related concepts.

    for something more "playful" in the sense that i described above, look for a shorter reach. for this reason, I'll never own a Pedalhead or Honzo or something like that. those bikes are too freaking long for my tastes, but I see how they work for some riders on some terrain.

    3. chainstay length and/or rear-center- getting your weight off the back end of the bike means getting your weight sufficiently behind the rear axle to lift and carry the front wheel. smaller wheels, of course, make this easier in most cases. IME, a 17.5"/ 445mm chainstay for my 5'9" medium-build body makes manuals really difficult. shorten it to 17"/ 430mm and they are quite a bit easier. tuck it in another 1/2 inch and it's a manual monster! tuck it in to a silly-short 16"/405mm (which is difficult to pull off in design) and I think the bike would loop out from under me to easily, so 16.5" is about my limit. taller/shorter or heavier/lighter riders will have a different experience.

    4. head tube angle and front-center. I am under the impression that HTA is kind of a red herring. a slack HTA does not make a bike more "playful" but more stable. the front wheel is further out in front of you, which makes the front-center of the bike longer and harder for your body weight to be vaulted too far forward. the result is that you're less likely to go over the bars, which is a good thing. this is useful on technical terrain at speed. however, if you want a bike that is easier to pop around on, a steeper HTA would be preferable, albeit more dangerous if you don't have the skill to hold it down.

    in short, my idea of a "playful" bike is a moderate reach, short chainstay, and high BB. the moderate reach allows for a short stem without being cramped and a slightly more upright "on top of" instead of "in the bike" feeling. The high BB keeps the pedals away from the ground and the center of mass easier to manipulate. the short chainstay makes wheelies and manuals easier, because there's nothing fun about riding a bicycle if I can't wheelie.

    I am partial to steel, so if I was going to buy a new frame or bike right now so I could have something "playful", it would be:
    Surly Karate Monkey
    Canfield Nimble 9
    Vassago Radimus (titanium $$$)
    Salsa Timberjack
    something cu$tom built by 44 Bikes or Waltworks.

    relevant: Naked's framebuilder notes on a prototype

  12. #12
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    You could look for a Diamondback Mason 29er HT frame, was well ahead of itís time with a 66.5* HTA when it came out in 2013. I think they converted it to 27.5+ in 2016/17. A 2.8 27.5+ tire fit the original 29er frame no problem, not sure what the max 29er width would be in the 433mm chainstay though.

    Iíve been running one as a 650B conversion with 160mm fork, -2* headset, and Maxxis 2.6 WT tires for several years.

  13. #13
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    Thank you for all your replies ya'll, lots of good info.

    I'd like to get an idea of the poppiness and playfulness (hucking it off drops, hitting jumps, manuals, etc) of the modern 29ers compared to the 27.5 size wheels. Has geometry in bikes evolved enough to where 29ers use to be XC machines are now better suited for the fund playfulness of the 27.5? I see the benefits of having a 29" wheel compared to the 27.5, so that's what I was going more towards in my questioning.

    All the bikes mentioned are exactly what I had in mind as far as the more aggressive HT styled bike, just not sure if I would miss the 27.5 if I convert over.

    As far as what I like to do is more free ride type of stuff. I'll session a jump line and hit drops all day long. My local trails are more XC oriented stuff but I normally use them only for warming up to go session jump lines and such. Riding my bike downhill, getting speed, burming corners and getting some air is my type of riding.

    Let me know your thoughts, thanks!

  14. #14
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    Yes, there are 29ers out there that fit your bill. But there are also 27.5s too. Which one is right for you would be best served by test riding if possible. But if not, some very rough points to consider in general given the same bike purpose, tire type, etc.:

    29ers:
    - Hold speed and roll over obstacles better. More flowy. Fewer trips OTB.
    - BB drop will be greater so you'll feel more "in" the bike

    27.5:
    - Accelerate better. More snappy.
    - Wheels are stronger, can take more abuse for a given weight/price.
    - Feel more "on" the bike. That is more fun to some.

    27.5+:
    - Slow acceleration
    - Best traction assuming your rim is wide enough to handle the tire
    - Similar rollover/flow to 29er, but slower over long distance.

    29+
    - Veeery slow acceleration
    - Rolls over everything. Everything.
    - Too much drama for me landing jumps. A lot of undamped sproing. Haven't tried cushcore on one, that may help but it would probably feel like fatbike trying to accelerate.

    So given your use case I'd lean toward something like the Pedalhead. You can run it 27.5+ or 29er depending on conditions and ride type. Think my earlier recommendation of the Stache would be too quick handling and bouncy for you.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by logmeister View Post

    I'd like to get an idea of the poppiness and playfulness (hucking it off drops, hitting jumps, manuals, etc) of the modern 29ers compared to the 27.5 size wheels.
    27.5 vs 29 doesn't make any difference in this context. It's only when some type of rotation takes place that it matters (360, whip, etc). Even then, both 27.5 and 29 are so far removed from a bike designed solely to be playful (20" freestyle bmx). I think mountain bikers split hairs when they talk about playfulness. Look at some of the 50to01 videos where they're doing 360's and goofing around. They're not on short steep bikes, they're on modern trail and enduro bikes (both 27.5 and 29).

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by logmeister View Post
    All the bikes mentioned are exactly what I had in mind as far as the more aggressive HT styled bike, just not sure if I would miss the 27.5 if I convert over.

    As far as what I like to do is more free ride type of stuff. I'll session a jump line and hit drops all day long. My local trails are more XC oriented stuff but I normally use them only for warming up to go session jump lines and such. Riding my bike downhill, getting speed, burming corners and getting some air is my type of riding.

    Let me know your thoughts, thanks!
    With this info and your style, I would look at a Chromag Stylus. It's a 27.5 and has modern geo that you are after.

    They have modern 29ers like the Surface and Rootdown, as well. They specialize in hardcore hardtails.

  17. #17
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    Pipedream Moxie. Kept up with my buddies on a Spartan and a Jekyll today. Check out the Moxie thread, then order one.

    Sent from my SM-G935S using Tapatalk
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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