29ers Pros/Cons for Shorter Folks (~5'6")- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    29ers Pros/Cons for Shorter Folks (~5'6")

    I searched and nothing came up. Please post a link if this one's already been done. Thanks.

    I'm playing with the idea of titanium 29er hardtail. I've heard that for shorter folks like me, they dont often work as well as a 26er, meaning turning slower in tight turns, poor standover. Or this just the nature of the beast for 29ers in general?

    Then the other disadvantage is I cant exchange wheels and forks with my other bikes, being that they're 26ers.

    Thoughts/experiences? Thanks again.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by myitch
    I searched and nothing came up. Please post a link if this one's already been done. Thanks.
    snip

    Thoughts/experiences? Thanks again.
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  3. #3
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    Rather than the super helpful reply above mine, I thought I would actually answer your question with my findings. I am 5'6" with a 30" inseam, I have owned two Niner's (Air9 and Jet9 both with Fox100 fork) and also a VooDoo Soukri hardtail. The only place that I felt the 29" wheel was at a disadvantage was on technical switch-backs that are steep. 29" wheels are great as long as you are rolling along at anything above a walking pace. Once you slow down, I start to feel like I am driving a big truck and I am much further away from the ground than I am comfortable with. I think that of all the advantages of a 29" wheel outweigh the dis-advantages. That said, if you have really technical riding, that dominates your AO, I would look to the 26" wheels to still be the best option.
    Isaac

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by edgerat
    Rather than the super helpful reply above mine, I thought I would actually answer your question with my findings. I am 5'6" with a 30" inseam, I have owned two Niner's (Air9 and Jet9 both with Fox100 fork) and also a VooDoo Soukri hardtail. The only place that I felt the 29" wheel was at a disadvantage was on technical switch-backs that are steep. 29" wheels are great as long as you are rolling along at anything above a walking pace. Once you slow down, I start to feel like I am driving a big truck and I am much further away from the ground than I am comfortable with. I think that of all the advantages of a 29" wheel outweigh the dis-advantages. That said, if you have really technical riding, that dominates your AO, I would look to the 26" wheels to still be the best option.
    Isaac

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  5. #5
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    You got some sand in your vagina today?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by edgerat
    You got some sand in your vagina today?

    Come on. "I searched and nothing came up"

    Your the one that called my link unhelpful.
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

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  8. #8
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    uh oh. easy now boys and girls. Thanks for the replies. Whilst i was away, i saw the FAQs on the sidebar and perused through there. very helpful.

    edgerat, your reply was the most helpful of all the posts and reading i saw. just a true ride experience was what i wanted to see. i should have said in my post that i like technical riding, coming from bikes with 6+ of travel. This bike was going to be my XC bike but i still like to hit technical trails and was wondering about the slow speed tech and tight turns.

    i might just stick to 26" then. at least i can exchange parts too.
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  9. #9
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    5'7" on a long day.... I currently own 2, 29er's... (Pivot 429, Salsa El Mariachi). I've owned a total of 5 29ers (two were Ti). The only issue I have is the flickability of a 29er.... it's not that it can't be done, but you have to re-learn how to use body english and muscle your way at different times. What I've found is that I don't need to flick a 29er as much as I did my 26" bikes. The big wheels tend to just roll over stuff. As Edgerat explained, momentum is your friend on big wheels, turning radius changes, so you roll the outside line.... it's a learning curve. If this will be your XC machine and you ride 26" the majority of the time you may not like it

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitzikatzi
    Come on. "I searched and nothing came up"

    Your the one that called my link unhelpful.
    agreed, I apologize sir.

  11. #11
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    I'm 5"7" and have a Large framed custom Waltworks. I thought it would be too big for me before receiving it. I've always rode 26er's until now. got5 the frame, built it up with some new 29er things and some of the other stuff off of a 26er. Did not want to put to much money into it until I found out if it would work for me. Had it set up as a rigid SS and still do. I love this 29er even if it is a large frame. My inseam is 32 and I have about a 1" of clearance over the tpo tube. No problem! Too me, it turns just as quick as a 26er. I am surley converted and will no longer ride a 26er!!! Sorry I have no links. Just thought I would give you my experience with the 29er.

  12. #12
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    5' 51/100"

    Being just over 5' 6" I have issues w/ 29ers. Expensive tires, low flickability, and heavy. I own Niner Sir Nine and XCL $99 parts bike( newest favorite bike ). Other riders said "You will like it", and they are right. It's like being new to riding all over again(29er single speed). Titanium? Try a used bike and sell after 10 rides. Then buy what you Really want. Nothing is interchangable w/ my 26" GT Carbon Marathon Pro. Say you feel like running old tires on separate bike to justify new stuff, not going to work. Old forks won't fit 26/29, stuff like that to think through. Good luck!

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    Thanks boys for sharing those experiences and opinions. That's what I needed to hear.

    Again, not being able to swap parts and the need to buy forks, wheels, tires that I can only use on the 29er is an issue cost wise. Then there's the slower turning, more weight, less standover. Seems like most folks either love it or dont. Not many in between.

    I guess I could always try to rent one somewhere and ride it for a day to really get my own opinion. Perhaps thats a New Years venture for me.

    Thanks again boys.
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  14. #14
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    It's like using the right tool for the job. I'm 5-7 30 inch inseam. XC rider. I made the switch to a 29er about 18 months ago, and absolutely love it. I have been on mountain bikes for about 25 years, so maybe it was just a nice change to keep things interesting, but for the riding I do the wheel size is perfect, and we have very techy trails. I don't really find the switchback issue that big of a deal. Yes it is a little different, but as noted above, its just a different line.

    To use a ski analogy, its like going from the old 210 GS boards to a big fat pair of shaped powder skis. That's how it works in my head anyway, and I have been skiing lots of pow lately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelhoss
    It's like using the right tool for the job. I'm 5-7 30 inch inseam. XC rider. I made the switch to a 29er about 18 months ago, and absolutely love it. I have been on mountain bikes for about 25 years, so maybe it was just a nice change to keep things interesting, but for the riding I do the wheel size is perfect, and we have very techy trails. I don't really find the switchback issue that big of a deal. Yes it is a little different, but as noted above, its just a different line.

    To use a ski analogy, its like going from the old 210 GS boards to a big fat pair of shaped powder skis. That's how it works in my head anyway, and I have been skiing lots of pow lately.
    You're nearly the same measurements as I. I'm 5' 6.5" 29" inseam. I'm not a skier so I cant relate to the ski analogy but I understand your meaning. I'm old skool and all the newer tech and new way of thinking is a big change. Everything these days is getting oversize: 31.8 bars, 30"+ wide bars, 15mm and 20mm and 12mm axles, 1.5 headtubes and steer tubes, and 29" wheels. Everything has more adjustability: Seatposts, reversable and positional changing shifters, propedal shocks, travel adjust forks, 10 spd drivetrains. Wow, hard to keep up.

    I rode BMX on a Schwinn Stingray (recall banana seats and tall shoulder height bars) back in the '70's and mountain bikes since 1991, about 19 yrs. Just 6 yrs shy of your 25 yrs. Wow, we've been riding since before many of the posters here were even born. Yikes!!!
    Last edited by myitch; 12-20-2010 at 01:51 PM.
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    My Advice...

    Do it... I have the same measurements as you. I went back and forth and read and read before i decided to drink the coolaid. I purchased a Scott scale 29er, and LOVE it... While it still comes down to your preference, be sure the fit is for you... I ride a med 26er, but bought a size small, flipped the stem to negative, removed the extra spacers, and now im looking at the niner flat top bar. I didnt notice the flickability problems, and on the small rollers and everything else the bike is a blast to ride. Switchbacks.. no problem. The momentum they carry is awesome too. I cant imagine ever going back. Oh, except my new downhill bike, but thats another thread.. Are you going from a full squish to a hardtail, or ??? Good luck, and post pics...

    Wayne

    Quote Originally Posted by myitch
    You're nearly the same measurements as I. I'm 5' 6.5" 29" inseam. I'm not a skier so I cant relate to the ski analogy but I understand your meaning. I'm old skool and all the newer tech and new way of thinking is a big change. Everything these days is getting oversize: 31.8 bars, 30"+ wide bars, 15mm and 20mm and 12mm axles, 1.5 headtubes and steer tubes, and 29" wheels. Everything has more adjustability: Seatposts, reversable and positional changing shifters, propedal shocks, travel adjust forks, 10 spd drivetrains. Wow, hard to keep up.

  17. #17
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    I'm 4' 28 1/4" and my 29rs fit me just fine.

  18. #18
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    5' 6"... 30" inseam and I am very happy with a Niner Air Nine in a small with a 70mm stem. The 'tech' around here is rocks, steps and drops. I would say the Air 9 is even on the rocks and better on steps and drops than my 26" wheeled XC FS bikes.

    If you would like to see a very accomplished rider who is... less tall than us and knows bikes (she works as bike mechanic) then check out this blog. Look at the entry for August 29th, 2010

    http://www.ride424.com/sarah/index.php

  19. #19
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    Yes, I'm thinking of going for it. If I do, I'm going titanium. I love the feel and durability of ti. Of course there's the expense. But then ti literally lasts forever, unlike other materials, especially carbon fiber (ok, I'm ducking now, here come the CF lovers and their objections!).

    I too come from a squishy 6+ travel bike and a DH background. The last 2 hardtails I sold after I just didn't find them comfortable and as controlled at speed.
    We Ride In God's Country!

  20. #20
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    Try it, you'll like it...

    5'6" w/ a 30" inseam. I've been riding since the mid-eighties. I currently own/ride 2 29er rigid bikes.

    After getting lucky on my first frame (became my 1st 29er), it's taken me 4 more frames in the last 8 months to find another frame I like. I finally got it figured out in July, so I had 3 frames in 3 months at one point. I also wanted a steel that I can run single if I want, so that complicated my choice. I'd say that depending on frame material and frame geometry that you should ride a few at the LBS (or friends' 29ers) to get a good idea about material and geometry, then you should go from there. If you are going to build a frame, I'd ride, ride, and ride some more until I knew what I was looking for. If you don't ride other bikes (kinda hard when you're a shorty), you'll have to do what I did. I didn't have ANY trouble selling the frames I'd bought though.

    As for the handling, I didn't really notice it. I just chalked it up to having been off my bike for awhile and to being old(ish). I'm not so sure if it wasn't a combo of that and of switching over, because I can certainly ride stuff now that I was having trouble with in the summer. Come on! You're a little dude: do what other wee-ones have had to do. Adapt. You'll handle it just fine, and you'll be done w/ the smaller bikes. I still have one (26" bike) at my brother's (1500 mi. away), and I couldn't believe how "zippy" it was. I also couldn't believe how much less I enjoyed riding it overall. Just seemed like I had to be busy "working" that thing all the time to keep it moving. I always thought that "rolls over stuff" and "holds momentum better" was bunk. I'm not so sure anymore. I am sure that I'm a better ride now than I was a year ago, and I also know that I look for reasons to ride much more than I used to.

  21. #21
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    Thanks for all those experiences boys. Sounds like you boys love your 29ers, some so much to leave the 26ers sitting in the garage more.

    Hmm, who you calling a shortie and wee-one? LOL. I never considered myself THAT short but I guess that's why I'm always on a small size bike. Majority of the world it seems is 5'8" or so.

    I'm looking into test riding some 29ers when the weather gets better.
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  22. #22
    agu
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    for Ti you can check out the VooDoo Zaka...comes in a size 15" too. FWIW I am 5'8" and rode a 17".

  23. #23
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    Thanks agu.

    The Zaka looks nice. The ETT is 22" even. I usually fit best on 22.4-22.8 ish frames for 26ers. Maybe a silly question but on 29ers does one usually want a smaller ETT? I wouldn't think so since TT for body proportion shouldn't change.
    We Ride In God's Country!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by myitch
    Thanks agu.

    The Zaka looks nice. The ETT is 22" even. I usually fit best on 22.4-22.8 ish frames for 26ers. Maybe a silly question but on 29ers does one usually want a smaller ETT? I wouldn't think so since TT for body proportion shouldn't change.
    Im not sure if it has anything at all to do with 29" wheels but I noticed the ETT Niners is longish. Small is 23.1 inches. I happen to like a longer reach with a short stem and it's the reason I went for the Air 9 instead of the Salsa Mamasita which is still 22.8".

    The one thing you do have to watch for on 29ers is toe overlap. That could explain the tendancy toward a long ETT.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bat Guano
    I'm 4' 28 1/4" and my 29rs fit me just fine.
    Someone shorter than me :P I'm 5'1" or 5'2", maybe 5'3" on a good day. I dunno. I ride a Niner Air 9 small with a Pace rigid fork that's designed for a 26-inch wheel. It works well on it and lowers the standover height. I didn't intend to use a 26er fork, but the Pace came from a donor bike that i was dismatling for parts to sell the frame. The fork works really well with it, I think. I may get a 29er suspension fork later, but I really like the Pace. Overall, I think the bike fits me well and rides comfortably without me feeling stretched out.

    I don't think people between 5'5" and 5'7" are too "short" to ride 29ers. I was a bit inspired by Willow and some forum members who are short riding niners.

    Btw, my Air 9 is not my only bike. I still won't give up my 26er squishy or hardtail.

  26. #26
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    Well, after further research, it seems that 29ers tend to weight more, given their bigger wheels and longer forks, more tubing on the frames (vs. 26ers).

    I was going to buy a Motobecane Ti and make it lighter, not racer light, but shooting for around 23 lbs. Well, not going to happen unless I put crazy light stuff on there and spend more $$$. I mean my Flux weighs 26 approx. already. Doesnt make sense for me to buy another bike, a hardtail at that, and weigh as much or more than my full suspension XC rig.

    Oh well, scratch the 29er idea. Thanks for the sharing boys.
    We Ride In God's Country!

  27. #27
    agu
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    quick! pour him another glass of KoolAid hehehe

  28. #28
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    There is a lady I ride with every now and then and she's 4'11 or so and she' pretty quick on her carbon 29er single speed.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by agu
    quick! pour him another glass of KoolAid hehehe

    No don't. He might be racing against me someday. I need all the help I can get.

  30. #30
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    Well I am a little late to this thread, 5'6.5" and 30" in seam but...

    I used to endo my 26'ers all the time. Have had 29ers for 5 years and that hasn't been an issue with them. To me that is one of the big advantages of the 29er...low BB compared to hub.

    The other big advantage is traction. I used to lose a lot of momentum on climbs and in corners trying to get the weight on the wheels just right. Much more margin for error on the 29er and the wheels also float through sand.

    Those advantages far outweigh a few pounds of weight that I can loose myself if I am that concerned about it...although I do ride with the lightest wheels I can afford because that is a draw back.

    Other draw back is getting the bars down to seat level or below. I try to stick with bikes that have low head tube lengths to give me options. Not as important though to have that weight on the front wheel though because as I said, the traction is better to start with.

    Love the 29er.

  31. #31
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    You can still have a light 29er--but it'll cost a few extra pennies. Be patient and if you don't mind used you can find some good light parts online (*ahem* Ebay).

    The Niner Air 9 is a pretty light frame to begin with, and it's not too difficult to make it under 23lbs. As someone mentioned, it has a longer ETT than other 29ers. It was a big concern of mine when I was building my bike, but in the end it wasn't such a big deal. I used a Thomson X4 50mm stem and adjusted mt saddle and all is well. I also don't have any real issues with toe overlap. Maybe I have small feet.

    If you have the cash, I'd say get a 29er in your stable. I still ride my 26ers often, but the 29er is always a treat to ride. The ladies love it!

  32. #32
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    ask willow

  33. #33
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    Who says 29ers are only for tall people?
    That Willow Koerber (Subaru-Trek) is the best American mountain bike cross-country racer right now is no surprise – she led the UCI rankings earlier this year after back-to-back second-place finishes on the World Cup circuit, landed third in Champéry, and currently still sits in third place overall with one round remaining.

    What is surprising is that she's done all of this on a hardtail 29er – despite standing just 1.57m (5' 2") tall.

  34. #34
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    My wife and I are both 5'4" and we "share bikes" it was my way into the 29er world. When we ride together she always chooses the 29er she likes it better. She says it is comfy and rides great.
    2009 ASPECT 20
    2011 Rockhopper 29er

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