Are 29'ers really all that?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Are 29'ers really all that?

    In the market for my first full-suspension ride, and visited a couple bike shops recently whose owners swear by 29'ers. One Specialized dealer told me they wouldn't even carry the 26" models, as the 29'ers just outperform everything else for the trail conditions here in New England.

    The other guy told me they got to demo their lines 29'er model when it first came out, and after taking it out, his wife told him to sell her old mountain bike. And he's sold on them too since getting on one.

    Haven't had a chance to ride one, doubt if any demo ride is gonna give me a chance to really discover the benefits, but don't want to buy a 26" if 29'ers are really so much better, and the future.

    Right now, I'm looking at Trek Fuel EX, Specialized Stumpjumper FSR, and Rocky Mountain Altitude. The Fuel's only 26", so if I go 29, it's probably between the Stumpy and the Altitude.

  2. #2
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    Weather 29er's are all that or not are in the eye of the beholder- hadI never ridden a 29er I would probably be perfectly happy on my 26" bike... and my first try on a 29er was a FAIL... but it was more me looking for an excuse for being out of shape after years of couch sitting-

    After riding 26" hardtails from the mid 80's on and off to a current pull the kiddie trailer 26" steel Trek and a few full suspension 26" bikes like Superlight, Blur LT, Blur XC etc... I can't say I would choose to go back to having a 26" wheeled bike as my go to now that I have a 29" rigid and a 29" full suspension -

    I don't want to sound like it is a cult or something but for the trails I ride and how I ride they work- you should really try giving them a test ride, on your own turf to see how it compares to a 26" bike-
    I Just wish I could ride more!


  3. #3
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    It really is all a matter of personal preference and what you think works best for the trails you ride most. I've owned two 29ers and ridden about eight others (all hardtails). My first 29er was far better on rocky trails than any 26" I had ridden, but it handled terribly on smooth singletracks with tight turns. Steering response and acceleration were slow, plus it just never felt right no matter how much I tried to adjust the fit. I hated it enough to sell the bike, but did missed it for the rocky stuff. I wasn't automatically sold on 29ers but did see enough benefit to keep looking. Other 29ers I tried had that similar feel, some were a little better, some were far worse.

    My current 29ers is a custom frame. Some people say a 29er is a 29er and you shouldn't expect it to handle like a 26", but going with this custom frame I really feel I get the best of both worlds. It handles tight twisting trails just as well or better than my 26" and it has the nice roll over everything feel of a 29er. Paired with a custom wheelset that is light enough for decent acceleration but also stiff to feel very much in control, I would say yeah, this 29er really is all that.

    My suggestion is, don't believe the blanket statements and claims people make. Rent or borrow a few, try them out on your local trails and see if a 29er is right for you.
    Last edited by julioardz; 08-16-2010 at 06:08 AM.

  4. #4
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    29 inch wheels are all that, given that they are compared to a closely matched 26 inch bike. I wouldn't go back to a 26" bike for any reason, for what I ride and how I ride the 29 is hands down better.

    I ride a Stumpy FSR Expert 29'er and love it, you can spend a LOT more and I don't think you will get a LOT more. I think the Stumpy is 90% or more of what you can get in that class of bike.....

  5. #5
    AZ
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    Ride a few to get a feel for them and decide for yourself . Many think they are "all that" , some are somewhat "meh" while others prefer other wheel sizes .

  6. #6
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    No, stick to your 26" bike. I hate all three of my 29ers.

  7. #7
    Plays with tools
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    they are only better for E ridding.

  8. #8
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    The question gets asked a lot on MTBR. You get the usual arguments for and against. In this forum you'll get mostly 29er riders. Few will argue against.

    In Passion or Beginners or General, you'll get lots of arguments against. Mostly from people who don't own a 29er. They tried one once or they heard that 29er's had this problem or that problem.

    To truly appreciate if you would appreciate a 29er, you have to put a lot of miles on one.

    You definitely need to get out on the trails for your test ride. The parking lot at the LBS won't tell you much.

    I like mine and wouldn't switch back if you gave me a free 26er.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by S:Drive
    No, stick to your 26" bike. I hate all three of my 29ers.

    I hate my 29er so much I want to buy another one and I love my 26er so much I hardly ride it

  10. #10
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    Levi just won Leadville on a 26 inch bike. 29ers may not be faster and may in fact be slower...hard to prove either way even though many have tried.
    I like my 29er. Since most of us don't race it is less about a speed difference and more about the quality of the ride. To me a 29er apples to apples is more comfortable and I can ride one farther and be less beat up. This is mostly why I like my 29er. I like the way it handles as well. I still like 26ers but I am glad I switched.

  11. #11
    is buachail foighneach me
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    29er's make your manhood shrink and are a leading cause of osteoporosis.

  12. #12
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    Had a neighbor recently who is a strong road rider and is trying to get back into mountain biking. He is 6'3", so I naturally thought he would like the 29er format, so he tried out a friend's Sultan. Nope. Try as he might to like it, he just said he preferred the 26" wheels. Just goes to prove it isn't for everyone.

  13. #13
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    I think you'll be happy as long as you can handle the ridicule on Busted Spoke.

  14. #14
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    29er's really shine for taller riders... Putting a tall guy on a 26" wheels is laughable to me. I felt bad for a few of my friends through the 1990's. For the frame designers, designing a frame around 29" wheels for a tall person is more liberating. For big guys, it's a nice change. Unless you are under 5'-6", there is no reason to look at 26" wheels at this point.

    I am a short guy. To me, I think 29er's are more stable commuting and on the trail, but that is the only benefit I have gotten out of it. That's my honest opinion... stability. Other than that, I am perfectly happy to ride a 26er, and I rode mine yesterday + into work this morning.

    That written, I won't be buying another 26er. I love the one I've had since 1999, but the simple fact is that 29" wheels are here to stay. Any of my friends looking to buy something right now, I point them to 29" wheels. Can't think of one reason not to. Plenty of parts, plenty of choices, and there are budget friendly bikes.

    29er's aren't just the future... they are the bike now. In fact I am not sure why people still use the "29er" designation. It's just an MTB.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS
    Ride a few to get a feel for them and decide for yourself . Many think they are "all that" , some are somewhat "meh" while others prefer other wheel sizes .
    ^ This ^

    Speaking for myself, my own opinion has drifted all over the map. I bought a 29er. Liked it. Hung up my 26 for two seasons and thought I was a full convert to 29er wheels. Then I pulled down my 26er this summer and have been enjoying it very much (and to the chagrin of my friend who is a died-in-the-wool 29er-dude). I've also tried 650b and like that size a great deal. Given an unlimited budget, I would buy a 650b were I to buy a bike today.

    For next season, I hope to head into fat-tire territory--a Mukluk. Not sure how to think of those. They are like 29er tires on 26er rims.

    Getting back to your original question, I do feel strongly that people in the market for a bike should at least get in some test rides on both wheel sizes.

  16. #16
    Its got what plants crave
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    Just ride one and find out for yourself. Listening to what people on the internet or salesmen in bike shops have to say is largely a waste of time.
    Ocala Mountain Bike Association - www.omba.org

  17. #17
    Feet back and spread 'em!
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    a single test ride is worth a thousand internet opinions
    the time is right for violent revolution

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    Levi just won Leadville on a 26 inch bike....
    He would've won on a 29er, too. Except with a faster time.


  19. #19
    AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikecop
    a single test ride is worth a thousand internet opinions




    Truth .

  20. #20
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    I'm not sure it matters, but in my own experience I prefer the 29er. I'm a smaller rider at 5'8", but I can feel the difference with the bigger tires. Obstacles that were hard to get over on the 26er aren't anymore, once up to speed the 29er seems to hold that speed better, and the additional air volume of a larger tire means you can run lower pressure without the danger of pinch flatting. Since my 29er is a hardtail, that is a big benefit as I can really get some good squish running a 29x2.4 @ 30psi. More tire on the ground means better stopping power/less sliding and better handling. I'm better in technical sections and better downhill. Riding uphill on smooth hardpack is tougher though, due to the heavier wheels and greater rotating mass. A lighter wheelset would help that though.

    I'll not be buying a 26" unless it's a screaming deal. I plan to upgrade my HT 29er to FS using the Salsa Big Mama frame.
    "Got everything you need?"

  21. #21
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    I love both my 4" 29er and 5.5" 26er! I find the 29er harder to get going after winter. Once I get into shape it's all that. Maybe look into the 650b for the best of both worlds.

  22. #22
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    I don't know. My dad had a back injury that kept him off any hardtails for a while so I "borrowed" his GF superfly, I wasn't that impressed, in my opinion take it or leave it. After riding the 29er and then getting back on my 26er, I enjoyed the 26er more than 29. Later I even test rode a specialized, a niner, and a felt, all back to back and i was just not impressed, in my opinion it is up to how you feel.

    just like az.mtns said, some are "all that" some are "meh". i fall in the latter.
    Ride & Smile

  23. #23
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    You really need to ride a few 29ers on your typical trails to know the answer. I was fortunate to have a long-term loaner 29er while my 26" was getting some warranty work done. I hated the thing at first because I slowed down a bunch, expecially while climbing. After a few days I realized how much more stable I was on the bike. After my 26" bike came back I sold it and bought a 29er. Now that my legs are stronger, I am faster on the 29er than I ever was on the 26".

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    Levi just won Leadville on a 26 inch bike.
    True, but despite what some people say, I don't think 29ers are as beneficial for people that short. Isn't he like 5'6"?

  25. #25
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    I just bought a Hifi 29er. my dad rides a 26 inch hifi. So when i was trying bikes out before i bought mine, I brought my dad and his bike along to compare. I felt alot more comfortable on the 29 and my dad felt better on the 26. I am a bigger guy and the 29 seemed to suit me better. But im sure i would have been happy with a 26 also. That is kind of the nice thing now compared to the past, many choices in bikes along with wheel size.

  26. #26
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    29ers make you bulletproof. They allow you to speak Russian...in French. All kidding aside, I no longer care to ride 26" wheels. Not for everybody, but I'm digging it. As a taller rider, the fit and feel is great.
    "Caught my first tube this morning....sir!"

  27. #27
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    Yes...

    .. and...


  28. #28
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    I'm sure much has to do where you ride..... smooth dirt paths, no big whoop.

    BUT...ride the techy stuff...rocks, roots and more rocks....well the higher front axel sure does makes for heros. Sections of my "home" trail I never cleared(or tried) until I went big, are now routine. Thats how I see it.....
    Ride Hard or Ride Home Alone.

  29. #29
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    Bin riding and racing mountain bikes for 17 years. Had about everything there is. This discussion has gone on for 6 or 7 years. Only you can say if big wheels are right for you. Find a mountain loop, ride it as fast as you can on your 26, come back in a few days and rip it on a 29'er. If your time isn't as fast or faster take the 29'er back to the shop or friend you got if from. If it is faster, think how much faster you will be on it when you get use to it. Hope you have as much fun on your new 29'er as the rest of us do on ours.... Happy Trails
    Ride, Race or just polish it.... Do it till you smile!

  30. #30
    banjo plunker, wrench
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot
    .. and...

    my taste buds exactly!
    any time spent riding a bicycle is re-cycled goodness....

  31. #31
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    Ive been a 26 fan for years and never did like the look of the 29er. Recently I test road a Jamis team 29 carbon bike. It was amazing. It felt like jumping from a regular truck to a monster truck. It rolled over logs up to 5 inches with no problem, I first tried it out on the parking lot bumpers, what bumper! large bushes no problem to roll over. it was mad fun. I will probably go niner on my next ride. looking at the Niner 4 inch or 5 inch.

  32. #32
    Virtus pre nummis
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    I love my 29er so much I'm buying another one, Only this time it is a Haro Express Deluxe 700X45c (Which are 29er wheels) with front suspension, Comfort Plush saddle with suspension seatpost, Shimano drive train and at least 10 lbs lighter than my Monocog 29er hardtail, steel fork, single speed. New 2011 frame design sure is a sweet looking bike.
    Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill!

  33. #33
    Aussie Aussie Aussie!
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    Quote Originally Posted by rufus
    Are 29'ers really all that?
    Yes.
    2013 Giant XTC Advanced SL0 Carbon
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    2013 29CX Frankenbike

  34. #34
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    As someone who is still in "learning" mode and going from an older Trek 4300 to a 2010 GF Paragon, let just say I'm loving the 29er world.

    I'm more confident (important for a learner) and find that the big wheels make me more willing to push myself. I also find the climbing to be easier as the big wheels roll over small bumps better.

    Ride the big boy wheels!

  35. #35
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    I have been riding for a year now. At first with a friend's 26er that never felt right. At that moment I had no clue what Shimano meant not to mention 26" vs 29".

    I thought it was the specific bike and I tried some more. All of them 26ers, all of them felt bad. I never enjoyed the ride as much as I thought one should.

    Couple of months later I found a cheap Scott trekking bike and since I liked the colour!!! I bought that. Still no clue that wheel size was different.

    I only saw it in pictures and then the seller shipped it over. Got it, went home feeling ok. I had a bike.

    Then I rode it...

    I was so amazed of the difference! wow! all the excitement was there. Pure charm. The bike got upgraded to the last part, I consider it a 29er now, it can hit any trail (and still the road is nice).

    I also rode some pretty expensive 26ers afterwards. No, no, no! Not for me!

    If I decide to get another mtb it is going to be a 29er.

    Case closed!

  36. #36
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    In terms of downhill speed a 29er really is it. I was riding with another rider a few months ago over a particular trail when I had a chance to open up, I was literally able to pull out of sight. This guy didn't have a cheap bike either it was a Giant Trance X0 that he had upgraded significantly,some of the upgrades were new wheels and a set of Shimano Saint brakes.

    I think it's more important to figure out where you're riding and what's appropriate for your geography.

  37. #37
    Dynamitedread
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    for me i hardly notice the difference but think 29ers are much harder to bunny hop. I bought a 29er because use the bike for bikepacking as well as regular mtb ing and wanted big wheels to much more miles

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