I was wrong...29ers can be fun...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Old school BMXer
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    I was wrong...29ers can be fun...

    Many of my friends thought I'd never ride a 29er because of how often I've said that they're no fun. Well, if they were fully reading my comments on 29ers, I've always said that 29ers do offer some positive attributes. But after giving it more thought, I figured that I could make a 29er that is more fun to ride.

    Design goals:
    First thing, most production 29ers are stuck in the mid 90s with their desired handling characteristics. Seriously, 71-72 degree head angles? No wonder all of the production bikes I rode handled so skittishly. Although I haven't spent much time on a Gary Fisher, I think they were going in the right direction with their custom Fox forks, but I think if they kicked the head angle back a tick, it would have been more stable. But as forks got longer, the companys weren't slackening the head angle to compensate, making the head angle super steep on hard tails as the fork compressed.

    Then there are the super long chainstays common with many production 29er frames. granted, going to short chainstays on a geared bike does add additional challenges, but I wanted a singlespeed, which makes it that much easier. Most production 29ers have chainstays that range from 17-1/2" to 18-1/2"...it's no wonder these bikes were dead to ride. They had the manueverability of the Queen Mary. Getting them off the ground was a major PITA. No fun.

    One of the final points where I think many companys missed the mark was bottom bracket height. But...I understand why they did what they did. It takes extra skill to ride a bike with a lower bottom bracket to prevent pedal strikes. Additionally, some trails have so much chunk, that it really can be helpful to have a slightly higher BB. To appeaze the masses, most companys built their 29ers with fairly tall BBs. No thanks. Actually, I think Specialized, Vassago, and a few others did OK here.

    I'm sure there are a number of people who disagree with these comments, but keep in mind that as a BMX, 4X, and DH racer, my riding style differs from most.

    So what did I end up with?
    Here are some of the basics:
    Head angle with fork set at 120 mm: 67.5 degrees
    Fork set at 95 mm: 68.5 degrees
    Chainstay length: 16-5/8" - yeah baby!
    Bottom bracket height with fork at 120 mm: 12-1/16"
    Fork set at 95 mm: about 11-3/4" (about - I forgot the exact number)

    Although I didn't do any prior weight calculations, I was hoping the frame would come in at around 5 pounds. I was really surprised when the scale nailed 5 pounds exactly! No, it's not a featherweight, but with the beefy tubeset I went with, I wanted this thing to be strong and stiff.

    It does have plenty of flaws, but that's ok. I'm still quite proud of my 3rd frame. Even before halfway through the build, I came up with a number of ways of improving my process or techniques.

    I'm very happy with the ride. It feels like a slightly over-grown version of my 4X bike. With the 1.5" .9/.6/.9 mm down tube, the bike rides incredibly stiff - something I haven't found on most production 29ers. Admittedly, I probably wouldn't want to do a 24 hour race on it, but I wouldn't want to do a 24 hour race, anyway.

    The 120 mm setting on the fork works really well. It even does better than I expected when climbing, but of course, the 95 mm works even better on the climbs. I can't imagine why companys are offering their 29ers with 70+ degree head angles. I'd bet well see that changing over time as they figure it out (like many companys have with their 26ers).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails I was wrong...29ers can be fun...-img_3844-lo.jpg  

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    I was wrong...29ers can be fun...-img_3865-lo.jpg  

    May the air be filled with tires!

  2. #2
    Cthulhu fhtagn
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    so you built/welded this frame from scratch?

  3. #3
    30-ton War Machine
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    3rd frame huh? Looks pretty friggin sick to me bro. Good job!

  4. #4
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    Beautiful work. It will be a shame to get it dirty.

  5. #5
    Look at the time!
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    that is a really nice frame building job. Whatever the flaws are, I can't find them in the photos.
    wanted: Cannondale Lefty w/ V-brake studs

  6. #6
    Uncle
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    Straight up gorgeous and flickable.

    Only your 3rd build? I'm not expert, but from what I can tell, it looks like you had a good mentor. How much time and dough did it take to build the frame if I might ask (feel free to say NOYDB)?

  7. #7
    Old school BMXer
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    Quote Originally Posted by 105millimetersofpleasure
    Only your 3rd build? I'm not expert, but from what I can tell, it looks like you had a good mentor. How much time and dough did it take to build the frame if I might ask (feel free to say NOYDB)?
    Unfortunately, I'm entirely self taught. From fillet-brazing to everything else, I've had to figure out for myself. A lot of insight came from a ton of reading, but the most experience was gained from actually doing it. I've never actually seen anyone build a frame, nor have I actually seen anyone fillet-braze before I started this (and I still haven't seen anyone else, either). I've learned a lot, but I know I still have a lot to learn.

    The time it took to build has been the most common question I've received. This frame took about 2-1/2 months of working on it part time. In other words, an hour here, an hour there, half hour while waiting for dinner, etc... I have a full time job, and since I'm doing this on my patio, I can't really work past dark. Frame #2 took nearly 9 months, but it went for months at a time without being touched, mainly because it was dark by the time I came home from work.

    Cost...I really don't know. Don't really want to know! If I knew, I may have thought that I could have ordered some really cool titanium frame by a reputable builder! But that's what got me started with this. I was going to order a custom frame, but when I considered the approximate cost of $1500, I figured I could buy some equipment and build a few frames. And that's what I did.

    I bought a 75/80 cubic foot oxy/acetylene rig with good regulators and torch on craigslist for $50, then spent another $100+ getting them filled. I didn't have a work bench, so I built one and added a vice. I bought a bunch of files, sand paper, a digital angle gauge, a digital level, a bunch of C-clamps, and a bunch of right angle steel. There are a bunch of other odds and ends. Oh, and I recently got an Anvil disc jig and dummy axle for $130ish.

    The costs in the actual frame are probably about $180ish, plus a small cost on powder coating (www.embeeperformance.com). All tubes are True Temper from Henry James, dropouts from Paul Components, and other misc parts from Paragon Machineworks and Nova Cycles.

    As mentioned, this is frame #3. And so far I do have a couple frames. My wife was the beneficiary of frame #2 (frame #1 was designed as a grocery getter, but never built up).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails I was wrong...29ers can be fun...-img_6619-lo.jpg  

    May the air be filled with tires!

  8. #8
    Oz
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    Those are beautiful bikes! You seem to have a natural talent for frame building. Are you located in SoCal? That last photo looks like Laguna Lake in Fullerton.

  9. #9
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    That is one beautiful frame! Congratulations. I'm glad you really took the time to think about the geometry and to go for something quite different from what we're used to. Keep up the good work!

  10. #10
    nothing to see here
    Reputation: Stevob's Avatar
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    That's a labour of love.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  11. #11
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    Some beautiful work Do you have any fab pics?

  12. #12
    Powered by ice cream.
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    Gorgeous. The color looks like Ventana's Cosmic Orange and has always been a favorite for me.

    Seriously sick work and a very dedicated single purpose frame. No extraneous crap hanging on to it. I love it.

    Question:

    If/when you ride in slower and tighter terrain, to you find a tendency for the front end to push a bit with the slack HTA? Have you shortened the top tube some to keep the front center from getting immense with the slacker angle?
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  13. #13
    Killer of Chains
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    Quick, patent the geometry with some catchy phrase and sell it the manufacturers, because that bike looks rad!

  14. #14
    the test dummy
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    wow those are sweet
    Quote Originally Posted by craftworks750
    Riding a mtb is like a reset button, 10 mins in and there is nothing else in the world that matters.
    my bikes
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    Ben

  15. #15
    Peace & Love
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    just amazing Lee

  16. #16
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    Great job. Did you have any trouble with the weld sequencing? tack here, weld there... oops now the bike is tweaked.. stuff like that?
    "It looks flexy"

  17. #17
    Full fledged member
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    I am really impressed! Beautifully smooth without weld marks. Others should take notice. And thanks for sharing your insight with us.
    1.21 Gigawatts

  18. #18
    livin' the dream......
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    Those are beautiful bikes, clean, simple and functional.

  19. #19
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    I'm impressed. Looks really goooooood.

  20. #20
    ride more
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    Wow that is Awesome !

  21. #21
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    Awesome build. Maybe you should give up your day job!

    Interesting take on the slacker HTA. I'd be interested to know what sort of terrain it handles best on?

    I recently switched my frame from an On One with a 72 HTA to a Orbea with a 71 HTA. My first impression was that the front wheel wanted to wash out more in corners, and tight and twisty singletrack (which I ride mostly) felt slower.

    I've adjusted the feel by changing my stem height and position.

    My next frame will have a 72 HTA, but I'm happy for now with the Orbea, since its a lot lighter, and has a super stiff BB.

    I'm only XC though, with just small jumps and drops that you'd expect on an XC track.

  22. #22
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    beautiful frame and holy short stays...I totally agree on the geometry stuff. Niner especially boggles my mind on their fs bikes. Banshee seems to be heading in the right direction.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
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    very nice! looking at your pics I guess there isn't much fore/aft adjustment for the rear wheel so not really any adjustment needed (or even possible it looks like) for the brake caliper. is that the minimum to cover a link (or half link)?

  24. #24
    gone for a bike ride
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaster1200
    yeah baby!
    really brilliant work - what a bike! - don't stop now

  25. #25
    Recovering Weight Weenie
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    I would never ever ever ever want to ride that bike.

    I'm glad it's what you want but those angles are ridiculous for me.

    I absolutely LOVE 70 + head angles and avoid anything more slack.

    Do you have hills where you live?

    It seems you've built a 29er dirtjumper...which I'm all for...but not as an all-around mtb.

    I like the attention to detail on the frame.

  26. #26
    Noli Me Tangere
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oz
    . Are you located in SoCal? That last photo looks like Laguna Lake in Fullerton.
    That was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw that pic!
    Annie are you ok? Are you ok, Annie?

  27. #27
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    I love see that bike in person!! Nice job! Wonder if you do Sunday fully loop ride. I think, I saw your wife ride that baby blue bike. Great job!!

  28. #28
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    dude, that's a *****in' bike!

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Padre
    I would never ever ever ever want to ride that bike.

    I'm glad it's what you want but those angles are ridiculous for me.

    I absolutely LOVE 70 + head angles and avoid anything more slack.

    Do you have hills where you live?

    It seems you've built a 29er dirtjumper...which I'm all for...but not as an all-around mtb.

    I like the attention to detail on the frame.
    it's not just about HA, it's the combo of HA/stem length/bar width. i've been on slack HA bikes that felt like complete crap with a 100 mm stem and 660 mm bar, but were frikken awesome w/ a 60 mm stem and 710 mm bar. and my hills are bigger than yours.
    Originally posted by bucksaw87
    I still fail to see how mustaches, fixies, and PBR are ironic.

  30. #30
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    Nice bike! I like the seat tube sleeve, pretty stuff.

    You can't directly compare HT angles on 26ers to 29ers, the resulting trail is different. Were you shooting for a certain trail (with that fork?) or just a certain head angle?

    I'm about 70% of the way through my first frame. Haven't f$#%$ it'd up.. yet.

  31. #31
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    very cool, well done.

  32. #32
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    Very, very nice work.

  33. #33
    FM
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    Gorgeous! Beeootiful brazing, especially love the seat tube/BB junction.

    You nailed the geometry, but Banshee and Canfield were already there. I couldn't agree more about the geometry of "status quo" 29'ers though. No wonder so many AM/FR/DH riders are convinced they can't be jumped or ridden aggressively.

    Anyways, I know that thing rides great, and it looks awesome too, great work!

  34. #34
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    Big ups to you.Those are things of beauty

  35. #35
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    nice work, makes me want a hard tail now! but when you build up your next one you should do it with a tapered head head tube and isg tabs..

  36. #36
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    sick work, man!

  37. #37
    Old school BMXer
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    Thanks! Yes, this bike is still extremely fun. I still haven't regeared it and taken it to the BMX track, but I'd really like to. Although my butt hits the rear tire when manualling the first jump on a 26" I think that may be a little sketchy when I hit the tire.

    I've let a lot of people ride this bike, and it has changed a lot of perceptions of 29ers. Many people like myself have always hated the dead feeling of most production built 29ers.

    Quote Originally Posted by FM
    You nailed the geometry, but Banshee and Canfield were already there. I couldn't agree more about the geometry of "status quo" 29'ers though. No wonder so many AM/FR/DH riders are convinced they can't be jumped or ridden aggressively.
    I don't think I ever looked at the Banshee before building this up. I know of the Paradox, but it looks to be geared only, so that's probably one of the reasons I ruled it out. The other might have been because the head angle on the Paradox is 1.5 degree steeper, and the bottom bracket is nearly a half inch higher.

    I don't think the Canfield was available at the time I started this in June 2010 (completed within the next month or so). The BB on the Canfield is still a little bit higher, but I think the Canfield offerings have the absolute best geometry of the commercially available 29er frames.

    I am contemplating building a geared bike similar to this, but I'm having some tough decisions of where I want to go with it.

    - Similar to what David8613 suggested, I've been thinking about using a 44mm Paragon head tube, but this would require about $250 in a new facer and reamer. That's a lot of coin for only one or two frames, since I don't really expect to build many more frames. I don't have any tapered head tubes readily available, and I don't have any machining equipment to make one.

    - I'm thinking of going with a 150 mm rear wheel to maintain wheel strength of having a similar sized hub shell as my singlespeed. I'm a little leary of wheel strength with narrower hubs. Yeah, wheels with normal hub widths survive under many aggressive riders. Tough decision.

    - If I go 150 mm rear, I'd like to go with an 83 mm bottom bracket. This will obviously play better with the wider chainline, but it'll also give me much greater tire clearance (although this bike actually has a lot of clearance in the chainstays).

    - The other debate is do I build it the same or burlier (I think this bike is pretty stiff and strong) with the 150/83 or do I make it a lot burlier enough to race DH on it at local events? (with ISCG tabs, of course) Or do I make it lighter weight XC bike using this geometry? *sigh* Tough decision! Or do I build a psuedo cyclo cross/XC bike sort of like this? That would be fun on some of the fast and smoother local trails!

    I just spent the last many months working on a tandem, so I'm now looking foward to something easy. http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=700118
    Last edited by Blaster1200; 04-24-2011 at 06:13 PM.
    May the air be filled with tires!

  38. #38
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    That is pretty much the s__t right there. Damn that's a short rear end! Nice, I see you even put the clear bra material on the seat tube to protect the frame. I'd buy n' ride one of those for sure.

  39. #39
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    Awesome! I've been thinking about how much fun it would be to have a bike that's slacker and lower than my Paradox. I've always thought the production 29ers ride like junk because they're too steep and long. Nice to see other people thinking that way.

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