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  1. #1
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    short chainstays

    I don't really understand the reference to short chainstays in regards to 29ers

    What length is a short chainstay?

    I have seen bikes geos list CSL as anywhere from 435 to 460 with 440 seeming to be fairly common. BTW: this is current year bike specs

    with 440 is my current bike considered "short"

    just trying to get a better grasp on bike geo

  2. #2
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    here we go...
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  3. #3
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    Not really short but average, both of my 29ers have around the same CS length and they work fine. Longer stays can help keep the front end planted on climbs and also provide stability on fast descents. Don't buy into the marketing hype, short stays work for some but it's not better.

  4. #4
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    How's 413mm grab ya?

    That's the Canfield Nimble 9, with sliders full forward.

    I have mine about mid-way, or 16.6" (421mm) to clear my front derailleur with a 2.4" tire (I might grind some of it off).

    The wheelbase on my Nimble 9 is the same as my old Niner MCR9, but the N9 is slacker, with short CS's. The MCR was steeper with long CS's. This works out to handling about the same through the turns, but descending is better on the N9 due to the slightly rearward weight bias. It suits me perfectly. The MCR was being used in ways for which it was probably not intended.

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  5. #5
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    Who has the shortest CS reminds of the megapixle battles between the camera companies. To a certain point it's relative but past that it's just bragging rights. Within the relative length that makes a difference it depends on riding style stability vs maneuverability. My 2012 Camber was was rock solid on straight down hill runs but was a pain on slight twisty trails. My 2014 Camber feels like a good middle ground to handle a diverse trail terrain. (Wheel base 1185mm chainstay length 450mm on an XL frame)

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  6. #6
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    It's all relative to your height, your bike size, and ST angle, and riding preference I suppose.

    I prefer 17" (432mm) CSs, or under, on most any bike. That is short in the 29er world, or used to be anyway. Anything over 17.5" is absurdly long feeling... to me. Not a big fan of a planted feeling bike.

    But that's just my opinion.

  7. #7
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    At 6'2", even the 452mm chainstays on my FS bike are quite adequate for keeping the bike flickable. Low speed manuals are harder to maintain than with shorter options, but for the speeds I enjoy going on that thing, I'm extremely glad for the added stability provided by them.

    Of new-school long-reach bikes, in the 120-150mm travel regime, 435-438mm chainstays are middle of the range, 430 or shorter are short, but on longer travel rigs there are still quite a few 450mm options out there (where stability at speed is great). There are some really short options (See: Canfield bikes) which makes for a really snappy setup, but remember that bike handling is still a cumulative geometry sheet exercise. Long, low, and slack bikes if light can still be really maneuverable (but will be stable), whereas slightly tall and short rear-end bikes can be extremely flickable even if the static weight wouldn't suggest as much.

  8. #8
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    so in general?

    short chainstays; better for tight twisty trails and people who like to throw the bike around.

    longer chainstays; for more stability and better tracking when things go FAST and for a more planted general feeling and a bike that likes to mow straight through obstacles.

    i just got a shorter chainstay bike and these seem to be my observations on the differences... agree/disagree???

    i like my new bike A LOT on the tight twisty trails we have but it is a little more of a handful some of the faster DH sections. It does not bother me much for my short eastcoast downhills but if i lived in oregon or colorado or someplace where the downs take more than a minute i am not so sure i'd love the shortie stays as much...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    If i lived in oregon or colorado or someplace where the downs take more than a minute i am not so sure i'd love the shortie stays as much...
    If you rode there I'd guess you'd adapt and develop skills so your same style would work with longer runs. But who knows.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the info guys.
    Pretty much confirmed what I thought, all relative

    the 440 cstay on my current bike has no way hindered me or made me think I needed something different.

    well, maybe a few climbs where the front tire kept popping off the ground. but that is much more likely the cause of a million other things rather than the cstay.

  11. #11
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    I didn't notice a huge difference when going from 442 to 429. The front end was a bit easier to lift. I'm sure if you're going to the mad short flickplayfulable bikes...you'll notice something more significant. I don't think anybody's CS lengths are realistically holding them back. Changes in riding technique will probably make more of a difference than some minor changes in frame geometry.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whacked View Post
    I have seen bikes geos list CSL as anywhere from 435 to 460 with 440 seeming to be fairly common. BTW: this is current year bike specs
    450+ is for L-XXL downhill and enduro race bikes.

    440 is the average, it's everywhere from XC to downhill.

    420 is short, but not silly short.

    I have seen a custom made 29er with 405mm chainstays and a cut out in the bottom bracket shell. That's probably as short as you can go with a 29er. Bet is was easy to wheelie.

  13. #13
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    Shorter CS generally puts a higher % of your weight on your rear wheel, if nothing else is changed, especially while seated. Seat tube angles are generally steepened to offset this, at least just enough to keep the front wheel on the ground on climbs.

    My general experience switching from a 26er with 16.5" (420mm) CS to a 29er with 17.5" (445mm) CS, is that I get far fewer rear rim strikes on the 29er, going at about the same speed on the same trails. That's with at least 30 psi in the 26's rear, and 20 in the 29er's rear. The shorter wheelbase on the 26, and how lightweight it is, are huge factors explaining why it's more playful. The short CS is a big factor in determining how easy it is to manual. They both have pros/cons with wheelies, with the 29er having a more forgiving balance sweet spot and the 26" requiring less explosiveness to get the front wheel up.

    I gravitate to the 29er for most riding. It's faster according to my cyclometer, but I still take the 26" out since it offers more thrills, adds a bit of challenge to the trail, and its quicker acceleration is always fun to experience. The fun of the 26 is offset by the higher risk of crashing on it, and injuries are the last thing I want. An actual injury was my #1 motivator to pull the trigger on a 29er.

    What's considered short is relative to what else is out there. A brand might not go too short, since it considers the compromise of tire/mud clearance, chainring clearance, chainstay stiffness (cross section of the area between the chainring and tire) to be not worth trying to make it 10-15mm shorter. A brand might opt for a very expensive or heavy part, like the Niner ROS9 chainstay yoke (pictured below), to achieve all their goals. Others might just sacrifice rear tire clearance, saying 2.2 is the generally the max. Pushing the chainline outboard, via Boost, Super Boost Plus (Pivot Switchblade) and offset dropouts (ex. Cannondale AI drivetrain, Syntace EVO6), addresses this problem directly. I'd welcome short CS on a 29er, if it means similar fun to my 26, with less of the crash risk, and would be willing to compromise how big of a chainring I could run, since I run short cranks anyways (165mm). I have a feeling that short CS alone isn't the key though... I'd need to make it lighter, especially at the wheels.
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  14. #14
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    short chainstays

    They are a bit of a ****-swinging contest right now.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  15. #15
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    my bike has 444's with the sliders full forward. I'm not sure what they are full back, but either way it puts them on the 'long' side of the spectrum. Especially on a medium frame.
    To me, there's a small but appreciable difference in ride-feel, but I honestly can't say I prefer one over the other; sliders full in vs full out. They kinda just end up wherever necessary based on my gearing choices that range from 32x22 to 32x17.

    I have ridden a friend's FORM cycles custom frame with very short stays- like 415 or something. It was definitely flickable, but it was also "racier" geo all around, and Ti with $$$$$ parts, weighing in at right at 20# with a 100mm suspension fork. There's no way to equate his bike to mine, slacker, taller, and at 3lbs heavier.

  16. #16
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    On my ride today, on my 445mm CS 29er, I noticed that the best place for my hips to be, fore/aft wise, was behind the saddle on corners, which slows down my ability to react, since most of my techniques require me to start from a more centered position.

    Now that I think back to other bikes I demo'd, like the Spider 275c, that was so balanced and centered, that it did everything I asked with zero complaint from a centered rider position. Actually, the only thing I did complain about was the tire choice not being ideal for the dry dusty terrain, since everything else felt so right/spot-on.

    I have a feeling that my 29er was designed for timid riders that resort to being the brakes and behind the saddle, trying to hold on, whenever something of challenge comes up. It certainly works well from that position, and I do complain about its head tube stiffness... guess that confirms it's not for me. Anyone want an Ibis Ripley frame (med, blue) for $1300 shipped?

  17. #17
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    The type of bike you need will really depend on the trails you ride. I had a N9 and found that it was a real chore to climb with, the front end pop'd up on every power stroke. I could see a real benefit to a lite front end if you have techy climbs where getting the front end up often is common, but for the type of trails I ride 80% of the time, this is not a benefit.

    I am sure the CS length on my Tallboy is laughed at by flat brimmers the world round, but it is a very very popular bike for a reason, along with the Tallboy LT. As others have said short CS doesn't make the bike, its just part of the equation. With how much I enjoy riding my TB, I know I made the right choice letting someone else enjoy the N9.

  18. #18
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    My old Stumpy Comp use to have a 450mm and it felt like riding a school bus in the tight stuff. My Trigger FS 27.5 at 438mm is much better now. I've been riding a KTM 27.5 Aera Pro this past few week. Waiting of few last bits to show up by the mail to fix the ergo but I really enjoy the 425mm short wheelbase (1104mm) Side to side the KTM is about 3" shorter than my Triger LOL

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    They are a bit of a ****-swinging contest right now.
    Exactly, as is the new school geometry based on running the shortest stem poss.

    It's cool and trendy so every mfg is designing their full travel 29ers in this manner instead of just a nice handling(up as well as down)trail bike. Cause everyone needs a bike designed for groomed bike park trails

  20. #20
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    Wow is this discussion still going on? I've not been in the 29er forum for years :-)

    With E-stays or whatever and a regular bb it is perfectly possible to run a 2.4 tyre 29er with stays just under 400mm and still have some mud room (I did this in 2011 with a home made frame). You just need to get the seat tube out of the way (bent / offset / split etc)

    I've been running non E-stay home made frame number 2 since 2012 at about 415mm. The stay length on its own is pretty meaningless - it all relates to your height, head angle, length of front triangle, terrain, riding style etc etc etc.

    I made my bikes because I didn't like the typical production 29er designs at the time (steep head angle, long back end). There is much more off the peg choice now.

  21. #21
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    BTW - I think the "short chainstay" discussion borders on comical, like there were never any 26er hardtails (with wheel bases to match).

    -F
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    BTW - I think the "short chainstay" discussion borders on comical, like there were never any 26er hardtails (with wheel bases to match).

    -F
    Well, I can understand some of it, especially on the 29er side, because for so many years designers and bike companies were just lazy. Instead of working it to have normal-sized chainstays and a front derailleur (like how they did it with the specialized enduro), they simply extended the chainstays to fit the front derailleur, so not only did you get wheels that were more stable, the bike was more more stable due this AND the super-long chainstays. This was pretty dumb. Finally, the designers started getting it right, but some came along and went sub-17". I'm all for that as well, but they gotta stop trying to market it as if half an inch is the end of the freaking world and you won't be able to survive unless you go from 17 to 16.5. We need more normal-sized 29ers, that is for sure (16.75-17.25 IMO), so maybe this all helps, but it's also a little overblown as far as the difference in some cases.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tickle View Post
    Exactly, as is the new school geometry based on running the shortest stem poss.

    It's cool and trendy so every mfg is designing their full travel 29ers in this manner instead of just a nice handling(up as well as down)trail bike. Cause everyone needs a bike designed for groomed bike park trails
    Well said.

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  24. #24
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    440 used to be short until not long ago. Now everyone is racing for shorter and shorter, so the definition of short changed.

    Realistically for me 17" is fine, everything below that is not that critical.

    Short chanistays by themselves are not a good idea unless you modify the rest of the geometry of the bike with it. A good example is the first tallboys. They just made the rear shorter without making the front longer, the result was sketchy handling, especially on high speeds.

    Shorter stays fit better the longer the travel in the rear. For short travel longer stays have advantages. The most extreme example is a hardtail: The shorter it is, the more the rear kicks. Once you add a lot of travel, things change.

  25. #25
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    Slope style competitors, 4x, dual slalom, and XCE racers, pump track riders, and others that seem to prefer to manhandle their bikes and guide the bike deftly over trail contours seem to lean towards short stays

    High speed rock/boulder garden smashers, long distance endurance racers, those that favor raw eroded natural terrain, and others that seem to let their bike carry their speed through sections well and let them more freely focus on putting the power down through their pedals seem to lean towards longer stays

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrozCountry View Post
    440 used to be short until not long ago. Now everyone is racing for shorter and shorter, so the definition of short changed.

    Realistically for me 17" is fine, everything below that is not that critical.

    Short chanistays by themselves are not a good idea unless you modify the rest of the geometry of the bike with it. A good example is the first tallboys. They just made the rear shorter without making the front longer, the result was sketchy handling, especially on high speeds.

    Shorter stays fit better the longer the travel in the rear. For short travel longer stays have advantages. The most extreme example is a hardtail: The shorter it is, the more the rear kicks. Once you add a lot of travel, things change.
    17.3 was never short. It is "normal". Look up the wheelbase on most XC bikes from 2000-2010, except for 29ers, it was never very far from that, in many cases less than. 29ers just went bat-****-crazy because they took the path of least resistance and simply lengthened the stays to fit the front derailleur, which of course led to a lot of people being turned away by the truck-like handling that it caused.

    Otherwise, I agree
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    17.3 was never short. It is "normal". Look up the wheelbase on most XC bikes from 2000-2010, except for 29ers, it was never very far from that, in many cases less than.
    This is a 29er forum, so obviously we are talking about measurements for those bikes.
    On a 26 I rather have longer chainstay than a 29er. Because they kick more, the stay length has more affect.

  28. #28
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    I like my super short chain stay on my 29er. The long front end and slack head angle make it feel pretty stinking good. I support short chain stays after owning both long and short in 29er flavor. Im a slash turns and throw the bike around aggressively type of rider so with the short stays and long front end this works out for me to let things get rowdy.

  29. #29
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    "Handling" is a term thrown around more than bike park huck bikes. I just bought a new frame with 17.4" stays. My other two are closer to 17.1". Does it matter? Not really, because handling is more about just stay length. It's a lot of things.

    Short wheelbases due to a combo of short-ish stays and upright HT angles and lesser fork offsets, shorter stems and narrow bars will equal a very "twitchy" yet adeptly handling bike (depending on you) for twisty trails. But yet we don't see that in the industry now. We might in the future when trends change though. Heck we might see the opposite because of some new adaptive trail techno-whatever.

    As "XC" has become more "extreme", slack geometries people used to scoff at as slow handling are now common. Short stems + trucker-wide handlebars are typical even though longer stems and narrow bars essentially do similar things.

    Just typical industry change brought on by trails, tech, and fashion of the time. What really makes a bike handle great is the rider knowing what he or she is doing. As long as you like what you have, you probably are going to be ok.
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  30. #30
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    Recently bike shopping again I noticed that a lot of the 27.5 bikes had as long or longer chainstays than the 29er bikes I was looking at. Hmm... I wondered... perhaps there is a practical limit?

    You could, in all reality, make stays really short on 26 and 27.5 bikes, but perhaps they get to the point where you can't climb with them or they are super twitchy. Not sure which or if both, but on a big wheeled bike it definitely makes sense.

    Personally I have a love/hate relationship with them. I like the stability of a longer wheelbase but I like to be able to pick the front tire up easily. Honestly the way some 29ers handle is weird to me... it's not a smooth progression, it's more of a lag then whip.
    Life is too short to ride a bike you don't love.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmaHaq View Post
    "Handling" is a term thrown around more than bike park huck bikes. I just bought a new frame with 17.4" stays. My other two are closer to 17.1". Does it matter? Not really, because handling is more about just stay length. It's a lot of things.

    Short wheelbases due to a combo of short-ish stays and upright HT angles and lesser fork offsets, shorter stems and narrow bars will equal a very "twitchy" yet adeptly handling bike (depending on you) for twisty trails. But yet we don't see that in the industry now. We might in the future when trends change though. Heck we might see the opposite because of some new adaptive trail techno-whatever.

    As "XC" has become more "extreme", slack geometries people used to scoff at as slow handling are now common. Short stems + trucker-wide handlebars are typical even though longer stems and narrow bars essentially do similar things.

    Just typical industry change brought on by trails, tech, and fashion of the time. What really makes a bike handle great is the rider knowing what he or she is doing. As long as you like what you have, you probably are going to be ok.
    I remember when people complained that 29r's steered too slow. Bike manufacturers fixed that. Now XC bikes are twitchy all of a sudden with bikes being focused more on going downhill. In a few years time...bikes will go back to being "twitchy" because people now want quicker handling bikes.

  32. #32
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    We have a few tight & twisty trails and a lot of faster trails that go mostly down. Guess which are more popular?
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    We have a few tight & twisty trails and a lot of faster trails that go mostly down. Guess which are more popular?
    Fatbikes. Cuz people r dumb.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    so in general?

    short chainstays; better for tight twisty trails and people who like to throw the bike around.

    longer chainstays; for more stability and better tracking when things go FAST and for a more planted general feeling and a bike that likes to mow straight through obstacles.

    i just got a shorter chainstay bike and these seem to be my observations on the differences... agree/disagree???

    i like my new bike A LOT on the tight twisty trails we have but it is a little more of a handful some of the faster DH sections. It does not bother me much for my short eastcoast downhills but if i lived in oregon or colorado or someplace where the downs take more than a minute i am not so sure i'd love the shortie stays as much...

    More or less agreed on your initial observations.

    But...

    I live in Colorado and I am a short-stay devotee. I like them even more where the downhills last a long time: I like to play and pop and hop with a sporty bike regardless of length of descent. But the longer the better!

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    I remember when people complained that 29r's steered too slow. Bike manufacturers fixed that. Now XC bikes are twitchy all of a sudden with bikes being focused more on going downhill. In a few years time...bikes will go back to being "twitchy" because people now want quicker handling bikes.
    100% agree man... it's ebb and flow of bicycle marketing. Whatever today is, won't be good enough for tomorrow.
    - The only thing that keeps me on a bike is happiness.

  36. #36
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    https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell/1623677/
    Shortest 26 chainstays 13.6!

    So in theory the same approach could be done for 29s. So, around 15 is doable with s9?!

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