Struggling switching to a 29".....- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Struggling switching to a 29".....

    Maybe some of you can chime in on this topic to help me decide.

    I'm in the market for an new all-in-one trail bike. Enjoy climbing techy stuff and moderate drops/jumps. No racing. Weekend warrior. Fairly proficent rider.

    I've been riding a 27.5" and never entertained a 29". Before I drop some serious cash on a new bike, I thought I'd look into the 29" phenomenon.

    Rode a new Pivot Switchblade and wasn't impressed. While it had it's moments, it felt "sluggish" going up hill. That's the best way to describe it. Honestly, from what everyone has been saying about the 29ers, I thoght I was going to have an "a-ha" moment, but I didn't. Don't get me wrong, the bike performed good, but it wasn't a game changer.

    Could be because I'm bias to the 27.5?

    I'm curious for those who made the switch, did you instantly know, the 29" was the bike for you or did it grow on you?

    I recently rode a new 27.5 and fell in love with it. It "clicked" with me. Maybe 27.5 is my niche and I'm trying to make something that it's not?

    I'm getting close to making a purchase on that 27.5 bike that clicked with me, but am unsure if I should give the 29" another chance or spend more time on it?

  2. #2
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    I have both a 27.5 and a 29er and like them both but really feel that the 27.5 is more suited for my style and for the type of terrain I prefer.

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  3. #3
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    Since demos and test rides don't give me enough of a feel for bikes, I bought a used 29'er to ride for a few weeks to see if I liked the wheel size. I rode it for almost a year while still riding my 26'er. I finally decided I liked the 29 enough to get rid of the 26. Now I've got four 29ers.

  4. #4
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    Did you document the performance or did it just ďfeelĒ different?
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  5. #5
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    It's going to be different for everyone.
    I refused to even ride a 29er, let alone buy one, when I moved from 26 to 27.5 back in 2015 (more XC than trail), I found it pretty hard to transition. Of course it's not just the wheels it's the whole bike. I could easily switch back to any of my 26er bikes, but it took me ages to get used to the 27.5, like over a year.
    But then last year, i bought a 29er, the first time riding it after it turned up in a box was the first time I had ridden a 29er, and it took like 3 corners to be like, yup, this is great.
    It is going to be the bike as a whole, the terrain you ride and how you ride.
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  6. #6
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    If 27.5" wheels feel best for you then stick with that. There is nothing wrong with that wheel size that makes it unridable in any way!

    For me I rented a 29" bike during a trip to Vegas from a guide company and thought it rode much easier and decided during those 2 days that my next bike was going to be one. Not everyone feels this way, I lent my bike to the girl I ride with and she much prefers her 27.5".

  7. #7
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    First, Iíd say donít judge all 29ers on one ride on a Switchblade. I thought it was sluggish when I rode it too, partly because lots of manufacturers insist on putting minions on all their bikes even if itís way too much tire for a lot of riding. I would recommend taking your time and demoing a lot of bikes. You donít mention what your 27.5 bike is that you like, or how much travel or what sort of use youíre looking for. I can tell you that 29ers are going to be a little different feel. Itís a deal breaker for some and a game changer for others. I rode a custom built 29er way back before they were even close to a market force, never mind having killed off 26ers, and fell completely in love with 29ers, but then Iím 6í4Ē, so maybe at that point it really was a size thing. Who knows. Iíd say try it, and try one of the bikes that sits in a middle ground that a lot of people seem to like, maybe one of the new Trance 29s.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by daugela View Post
    Maybe some of you can chime in on this topic to help me decide.

    I'm in the market for an new all-in-one trail bike. Enjoy climbing techy stuff and moderate drops/jumps. No racing. Weekend warrior. Fairly proficent rider.

    I've been riding a 27.5" and never entertained a 29". Before I drop some serious cash on a new bike, I thought I'd look into the 29" phenomenon.

    Rode a new Pivot Switchblade and wasn't impressed. While it had it's moments, it felt "sluggish" going up hill. That's the best way to describe it. Honestly, from what everyone has been saying about the 29ers, I thoght I was going to have an "a-ha" moment, but I didn't. Don't get me wrong, the bike performed good, but it wasn't a game changer.

    Could be because I'm bias to the 27.5?

    I'm curious for those who made the switch, did you instantly know, the 29" was the bike for you or did it grow on you?

    I recently rode a new 27.5 and fell in love with it. It "clicked" with me. Maybe 27.5 is my niche and I'm trying to make something that it's not?

    I'm getting close to making a purchase on that 27.5 bike that clicked with me, but am unsure if I should give the 29" another chance or spend more time on it?
    this is totally me in the summer of 2018. from my experience, i can tell you that you will adjust and probably will not go back to 27.5. For me, it took more than a few demo rides. i dont own any 27.5 bikes anymore.

  9. #9
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    I agree to try more bikes before you lay down a verdict on a whole wheel size. the first 29ers I rode not long after they came out were terrible, IMO. I hated them. I didn't revisit larger wheels until about 2015, and my first bigger-wheeled bike was a fatbike. I bought my first actual 29er about a year ago. I'm a much shorter guy, though, and smaller wheels have always felt good to me. I still like 27.5 bikes, for that matter. They do ride a little differently, so if that's what you're loving right now, then maybe that's what you should buy.

  10. #10
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    I rode 26" until I tried a 29 Epic FSR back in 2015. I was like, holly crap. Rocky rooty rough trail riding, the 29 will always win IMO.
    Do the math.

  11. #11
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    I just recently bought my first 29er after disliking them from the beginning.

    I immediately tossed a 44 offset fork on it to replace the 51. Problems solved, it rides great and I enjoy it quite a bit.

    I've heard reports all across the board about offset, but I've tried them all and I strongly believe it makes a huge difference.

  12. #12
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    Demos don't prove anything other than you like your own setup. I have ridden demos that felt like garbage, then still bought the bike and put my setup on it and loved it. Have also gone the other way as well.

    My personal experience is like others here, was dead set against 29, tried it and thought it was OK. Then the current generation came around and don't like 275 any longer. I have tried going back to 275 several times and the bikes never make it to the fifth ride before I sell them.

    You may just like 275 though and there is nothing wrong with it. You did not say what type of riding you like, but just buy what gets you excited to get out on the bike.

  13. #13
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    Correct me if im wrong but isn't the switchblade as well as other pivot bikes available in both 27.5 and 29" wheel platforms?

  14. #14
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    Pivot runs a lot of demos in Phoenix. Next time ride the other 29s they offer for comparison.
    Ibis, Evil, Scott and many others have quicker handling bikes.


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by daugela View Post
    Maybe some of you can chime in on this topic to help me decide.

    I'm in the market for an new all-in-one trail bike. Enjoy climbing techy stuff and moderate drops/jumps. No racing. Weekend warrior. Fairly proficent rider. ..
    I am solidly in 29er camp. I ride XC, XC Singlespeed and longer travel trial bike. All 29. I like the rollover I get from 29ers. They roll over steps and ledges better and every rock feature is smaller due to the wheels. I have ridden 29x2.1 all the way to 29x3.0 My XC bikes have 29x2.3/2.2 and AM bike 29x2.6. Same for my bikepacking HT at 29x2.6. I had a Santa Cruz 5010 and it was nice, but felt it lacked rollover and would get caught on stuff my XC HT would not. I started riding on 26 wheels years ago and my last ride on a 26er was 3 years ago. I just like 29 better. I am 5'7".
    Joe
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  16. #16
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    My experience mirrors what salespunk said.

    To me they do "feel" more laborious to climb. Especially spinning them up to charge techy sections. Fact is there's a learning curve and they will simply feel and ride differently on some stuff regardless. I'm still learning climbing technique on a 29'r 5 seasons on but rode 26" for many many years. What they do do good is undeniable and for me that makes riding that much more fun. Beyond the rollover, speed, traction, stability, etc. is how much less beat up and fatigued I get on huge rides which I live for. I can ride them harder into the deeper miles which is a what really sells me on them. It's not a subtle thing either, still very noticeable 5 years riding them.

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  17. #17
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    It's a mixed bag for me as well. It's all subjective to me and I can't find any rhyme or reason why I like a certain bike and dislike another. Like I've demoed the 29 version of my bike (Giant Trance) and didn't like it, but loved the 29 version over 27.5 of another brand.

    My only conclusion is to treat every bike as if it has its own unique personality versus pigeonholing bikes as 27.5 vs 29

  18. #18
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    Lots of factors can impact how a bike feels beyond wheel size when comparing bikes. There's a chance the geo on the Pivot is totally different from what you like and even if it came with 27.5 wheels you still wouldn't like it.

    Not saying that's the case but don't overlook other factors beyond wheel dia.
    12 Santa Cruz Heckler
    18 Kona Process 153 AL/DL (27.5)...:thumbsup:

  19. #19
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    I have switched back and forth between 27.5 and 29 several times. My current bike is a 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.9. One really important factor for me regarding 29ers is to not ride too big of a bike. Bikes are getting longer and slacker every year, and it seems like everyone is telling you to size up, or wanting longer reach. In my experience, this makes 29ers feel even bigger, more sluggish, and less responsive. Especially when coming from 27.5. At 5-10 I am in between medium and large on most bikes, but am always more comfortable on medium 29ers.

    Having said all that, I have a 29er because I do several enduro races and I believe it is a bit faster for me. If I wasn't racing, I am almost certain I would be on a 27.5 Trek Remedy. That has been my favorite bike to date.

  20. #20
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    About 4 or 5 years ago I was looking for a replacement for my 26". I demo'd a few 29ers and they just didn't click for me - they weren't awful, but they didn't inspire me to drop the $$. Then I demo'd a 27.5 that I really liked and got it. At the time, I don't think the 29er manufacturers had dialed the design in. Then 2 years ago, I decided to try some 29ers and every one I tried was great, so I ended up getting a 29er. But, bikes are pretty nice these days in both wheel sizes.

    I ended up with a Giant Trance to replace my Yeti SB5 and can now climb faster (on a bike that is 2 pounds heavier on 2500+ ft climbs), make some tight climbing switchbacks more easily and clean some downhills in Moab that I couldn't on the SB5. But, if you're not feeling the love, go with what you like most.

    You're not obligated to prefer 29ers.

    Clint Gibbs did a comparison that you might find interesting:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCLinGUM81g

  21. #21
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    29 takes time to grow. once you get used to it and assuming the geo is good for you, its great. i will agree in general 27.5 is easier to play with but 29 is good too
    first you get good, than you get fast

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturge View Post
    Lots of factors can impact how a bike feels beyond wheel size when comparing bikes. ... don't overlook other factors beyond wheel dia.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeventures View Post
    ...treat every bike as if it has its own unique personality versus pigeonholing bikes as 27.5 vs 29
    What these guys said. Too many variables besides just wheel size upon which to base your decision. What works for me probably doesn't work for you or the next guy.

  23. #23
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    I went from a 26" XC race bike to a 29r and loved it. Wondered why these wheels were not around much sooner. Both bike were hard tails. I have since bought a full suspension 29r and it is way nicer than the hardtails, not just because of the rear end, but because the geo on it is slacker than the hard tails I had. I downhill much faster now then I did on the previous rides. These are all XC rigs. The 29rs I went from a Cannondale Carbon FSI to a Scalpel Carbon and I feel my riding has improved a lot. I don't miss 26" wheels at all, but I can't comment on 27.5 since I was never in the market for one.
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  24. #24
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    Buy what you like.

    It seems 29ers feel more sluggish, but the stopwatch says otherwise. That said I thought it was silly when a 5'1" woman decided not to buy my wife's high end 27.5" bike. She thought it was a 29er and that's all that would work for a 100# female on a trail ride, according to her.

    As for me, a demo pretty much means nothing like Salespunk said. It takes 15+ rides to truly get a bike dialed in and feeling normal to me.

  25. #25
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    To the OP:

    You are not alone, many people have the same complaints about riding a 29Ē mountain bike, this guy included.

    Iím 6í/195#, so not a little guy, and my bike of choice for all mountain riding is a 27.5

    I have ridden 29Ē since before it was a thing, I have a 29Ē mountain bike also, but itís a short travel bike that I use for less technical riding, long days in the saddle.

    For technical riding, where agility counts, I ride a smaller wheel because itís more agile.

    Buy what feels best, not what other people like best.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by daugela View Post
    Maybe some of you can chime in on this topic to help me decide.

    I'm in the market for an new all-in-one trail bike. Enjoy climbing techy stuff and moderate drops/jumps. No racing. Weekend warrior. Fairly proficent rider.

    I've been riding a 27.5" and never entertained a 29". Before I drop some serious cash on a new bike, I thought I'd look into the 29" phenomenon.

    Rode a new Pivot Switchblade and wasn't impressed. While it had it's moments, it felt "sluggish" going up hill. That's the best way to describe it. Honestly, from what everyone has been saying about the 29ers, I thoght I was going to have an "a-ha" moment, but I didn't. Don't get me wrong, the bike performed good, but it wasn't a game changer.

    Could be because I'm bias to the 27.5?

    I'm curious for those who made the switch, did you instantly know, the 29" was the bike for you or did it grow on you?

    I recently rode a new 27.5 and fell in love with it. It "clicked" with me. Maybe 27.5 is my niche and I'm trying to make something that it's not?

    I'm getting close to making a purchase on that 27.5 bike that clicked with me, but am unsure if I should give the 29" another chance or spend more time on it?
    ďThereís a reason they make chocolate, and vanilla tooĒ
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  27. #27
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    Rest assured knowing you can't really go wrong either way. Ride what feels right.

    I love the rollover and general speed of the 29er wheels and tolerate the occasional inconvenience of a slightly less nimble bike. And I say this riding an ancient 29er by today's standards.

    -DS
    2011 Trek Rumblefish II

  28. #28
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    I appreciate everyone's input. Very supportive for an undecided MTB'er.

    There were a lot of wise comments that I can't ignore.

    I think I need to simply follow what feels right and not look back. Need to quit being so analytical!!!

  29. #29
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    I've demo'd a couple dozen bikes in the last 15mo before deciding on my 29er Trek Slash. The downhill performance was too good.

    I've since tried more 27s and might switch due to fitting my short height a little better. But, tbh, they're definitely slower on the really steep trails I ride.

    With that being said, I've ridden some pig slow 27s and really fast 29s, and vice versa. Seat tube and head tube angles make a huge difference in how a bike climbs and descends. Far more than tire size, imo.

    Here's the best tip I can offer. Try more bikes. Buy the one you fall in love with and stop having anxiety about a bunch of numbers listed on a spreadsheet. According to the internet, every bike has the wrong diameters, lengths, and angles.

  30. #30
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    Are you racing for money? If yes, 29er. They are faster in all disciplines.

    If no, it doesn't matter. Ride what you like.

    If you're slow, it REALLY doesn't matter.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by iliveonnitro View Post
    Here's the best tip I can offer. Try more bikes. Buy the one you fall in love with and stop having anxiety about a bunch of numbers listed on a spreadsheet. According to the internet, every bike has the wrong diameters, lengths, and angles.
    Yep
    This is the most important thing to remember....you are buying the bike for you, for the trails you ride the way you ride them...nothing else really matter

  32. #32
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    I went 26 too 29er and while going from an old 26 with almost no front suspension to a 29er FS, i have never been so fast on a bike as I have now. Not a fair comparison, but even with FS on a 26 or 27.5, i would never go backwards. The amount of speed you can carry on a 29er over rough terrain is simply amazing

  33. #33
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    Back in Ď08-09 ish, was in the market to buy a new hardtail, and demoed both 26
    and 29. Even just in the parking lot, with some stairs, curbs, and a short dirt section to play around on, didnít like the 29 at all.
    No 29 riding til 2017, demoed 2 sb 4.5ís
    and a Santa Cruz 29. Forget which model. Both demoed on trails I regularly ride. I liked them ok, but not enough
    to replace my Anthem 27.5. In
    2018, rode a loaner Anthem 29 for over a month while waiting on my 27.5 warranty rebuild.
    I was instantly comfortable on the Anthem 29, and really was dreading having to give it back. I really enjoyed the rollover ability, and just didnít feel any negatives.
    This past spring riding a few days in Co and
    Ut on my Anthem, I never wished for more suspension. Never wished for more gearing than my 1x11.
    Never thought about wider bars, slacker
    angles etc.
    I only thought about it would be nice to have 29.

  34. #34
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    For me it was the difference between a Trot and a Gait......

  35. #35
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    Well, I gave it a go and it just didn't 'click' with me. Maybe it will in the future. Settled on a Pivot Mach 5.5. Just what I needed. Downgrading from my Firebird. Climbs like a dream compared to the Firebird. Of course, that's not what the FB was designed to do. Regardless, thanks for everyone's input.

  36. #36
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    I find 29ers to be too sluggish for enduro/DH. Some like it, but with DH-quality tires it's just too much rotating mass to carve a tighter turn at high speed. Low speed characteristics are fine and some courses can still favor their high speed benefits, but for tight stuff and jumps, I far prefer 27.5. With the 29er I find I have to pedal more to get back up to speed and in medium radius turns at high speed it wants to skip towards the outside of the turn, eventually I either have to slow down or recover from the skid, then pedal a lot more back out of the hole.
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  37. #37
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    I expect the appreciation of the 29 comes a bit from an aging body.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by natas1321 View Post
    I have both a 27.5 and a 29er and like them both but really feel that the 27.5 is more suited for my style and for the type of terrain I prefer.

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    Same here, I have 2 HT's one 27.5 and a 29er. I too prefer the ride and feel of the 27.5 yet, I do ride them both.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    ...and in medium radius turns at high speed it wants to skip towards the outside of the turn, eventually I either have to slow down or recover from the skid, then pedal a lot more back out of the hole.
    I was riding close behind a friend last year,
    and noticed what you described. I noticed it because I could hear the front tire skidding.
    It was as if he was taking the turn in short straight segments instead of a (more or less) constant arc, and it definitely slowed him down. But he is on an older bike, and the few newer 29s Iíve ridden havenít done that.
    And Iím sure I would have noticed it.
    On the other hand, no doubt you are talking about bigger bikes than I have ridden.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by downcountry View Post
    I was riding close behind a friend last year,
    and noticed what you described. I noticed it because I could hear the front tire skidding.
    It was as if he was taking the turn in short straight segments instead of a (more or less) constant arc, and it definitely slowed him down. But he is on an older bike, and the few newer 29s Iíve ridden havenít done that.
    And Iím sure I would have noticed it.
    On the other hand, no doubt you are talking about bigger bikes than I have ridden.
    It's not geometry, it's the weight of the wheels and their size (29"). I've experienced this on my fat-bike too, hauling and attempting to make a turn, the bike just wants to keep going straight. It's a bit less on a 29er with DH-casing tires, but my point was with the kind of tires you'd want a bike park, a long travel 29er moving at speed can do this. My 29er XC race bike doesn't do this. I also didn't have a big problem with lighter duty tires on my 29er enduro bike, but it definitely caused me to lose seconds in the DH/enduro races I did and I didn't like not being able to keep up in the turns and then having to pedal harder to get to the correct speed for trail features like jumps. So my point is that there can be reasons why one may "struggle" with a 29er in longer travel situations. While I was capable of riding the long-travel 29er and having fun, hitting big jumps, etc., I think 29ers are best around the 120-ish travel segment, where their roll-over is leveraged with a decent amount of travel, while staying pretty efficient.
    "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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  41. #41
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    This is exactly my experience, though I'm not a racer; I just pretend

    29ers for fast flow, epics, times when a big wheel is an advantage.
    27.5 for chunk and junk, drops, tight tech, places where a smaller wheel is an advantage

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I find 29ers to be too sluggish for enduro/DH. Some like it, but with DH-quality tires it's just too much rotating mass to carve a tighter turn at high speed. Low speed characteristics are fine and some courses can still favor their high speed benefits, but for tight stuff and jumps, I far prefer 27.5. With the 29er I find I have to pedal more to get back up to speed and in medium radius turns at high speed it wants to skip towards the outside of the turn, eventually I either have to slow down or recover from the skid, then pedal a lot more back out of the hole.
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  42. #42
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    Keep trying different 29ers is my suggestion.

    My first real experience with them was on a rental Specialized Stumpjumper FSR in about 2012, I believe. National Trail in Phoenix, which most would consider at least moderately gnarly. The geometry of 29ers hadnít been dialed in to the degree that it is today, but what struck me was how I could climb tech lines with unbelievable ease. It was not as precise on the downs, but the added rollover bailed me out when my line drifted over to less-than-ideal line choices.

    To echo what someone mentioned earlier, so many of them come with Minions now ó and yes those are amazing tires, but overall way overkill for a lot of trail conditions, especially if youíre doing long rides with big climbs. They are sluggish and inefficient.

    What is overlooked often is that 29Ē wheels have significantly more traction regardless of tire choice, simply due to a bigger contact patch. You can get away with less aggressive rubber to regain some snappiness.

  43. #43
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    So 29er fan boys will tell you to try bikes till you find one that works for you, or just get one and over time youíll get used to the ride.

    Well sure, that could be said for anything, bigger wheels, longer frames, lower bottom brackets, etc ...

    There is certainly a learning curve in all things, for example I recently picked up a Trust Shout, and it requires a completely different riding style, two weeks in and Iím still tentative with it at speed.

    So I prefer smaller wheels in longer travel bikes because long travel bikes are already spread out enough and tend to weigh more and have more inspiring weight. Adding big wheels to this scenario will always make the same bike more unwieldy. Itís simple physics.

    This is why BMXers ride 20Ē and dirt jumpers ride 26Ē.

    So you gotta decide what draws you to one wheel size of s as bother and see which riding style you use most.

    I have two bikes, short travel 29er and long travel 27.5, both bikes are very similar geo, but ride very different. The 29er is set up a but firmer to be more efficient for longer rides, the 27.5 is set up to be plush and stable for riding tech and junk.

    Iíd ride the 27.5 all the time if I had to pick one.
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  44. #44
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    I think Nurse Ben nailed it. Each wheel size has itís sweet spot for a personís particular riding style. My riding time is generally split between Colorado and NVan/ Squamish/ Whistler.

    Since I moved to CO, I find my 27.5 ĎEnduroí sled pretty meh. I visit home, and Iím back in love.

    Since I started test riding 29íers, and landed on a Rascal, it has been a game changer for my CO riding experience. While I think the RR hits the sweet spot for CO (really, really love that bike!), I anticipate it will be collecting dust on my next semi annual trip north.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by OzarkFathom View Post
    I expect the appreciation of the 29 comes a bit from an aging body.
    yeah Im in my 50s , gone back to 29 , had a few some time ago when they first emerged , then went to 27.5 when they came out . been riding 27.5 for the last 6 years approx

    Finding the new slacker 29ers suit me now , apart from cornering , overall more things require less effort , particularly where I ride which is very rooty,

    I do find you have to make a conscious effort to slightly change your riding style though

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