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  1. #1
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    29er HT vs XC FS for Phoenix area XC

    I've had 4 different people tell me (and have read numerous others in posts) that 29 inch wheels roll over the rocky stuff as well 26 inch wheels on a full suspension. I'd like to hear from riders that do most of there riding around here. I'm REALLY close to pulling the trigger on a Niner Air 9.

    BTW in case you think it matters I'm 5'6" 150 lb. Definitely XC oriented but I still end up on some of the rocky trails around here.

  2. #2
    oooh, shiny...
    Reputation: Ry-daddy's Avatar
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    DO IT!

    When I moved out here 2 years ago, I purchased a 26FS. In January I bought a HT 29er and now the 26er hardly ever leaves my house. To take it one step farther, I went to a full rigid 29er a few weeks ago and LOVE it! It's a little bumpy on stuff like National but perfect for Hawes and DC!

  3. #3
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    I have both a 29er HT and a 26 inch FS. The 29er is getting about 2/3s of my time. Really the biggest factor is the 29er is SS and the 26 inch has gears so I end up riding the 26 inch when my legs are spent or there is epic climbing on the docket or I am hungover.

    I like having both but if had to have only 1 bike here I'd have a 1x9 HT 29er.

  4. #4
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    I have a SS 29er that is great on trails like DC, but on the nastier stuff I have a 26er FS. I can keep up with the FS crowd on DC with my 29er singlespeed, but with a bad knee the pain sucks when it flares up. Test ride several bikes and find out what works best for you.

  5. #5
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    Mine will be geared with a 100mm Fox RL100 fork. The old bike will likely go when son gets his appartment in a few months so 'going back' might not be an option

  6. #6
    livin' the dream......
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    Do it. No problems to report here after getting a 29er last September. I ride a pretty good cross section of the trails around Phoenix, although I have NOT done National on my 29er HT.

  7. #7
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    I don't ride lower national anymore unless I have too anyway

    I like it from Mormon up though. How's the 29er compare to the full suspension for that?

  8. #8
    oooh, shiny...
    Reputation: Ry-daddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideandshoot
    ...How's the 29er compare to the full suspension for that?
    I've come down National a few times on the HT 29er. It's not as bad (bumpy) as you would think. As far as going up Mormon/National, can you say "climbs like a goat?"

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  9. #9
    No Clue Crew
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    Meh. I'd think a 26er FS would be more usable overall. I've ridden 29ers off and on for years. I just don't see what the big deal is. I mean, I still own an SS 29er, but my FS bike gets ridden much more often.

    Don't think the 29er hardtail is going to be some magic elixir. It's different. It does some things well and others not so well. If I could have only one bike in this environment, it would not be a HT 29er.

  10. #10
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    It depends on what 26ers you are considering.

    If you're looking at 6" or more travel all-mountain/light freeride type 26ers, they will be better than a 29er hardtail by a longshot for serious gnar terrain.

    If you are looking at 4" XC type 26ers, then the 29er HT would be better IMO, lighter (cause it's a hardtail), keeps speed up easier, and yeah, a bit bone-jarring, but faster than you'd be on the 4" XC type 26er.
    "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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  11. #11
    Two wheels are better
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    I think it has to do with what type of rider you are and what your expectations are on a bike. Are you a "light" "active" rider who floats over terrain and loves the constant challenge of picking the perfect line. Or are you a mellow rider who tends to like to plow throw the chunk and spend more time looking at scenery?

    I road nothing but a HT 29er for the first year and did almost everything on SOMO with it (no Geronimo or Holbert obviously). Knowing nothing else, I loved the bike and had a blast. National kicked my a$$, but I felt like I had accomplished more by handling it on a hardtail. Then I started riding FS and really fell in love with the added cushion. Being able to stay seated for climbing, getting thrown around less in the rock gardens, being able to have more confidence on bigger drops, and being much less sore at the end of a ride all added to my enjoyment of the sport. After that I sold the 29er because I decided the added efficiency and speed paled in comparison to the increased fun I had on the FS.

    Anyway the point is, find out what you think is "fun" and get the bike that fits that style. I truly believe that there is no such thing as a perfect bike for a type of trail, it is the perfect bike for your style of riding.
    "There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless—boys and women, and I am neither one"

  12. #12
    Dave
    Reputation: liteandfast's Avatar
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    Dont get a bike at all, the trails around here are crap.
    I need to ride more and work less.

  13. #13
    EXORCIZE
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideandshoot
    I've had 4 different people tell me (and have read numerous others in posts) that 29 inch wheels roll over the rocky stuff as well 26 inch wheels on a full suspension. I'd like to hear from riders that do most of there riding around here. I'm REALLY close to pulling the trigger on a Niner Air 9.

    BTW in case you think it matters I'm 5'6" 150 lb. Definitely XC oriented but I still end up on some of the rocky trails around here.
    I've owned and ridden a number of 29er HTs in the last 4 years, and haven't owned a 26" bike during that time, but 29" wheels are NOT going to roll over rocky stuff as well as the typical XC 26" bike, IMO.
    2017 Diamondback Haanjo
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  14. #14
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    I think the most versatile bike for AZ is a shorter travel 29'er FS.

    I own 2 29'ers: one HT (Bianchi single speed) and one FS (Kona Hei Hei 2-9er). Both are set up the same in front: 100mm Reba. Both have similar geometry.

    The Kona is a 4" FS bike. It's not the cushiest bike out there, but it handles 80% of our trails perfectly fine. It's my most versatile bike and definitely my go-to bike whenever I am not sure what I will be riding. Where it struggles is the really gnarly stuff, and a HT would be even worse.

    The Bianchi is *almost* as good as the Kona on rocky stuff, but being a HT, it's a bit more work to keep the rear end down on the really steep ledgy stuff (you can't pre-compress the suspension to help out). I'll ride the Bianchi on almost the same trails as the Kona, but there are places where the Bianchi gets walked down whereas I will ride the Kona.

    The Kona is definitely my favorite "all-around" bike for AZ riding.

    So long way around to the point of my post -- if you want a single "do it all" XC/light AM bike for AZ, I think a shorter travel 29'er FS bike is the best option out there. A hardtail will work pretty well too, but there are those days where you will want to do a little more gnar and the FS will work much better.

    FWIW -- I also own a 6.5" AM 26'er bike (Iron Horse 6point). It has it's purpose and is much more at home on the gnarly stuff...but for XC riding it would be overkill.

    Thx...Doug

  15. #15
    Kathleen in AZ
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    I have a couple of Lenz FS 29ers which are great for SoMo chunk. My Salsa dos Niner is great for everything else, but it's mostly a commuter bike for me - I prefer squish and will probably never go back to a HT. I recently went back to a 26er as a DH bike because when the going got really really steep, my 29ers were just too tall. I'm 5'7" and a bit lighter than you, but I guarantee that I have longer legs.... At 5'6" you may have standover issues on some 29ers, so be sure to demo before you buy. Also.. those who say that a 29HT is just as comfy as a 26FS are obviously not on our trails. Don't buy into that line. A HT is a HT, no matter what size the wheels.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by beardedstealth
    Or are you a mellow rider who tends to like to plow throw the chunk and spend more time looking at scenery?
    I am, and I ride a 4" travel FS 29er.

  17. #17
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    If you can't decide between a 26er and a 29er, there is always 650b? And like others mentioned a 29er hardtail still feels like a hardtail.

  18. #18
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    The quandry continues

    One of the four people who I mentioned earlier (the HT 29er people) came by the office today. He's selling his Intense 5.5. Said he only rode it twice in the last year! He rides his Air 9 twice a week. He lives in the shade of South Mountain so 90% of his riding is there. Probably not much of you all would call "gnar"

    Thanks for the input even if it's all over the map

  19. #19
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    I've been on a 29er hard tail since May of 2006. I'm now on my second steel frame. My Fisher Ferrous was stolen so I just built a Niner Sir9. If your only going to have one bike steel or ti would be a better option than the Air9. I went for a durable trail bike build with a 100mm Reba,Stan's Flows with Hope Pro2,and Thomson bits with a Sram drive train. Its 27lbs but I don't have to worry about breaking parts. I won't ever go back to 26" wheels and for 99% of the trails around the valley its the perfect bike. If you plan on ridding National or the Goat Camp DH every week its not the right bike. If you want to ride all of McDowell mtn,BCT,Or any other multi use trail in the valley its a great bike.

  20. #20
    parenting for gnarness
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    1 of each, ftw!
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  21. #21
    I am Walt
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    I ride my 29'er steel HT (SS, Niner SIR9) 98% of the time, with the only exception being massive climbing rides that I don't feel like SS'ing (and thus, pushing). I ride it everwhere else, including technical, though I don't ride any of the really "gnar" stuff. I dont' care about all the bouncing around on the HT, because that's just what I'm used to. I'm definitely an "XC rider," whatever that is...

    I have a 29'er FS trailbike (Niner RIP9) that I use for the aforementioned "massive climbing rides," or when my SS is out-of-order for whatever reason, or if I just feel like floating around some lazy day. The rear squish drives me nuts because I'm so used to the HT, and like to stand while climbing (hate seated spinning)...though floating over stuff is pretty damn nice.

    I am considering a geared 29'er HT as my non-SS bike, to give me the HT I want for climbing, but gears for massive climbing rides. TBD on that, because I don't know if I can justify it for a few rides per year.

    I should note I do lots of solo endurance riding and racing, and think that a 29'er HT is the best for that; SS or geared, whichever is your preference.

    But back to your original post and question, for what you want if for, get a 29'er HT...get the AIR9...just my opinion...

  22. #22
    A plethora of pinatas
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    Some great suggestions and input here! Here is my 4 cents (inflation)...

    I recently went to a geared 29" Steel HT and love it! I too mostly do XC type of riding and feel it is the best fit for me. But, I think that is the key... you need to find what is the best fit for YOU. We can all give you our opinions and tell you about our own experiences, but it comes down to you. I think listening to others opinions is great, but try to demo as many different bikes as you can before you pull the trigger.

    The 29" wheel definitely rolls over the bumps easier than a 26". If you want light XC race bike - the AIR9 is a great call. If you are just doing XC type trail rides, I would suggest you consider giving up a little weight for comfort and get something like the Niner SIR or MCR. Steel is real!

    Here is my steed...

    Marty

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