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Thread: 26er or 29er?

  1. #1
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    26er or 29er?

    Hello! I am looking for some advice on what type of bike to buy. I just started looking around and can't decide if i want to make the switch to a 29er or stick with my 26er. My local bike shops gave me two different opinions that helped, but hasn't made the decision easier. I like all mountain. I currently have a 26er hard tail that I can put a different fork on as an upgrade for the technical trails if I end up with a 29er. Also, I am not opposed to a 26" full suspension, but I am not sure I can get a decent one in my budget. So....

    1) I don't have a lot of money...ever... so my budget is $850.00 ( I figure I can upgrade as I go)

    2) At the moment, I am interested in a 29er, haven't found the right 26er yet. I really liked the Cannondale Trail SL 29er 4

    3) I ride all mountain
    4) No preference on hardtail vs. FS, wouldn't mind a FS, but again, not sure if the budget allows for that yet.
    5) I am 25, 120 lbs, 5'7", female. Because I am a girl, I liked the Cannondale frame for a 29er over a brand like Giant because it is more compact. Currently I am riding a 17' Marin and I like the smaller size for handling. The Cannondale felt good for that reason.
    6) I am looking at my local bike shops, online, on craigslist, wherever I can get the best deal
    7) I would love suggestions please. I thought I was set on a 29er until I talked to another bike shop who brought up the point that I can get better components for the money on a 26er.

    Thank you for reading this! I appreciate your help.

  2. #2
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    Right now the 26 vs. 29 is the most heated debate there is. So you aren't going to get any useful information, more likely just arguing. My advice to you is to buy that bike that YOU like, not what some guy on a forum says you should like. For your budget you should stick to a hardtail, unless you can find something good used. A new FS for $850 is not going to be very good. Ideally you should see if you can actually ride some of the bikes you are interested in on a trail to decide what suits you best. If you really want a 29er, then get one. There is no point in buying a 26er just to get better components when what you really want is a 29er. As you said you can always upgrade later. I tell anyone who will listen that if you are serious about the sport, then buy the best bike you can, and research, and research some more to get what you really need/want. I, and many others, have found out the hard way that it is cheaper to get what you want up front then to get something you don't want because its cheaper and then spend a lot of money over the years turning it into what you really wanted. A lot of bike shops will have finanacing where if you pay it off in a year you pay no interest. I have always found that was a good way to get a better bike than I had cash on hand for.
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  3. #3
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    29er is good for rolling over things more effortlessly--long stretched out cross country trails and such are a lot of fun on a 29er. 26er is good for tight cornering and more responsive handling like windy singletrack with lots of switchbacks. On average, you will expend more energy riding a 26er because you hit everything at a steeper angle--but then that will probably help make you a better rider.

    I like having one of each bike because they're both fun on different types of trails. But if I were only going to get one, I'd probably go 29er because I prefer cross country riding and long stretches.

    Other people will have other opinions on the matter. A lot of it is personal preference.
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  4. #4
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    29 handle obstacle better compare to 26 if this what you're looking for just get 29. Sometimes 29 doesn't even need suspension depends on the trail though.

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    Have you considered just buying a FS frame and swapping parts over from your current bike?
    Last edited by FireLikeIYA; 10-29-2011 at 10:40 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA View Post
    Have you considered just buying a FS frame and swapping parts over from your current bike?
    I would, but my current bike and componets are such a POS. It's a 1999. I really need a new bike! I still might upgrade a few parts on it just to keep it around, I am a little nostalgic about it and it has taken such a beating. I am headed out today to look around some more! Thanks for the 29er info everyone!

  7. #7
    dru
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    You don't weigh a lot so you could do AM on a 29er without worrying too much about breaking the bigger wheels of a 29er, but 26er wheels will be stronger for the same weight, and maybe stronger even if built up lighter. At 5'7 either wheel size will fit you ok, but you might find the front of the 29er to be quite high.

    I've got both sizes myself, and they are dialed in identically fit wise almost to the millimeter. They certainly steer very similarly, but the 26er is much more agile but harsher on bumps. The 29er seems to have a lot of inertia to overcome, but rolls over stuff so smoothly by comparison. Climbing traction is much better too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dru View Post
    You don't weigh a lot so you could do AM on a 29er without worrying too much about breaking the bigger wheels of a 29er, but 26er wheels will be stronger for the same weight, and maybe stronger even if built up lighter. At 5'7 either wheel size will fit you ok, but you might find the front of the 29er to be quite high.

    I've got both sizes myself, and they are dialed in identically fit wise almost to the millimeter. They certainly steer very similarly, but the 26er is much more agile but harsher on bumps. The 29er seems to have a lot of inertia to overcome, but rolls over stuff so smoothly by comparison. Climbing traction is much better too.

    Drew
    That does help. I went out again today and had much better luck. Went to the bike shop I should have gone to to begin with. I am now looking at a Felt nine sport 29 er and a Jamis durango 2.0 26 er. Both are a little heavy, so I would upgrade the seat post on the Janis along with a fee other compnets since the price was really good if I went that route. Overall thanks for your help!

  9. #9
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    I'd say just like the rest, if you could demo both bikes then that's great!

    Good luck!
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  10. #10
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    I am sticking with a 26er only because I haven't had a good, fair comparison of both wheel sizes. Every 29er I've ridden has been 10+ lbs heavier than my current 26er, so they obviously felt slower to me. I couldn't feel any benefit to the larger diameter, because what I was feeling was a lot of extra rotating mass from the bigger, heavier wheels. I could feel the flywheel effect of having more moving mass to keep rolling over objects, and not the diameter of the wheels like others have felt.
    I am 5'8" 165 lbs.
    I think there's probably more benefit to 29er wheels if you are a beginner, and/or a larger rider. I would say you're better off upgrading what you have, rather than spending for an all new ride with lower quality parts. Just another opinion.

  11. #11
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    Cheap 29er wheels will definitely be heavier than comparable 26er wheels. But given a 29er wheel of equal mass to the 26er wheels you're use to, you won't experience any extra rotating mass. It's just the lighter 29ers are a bit more expensive. I think the Trek X-Caliber is fairly light for its price--around $1400 for a 2012 or $1200 for close-out 2011 models. You might try riding one of those and see how it feels to you.
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