Can't Decide - Hardtail 29er or Full-Suspension 26er?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Can't Decide - Hardtail 29er or Full-Suspension 26er?

    I'm sure this topic gets beat to death here, but I wanted to give my specific details in the hopes of getting some feedback on what to do. I thought I had my mind made up on a hardtail 29er, but then I rode a full-suspension 26er and now I am not sure what to do. Hoping I can get some advice from the fine folks here.

    Growing up in the 80s, I loved getting on my BMX bike and barrelling through the woods, over jumps, etc. But when I turned 16, bike riding went way down. In college in the early 90s, I had a basic rigid MTB for getting to and from class, as I lived off campus and car parking was at a premium. So now I am just getting back into the MTB scene, but based on past experiences I feel confident on bikes and am not afraid of challenges.

    Now that I want to get back into more riding - on and off road - I am not sure which way to go. I live in Houston, TX and the trails closest to me are on the west side of town. George Bush Park, Terry Hershey Park, etc.

    The two specific bikes I am debating between are the following:

    2012 Scott Scale 29 Elite
    2011 Specialized Camber Comp

    Both bikes are new and within $100 of each other in terms of price. I like the looks of both, so aesthetics is not a factor.

    I have ridden both on the street and in an open field (bumpy but no roots, drops, jumps, etc.). Both feel good to me on the street an in an open field setting, with the Specailized feeling smoother on my arse when sitting in the saddle and pedaling in the open field (no surprise there).

    I will be doing a lot of riding on streets and fairly smooth dirt paths with my son's Cruzer 737 trailer in tow, and with my wife on her bike. But I know there will be times when I want to leave them behind, and go exploring Terry Hershey Park, Memorial Park, etc. I do not plan to race anytime in the future.

    I guess my main concern is whether the Scott Scale 29 Elite would be able to handle the trails at Terry Hershey Park, Memorial Park, etc.? I would be pretty upset at this price point if I can't take the Scott Scale 29 Elite, worry-free, on trails that have tree roots to get over, rocky sections to pedal through, 2-3 foot drops to negotiate, etc.

    Would really like some advice from the seasoned members here as to whether it sounds like I need full-suspension, or whether I should go 29er hardtail?

    Sorry for the long post, but thanks for reading!

  2. #2
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    Reputation: slcdawg's Avatar
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    You might want to post this on your local/regional forum to see what riders in your area prefer.

    I have a 29er hardtail and a 6" dually, and love them both. If I could only have one bike, I would probably chose the 6" dually since its more versatile. But, I love my 29er and it is my bike of choice when the terrain is appropriate. I ride a lot of fairly rocky terrain on it - but would never take it to Moab and would not do 2-3' drops on it. It really depends on the terrain you will ride and your riding style.
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  3. #3
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    Push for an answer most everyone would say that the 29er would be ok on your trail, it's more the rider than the bike. But, but same rider one 2 different bikes may prefer the more robust 5" camber over XCish Scale.

    If you like trail riding Camber would be a better fit for you. Best of both world in your situation would be to get a camber 29er

  4. #4
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    How can you lose? Just choose one and the overwhelming bikelust will ensure the purchase of the other.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golf Nut View Post
    I'm sure this topic gets beat to death here, but I wanted to give my specific details in the hopes of getting some feedback on what to do. I thought I had my mind made up on a hardtail 29er, but then I rode a full-suspension 26er and now I am not sure what to do. Hoping I can get some advice from the fine folks here.

    Growing up in the 80s, I loved getting on my BMX bike and barrelling through the woods, over jumps, etc. But when I turned 16, bike riding went way down. In college in the early 90s, I had a basic rigid MTB for getting to and from class, as I lived off campus and car parking was at a premium. So now I am just getting back into the MTB scene, but based on past experiences I feel confident on bikes and am not afraid of challenges.

    Now that I want to get back into more riding - on and off road - I am not sure which way to go. I live in Houston, TX and the trails closest to me are on the west side of town. George Bush Park, Terry Hershey Park, etc.

    The two specific bikes I am debating between are the following:

    2012 Scott Scale 29 Elite
    2011 Specialized Camber Comp

    Both bikes are new and within $100 of each other in terms of price. I like the looks of both, so aesthetics is not a factor.

    I have ridden both on the street and in an open field (bumpy but no roots, drops, jumps, etc.). Both feel good to me on the street an in an open field setting, with the Specailized feeling smoother on my arse when sitting in the saddle and pedaling in the open field (no surprise there).

    I will be doing a lot of riding on streets and fairly smooth dirt paths with my son's Cruzer 737 trailer in tow, and with my wife on her bike. But I know there will be times when I want to leave them behind, and go exploring Terry Hershey Park, Memorial Park, etc. I do not plan to race anytime in the future.

    I guess my main concern is whether the Scott Scale 29 Elite would be able to handle the trails at Terry Hershey Park, Memorial Park, etc.? I would be pretty upset at this price point if I can't take the Scott Scale 29 Elite, worry-free, on trails that have tree roots to get over, rocky sections to pedal through, 2-3 foot drops to negotiate, etc.

    Would really like some advice from the seasoned members here as to whether it sounds like I need full-suspension, or whether I should go 29er hardtail?

    Sorry for the long post, but thanks for reading!
    I'm in Houston to, and also ride the Anthills so I know the area well. I suggest you go see the guys at Bike Barn Westheimer and try some bikes out. Look at the Fuel EX's.

  6. #6
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    Either would be a good choice. If you insist riding the lumpy parts in the saddle a fs would be the way to go, but a 29er hardtail would ride smoother than you think with easier setup and less maintenance. I can ride my hardtail 29er on the same trails as my fs bike with equal ability, just pick your butt up off the saddle when the trail gets bumpy. Ask your local bike shops and riders what they recommend for your trails, you'll get a better answer than someone thousands of miles away.

  7. #7
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    I recently bought a 2011 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29er. hardtail I wanted a bike that climbs really well and is a decent trail bike. It does both well. I added a padded SR seat to compensate for the rougher tail ride and I run the tires at 30-35. I love the 29 wheels and the 25.5 total package. It is a "sports car" and compliments my older full suspension.....which I still use for the rocky downhills.

  8. #8
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    I just sold my 29r hardtail and Im in the process of buying a 26" full squish. I loved the 29" (and loved SS even more) but in the end, I think our terrain is just more suited to smaller wheels and some suspension (I've owned FS bikes in the past and ridden both on the same terrain). Now that most XC oriented FS bikes are in the mid 20's weight wise, the penalty just isn't there so the FS can not only be fun but competitive as well if you choose to race (as many obviously do). Our terrain is very rooty and technical with lots of short, steep climbs, often starting from very low speeds. I think the 26" wheels accelerate a little better for that and being able to keep the wheels on dirt (rather than bouncing at all) on slow speed climbs tends to be a little faster imo. The only caveat to that is that you still need to push a similar gear to the SS on the climbs in order to see that speed increase. The last thing I'd mention in terms of my decision is tough to quantify. Basically though, I think the 26" tends to be a little more playful.

    In the end, I don't think there really is a wrong decision as both types of bikes can, and do perform well and you'll definitely adapt to whatever you are on. I also think that in different terrain/trails one may be better than the other. Seeing as how you can't ride two bikes at once, I'd choose the one that will be the right tool for the job more often. If you really want to keep the decision process simple, just pick the one you are really excited to try. Afterall, its got to be fun and the more stoked you are to try a bike, the more fun you are likely to have on it.
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  9. #9
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    I'm in DFW....but travel a lot....

    I've been a 3 day a week rider for about 20 years (11 of them in Colorado). It is a real dilemma for a lot of people because choosing a bike is kinda like buying a car.
    Would you buy a race car to drive on the street or a Monster truck to drive on basic dirt roads?
    Too many people focus on the bike. These are both great choices.

    The Scale is comparable to my C-dale Flash. A great choice for any trail where you need traction (mud, sand, unrefined trails), and to pedal up and through rough stuff (trails covered with rocks larger than someones head). It is also great for longer distances (logging cadence miles due to speed and efficiency). I learned to ride it as well as any 26 inch HT race bike, but it took a few rides.

    The Specialized Camber and all their FSR linked bikes have been around since the 90's and are really great do it all bikes. I have owned many brands of this suspension design and it is kinda the design by which most other bikes are compared. You can jump em', cruz em, whip em around and they do it all pretty well. I think that they are more fun on twisty, rooted bumpy trails where you go out for shorter rides (under 20 miles ISH) to goof off with a buddy and pretend to MX around.

    I think the 29ers are cool for clearing rough climbs and pedaling through stuff like a tank, and cyclist converts.....but for all around bike fun (including thrashing around on occasion) I still suggest newer riders check out the 4-5 inch sus. 26 inch bikes. The Specialized brand is a great way to go and will hold its value well (there is always someone looking for used Specialized 4-5 inch sus. bikes) so you can evolve into a rider who knows the type of riding you like and can buy the tool that suits you. I ride an older Ellsworth 4" inch bike with a similar 4 link rear end. The new Specialized bike you mentioned is probably a better bike all around bike than my expensive (at the time 7 years ago) custom. I still have a great deal of fun on the full springer and couldn't tell you if one was really any faster than the other on average. I feel less tense (tired, arm pump, etc.) after riding the suspension bike, versus the 29er HT. Although I always take the 29er to Arkansas (rough, damp, climbs and descents) as it seems to hook up better there, and the big rocks swallow the 26 inch tires and sap momentum...

    Also, I still find myself out riding the 29er, on rough trails going down fast. I get beat up a little when there is no smooth line. Rear end gets dicey (if you like to go fast, real fast). 29er wheel builds are expensive for a good set, and I still have not found a set that I like for the way I ride.

    Food for though, and my 2 cents.....
    I wANt To bE DiffeREnT JusT LiKe EveRyOne eLsE!

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