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  1. #1
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    Setup for CT / New England Summer Riding

    Hey all, I'm currently looking to make some upgrades / changes to my setup and would absolutely love any input or brainstorming anyone here on the forum may have. I have a XC hardtail 29er and am looking to upgrade and improve on (i) tires and (ii) if necessary, wheels (lower priority, luxury item).

    First, the current setup: i have a Specialized Stumpjumper 29 HT Comp (i think 2015 model year), so 2x10 drivetrain, currently on the stock specialized Roval hoops and Fastrack 2.0 tires. They have the tubeless ready feature but i am still running tubes for now. All is stock except the pedals and my roughly 9 year old Fizik Gobi.

    Second, the riding: i do most of my riding at Huntington state park in Redding CT. If you haven't been there, it's plenty of fire roads and carriage trails (albeit with the usual New England assortment of baby heads and roots). There is also plenty of singletrack, and while it's not gnarly in terms of drops, etc. (most hills are small and punchy), it has plenty of technical features, like rocks, rock gardens, rock walls, more side-wall cutting rocks (especially in summer) and those giant messes of criss-crossing roots. Based on a quick review of the local Strava users, the fastest times on the singletrack sections tend to be done on full suspension bikes, either the new generation of light, carbon fiber trail bike (think Yeti, Ibis, etc.) or the relatively short-travel cross country bikes, although these have gotten beefier in recent years (think Trek Fuel, Scott Spark, Cannondale Scalpel).

    So the goal is to optimize for these riding conditions, maximizing both (i) fun / ability to get up and over things and (ii) speed, since i may dive back into racing one of these days. I used to use one of the old Kona scandium framed 26ers, with a light short travel fork (that would flex like crazy) and light, flexy wheels. It was fast as hell on the flats and on the ups, but would lose a lot in rougher terrain. However, my experience has suggested that it would be even faster to move away from that "weight weenie" approach and instead into an "aggressive XC" setup.

    My vision is to take my current relatively light XC set-up and pair it with beefier wheels and bigger, grippier and more rugged tires. It would be a bit of a "split personality" bike, but i really think what I lose on the climbs I'd more than make up for in the technical sections (I do like to ride hard, and hit rock gardens and other features with speed).

    So, anyone else have wheels and tires that have worked well / seem like they'd work well for this? Is new tires all I really need, or would new wheels also make a measurable difference? Any specific recommendations, or will basically ANY tire with a bigger volume / casing and a fatter tread do me just fine?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    the discerning hooligan
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    . .
    Last edited by MOJO K; 07-20-2017 at 01:43 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks! Maybe I'll start by trying some tires along those lines (I always loved the Racing Ralph, so maybe I'll start with the Nobby Nic) and see how it works, then evaluate wheels.

  4. #4
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    Starting with tires is smart and painless. I think those hardtails had 2.1-inch tires, so simply going up to 2.3s and going tubeless will make a huge difference. I'm a fan of the Purgatory/Slaughter combo for good rolling trail tires, but you might prefer something like Nobby Nic/Rocket Rons or Ardent/Ardent Race. These tires will all weigh more, but they'll handle the chunky stuff better.

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

  5. #5
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    2.3 and tubeless are the way to go. Huge fan of Maxxis here in MA. Look at some thing like the ardent race, 2.3 or 2.4. Ikon as well.

  6. #6
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    We just swapped my wife's bike from 29's to 27.5's with 2.35 Hans Dampfs (which measure 2.5) and went tubeless. Bike is over 2.5lbs lighter and her confidence is though the roof (shes only been mountain biking for about 10 months now and a good chunk of that was winter).

    Jenson has the RaceFace wheels on sale, that's what she got. She got the cheapest ones and they are a pretty nice wheel, much much better than a stock wheel. Cartridge bearings, bladed spokes, true and tensioned well out of the box.

    Search results for aeffect wheels | Jenson USA

    I have had lots of 29ers, and they are fast, can't deny that. Last year I switched to 27.5x2.8's with a pretty mild tread and I could not be happier. I have no clue if I am faster or slower, but all those short, punchy, steep, techy climbs that I used to make 2/10 times I now make 9/10 times or more. Climbing traction is just unreal. I can't even imagine what it would be like with an aggressive tread.

  7. #7
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    I would agree with Black Squirrel. If you're going to buy wheels and tires, get a set of wideish 27.5 wheels and some 2.8 tires. Set it all up tubeless and see how you like it.

    I'm running a Banshee Phantom 29er with 27.5 Specialized Roval wheels (30mm Internal Width) Schwalbe Nobby Nics, 3.0 front and 2.8 rear.

    I just picked up a Rocket Ron 2.8 for the rear for a little better rolling speed. I briefly went back to my 29er wheels to see if I'd like it again, but I don't. The plus sized tires and rims are perfect for the rocky and punchy NE terrain.

  8. #8
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    It's a preference thing ultimately but 2.3-2.6 would be my recommendation. Ikon/Rekon Aggressor and DHF/DHR 2 are all favorites in my group of riding. I liked schwalbe until i realized how susceptible the tires are to punctures/rips, too many sharp rocks in New England to be worrying about your tires.

  9. #9
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    Thanks, everybody! This is all very helpful. I didn't realize you could run 27.5s on a 29er bike. I'm still getting used to all these changing formats / standards!

  10. #10
    EAT MORE GRIME
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    conti trail king tires can take sharp edge rocks pretty well

  11. #11
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    Careful with the 29 to 27.5+ conversions. You will most likely lose ground clearance, as 29X2.2 or 2.3 wheels are significantly bigger in diameter than the 27.5+ wheels. Bikes that are designed to take both wheel sizes typically have ways of adjusting bottom bracket height using flip chips, longer forks, and/or different headset cups. If you're bashing your crank arms on the Huntington rock gardens now, matters will only get worse. I'd recommend bigger 29er tires with reinforced sidewalls (Schwalbe Snakeskin, Maxxis EXO, Specialized Grid, etc.) set up tubeless first.

  12. #12
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    I don't think it's as much of a concern as people make it out to be, especially on a hardtail. My 2.8's are pretty small and they only measure about 3/8" shorter than my buddies 29x2.25's. Those wheels and tires on my bike would be about 3/16" (5mm) higher, not really significant. If you clip a rock or something hard enough to effect your riding, you would hit it with either size wheel.

    That being said, I have never been in a riding situation where I said, man I wish I had 29" wheels, I will take the traction every time.

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