Poll: Fastest way around a XC racecourse 26" or 29"- Mtbr.com

View Poll Results: Fastest way around an XC racecourse 29" or 26"

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  • 26"

    37 56.06%
  • 29"

    29 43.94%
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  1. #1
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    Poll: Fastest way around a XC racecourse 26" or 29"

    Hi,

    I've got stupid good cycling genes, but have never been too much of a racer as I'd rather not have my cycling become more like a job with the scheduled training, specific diet, no heroin etc...

    However, before I get too old, I've decided to see what I'm really capable of with a season dedicated to kicking ass on a single, culminating with the SSWC. I'm gonna build up a race ride for the '08 season. A hardtail for sure. I like to ride rigid, but suspension is faster around the courses in these parts (lots of ski area races, lots of rocks).

    I can build a 26" bike that is 2.5 - 3 pounds lighter than a 29er (assume that I have <6% body fat and weight on the bike is all I can save). Does the momentum holding prowess and increased traction of 29" wheels trump the weight savings of a 26er?

    Now, we're talking XC here, not endurance racing. So 2-2.5 hours of redline riding. Expert/semi-pro/pro class (that's how they run 'em around here) trying to win.

    FWIW I'm 6' even and 156 pounds.

    Whatcha think?
    Last edited by Juan Speeder; 11-16-2007 at 01:39 PM.

  2. #2
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    EEK! I think it all depends on ability/lungs/legs

  3. #3
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    Normally a race course is set up to be fast, this would favor the 29er. If you like to ride super tech. trails with lots of switchbacks and tight trees (lots of stopping and starting) then a 26er has a slight advantage. But for most courses a 29er is faster, smoother and requires less energy. There is a little bit of a learning curve on how you ride them. The 29er forces you to carry speed around corners more, less braking, so you don't have to spin up so much on the other side. IMHO, all this is true, but I'm from the midwest, other parts of the country may be different....

  4. #4
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    Just to touch some nerves................. why to most all top pros ride 26'ers? There is no rule saying they have to. I have to vote 26 in general overall conditions. Just taken the pro's word for it.

  5. #5
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    From my own experience riding rigid on the East coast, a 29'er is faster for me.
    I am anal enough to keep riding journal that confirms this.
    FWIW my 29'er is only about 1 1/2 lbs more than my 26'er. Both are made of Tange Prestige, and have comparable builds and wheelsets.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Speeder
    Hi,

    I've got stupid good cycling genes,
    Shouldnt matter if you ride a 25 or 29...

  7. #7
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    send a pm to creepyfriendly.

    He knows racing 29er SS rigid bikes..

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ernesto_from_Wisconsin
    EEK! I think it all depends on ability/lungs/legs

    Clearly.

    Let's just pretend that my lungs and legs are the same, regardless of wheel size

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Speeder
    Clearly.

    Let's just pretend that my lungs and legs are the same, regardless of wheel size
    This is akin to asking, "what gear should I use on my SS". The answer is unique to everyone.

    Some riders will be fastest on a 29, others will be better off with a 26.

    I have heard many arguments one way or another, but the bottom line seems to be that there is no single answer for all riders, and certainly not for all courses.

    I think some of the best riders on 26ers still ride 26ers for various reasons...some must obey sponsors, others have invested a lifetime of riding on 26ers and do well (perhaps they figure why change?...I am still winning). If you have something that works well enough for you to win most of the time, would you change?

    In simplest terms, if you know and understand the advantages and disadvantages of both wheel sizes, you need only look at which advantages will serve you best, and which disadvantages you can overcome with your abilities....then select accordingly.
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  10. #10
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    Silly rabbit....

    Depends on the course.

    The smoother the course the less benefit you'll get out of the heavier 29" wheel. Similar to the old FS v. HT debate.

    My favorite reason to go 29" is that the bikes fit me better. Am I faster on the course? Don't know.

    I will go out on a limb and say a SS rigid 29er is faster than a SS rigid 26er.

  11. #11
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    Yes, they really are faster!

    I have never been faster than when I ride my 29er SS! I switched 3 years ago and have the best results of my life on a 29er and will NEVER ride a bike with 26" wheels again,they are dead to me. I race in New England on some of the most technical trails around and 29 inch wheels let me ride faster, smoother and confidently than 26". And the more I race the more I see people converting the big wheels, take Harlan Price as an example. I would say the first 3-5 rides it takes to learn the magic but after that you will NEVER go back.

    And as far as weight goes I have this 20.5-21 # Cannondale 1FG that is lighter than my 2inch 1FG with similar components. If you spend the clams, 29ers can be super light and bad a$$. The key is do not go out and buy some steel tank and think is going to handle like some stellar race bike. I would say get youself a 29er with some killer wheel, Stans ZTR 355 rims, and good parts and you will be really happy. 29ers are faster, period!

    And to the goof balls saying other wise, you do not know what you are missin!
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  12. #12
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    If you have "stupid good cycling genes" then y would you need to train to race? And if your genes are so good then I don't think either wheel size is going to matter.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbyker
    Normally a race course is set up to be fast, this would favor the 29er. If you like to ride super tech. trails with lots of switchbacks and tight trees (lots of stopping and starting) then a 26er has a slight advantage. But for most courses a 29er is faster, smoother and requires less energy. There is a little bit of a learning curve on how you ride them. The 29er forces you to carry speed around corners more, less braking, so you don't have to spin up so much on the other side. IMHO, all this is true, but I'm from the midwest, other parts of the country may be different....
    Don't listen to this man... he won about ever Expert SS event on a 69er. So I suppose he's been trying to capture the best of both worlds! I should know as I'm only see him ride from behind him.

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  14. #14
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    Having not ever raced, you might possibly discover that what you think are "stupidly good cycling genes" are just average. Bikes are only as fast as the rider/engine, 26 or 29.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fanghasyou
    If you have "stupid good cycling genes" then y would you need to train to race?
    Is that a serious question?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat Ark
    Having not ever raced, you might possibly discover that what you think are "stupidly good cycling genes" are just average. Bikes are only as fast as the rider/engine, 26 or 29.
    I said "I've never been too much of a racer", not that I've never raced. I win about 50% of the time when I do race which in the past has been kinda seldom.

  17. #17
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    If you want to be as fast as possible, pedal harder. It's doubtful that the bike you ride is going to win you races, and if it does, tell me the specs I'd love to tip the scales in my favor.

  18. #18
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    Nice bike...

    Quote Originally Posted by seanbc
    I have never been faster than when I ride my 29er SS! I switched 3 years ago and have the best results of my life on a 29er and will NEVER ride a bike with 26" wheels again,they are dead to me. I race in New England on some of the most technical trails around and 29 inch wheels let me ride faster, smoother and confidently than 26". And the more I race the more I see people converting the big wheels, take Harlan Price as an example. I would say the first 3-5 rides it takes to learn the magic but after that you will NEVER go back.

    And as far as weight goes I have this 20.5-21 # Cannondale 1FG that is lighter than my 2inch 1FG with similar components. If you spend the clams, 29ers can be super light and bad a$$. The key is do not go out and buy some steel tank and think is going to handle like some stellar race bike. I would say get youself a 29er with some killer wheel, Stans ZTR 355 rims, and good parts and you will be really happy. 29ers are faster, period!

    And to the goof balls saying other wise, you do not know what you are missin!
    looks fast standing still . However, you do realize there are quite a few guys delivering the smack down while racing on steel 29ers?. The 29er forum is full of them.
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  19. #19
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    I am not saying all steel bikes are tanks, but alot of the cheap ones are really heavy. I know the engine is the key but, I do really appreciate a light bike, sub 22 pounds, and that is not easy to do with suspension. Steel is just not my material of choice.

    Ride more, race more, get faster! Was it Eddie Merckx say some thing like buy less up grades ride up more grades. The engine wins races, I have gotten my butt kicked plenty of times by guys on crappy heavy bikes.

  20. #20
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    Why should racing keep you from bangin' the H?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by seanbc
    I am not saying all steel bikes are tanks, but alot of the cheap ones are really heavy. I know the engine is the key but, I do really appreciate a light bike, sub 22 pounds, and that is not easy to do with suspension. Steel is just not my material of choice.

    Ride more, race more, get faster! Was it Eddie Merckx say some thing like buy less up grades ride up more grades. The engine wins races, I have gotten my butt kicked plenty of times by guys on crappy heavy bikes.
    My steel Quiring 29er frame weighs exactly 3.7 pounds. My 29er disc/tubeless wheels weigh 1550 grams. My tires 550 grams each. So, no reason a steel 29er bike can't be crazy light.

  22. #22
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    Ride what makes you smile!

    Interesting debate indeed!
    Having just done a ride w/ a friend on a rigid 29er McClung (I was on a 26" SS w/ a Reba) and gotten spanked on most of the 14 mile loop save one particularly tight switchback, I'd be inclined to say that 29ers may be faster. That said my friend has been riding and racing since the mid 80's and riding SS for about 7-8 years - so he's got exceptional trail skills compared to me (riding MTB for about 5 years and new to SS). The only reason I could stay with him is that I ride road also and tend to have better endurance fitness because I have more miles than he does.

    While I am thinking about going 29er sometime - I just got my 26" finished (a relative term....) and really enjoy riding it (particularly on the tight swithchbacks we've got around here!) and I'm financially not in the position to get a new bike ... so I'll just work on my skills w/ my existing ride and when I'm ready to spend - I'll build a 29er... but as long as I'm having fun on my existing ride I'm go gni to stick w/ it.

    I'd say whatever you have the most fun riding is what you should race on. I've seen fast XC racers on both and unless you've got someone giving you a bike (or telling you what you need to ride) - ride what makes you smile... ride what flows for you... especially if you're after challenging yourself for fun and it's not necessary to win to pay your rent... I would bet that whatever you like riding the most will be faster.. The jury is still out on which is "faster" as there are too many body styles and riding styles that win on each to make it conclusive either way...
    cyclingnews.com had a comparison a while back:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2006/features/29invs26inpt2
    If one is faster - is it worth riding a bike that you don't like riding just for the result?

    More than my .02 ...

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  23. #23
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    It's the Indian, not the arrow.
    Also, the streets are full of horizontal dropouts...

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  24. #24
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    I tend to agree with Quaff...

    That said I did find this - a pretty bada$$ racer/engineer did some research based on power output:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/mtb.php?i...6/mar03mtbnews

    He found that at the same power output - his limiting factor for speed - his laps around a course would be slower on a 29er... but that he had more fun riding his 29er - so fun may not be fastest...

    More confusion.
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  25. #25
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    i find i can carry so much more speed downhill on the 29er SS, that it isn't even a fair comparison. for this reason alone i would vote 29er.

    i've never found it a problem on the tight courses....but i don't win either so FWIW.
    what would rainbow unicorn do?

  26. #26
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    More input data.

    Quote Originally Posted by quaffimodo
    It's the Indian, not the arrow.
    This is indicative of about a quarter of the replies, and is of course true.

    However, if one wanted to maximize ones speed through selection of the equipment that best translated pedaling input into the highest possible average speed over the course of approximately 25 miles of typical rocky mountain cross country racecourses (as if there is a typical example ~they only thing they have in common is tons of climbing).

    I'm 6' tall 158 pounds with climbing and acceleration being my strong suits. I'm average on the downhills and light on my equipment.

    Thus the poll question.

  27. #27
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    Though I voted 26, given the equal rider with equal ability, no handicaps from riding either, it would depend on what kind of trails you were riding. The more west coast open trails people like the 29's, but the sole reason I voted 26 is because you asked about which one is fastest around a race course. Well, most race courses are technical with climbs and decents.......... MOST, not all.

    I raced pretty seriously for about 10 years and have had some experience with 29er's. I loved the way the 29'er rode, rolled over things, and held it's speed once I got it going. I'm 6'1" and have guys telling me all the time I should be on a 29er, but there is a misconception that the size of the person predicts what they should ride. It has only to do with how you want the bike to ride, not how it will fit. I've seen super short people on 29ers and swear by them.

    The drawback of the 29er TO ME was that it was slower steering and had too much traction. YUP, I said too much traction. I could feel the front wheel steer slower caused by the longer foot print (contact point to the ground), and though it does grab the turns well, I had to be more precise at speed to hold a line through a turn, where with the 26'er, I could correct it much more easily. I felt I could push the 26'er harder past the point of death and bring it back just in time.

    Am I biased? A little. I raced MTB since 1990, and raced BMX before that. I really like to have as much control of the bike as possible, and I felt the 29 took that away a little. To prove my point, look what all the pro teams ride, in x-country, short track, super D, dual slalom, downhill...... Behind fitness, control is the most important aspect TO ME.

    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the 29'er because it does some things better. The majority of people I've met on a 29'er are people that converted over from riding a 26'er. But for the most part, they are serious riders that may do an occasional race. I still see the mass majority of people RACING on a 26'er.

    This is based on my preference and the reasons behind my decision.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferday
    i find i can carry so much more speed downhill on the 29er SS, that it isn't even a fair comparison
    Yes, I agree fully. But I have to disagree with:


    "The smoother the course the less benefit you'll get out of the heavier 29" wheel"

    To the contrary, a smoother course favors the bigger wheels momentum, beter traction, cornering ability, etc.

    After 4 years on 2 different 26" SS bikes, one weekend on the 29" bike had me sold. Unless the course is really tight I would say the 29" bike would be faster. Yes the engine makes the speed, but put a big engine in a less efficient chassis and see how you do on race day.

  29. #29
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    I'm just glad you and your sub 22 pound bike moved up to semi-pro!

  30. #30
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    I can relate...

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbyker
    My steel Quiring 29er frame weighs exactly 3.7 pounds. My 29er disc/tubeless wheels weigh 1550 grams. My tires 550 grams each. So, no reason a steel 29er bike can't be crazy light.
    my Ted Wojcik 29er frame weighs 4.5 pounds...built for a 250lb w/o gear rider. my bike weighs 25lbs w/pedals, plenty light for a guy my size .
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  31. #31
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    great point...

    Quote Originally Posted by stevereeneo
    Interesting debate indeed!
    Having just done a ride w/ a friend on a rigid 29er McClung (I was on a 26" SS w/ a Reba) and gotten spanked on most of the 14 mile loop save one particularly tight switchback, I'd be inclined to say that 29ers may be faster. That said my friend has been riding and racing since the mid 80's and riding SS for about 7-8 years - so he's got exceptional trail skills compared to me (riding MTB for about 5 years and new to SS). The only reason I could stay with him is that I ride road also and tend to have better endurance fitness because I have more miles than he does.

    While I am thinking about going 29er sometime - I just got my 26" finished (a relative term....) and really enjoy riding it (particularly on the tight swithchbacks we've got around here!) and I'm financially not in the position to get a new bike ... so I'll just work on my skills w/ my existing ride and when I'm ready to spend - I'll build a 29er... but as long as I'm having fun on my existing ride I'm go gni to stick w/ it.

    I'd say whatever you have the most fun riding is what you should race on. I've seen fast XC racers on both and unless you've got someone giving you a bike (or telling you what you need to ride) - ride what makes you smile... ride what flows for you... especially if you're after challenging yourself for fun and it's not necessary to win to pay your rent... I would bet that whatever you like riding the most will be faster.. The jury is still out on which is "faster" as there are too many body styles and riding styles that win on each to make it conclusive either way...
    cyclingnews.com had a comparison a while back:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2006/features/29invs26inpt2
    If one is faster - is it worth riding a bike that you don't like riding just for the result?

    More than my .02 ...

    S
    "ride what makes you smile". well said. you have the right perspective.
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  32. #32
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    Both...

    Here are a couple observations from this fall....

    I race in a geared class with a buddy. I have smoked him on every climb we have ever ridden on the gearies (we both have identical geared race bikes). As a point of reference that means I am typically a faster climber. We are both about equal on the descents.

    After the XC season ended we both have been riding our SS's Him on a 26er, me on a 29er. Since my bike is equipped better they are both within .5lb of each other. To ride together we both run the same gear ratio (he runs 2T smaller in the back to allow for the wheel size difference)

    Long fireroad/singletrack climbs = he is now faster I can't keep up.
    Flat smooth stuff = we are equal
    rocky climbs and flats = I kick his butt
    smooth and rough descents = I fly away
    rolling terrain = I pull away due to the faster descent speed and momentum. As soon as the climbs get a bit longer he is right back with me.

    Overall we are pretty much equal on our rides, we just yo yo apart a bit.

    As always there are tons of variables but this is what I have seen. Maybe I have lost more fitness than him since the end of the season and he has lost some speed skills? It's just wierd having him outclimb me on every ride now....
    Free will is an illusion, people will always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by used2Bhard
    Here are a couple observations from this fall....

    I race in a geared class with a buddy. I have smoked him on every climb we have ever ridden on the gearies (we both have identical geared race bikes). As a point of reference that means I am typically a faster climber. We are both about equal on the descents.

    After the XC season ended we both have been riding our SS's Him on a 26er, me on a 29er. Since my bike is equipped better they are both within .5lb of each other. To ride together we both run the same gear ratio (he runs 2T smaller in the back to allow for the wheel size difference)

    Long fireroad/singletrack climbs = he is now faster I can't keep up.
    Flat smooth stuff = we are equal
    rocky climbs and flats = I kick his butt
    smooth and rough descents = I fly away
    rolling terrain = I pull away due to the faster descent speed and momentum. As soon as the climbs get a bit longer he is right back with me.

    Overall we are pretty much equal on our rides, we just yo yo apart a bit.

    As always there are tons of variables but this is what I have seen. Maybe I have lost more fitness than him since the end of the season and he has lost some speed skills? It's just wierd having him outclimb me on every ride now....
    For comparison's sake, you guys should switch it up for awhile and see how it goes. What gears is he riding on the 26'er?

  34. #34
    mutaullyassuredsuffering
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    Yup

    Quote Originally Posted by 88 rex
    For comparison's sake, you guys should switch it up for awhile and see how it goes. What gears is he riding on the 26'er?
    We are the same size so it would be easy. It's always fun riding someone else's bike anyways! I'm running a 32x18 or 32x20 depending on the ride so he is matching with a 32x16 or 32x18. I know it's not exact but it's as close enough for us to spin the same speed on the flats.

    ...maybe all the climbing difference is there...I dunno...again just an observation.

    I certainly am having fun on the Niner though. Even if the 26'er is faster on the climbs I wouldn't change my bike
    Free will is an illusion, people will always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

  35. #35
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    Nailed it.

    Quote Originally Posted by long hazy daze
    Why should racing keep you from bangin' the H?

    Exactly my question as well...

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