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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-26-08, 07:55 PM   #1
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I've got a 29er question

This morning I was near the end of my 25 mile ride up and down and around in Cape Girardeau, MO. I was feeling really good, the legs were loose and still had plenty of power. There is a 4 mile bike path (asphalt) that cuts directly down the center of town and it is very flat and curvy. I had parked at the other end of this trail and decided to open it up to the end since I was feeling so good. I passed everything that came into view the first two miles. Then I noticed a woman about 100 yards out in front of me and and I headed after her like a non-biking clyde after a stuff crust pepperoni pizza. The next two mile to the end of the trail, I never gained an inch . I kept looking at the computer and it held 16 mph, so it was not that I was wearing down. I just could not keep up. We were both riding Mtn. bikes.

When we finally got to the trailhead and I caught up to her, I first looked her over for fitness and from the surface, no big deal. Soft muscles, slightly heavy build. When I asked her if she always rode this fast, she said that she had recently replaced her old bike with this new one and it was much faster. Then I saw it. A 29er!!!!!!!! (btw... She was about 15 miles into her day, so she wasn't exactly fresh either.

So my question is this: Are the 29ers that much faster? I love my bike (26" Giant Rainier) but unless I am going downhill, I just never feel like I have any speed on flat. And Wow! was her bike nice. Big tall fat tires and wheels. (Don't talk road bike to me. Not interested at this time. Maybe later.) I could just kick myself for not looking at the 29er last year when I bought. I may still look into it. Anybody have 29er experience compared to standard mtn. bikes?


Last edited by jboyd; 07-26-08 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 07-26-08, 08:22 PM   #2
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With the same gearing, a 29er will go faster at the same cadence. But if you adjust the gearing, there's not that much difference. There lots of other things that will make more difference (like road tires versus knobbies). Did you ask what her previous bike was? If it was a 40 year old cruiser, that might explain why she's faster.
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Old 07-26-08, 08:47 PM   #3
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"Her previous bike?" Good question..... Duh! Never thought of that. Regardless, she was still faster then me (not that I am fast).

I took the nobbies off of mine this year and put 1.75 Michelin road treads on that I have pumped to 65#. She had big honkin nobbies.

btw... I don't want anyone to think that I have any problem being plowed by a girl. Not at all. Just was surprised by the outcome.
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Old 07-26-08, 08:55 PM   #4
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29er will roll faster every time as well as go over bigger stuff offroad with less effort, you dont have to "hop" things as much as with a 26, the only problem we have seen with 29er riders is lateral stiffness of wheels when offroading, but they are pretty solid and are def a cool way to go about things.
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Old 07-26-08, 09:07 PM   #5
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I think if there was a huge advantage one way or the other, we'd have all switched to the better tire. Sounds like more of a fitness issue than a tire size issue.

You can get a Coker Monster Cruiser with 36" tires, but that idea didn't seem to overtake the bicycling world by storm.
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Old 07-27-08, 12:02 AM   #6
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Big fat 29er wheels carry a little more momentum - harder to accelerate, but once you're up to speed it's a little less effort involved. On a long steady ride that can translate into the bike feeling "faster" with all else being equal.

How much of a difference, I can't tell for sure. My only basis of comparison has so much else going on (hi-ten vs aluminum frame, etc) that I can't tell for sure how much of it is just the wheels.
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Old 07-27-08, 12:14 PM   #7
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It seems like all of the mountain bikes around here have gone to 29rs in the last couple of years. There are a LOT of them around here!
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Old 07-28-08, 09:25 PM   #8
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I gotta say, my new 29er with knobby tires performs more like a road bike. I find myself sprinting up hills and carrying more speed on the flats. The frame geometry is different than my old Fisher 26, which may account for some of the difference. I also bought a larger frame, which gives me more room in the cockpit. As an old road racer, I am just 100% more at home on a 29er. It just feels right. I've really fallen for this new bike - it just does everything I want it to do. It also feels a lot more stable than my old MTB.

P.S. I bought a Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29er. It's still stock except for the saddle, clipless pedals, and Ergon grips and bar ends.
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