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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 04-23-10, 03:36 AM   #1
Ewanick
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Need serious help: I hate to ask... large lider: 26" or 29"? pros? cons?

So, I am in the process of getting back into the mix of things after being out for quite some time and thought I decided on a Fisher Cobia 29'er, but then I started reading about the 26" vs 29" debate and am at a loss at where to start. I do not want to drop $1,200 ($1,500 is my buget and keep in mind, my LBS sells Trek, Fisher and Felt) into a bike and regret it later. I like the feel of both a 29'er and a 26'er before; but now I am at 300lbs and 6'1", 28-29" inseam (shorter legs, long torso). I also have four years of college ahead of me and do not have the money to buy another bike down the road. When I was at a lighter weight, I enjoyed the ride of dirt packed trails (xc), downhilling, as well as rugged terrain but can't quite afford to put the money into a nice full suspension 26'er (though, I did take a look at the Trek Fuel EX 5). I know that this is quite like asking who is democratic and republican and why, but I need the input, all is welcome. Thank you.

Last edited by Ewanick; 04-23-10 at 04:16 AM. Reason: Title should say "large rider", my apologies. I am not sure how the "L" got in there, haha.
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Old 04-23-10, 04:52 AM   #2
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A29er is a 700c wheel with a fat mountain bike tire. There are pros and cons to each, however, a good, hand built 36 spoke 29er wheel would do you quite well, dependent of course on the type of riding you intend to do. A26 inch wheel of the same spoke count will be somewhat stronger, due to the shorter spoke run involved, but properly built and hand tensioned by a quality wheel builder, either one will do nicely.
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Old 04-23-10, 07:30 AM   #3
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Most shops have Demo bikes they will let you try out. Ride a 26er and 29er and experience them yourself. I have a 26" MTB and am getting tired of going over the handle bars every ride. We have lots of rocks and roots here on the east coast and the bike of choice in these parts has become the 29er for those whose skills are limited or their age is limiting their skills. I had my eyes on getting s full suspension 29er earlier this year but then saw how much they cost and decided to stick with my 1994 26" for one more season.
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Old 04-23-10, 08:07 AM   #4
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I have had both. Am currently on a 29er and will never go back. if you are a serious technical rider (which I am NOT), the 26 has it's advantages, but if you want to roll over most everything in your way the 29er is the thang.

The only decision I will have to make in the future, is what will be my next 29er....PERIOD!

I run Kenda Karma knobs on mine from October - May, and then I change them out for 2.35 Schwalbe BIG APPLE Slicks for my back road summer riding.

Good luck to you in your decision.
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Old 04-23-10, 08:39 AM   #5
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I'm 6'4" and 260. I tried out a 26" and a 29er. With the 26 I always felt like I was going to go over the bars while just riding. I could have maybe put on a longer stem but that may have shifted my weight enough forward so that I would go over the bars. With the 29er I am very comfortable. I haven't done much off road with it yet though.

As always ride a few and see what you like!

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Old 04-23-10, 08:45 AM   #6
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There's a lot that's been written on the trade-offs between 26" wheels versus 29" wheels. You can probably find a lot of info if you care to look...

The big advantage of a 29er is that the wheels roll over small obstacles more easily than 26" wheels. The disadvantages are that it takes more effort to get 29" wheels rolling (and keep them rolling), more effort to lift them over obstacles that can't be rolled, and more finesse to get them through really tight switchbacks. At demo days, I notice lots of beginners seem to gravitate toward 29ers. Not sure if this is because 29ers are the Hot New Thing or because they allow people without much skill to roll over obstacles that would require skill/finesse to negotiate on a 26er.

26" wheels are, in theory, slightly more versatile. Wheels are smaller, so they're easier to lift, accelerate, and maneuver. Because they're smaller, frame designers have more flexibility in frame and suspension design. 26ers are ubiquitous: you'll have more bike, suspension, drivetrain, and tire choices than you will with a 29er.

Best thing to do is talk to riders in your area (either out on the trails or in an area-specific forum) and see what they're using...
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Old 04-23-10, 09:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
A26 inch wheel of the same spoke count will be somewhat stronger, due to the shorter spoke run involved,
I don't know a thing about 29'ers but that was my initial thought when I heard of them. It's common sense.


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At demo days, I notice lots of beginners seem to gravitate toward 29ers. Not sure if this is because 29ers are the Hot New Thing.
That's my impression. I have friends that have 29'ers and some that are looking into buying one. Claims that they climb over obstacles better, ride better blah blah blah. "Cool, now let's go ride up the mountian". Common response: "No Way, I don't climb and I might fall and hurt myself!

I used to ride a rigid Trek 800 ($200, with upgraded wheels) then upgraded to the Trek 8000 hardtail ($1100 bike but on sale for $900). I honestly didn't notice much of a difference on the same trails. My first thought was, it should climb better, I should be faster, I should be smokin', maybe I need a better bike?

Just then, some dude on the same exact bike, model, paint job, wheels flew by me climbing up the hill, smiled then said, nice bike!

Just give me a bike and Ill ride it. I was smoking' dudes on $3000 full suspensions on my $200 rigid! Now, I'd ride my Trek 8000 mtb over the 800 mtb not because it's so much better, but because I paid for it!

Unless you are racing and needs some sort of advantage over the next guy, a 26 hardtail should be fine. The fact that you are 300 lbs would steer me towards the more durable wheel theory That's just my opinion though, it's your money.
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Old 04-23-10, 10:59 AM   #8
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At your height I think a 29er would be best. If your 28.5" inseam is crotch to floor, rather than pant inseam, you may be better with 26" wheels, with a longer stem fitted.
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Old 04-23-10, 12:36 PM   #9
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You can go 'round and 'round on this for ages. I own both, and in reality... it doesn't make a huge difference. Sure, it's a noticeable difference- but both my 29er and 26er put a grin on my face. As long as I'm out on either of them, I never think to myself "Man, I wish I had my other bike!", no matter the terrain. Tire design, width, and air pressure make far more noticeable differences to me than 26 vs. 29.

I do make an exception for single speed 29ers. There's just something about that combo that just magically works way better than one gear and a 26er.

One comment I do see above that I tend to disagree with- I happen to think that a 29" wheel of similar build to a 26" wheel will be MORE durable. Not necessarily stronger, but the added flex from the longer spokes is nice to have, without it- things start breaking. Purely a theory backed up only by my own anecdotal experiences, but it's served me well.
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Old 04-23-10, 12:56 PM   #10
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I own both, and in reality... it doesn't make a huge difference. Sure, it's a noticeable difference- but both my 29er and 26er put a grin on my face. As long as I'm out on either of them, I never think to myself "Man, I wish I had my other bike!", no matter the terrain. Tire design, width, and air pressure make far more noticeable differences to me than 26 vs. 29.
and you race right?....good source!
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Old 04-23-10, 04:55 PM   #11
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So, I am in the process of getting back into the mix of things after being out for quite some time and thought I decided on a Fisher Cobia 29'er, but then I started reading about the 26" vs 29" debate and am at a loss at where to start. I do not want to drop $1,200 ($1,500 is my buget and keep in mind, my LBS sells Trek, Fisher and Felt) into a bike and regret it later. I like the feel of both a 29'er and a 26'er before; but now I am at 300lbs and 6'1", 28-29" inseam (shorter legs, long torso). I also have four years of college ahead of me and do not have the money to buy another bike down the road. When I was at a lighter weight, I enjoyed the ride of dirt packed trails (xc), downhilling, as well as rugged terrain but can't quite afford to put the money into a nice full suspension 26'er (though, I did take a look at the Trek Fuel EX 5). I know that this is quite like asking who is democratic and republican and why, but I need the input, all is welcome. Thank you.
Well, after talking to the local LBS, and explaining to them my entire situation, and checking the inventory of the manufacturers that they carry. I have finally decided and placed my order. Unfortunately, for the forum go'ers, I am going to leave it be a suprise until the "maiden voyage".
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