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  1. #1
    Staying Upright tenorman's Avatar
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    Size (of wheels) doesn't matter?

    OK, I'm a road rider (and a returning newbie, at that) looking for a decent mountain bike. I'm not going to do anything too radical with it, but I'm thinking a set-up with some level of full suspension for mainly XC-style riding would be fine. Don't plan on racing but like the idea of having a rig that *could* be used for racing.

    Anyway, having read through different threads, etc. on the forum I understand that frame is probably of paramount importance. But I'm curious what the general opinion of the Fisher 29" wheels over traditional 26" wheels is? I've read the marketing blurbs about the Fisher 29" wheels, sounds good but it doesn't seem like people are rushing out to get the larger wheels, seems like the 26" work just fine. And is Fisher the only stock maker who builds them? And I noticed that it looks like Fisher is only going with a couple of hardtails and a couple of full-suspension (Sugar 292, 293) for 2005, seems like they are scaling back their 29 offerings.

    So I'm interested in opinions, pros and cons on the 29ers; especially if you own one or have ridden one. What appeals to me is that it "seems" like you could go faster and easier to ride over moderate obstacles. I rode a SuperCaliber 29er (my LBS's personal mountain ride) and it was fine but the frame too big; I preferred the medium-frame C-Dale because it fit better and I'm waiting to try out a Fisher 29er in my size.

    You know, didn't seem to be any great shakes over the C-Dale speedwise. But the fact that I haven't read too much about riders converting to 29" wheels makes me think there isn't too much advantage to them for mountain biking. Maybe the 29" wheels makes it too much like a hybrid?

    Bikes I'm looking at C-Dale Scalpel, Specialized Epic, Fisher 293, maybe Giant NRS and Trek Fuel.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Xilant's Avatar
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    I never really liked Fisher, so it makes it hard to like their 29" wheels.
    I can't really say a pro about it because I Have never tried them. But as for cons, The tires, tubes and rim will be heavier because they'll require more material for the extra diameter. The 29" won't be as strong as the 26".(for the same reason 26" isn't as strong as the 24").

    I'd consider getting the Rocky Mountain Element 50 or the Kona Kikapu Deelux.
    If you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life.

  3. #3
    Eschew Obfuscation! enduro's Avatar
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    I've never tried them either, but I'd think that the wheels would ride a little more smoothly over obstacles and such; I guess you'd get a little more ground clearance. But sourcing parts for them would be a pain...you'd have very little flexibility in tire/tube/rim options.

  4. #4
    Senior Member igno-mtb's Avatar
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    well... for me the idea of a 29" wheels seems fine, the parts for them yes, they will become a pain but i have a fisher (not a 29er) and all i can say is that those are great bikes even at a budget price. i guess that they are not giving the proper impulse to their new technology because people is scared about that... in my opinion you should try them.... and then later tell me what happens....

  5. #5
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    I've ridden several of the Fisher models and a Surly Flying Monkey. I was intrigued about them when they first came out and did as much reading as possible.

    From what I was able to discern, I've come to the conclusion that they're not for me. They didn't really suit the style of riding I enjoy not the trails that I frequent.

    Where I think they are of benefit is in two scenarios. One, if you are very tall, then the larger wheels are more proportially correct. Gary Fisher himself is slender and relatively tall. I think he's 6'1", but don't quote me as gospel. To me, this is the same logic as a 46cm or 48 cm road bike using 650 wheels. It just makes sense proportionally. I feel that if you ride anything bigger than a Large frame, you should consider a 29er.

    Secondly, the larger wheels roll smoother and faster, but due to gyroscopic effects turn slower. This is great if you regularly ride smooth buff singletrack, or doubletrack. I live in FL. We don't have a lot of premier trail locations. What we lack in elevation we make up for with technical trails with a lot of tight turns, quick, short climbs and steep drops. A bike with slower steering is a detriment. Plus, short acceleration bursts are required to make our climbs, not long extended climbs. Again, a bigger wheel will accelerate slower but will continue to roll faster/smoother. Not good for tight technical, great for smooth and buff trails.

    Lastly, I ride in what I call an Aggro XC style. We don't have the elevation to ride DH and thus FR is limited. I'm a bit of a chicken, so an elevated trail above 4'0" is seldom attempted. I'm a big guy (and getting older) so drops above 5'0" are rare (or accidental). But, I like to jump, ride technical trails and test my limits. Thus Aggro XC. Again, the 29er doesn't suit my style.
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
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  6. #6
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    I'm just starting to look at these also. More for adventure racing and endurance mtb races. I'll keep my Yeti for the hardcore riding []

    It looks like GF is the only maker of 29er frames... anyone know a good place to get a frame for a good price?
    Mike

  7. #7
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Surly www.surlybikes.com makes inexpensive steel frames. Their 29 is called the Karate Monkey not Flying Monkey that I stated above. http://www.surlybikes.com/karatemonkey.html


    Matt Chester is a custom frame builder in CO and he specializes in 29ers. www.mattchester.com
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
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  8. #8
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    Cool, thanks.
    Mike

  9. #9
    Digs technical steeps
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    I ride with a guy who rides a 29" GF. He loves the bike for flat land xc and gets some extra speed and comfort out of the bigger wheels but has a lot (a lot!) of difficulty on the medium to tight switchbacks we cruise on our 26'ers. Maybe that will come with practice. I think it's a great bike for general riding but iffy when things get really technical. There's no doubt it's a type of hybrid (mtn/cyclo cross?) and there are some trade-off's for some trade-on's but my friend sure likes his (I ride more technical steeps so it wouldn't be for me).
    'My other bike is a bike.'

  10. #10
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Forgot a very cool bike: The Van Dessel Buzz Bomb. Cool as a SS, but even better with the Rohloff rear hub.

    http://www.vandesselsports.com/b_buzzBomb.shtml
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
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  11. #11
    Staying Upright tenorman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a2psyklnut
    I've ridden several of the Fisher models and a Surly Flying Monkey. I was intrigued about them when they first came out and did as much reading as possible.

    From what I was able to discern, I've come to the conclusion that they're not for me. They didn't really suit the style of riding I enjoy not the trails that I frequent.

    Where I think they are of benefit is in two scenarios. One, if you are very tall, then the larger wheels are more proportially correct. Gary Fisher himself is slender and relatively tall. I think he's 6'1", but don't quote me as gospel. To me, this is the same logic as a 46cm or 48 cm road bike using 650 wheels. It just makes sense proportionally. I feel that if you ride anything bigger than a Large frame, you should consider a 29er.

    Secondly, the larger wheels roll smoother and faster, but due to gyroscopic effects turn slower. This is great if you regularly ride smooth buff singletrack, or doubletrack. I live in FL. We don't have a lot of premier trail locations. What we lack in elevation we make up for with technical trails with a lot of tight turns, quick, short climbs and steep drops. A bike with slower steering is a detriment. Plus, short acceleration bursts are required to make our climbs, not long extended climbs. Again, a bigger wheel will accelerate slower but will continue to roll faster/smoother. Not good for tight technical, great for smooth and buff trails.

    Lastly, I ride in what I call an Aggro XC style. We don't have the elevation to ride DH and thus FR is limited. I'm a bit of a chicken, so an elevated trail above 4'0" is seldom attempted. I'm a big guy (and getting older) so drops above 5'0" are rare (or accidental). But, I like to jump, ride technical trails and test my limits. Thus Aggro XC. Again, the 29er doesn't suit my style.

    Appreciate the comprehensive information you provided. I'm certainly not an expert on MTB's (and a returning newbie on road bikes) but I could feel the difference between the 26"-wheeled C-Dale and the 29"-wheeled Fisher, especially with handling characteristics. Granted, the Fisher was a 19" frame and I'm really a 17" frame size.

    Since I live in the Northeast with wooded trails and such, I think I'll stick with looking for a 26er hardtail or limited suspension bike. The 29er would be nice for rolling over tree roots and rocks I suppose, but I used to do motocross (MANY years ago) and know how to lift the front end to roll over obstacles when I need to.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Don't want to spend too much, so maybe the Karate Monkey is what I need to look at. Btw, does GF sell the just the frame? Is Bontrager the only 29" wheel maker? And Rock Shox for the fork?

    Other than frame, wheels, fork, everything else is completely inter-changable with 26ers, right?
    Mike

  13. #13
    Campy or bust :p cryogenic's Avatar
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    That's the one reason why I wasn't keen on getting the 29'er due to the limited number of forks that support 29" wheels (or say they do at least). Also, if I wanted to upgrade my wheelset, seems that options would be limited as well. Hence, I went with a 26".

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