Solo Rider, always DFL
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Beacon, NY
Bikes: Cannondale T800, Schwinn Voyageur
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The local shop carries Kona... since I'm not wise to how to fit myself, and wouldn't mind the free tune-ups, and since they are good dudes all around, I was considering the Mahuna or Kahuna. I'd prefer 9 speed, since that's what I have on my spare wheels from my touring bike... give me the option of a spare set, though they are non-disc.
I think the parallel in 26'ers would be the Nunu and Fire Mountain, they are disc and one is 8 speed, one is 9 speed. The differential is about $160-$200 between one and the other in each range. I'm not sure whether the specs bear that out, or whether it's just a sort of 29er markup. I will say the bottom end XC Hardtail in 26 is definitely lower-end than the bottom end XC Hardtail 29er, so that might bear out the concept.
I'm not conversant enough in the gear to have a strong opinion on quality of components here... I would prefer 9 to 8, but it's not life and death for me... my road/touring bike is a 9 speed as well, so having chains and cassettes in common makes my life a little easier.