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29er vs. traditional: is guy at bike shop correct??

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29er vs. traditional: is guy at bike shop correct??

Old 02-08-13, 12:14 PM
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bennybenny
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29er vs. traditional: is guy at bike shop correct??

Hi all, first post.

I'm looking for a mountain bike for the following:

-hit the trails; not interested in time or races, but will hit some real trails; 50%

-biking around town, 50%, mostly local, not far, maybe to my kid's activities in the summer etc...

The bike store guy said to go with a 29er if I am commuting or biking around town a decent amount, traditional mountain bike if I'm more into the trails, intense type rides, times/races, etc...

Is this accurate? Is the 29er the right bike for these purposes?

Thanks.

Benny
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Old 02-08-13, 12:18 PM
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One more question:

Down the road as I gain more experience (1 year on road so far), I would like to participate in the Cross events at the local level. Not looking to 'win' or rankings or whatever, just a new way to stay in shape in the winter and improve handling skills.

My question: can you ride a 29er in these local races that typically allow mountain bikes??

Thanks.

Benny
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Old 02-08-13, 02:21 PM
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Is a 29er better for on road type biking? I realize 'better' is in the eye of the beholder.

Benny
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Old 02-08-13, 03:03 PM
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you are sort of asking apples and elephant questions...

mountain bikes are for mountain biking and road are for road. Decide what you want todo and then go from there.

It sounds like a hard tail MTBike will work for you. Just know, I am not enamored with the whole 29er thing and I am sure many peole will disagree with me but... in MTBikes there is 26ers and 29ers and for people who don't know the difference or can't make a choice 650B. 29ers will originally developed for big men and women who needed a bigger frame and more toe clearnace. Now everyone is riding one even though it really doesn't work - it's popular but not necessary the answer. If the trails you do are fairly uncomplicated or not technical, then consider getting a 29er hardtail. I see no reason at all for a full suspension 29er but again I know they have become popular. 26ers are still the go to cross country bike and for people who need a smaller frame. A 26er can easily be ridden on paved roads (swap out the tires) but again go hard tail, not full suspension.

Some stuff you forgot to add:

*price point
*height and weight
*nature of trails (rocky, rutty, sandy, steep, gnarly or easy...)
*riding experience and expertise as well as fitness level.

Most of all this depends on what you can spend and what your trails are like. A 29er is great for just going fast down something fairly striaght, not technical. A 26er is great for singletrack, switchbacks etc. A road bike is best for paved road. There is no one bike right for everything. I have 3 kinds of mountain bikes (depending on the trail), a commuter bike (an old Specilaized Rockhopper hardtail) I also use at night for riding and 2 road bikes (one for touring and one for faster shorter rides).
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Old 02-08-13, 04:33 PM
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From the Salsa web site (on the Vaya): "... our two smallest sizes use 26” wheels to provide improved fit, better standover clearance, and to eliminate toe overlap."
http://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya

I think your height can be a factor as noted above. 650b people say has almost the agility of 26 inch wheels with almost the speed of 700c wheels. So it's seen as an in-between solution. "The best of both worlds." In my opinion cost is a factor here because the last time I looked, 650b bikes were more expensive (as well as frames).

I even saw videos proving 29ers could go over rocks and tree roots a lot easier than on a 26 inch wheel mountain bike. To me, that's just one factor. I went in every direction when trying to decide what kind of touring bike I wanted to build. In the end, I decided I would use a frame that takes suspension forks and 26 inch wheels. OK, so I'm 5'8-1/2" or 174cm but that puts me right under the height you'd need in my opinion for 700c wheel bikes. Even if I can currently ride them doesn't mean I think they're ideal.
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Old 02-08-13, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by hybridbkrdr View Post
OK, so I'm 5'8-1/2" or 174cm but that puts me right under the height you'd need in my opinion for 700c wheel bikes. Even if I can currently ride them doesn't mean I think they're ideal.
I am also 5'8" 1/2 and believe a 29er is too big for me... however around here, the 29er is king and I see even small girls (like 5') riding them. The bikes are strange looking.... all wheel no frame... like a VW bug with Monster tires...Bikes do roll over alot and go faster down hill... just don't expect to make any turns....switchbacks are near impossible. Now if the poster is 6' 2"+ I would consider nothing less than a 29er...

BENNY: What to you is a real trail? It means one thing to me and maybe something else to you... in a previous thread it was discovred that trails mentioned were like rails to trail, dirt but hard packed. Trails to me are very technical and either up or down...
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Old 02-09-13, 09:17 AM
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Thanks for the replies. Here are some specifics: -height: 6'0 weight: 190 lbs price range: $1000-$1500ish trails: medium, not overly difficult. Here is what I'm asking: I already have a Road bike and used it all last summer. However, when just ratting around in the summer time and going around town to my kid's activities or whatever, I don't feel totally comfortable hopping on a Road bike, I would rather just hop on a mountain bike and be a little more relaxed. So the guy at the store said that since I was going to be doing trails and going around town somewhat, he suggested the 29er, said it moves a little better on the street etc...Thanks for any additional information. Benny
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Old 02-09-13, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
If the trails you do are fairly uncomplicated or not technical, then consider getting a 29er hardtail. I see no reason at all for a full suspension 29er but again I know they have become popular. 26ers are still the go to cross country bike and for people who need a smaller frame.


Most of all this depends on what you can spend and what your trails are like. A 29er is great for just going fast down something fairly striaght, not technical. A 26er is great for singletrack, switchbacks etc.
One of the main claimed benefits of 29ers is that they roll over obstacles better. I ride 26, so I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I think you are a little outside the mainstream on this.

I do agree with your opinion on sizing.
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Old 02-09-13, 10:27 AM
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a hard tail 29er is your best option for the things you describe and putting proper wheels on it is going to be a huge factor. IF your going to be riding it on the road a lot, you don't want very knobby tires on it but depending on the types of offroad trails, you may need to get knobbier tires! Quite honestly, most will tell you that you really want 2 bikes for these purposes but it's not impossible. you could consider a CX bike which will be very fast on the road and on fire trails but absolutely will be a no no for any serious MTB riding.
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Old 02-09-13, 10:45 AM
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I am a lifetime 26er. 6' 3" @225lbs. I enjoy riding and keep up with anyone on a 29er, in my ability level. Once you make a decision you will adapt to the bike and enjoy the heck out of it. You can ride 26, 650B and 29ers in any CX or MTB event. Test ride a few and your body will tell you what feels right.
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Old 02-09-13, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
I am also 5'8" 1/2 and believe a 29er is too big for me... however around here, the 29er is king and I see even small girls (like 5') riding them. The bikes are strange looking.... all wheel no frame... like a VW bug with Monster tires...Bikes do roll over alot and go faster down hill... just don't expect to make any turns....switchbacks are near impossible. Now if the poster is 6' 2"+ I would consider nothing less than a 29er...

BENNY: What to you is a real trail? It means one thing to me and maybe something else to you... in a previous thread it was discovred that trails mentioned were like rails to trail, dirt but hard packed. Trails to me are very technical and either up or down...
Strongly disagree with you on the looks of 29ers, what looks so strange about this? Strongly agree with you that it depends on ones definition of trail and what is available to them. IF it's simply a glorified dirt road or hiking path, heck I can ride a road bike down some of those. IF we are talking legitimate XC mtb trails, then you certainly need something capable of getting over logs and such.

Another option not mentioned is fatbikes. I'm on a bit of a fatbike kick, I'm new to mtb but i've been lusting after one since I first saw a moonlander. This morning I'm mad as hell as I just tried to take my bike pictured below out in the 15" of snow we just got and it aint happening! But a fat bike would crush it! many say they ride surprising well on the streets too and you don't need to fuss with a costly suspension fork. of course op could also look for a ridgid 29er too or single speed to keep costs down

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Old 02-09-13, 11:47 AM
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If your trails are kinda mellow then I'd probably just get a CX bike.
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Old 02-09-13, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
.Bikes do roll over alot and go faster down hill... just don't expect to make any turns....switchbacks are near impossible. ...

Pamestique, in the ever on going debate on wheel size and the ability of a 29er not being albe to cut a sharp turn or rocket through tight swith backs I cry bull!
Ill take my 29er hardtail race machine over my 26 in hard tail any day of the week.
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Old 02-09-13, 03:35 PM
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Nino still likes his 650B and he does pretty well, HT and all!
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Old 02-09-13, 05:09 PM
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Benny, I was in the same boat as you were for a number of months. I am a road bike guy who wanted to get into mountain biking, nothing competitive but more for cross country, single track, type of riding. Really to take advantage of the beautiful scenery that Colorado has to offer and another way of making memories with the family. Although I'm no expert, I do have experience with MTB's, all 26ers. Being that I'm 5'6"/29" inseam, I already had it in my mind that a 29er was just going to be too big, no matter what I was being told. Too make a long story short, after months of searching, I ended up with a Cannondale Trail SL2 29er. BEST DECISION EVER! Worlds difference and had an easier time tackling some of the local trails that had been more of a challenge with my 26er.
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Old 02-10-13, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
If your trails are kinda mellow then I'd probably just get a CX bike.
Yeah, realistically, if you are 50/50 roads versus trails, and the trails are fire roads or buff single track, CX bike rules.
Honestly, you can't have just one bike.
At a bare minimum you need a road bike, a CX bike, a MTB. If you can only have one, get the cross bike.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:56 AM
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I was getting back into cycling early last year after 20 years off. I also had just come off of 2 serious injuries to my right wrist and right knee. I needed a stout commuter which could do some trail riding. I went with a 29er hard tail. By the end of the season I was doing WORS races. I am a clyde and was not even close to competitive, but I loved it. I am 5' 11" and anywhere from 230 to 260 pounds. I ride about 5 miles each way to work, but cross 3 sets of railroad tracks. So I prefer the MTB over the road bike for commuting. I also made the compromise to have a 3 X 9 drivetrain. I LOVE hydraulic disc brakes. For an all around bike I love my 29er. It however has its drawbacks. As stated before, it is not as nimble in tight stuff. I hit a tree on 2 different occasions last year which I might not have hit with a smaller more nimble bike.

Looking back I would possibly make a few changes. I would have gone with a 2 X 10 drivetrain. I like having the big ring gear for pavement, but I should be at a higher cadence anyway. The lower gearing and tighter ratios are nice on the trail. I've ridden a few now and like them gearing better. I have felt like I was in between gears too often and/or had to shift the front to find the sweet spot. Then there is the small weight penalty for a 3x.

I would have gotten a better fork. The Rock Shox Recon Silver TK is OK, but for my weight and the single track I ride it definitely shows its limitations. I've ridden some other bikes with Marzocchi, Manitou and Fox forks and have been impressed. Even the higher end Rock Shox forks work better, for me anyway. I've fiddled with the adjustments on mine and can't quite get it right for a broader range of rock gardens, high speed dips, and hill climbs.

From one noob to another...rock the platform pedals for a while. I crashed many times on the trails and probably would have 100X more if I hadn't put my foot down. Any MTB you get, the bikes abilities will be greater than yours for a long time. Also, in my experience your fitness level will be greater than your bravery level. Hitting trees hurts.
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Old 02-10-13, 11:23 AM
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for me i still chose hard tail "26" why? because is simple my power is very limited, "29" is more heavy then "26", rolling resistance "26" is lower compare "29", "26" easier to make fast cornering compare to "29". but the + side "29" better handling on down hill and tackle obstacle easier then "26". for what i read your purpose mostly on road "29" is your best option here, you just need 2 type tire: slick tire on road and spike tire for you participate on your local event.
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Old 02-10-13, 11:55 AM
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I ride road, mountain and do the family bike rides too. For the family rides, I find the mountain bike a better choice for me though I enjoy the road bike so much more. I started experimenting by putting road bars on a smaller 26" wheeled mountain bike with semi slicks. It's set up with semi slicks and a rack so I can carry all the junk the kids want to bring, snacks toys etc. so far it has worked out well and works off road still.
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Old 02-10-13, 05:25 PM
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Personally I wouldn't enjoy driving anything with knobby tires on it around the city.

So lets take your 29'er hardtail and put road slicks on it. Now its pretty much a heavy duty city hybrid with tire selection limited to whatevers available in a 700c size. About 2" I think.

Or you can take a 26" hardtail and also put road slicks on it. Maximum tire size there is about 2.5".

Personally I think any difference between the two for city use is exaggerated. Suggest you start with what you might be most comfortable with offroad.
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Old 02-10-13, 06:12 PM
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I have one hard tail mtb in my collection. She runs 26" tires and runs either slicks or knobblies depending on the occasion.I don't do that much off road and when I do its not technical or downhill or I setup my bike for on the road speed and comfort first, offroad ability second. The shock can be locked out so I get the best of both worlds, if I need suspension I have it, if I want road speed I can lock it out. As others have stated, a roadbike is always better for the road, and a really ruggid mtb is best for real offroad stuff. I'm 192cm tall and run a 20.5" frame - The sizing is perfect for me. I can ride 200km+ on the road in a day, or I can drop the seat a little and have some fun on the track. Never ridden a 29er mtb, but my roadie runs 700c and I can definately feel there is a difference in initial acceleration, but its not huge and top speed isn't affected. I also agree that 26" wheels make for a nimbler bike.



For me at least the perfect 'I can do it all ok" bike.
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Old 02-10-13, 07:03 PM
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I think a hardtail or fully rigid 29er that will take 2.4" or 2.5" tires would be a fine choice. I'm a touch over 6'2, 190-195 lbs (185 optimal weight), and was given a similar challenge. I wanted a bike that could tackle singletrack and modest trails, but could also be used as a commuter.
I ended up with a fully rigid 29er (the frame is not designed for a shock, so has a "proper" length head tube and fork clearance).
It rides great on single track with 2.4" Maxxis Ardents, and is smooth and surprisingly fast on the road with 50mm Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.

Here it is in single track mode:




And in commute mode:

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Old 02-10-13, 07:17 PM
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I went the other route in dealing with commuting. My mtb is optimized for fun, I have touring gear for it, but it just weighs it down so unless I'm riding for full day or more it stays stripped down. At any rate I don't need more than a bottle of water and a backpack for most commutes. If it rains or I want to carry things this is the beast of choice. It also costs a lot less and looks much less appealing so I feel happier leaving it outside. It can also carry a lot in that basket and the fenders stop me from eating road grime on a rainy day. Heavy? for sure, and I doubt it would handle more than a fire road, but horses for courses... its a commuter not an mtb.

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Old 02-11-13, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bennybenny View Post
Thanks for the replies. Here are some specifics: -height: 6'0 weight: 190 lbs price range: $1000-$1500ish trails: medium, not overly difficult. Here is what I'm asking: I already have a Road bike and used it all last summer. However, when just ratting around in the summer time and going around town to my kid's activities or whatever, I don't feel totally comfortable hopping on a Road bike, I would rather just hop on a mountain bike and be a little more relaxed. So the guy at the store said that since I was going to be doing trails and going around town somewhat, he suggested the 29er, said it moves a little better on the street etc...Thanks for any additional information. Benny
Somehow I missed this post. What kind of road bike do you have? if your not comfortable commuting on a road bike and dont' really do any organized group rides or race on the road bike than putting flat bars on the road bike is a valid option. it could be done for anywhere from $50-200 or so depending on what you are riding on now. Making that change would put your body more upright and better able to to turn your head to see whats going on around you. Bottom line, a roadbike is most likely going to be at least 5lbs lighter than any mtb you would buy in your budget and a lot of that is going to be in the wheels. The road bike is going to feel much more nimble and enjoyable on the road. Then spend the rest of your budget on a dedicated MTB. With the budget that you are proposing you have plenty of money to get a very solid 26 or 29" mtb.

as for comments made by others, 29ers have come a long way in the research that I've done. there are certainly their fanboys and detractors who will blindly stay devoted to their beliefs but the simple fact is, a lot of things have been done with the geometry on these bikes to improve ride quality. For example, the reason I'm riding the yelli screamy is that it has SUPER Short chain stays but a very relaxed headtube. This allows the bike to easily handle the tight twisty stuff, but still climb and descend like a champ. I'm running 120mm fork on it and it's a phenomenal ride. I noticed a huge difference from my entry level diamondback 29er which did handle a bit more like a cadillac. For the budget you are proposing, you can get either bike with a very good fork which will make a difference and hopefully with a tubeless ready setup which will make a huge improvement in the quality of your off road riding.
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Old 02-11-13, 06:29 AM
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You already have a road bike, ride that on the road. You mentioned that when with the kids you don't want to mess around with the road bike, are you going to want to switch tire / wheels out when you want to ride the mtb on the street? I never ride my mtb on the street (other than getting to trails).

Get a mtb for trails and use your road bike for roads. Sure there are compromise bikes: Cross and various styles of "hybrid" bikes but if you are going to have 2 bikes and one of them is already a road bike don't compromise on the mtb because you think you are going to ride it on the road.
Sidney Porter is offline  

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