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An observation on 29ers (long and windy dissertation alert)

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An observation on 29ers (long and windy dissertation alert)

Old 06-07-13, 01:24 PM
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An observation on 29ers (long and windy dissertation alert)

OK, so recently I finally acquired the bike of my dreams - - a Yeti SB66. Of course, until a year or two ago, I didnít know it was the bike of my dreams. All these years I thought the Yeti 575 was the bike of my dreams - - then along came its ďbig brother.Ē Silly me.

So you might be saying to yourself, ďA throwback 26er in this age of the 29er? Are you kidding? Whatís so SuperBike about that?Ē I kinda wondered that myself; I wondered if I was making a mistake and if I might really be happier on an SB95 - - especially given that my height (6í-1Ē) falls into that ďideally suitedĒ realm for 29ers. In the end, I decided to stay with 26, not because Iím a retro-grouch (gawd forbid!), but because I determined that the SB66 was THE expression of the ultimate downhillerís trailbike: slack, long-travel, reasonable weight, nimble and flickable and a descent-devourer.

SOOOoooo - - now after having raced 5 weeks of local cross country races against a field jammed with 29ers of all stripes, Iíve formed some further impressions on 29ers in general and on whether or not I made a mistake personally in staying 26.

Hereís what I have observed from running with the big-wheeled boys (YMMV):
  • Those big fat tires arenít suspension. Donít think that rigid or hardtail 29er is going to float over stuff just because itís got the rolling diameter. Rock gardens and baby-head sections are still going to bounce it around. Maybe youíve found you can plow straighter lines without as much regard for the obstacles and thatís good . . . but you could have been doing that anyway. And the SB blows through them like a DH machine.

  • I give up little on the climbs. I think itís a nearly draw there. But it does seem like the 26 recovers speed topping out the climb a bit quicker than the big-hooped bikes - - less inertia to overcome snicking up through the gears and getting back to cruising speed.

  • In the tight, rough sections - - the ones where the track is narrow and twisty, choppy and lots up little ups and downs - - Iím stuck waiting behind the 29er to plod its way through. Meanwhile, I can accelerate in little bursts out of the turns, gobble up the chunder and pump through the undulations. Sadly, I canít pass Ďcause thereís no room.

  • But if itís buff doubletrack or one of those wide, sweeping singletrack avenues, thatís where the 29er shines. If thereís too much of that, the 29er is gonna catch me and run away. So I have to take my advantages where I can. Iíve found I consistently gain the most ground in rough sections, the tight twisties and any descent - - the rougher the better.


In the end, I donít regret my decision at all. Iíve got a bike that can still hold its own respectably in a cross country race and is everything I could ask for when I turn it loose on what I really got it for.
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Old 06-07-13, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
OK, so recently I finally acquired the bike of my dreams - - a Yeti SB66. Of course, until a year or two ago, I didnít know it was the bike of my dreams. All these years I thought the Yeti 575 was the bike of my dreams - - then along came its ďbig brother.Ē Silly me.

So you might be saying to yourself, ďA throwback 26er in this age of the 29er? Are you kidding? Whatís so SuperBike about that?Ē I kinda wondered that myself; I wondered if I was making a mistake and if I might really be happier on an SB95 - - especially given that my height (6í-1Ē) falls into that ďideally suitedĒ realm for 29ers. In the end, I decided to stay with 26, not because Iím a retro-grouch (gawd forbid!), but because I determined that the SB66 was THE expression of the ultimate downhillerís trailbike: slack, long-travel, reasonable weight, nimble and flickable and a descent-devourer.

SOOOoooo - - now after having raced 5 weeks of local cross country races against a field jammed with 29ers of all stripes, Iíve formed some further impressions on 29ers in general and on whether or not I made a mistake personally in staying 26.

Hereís what I have observed from running with the big-wheeled boys (YMMV):
  • Those big fat tires arenít suspension. Donít think that rigid or hardtail 29er is going to float over stuff just because itís got the rolling diameter. Rock gardens and baby-head sections are still going to bounce it around. Maybe youíve found you can plow straighter lines without as much regard for the obstacles and thatís good . . . but you could have been doing that anyway. And the SB blows through them like a DH machine.

  • I give up little on the climbs. I think itís a nearly draw there. But it does seem like the 26 recovers speed topping out the climb a bit quicker than the big-hooped bikes - - less inertia to overcome snicking up through the gears and getting back to cruising speed.

  • In the tight, rough sections - - the ones where the track is narrow and twisty, choppy and lots up little ups and downs - - Iím stuck waiting behind the 29er to plod its way through. Meanwhile, I can accelerate in little bursts out of the turns, gobble up the chunder and pump through the undulations. Sadly, I canít pass Ďcause thereís no room.

  • But if itís buff doubletrack or one of those wide, sweeping singletrack avenue, thatís where the 29er shines. If thereís too much of that, the 29er is gonna catch me and run away. So I have to take my advantages where I can. Iíve found I consistently gain the most ground in rough sections, the tight twisties and any descent - - the rougher the better.


In the end, I donít regret my decision at all. Iíve got a bike that can still hold its own respectably in a cross country race and is everything I could ask for when I turn it loose on what I really got it for.
Very well put and one of the reasons I'm considering a Trek 6500 HT26er instead of a HT 29er.
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Old 06-07-13, 04:15 PM
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Its seems like a good review. You also have years (40+?) of experience in a variety of racing situations that might give you an edge over others when it comes to tight and sticky situations.

I read some reviews lately. I can't remember which magazine, but Yeti had two Editor's Choice in the Mountain Bike category. Your bike may have been one of them.
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Old 06-09-13, 12:51 AM
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oooo yesssss 26" im almost sell my kula watt carbon because all championship mtb xc i saw on tube using 29"
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Old 06-09-13, 05:03 AM
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Great write up OP, The phrase I liked the best was,
"29er's do all the boring stuff better than the 26er's,, 26er's do all the fun stuff better than the 29er's"

And In all the places I ride I see more than half of peoples ride time being spent In the boring stuff.
So for NON competing riders, people who just ride I think If your tall a 29er is a great choice.

I'm 6ft and the 26" I tested felt like a kiddie bike under me, Big Trucks do well in the woods,, just sayin.

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Old 06-09-13, 07:52 AM
  #6  
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I've owned both, a 26er and a 29er (most recently a 29er). IMO, they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I don't compete so the 29er works well for me. It rides over obstacles better and climbs better. In other words, it makes the harder things easier for me.

A lot of people say the 29er handles like a cruise ship or handles poorly, but mine does fairly well. When it comes to tight-radiused turns or hairpins, there's no way in hell my 29er would have kept up with a 26er. On a tight single track the 26er isn't gonna be touched, but get on a long, flowing single track and it's gonna be the 29er all day long.

I think a more experienced, technical rider would appreciate the challenges of a 26er to those of a 29er. Simply put, someone who likes choosing his/her lines carefully and methodically is not going to have as much fun on the 29er. For fairly inexperienced riders like myself who are still leary about going over particular obstacles, choosing lines, or traveling down tight descents at super-fast paces, the 29er is going to be far more appreciated.

So, is the 29er all its cracked up to be? Is it worthy of all the hype? I don't think so. In reality, I don't think it's any improvement over a 26er. The 26er does some things better than a 29er and vice versa. Neither one is superior, so the "old school" 26er fans don't really have any room to be talking smack and neither do the 29er owners. If you put experienced riders of each bike on a track catering to each, they'll be forced to agree, "Yes, the 26er is better on this type of terrain," or "Yes, the 29er is better on this type of terrain." Even the most rabid fan of either is going to find a disadvantage to the other.

...And then there's the 650B. There's two ways of looking at the 650B; it either does everything well or doesn't do anything well; who knows, I guess it's just a matter of opinion. Everyone is going to have their opinions on what's great and nobody is going to change anybody else's mind.

IMO, just get one of each.
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Old 06-09-13, 08:13 AM
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Excellent review.
I especially agree with your first bullet comment. After renting a hardtail 29er, I've decided if I go 29er, and that's still a big if, I'll replace the dually. The 26er hardtail that I use on relatively smooth, fast track stays.
Wooden Tiger's comment about each deciding what they like best is right on. At just under 5'9", I ride small frame MTBs and won't go back to medium. But that doesn't work for most that 5'9". To each his (or her) own.
BUT..... it's gonna drive the LBSs crazy with all the different sizes and models.
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Old 06-09-13, 11:25 AM
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It has been interesting to watch the changes in trail design around here. Used to be that local trails were tight and twisty and fairly slow. The newer trails are fast and flowy (though many have expert loops that are tighter). Seems like the rise in popularity of faster, flowier trails has come alongside the advent of the 29er.

Maybe, in the future, if trail design returns to a focus on twisting, less sculpted track, the 26" will come back with a vengeance. What I am trying to say in this mess is that, at bottom, we choose the bike that fits the ride. Right now, for a lot of us 29ers fit the trails we ride.

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Old 06-09-13, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by SnowJob View Post
It has been interesting to watch the changes in trail design around here. Used to be that local trails were tight and twisty and fairly slow. The newer trails are fast and flowy (though many have expert loops that are tighter). Seems like the rise in popularity of faster, flowier trails has come alongside the advent of the 29er.

Maybe, in the future, if trail design returns to a focus on twisting, less sculpted track, the 26" will come back with a vengeance. What I am trying to say in this mess is that, at bottom, we choose the bike that fits the ride. Right now, for a lot of us 29ers fit the trails we ride.
Personally, I think it's just the "in thing" right now to "reinvent the wheel." It's happened from Day One with every product out there. There's always a product out there where people can argue, "Well, theoretically, this is the better design," followed by reason after reason. It happens with bikes, musical instruments, religion, etc; everyone has a reason for why X is better than Y.

Just a year ago the 29er was "the one," it was the be-all, end-all. The 29er climbed better, it descended better, it rolled better, did this better, did that better...better, better, better, better. The 29er could do no wrong. Now, just a year later, the 29er's efficiency is being questioned. No longer is the 29er the "be-all, end-all;" enter the 650B. Now, the 650B just does it all. The 650B does no wrong. All of a sudden, it's a whole new idea, nevermind the 650B has been around since the days when Schwinn was an AMERICAN bicycle company and their bicycles were made in the USA. The 650B was probably around BEFORE then! Now, all of a sudden, it's hailed as being the greatest invention to ever grace bicycles.

Well, I guess it's time for us 26er and 29er owners to just pick our bicycles up and throw them in the garbage, because no longer are they worth crap on a single track, now that the big, bad, 650B has hit the market.

So, what's the next fad gonna be? An actual 27er? A magnetorical fork like the suspension found on the Corvette that "reads" the terrain and how much "rebound" is needed? Perhaps a heads-up display in a helmet that chooses the best line? Today, the 650B is the flavor of the day, what's it gonna be tomorrow...
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Old 06-09-13, 05:42 PM
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This whole, 'What bike Is best' Is soon to start all over,,,,,,, The 27.5" wheel bikes are breaking out now,, Said to be the best of both worlds, LOL, The bike makers have us right where they want us
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Old 06-09-13, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by osco53 View Post
This whole, 'What bike Is best' Is soon to start all over,,,,,,, The 27.5" wheel bikes are breaking out now,, Said to be the best of both worlds, LOL, The bike makers have us right where they want us
For this week, anyway.

Well, like I said above, there are two opinions; they either do everything well or do nothing well. One side will say, "Oh, well, they handle like a 26er and climb like a 29er," while the others will say, "Well, it neither handles as well as a 26er or climbs as well as a 29er." I guess it's a "glass half full, glass half empty" type deal. For me, I'd love to take a 650B out on the trails, but it doesn't mean enough for me to just say, "Oh, well since the 650B is really getting a push, it must be the greatest thing ever!"
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Old 06-10-13, 07:18 PM
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I've got two bikes with 16" wheels and five with 20" wheels. My MTB is a 29er. She's my mistress........
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Old 06-10-13, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
OK...for.
Well you did say, "Long and windy dissertation alert", and I suppose I should have stopped right there, but, always the optimist...I read on. For a response, I deleted all but the first & last words of your quote, because there's nothing new. A better approach would be to get 26" & 29" wheel Yeti's and rotate laps of the individual races between the two, and then after five races and lots of alternating laps...
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Old 06-10-13, 10:01 PM
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Biking and racing is as much art and feel as science and facts.

Schurter and Absalom both tried the 29ers for their sponsors and went back to what felt right. Actually Schurter went to the 650bs and muddied the waters. Absalom is with now BMC on a 29er this year and struggling. Could be his age.
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Old 06-10-13, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
I think a more experienced, technical rider would appreciate the challenges of a 26er to those of a 29er. Simply put, someone who likes choosing his/her lines carefully and methodically is not going to have as much fun on the 29er.
'More experienced, technical riders' are not generally "line-pickers" - - they have enough experience to know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, even if it's not the 'smoothest,' or most obvious or most well-worn line. And that's the point I thought I was trying to make: that I personally enjoy my slack, full suspension 26 because it's nimble, quick and allows me to blow through rough sections without regard (for the most part) for what's on the ground in front of me. Bear in mind that I called it early on "a dowbhiller's trailbike" and I fully stand by that. It allows me to look at and attack portions of trail in much the same manner that I would on my DH bike. I can commit to an action and feel confident it will hold up its end of the bargain. It's really almost like a mini-DH that I can pedal up the next hill. I like that.

Originally Posted by gruppo View Post
Well you did say, "Long and windy dissertation alert", and I suppose I should have stopped right there, but, always the optimist...I read on. For a response, I deleted all but the first & last words of your quote, because there's nothing new. A better approach would be to get 26" & 29" wheel Yeti's and rotate laps of the individual races between the two, and then after five races and lots of alternating laps...
That would be an interesting study. MBA did something very similar a few years ago at the start of the 29er boom and found lap times by the same rider on the same circuit to be faster on the 29er. However, I didn't get my SB66 for racing XC races - - that'd be kinda silly. I got it to be my all-'round, all-day, do-it-all trail bike. It was just an added bonus that its weight and manners have allowed me to hold my own in our local race series without feeling like I gave up much of anything to have the type of bike I really wanted.


As far as 650b, I'm REAL intrigued by this and have been waiting for tires and strong wheels to catch up to the concept. Except I only want to do it on the front. I actually think there may be enough room under that arch of my Fox to squeeze a decent-size 650 tire under it. This is an idea that's been brewing in my mind since before 650b MTB stuff started showing up - - a larger front wheel for the rolling diameter - - my thought being it could revolutionize the 26 in much the same way the switch from 19" front wheels to 21"ers revolutionized motocross bikes at in the late '60s/early '70s. Been wanting to try it on the DH bike too but would need to go back to an inverted fork and, as far as I know, there aren't any good 2.5 650b tires yet.
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Old 06-11-13, 12:06 AM
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My take. Granted, the build pic links are gone, but scroll down a bit and there are actual riding pics.

https://forums.mtbr.com/29er-bikes/fr...5D-491856.html

I do not like 29ers (for my riding) for some of the same reasons, some a bit different.
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Old 06-11-13, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
'[More experienced, technical riders' are not generally "line-pickers" - - they have enough experience to know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, even if it's not the 'smoothest,' or most obvious or most well-worn line. And that's the point I thought I was trying to make: that I personally enjoy my slack, full suspension 26 because it's nimble, quick and allows me to blow through rough sections without regard (for the most part) for what's on the ground in front of me. Bear in mind that I called it early on "a dowbhiller's trailbike" and I fully stand by that. It allows me to look at and attack portions of trail in much the same manner that I would on my DH bike. I can commit to an action and feel confident it will hold up its end of the bargain. It's really almost like a mini-DH that I can pedal up the next hill. I like that.

That would be an interesting study. MBA did something very similar a few years ago at the start of the 29er boom and found lap times by the same rider on the same circuit to be faster on the 29er. However, I didn't get my SB66 for racing XC races - - that'd be kinda silly. I got it to be my all-'round, all-day, do-it-all trail bike. It was just an added bonus that its weight and manners have allowed me to hold my own in our local race series without feeling like I gave up much of anything to have the type of bike I really wanted.


As far as 650b, I'm REAL intrigued by this and have been waiting for tires and strong wheels to catch up to the concept. Except I only want to do it on the front. I actually think there may be enough room under that arch of my Fox to squeeze a decent-size 650 tire under it. This is an idea that's been brewing in my mind since before 650b MTB stuff started showing up - - a larger front wheel for the rolling diameter - - my thought being it could revolutionize the 26 in much the same way the switch from 19" front wheels to 21"ers revolutionized motocross bikes at in the late '60s/early '70s. Been wanting to try it on the DH bike too but would need to go back to an inverted fork and, as far as I know, there aren't any good 2.5 650b tires yet.
That's what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about stopping at the top of a hill and pondering where to ride. An experienced rider will see decent lines. If there's more than one favorable line, he/she is probably going to take the smoother path as it would be faster without the disruption of obstacles/rough terrain.

For me, I'm new to riding and if it's the first time I'm on a trail, I just don't go for the gold on steep downhills until I "assess" first; consider it as being a "first lap tour." I like to know what I'm getting into before I just go for it. I don't have time for bad injuries which require me to be out of work or miss work, so I don't have the luxury of just flying down hills without knowing what's in front of me. It sure would be nice to be 16 again have no responsibilities...

The 650B would be great for DH. Maybe a bike with a 650B up front and 26er in the rear. The 650B would allow the bike to travel over the terrain easier while the 26er in the rear would help to keep it in the groove. A 29er as a DH bike would be a disaster because it would always be rolling "out of the groove."
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Old 06-11-13, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by social suicide View Post
I've got two bikes with 16" wheels and five with 20" wheels. My MTB is a 29er. She's my mistress........
Ohhhhhhhh, the long legged one! Always the dirty little secret.
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Old 06-11-13, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
The 650B would be great for DH
Yeah? You ride a lot of DH?
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Old 06-11-13, 06:22 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by cryptid01 View Post
Yeah? You ride a lot of DH?
Do you? You seem to do it all! I'll bet you're the next Kyle Strait!
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Old 06-11-13, 08:59 PM
  #21  
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Oh, sorry, I lied. I have 3 -16" wheeled bikes. one with full suspension, one with rear and one not at all. But who needs cush when you're riding 1968 Schwinn (marketed in the very back of the catalog to "hunters and sporstmen").







The question is the relationship of the fun meter to the wheel diameter. I ride them all and I can honestlly say I have no idea. That meter is pegged the whole time.
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Old 06-12-13, 03:26 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Daspydyr View Post
Biking and racing is as much art and feel as science and facts.

Schurter and Absalom both tried the 29ers for their sponsors and went back to what felt right. Actually Schurter went to the 650bs and muddied the waters. Absalom is with now BMC on a 29er this year and struggling. Could be his age.
I don't know what bike races you watched, but Absalon was winning the first WC race by 30+ seconds when his bike broke in rather mysterious circumstances.

Then, he took 2nd in the next WC.

Struggling? Not so much.
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Old 06-12-13, 03:32 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
'More experienced, technical riders' are not generally "line-pickers" - - they have enough experience to know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, even if it's not the 'smoothest,' or most obvious or most well-worn line. And that's the point I thought I was trying to make: that I personally enjoy my slack, full suspension 26 because it's nimble, quick and allows me to blow through rough sections without regard (for the most part) for what's on the ground in front of me. Bear in mind that I called it early on "a dowbhiller's trailbike" and I fully stand by that. It allows me to look at and attack portions of trail in much the same manner that I would on my DH bike. I can commit to an action and feel confident it will hold up its end of the bargain. It's really almost like a mini-DH that I can pedal up the next hill. I like that.
If you watch the fastest DH and XC racers on the world cup, yes, they are definitely picking a line, and it's not the shortest, straight line path.

A straight line over rough, slow terrain can/will be significantly slower than a slightly longer but much smoother, faster one.
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Old 06-12-13, 09:55 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Duke of Kent View Post
If you watch the fastest DH and XC racers on the world cup, yes, they are definitely picking a line, and it's not the shortest, straight line path.

A straight line over rough, slow terrain can/will be significantly slower than a slightly longer but much smoother, faster one.
Notable exceptions: Gwin 0:41, Hart 2:05 & 2:47, Hill 5:51

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Old 06-12-13, 12:17 PM
  #25  
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Are these opinions based on predetermined conclusions? Do we seek information that will reinforce what we already believe? When I ride, I am mainly looking to not wreck, while getting down the trail (either up it or down it) as fast as possible. I have ridden bikes with 26"; 27.5" and 29" wheels. I fully believe that 27.5" is the best of both worlds. It accelerates quickly, like the 26" wheel, yet mutes the trail chatter much like a 29" wheel does. The 27.5" and 29" wheel "roll over" trail obstacles better than the 26" wheel. I don't find it difficult to put the bike where I want it regardless of which wheel I am riding. While the tire choice might be limited, the 27.5" wheel itself held up well. In my opinion, ride them all, THEN make a choice. Ride what works best for YOU. Don't waste time telling people about bikes you have not ridden, and don't be talking smack about choices that others make that might be different than the ones you made. I currently ride two 29'ers (Specialized Stumpjumper EVO and Salsa Spearfish 2.), I am not on a 27.5" any more simply because it was a single-speed, and I have moved on from that style of riding.
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