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East Coast / West Coast: Does Size Matter?

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East Coast / West Coast: Does Size Matter?

Old 07-27-13, 10:20 PM
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East Coast / West Coast: Does Size Matter?

I am toying with the idea of getting a new mountain bike. I currently ride (poorly) a 2007 Gary Fisher Advance. I'm not really interested so much in brand as I am in wheel size. I am looking at upper-entry level hard tails like 4 series Treks and Rockhoppers. I am 5'11" with a 31-32 inch inseam. As I alluded to, I am not a terribly good MTBer but I have owned and ridden them off and on for the last 15-20 years give or take. All 26 inchers.

I am, of course, falling victim the the 29er hype. Better climbing, easier to navigate trails and over obsticals, the usual. I rode one, a Marlin. It felt wide and long and very un-nimble (my Advance felt like a BMX bike when I got back on it). As averted, it went over "stuff" much better than a 26er would have. It was only a parking lot demo so I didn't really get to wring it out but I'm not sure that I was convinced.

What are other East Coast guys running, 26 or 29? Are the smaller wheeled bikes better for the narrow, tight conditions that we have out here or is it that the larger wheels just don't get int he way as much as I am suspecting that they might? How about the 650b? Are they the perfect compromise or the Worst of Both Worlds?

So there are a dozen brands, two or three models in the ballpark in each wheel size from each brand and I'm wondering how come I am having such a hard time picking one? Help please.
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Old 07-28-13, 05:35 AM
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Everyone I ride with out here in PA is on a 29'er. At the Wilderness 101 yesterday I could count the number of 26 inch wheel bikes I saw on one hand and there were over 200 riders there. I'm not sure about Mass. but here in PA we have rocks...lots and lots of rocks and the improved roll over is really important. If you want a more nimble feeling 29er, look for one with short chainstays and wheelbase. I haven't tried 650B yet so I can't comment, but i would think that it would be more beneficial for those in need of a smaller frame size where a 29 inch wheel doesn't work so well with the geometry of the bike.
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Old 07-28-13, 07:55 PM
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I'm familiar with Boston area riding, and get around to a fair bit of riding in NH, VT, ME, and MA as well as my home state of CT. I see a big mix of sizes. Most of the faster pedaly XC folks are on the larger wheels. Riders more into hucking off rocks, riding skinnies, various cross-stuntry bits are more heavily on the 26" side of things. Lots of greay area in between - XC 26" bikes and burlier/slack 29" bikes.

Depends on what trails and how they ride, from what I see. The way you describe things, and at your size, I'd steer you towards the larger wheels.

Get to as many shops around Boston as you can, try and test ride as many bikes as you can. See if any of them will let you get them on trails - I know the Wheelworks guys would let you "rent/demo" a bike for a fee, and if you bought the bike, that went towards the price. JRA Cycles are good guys as well. Granted, that was 10 years ago when I last lived there. Go from there.
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