Forums Mountain Bike Forum The 29ER DEBATE


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    The debate is thickening every day with opinions. I want to know what you think about the BIG wheels. Do you have ’em, want ’em, or just like the idea of riding the monster truck wheels. Personally, I love the benefits I get from my wagon wheels. Now I know not everyone has ridden one, or some of you may have ridden an early one that had crappy geometry/components. If so tell me your stories.


    I was very skeptical with all the hype about the 29er. However I had an opportunity to ride one for just a little while and liked the feel. I tried another friends toward the beginning of the month and liked how it felt so I went to the LBS and test rode a couple different sizes. I was also just wanting a new toy so I purchased one earlier this month.

    I’ve ridden it several times and didn’t notice mcuh difference up hills other than the gearing is a little different mostly due to it being 9 spd and all my other bikes were still 8 spd. It seemed to roll faster on the downhills and did very well in the rocy sections. However I didn’t really push it hard or notice a great difference till I rode with our weekly group ride.

    I’m always the guy in the back of the pack, old and slow, however on our group ride I noticed I was up in the middle of the pack and at times in front. I still felt as slow as usual on the uphills, however I was rolling over stuff easier than usual and climbed a bunch quicker even though I was in granny on the same climbs as usual. On the downhills, no that I’m getting the feel for the bike, it is fast and handles great and I was keeping up with the guys who usually can leave me a bit. Why did it seem I was faster?

    Daahhh ! Bigger wheels ? I suppose there is something to it. The bike eats up rock gardens like my 5.5" FS and handles better than my 26" HT in the tight twisting turns of our local riding area. I’m totally impressed with the Gary Fisher Cobia, with G2 technology, after only three weeks of ownership.



    That is really cool that we got some people who dig ’em like I do. But are there any haters out there who really hate 29ers? If so, why? Here is your chance to state your case. 😉


    Well first of all,the whole 29er debate is really just the same ol’,same ol’.I mean,which came first the smaller wheel or the bigger wheel?remember when wagon wheels ruled the fonteir?or the big wheel bicycles?or even the big ol’ wheels that used to be on automobiles way back in the day?I think the whole 29er wheel debate is just an advertiser’s illusion to use as leverage to sell you a bike.When somone has the ball’s to use a 29er on a pro curcuit down hill race,then you will have my attention.I just hate all this hype foggin up the real deal idea of just ridin.cant we all just leave each other alone and quit hangin on each other’s back.
    But I digress,if you want to ride a 29er because you like it,then more power to ya,but I just cant see a 29er wheel being any good for anything except for xc riding.The wheel is just too big to keep your skills as sharp as riding a 26" wheel.It’s cumbersome and reactc’s slowly to the action of progressive riding.

    p.s. This post is open to the critics because I have never even sat on a 29er.hahahaha.But you DID ask for the hater’s opinion.


    What evidence is there of 26" being "better than" 29" wheels? I challenge you to do more research. 😎


    Steve, I like that fact that you displayed your ideas here in this forum. My question to you and other nonbelievers is, have you tried the new G2 technology.? If so your argument is flawed. 😏

    "flamdrag8" wrote

    have you tried the new G2 technology.? If so your argument is flawed. 😏

    I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about 29ers until I rode the new Fisher with the G2 and I think that I am in love. I just took it on a pretty easy trail up at Lory, was there for demo day yesterday, and fell in love. It feels so much more stable than anything I have ever ridden because you have more wheel in front and behind you. If only I could include giddyness in my post… 😃 😃 😃 😃 😃 😎


    No doubt the bigger wheel’s can cover more ground and like soph said,they can make you feel more stable with more wheel size,and here is where the debate get’s it’s spark and turns into a blazing fire of curiosity.I said in one of my earlier post’s here on this thread that the big wheel thing is just the same ol’ same ol’ that manufacture’s use to sell you a bike.And it’s such an old(as in old west technology like wagon wheel’s)that nobody uses it anymore and the bike manufacture’s are using this OLD technology as leverage to capture your curiosity and sell you technology that was essentially used for the fronteirsman that had no road’s and were going places in wagons that were for the most part very unpredictable roads that were not maintained and could have any number of obstacles that could take out a wagon wheel and leave you and your wagon stranded in the middle of nowhere and leave you to the elements,wildlife,or the many gunman roaming the country side looking for easy pray.Those bigger wheel’s were used because the smaller one’s would break down alot easier than the bigger one’s in the respect that bigger wheel’s have alot more potential to just roll over the rut’s,rock’s,pothole’s,and whatever obstacle’s interfereed with there travel’s.Now,here is where a person either turns left in the fork in the road or turn’s right in the fork in the road.They either think the 29er is a wheel that can make there trail’s more user freindly and just roll over stuff or a person can turn right and go with the 26er wheel and forget about trying to relive our fronteir day’s gone by because we dont have the same problems they did and plus the fact that technology has come soooo far that using a bigger wheel just does’nt have any justification like it use to.Now,I dont have anything at all against someone feeling sentimental about our fronteir day’s and the technology that was afforded to them back then,but I gotta say;the point to evolution is that we live on the cutting edge and live with the changes that come to us wether we like em or not,and to me riding the 26er is where your riding skills are going to bennifit you the most and that is where I am at in my personal riding,I want all I can get out of it.So that is why I dont see the 29er thang the way you do,although I do feel sentimental about those "wagon wheel’s" because I do so adore our fronteirsman for being the icebreaker’s they were so we could live on this amazing land and ride our mountain bike’s on it.
    So,to explain just a little more to my point,skill wise the smaller wheel will keep you sharper and the bigger wheel will keep you,,,,,,,,,,,well,less sharper.Like I said,if they could have avoided using the bigger wagon wheels,they sure the hell would have.They did not need them if the roads were more user freindly.I just think that even if you are looking for the absolute most technical and obstructed trail you can find,we have the technology already built into the bike’s we have(w/o 29" wheels)that can already do whatever a 29er can do plus more(including keeping your skills sharper).The 29er wheel’s remind me of cruiser bike’s,imagine if you were to take a cruiser bike out on the trail,it’s slower,doesnt react quick enough to your prompts when riding (aggressivly),and just generally cant get out of it’s own way.So if you like to "CRUISE"the trails instead of riding aggressivelly,then you my freind have an excuse to use the 29er wheel’s.I challenge you to get a cruiser bike and put on some mountain bike handle bars and take that thing for a spin on a good technical trail with at least a few good technically rocky downhill drops and see how well that goes for you.I feel that that bike will pitch you up and over the top of it like a 7 foot wrestler on saturday night wrestling.hahahahahaha.
    Seriously,the bigger wheel’s might feel good(sentimentally)although the smaller wheel’s(technologically)are making you better(as in,a better rider).


    Steve – while I understand what ur saying I can t agree with it. If you use the same argument then why use a full suspension bike?? Or front suspension for that matter? Why use disc brakes over conventional side-pulls?? All these technological advancements have helped us clear more obstacles or clear them faster and cleaner. We can still challenge ourselves and become better riders while utilizing technology. There are advantages to 26" and to 29" bikes depending on your riding style and location…let the debate continue!


    Yes yes yes,let the debate continue,becuase that’s exactly what is going to happen.And yes,I am self concious everytime I get on my full suspension because I rode bmx as a kid and knew how to make that ridged bike work it’s butt off for me and knew how to get my legs and arms to do the same.I also have been thinking that everytime I go to ride somthing extreme,as in creek riding,spill way rock gardens,or up on dakota ridge here in morrison colorado,that I am going to get a suspension corrected ridged fork for my hard tail and keep the rim brakes on it so I dont screw up my $3500 full suspension riding extreme stuff that I like to do because it reminds me of riding in my bmx day’s pulling wicked jumps,stunts,trick’s,and making turns through sweeper turns on bmx track’s that got nothing but high fives and pat’s on the back that to this day still gives me chills to think about.That was then and this is now though and I’m way to big and to far out of it to get back on a bmx bike,so I guess with that being said on my part,I just cant see using a 29er wheel from my point of view.
    That being said,I’ll let you in on somthing I’ve been thinking about a little lately:I been thinking that when I see myself in pictures on my stumpjumper that I look kinda big for bike’s and have people say the same thing here and there.Then one day I started to think maby the 29er wheel’s might be just the right size for me and maby other clydesdale rider’s.What do you think???I gotta say though dude,I still think that the fact that bigger wheel’s are still OLD technology and arent gonna get you anywhere more than a 26er wheel will.But like you said,it’s got alot to do with a rider’s personal riding style and how they like to ride.
    So yes,the debate continue’s and I would like to say that one day somone will get all the fact’s written down on paper so we can the look at the big picture here without wondering which wheel might be the better way to go when buying a bike at the lbs.Even then though,it’ll still come down to the way a rider ride’s or like’s to ride.
    At least I’m fair though and told you what I thought the 29er could be used for and still hold true to my thought’s about the 29er wheels and mountian bike’s.I was wondering the other day too what would a road bike be like with 29er wheel’s?????Hmmmmmm.Now tell me,why dont the road dude’s use the 29er wheel’s??I’m thinking because they are just too much rotational mass and even riding in a straight line they are cumbersome and dont relate to a rider’s body language,and further yet,I couldnt imagine even though I dont ride road and dont plan to ride a road bike,what it would be like going into a turn while racing with numerous other rider’s the unsettleing way a bigger wheel would act while trying to hold a strict line so as to not crash a bunch of other racer’s and yourself.Are there any road rider’s out there that want to respond????


    Fortunately, I ride road also…maybe even more than off raod. 😃

    A couple reasons I don’t see bigger wheels on a road bike..

    1) You already mentioned rotational mass – the most important part of weight shaving is in the rotational weight. Bigger wheels = larger mass.

    2) Agility – the larger tires simply won’t respond as quickly as the 700cc tires would – this is also one of the biggest arguments against 29ers vs. 26". With the higher speeds on road the agility is paramount.

    3) Quickness – you lose some of the initial ‘pop’ when you want to accelerate using a larger tire. This isn’t a huge concern for mountain biking but is more so on the road.

    4) The number one biggest advantage to 29ers is their ability to roll over the "big stuff". Unless you’re using your road bike in an area taht doesn’t have ‘roads’ you lose the advantage and starting realizing more of the disadvantages.

    Steve you bring up a good point about relative size between rider and bike – maybe you should give one a try. If you can’t find a local shop to let you demo, there is one in Loveland on Rte 34 called Mountain High Cyclery. The owner’s name is Larry and he has a large that he will let you demo – take it to the Devil’s Backbone and let ‘er rip!!!!!!!!


    I just can’t get behind this movement, I have yet to find one I like and right now I am not in the market for another XC bike so, I don’t really care. I have passed many of people on 29ers. And seems like the trails that are super tight they are having the hardest time getting around now on the flatter trails they do keep up pretty well. But has more people use them and figure them out around here those 29er guys are getting faster, I think the engine matters more then the bike.29ers are just not my thing.


    Hey flamdrag8,I dont have a clue what that G2 technology is,would you be so kind as to tell us(mostly me)what the G2 tech. is all about?I dont know if you read my earlier post,but I may have found a reason to at least check out a 29er for myself and other clydesdale rider’s.An open mind is a healthy mind,hahaha.thanks dude.

    "steve32300" wrote

    I may have found a reason to at least check out a 29er for myself and other clydesdale rider’s.

    I don’t really know how big you are Steve but my bf is 6’7" and ~300ish, when he got on a 29 it was like night and day for him.


    Man,6’7" is pretty tall soph,I am 6’2" and 280 plbs..My bike does’nt feel smaller when I’m riding,just when I look at picture’s of myself riding it,and I ride an XL stumpjumper which is the biggest one I can get.When I was shopping for a bike to buy last summer I didnt know what size would be right for me and the second I walked into a bike shop and started to talk to salesman,the first thing they said was "you need an XL".They made me ride the L first so I could really see the difference between the L and XL,and although I thought the XL would be and feel too big,which it did at first,the XL was the resounding choice when it came down to pulling out the cash.It felt just like how you said the 29er felt the first time you got on one,like there was more bike in front and behind you and not like a milk crate on wheel’s.I attribute that feel to the bigger frame and not the wheel’s because when I changed frame sizes and felt that feeling it was still on the same size wheel’s which are the 26er wheel’s.A 29er frame has to be bigger to accept the bigger wheel’s.Now I have a question I want to ask,are 29er bike’s(wheel’s and frame’s)a part of bike sizing or is it just something a clydesdale rider like soph’s boyfreind(6’7" and 300ish)is riding because there just arent frame sizes made for the really big clydesdale rider’s?
    I’m really starting to think that the people getting into 29er’s are people who think like road bike rider’s and think that the quickest way between two points is the straightest line.I myself see mountain biking as a way to get away from that thinking and get out and ride the mountain’s for what they are,jagged,rough,twisty,bumpy,challenging to get through,and pretty much got the kitchen sink in there to see if I can ride it or not.If I ride a 29er,it get’s too easy to ride because those bigger wheel’s just roll over everything.Now you can ride the mountain’s how ever you want to,and it’s not that I think the 29er’s are totally useless,as a matter of fact I kinda think the bigger wheel’s just might make a rider a little more braver because the bigger wheel’s make you ride farther off the ground and force you to commit a little more because of it.I kinda like that,it’s kinda like riding a horse,a lord know’s you gotta be brave and trusting to ride a horse.I just cant seem to except the idea of just rolling over everything.
    just my thought,,,,,,, 😆


    I do know guys that are pretty small that love the 29er but most of them are SSers and ride fully ridged.


    i’ve only been riding about a year, but i’m fairly aggressive and have the bruises to prove it (maybe i just suck tho?). seems to me that if i could go faster on the trails (due to more traction of the larger wheels), climb easier and go over obstacles better, i’d enjoy riding even more. as far as rolling over obstacles too easily, i’d just be even more aggressive and go over stuff that right now is too big for me to try on my 26" Gary Fisher Hi Fi Plus. as for agility, with the advances in technology, it would not surprise me if a good 2008 or 2009 29er (like a new Fisher) were as agile as the 2006 26" Stumpjumpers in the tight spots. My bike is only a year old, so my wife would kill me if i went out and spent 2500 on a new 29er, but i’m seriously thinking about it for a couple of years from now or if i have an unexpected windfall. Would love to spend some quality time on one soon though to check it out.


    I bought a used gary fisher sugar 293, 29er full suspension, bike earlier this year. I didn’t set out to buy a 29er but it was the first bike I bid on on e-bay that didn’t end up going way over what I thought it was worth. My old bike is a low-end iron horse hard tail so its not really a fair comparison but I do like the gary fisher better ;). I’m not a big guy at 5’10" and a 150lbs but it fits me well. I don’t know how much of its the 29" wheels, the FS, or just the fact this bike isn’t too damn big for me but my confidence has gone way up along with my speeds and climbing ability.


    I was wondering what and how a 29er does in the sand,like at slick rock trail in moab.Threre is a pretty good sand pit up there and I did alright on my 26er till my body weight(280 plbs.) sank me,and my buddie’s rode on by that are not near my body weight and they were on 26er’s also.
    I was also wondering to a cetain extent what everyone thought about the bigger wheel’s and how they might or might not wear on the trail’s.Does anyone think the bigger wheel’s might be harder on the trail’s??Kind of a hair splitting question,although this is a debate and with the rising popularity of the 29er taking hold there will be masses of 29er’s in the future pounding the trail’s on a regular basis as much as the 26er’s.


    Good questions Steve….

    I think both questions can be answered with the same concept – width not circumference.

    If you look at true ‘sand’ tires they are very wide so they float more on the sand rather than dig deep. I think the easiest way to visualize this is would a 26" mtb roll better thru the sand than a 27" road bike??

    The same concept would hold true for trail wear – more wieght per unit area on a skinny tire than a fatter one! Curse you cyclocross riders!! 😼

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