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29ers are back! Or, maybe they never went away. There are so many mountain bike wheel size choices on the market today, yet today, the 29er is once again in the spotlight.

In this episode of the Singletracks podcast, we talk about the history of the 29-inch wheel size, the advantages and disadvantages of 29er wheels compared to other wheel sizes, and the future of long-travel and even downhill 29er bikes.

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  • Dr Sweets

    Wes Williams was ahead of Fisher with 29ers, but Fisher as with most things he did was the first to market it. I first came across 29ers around ’98/99 likely via a Dirtrag article and seeing one in a shop in MN. I demo’ed every style of them you could imagine and hated all of them. Every single one of them felt as if I was atop a bar stool after being over-served. The geometry on ALL of them flat-out sucked for aggressive riding (yes, I’m a recovering freeride jerk, go ahead and h8). This only changed in ’11/12 when Kona rolled out the Honzo. I took one ride on that bike and was floored. I made the claim that day that ALL trail/AM bikes would have that style of geometry. They all do.

    At the end of the day, geometry is far more important than wheelsize. Back when SC rolled out the Bronson in ’13, Mr Graney said (I paraphrase) “you can build great 27.5 bikes and you can build terrible ones”. This is true of all bikes regardless of wheelsize. I sincerely believe the fast rise of 27.5 bikes was made possible with the new school of geometry that arrived at the same time. My current bike (yes a 29er and my first in fact) has some of the most aggressive geometry of any bike on the market regardless of wheelsize.

    In the end, to riders wondering what they should get, ride as many options as you can (easy here in N Georgia with the tons of demos/ local shop demos available) and do real back to back comparisons on your own trails. Get the bike that suits your style, the style you want to ride, your wallet and the esthetics you prefer. Don’t sweat the wheelsize.

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