Looking for a new bike? The bike industry certainly hopes you are… You probably need to upgrade to a full suspension, or to go back to a hardtail. Maybe you’re finally ready to go carbon, (or Ti if you’re really cool), or more than likely you’re looking at moving to the 29er.
Personally, I’ve resisted the 29er revolution so far. I have pals who swear by them, who kick my butt on them, saying things like ‘it’s way faster than my old 26″ bike’, or ‘it climbs way better than any 26″!’
To date though, I’ve been buying into the counter-proganda, citing the additional weight, and the decreased agility as the big reasons to not go 29er. I will also admit, the first time I saw a 29er was when I got to go on a group ride with Gary Fisher himself. He was riding the Gary Fisher Hi-Fi Delux and as cool as I thought he was, I found the big wheels really awkward looking – and to be honest I still sort of do. I even snubbed my nose when people pointed out how many pros have made the jump, assuming it was just symptomatic of the team sponsors, the manufacturers mandating the pros to ride them – thinking this is hardly an endorsement for the technology, or we’d see all the pros racing them.
I remember sitting around with my pal Ken a year or so ago, talking about how that somehow we’d like to see lap vs. lap comparisons of 26″ vs. the 29″, ridden by the same riders. Then you’d see if the 29ers were faster, or not… Well, to this day I still haven’t seen any such report, but recently Geoff Kabush posted a short blog post on the subject, and it might be the next best thing. According to Geoff, he’s free to ride whichever bike he wants, and within the Scott bike lineup, the 26ers and 29ers are comparably equipped making them fair for his own comparison purposes. So, after thoroughly testing both bike technologies, what did he choose for his first BIG season with Scott? He chose the 29er. That to me speaks volumes.
You can read the blog post here. Geoff explains the pros and cons as he sees them, and his rational for choosing the big wheels. Well worth the read.
Also, another good article here, from Bike 198.