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Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I feel compelled to comment on the 29ers just because a lot of what I've been reading is speculation by folks who have never had the chance to ride one.

Don't be a doubter until you've ridden one; until you've actually taken one out for a ride on the trail. Before then I had my doubts about how much a bigger tire would make. Yeah yeah 29" the next big thing something for the bike shop guys to talk up and get all excited over; angle of approach, rolling resistance, enhanced geometry blah blah blah.

I had the opportunity to experience the Gary Fisher Paragon and I've got to say that bike seriously rocked.

Ok first for some background. I've mountain biked for years and back in the day I put a couple of serious race seasons under my belt. To sum it up, I'm an experienced rider.

I got to ride the 29er on familiar trails so it was easy to compare the way it road compared to my 26" wheeled bike.

This is how the bike felt. The roots and rocks on the trail felt 50% smaller and when I road over them, it seemed that I kept 50% more of my momentum. Things that the 26" would hit hard on and sap my speed the 29er seemed to roll right over. Big log piles seemed effortless and they were 50% less scary. 3 ft log pile; not scary. I have a bike that rides over big stuff fairly easy, and it's the kind of bike that allows you to power through the rough stuff.

I realize that is a lot to say about a bike with just a bigger wheel. It's not that I didn't expect their to be a difference, I would have never dreamed that that extra wheel diameter would change things so drastically. Whatever Fisher did with that bigger wheel and bike geometry all I have to say is it was amazing.

Something else with the 29"; being stuck in the wrong gear on the steep uphills wasn't nearly as big as of a deal. It was easier to ride the 29" slower. The 26" was much more likely to 'stall' if you ended up in too big of a gear.

Draw backs. I could take really tight turns, I'd say maybe 20% faster on the 26". I only noticed this only when riding fast and when the turns were really sharp. Also taking a sharp turn extremely fast the bike was more likely to wash out. It's a much bigger bike so think leverage and that center of gravity thing.

So over 95% of my ride the 29er proved to make a huge difference. About 5% of the trail the 26" bike held a small advantage for me but give me some time to get used to the bike. The advantages the 29" has are so drastic that for me any of the advantages of the smaller tire are far outweighed.

I'm definitely sold on this bike. There are some bike shops that will let you demo their bikes. Get on a 29er and give it a try.

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