I don’t know why but i found it very hard to start writing something lately. I have been looking forward to write about the 29er experiences for weeks by now, somehow I just end up whacked!! It is after the Cameron Highland trail ride that made my writing mode boils down again.
Cameron Highland trail were full of climb and downhill not to mention lots of single track and various of obstacle that a MTB enthusiasts would love to dare on. I for once enjoy the trail and would really love to repeat it again sometime in the future. However it is not the trail that is at stake here...It is the Trek Mamba – 29er bike, my bike.
Let not dawdle on what is a 29er, you all gonna have to check on the Wikipedia on that part. I won’t be discussing on how my bike is set up either as the real question is how did the 29er benefits? How does it feel and handle? I believe those are the question that my friends want to confirm with me at this moment.
I have to admit that have always been intrigued in the 29er since they first hit the market so I went on digging all the info I could find on the net about the 29er. Therefore I will be lining up all the claims on 29er and my own confirmation.
Benefits and Pros claim.
1. Tolerate bumps better – True, after riding the 29er around the trail with bumps, obstacles, roots, and holes. I found that the bike receives it at a tolerable rate, at some point it is almost feels like I am riding on my Pyre, Banshee a fullsus bike. This makes handling the 29er much easier than a normal hardtail.
2. Increase Stability – I find it easier to handle the bike in a single track condition, maintaining course that sometime changes rapidly feels smoother and more manageable. Thus it is harder for me to loss control.
3. Traction King – When riding in Cameron Highland there are a few part where traction was a vital key point. I had to ride on a concrete trail that was covered with moss; it was very slippery that even my rubber shoes outsole won’t stick properly. However the 29er hold on to it like gecko on stick. Of course there is some part where it does gives up, but it still triumph over all my buddies on 26er who keep skidding over the trail. 29er tires rarely spin so it helps out with my climbs.
4. No endo and flipping – For some reason that I cannot explain or describe it well enough I found that 29er bike are very hard to lift backward during a climbs. No matter how steep the climbs are I do not need to bend over my back to lower my centre of gravity to prevent lifting. I also notice that when I accidentally ride my front wheel into a water passage I dint endo my bike. Not that I am hoping to...Huhuhu. But the wheels kind of went out and over it instead of a normal 26er would do. This means safer ride and better climbing at steep climbs.
5. Easier to maintain speed – Since the wheels are bigger than 26er the 29er holds momentum better in trail. This allows you to maintain your speed better at flat offroad and enable you to go faster.
6. Cornering confident – It is kind of scary sometime to negotiate a hard turn and corner, every single force and weight will be shifted on to your tire. That is why downhiller bike have such a wide wheels, this enable them to handle corner with more traction and grip. 29er does have the same benefit as the downhiller bike with lesser width. I can feel the difference when I took the first dive on a sharp corner. 29er holds the ground better and tolerate the bumps as I pass along it. So, yeah! It does negotiate corner better.
7. Better attack angle – Having a bigger wheels make it easier to go over stuff in the trail. Pebbles, rocks, holes, roots, and other things are simply easier to ride on. Even at the part where there is some overgrown bush in the trail, I can simply bash through comfortably. Kind of make me felt I was on a friggin tractor or tank. Just ran everything over with my big wheels.
I think have pretty much cover all the things in Pros section. Now let me go on the gloomy side or cons side.
1. Slow start – Since the wheels are bigger it takes a bit more time to get it rolling. More force is required to spin the wheels too. Imagine a smart car being fitted with 18 inch rims and wheels, the engine will require more force to roll start it. So yes it is slow at drag race. But once the wheels spin it is a whole different story.
2. More power needed – During my ride, I have also found out that 29er require more power on a climb. There I was thinking I would benefits in power efficiency on climbs because of the wheels but it actually sent me the other way around. I had to rely on granny gear to climb but steep hill where my rival doesn’t. Still it was not hard to stay ahead of other riders in my group that day, even though I rely on granny gear. The 29er wheels coverage was slightly advanced than 26er. 1 pedal stroke of 29er gets you ahead more than a 26er.
3. Braking power needed – I have read about this somewhere in the net, however I did not have any problem with my braking power. Yes I understand that bigger wheels should use a bigger rotor in order to stop the mass momentum. But seriously my non series Shimano and 6 inch rotor was good enough for me.
4. Limited supply – Yes, sadly it is true. Unless you guys live in KL where there numerous of bike shops are available. You might be facing difficulties in getting supply of tubes and tires. To overcome this problem I bought extra tubes and I always repair my punctured tubes. Actually I have always repaired my punctured tube even on my 26er. As for other upgrade such as fork and wheel set there you might have to go to KL for more choice.
5. Not really weight friendly – It is very hard to find a 29er under 12KG. My bike weight at 14KG at first, now I have decreased it 12.8KG. So for someone who is really concern about weight, maybe 29er is not the best choice for you.
6. Sizing problem – 29er size are a bit limited than its cousin the 26er.Short people may encounter difficulties finding a bike that suite them. Actually 29er are more suited for tall people. The taller the better I guess.
Truth to be said, I am totally sold off on the 29er, I like it a lot that I was actually thinking of letting my Pyre Banshee go...There is no point of keeping two bike when 1 of it feels like the other one as well. Not to mention maintaining both bike would be a hassle to me in term of space and confusion of which one to ride.
I have always kept an open mind about new things, I believe when we do so. We will experience something new. When we experience we will learn. Through learning we will ascend into another level of improvement. So I have found myself a new experience and knowledge, what about you???