29er Mountain Bikes:
Strengths and Weaknesses
Is bigger better? Since 29er mountain bikes have been gaining popularity, that has been the burning question.
Increasingly more and more companies are offering 29ers in their line-up. Initially, many bike brands included a 29-inch hardtail; however, as suspension technology continues to improve, we are seeing more and more full suspension 29ers with 100 mm and 120 mm of travel.
Skip all this talk and show me where to find 29er mountain bikes....
Proponents of 29ers swear that they are the wave of the future, while others point out disadvantages of 29ers and stand by their 26 inch mountain bikes. The following are the reported advantages and disadvantages of 29 inch mountain bikes.
Click here to share your opinion about 29ers. Are they a passing fad or the wave of the future?
Advantages of 29er Mountain Bikes
- Larger wheels absorb bumps and obstacles better, providing a smoother ride and more stability going over obstacles.
- 29er mountain bikes are more stable and less likely to waver from your riding line.
- With larger wheels, you are able to ride at higher overall speeds, have increased momentum, and feel more stable at higher speeds.
- Riders of 29ers claim that they are less likely to sink in sand or mud.
- Larger wheels provide better traction because of their larger contact area with the ground (because they have less of an arc than smaller wheels). You can also ride with less air pressure in the larger tires without the risk of getting a pinch flat, which also helps grip the trail better.
- Longer contact area of tire helps with cornering at higher speeds.
- 29ers are less likely to endo.
- 29er mountain bikes are a better fit for taller riders who often require larger frames.
Disadvantages of 29er Mountain Bikes
- The larger wheels are harder to get moving than their smaller counterparts; therefore 29ers accelerate more slowly.
- 29 inch mountain bikes need more braking power to slow down.
- Theoretically, the wheels are not as strong as smaller wheels, so aren't able to take as much thrashing as the 26 inch wheels.
- The larger wheels require more force when climbing uphill, so they may not be as fast for climbing as the 26ers.
- Some say it is harder to pop up the front wheel on a 29er.
- There is a more limited selection of tires, rims, forks, and frames simply because 29ers have not been around as long as 26ers.
- When traveling at slow speeds, tight handling and steering response time is decreased.
- Issues with fit have been reported, such as toe overlap and high standover height, especially with smaller riders.
There is a lot of controversy
on whether 29 inch mountain bikes provide a better ride than 26 inch mountain bikes.
Some proponents of the 29ers feel that the claimed disadvantages of 29ers are not valid. Others believe that 29ers are a fad and show no major advantages.
Most who have ridden 29ers say they have improved momentum, stability, and traction and that they are simply more fun to ride. Riders often make comments that their 29er is like riding a 4x4 or a tractor and they feel like they can get over anything.
Some riders frown on the idea of buying a 29er as a first bike or your only mountain bike and that it is better for only some riding conditions. Others say it is the perfect bike for all riding conditions. Regardless, the 29er is gaining in popularity and presents itself as a viable contender that is not going away anytime soon.
Where to Find 29ers
As the demand increases, more companies are offering a selection of 29er mountain bikes in their line-up. Some reputable companies that offer 29er mountain bikes include the following:
96er or 69er Mountain Bike
Some bicycle manufacturing companies now offer a 96er or 69er mountain bike, which is a mountain bike with a 29 inch wheel in the front and a 26 inch wheel in the back. The idea behind this design is to have the advantages of both worlds. With the larger wheel in the front, the bike is able to roll over obstacles and feels stable, yet with the smaller wheel in the back, acceleration time is not decreased.
The 96er mountain bike may also be a good alternative for a shorter rider because it allows for a smaller frame than the 29er. There are not a lot of 96ers on the market yet so they tend to be a little pricey, but as more companies start making them, prices will hopefully drop.
Is Bigger Better? Share your Opinion about 29er Mountain Bikes
Are 29er mountain bikes just a passing fad or are they the wave of the future? Tell us what you think about this controversy here!
Read What Other Mountain Bikers Say About 29ers
Click on the link below to see whether other riders believe 26er or 29er mountain bikes are superior and why...
29ers Not rated yet
Yo tenia una 26ers, la compré hace mas de un año, como a los tres meses empezó la revolución de las 29ers, la mayoría de mis compañeros comentaban sus …
29er every time! Not rated yet
I have both 26 inch hard tail and full suspension bikes which I have ridden for many miles on all sorts of terrain but, last year I had a demo ride on …
Love my 29er Not rated yet
I am 6"2" and 240 lbs and have had my 29er for a month. I love it and would never go back to a 26er. My bike has a 21" frame and I feel like a kid again …
29ers Rule Not rated yet
I'm six foot 210 pounds. I felt scrunched up on 26ers, they were just plain squirrelly to ride.
29ers are just a better fit and ride when your tall …
"29ers rule" Not rated yet
Hi. My name is Josh. I have just recently gotten into mountain biking here the last few months. I have had 7 back surgeries and I am only 30 years old. …
29ers are for Old Fat Guys Not rated yet
Having ridden 26ers and having a blast and then switching to a 29er I found noticeable changes. All of that has been noted above. Except no one talks about …
650B is better than both Not rated yet
Actually, 26, 650B, and 29 all have their place, but seriously, nothing about 650B here? It really may be the ultimate size, esp. for smaller riders.
Fuji Outland 29er Not rated yet
I just got mine!
A Fuji Outland 29er...
Very happy with it. I got on the trail today for a try and it is simply "flying". I rode on gravel road, …
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