What’s the deal with 29ers?

Chris from Sprockets Cycles attended the Demo day at Glentress Trail centre last sunday for some “product research” The brief : should we stock 29ers?

Arriving at glentress early on the sunday, I hadn’t ridden here in ages, really looking forward to the trails and testing some different bikes. I don’t tend to hire bikes from trail centres, they never feel right when you ride them, you can’t beat your own bike. With this in mind I spoke to Andy from Trek bikes, he had a small Rumblefish 29er aside for me to try first thing. Sat on the bike, set-up felt pretty good, stuck my own pedals on and away up the demo loop.

First thing I noticed with the bike, the front tyre feels like it’s a mile in front of you, its the strangest thing I’ve ever felt on a bike. Next was how easy it was to ascend on this huge wheeled full sus beast! compared to my 26″ short travel MTB it was way easier to climb steep rocky trails, if slightly more barge-like around the tight corners. reaching the top of the demo loop I was beginning to see what all the fuss was about, but was still skeptical about descending on the bigger wheels, would it still be as fun?

Cranked the pedals for a few turns until the first take off, so fast over so little distance! landed sideways into the berm and boosted out of it, pushed it straight into the next one and instantly forgot about the bigger wheels, cranked it along the straight, over a few wee jumps, this wasn’t what I had imagined 29ers would feel like, so easy to manoeuvre the bike in the air, around the wider corners it kept its speed and didn’t seem as barge-like. I WANT ONE OF THESE BIKES!

Back at the car park Andy was interested to see what Orange had to offer with their Gyro full sus 29er, asked if I could give it a blast as a comparison, instantly the Orange set-up felt too hard, even though it was calibrated to my weight by the guys, just didn’t feel as confident on it, adjusted the shock a wee bit so it felt nicer. Uphill it was still faster than my own bike, but not as fast as the rumblefish. The top of the demo loop again, got up to speed so fast again, didn’t manage to quite hit the berm after the take off, the bike didn’t feel as planted or as stable at speed as the last, almost as if the wheels wanted to fold if you pushed it too hard. Don’t know if it was the single pivot that made it feel like it did, but it was no where near as fast or as much fun going down.

Back at the car park again, handed the bike back to the Orange guys, didn’t let on that I didn’t enjoy it as much, moved on quickly. Last of the 29ers available was the Yeti Big Top, this bike looks awesome! Had my doubts because it was an aluminium framed hardtail, but gave it a go. Again it flew up the hills like no ones business, no bob or flex, just straight up power. Obviously the first thing I noticed was the lack of rear suspension on the downhill, made it slower than the last two but still had ease of movement in the air, railed the turns and got up to speed so quickly if you slipped up. The only thing that could make this hardtail 29er any better would be a steel frame.

Conclusion? 29ers kick ass, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really see the big deal about them when they started becoming more mainstream, but after riding a few, my opinion has totally changed, could almost see myself selling one of my 26″ mountain bikes to add a 29er to the garage.

Signed up to get a Bandit 29er demo bike in Sprockets Cycles, also looking to get the Yeti Big Top, Santa cruz Highball and Blur 29er added to the shop bike line-up. cannot wait to see these things in Sprockets Cycles.

Come in and have a look at them when they arrive, you will not be disappointed, and if a demo day comes to a trail near you, get a go on a few of them, you will see what all the fuss has been about.

Sprockets Cycles

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