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I have put 2 years into 29ers- nice ones too. Currently have a 2012 s-works Epic.
I like it for long climbs and open ,but it seems pretty terrible on technical terrain (at least for me). I have a hard time getting it around downhill switchbacks on singletrack-seems like I almost stop the bike mid turn.
To be fair I am not the greatest technical rider. I am sure I could work to improve my technique.
Anyway, I have decided to go back to a 26" Epic- wondered if others had same experiences.
I am 5'10, about 64 kg and ride a medium size Epic 29er.
26" is better in tight stuff for sure, but the benefits of the 29er outweigh that for me. Maybe you need to try a 29er with a short chainstay?
If 650b was a bit bigger I think it'd be perfect for the trails around here, but as it is it's just not enough of a difference over a 26" wheel.
I am not down with hacking a 650b on my own.
I want the fork to be right, clearance to be optimized, and geometry also optimized for the different wheel size.
When you go back to 26'' epic you may as well try to run it 650b to see how you like it.
MSC Koncept Carbon Di2 - 6955g
Leichtkraft Team Carbon - 6868g.
The places where 26 suit me better are when there are hairy drops to be taken, as well as extremely rocky, ledgy, technical sections that require a lot of trials type maneuvers.
The next bike in the stable will probably be a stumpjumper evo with a lyric on it, maybe a blur lt or a nomad. I'll be using those to supplement the 29er.
I have found that I look harder now for rear tire characteristics. Specifically, where I ride, I'm looking for a much meatier front tire than rear tire, so I can skid the rear around corners. This at speed is typically faster than I used to take stuff.
My previous boss is the texas 40+ master's state champ. He switches between 29 hardtail and 26 full suspension depending on what he feels like. Wheel size don't keep him from winning.
I throw my 29er away, cause my home trails are tight with lots of sharp turns & very small but steep climps and I have to sprint & accelerate over & over again. 26er is much more lively here & riding it makes much more fun as with the 29er on these trails.
But I also like the advantages of the big weels, therefore I will test 650b now
I have been doing lots of research on 650b. KHS and Jamis has a couple of nice 650b bikes. I may go with a 26" rear with a 650b front hardtail though.
PS i'm 6 feet tall and 150lbs weight.
Wanted a FS bike and I wasn't really digging how the FS 29ers handled on the tight single track we have up here in Northern California. Picked up a Yeti ARS5c for cheap on closeout and absolutely love it. Plush, nimble and still pedals well.
I'm back to 26 now and I have to work hard and be carefull going down on tech rocky decents.
If your not tech rider then 29er is it.
Either way its the rider choice of weapon (26, 650b and 29er), whatever rocks your boat?
The conclusions are the same. The 26" feels fast down the hill (it's a DH/enduro orientated magazine after all) for both riders, but the clock doesn't lie and 29ers faster by a comfortable margin even though it feels slow.
I've not ridden a 29er FS bike but I'd offer the oppinion that a 29er with 100mm travel will be as efficient as a 26er with the same travel, so just as quick up hill on a smooth track, but faster down?
To answer the original question, I've 'gone back' but only in the sense that my newest bike is a 26er, but it's built for fun rather than going fast! the 29ers fun too, but I'd not take it down the dirtjumps (well I have, but it's hard work!)!
General rider, trail rider, etc= 26
My conclusion is that there is no ideal wheel size- it is more what you like and what you are comfortable on.
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