Mountain Bike Basics. If you’ve been interested in mountain bikes over the past few years, you’ve probably heard about the trend towards larger wheels, the 29ers. Praised by many and denied by some, the verdict is now clear: 29er mountain bikes are here to stay.
There is no question that a significant portion of mountain bike consumers prefer the 29er model, despite assertions that the standard 26er mountain bike is on its way out being unfounded.
The pros and cons of larger wheels
So what’s the appeal? The 29ers offer several major advantages over their smaller-wheeled brethren:
Better momentum when rolling, which means more progress with less effort and faster rolling across open terrain.
Larger tire contact patch on the road for better traction and control when climbing hills or cornering.
A higher “angle of attack” means the wheels roll over trail obstacles with less impact, reducing fatigue and smoothing the trail.
Riders report that a 29er provides a sense of improved stability and control, which reduces the “incompleteness” of the riding experience. That means fewer panic attacks on the road and more confidence and comfort.
Sounds good, but what are the downsides? The compromises are minimal: a slight weight penalty due to the increased wheel mass, and slightly slower initial acceleration from a standstill. Here!
Many people find a snug fit on a 29er, but there are fewer sizing options for smaller riders (male or female). Because?
The main problem is the room for manoeuvre. A 29er is generally larger than a similarly sized 26-inch wheeled mountain bike and may be too big for smaller riders. Toe overlap with the larger wheel and improper handlebar height are other possible issues for smaller riders. As a result, many 29ers are available in medium, large, and extra-large frames, with small frames and women’s-specific frames dominant.
If you’re under 5ft 6″ tall, a 26″ mountain bike will probably suit you better. If you are 5’6″ or taller you should be able to find a 29″ model for you. Over 6′ tall May Rejoice: You’ll definitely enjoy a more natural riding position with the frame size and geometry of a 29er.
How to buy a 29er | Mountain Bike Basics
Choosing a 29er is like choosing any bike: Know your riding intentions and how you plan to use the bike.
Not all 29ers ride the same. As with any category of bike, some models are lighter, faster, and more maneuverable than others. Some 29ers are designed for racers, some for weekend enthusiasts, and some for casual riders who want a bike to serve a variety of purposes. For help with these details, see the product descriptions on REI.com.
Currently, the most common 29er wheeled mountain bikes are hardtails (front suspension bikes only). Full suspension models are becoming more common as suspension and frame designs evolve.
If you’re tempted to simply upgrade your current bike, remember that you would need more than just bigger wheels. Unfortunately, 26″ wheels and 29″ wheels are not interchangeable on a frame as the frame and suspension are designed for a specific wheel size.
The easiest way to comprehend the link between bike performance, quality, and cost is to talk with a sales representative about make and model alternatives (at REI or other bike shops). Decide on two to three models after narrowing down your options, then test drive each one to see which is best for you.
REI offers the dedicated enthusiast (starting at $2,000) a range of 29er mountain bikes for the budget (starting at $600). Brands represented include our own brand Co-op Cycles as well as Cannondale, Ghost, Diamondback and Salsa bikes. Note: Bike availability varies between REI stores and REI.com; Some models may be sold out for the season. Mountain Bike Basics