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Dirt Magazine 26v29 bonus feature

Dirt Magazine 26v29 bonus feature

Billy Thackray Billy Thackray

Here’s a bonus video to accompany the 26″ vs 29″ bike test that we featured in issue #126.

This video might not make full sense unless you’ve read the article Steve Jones wrote in last months mag but, basically, Jones set out to test if 29″x140mm bikes are faster than 26″x160mm bikes on the harder side of UK trail riding terrain.

I nipped over to the Forest of Dean in the afternoon to grab a few words with Jones, Rob Cooksley and James Richards (the two test pilots), the video chat ends a bit suddenly but you should get the idea that the big wheeled bike is faster in certain trail centre situations against the clock, but maybe not as exciting to ride as a 26 incher.

Have a watch then tell us your thoughts in the comments below and let us know as well if you read the magazine article too.

The bikes:

Intense Carbine 26″ 150mm

Trek Slash 26″ 160mm

Intense Tracer 29″ 140mm

Trek Rumblefish 29″ 120mm

RUN    James Richards: Rumblefish 29×120      Box Cooksley: Carbine 26×150

Run 1                       2:39.30          2:29.26

Split 1                      1:38.31          1:30.25
Split 2                      1:00.98          59.01

Run 2                      2:36.46          2:29.15

Split 1                    1:36.19          1:31.27
Split 2                    1:00.27          57.87

Run 3                    2:33.46          2:28.19

Split 1                   1:35.88          1:31.38
Split 2                   57.65             56.89

Run 4                    2:32.82          2:23.64

Split 1                   1:34.85          1:27.62
Split 2                   57.97             56.02

Run 5                    2:35.19          2:22.73

Split 1                   1:37.50          1:28.61
Split 2                   57.69              54.11

RUN    Richards: Slash 26×160    Box: Tracer 29×140

Run 6                   2:32.10          2:20.96

Split 1                  1:35.23          1:25.96
Split 2                  56.87              55.00

Run 7                   2:30.16          2:20.31

Split 1                  1:34.49          1:26.18
Split 2                  55.67             54.12

Run 8                 2:29.00         2:17.08

Split 1                 1:33.74        1:24.32
Split 2                55.26            52.75


Run 9                2:28.11          2:17.80

Split 1                1:33.74         1:24.42
Split 2                54.37            52.38

Richards Rumblefish fastest overall = 2:32.82
Richards Slash fastest overall = 2:28.11
Slash beats Rumblefish by 4.71 seconds

Upper sector fastest: Rumble 1:34.85 Slash 1:33.74 = 1.11 seconds
Lower sector fastest: Rumble 57.69 Slash 54.37 = 3.32 seconds

Box Carbine fastest overall = 2:22.73
Box Tracer fastest overall = 2:17.08
Tracer beats Carbine by = 5.65 seconds

Upper sector fastest: Carbine 1:27.62 Tracer 1:24.32 = 3.30 seconds
Lower sector fastest: Carbine 54.11 Tracer 52.38 = 1.73 seconds

  1. antlees

    Funny as fuck

  2. James

    Well done lads, very funny!

  3. Swhooopaaa

    Honestly, I am close to giving up on Dirt Tv, I love it but I haven’t watched a Dirt Tv video since Val D’Isere practice which must have been the first day of the new player. There is a massive list of things wrong with it and before you say send feedback I have done and had a conversation through email with one of the web boffins but now I am close to breaking point, nowt wrong with the old player for me personally, loads wrong with this one.

  4. billy

    Swoopdog, Lets see if we can find a solution, lets talk man, tete a tete, let’s give the boffins one more chance, don’t give up on me now, we’ve been through too much together, hang in there buddy. x

  5. Swhooopaaa

    Haha, have you been drinking on a school night Billy?

    My list has been shortened, they did manage to fix the problem of the player freezing when in HD mode but it still completely restarts the buffer when I try to take the video from small view to full screen, incredibly annoying when I try to let the video buffer and do something else in the meantime, the timeline along the bottom never disappears in full screen and the video won’t escape from full screen, I have to use my mouse! It’s 10inches away from the keyboard! It also lags if I try to watch the video before the video is 100% buffered. Is anyone else that sees this comment having these problems?

  6. billy

    A little crystal meth and cider chaser in the evening never hurt anyone, besides I’ve done my homework, ironed my uniform AND packed my lunch already. Will let Dave The Plumber know about your problems again.
    (I feel like we’re connecting now Swoopy x)

  7. Nutty Dave

    Another issue I have found with your new player is that it decides to shut down my bookmarks sidebar without my permission.
    I also get no option to minimise once the video is finished and have to click another link in the page to get it to leave from full screen.
    Also in this 29er video I got halfway through and it just decided to lock up and then do nothing, much prefer the old player by far.
    Running firefox.

  8. TimBud

    Oh crap, what have you done. One of my lbs’ is doing a 29 demo day soon and I’m pretty tempted to go now.

    If you can’t get out of full screen, just hit the ‘escape’ key (esc).

  9. Andy

    Got to say I like the new player, I’v had none of the problems you guys are talking about and it buffers way quicker than the old one. I’m using google chrome.

  10. SanJoseDre

    Man, You guys outdid yourselves on this one.

    Damn good stuff

  11. Mat

    I have a Trek Rumblefish and a Production Privee Shan. I just got back from a fairly hectic trailride on the Shan. Front wheel tucking all over the show, pretty loose and dusty trail, fell off and bashed my elbow. My Shan is a ridiculous hardtail, angles are so good. But everytime i ride the it i really want it to have bigger wheels. I really don’t want to like 29ers but unfortunately they are better. Gdammit.

    Oh and by the way its winter in Queenstown NZ and my trails are dusty. Its not rained for about a month. You should all come visit.

    One critic about the this article, the rumblefish is most definately not a 140 29er…………where the hell is the Roscoe?

  12. Fanboy

    Great article lads, one of the better one (together with Steves TP preparation/setup articles) this year!

    Personally I like the feel of the 29s and think some of them are a lot faster in rooty woods over a 26. Most of them are not though, as you point out, it comes down to geometry and setup.

    Liked the way the Rumblefish rides, but prefer the Stumpy 29 over it.

  13. ddmonkey

    Nice article + vid, I like this kind of thing. 29’s for racing 26’ers for fun? One thought – do 29’s tend to have a longer wheelbase than 26’ers? Cos if so you really need to test them back to back with a similar wheelbase 26er cos that also adds a lot of stability and grip which is one the benefits these guys are citing…

  14. Tom

    The line is clearly pretty blurred now…29er in a downhill world cup soon?!

  15. Guy

    get us more confused with 27.5 which will be a good wheel size for long travel bikes.

  16. Eoin

    I dont understand why the message in the video seems to be “29ers are faster overall” when the Trek rider went much faster on the slash than the rumblefish? I’m not saying 29ers are not slower, but the results seem to be: the guy used to 29ers went faster on a 29er, and the guy used to 26ers went equally faster on his 26er…

  17. SL200

    Good article and good follow up vid. My opinion on 29″ bikes is if there are faster which it looks like they are, then all the more reason to have a 29er class at races. 250s don’t race 450sin MX , bmx has a cruiser class and 400s don’t race supper bikes. There not the same machines so they shouldn’t race in the same category.

  18. spunkface

    Yes Eoin, i was thinking that too. If Richards kept doing runs on the 29er and started to beat his 26er time then i’d be more convinced by this. But as it stands it just appears that the possibly the quicker of the 2 riders has been running a 29er longer and has got used to it and is able to do fast runs on it. It would be cool if they had a 3rd rider like Richards who has not bothered with 29ers so far…

  19. jim

    Humm. That is as inconclusive as the argument why Tony Blair shouldn’t be tried for war crimes.. He should by the way.

    29″ isn’t an MTB. 26″ is an MTB. I cant race a 26″ wheel in a road race, nor a CX race at national level, so how are 29″ wheels allowed in MTB categories?

    At the end of the day, there is feck all difference as Eoin said above. You go quick on what you’re used to. 95% of riders would go faster on a 26″ bike than a 29″ if they spent £100 on coaching, adjusted their tire pressures or body position when riding..

    Still, you can’t write an article about that can you..

  20. Cyrus

    This time next year we’ll be reading about how 650b is the new, best, fastest thing.

    It’s all just more marketing hoodoo to liberate your cash from your wallet. Nothing illegal about that I suppose.

    Hands up if you ever rode a 26″ bike and thought “this needs bigger wheels” prior to 29ers? 26″ bikes have evolved into something nigh on perfect, manufactures know this….and are scrambling to find the next thing to flog us.

  21. billy

    Eoin, the 29er Rumble Fish is only 120mm and the 26er Slash is 160mm, so that why JR was a touch faster on the 26. The mag article should explain it more clearly than the vid!

  22. cake1dlx

    Just bought a Rumblefish Elite this summer. Can’t complain one bit. Needs a little more momentum going into climbs, but holds it better during the rough stuff. It didn’t take long to get used to the new wheel size either. Rode a lot like the 26″ bike I had. Fun, fast, great traction, and jumps just fine when needed.

  23. artfagsteve

    Nice, I’ve often thought you should do more videos that tie in with and expand on magazine articles. Especially bike reviews – if you’ve got a photographer there, most DSLR’s have got video now. And amazingly Jonesy makes sense on video!

  24. Eoin

    Fair enough… My only recent experience of such a test is my buddy who sold his 180mm scott genius LT for a carbon 29er stumpjumper and he finds it much harder to push hard on the 29er on steeper tracks, says he has to hold back a fair bit (he is not slower tho, about the same speed as he used to be). On the other hand he said for climbing and generally conserving energy the 29er is much better, enabling him to do bigger spins of similar difficulty. That too me would be the main selling point of 29ers, a more efficient bike for riding, rather than for out and out speed on downhills.

  25. Eoin

    cheers for running this test tho! It is interesting! I was just a bit confused by the conclusions. Sadly I cant get my hands on the mag this month.

  26. WAKi

    I find the whole thing a bit of asking the wrong questions (not only in 29er department but with all bike choices in general): Arguing whether 29 is faster than 26er is bad mmkay, prooving it is interesting and fun (thanks for that Dirt!) but somewhat not necessary. I have abig trouble with what is faster concept, as very few actualy race. And if 100% sincerely and honestly ask yourself: “Do I race, and do I actualy bother what does the clock tell me?” you might find that what you are after is: “what feels faster and more fun to me?” Does the number on speedometer or clock matter, or the actual subjective feeling? What’s in it for me? – what rocks my base? pure speed, cornering, jumping? While the answer what is faster is definitive, what will be better for you isn’t! Especially that your mind will change in time, it’s prefectly normal – so try both for some time, and choose what you like, but have your head where it is, use the brain inside of it and DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE!

  27. RHS

    I just wanna see more of Box. He is class!

  28. Art Director Rich

    Meh. Tomato, Tomato. Ride whatever makes you happy, unless your a pro does shaving off a second here or there really matter!? Personally for me, I’ll stick to my 160 26er, feel more confident throwing it around than I would of set of wagon wheels….

  29. Big Al

    I agree with WAKI. Maybe 29ers are for racers only. You could only ride a 200m DH bike at FoD, you would be fast, but it would get a bit boring, where as if you ride a 150mm (26″) the place is much more challenging and fun! I’m still not sure.
    The party political broadcast on behalf of the 29er Party, didn’t talk about jumping the bikes or manualling etc, all fun things I like to do when I’m riding. I do like going as fast as I can too, so I’m none the wiser.

  30. Betsie

    I love it when you read the whole mag.
    So the 26″ rider rode the 26″ faster (the gap stayed the same run2run)
    The 29″ rider was faster on the 29″ bike (but the gap was getting smaller run2run)
    Then the guy who only rides a 29’er, does not own a 26″ bike reviews a 26″ fork at the end, says he hates air and runs a fox 36VAN! Not listed on the fox web site that you get a 36/29’er fork…..

    And the Intense 26″ had dual ply super tackys on, not comparing apples with apples.

  31. ronin

    when’s the “s**t 29er riders say” video gonna come out?

  32. Swhooopaaa

    Great video, I am definitely going to invest in a 29er hardtail as an alternative to my big AM bike with a view to jump right over to 29er in the coming years if it truly takes off.

  33. WAKi

    @ronin I think it would begin with: “man I could never go back to 26 now!”

  34. Mike

    @RHS – you’re right there. this bloke needs his own web series or something…he’s a legend!

  35. Jackson Five

    If the 29ers are realy that fast – why the hell roadbiker don’t ride bigger wheels??? (In their sport it’s all about speed!)

    I stay with 26 – so much fun and I don’t have to hurry!

  36. ronin

    if we’re at a party and it’s an open bar we should still be able to get properly bent while drinkin our own swill of choice, yes? f all this taste testing and on with the drunkedness!

  37. ronin

    disclaimer: i don’t ride with a number plate (just drunk mates) so fun>clock. spesh enduro/last herb am, pls.

  38. jonesdirt

    haha…your question will be what to do when all your mates are out having fun on their 29ers?

    All these bikes are fun to ride. A raleigh commando was fun to ride. hell i can even imagine a hardtail after 10 pints of stowford press might even be fun to ride.

    Speed not an issue? Fuck it lets stop covering racing…. How about a different question then….I can ride as fast on a well designed single pivot without linkage as a linkage bike..AND have as much fun. Which is best?

    My job is to offer different examples of what might be fun to ride for different people. Hence having 29ers

    Maybe we should do a “what’s the prettiest mountainbike?” feature instead?

  39. Steve

    I dont care if they are faster, they banned Lycra skin suits top stop our sport looking gay surely we can do the same with 29’rs?

  40. ronin

    @jones – so where are you on 650b?

    it probably would help if the “vs.” thing was left out of it. physics is physics. style and skill sets are personal. I mean 29 is an established market. apples to apples would be more helpful at this point. it’s not like a sram/shimano kind of argument.

  41. Dan

    29ers jump like white men.

  42. John

    We recently tried our own version of this test with very different results. I have nothing against 29 or 26 but I think wheelsize has less to do with it than a good design in all areas.

  43. nozes

    29ers are soooo 2011!
    Had a great ideia last night,I’m going to invent a new wheel size and get rich in no time…just wait for the 31″ wheel,it’s going to be the sh!t

  44. WAKi

    Jonesdirt – hear, hear! though I indeed meant that clocks are for racers :) All are fun to ride – mhm yup as long as one understands neutral body position and the fact that the any bike feels right as long as you set it up (bars, stem, pedals, the saddle if you like) as your own bike :) – how many have a chance to dig it, when they are told: you will be faster on this and this thing!

    Which one is better looking would be a nice one – I had some arrogant art teachers who use to say the following: “one who thinks that what looks good is personal is plain ignorant” So… XL frames on 26″ wheels looks like NO, just NO! Proportions is everything!

    BTW I am looking tyres to my first 29er, I guess you don’t need that big knobs, and there’s no point in going over 2.2″? If 2,4″ NNic is what you feels right on your trails on 26″, 2,25″ Rocket Ron will be enough on 29″?

  45. Jamazepam

    I really enjoyed this web feature and loved the mag article as well. Concise and told it like it is. No marketing b*sh!t getting in the way. Remember guys, Dirt is a racers magazine so why not explore faster bike options. As James Richards said, just try one. I’m trying 2 different 29ers next weekend and see what all the fuss is about. I’ll remain open minded and try my 26 straight after. Good article guys and keep up the good work.

  46. Big Al

    Jonesdirt, what are they like for manual-ing and jumping? Not a loaded question, just would like to know your (and testers) opinion.

  47. Steve

    @JonesDirt didn’t you do a what’s the ugliest mountain bike bit on here not soo long ago?

  48. Oldnshit

    The cool thing about MTB is that you can get off the technology train any time you like as most older stuff (standards, sizes, number of gears etc) is still being made. Pick and chose based on what trails you ride how often, budget etc.

    29ers are gay!

  49. Kevin

    fookin brilliant.

  50. Stikman

    I did 3 timed runs on a-line whistler.
    -run 1 I was 5 seconds faster than run 2
    -run 3 I was 7 seconds slower than run 1.

    I was on same bike the whole time…so?

  51. jonesdirt

    @stikman…err so your bum was itching and you decided to call it a day maybe? I give up tell us?

  52. Steve

    if the 26 “felt’ faster then surely its the one to have.. as unless you’re racing or cock measuring on strava…. feeling like you’re going fast is more fun than not feeling like you’re going fast (even if you aren’t)?
    Slower bike that feels faster and is more fun to rider or faster bike that feels slower and isn’t as fun to ride…….. hmmm fun bike that feels fast everyday of the week!

  53. Steve

    *(even if you are)

  54. enrico650

    Your test is crap ,here in the US we have adopted the Euro enduro format.
    No 29 or 650b on the podium .
    Specialized concluded that the 26 wheel is better.

  55. Andy _ N

    Would like to see the Tracer 27.5 run off against the other two Intenses.

  56. Pup Tentacle

    Good seeing some natural personality with all 3 of you, rather than canned “marketing” fluff.

    Though Cooksley’s “mistakes into opportunities” was rich, reminded me of corporate cheerleading & teambuilding seminars!

  57. Nick

    Does the early warning system come with loud beeps for us less accomplished riders?

    Your article unfortunately just makes me want another bike, as my wife says how many arse s have you got?

    With a giant reign x now what will be my equivalent 29’er?

  58. MissedThePoint

    I hear the same thing all the time here 26″ v 29er.

    The 29er is just more capable and does more of the work for you. The 26″ requires much more rider input and is more under the rider’s control. I look at the 29er as simply turning the EZ mode switch on. Lets you ride more things successfully than you could on a 26″.

    I kind of like 26″ since I like to get sketchy. It’s fun. It’s exciting. I like to pump the ground, unweighting and weighting, popping off of things for a little air.

    The biggest thing I dislike about the 29er is that it makes jumps smaller and requires much more runway to and prep to clear a jump. If you overshoot the landing, it’s pretty devastating to your ability to clear subsequent jumps in a jump line or rhythm section. It just requires fine tuned perfection. It’s enough to make me wonder when they add more spacing between jumps and call it 29er friendly at places like Mammoth Mtn (ex. Flow trail).

  59. Chris

    Thanks for the article. Very interesting results. But I hope Dirt is not going to leave things there. There is a ‘27.5in’ Intense Tracer bike out now that should probably be part of the test mix. I’m not exclusively interested in what the stopwatch shows in determining the bike I would want to ride. So, I would be very interested in how these in-between bikes fare on a broad set of measures.

    There’s also some disentangling of a kind of knotted picture in this 26in vs 29in talk. It might be possible to improve 26in bike performance (somewhat) without going to 29in wheels by attacking bike performance from another angle. With this in mind it would be very interesting to see how the shorter wheelbase and longer wheelbase (Forward Geometry) Mondraker bikes compare. Answering the question of whether increased wheelbase is a significant independent factor in the performance of an MTB may also turn out to be relevant to the picture we have of 29ers as well. Some of the improved performance of the 29er might be due to wheelbase rather than wheel size. That is something testing might clarify.


  60. Chris

    I had a closer look at the article and there is a couple of ways in which the results of the tests may have been skewed. Forget the Rumblefish, Slash comparison. In the Tracer 26in vs 29in comparison it would be important to correct for major differences that could have an impact on test results.

    The obvious things that could skew results are differences in gearing and tyres. Both bikes appear to have been converted to single ring and the chainring looked to be the same size, so that was probably okay. What wasn’t okay was the tyre difference – the 29er was using Ardents and the 26in bike used Minions. Given this configuration variation there must be some doubt about the results. Perhaps, all that has been proved is the superiority of the Ardents in the conditions that prevailed on the test track at the time the tests were done!

    In order to rule out doubts about these test results or confirm these doubts as well founded, I would say that any future test of a Tracer 27.5in bike on this track should use both Minions and Ardents to clarify whether tyre selection alone could be responsible for the large differences witnessed between the 26in and 29in run times.


  61. Chris

    While there appears to be little point to add a comment to a long dead forum I’m pigheaded enough to do it.

    Reconsidering this topic has made me think that unfortunately ‘tests’ of this sort really are guilty of the common error of “comparing apples and oranges”. Please do not think that I mean 26in and 29in full suspension bikes are incomparable. They are all bikes, they all have (slightly differently sized) wheels that they roll on and some sort of suspension to deal with rough terrain. So, between 26in and 29in wheeled bikes how should we go about making a sensible comparison? Perhaps there is no singular answer but I think stack height is good place to start. Once that is recognised it becomes apparent that a 29er with 140mm of travel (front and rear) is properly compared to a 26er with 180mm of travel (front and rear) because both bikes have a similar stack height and thus represent a similar “package”. What matters is how much you can get out of similar packages! This rule of thumb is something engineers designing and building things as different as F1 cars, war planes, efficient building lighting and microprocessors would understand.

    From this point of view, based on available bicycle geometries and not speculations about what might be available one day, 26in still looks pretty good to me and Mondraker’s innovations with “Forward Geometry” especially interesting.


  62. MP

    Could not read al the comments. I think the test result and the interprention of the result differs: from the figures one can read that a guy that rides 29 ers as usual is faster on a 29:er and vice verca for 26 inch.

    I did a lot of thinking about this article since I had to deacide for a MaxiAvalance bike. I did end up on a 26 inch 180 mm bike with reverb seatpost.

    Probably the best bike for a combo of things like speed, fun, competition, durability, spare parts, pedalability. And most important: I am no pro rider. Soo on a Maxi (20 min riding) I don´t need a light bike since my fittnes level is high. But I need a stable bike that I can ride fast on even when I am tired. So that´s why I go for the 180 mm slayer.

  63. Ben

    So at the end of the testing where Rich was on a 29er and Box was on a 26er, Box was 10 seconds faster than Rich overall.

    Whilst at the end of testing where Rich was on a 26er and Box was on a 29er, Box was 11 seconds faster.

    Whilst Rich was faster on his 26er than his 29er and Box was faster on his 29er than his 26er.

    And whereby lap times were generally decreasing as the runs got later and later – with both riders reducing their final times by roughly the same amount….yet you decided to swap over to different wheel sizes in an opposing fashion that would favor the outcome of the 26er for Rich and the outcome of the 29er for Box in terms of lap times.

    So this is meant to prove 29ers are faster how?

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