Trail and Enduro Bikes

Dirt 100 2017 – The best 29er mountain bikes

Big wheeled bruisers

On paper, 29 inch mountain bike wheels are faster and more capable than any other, it’s just simple physics. Unfortunately real world testing means it comes down to a whole host of factors – rider size, trail conditions, personal preference and more.

One thing that cannot be denied however is that 29 inch wheel technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Many brands are now choosing to spec their top enduro and trail bikes with bigger wheels. We’ve long been converts to big wheels and we’re glad to finally see the rest of the industry coming round to our way of thinking.

Nine 29ers made it into our 100 this year and, in no particular order, here they are:

YT Industries Jeffsy

YT were far from the first to produce an agro 29 trail bike but we reckon this has only given them the time to pitch the numbers just right. A 67.6 ° head angle, 1206mm wheelbase and 32mm bottom bracket drop make it eerily similar to a Specialized Stumpjumper, not a bad act to emulate truth be told.

The Jeffsy is bedecked in Fox with a 34 Performance Elite holding things together at the front. It’s a supreme fork but we could just as easily picture this bike with a 150mm 36 to allow it to really plough. The rest of the componentry is just as solid.

An Eagle drivetrain only compliments the Jeffsy’s solid climbing performance with extra range.SRAM Guide brakes, e*thirteen wheelsets, Race Face finishing kit, everything else here has a feeling of ‘deluxe’ but, as usual, the price just doesn’t seem to add up. Pay your €4499 for this and you’ll still feel like a criminal.

Price: €3,999.00

Read the Full review here

Nukeproof Mega 290 Comp

Nukeproof is a brand that’s totally focussed on the harder hitting side of mountain biking and we can totally respect that. Now they’re launching a full scale assault on the Enduro World Series with Sam Hill we’re starting to truly see what the Mega platform is capable of.

The 29er version of this frame makes its second appearance in the 100 this year. In our mind, if you’re after a big wheeled, aluminium enduro bike, this is the one for you The suspension tune of the fork and shock, balanced geometry and modern sizing all play well with the larger 29″ wheels – this is a sorted bike, ready to charge hard in rough terrain.

Price: £2,799

Read the full review here

Whyte T-129S

Whyte just get the UK market like very few other brands. Loads of clearance, aggressive geometry and bike that we all want to ride. The T-129S fits our current obsession of the short-travel-29er-that-can-be-railed-like-go-karts category just perfectly.

Whyte build this model around their SCS rear triangle – designed specifically for a single chainring transmission. A good move, giving more mud clearance and fewer compromises to frame performance. A well-designed frame needs good suspension and here the T-129 gets the Fox treatment front and rear. A stiff 34 Rhythm fork and Float DPS Performance rear shock are a good match. We seriously like this bike.

Price: £2,450

Read the Full review here

Orange Stage 5

We first rode an Orange 29er back in 2012 and, although it was quietly phased out due to naysayers, we were confident it wouldn’t be the last we’d see of it. The Stage 5 brings them back with fury and we reckon this time they’ll be sticking around. Why? Simply because this is one of the fastest trail bikes we’ve ever ridden – and that’s against the clock.

The Stage Five has an absorbing ride characteristic, one that makes you want to constantly engage with the terrain, giving and taking, generating speed and lift. This simple act has been the backbone of British trail riding for over a decade… The beat goes on.

Price: £5,500

Read the Full review here

Trek Slash 9.9

Trek made a big statement with the Slash when they decided to make their enduro race bike only compatible with 29 inch wheels. No flip chips, no plus size tyres, just wagon wheel speed.

It was a risk that paid off though, they’re left with a bike that looks stunning and truly flies. This is a bike that’s packed with Trek’s usual Scrabble bag of technology acronyms but they all come together to create a clean, and cutting bike. Yes this is one of the most expensive enduro bikes out there but it should be your new yardstick of what to expect for six large.

Price: £6,000

Read the Full review here

Specialized S-Works Enduro 29

The Enduro was the first bike that really opened our eyes to the capabilities of long travel 29ers when we took it down the 1:04 test track and it gave many of our favourite downhill bikes a run for their money.

The Enduro has never been a perfect bike in our eyes but years of refinement keep pushing it closer to that boundary. This year travel has been added and geometry adjusted to create one of the burliest 29ers you can buy. If you’re stuck between the two wheel sizes, go for the 29er as it’s the only one that comes with Ohlins kit, the Swedish gold really setting this ride apart.

Price: £7,400

Read the full review here

Kona Process 111

We have a soft spot for this type of bike here at Dirt. Twenty-nine inch wheels, a burly fork up front and a low slung frame with shorter-than-average travel. It’s a style of bike that not everyone will instantly be attracted to but take a test ride and you’ll taste the magic. It’s only got 111mm travel but you’ll find yourself questioning – how is this bike such a bruiser?

Kona have increased the fork’s travel to 130mm too, in line with bikes like the Transition Smuggler. These are small but important changes and ones we agree on. Refinements to a winning formula.

Price: £3,499

Read the Full review here

Trek Fuel EX 9.9

One spin and you realise the angles, weight and tightness add up to make this Trek a trail hammering speed machine. It’s lightweight, incredibly well built and so beautifully constructed. With a Fox 34 leading the charge, this Fuel EX is a fine example of a trail bike, which can now be pushed into tough terrain, yet never lacking the urgency or punch of a shorter travel machine. Your average speed has just increased.

Price: 9.8 P1 from £4,400 // 9.9 P1 from £6400

Read the full review here


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