Coming at a time when many riders are still working out the decision as to whether to go 140 or 160mm travel the 29er trail bike goes and sends one into the mix…
From Dirt Issue 120 – February 2012
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Andy Lloyd and Steve Jones.
The internet is laced with truths and non–truths about 29er bikes, personally I feel that the reality of catching a previously out of reach downslope, holding a world class camber or root network at bay outclasses the gossip. Neither fake nor idealistic, I can ride a mid travel 29 quicker than a 26. Therefore I find the question of whether we should or not be riding 29 bikes a bit bonkers. I mean, horse bolted or what?
Had I not come out the back of a UK winter trail tyre test this might all be a bit different, maybe if I was looking for a big hitting 160mm bike for an overseas enduro yes it might offer up a contrasting answer, but when looking for a bike to ride in the UK wet and in the mud for a fair old chunk of the year the 29 totally makes sense. Of the many advantages grip, speed and stability are up there.
There remains a question of size and scale for I really cannot answer as to whether 29 is for everyone of all heights. My eight year old recently went from 16” to 24” having missed out on the 20”. She’s now going faster, smoother, for longer periods. Of the specialists 20 continues to boss the dirt jumps on the smoothest of manufactured dirt surfaces – and faster or not they’re simply more manoeuvrable. Street BMX remains the domain of the hardcore on two wheel bikes whilst downhill (26) is still seen as the ultimate in off–road class.
For how long that remains true nobody knows, and as a magazine entrenched in downhill, enduro, dirtjump and anything in that general style, many people’s perception is that 29 could be seen as something that’s entirely none of our business. Yet these pages cut their teeth on four–inch bikes and the question remains hugely valid, “I want a bike to go ripping around the woods. What shall I get?” The largely non–competitive trail bike market remains a rather vague area – 120mm for Surrey, 160mm for Wales. If only it was that simple. And now this.
This feature could be written on so many levels. A general discussion about 29ers, is 29 faster, 29 vs 26 hardtail/mid travel trail bikes/long travel trail bikes, will we ever see a World Cup downhill won on a 29er, 29 componentry. Lets unshackle the 29 for a moment. >>