29er riders – handling tips!

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  • 29er riders – handling tips!
  • Just got my first 29er – Genesis Mantle 20. I love it so far – it’s faster, and feels more stable, particularly over nobbly stuff. However – cornering, particularly narrow stuff, has been a bit of a challenge, same with bomb holes – feels different with the bigger wheels.

    Any 29er veterans out there got any handling/technique tips for getting the most out of your 29er (and staying on, obviously)

    Premier Icon weeksy

    I doubt it’s 29er specific that you’re having adjustment issues, more the new bike not being quite ‘right’ for you. Could be bar width, could be stem, could be overall geomtry, why do you equate the issues to being 29er related ?

    The bars are pretty wide, so maybe that’s a factor.

    I’ve only done one ride, so I wouldn’t expect to be fully confident on any new bike after just one spin. I think it is mostly to do with the fact that I’m not used to riding a 29er and it makes sense to me that it might handle differently or need to tweak my technique a bit. My OH tried it out as well as we’re not too different in height, and he said the same, that it handles slightly differently. I suppose all bikes to to an extent though.


    Given your user name – how tall are you?

    The packaging constraints of the bigger wheels means that if you’re fairly short, then relatively the wheelbase will be much longer than you’re used to (and possibly slacker HA to decrease toe overlap), so it’ll steer slower and transition through bombholes differently. The upside is it’ll be loads faster in a straight line and on steep stuff…

    I suspect you’re over thinking things.. I’ve gone from full suss 29er to full suss 26er back to rigid 29er and the rigid 29er (Genesis Fortitude Race) seems to handle the best.

    have you set the forks up for your weight? 29ers have a larger contact patch with the floor and it may be that you need to persuade the bike a little more to turn, but I can’t see why that would be the case personally

    smaller wheels will be better in the tight stuff etc… 🙄


    I ride either a 26″ 140mm FS or a 29″ rigid, whilst they obviously ride very differently I can’t say I notice the 29er struggles to turn in twisty single-track or anything like that. First ride is bound to feel a bit odd, could even just be something as simple as the different tyres.


    As above I think you need to look beyond the bigger wheel size as the main cause for the difference in handling. Just mess about with different stem lengths / stack height / tyre pressure / bar width / fork pressure etc and see how the bike feels.

    I recently bought my first 29er and it’s taken a couple of rides to get it to feel right. Aside from tweaking the setup, I’ve found ‘pushing the bike over’ a bit more in the bends has made it feel more agile in twisty tracks.

    Premier Icon bowglie

    Don’t know if I’d like to confess to being a veteran just yet, but I do have a fair bit of experience on various FS and HT 29ers (oh, er…and a few 26ers 🙂 ) – and to give you some perspective, I teach Mtn bike skills.

    I haven’t ridden your model of bike, so can’t be 100% sure if you’ve got a set-up ‘issue’ – and there are so many other variables, bike/rider size, speed, surface etc etc. However, one thing that I have noticed with all 29ers (to a greater or lesser extent depending on model & frame size) is that they tend to require more steering input or ‘body English’ and/or lean to initiate and then hold a turn. I have found that a lot of 29ers tend to try and run wide on corners when there’s some seated pedalling involved (i.e. climbing switchbacks). TBH, most of these 29er handling traits can be compensated for with technique – just takes a little practice and patience.

    I’d recommend having a bit of play about, practicing cornering with different body positions and lean angles. Don’t worry, after a few hours you’ll most likely adapt your riding style to the bike and it’ll be fine.

    Or, of course, you could have a half day skills session with a 29er savvy Sheffield based skills coach 😉 …. ahem cough

    If you’re interested the latter, please have a look at http://www.letsmtb.co.uk/

    Anyway, HTH

    Cheers guys, @Jon, I’m just under 5’6″, so I was right on the cusp of frame sizes. I felt “squashed” on the 16″ so went for the 17.5. My previous bike was 16″ and always felt a shade on the small side too.

    @bowglie – I suspect it will mostly be technique and tweaking, I did notice towards the end of my ride that leaning more did help the cornering somewhat.

    Premier Icon StefMcDef

    Have you got a dropper post for it? I don’t find the 29er causes many problems in tight, twisty stuff but I do feel a bit penny-farthing-ish on it at times, especially at the top of something like a steep-ish drop or a bombhole. Being able to sit over the back of it more easily gives a bit more confidence in those situations.


    It’s got an extra 20mm in the top tube and 10mm extra length in the stem. You sure the 16″ wasn’t a better fit? The front end is obviously 20mm longer than the 16 but I can’t help picturing you being a shade under 5’6″ as being more suited to the 16. I may be wrong.

    My transition to 29er actually gave me more confidence due to the more stable feel of the bike and knowing that a larger dia wheel will roll over stuff better on steep stuff thereby reducing the risk of being thrown over the handlebars – though its never happened to me on a 26er, so its all in the mind.

    When I first sat on my 29er I was very aware of the amount of front wheel poking out in front of me, but I soon got used to that. On slow switchbacks I really have had to make minimal technique changes – no more than you’d have to make when jumping off one 26er onto a different one. I remeber back in the mid 90’s going from a Giant Escaper to a GT and there being a huge difference in the feel of the bike and having to make changes to the way I rode. I’ve not noticed anywhere near the same difference from bike to bike since and certainly not in moving to the 29er – so I think the feel of the bike has alot more to do with the frame geometry than wheel size.

    I definately don’t feel like i’m sat higher on my bike. The saddle, BB and handlebar height off the ground is the same as it was on my previous 26er, so there is no problem there. You’re sat between the wheels rather than on top of them. I think this adds to the feeling of stability as your body CofG is not as high over the wheel centres as they are on a 26er.

    Its a new bike, Regardless of wheel size it’ll take a little time to get used to it.

    Give it a couple more rides.

    bent udder

    I’m 5’7″ and have gone the opposite direction – from 17.5″ down to 16″ – on 26ers over the last decade. I’ve no doubt got different torso and leg length to you though.

    I’ve also just got my first 29er, and the Mantle was one of my top choices. They’re lovely bikes.

    Handling on the 29er (an On-One Scandal with Rebas) is different – but it’s not been as tricky getting used to as it was going from 26″ wheels at both ends to a 69er.

    As said above by others, there are a load of factors. It also depends on your cornering technique – I’ve noticed different techniques result in different outcomes, and the 29er is more responsive to dropping a hand and really laying the bike down, as there’s a ton more grip.

    One other thing; I changed tyre pressures, and the bike was a lot less fun, and a lot more skittery, to ride. So – long and short – don’t get put off, but go through all the variables methodically until you find out what it is.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    as above, I found that by almost exaggerating the extent to which i was leaning the bike over in turns, all of a sudden it seemed to become a whole load more responsive. Set up a small figure of eight course (like Jedi’s skills check one) on some soft flat ground and experiment with lean to find the point where it suddenly starts to happen.

    re: 29ers can’t corner – they can, perfectly well, and there’s nothing that i feel i can’t get a 29er round, but there are times that a 26er does it even better – IMHO.

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