29er – Useless for beginners?

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  • 29er – Useless for beginners?
  • ScottChegg
    Member

    My wife is looking for a new bike. She doesn’t ride much but is keen to ramp that up this year with the kids getting bigger etc.

    We’ve looked around the usual places, but most of the kit that has caught her eye has been 29″ flavour.

    She doesn’t see the harm so long as she fits the bike. The shopkeeps seem keen to say anything to make a sale.

    Would a 29″ be undetectable to the novice, or will it be a bit of a handful?

    clubber
    Member

    It’s the exploding wheels that will be a problem.

    (It’ll be fine)

    Premier Icon frogstomp
    Subscriber

    As long as she gets the right size and type (for the riding she does) of bike the wheel size will be largely irrelevant – there are positive and negative differences in handling / stability etc. for the different sizes but you just adapt to those differences..

    slowjo
    Member

    Fine.

    Why would smaller wheels be any different?

    Premier Icon tootallpaul
    Subscriber

    My wife has just built up a 29er, and she finds it a much easier ride than her 26er.

    Premier Icon tomhoward
    Subscriber

    If they were so hard to use, no one would start riding hybrids or road bikes…

    Premier Icon Yak
    Subscriber

    29ers do take a little bit more bossing around, so it might depend on riding style and to a lesser extent size and strength. This is what the skills course my wife did thought when they looked at her technique. Obviously you can work on the riding style part.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    How tall is she?

    My wife’s 4’11” I wouldn’t be buying a 29er for her however much she liked the look of them…

    Premier Icon mboy
    Subscriber

    You’ll find people new to MTBing, on the whole, will prefer larger wheels.

    Why?

    They’re inherently more stable, and what the purists might cry out as a lack of agility in 29ers (yeah right! Ride a good one…) anyone new to the sport will more often than not welcome the extra stability.

    My GF has struggled with confidence for the past year on her 26″ hardtail. She’s only a couple of inches shorter than me, so I put a shorter stem on my 29er and she took it out the last 2 weekends. She was MUCH faster everywhere, and much happier to boot. She’s now planning the sale of her 26″ bike and the purchase of a 29er HT of her own.

    asterix
    Member

    as you all know I am a big fan of 26″ wheels, but I would say a 29er would be easier to learn on (although probably not much)

    clubber
    Member

    29ers do take a little bit more bossing around

    Only if you’re really pushing them. That’s not going to be an issue for a beginner.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    There’s a relative lack of choice and the bikes tend to be heavier but that’s all.

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    My wife’s 4’11” I wouldn’t be buying a 29er for her however much she liked the look of them

    plenty of ahem, less statuesque riders like big wheelers too. Aslong as she had a decent test ride and got on with the wheel size/geometry shirley there’d be no reason not to buy?

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I think at her height the compromises on height of the front end, reach etc that larger wheels enforce would compromise the bike too much.

    It’s a view held by a lot of bike designers that I respect so not just prejudice on my part.

    she could have 650B if she bought her own tubes 🙂

    clubber
    Member

    c’mon who’s going to post Emily Batty’s shoehorned 29er? 🙂

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    They’re not for everyone or every shorter rider, but the things that make 29ers so stable and hard to endo, with higher front ends, are things some new riders really like – so we made this

    I don’t think you need to make any big compromises to get a smaller rider on bigger wheels, as long as short-travel (less divey) forks are ok and jumps and throwing shapes aren’t a priority. A bit heavier wheels though, granted.

    creamegg
    Member

    They’re inherently more stable, and what the purists might cry out as a lack of agility in 29ers (yeah right! Ride a good one…)

    what would you count as a good one?

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    fair enough, maybe it is just a case of finding ‘the bike that works for you’ then.

    ScottChegg
    Member

    Kind of the mixed bag of ‘it’ll be fine’ compared with the stupid (Thanks DrP).

    A rider who’s opinion I respect said a 29er is not as easy to thread through singletrack etc. If there is no difference, why go 29″ over 26″?

    Hmmm; time to guess.

    clubber
    Member

    A rider who’s opinion I respect said a 29er is not as easy to thread through singletrack etc

    Has he actually ridden a decent 29er recently? That was certainly true of some of the original ones not decent ones now.

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl
    Subscriber

    Wimminz can often prefer lighter bikes.

    c_g happy with 26er

    thegreatape
    Member

    My wife went from a Trek Skye, which was bought to ease her into things gently, to a Cali SL. She finds the extra inches give her a much better ride, especially improving her confidence going down, and despite being a complete short arse at 4’14 she has no problems handling a 29er. Conversely, she could hardly ride my 26 incher with its inappropriate angles. The wheel size doesn’t matter as much as the bike fitting properly.

    thegreatape
    Member

    Should be something there for everyone.

    The worry is that she’ll be overwheeled unless she’s riding pretty rough stuff. I see a lot of people riding trail centres on 29″ wheels when 650 or even 26 would be more than enough. 29″s just roll over everything and make it less of a challenge.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    That Pinnacle looks ace!
    I might get one for the Mrs!

    z1ppy
    Member

    honourablegeorge – Hohoho, just like suspension, or rubber tyres, or inner tube, etc etc… maybe we should all still be scooting along on dandy horses?

    mduncombe
    Member

    My Mrs rides a Specialized Jett 29er and wouldnt swap it for anything, huge confidence builder, no problems riding singletrack. only thing she noted was initially she found her feet overlapped the front wheel on tight turns but has adapted and now its not a problem.

    I certainly wouldnt rule a 29er out but get a test ride if possible.

    she has previosuly ridden

    Rockhopper 26 HT
    Stumpjumper 26 HT
    marin Rift Zone 26 FS

    Lovely looking bike as well

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    The worry is that she’ll be overwheeled

    stw gold

    honourablegeorge – Member
    The worry is that she’ll be overwheeled unless she’s riding pretty rough stuff. I see a lot of people riding trail centres on 29″ wheels when 650 or even 26 would be more than enough. 29″s just roll over everything and make it less of a challenge.

    🙄

    esher shore
    Member

    the big advantage with 29’er?

    it flatters the novice rider by smoothing the trail

    it allows experienced riders to go quicker, for less effort

    She finds the extra inches give her a much better ride, especially improving her confidence going down

    Help……

    Fnaar.

    As mentioned above, she’ll probably find a 29er improves her confidence rather then taking anything away.

    Built our lass a 26″ bike up a year or two ago and she loves it but finds it tricky off road because it’s quite a lively ride. If we were to change it it would be for a 29er.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    you know 29 is only one characteristic of the bike…

    my wife – 4’11” loves riding this

    Skinwall ftw by Captainsideburns, on Flickr
    although it has been accused of having 32″ wheels…

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber
    ScottChegg
    Member

    Has he actually ridden a decent 29er recently?

    He has a Stumpy FSR 29er and a Niner hardtail, so you make up your mind.

    He has a (vast) collection of bikes; and he reckons the right tool for the job is not always 29.

    I’ve only ridden one once. I couldn’t tell the difference. Hence the dilemma.

    clubber
    Member

    I’m sure that’s true and that’s why I can’t see myself wanting to just ride 29ers but to say 29ers are hard to thread through singletrack sounds pretty princess/pea to me. when you’re pushing really hard, you certainly notice that you need to push them into tighter bends a bit more but it’s not something that a beginner would notice and as has been said previously, the extra stability/confidence may well actually make it a better choice.

    klumpy
    Member

    If all MTBs had always come with 29 inch wheels you wouldn’t even bother to ask, would you? Then again, if she’s a novice do you even care about a minute differences in wheel size that might eek out a coupla minutes over 2 hours of racing? Find the best deal you can that fits, it will have wheels, they will be some size or other, and who cares what.

    scottalej
    Member

    I’d get her a 29er if she likes it.
    My partner isn’t confident off road and was using a KTM Lycan 26er. I foolishly, in hindsight, gave her a shot of my Trek (Gary Fisher) Rumblefish and she loves it. She finds it more stable and inspires confidence in her to take on more technical terrain that she was wary of with the KTM.

    crispycross
    Member

    A word on 29ers for short riders. A friend of mine is 5’1″. She races XC and rode everything (trail centres to Hadleigh Farm A lines) last year on a super-blingy 26″ carbon rocket (19.5 lbs). Now she’s got a Niner and it fits her really well. She’s faster downhills, over rough stuff and loves it on the climbs too, even though it’s 1.5 lbs heavier.

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