The Leopard 29R mountain bike. New to the Leopard line-up, the 29R is responsive out of the saddle and stable on technical or wide open descents. Unique tube shapes and internal cable routing make for a beautiful trail machine. Tube-to-tube construction BB30 bottom bracket Frame weight: 1100 gms (S frame) 5 star stiffness and 4.5 star.
Strengths: It’s a tough, competent bike that’s stiff where it needs to be and compliant where you want it to be. The geometry is right where it should be to handle everything I’ve thrown at it.
Weaknesses: Bike does not come in a size 18"
I’ve had a chance to ride some fine bikes. Some of them I’ve loved and have kept my passion for cycling strong. Others, not as much. The Leopard Cycles 29R mountain bike definitely falls in the former category.
Having just come off a rough relationship with my previous carbon fiber hardtail 29er, I was hesitant to jump onto another this season. I was assured by my local Leopard representative that the 29R was designed with a high amount of compliance, the lack thereof being the major complaint I had about my previous carbon rig, so I decided to take the plunge.
I’ve been riding and racing the 29R for 3 months now and after making a few tweaks, I feel like I am comfortable enough on the bike to offer an opinion. For reference, I am an upper level CAT 2 mountain bike racer/rider from the Midwest who’s longest race on the bike has been a 12 hour duo event. My favorite trails are are technical singletrack with lots of tricky climbs and descents.
First of all, there is a lot to like about this bike. It’s efficient like my previous carbon 29er but much more compliant in the rough stuff. The frame does more than you would expect from a hardtail to smooth out the trail. I’ve done some really rough endurance races on rocky singletrack without feeling beat up.
At 5’ 9 1/2”, I’m on the edge of the size 17” frame, but with a 110mm stem, I’m able to make it work. With the longer stem, the steering was just a hair slow for my taste, so I cut down my 660mm wide handlebar a little and it’s improved the issue.
It climbs well, it flies in the flats and it is completely competent on the downhills.
This frame is tough. I’ve had a few bad incidents with this bike, including the worst I’ve ever had, and the bike is no worse for wear.
Not only tough, this bike is light, too. I'm running a full SRAM 2x10 XX drivetrain except for the RaceFace Next SL crankset which is lighter than the xx crankset, Stan's Crest rims mated to Chris King wheels, Fox F29 CTD fork, Answer Protaper XC Carbon handlebar and the older generation Shimano XT brakes. Including the Crank Brothers Candy 2 pedals, two water bottle cages and Garmin cycling computer accessories, the bike comes in at 21.25lbs with room for improvement.
Bikes don’t come much better looking than Leopards. You can choose from a number of different colors, pre designed paint schemes or even have your Leopard custom designed.
The only quibble I have about this bike goes back to sizing. I only wish the 29R was available in an 18” frame which would would allow me to run the bike with a stem shorter than 110mm. I’m not sure if they would ever consider it, but that’s my 2 cents.
It’s a tough, competent bike that’s stiff where it needs to be and compliant where you want it to be. The geometry is right where it should be to handle everything I’ve thrown at it. It’s a bike I would highly recommend if you are looking for a new hardtail 29er for trail riding or XC racing.
You can see my Leopard photo gallery here: https://www.facebook.com/martin.tank/media_set?set=a.10152087804623504.1073741828.618838503&type=3
Similar Products Used: Airborne Goblin, Trek Superfly
Bike Setup: I'm running a full SRAM 2x10 XX drivetrain except for the RaceFace Next SL crankset which is lighter than the xx crankset, Stan's Crest rims mated to Chris King wheels, Fox F29 CTD fork, Answer Protaper XC Carbon handlebar and the older generation Shimano XT brakes. Including the Crank Brothers Candy 2 pedals, two water bottle cages and Garmin cycling computer accessories, the bike comes in at 21.25lbs with room for improvement.
Date Reviewed: February 18, 2013
Strengths: Stiff, fast, aggressive and awesome
Weaknesses: The top tube is to high, my break levers hit it
I love my leopard 29er. I would recommend any competitive racer to get one
Strengths: Excellent geometry = great handling, fast steering yet very stable at the same time. Looks amazing, especially with custom decals and custom paint options! Frame is very high quality and the internal cable routing is slick. PF30 BB allows me to run an eccentric adapter for singlespeeding. Sweet!
Weaknesses: Not a darn thing so far!
Just a great overall package. If your in the market for a high quality hardtail, this bike is definitely worth checking out!
Similar Products Used: Niner A9C, Gary Fisher Rig.
Bike Setup: Light, Fast, Simple.
Date Reviewed: October 23, 2012
Strengths: Strengths: Everything, with a nifty bonus for tucking the rear brake within the seat/chain-stay junction rather than mounting it on top. Light, climbs well, confidence inspiring descending.
Weaknesses: Me. It deserves a better rider.
A great 29er at a fair price. Leopard nailed it with their first 29" effort. Geometry is dead nuts in the middle, not twitchy, nor laid-back. Hammer it for 90 minutes or settle into an 8 hour epic -- works well at both extremes of my riding calendar. A "5 flamin chilis" no brainer.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: September 5, 2012
Strengths: Light, stiff and agile with racing geometry that allows it to climb like a rocket and descend with confidence. Excellent workmanship and attention to detail. Intelligent and clean cable routing. This is an excellent cross country race bike.
Weaknesses: None with the frame. It flat out rocks!
For a long time I've wanted to try both a hardtail and a 29er, so when I had the opportunity to race the Leopard 29er at Bike Monkey's Annadel event this year, I jumped on it. As I was expecting from a hardtail, the Leopard was extremely light and stiff, which directly translates to fast. My first ride on the bike was climbing a trail called Rocky Ridge, a very rocky and technical single-track 1.6 mile category 3 climb with some sections over 25% grade. Without going as hard as I could I came within seconds of my PR time, but most incredibly, I felt amazingly fresh at the top. I directly attribute this mostly to the light and stiff frame, but the large wheels certainly helped.
I had heard the downside about 29" wheels; increased weight doesn't allow you to carve the tight stuff as well as 26" wheels. Since making up time in tight rough downhill sections is one of my strengths on the bike I was concerned I might be giving up my best advantage by going with the large wheels, especially on a course like Annadel. I had hoped that their strengths, easily rolling over obstacles, would make up for any disadvantage they might being. After my first test session on the Leopard my concerns vanished. I found the Leopard to be extremely nimble even in the roughest and tightest terrain. In fact, the only time I noticed where the large wheels detracted at all was in very tight switchbacks, and even then it seemed to be a very slight difference. In all other conditions the large wheels are a significant improvement over the 26".
Descending Rocky Ridge the first time on the Leopard I didn't push it as hard as I could. Mostly because I was still getting used to the feel of the bike, which is very different from my full suspension Specialized FSR. Incredibly I set a Strava PR on this descent, and again, felt very fresh at the bottom. I found that the aggressive race geometry of the bike was perfectly suited to the large wheels. In the roughest terrain I found the bike perfectly nimble and fast and hugely confidence inspiring.
Racing the bike at Annadel was a dream come true. Annadel is a difficult course and this year 23% of the long-course starters abandoned during the race. Racing on the Leopard 29er, my time was significantly faster than last year riding my FSR. I was faster on the climbs, I was faster on the descents, and I was faster through all those gnarly rocky sections. On the Leopard I rode stronger and faster and felt better after the race than I did the prior year.
The things that really stands out about this bike are that it goes really fast without feeling like you're going fast and post ride I felt less beat-up then when I ride my FSR. A great combination!
Date Reviewed: August 23, 2012
Strengths: Light, fast, responsive
Weaknesses: None that I found
My teammate let me race his bike at Fall Flash in Folsom CA. It was the first 29er I'd ever raced, and really ridden for that matter. I took a practice lap go get a feel for the bike, and see how it handled. It was an awesome ride. Then it was time to race. I was nervous really pushing the limits on it, as I'd only ridden it for about 45 minutes before the race. But wow. I handles like a Ferrari. Super fast and responsive. It was such an awesome bike to ride. If you ever get the chance to ride one, do it. You will not be disappointed
Bike Setup: Reba fork, Hermes sport wheels, xt/xtr build
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 18, 2012
Strengths: Weight and ride quality. This is my first 29er. People told me they just "roll". I was not really sure what that meant until I rode this bike! With XTR brakes, XO drivetrain, Stan's Crest wheels, and a SID fork, this bike weighs 21.5 lbs. With lighter tires and pedals, it would be below 21 lbs. Accelerating up short, steep climbs is what this bike does very well.
Weaknesses: I am using Conti X-King 2.2 tires and they barely clear the chainstays. This is OK for me, but if you like really wide tires, this may not be your frame.
Also, on my size Small frame, with my saddle ht. at 70.5 cm. and an 80mm 84 deg. stem slammed down on the shortest headset top cap I could find, bars are about level with my saddle. Again, this is working for me, but if you have shorter legs or like more drop, you will have to find a negative rise stem or may not be able to get the front end low enough (this is probably true for any small 29er though).
I came from a 26" full suspension bike (Santa Cruz Superlight) and I found the Leopard hardtail to handle the most technical trails I do at least as well as my full suspension bike, and it was actually better at some things like rock gardens and short, steep uphills (It is 4 lb lighter than my FS bike!). I have ridden this bike on twisty single track trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as some pretty rocky stuff in the Tahoe area. I am 5'5", 120 lbs and was not sure a 29er was the right choice for someone my size, but I borrowed a Leopard from a friend and really liked the ride, so I bought one! I like to climb and have raced in the past, and I appreciate light, responsive bikes. I tend to pick my lines on descents vs. bombing over everything or doing big drop-offs, but I was amazed at what this bike could go over!
Bike Setup: X0 cranks, derailleurs, XX shifters
SID XX fork
Ritchey WCS Al stem and bars, carbon seatpost
Stan's Crest wheels w/ Conti X-King tires.
Crank Bros. Eggbeater pedals, Fizik Aliante saddle
Date Reviewed: August 13, 2012
Strengths: Light,strong,fast,responsive,and comfortable.
Rear brake mount rocks!
The Leopard 29r bridges all gaps from short track,cross country race bike to marathon bike to simply a light,fast, and awesome trail bike. This bike does it all. It is very responsive and comfortable on the climbs. On single track it's tight,nimble and very easy to move around. Flying downhill the bike handles like it's on a supersonic railroad track. It handles the changing rocky terrain at high speeds. I'm very confident and comfortable on the bike. The Leopard 29r has all the qualities needed for an exceptional race winning bike.
Date Reviewed: August 12, 2012
Strengths: Design, cable routing, great ride, simple but aggressive look.
I have been riding the 29R for over six months. Fire roads, single track, extensive big climbs, rock gardens it seems to impress in all categories. The hard tail really shines while climbing, but I was most surprised the way it took a beating on the extensive rocky terrain while saving me the fatigue I would have expected. After several XC races I still get several comments on the great styling.
Date Reviewed: August 9, 2012
Strengths: A super light race-ready hardtail. This bike is perfect for cross-country racing and is a dream for climbing.
I have had my Leopard 29R for about 6 months now. At 5' 7", I have the smallest frame size available. It weighs 21.9 lbs with Stan's No Tube wheels and an XTR grouppo, alloy bars, stem and seatpost. While I don't race mtb's, I have no doubt that this would be a great cross-country racer.
My favorite thing is the way it climbs - the 29 inch wheels will better roll over obstacles, and because of the super-light weight of the frame, there is no penalty with the bigger wheels. It is also relatively comfortable for a hardtail. I have done 8 hour rides on this bike without suffering to the extreme.
Leopard has paid close attention to the details, with hidden cables, etc. And of course, the cost of a full carbon fiber frame in all kinds of colors, finishes, etc., from Leopard, is lower than just about anyone. Super frame!
Date Reviewed: August 5, 2012
Strengths: This bike is so smooth and comfortable, but handles like it is part of you.
If you are a hardtail rider or racer, then this is the bike for you. You can get any build or color that you want, and the bike rides like a dream.
Strengths: Very responsive for a 29er. Great frame quality. Light. Smooth ride? Amazing power transfer.
Weaknesses: None that I found
I raced the Leopard 29er at Race Behind Bars #3 Folsom CA,this year. It was the first 29er I'd ever ridden and was rather surprised how responsive it was compared to my 29er. It tore through everything I came up against and climbed like a dream. The power transfer was really good, it felt like all my pedaling went to the wheels. This bike is truly like none other. This is a true race bike.
I am new here and I am sure I will find some great advice. After years of riding rigid or a head shock I am ready to move into the full suspension arena. I am 43 years old, 5'8', 170 lbs and still full of piss and vinegar. I ride 3-5 times a week at a minimum and I live in Central Penn ... Read More »
Got this to replace Kermit, my previous nicolai AC 120mm 29r.
It's a hauler....really pleased with it other than I'd like to lose a pound or two but don't want to compromise the stability....
Glentress next weekend to see how it copes down there.....
Flame away :)
[url=http://www.flickr. ... Read More »
So I'm new to bike building and I'm going to put together a 29r ( with my friends help ). Wanted to ask something here first. How do I determine if the Marzocchi fork I'm looking at will fit my frame? This might be a dumb question, but I thought I'd ask before I go spending the $$ !! Do all 29r fork ... Read More »