Strengths: Big wheels and frame geometry allow you to roll up, down and over obstacles easily. Very forgiving ride for a sloppy rider. Larger footprint gets you thru the mud, snow and ruts a lot easier than standard wheels. Good components.
Weaknesses: Does take some getting used to if you're used to standard size bike. Bontrager Race wheels don't hold up well to abuse (rim paint peels/bubbles/chips, hub bearings/freehub wear easily). Get used to having to special order tires through your LBS.
You can have my 29er when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers! It's not for everyone, but anyone looking for a fast, comfortable and forgiving ride should demo one. Those of you who do endurance races (12/24 hour races) ought to to take note, but it also works well for me for regular XC racing. Try one out before you say anything nasty about it; you might be surprised! I know it's made me a better rider.
a Cross Country Rider
from Overland Park, KS, USA
Date Reviewed: February 19, 2004
Strengths: 29" Wheels!!!
Weaknesses: limited selection of aftermarket wheels and tires. My leg sometimes hits the rear break noodle when descending... the bike is disk ready so I can remedy that problem when I choose.
While [getting tired of] waiting for my second sugar frame replacement a friend of mine told me about the current buzz surrounding 29" wheels. I thought I'd give it a try and tested a 292 full suspension...oh man it was sweet!! If the test model hadn't been too large (XL) I would have taken it home without thinking. Fortunately I stewed on this for a couple weeks and decided a hardtail would be the better option for the type of riding/racing that I do.
Ok I love this bike and I'm definitely sold on the 29" wheels. I agree that this is a great option for bigger riders (I'm 6'1" 205lbs). The big wheels have given me greater balance and they really do improve my climbing. Switching from a full suspension to a hardtail felt strange for the first month but now I'm finding that I have little desire to ride my full. This bike is lighter and faster and the big wheels suck up a lot of the bumps so for my riding style it's just as comfortable. I'm also glad to now have a normal shape frame for the inevitable "hike-a-bike" section that ends up in most of the Adventure Races that I do. That and I don't have to worry about the race support crew racking my bike on the rear shock :(
BTW...IMO a 29er is THE best bike option for Adventure Racing. The big wheels are perfect for the long dirt roads...your teammates will have to work a lot harder on their 26er to stay up...or in other words...you don't have to work as hard on those long rides :)
I'm very satisfied with this bike and glad that I made the change to a 29er. From the looks of the races last year 29's are here to stay.
Similar Products Used: 2001 Sugar 3 ...now with a 2003 frame since I broke it...again
Bike Setup: Stock plus bar ends and Time peddals
a Weekend Warrior
from St. Paul, MN USA
Date Reviewed: April 25, 2003
Strengths: Geometry of the frame, size, weight, components
Being 6'4" and about 220lbs I have finally found a bike that fits me! I love the speed of the 29" wheels and climbing is great. I was concerned about technical stuff but so far it handles everything great, I'm the only limiting factor. I plan on adding a set of cross wheels/tires for road/commuting. If you're big and want a bike to fit, check out any of the Gary Fisher 29" hardtails. When shopping for a dealer, go to one that stocks a number of the 29ers and make sure the shop folk are actually riding them too. Some shops think it's a passing fad. The only passing will be the 29ers going past them on the trails!
Similar Products Used: First 29er I've had. Old 26" Raleigh M80.
Bike Setup: Stock except for Avid Mech brakes, Cane Creek Ergo bar-ends
a Weekend Warrior
from Portland, Oregon
Date Reviewed: February 9, 2003
Strengths: This thing climbs like a billy goat. I absolutely love this thing. I took it out to the Tillamook Burn yesterday and the conditions were a mix of everything. Mud, rocks, water, wet roots,frosted trail hairpin turns, downhills and technical climbing. This thing performed like a cadillac suv! Want to improve your skills? Get a hold of this bike. These wheels just roll over everything and helps immenseley in climbing.
Weaknesses: The only thing I didn't care for was the short length of the handlebars in relation to the placement of the index shifters. Pedalling that standard set up, my fingers inadvertenly hit the shifters, shifting when I didn't intend to. The addition of bar ends will rectify that problem!
Being the first ride of the early season - ok it's still winter in the Northwest - this thing absolutely cranks!! The ride was so smooth and tight, I didn't even realize I was on the bike. I loved this thing. The geometry of the frame, the 29 inch tires and the components on this thing set the stage. This is a great bike.
Bike Setup: Stock, possible disk brakes but stops fine as is!
from Geneva, NY, USA
Date Reviewed: November 14, 2002
Strengths: Very quick and stable at high speeds. Extremely light weight setup. High quality componentry.
Weaknesses: No complaints with the quality of the bike... The big wheels do make it a little difficult to go around tight corners, but the speed benefits agained back on straights or open corners make up for it.
This is a beautiful bike. I have ridden many 26" inch hardtails in the past, and for me, the addition of the larger wheels has made a huge difference. Many people gripe about the larger wheels on the Gary Fisher 29ers making them slower to climb, accelerate or turn, but I have found these claims to unfounded. This bike is lightning quick on all but the tightest switchbacks, and even then proper riding technique will not seriously hamper overall speed. I bought this bike too late to enter in the last of the fall races, but I cannot wait to test it out on the race track in the spring/ summer. Buy it! Those five flamin' chilis are there for a reason.
[B]Golden Gate Bridge to Mt. Tam Ride, Saturday, 9am. [/B]Meet at the north parking lot of the golden gate bridge. Mostly fireroad grunts and descents with great views!
Great ride! Weather is forecasted for upper 70s to low 80s. Anyone up for a ride?
Route is Cozelman - Bobcat - Marincello/Springs ... Read More »
I'm debating which bike to keep and which to sell...
My 292 is a much heavier and longer bike, while its a plush ride, it can be a push to ride sometimes.
The Mt. Tam is much lighter and more nimble, due to the shorter wheelbase (and chainstay). I think it has a much better steering head angle f ... Read More »