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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
So I recently converted my 2003 Enduro into a 96er for fun and science. I wanted to "impress my friends" but they all spent way too much $$ on their 26er Yeti's, Stumpjumper's and Epic's to entertain the idea that they don't already have the perfect bike. So it was mostly just for fun and a few goals.

1. I wanted to make the bike more stable. I tend to ride off the side of singletracks into bushes and generally have a hard time going straight. A slacker steering angle was a welcome "side effect" of the bigger wheel Although the picture doesn't show it, I ride my seat pretty high and I'm close to being over the rear hub (Im just over 6'2 on a Large frame) so longer chainstay would probably help but thats not a $250 fix.

2. I wanted to better roll over some big rock formations we deal with on the climbs I ride the most. Many of them tend to stop me in my tracks on 26in wheels at low speeds.

3. I wanted more confidence going down the 3 - 6 foot rolling drops, and the 1 - 2 foot step drops we see alot of in So. Cal.

4. I wanted better control in the sand. I HATE sand and the afternoon summer rides are full of sand traps. 3 - 5 Inches deep for 10 - 20 foot stretches. Around corners. Between rocks. I HATE that feeling of the bike swimming around.or washing out, especially on a downhill turn.

The Result:
Everything I wanted pretty much came true. I veered LESS off the singletrack, I rolled into/over rocks with vigor, dove down steep grades, carved through the sand (better).

But there was a downside:
1. I am overheating my breaks on long twisty downhill sections because I'm coming into the turns too fast. My favorite downhill trail (Meadows in Aliso Woods) is very steep, bumpy and twisty. I can smell the brakes burning 3/4 of the way down the hill. My back tire is washing out at the exit of the turns because I'm going to fast FOR MY SKILLS. I have always had a strong tendency to ride the brakes and its made a bad situation worse.
2. Short steep climbs are more difficult. My handlebars are in my chest and while I still have traction, I don't have any room to get power on the pedals. I lowered the bars an inch but it didnt helps as much as I'd hoped.
3. Its over a pound heavier. The Marzocchi 29er fork I got was heavy compared to the Psylo and the front wheel was half a pound heavier. There is a hill (Mathis) that I used to be able to roll with much difficulty, and now the rocky parts are easier but the steep parts are harder.

It seems I've traded some solutions for some other problems. I really didn't think the faster downhill was going to be an issue, but the overheating breaks make me nervous, and the heavier bike is noticable on long flat climbs. However the added confidence on the short downhill sections is wonderful and the added momentum I can take into rolling hills and pass my friends really makes me smile. (until I hit a long hill and they pass me back and snicker)

The front wheel and fork cost about $250 off ebay, so it wasn't an expensive experiment. I have been trying to decide what 29er frame to buy or if I'm ready for a 29er. I really like to stand and hammer up hills, so I was thinking of getting a used Epic with the "Brain" and seeing how that feels as a 96er. I don't know what to do next, I want to be able to climb better (maybe a Softtail Dos Niner or a 3" Leviathon) but if the downhill get any faster I'll really smoke my brakes. Granted stronger climbing muscles and better downhill skills would help, but I can't play with those in the evening in my garage.

It's a great time to be interested in the 29er scene, so I guess I'll have to watch ebay and see what the 07 models bring.

Tony
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Cool indeed!
How much has the headtube been raised over the old setup?
Why not lower the handlebar back down for those steep climbs?
 

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Complete Bastard
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tbowren said:
1. I wanted to make the bike more stable. I tend to ride off the side of singletracks into bushes and generally have a hard time going straight.
This is a driver problem, not a bike problem. You're looking down where your wheel is going and not looking where YOU are going. Keep your eyes 30' down the trail, or more, depending on speed. I know, you're gonna swear you don't do this, but if you didn't, you wouldn't veer all over the trail. It gets worse when you're tired because you forget to look up. Keep your head up. I used to steer off the trail all the time myself, on an epic with a 70.5' head angle, now I ride a 29er with a 72' head angle and have no problems (because Gene Hamilton showed me the error of my ways). You'd think a twitchier bike would be worse, right? It's not. Keep your head up, all those problems go away.

2. Short steep climbs are more difficult. My handlebars are in my chest and while I still have traction, I don't have any room to get power on the pedals. I lowered the bars an inch but it didnt helps as much as I'd hoped.
Short steep climbs are easier on a 29er, the longer chainstays change how your weight is distributed. You don't have to perform the frickin yoga position on the bike to maintain front wheel down and traction on the rear. I love it. If for no other reason, a 29er is way better for this reason. And it makes your penis bigger.

It sounds like you're spending loads of money running around a 29er but not committing. You're sticking your toe in the shallow end, then taking it out. Then you go stick your toe in the deep end. Dude, just jump in. Imagine your 96er without all those annoying problems and you have a 29er. Just do it. This is like zen, halfway isn't even close. You have to commit.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ride report and comments

So I just took the bike out for a Sat morning ride with my friends on a rocky bumpy fireroad (about 11 miles and 1000 feet climb) which is very fast coming down and I always get left in their dust. NOT TODAY!!!!! I went up about 9 min faster then my best time and came down over a minute faster. The entire ride took almost 10% less time. The confidence,speed and momentum I was carrying over the rocky streambed and holes in the road was amazing. I was the first up the hill because the big wheel just rolled over the stuff that bounced them around, and I was within sight of the leader all the way down. That NEVER happens! At the end of the ride he was amazed. He commented "Either you got WAY more agressive in the last 2 weeks or that wheel is working!" Im sure it was a little of both since I could see him in my sights and refused to touch the brakes. Whatever the reason, I was a different guy on a different bike today and it felt great.
(He is 6 ft 7 and has been wanting to buy a XXL 29er for a while, this might have pushed him over the fence. He was not used to looking behind him on the downhills and see me ringing my pink bell at him. heheh)

Cloxxki:
The fork went from a 120mm psylo to a 85 mm 29er MX pro so the measured increase from headset to hub was about 1 inch. Then add the extra 1.1 inch of the wheel, so the head angle is around 69 now. This is about what my friends Giant Reign is, and I liked the feel of that bike at speed. I have lowered the bars already and I may lower them even more, but they are so comfortable up high like that and give me even more confidence in the drops that I'm torn between what feels good 95% of the ride even though it gives me trouble on the other 5%.
Mward:
There is no doubt I agree with you on every point. I am by no means a technically skilled rider, and I am always having to remind myself "chin up!" I usually only think about it on the downhills, but it is just at important on singletrack.

I've really thought hard about what is the right 29er bike for me. It's much more fun to me to spend $200 or so a month to buy up the parts (looking for deals on ebay and classifieds) that will end up on a nice 29er frame than to save up for 10 -12 months and buy it all at 1 time. (Even though it will end up being less expensive with better parts)
 

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You were right on my ass the whole way downhill today. I wonder what would happen next week if I were to secretly switch your front wheel with a placebo? While I'm being sneaky I may take off that pink bell too.
Seriously though. You were MUCH faster downhill today than usual. Whatever combination of large wheels and confidence you brewed up today seemed to work.
 

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Recovering couch patato
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The knife sems to cut both way. Larger wheels work condidence inspiring as well as control/grip enhancing even with corrected XC geometry. Putting the taller front in the 26" bike, as well as a bigger front wheel, slackened angles. On top of that, the larger wheel increases fork trail. That's like cutting 3 ways, really. All improving DH'ability. An enduro becomes more DH. Interesting that the flexier fork (in' it?) and shorter travel don't seem to hold you back. Imagine a purposely build 29" FS with similar geometry but prepared for a longer travel fork... Even better rolling ont he up over the bumps, an even smooth front end, and more relaxed rear end for the downs.

I do think the Marz fork has 43mm offset, all but compensating for the increase in trail with a 29" wheel. Might be why the bike is rideable on singletrack still. A long front end is nice for downs.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Flexy is all relative

I know from alot of people that the old 29er Marzocchi forks are supposedly flexy and crappy. Someone said "The Reba is superior in every way." People have also posted that the Psylo is also flexy (Not to mention the one I had was from 2003 and may have never been serviced) . So I don't know a stiff fork from a flexy fork to be honest. Part of the reason I'm swapping out parts on my bikes and playing around like this is to start to learn about what is good and what is bad. I'm sure when I do get my next 29er fork I will be so amazed by its stiffness and performance that I will wonder how I lived with my Marz. Until that day ignorance is bliss I suppose.
One cool thing I do notice from a slack head angle and a 29er wheel is that curb-sized bumps and rocks hit the tire at an angle that sends the impact force almost directly along the angle of the fork tubes. I can literaly ride my be into the curb in front of my house and it just compresses the fork one inch and I'm up the curb. Before that behaviour would tend to bend my fork back and stop me in my tracks.
I think the bike I'm most interested in right now is the Lenz Leviathon with 3" travel but I recently saw an 05 Dos Niner frame on ebay sell for just under $500. For now I'll just keep rolling and watching.
 

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ali'i hua
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well, i guess a fellow socaler should pipe up. honestly, i've never fround climbs like mathis or even meadows (hell, add rockit to the climb list) easier than on a 29er. keep in mind this is the voice of a dedicated single speeder (the only geared bike in the fleet is my wife's and its 29" and less than 24 hours old).

my one observation is that you went from a fork with 130mm of travel to a fork with 80mm travel. there is a noticable difference here- going from a 100mm 2er to a 80mm 29er is much closer. (at least in my oppinion, but those are like @$$holes as we all know.)

my only other comment is the "pound or so" difference between the 26 front end and a 29 front end. i'd think that there would be other things more noticable than this (gyroscopics, contact patch, ease of rolling over things,floating instead of sinking thru the beloved aliso sand......et al) that would make one pound or so not a biggie at all. personally, my 26er ss is 20 lbs, and my 29er is 25 lbs. the bike of choice is the 29er, even when the gear ratios are as similar as they can be.

i do admire the experiment, as its definitely the cheaper way to fo it.

my only advice would be would to try something with 29 inch wheels on both ends. it'll make even more of an impression on you. i'm sure there's someone local who can help you out.

see ya on cholla! ill be the fat guy on the orange ss sweating all to keep up with the crowd.
 

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Made in China
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Get a 8 inch front rotor!!!!!!
 
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