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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I have been out of the MTB scene for a few years but am planning to get a new handmade bike pretty soon. I used to ride a 26" wheeled bike, the last one being a Merlin MTB, and now there is this new option of 29" wheels to consider. I recall Cannondale having a bike in their early days that was 24" rear wheel/26" front. Considering the various pros and cons of trhe different wheel sizes, I was thinking one way to go might be with 26" rear and 29" front wheels, and I was wondering if anyone out there might have some ideas on that?
I'm thinking the smaller rear wheel means better mud clearance at the bb/chainstay area, and easier wheelies, while the 29" front would rool over obstacles more easily. Tires and rims are readily available for both, though the fork choices for 29" are more limited. I will be going with disc brakes front and rear. I want a multi-purpose bike, so I am thinking hardtail.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, as I'd like to get the real wheels rolling as soon as possible.

Thanks!
 

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krinkncrank said:
Hi there,

I have been out of the MTB scene for a few years but am planning to get a new handmade bike pretty soon. I used to ride a 26" wheeled bike, the last one being a Merlin MTB, and now there is this new option of 29" wheels to consider. I recall Cannondale having a bike in their early days that was 24" rear wheel/26" front. Considering the various pros and cons of trhe different wheel sizes, I was thinking one way to go might be with 26" rear and 29" front wheels, and I was wondering if anyone out there might have some ideas on that?
I'm thinking the smaller rear wheel means better mud clearance at the bb/chainstay area, and easier wheelies, while the 29" front would rool over obstacles more easily. Tires and rims are readily available for both, though the fork choices for 29" are more limited. I will be going with disc brakes front and rear. I want a multi-purpose bike, so I am thinking hardtail.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, as I'd like to get the real wheels rolling as soon as possible.

Thanks!
Check out Sideways' bike:

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=89913
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Coming from 26", I think 29/26" will feel like the sh!t....until you demo a 29" bike with both wheels in the plus size. The rear wheel only ads around 1/4lb, the front closer to 1/2lb (fork is also heavier).
In the minute extra weight of the rear, sits most of the roll-over capacity and rolling resistance to be improved, as 60-70% of your weight sits over it, and most bikes aren't full-suspensions anyway.

Intriguingly, builders and riders posing the 29/26" idea seem to be more often than not from the group that used to be opposed to the idea of larger wheels.

For me, life's to short to have a rear wheel that always seems to stay stuck in every pothole, while the front so easily rolls over :)
 

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i heart singletrack
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...works good on the two bikes i've tried it on...

i've done the 29" front/26" rear setup on two different bikes, and both worked very well as set up. first, i tried it on an old klein frame that i had laying around, and have recently tried it on my '05 kona explosif, which is my current singlespeed.

i especially liked the ride of the kona set up 29/26, and am looking forward to trying one of their '06 'niner frames. from what i've heard, they're going to do a 29" version of the explosif for 2006, and i'll have one of those as soon as they're available. i'm hoping to run an 80mm reba up front on it, as the screws/plates in my right arm necessitate some sort of suspension when it gets rough, regardless of wheel size.

cheers,
mg
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Please post all your Frankenbikes! Or should we open a special thread for it, as a reference for newbies?
I built most my Frankenbikes when I was getting ready to buy a 29"er, and one never went back to 26/26 afterwards.
 

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The man who fell to earth
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Hmm, I've been reading more and more about these 29'ers and am thinking about taking a sip of the Kool Aid myself. But every few years there always seems to be some kind of fad that pops up in the MB-ing world, it builds in intensity, lots of people start buying in, it crescendos for a few months...and then it fades away and eventually everyone seems to gradually and quietly return to a the good 'ole basics.

On the other hand, I recall seeing a nice singlespeed on the trail for the first time about 6 years ago. I was really shocked at how simple and elegant it was, but I just couldn't see how riding on a single gear up and down hills and through rugged terrain was going to cut it. But the guy who owned the bike swore up and down that one gear is all he needed and it was all I needed. I was intrigued, but was in such disbelief it took me another year or so before I even tried it. But when I did, WOW...that weird singlespeed guy was absolutely right, and now that's all I ride and will likely ever ride forever more.

But who knows, maybe this 29'er thing really has merit and it's my next singlespeed-like discovery. Although I'm sensing a bit of Kool Aidville here too, a few very experienced and open minded riders here have tried it and have expressed mixed enthusiasm. If it was *that* great wouldn't everyone have a stellar experience?

So I'm thinking about strapping on a 29 front wheel and giving it a shot. I figure I'll get a 29 air fork (like the Reba) and a 29 disc wheel and see how it works on the front of my bike. That way if it's all that, I should definitely be able to tell with a 29 front by itself. The front end is more critical than the rear because it controls where the bike goes and it's the first part to make contact with whatever terrain you encounter. If the 29 wheel truly offers better log pile traversing, then having one on the front should get my bike up, on and over the pile easier and help to maintain control as well. And if the 29 wheel truly deals with bumps and dips and descending better and its weight and agility tradeoffs are worth it, then it should definitely be evident. But if it shows itself to be an overrated feature, then I can still get my use out of the 29 fork by installing a 26 wheel, plus I didn't waste the money on a rear wheel or 29'er frame yet.

Cloxxki said:
Please post all your Frankenbikes! Or should we open a special thread for it, as a reference for newbies? I built most my Frankenbikes when I was getting ready to buy a 29"er, and one never went back to 26/26 afterwards.
 

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featherweight clydesdale
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Ziggy-Stardust said:
So I'm thinking about strapping on a 29 front wheel and giving it a shot. I figure I'll get a 29 air fork (like the Reba) and a 29 disc wheel and see how it works on the front of my bike. That way if it's all that, I should definitely be able to tell with a 29 front by itself. The front end is more critical than the rear because it controls where the bike goes and it's the first part to make contact with whatever terrain you encounter. If the 29 wheel truly offers better log pile traversing, then having one on the front should get my bike up, on and over the pile easier and help to maintain control as well. And if the 29 wheel truly deals with bumps and dips and descending better and its weight and agility tradeoffs are worth it, then it should definitely be evident. But if it shows itself to be an overrated feature, then I can still get my use out of the 29 fork by installing a 26 wheel, plus I didn't waste the money on a rear wheel or 29'er frame yet.
Unless your current 26" wheel frame is built around something like a 5-6 inch travel front fork, simply throwing a 700c rim and a Reba on there will jack up the front, reduce your HT angle, increase your BB height, increase your COG (center of gravity) and decrease your STA. You've got to think about your geometry and what jacking up the front end will do to the overall ride.
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Ziggy, trying before going all the way doesn't hurt, some of the investments could end up being long-term for spare parts anyway. Beware however, that unless your present 26"er is built for like 130mm, a 29" suspension front will totally rake out your ride. Do you ever watch Americans Choppers?
29" forks are longer the same way 29" hubs sit higher, it adds up to ~60mm (worth of travel).

I'll stand by my opinion that NOT getting a 29" rear wheel is a bad trade-off. The difference in stiffness is a matter of 4 spokes or a better rim. I can't notice half an inch of chainstay longer or shorter, even if I know it (SS bike, varying chainstays with gear ratio). A 29" rear wheel adds around 1/3lb, but reduces your total rolling resistance at all times with some 6-7%, and it bounces with the same amplitude as the front, which is more predicatable, and especially more comfortable. I wouldn't miss all that for 1/3lb, and I'm a chronic weightweenie patient.
Adding a 29" front wheel to an old bike makes 1000x more sense to me than getting a new bike, and keeping the rear wheel short. Unless you're very serious about your hucking, like Bender or Watson.
 

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The man who fell to earth
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I forgot to mention that I'm running a Chameleon which will easily accommodate a 29 front wheel with a fork, especially if it's set to 80mm or 100mm travel.

Plus, can anyone give me an accurate measurement of an average 29-er's wheel (i.e. including the tire) radius (or circumference)? I realize there are different tires, but can someone provide an accurate radius with a decent (and commonly used) dirt tire?

Thanks...
 

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i heart singletrack
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my Kona "bassturd 'niner" Explosif...

here's my 2005 kona explosif singlespeed set up 29/26. it handles awesome with this setup.

the fork is an unpainted kinesis cross fork. believe it or not, it fits that 2.2 bontrager jones acx tire just fine! sweet!

cheers,
mg
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Ziggy,
26" rims : 22.5"/572mm across
700c rims :25.0"/635mm across
With a typical tire, say a 2.1-2.3", some 50-55mm is added to the rim all around, making it 735-745mm.

Should fork+wheel make for the same build-in height as your present long-travel 26" front, and even the fork offset is the same, you'll lose roughly half the difference in rim diameter (31.5mm) in toe clearance.

Do you have a 6" fork in your Chameleon now?

My training wheels back in 2001 or so (still have all the parts, just no desire to ride it).
Dimension disc 410mm fork, Notos front tire. I got a Fisher shortly after.
 

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not a 29er..

but i run a 26f and 24 rear on my single speed...i love the quick carvability and the fast spin-up i get from the 24rear. Im using a Tioga comp bmx tire 2.125 and it rolls like no other tire ive ever used.
This pic is of the first frame i built around a 26/24, i have another one done that i made with 15" chain stays..no pics yet.
Sorry about no 29' content.....
The rear tire pictured is an Arrow launch....
 

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Recovering couch patato
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Very interesting bike!

I wonder what makes the rear tire feel as quick as I'm sure it does, the minute if any weigh loss, or the increased wheelie factor....
 

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diameter...

it accelerates quick, easy to get "on top of" because im turning over a smaller circle...on the down side it will lose momentum quicker...it is not really a weight saving wheel.
Acs freewheel spins very well on a surly hub. It has a ringle ryno-lite rim and the tire weighs 550g with acceptable knobbies but being a Bmx tire it is made to accelerate fast.
The frame is Columbus "thron" lugged construction.
It does wheelie easily but i have since replaced the instgator fork with a 1X1...better overall.
i call this one the "Chug-a-lug"...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks and another question!

Wow! I had not expected such a huge number of responses, so thank you everyone.

I am still not quite convinced in either direction however. I am getting a custom ti frame built and I will ask the builder tonight about how he feels on the 26/29 issue. I think he will convince me to go full 29.
Also, I was talking to Jeff Jones on the phone yesterday and he said that the problem with 29" compatible suspension forks is that none of them are built with the correct amount of rake and affect front end 'trail' adversely. While this may be a separate topic altogether, I would appreciate feedback on this question.

Cheers!
 

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If you'd have a custom Ti dedicated 29/26 done, that'd be one of the bravest investments I've seen on here. It's always been done as a cheap way to try a 29" front wheel, and only very recenly some have threatened to go production with the idea. Not where I'd put my money, that's for sure.

Jeff is right. when the first 29" suspension forks came into existence, they were based on 26" fork, just longer by 31.5mm to correct for the larger rims, which superficially does make sense. This however means that you require a steeper head angle on the 29" bike to have it end up as quick steering as the equivalent 26"er. And while the larger whel already takes away 31.5mm of toe-tire clearance, the ~1º steeper head angle you'd want to compensate, takes up another 12-14mm or so. This makes 29"er with contemporary suspension forks hard to make a no-compromise fit for bikes under size 18" roughly. 18" and up, and 29"ers are heaven anyway, good bikes can be built with the 38mm offset the White Brothers and Rockshox fork offer, no problem.
 
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