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I have a 4" race bike now and am thinking about getitng a Niner Air 9...Has anybody made the switch from 26" 4 inch travel to 29er hartail.Both bikes will be in the 22 to 23 pound range. I will be racing so cal races in the expert or cat1 this year...Any input would be great...:thumbsup:
 

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Well I can't comment specifically on your question, but I thought I'd pipe in because I raced on a Niner Air9 this past year. I've never owned a full susp. bike, but my comparison is with various hardtails I've owned over the years of varying materials.

The scandium frame is great - stiffer than my ti hardtail, but not as punishing as a typical aluminum bike. It's such a nice light frame. My size small was built up and its weight was 21.7 lbs with Kenda Karma 1.9" F+R. Here is a pic so you can get an idea of the parts spec to achieve that weight (nothing exotic really).

If you have never owned a 29er before, I would have to say that it really benefited me on the long doubletrack sections of races, as well as stutter-bump type sections where it would just roll over stuff as opposed to the 26" hardtail where I'd be forced to just stand up and coast over stuff, thus slowing down. The longer wheelbase does make it much less flick-able though.


 

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Last summer I did a 9.5 hour race on a 5" FS 26er and a 4.5 hour race on a 29er hardtail. Despite easier terrain and a Thudbuster suspension seat post on the 29er, my lower back was much more beat up from the shorter race. (I do have a lower back injury).

If your terrain is easy enough, the hardtail 29er might be a good choice. The bigger wheel size does smoothen the ride, but it does not replace suspension.

The bottom line is that you should look at your reasons for having full suspension on the 26er and make your decision based on that.
 

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Skip the hard tail 29er and give a Salsa Dos Niner(soft tail) a try. Pedals just like a hard tail but is "almost" as smooth as a 4" travel 26er set up firm with propedal. I just recently switched from a Dos to a 4" travel Rocky Mountain Element. I like how easy it is to accelerate the smaller wheels but the 29" wheels definitely roll better over roots and choppy ground. Not really sure that you give up anything with the Dos. I think that it really is the best of both worlds.:thumbsup:
 

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I almost made the switch you're considering. I went from a 4 inch Turner Sultan 29er to a hardtail Fisher Superfly. Unless it's an awfully rough course, I would say generally that the hardtail is faster and a better choice until the race exceeds 4 hours. I rode the hardtail in a 10 hour race last year, and would leave it home and bring the Sultan next time. No question.

In any case -- remembering that I'm pushing 50 -- recovery after a race on the hardtail is about 50% longer. You can't escape the effect that the hardtail beating/tensing of muscles, etc. has on you!

The Dos Niner idea might be worth a try. It's not exactly a super expensive frame to swap out if you don't like it, and resale is reasonable.
 

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I have the same debate but mine is Specialized Epic VS. Gary Fisher Superfly?
Any thoughts or recommendations on which would be better for general xc racing. I am 5' 9" btw and both bikes would weigh around 23lbs with my setup.
 

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devo5 said:
I have the same debate but mine is Specialized Epic VS. Gary Fisher Superfly?
Any thoughts or recommendations on which would be better for general xc racing. I am 5' 9" btw and both bikes would weigh around 23lbs with my setup.
Have you ridden both or either? Both are very capable bikes but they have completely different characters. Very personal preference here. I "personally" would choose the Epic, but I know a LOT of people that love their Superflys.
 
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