I know...I know...I've been a long time hater of all things 29'er. It wasn't until I moved up to XC heaven that my curiosity got the best of me. It's been almost a year and a half since I've hucked my meat on a daily basis, as I did when I lived in southern Utah. In the past few months I have logged some serious miles on 29'ers. It all started when my buddy Ichabod Dilf a.k.a. Slim, purchased a DW Sultan. I spent some time out at Gooseberry, Barrels, and Zen getting a feel for this bike. If you recall I did a mini review of this bike back in the spring. This past month, I've been logging miles on a Santa Cruz Tall boy, and then this past weekend on a Pivot 429. Here are some impressions:
Sultan: An all around excellent bike. 60% pleasure 40% business. The DW Sultan I rode was equipped with a 120mm Reba, and came in right at 30lbs. The Sultan climbed well, and descended even better. A week ago Slim came up for a visit, and I spent some time bombing down the Crest trail in Salt Lake City. The Sultan was not harsh at all. It soaked up small drops and techy chop like I was on a long legged 26'er. This bike railed turns and inspired confidence. No propedal needed on this bike for climbs. The DW suspension was everything I hoped for. This bike doesn't even mind taking flight. Amazing ride!
Tall Boy: 26.9 lbs. 40% pleasure, 60% business. The shop I work at has a demo Tall boy in stock. I've logged about 80 miles on the Tall boy, riding The Ridge Trail(American Fork Canyon), and Mid Mountain in Park City. This bike was equipped with a 100mm Fox float. This bike is a blast to ride. The rear end is laterally stiff, and this bike loves to climb. No propedal needed. This bike doesn't bob. I really felt like a rockstar on this bike. I bettered my best Ridge loop time by 7 minutes on this bike, compared to my 06 5-pack.. The ride is only 11.6 miles. On descents, the bike railed corners, and handled chop moderately well. I would really like to try this bike with a 120mm fork on the front. On long sustained descents, my hands were getting pretty beat and tired. This bike too is comfortable in the air. Overall, I loved this bike.
Pivot 429: All Business, all the time. Last Friday I borrowed my buddies 429 equipped with a 100mm Reba on the front. Both the front and rear suspension were Push'd, and the guy I borrowed it from weighs the same as I do, so no psi adjustments were necessary. I rode 26 miles on Park City's Mid Mountain trail. 3000 feet of vertical climbing, and some long fast descents. This bike weighed 28.5 lbs. I was really hoping to love this bike. I'm sorry to say that Pivot missed the boat on their implementation of the DW Link. Not all DW Link bikes are created equally. The one glowing statement I can make about this bike is that it climbs everybit as well as the Sultan and the Tall Boy. No propedal necessary. On the descents, this bike felt little better than a hard tail. On little hits, this bike was unstable in the air, and felt harsh on the landings. This bike beat me up on the downhills. The one place this bike shined, was on standing efforts. Out of the saddle, this bike rallied up the short steep climbs and sprints.
Conclusion: For pure fun on the trail the Sultan takes the cake. For longer endurance events, the Tall boy shines. For pure racer types, the 429 might be your ticket.
For my money and the type of riding I love, the Sultan would be my first choice. If I do end up getting one any time soon, it will most likely be a Tall Boy, as I can get one on the cheap through my shop, and we are not a Turner dealer.