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No Clue Crew
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not brand or model specific, so thought I'd post my recent riding observations on this forum since they involve 29ers.

I've been riding awhile and I really enjoy building and riding new bikes. My personal riding tastes run toward technical gnar and high speed shenanigans.

Because I'm a nerd and really, really like bicycles, I've taken part in most of the "technical advances" that have occurred over the last 15 years; you know, short chainstays, ever-lengthening reach, various stack trends, increasingly slack head angles, increasingly steep seat angles, etc.

I think, for the most part, these trends have been a net positive. Oddly, even though I'm relatively tall and ride XL 29ers, the one number I never paid a lick of attention to was wheelbase. And that number has grown radically over the years. Two of my recent bigger bikes -- a Ripmo with a -1 headset and a 51 offset fork and a YT Capra -- have wheelbases north of 1250mm.

It wasn't until a bought a Giant Trance 29 a few months ago as a backup bike that I had a revelation. Though it's pretty slack for the amount of travel it has, the Trance is decidedly older-school in many other respects.

It's not a perfect bike, but with a wheelbase 2 inches shorter than other bikes I've ridden recently, it's one helluva party on two wheels. Riding the Trance back to back with the Ripmo on the same rowdy trails on South Mountain in Phoenix really opened my eyes to how much fun a bike with deep-feeling suspension and a shorter wheelbase can be.

Nothing revelatory I imagine, but thought I'd open it up for conversation to see others' thoughts.
 

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Got a Lunchbox 29+ (mine measures around 1145 mm with a 170 mm 51 mm offset fork), it felt different right away, figured out it is two inches shorter than my Trek FS (with Pike at 150 mm; seems to be around 1200 mm).

I was just getting used to the longer wheelbase of a size large bike I have (that is 1206 mm).

I don’t have much riding time on the new one, but the longer wheelbase feels more stable to me when riding faster.

I am looking for a used small Pole Machine to try (or a Stamina...but those are so new I probably won’t find a used one for a while), which has a huge wheelbase for a size small at 1275 mm (I normally ride mediums).

Not sure which I prefer yet (shorter vs longer), probably depends on where I’m riding.
 

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Hey Blatant... check out the last 4 videos by SteveM

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIF1fjRe-xXWztlig1TiT5g

There is a lot of great info in these videos. I think there are some very useful tidbits - first front center is critical (and one can ignore head angle). Secondly, maybe your set-up with suspension on the short travel is better than on the long travel. Based on this info, I have a hypothesis that the heavier the rider, the less travel they use effectively until hitting the upper human limit.
 

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Although my bikes have become longer over the years...because I don't like steeper STAs I've been putting 1" setback droppers on my last couple "modern geo" bikes and then sizing down to keep the bars at the right spot with my preferred stem length.

I do feel like my longer bikes are less "party on two wheels" than older shorter bikes. That seems to be the trade off for the ease at which they handle higher speeds.

I'm glad that my preference for slacker STAs keeps me on smaller bikes than I would otherwise be on. I feel like I'm the sweet spot between super long bikes of today and the shorties of the past.

I keep two FS bikes rolling so I have an older winter bike and the summer/primetime rig. At the moment the winter bike is shorter WB and a 275er. It's nice to switch to that bike for few months every year from my longer WB 29er.

No real wrong answer they are just different. :)
 

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I've found while a shorter wheelbase feels more nimble, it doesn't actually matter until I'm in very tight sections of trail. For example, switchbacks that are literally tighter than the turning radius of the bike. Otherwise I'm faster and prefer my longer slack bikes. I'm also 6'5" and on the east coast for perspective.
 

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Not brand or model specific, so thought I'd post my recent riding observations on this forum since they involve 29ers.

I've been riding awhile and I really enjoy building and riding new bikes. My personal riding tastes run toward technical gnar and high speed shenanigans.

Because I'm a nerd and really, really like bicycles, I've taken part in most of the "technical advances" that have occurred over the last 15 years; you know, short chainstays, ever-lengthening reach, various stack trends, increasingly slack head angles, increasingly steep seat angles, etc.

I think, for the most part, these trends have been a net positive. Oddly, even though I'm relatively tall and ride XL 29ers, the one number I never paid a lick of attention to was wheelbase. And that number has grown radically over the years. Two of my recent bigger bikes -- a Ripmo with a -1 headset and a 51 offset fork and a YT Capra -- have wheelbases north of 1250mm.

It wasn't until a bought a Giant Trance 29 a few months ago as a backup bike that I had a revelation. Though it's pretty slack for the amount of travel it has, the Trance is decidedly older-school in many other respects.

It's not a perfect bike, but with a wheelbase 2 inches shorter than other bikes I've ridden recently, it's one helluva party on two wheels. Riding the Trance back to back with the Ripmo on the same rowdy trails on South Mountain in Phoenix really opened my eyes to how much fun a bike with deep-feeling suspension and a shorter wheelbase can be.

Nothing revelatory I imagine, but thought I'd open it up for conversation to see others' thoughts.
Exactly, the length of the bike it going to increase stability, but at the cost of playfulness and agility.

But something has to give somewhere in order to reduce wheelbase: Short reach/TT, shorter chainstays (my preferred), or steeper HTA.

I kinda feel like the HTA might be over valued in contemporary MTB culture, as well, a slacker HTA also reduces ETT which then leads to increase front center designs, compounding the problem.

I've recently started pushing back on the new age geo by increasing HTA a degree HTA (XC bike 68, mid travel bike 66), uing short offset forks which reduce WB, and continuing to use shorter chainstays (XC 430, mid travel 423).

As a result, both of my bike have a fairly long reach/TT (XC 468/627 sz large, mid travel 493/625 sz large long) which provides some stability to offset the "conservative" geo and allows me to stretch out.

Current bikes:
Fezzaril Signal Peak 29, 120/120, 51mm offset, WB 1182
Guerilla Gravity Shred Dogg 27.5, 140/160, 44mm offset, WB 1240

Long bikes are great for going straight, but I rarely go straight for long :)
 

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No Clue Crew
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Interesting thoughts. I was just using some recent bikes as an example. Obviously, wheelbase is just one part of a complex setup. I guess riding the Trance on top of a series of really long bikes was just eye-opening.

The Giant has budget suspension, but Maestro does have an unusually deep and excellent-feeling suspension. Even at higher speeds through big chunk, it remains composed and not skittery in the rear. A different example, the Canfield Riot, even shorter WB, more travel and one of the sketchiest bikes I've ridden at speed through big square edges.

Here's some more concrete Strava data: National Trail at South Mountain in Phoenix, Starting from Buena Vista saddle down to the bottom. It's 3.15 miles, mostly down, couple small climbs, not the craziest trail on the mountain by far, but it's unrelentingly rocky and will eat your lunch if you're not on your game.

I know Vik knows he because he rode with me on it.

My PR is on the Ripmo. On the Trance, my best time is 56 seconds slower. And I may have had more fun, though I don't specifically remember. The Giant is almost as slack but with much less travel (160/145 vs 130/115) and a 2-inch shorter wheelbase.

To Jeremy's point, which I mostly agree with, another example.

Corona de Loma trail at South Mountain. The ending DH portion is pretty short, but a fall line down the mountain and nothing but rocks. It is .82 miles long, averages a -17% grade and has about 20 180-degree switchbacks coming down.

PRd on the Trance and it really felt fast through those turns, since you could just drop in without having to muscle around a long bike.

But I think I notice the WB thing just as much climbing. Here, we have a lot of big ledges. It's refreshing, as soon as the front pops up on the rock, the rear tire is right there. On bigger bikes, you definitely notice that delay before your rear hits the rock face your front cleared five minutes previously.

What does it mean? Probably not much, but I'm certainly having a fun time right now on a shorter WB bike.
 

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I prefer shorter WB bikes. One of my biggest reasons I'm reluctant to get rid of my Canfield Riot. Shorter bikes are easier to become one with IMHO I prefer shorter WB cars as well though, so don't mind the nervous feeling when going fast.
 

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I like the shortest wheelbase bike I can get. I just don't want to fell like a kernel in an air popper when going at speed downhill. But I can see why Aaron Gwinn is thinking about racing the XL M29. J
 

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...
Here's some more concrete Strava data: National Trail at South Mountain in Phoenix, Starting from Buena Vista saddle down to the bottom. It's 3.15 miles, mostly down, couple small climbs, not the craziest trail on the mountain by far, but it's unrelentingly rocky and will eat your lunch if you're not on your game.

...
My PR is on the Ripmo. On the Trance, my best time is 56 seconds slower. And I may have had more fun, though I don't specifically remember. The Giant is almost as slack but with much less travel (160/145 vs 130/115) and a 2-inch shorter wheelbase.
...
Corona de Loma trail at South Mountain. The ending DH portion is pretty short, but a fall line down the mountain and nothing but rocks. It is .82 miles long, averages a -17% grade and has about 20 180-degree switchbacks coming down.

PRd on the Trance and it really felt fast through those turns, since you could just drop in without having to muscle around a long bike...

What does it mean? Probably not much, but I'm certainly having a fun time right now on a shorter WB bike.
So I am considering replacing my first generation 5010 with a 29er for better roll over. That bike is 68 deg HA and 130F/125r currently on 27.5x2.6. I find you comparison of the Ripmo to the Trance interesting. I have a 100/100 XC bike already so was thinking I need at least 130 rear travel, but where you do think think the 115 travel is limit wise vs the bigger travel Rimpo. I prefer a bike a I can maneuver vs just plow through and from reading your post and your terrain it seems the Rimpo is better for point and charge, but maybe not as good for nimble handling and trance can't match the high speed bumps, but can handle slow tech really well.

My preference is for slow tech rather than bombing down stuff, but I hate to not have enough travel either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I dunno. I've ridden the Trance down much of the bigger stuff at SoMo (Devastator, CDL, Holbert, Ranger, Geronimo, 24th St.). At 66.5 head angle, it's relatively slack for the amount of travel it has; and the travel it does have is very plush and usable. Honestly, the bike has out of its element on Holbert and Geronimo for sure, and maybe parts of Ranger, but with higher quality suspension, might've been different.

While the Ripmo is a LONG bike, I don't consider it to be a particularly plow-oriented bike. It's firm and controlled and I found a lighter touch is better. Fantastic bike; I still think it's probably the best all-around bike on the market. Plow bikes I've owned: Capra, Nomad, Enduro, etc.

The Trance is actually more plush than the Ripmo, which seems counter-intuitive, and it's actually less snappy at the pedals. It rides like a much bigger bike, until you reach the end of the travel, which happens on the regular from the drops higher up on National and whatnot.
 

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I have increased my wheelbase and gone from old school to modern geometry one the last 5 years. 5 years ago I was on a medium 11 Turner 5 Spot and now I'm on a large Knolly Fugitive. 6 bikes later. 26 to 29, steeper STA, a bit slacker HTA, 396mm reach to 477mm, 506mm stack to 618mm, short wheelbase to 1218mm. I am definitely having more fun now and would not want to go back to a shorter bike. Cornering is great on any trail I care about. I generally avoid some of the super tight, twisty and flat trails we have but, that has nothing to do with bike choice.

I worked at a recent Knolly demo day. Knolly would absolutely try to put me on a medium. I tried a medium for size and it felt like a clown bike to me. I left the sizing recommendations mostly to the suits from corporate since it was there event;). I typically recommend that a customer tries two sizes if they are at all close to in between.
 

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I have increased my wheelbase and gone from old school to modern geometry one the last 5 years. 5 years ago I was on a medium 11 Turner 5 Spot and now I'm on a large Knolly Fugitive. 6 bikes later. 26 to 29, steeper STA, a bit slacker HTA, 396mm reach to 477mm, 506mm stack to 618mm, short wheelbase to 1218mm. I am definitely having more fun now and would not want to go back to a shorter bike. Cornering is great on any trail I care about. I generally avoid some of the super tight, twisty and flat trails we have but, that has nothing to do with bike choice.

I worked at a recent Knolly demo day. Knolly would absolutely try to put me on a medium. I tried a medium for size and it felt like a clown bike to me. I left the sizing recommendations mostly to the suits from corporate since it was there event;). I typically recommend that a customer tries two sizes if they are at all close to in between.
I rode my old bike for the first time last weekend since getting my Fugitive in November. 60mm shorter reach, 100mm shorter WB. The smaller bike requires a lighter touch, which was nice at slow speeds but the big thing I noticed was how much I had to exaggerate my weight shifts on the bike compared to the Fugitive. I struggled a bit with the first descent but settled in pretty easily after that. I wouldn't mind a light XC/trail bike with geometry about half way between my two current bikes.
 

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I prefer shorter WB bikes. One of my biggest reasons I'm reluctant to get rid of my Canfield Riot. Shorter bikes are easier to become one with IMHO I prefer shorter WB cars as well though, so don't mind the nervous feeling when going fast.
The idea behind the Riot is where I'm coming from, though their bikes are a tad shortish compared to the current bike geo, they had that playful feel that I love. Lenz makes probably the shortest bikes with big travel, super short chainstays, and compact from centers, but the dropper is limited to 125mm.

GG makes some nice bikes, but their big travel 29er and 27.5 are long (Smash, Mega Trail), so it's only in the short travel Trail Pistol 29 and Shred Dogg 27.5 that the wheelbase is shortish.I just replaced my Smash (ridden 27.5) with a Shred Dogg 27.5, CS is 423, very evident, waaay more agile than the Smash.

Oddly enough, I just looked at the geo on my frame and the Smash, geo for both are quite close 1246 vs 1250, I'm running teh short cup so my Shred Dogg is probably a tad shorter ~1243, which is still really long!

My Shred does have a slightly more slack HTA of 66 vs my Smash had a HTA of ~65, additionally I think my BB height is lower, so it could be a combination of things that contribute to increased agility.

Vick, an MTBR poster, rides a medium GG Smash and uses a set back dropper, he did this by choice to keep the bike more compact.
 

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So I am considering replacing my first generation 5010 with a 29er for better roll over. That bike is 68 deg HA and 130F/125r currently on 27.5x2.6. I find you comparison of the Ripmo to the Trance interesting. I have a 100/100 XC bike already so was thinking I need at least 130 rear travel, but where you do think think the 115 travel is limit wise vs the bigger travel Rimpo. I prefer a bike a I can maneuver vs just plow through and from reading your post and your terrain it seems the Rimpo is better for point and charge, but maybe not as good for nimble handling and trance can't match the high speed bumps, but can handle slow tech really well.

My preference is for slow tech rather than bombing down stuff, but I hate to not have enough travel either.
So Joe, why do you need more travel for slow tech? Maybe you just need "enough travel" and differenty geo.

I'd suggest looking at the Trail Pistol 29, enough travel, burly, not too heavy, good all around geo.
 

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So Joe, why do you need more travel for slow tech? Maybe you just need "enough travel" and differenty geo.

I'd suggest looking at the Trail Pistol 29, enough travel, burly, not too heavy, good all around geo.
I need "enough travel". 100 is not enough, but what is enough? That is what I want to gauge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I don't want to get too far into the weeds on this, but "enough" travel really ultimately depends on the bike as a whole.

The Trance at 115 is pretty short, but it's a beast and you can still pedal it all day if that's your thing. It's just as fun at Hawes as South Mountain.

The Banshee Phantom, 105 rear travel, is an absolute war machine that pedals great.

Then you take something middle of the road like, say, the RM Instinct. 140 rear travel, 140-160 up front. For me, nowhere near the attitude or ability of the two bikes mentioned above.
 

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Interesting discussion. I demo’d many bikes over the last 6-8 months leading up to a liquidation and rebuild of my stable. One of the things I noticed most while demo’ing bikes was the wheelbase. I could make a solid case for any of the top 20-30ish bikes on the market and be happy with them, each has a compelling geo package and is well designed so it’s about ergo and riding style. I digress... with as capable as some of these short travel rippers are (trance 29, the sc blur, intense sniper, sb100 etc etc) they start to on the aggressive nature of their longer travel siblings. This sorta unlocks taking some of the things I do on my bigger bike, and doing more precise smaller versions of that on my trail bike.

Meanwhile, 140-170 travel bikes pedal better then they ever have. Meaning the lines are blurred between what qualifies as the one bike to do it all, or which bike to take on which trail.

Consequently, I ended up purchasing a trance 29 and a megatower. Which bike I ride on a given day obviously is based on what trails, but a lot of time wheelbase is a huge driving factor on which one I’m riding on a given day.

Regarding travel, that depends on many, many things. As Blatant has suggested, short travel 29rs are capable of more then ever before and hot damn are they a hoot. However if I were forced in a 1 bike stable that wouldn’t be enough travel for me. I think the answer to how much is enough lies some where in the 140mm range. I base this on seeing the amount of people that had hightower’s But were searching for just a bit more (and a few other bikes in this range). If you’re pushing your limits that seems to be the range that gives riders just enough headroom to ride out a bad line. Obviously really skilled riders can kill it on anything, but for the rest of us, just enough travel to make a poor line choice and not pay dearly is pretty nice.

At any rate,
 

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P.s. Blatant, I’m riding in your neck of the woods tomorrow. Wife is in PHX on business and I’m free loading off her hotel room and brought my bike. I’m going to go cliche and hit national tomorrow. Hoping I can some how hit Geronimo as well, but I’m coming off an xc race with tired legs. We’ll see.
 
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