i have not ridden one so i can't say anything about the geometry.
the biggest deal with 29ers is getting the right geometry and fit, IMO. my Niner is a great bike for me, there are some that really don't like the Niner. it is a matter of personal preference.
don't expect 29er wheels to change your world, it isn't like that. there is a subtle difference between wheel diameters. i would argue though, that the subtle difference adds up quickly in the right terrain.
if you roll smooth bike paths that don't have twists and turns, or if you are used to really short chainstays and couldn't possibly adjust your riding style, then a 29er probably isn't for you.
the places where you will notice the 29" wheels is on steep techie climbs(especially where there are rocks to go up and over), and going through tight twisties (where the increased gyro effect makes them "feel" different.
if you love to ride your bike, you will probably love riding a 29er just the same. i am never an advocate of buying the cheapest possible solution for many reasons, including the fact that cheap components can create a big enough distraction that you never get to really enjoy the ride! you can always off-load a bike if you don't like it, or don't buy anything and just borrow someone else's bike for a little while to get a feel for it. i bought my Niner without ever riding a 29er, i loved it on the very first ride. if you are REALLY tight on cash and are afraid of getting stuck with something you hate, pick up a used one and see how she rolls. that way when you make your purchase you have some assurance that you are making the right expenditure for you.
Edit: AND when you do make the expenditure, you can spend a little extra and get what you really WANT without fear.
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