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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

First things first, merry Christmas foke, hope you managed to sneak a ride in on the big day ( i did early, hot day ensued so out early) or got some nice mtb related prezzies.

Sorry for the detail, long post..............i am fortunate to have the option to make a quick purchase on either a 27.5 (650b) or 29er Specializes S Works Stumpjumper, both lightly used (both wheel sizes nice bikes in their own right) but im stuck on which one, and was wondering if any other members had any insight or a similar experience. ive read all i can on the 650 vs 29 scenario plus every stumpy review applicable.

Over time I have progressed from hardtails back in the day, to dual susp over the years, currently riding a genius 40 26" for a +3yrs now. I have a observed trails and dirt bike background, dont mind messing about abit like this, on dh am stuff but really dont hit jumps as id like to these days.

Age: 41
Weight: 65 kg
Height 1.73m , 5""6
Frame : Medium
Experience: +Intermediate (can ride enduro, xc, dh - with my age prefer, to slow, pick a line, or most like a trails bike ride etc, rather than point and shoot with speed, to smash through stuff)
Riding preference for DH/AM: used to be dead keen on am/dh but these days in smaller doses. i also enjoy abit of the odd rock or jump sections thrown in on a trail but im dont wanna ride most of the day riding dh.
Riding preference for XC: Have no problem 50 - 100k rides, taken over 6, 7 hours or so, with a brew/pie stop thrown in :)
Average ride distance: 35 - 50km (90-100K once a month)
Average ride frequency: 2 - 3 week
Trails - ride fire roads to access the odd sneaky am run, or fire roads, single track, general trail riding with a few nice jump sections thrown in, slow techy stuff, fast flowing am stuff, or a nice steep, pick a slow line & drop through rock garden, no problem mixing it up like this on a 50 - 80k loop.

The decision regarding 27.5 vs 29, even though previously ive understood the pros and cons of both, has had me reading all the posts i can on it, and specifically stumpjumper 27.5 vs 29 reviews etc, to a point which sometimes happens with internet research, overload :)

Which wheel size: (27.5" (650b) vs 29") ??? - the big question for me.

3 months ago i was lucky enough to ride in the southern alps and had a spesh Rhyme for one day (all they had that day, set up for women suited my weight anyway) then my mates stumpy 29er for 9 days. Both were great bikes but i spent longer on the 29er, so memory is fresher with this size. I rode plenty of terrain, including riding up the Col du Granon, 2.5k ascent on bitumen with road bikes :)
Even with all this time, that bloody front wheel still looked massive ha ha.
I know this helps roll the rocky stuff but sometimes i have in my head i would find it difficult to manhandle/maneuver slowly through this type of stuff with the big wheel.

The tracks i ride are essentially in the 'Trail' category. They are not DH, nor are there long long fire trails rides linking the tracks together or 2 - 3 hours climbing to get one 40 min descent like the alps i rode on the 29er.
Yes there are some cool 'fast AM, slight DH ' sections and jumps, but the same trails have inclines, pinches you need to climb also.
Also hoping to go ride in NZ this year, maybe try a bike park for abit but mainly do some of the xc stuff there. I do enjoy some of the bike park stuff (just not stuff that leave no margin for error) when i get my confidence back, after a while but i dont ride this stuff regularly, as its not that i dont enjoy it, its just not that available.

Some of the longer rides i do, yes the 29er makes more sense and most of you will agree, grinding up down and around fire roads, which can be rough and are helped on the 29r.
I sometimes like to have a mess around in a rock garden or abit techy,gnarly section, try riding up, down something, mess around etc.
I really would like to enjoy and get better at flicking a bike around on jumps again every now and again (never been great at this on my genius) and i have this niggling doubt that the 29er, although is a very capable bike in all occasions, will also not help here.
I feel the 29er might leave me at one end of the spectrum, whereas a 27.5 will sit me in the middle.

Although i dont get chance on every ride, i do like to 'pop off drops' when i can, starting small and i enjoy it when i build up to the larger ones when i can, practice pulling wheelies, although not as good as id like (gggggrrr i could do this for ages as a bmx kid ! )

Question - is dropping down through slow, steep and stepped tech rocky terrain, almost observed motorbike trails bike like riding - is this more managable on a 27.5 for the smaller rider ???
(whereas the 29ers bigger wheels allow it to roll through the same stuff easier, provided more speed is used ? )

Reason i ask this is i sometimes enjoy riding this stuff, but at my age/injury recover time, work etc means im not a fan of using the speed to get through stuff these days like i would in my 20s with more confidence, if this makes sense.
Ive been told the 29 stumpy is more suited to using the speed combined with its wheel size for picking a way down through such terrain, whereas the 650b, i could pick a slow, trails bike type line to drop down it, getting over the back wheel etc.

Do you guys have any experience of the speshy 27.5 vs 29ers in this regard bearing in mind a smaller height and build rider trying to muscle it around.

If you have any insight, input, experience or want more info please just let me know.

7,168 Posts
I was on a 27.5 for the last 2 years and just got on a 29er.
I ride the most aggressive terrain, both up and down, that I can find. Not claiming I'm great at it however!

I feel like the 29er is great when I have momentum (know the trails and feeling good) but the 27.5 is better when going slow, cautiously picking lines, new trails, etc. On a new trail, I end up walking the 29er more than I'd like for sure. It gets hung up when traveling slowly. It's hard to start again, from a dead stop.

I'm more apt to find a trail and continue riding it to get faster so the new 29er is better for my intended use.

Good luck.

84 Posts
Thats a pretty big purchase, I would try and demo a couple more similar geo bikes of each size first. Since you like to pick your line and ride "trials style" I think you may fare better with a 650b.

When I got into mtb I demoed a few 29ers because thats what every salesman said is the best. Glad I didn't buy one, because it only took about 30 mins on a 650b (was a stumpjumer coincidentally) that I knew 650b was the winner. Maybe its because i'm 5'8 140 lbs, but I always felt the wheels of the 29er were just too big and clumsy for the relatively low speed east coast single track in my area. Just my personally experience
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