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OMR - Old Man Riding
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I happened to mention to RJ that he was being raked over the coals in this forum. He delighted me with a reply... which I am passing on. This is not to try to change anybody's opinion but to excercise what makes this forum such a great place to spark discusion and exchange ideas and information. I asked him if he had said that 29ers are dead.... and he replied:

"I think my actual words were: "29-inch wheel bikes are an evolutionary dead end."

My reasons for saying this are not because I hate 29-ers. They are superior in many ways to 26-inch designs. It was in reference to the fact that, for people below five-foot, six-inches, the concept falls apart. Toe clip overlap, too-tall handlebar heights, too-long chainstays, and no stand-over clearance are the drawbacks for anyone that size or shorter--and that's over half of the population if you include women. Those folks will have to make more than reasonable compromises to join the 29-inch club, so it's a dead end for them.

For them If you are of above average height, however, most of these issues are self canceling, and the performance benefits of 29-ers encourage most riders to overlook any minor shortcomings.

Designers are using shorter cranksets to minimize overlap on medium-sized frames--and if you add the taller gearing that is created by a three-inch larger wheel, you can see that this is a double drawback. Still, Shimano and SRAM could increase the chain take-up of their rear changers and sell 12 X 38 tooth cogsets to settle this little glitch. It could happen.

If you don't mind a bad chain line and a massive "Q" factor, 29-er designers can get by with a wider DH bottom bracket shell. This will settle the cramped quarters where the tire, bottom bracket, chainstays, crank arms and three chainrings have to share space--something that took 26-inch designers and parts makers ten years to settle. The difficulty that can't be easily remedied is that the tail of a front derailleur lines up with the fattest part of a 29-inch tire. The changer can't move in to catch the granny gears if the tire occupies that same space--It's a brick wall.

So, I am sure that the popularity of 29-inch XC bikes will grow briskly for more than performance reasons. The concept is fresh, and thus is attractive to bike sellers. The 29-inch wheel revived the dying titanium bike market, so we should see a marketing boost from them, and there is a large faction of riders who wanted the simplicity of a hardtail and now have a chance to own a version that is superior to its 26-inch rivals--suspended or not.

Now, if everyone wanted a 29-inch-wheel mountain bike, would everyone be happier? I think this is where the concept reaches the end of the line. Does a 52-CM roadbike with a 72-degree head angle, a 74-degree seat angle, and a saddle height level with or below the stem pedal and handle like a 58 CM with a 74 head and 73 seat angle, with its bars in the correct, aero position? Not in a million years.

Custom builders can cheat the rules and make a decent performing bike, but production maker can't. Big-brand bike makers, like Trek must comply with CPSC guidelines to sell bikes in the US and the CPSC prohibits toeclip overlap. This means longer top tubes, steeper seat angles, shorter crank arms and slacker head angles will be used to move the pedals back and the front tire forward. A smaller-than-average frame will perform like a whole different design, and not all that sharply--but it WILL be made and sold, because sales, not necessarily performance drives big bike makers.

So, the evolutionary road forks for 29-inch wheel designs. 26-inch wheel bikes are universal, they can be designed to fit just about everyone. 29-inch wheel bikes cannot fulfill this claim, so their offramp leads to a private drive. If you ride 29-inch bikes--share the love with everyone you meet, but don't get religious and demand that we see it your way."

Richard Cunningham

Funny, he doesn't sound like the Great Satan...

Old Man Riding...


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That's a lot of thinking he did, but it leads him to places he gets stuck, and others just adjust to make things work. Standover is a matter of adjusting the toptube a bit, toe overlap is just the fork makers screwing up, and those together make the bikes suitable for riders as small as 5'0" with still very nice handling.
 

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Holy Chromoly!!
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Cloxxki said:
That's a lot of thinking he did, but it leads him to places he gets stuck, and others just adjust to make things work. Standover is a matter of adjusting the toptube a bit, toe overlap is just the fork makers screwing up, and those together make the bikes suitable for riders as small as 5'0" with still very nice handling.

Klok.. please read his sentence below again and please keep it in mind each time you are comming up with pro's for 29ers... Itll make life easier for your heart as well.

"If you ride 29-inch bikes--share the love with everyone you meet, but don't get religious and demand that we see it your way."
 

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Feet back and spread 'em!
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Yes. it does no good to demand that anyone do anything. Everyone makes up their own mind.
But all RC's "brick walls" are easily overcome and the custom builders do it every day. As for toe overlap being prohibited...seems like every road bike i ever had suffered from it, so I guess they all broke the sacred rules. There's just not enough advertising $$ in 29ers yet to change RC's mind.
 

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bikecop said:
There's just not enough advertising $$ in 29ers yet to change RC's mind.
Right to the crux of the biscuit...
 

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No need to be religical, and I don't consider myself such.
When he said "too" long chainstays, what's "too" long? Most 29"ers in existance (albeit hardtails) run shorter than most 26" FS bikes in existence, or at least that I'm aware of.
Too long for what, rounding a corner, or popping a high wheelie in a really tall gear?
So the 425-425mm chainstays seem on 99.9% of all 26" hardtails is perfect, and 430-450mm as seen on 99% of 29"ers is "too long"?

Many have reported that the Specialized FS bikes he raves about actually have longer chainstays than some 29" FS models. If you're going to use arguments to support your opinion, at least get them right so your opinion can't be dismissed as prejudice.

Religical?
 

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bikecop said:
But all RC's "brick walls" are easily overcome and the custom builders do it every day. As for toe overlap being prohibited...seems like every road bike i ever had suffered from it, so I guess they all broke the sacred rules. There's just not enough advertising $$ in 29ers yet to change RC's mind.

My experience with my Fisher leads me to conclude that 'toe-box' overlap is a red-herring. With the 'genesis geometry, I have far more low speed tire clearance for my feet than any of my previous 26" wheeled steeds.

Perhaps RC should simply ride a couple of 29ers before he dismisses them as evolutionary neanderthals.

I'm not an evangelical personality but I was a 'doubting thomas' myself about 29ers until I finally rode one. Now I'm hooked!
 

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I have a riding bud that is 5'5" tall and rides a small X-caliber stock and he rides the holy crap out of that bad boy. No issues for him except fun! All the small nitpicks are seriously funny to me. Toe overlap. besides very low speed situations, it is just like a road bike you aren't pedalling when the wheel is turned to the point of your foot hitting it, you are laying into that corner. People just try to come up w/ reasons to say 29'ers aren't "there" yet. I totally agree w/ the statements made about money being a factor. If Fisher was paying RC's wages to hype 29'ers then he would rave the hell out of them. Come on guys this is America! The almighty dollar rules these parts!!! People on this board and other mags(Dirt Rag etc.), who are great riders are saying 29'er are the real deal means a lot more than a magazine editor's opinion when most of the mag is adds. hahahahaha. Plus nothing speaks like personal expierence. Get on one and ride then evaluate what RC is saying.
 

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I dont see the difference

in the evolutionary limitations between 26 and 29. at the extremes there are things about each that point to the other. i mean, whats so hard to accept about that? we let kids ride around on smaller wheeled bikes all the time.
big gangley folks will OBVIOUSLY want to ride a 29er. skrimpy little folks will want a 26er. who cares? much less attention needs to be paid to selling this to folks who would be doing just fine without it and more to getting the message to people WHO HAVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT. yes, they do exist. the post a week or so ago about the clueless shop owner in florida is not an uncommon story. it could be told about any southern state.
 

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5'4" tall and rockin a 29er

[They are superior in many ways to 26-inch designs. It was in reference to the fact that, for people below five-foot, six-inches, the concept falls apart. Toe clip overlap, too-tall handlebar heights, too-long chainstays, and no stand-over clearance are the drawbacks for anyone that size or shorter--and that's over half of the population if you include women.


i had to make very few changes to my x-cal to make it fit me . all i did was flip the stem, which i had to do on almost every 26" wheeled bike i have ever owned. i no longer subscribe mba, i was getting realy sick of seeing a specialized ad on every other page. dirt rag for me!
 

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HIKE!
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Advertiing $$$$ = Magazines

bikecop said:
Yes. it does no good to demand that anyone do anything. Everyone makes up their own mind.
But all RC's "brick walls" are easily overcome and the custom builders do it every day. As for toe overlap being prohibited...seems like every road bike i ever had suffered from it, so I guess they all broke the sacred rules. There's just not enough advertising $$ in 29ers yet to change RC's mind.

But then Hopey steering dampers, Stan's No Tube, and Gravity Dropper are all products raved about in MBA, and all top shelf upgrades on my bikes. Those 3 companies' advertising dollars in MBA amount to a very very small drop in the bucket, yet are constantly given props in MBA (and they work). Now, just like 29" wheel advocates complain about 29er "haters", don't knock those products until you try them.

RC/MBA is generally on the money with their reviews and things they suggest to try. Heck, the worst they had to say about the KM was that they "had fun on it". The rest, about it being relatively heavy, or odd (awkward multi-brake, gear/single speed configurations, etc) is just true.
 

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Universal 26?

mtber3737 said:
RC quote: "26-inch wheel bikes are universal, they can be designed to fit just about everyone. 29-inch wheel bikes cannot fulfill this claim, so their offramp leads to a private drive."
This conclusion puzzles me.

Richard Cunningham apparently accepts the suitability of 29ers for taller people and goes onto say that the concept is not optimal for smaller riders. Intuitively speaking that sounds about right- increasing the wheel size to make me comfortable could adversely affect a smaller rider. I take no issue with his stance at all, it makes perfect sense to me. But then he hits that logical leap and gets major air by saying 26" is universal! Now that just seems wrong, especially when it contradicts what he wrote a few paragraphs earlier.

Having two available sizes of mountainbike wheel increases the odds that riders of all sizes can have a bike that not only fits, but performs optimally. More choices on the menu is always a Good Thing.

Let's eat!
 

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Same RC?

Hmmmm.

I read this article soon after I got my Waltworks and felt that it was the best ride I'd ever had. I laughed out loud and took consolation from the fact that at least RC might consider me "cool" although "simple" might rub some people the wrong way. I guess when you go out on a limb sometimes it breaks.

May 2005 - MBA, page 45:

"What's Hot & What's Not and what's on the bubble" by R. Cunningham

On the Bubble: 29-inch wheels

"Unless you learned to operate a Farm-All tractor as a youth, or sped into battle against Mithridates on a Roman chariot, you probably don't know that larger diameter wheels roll over rough terrain more easily than small ones. That was true until the advent of the pneumatic tire and suspension allowed designers to reduce the size and weight of wheels - and the rolling resistance of modern vehicles.

The 29-inch wheel is still popular in rural Asia, across the African Continent, and in isolated pockets within the state of Colorado, where the abundance of spare parts or absence of modern technology has retarded the bicycles evolution.

Big people can ride big-wheeled bikes, but the concept reintroduces evils that the smaller 26-inch format solved, like tall standowver heights, laterally flexible wheels, pedal and shoe overlap on short top tube frames, the need for longer chainstays and special forks, and poor tire clearance near the front derailleur and the bottom bracket.

Arguably, big-wheeled mountain bikes roll pretty well over bumpy trails and deliver a comfortable ride when paired with little or no suspension. The concept is cool and simple, but everyone who is cool and simple already owns one by now. Stick a fork in it. It's almost done."
 

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One of the argument for 29ers is that the "one size fits all" mentality of the 26er does not work for tall people. Why are we intent on forcing short people on to 29ers? Two sizes seem fine to me. I ride both and like both.

I agree with R.C. Toe overlap is an issue. I'm just over 6-feet tall, with not particularly large feet (size 10 US) and toe overlap is a minor issue for me on a 29er. I could not imagine needing a 22" or 22.5" top tube and having toe lap not be an issue.

Current front derailler designs do interfer with the rear tire. I went through 3 front deraillers trying to find one that wasn't too much of a compromise. The new low-mount deraillers do not provide any clearance between the FD cable and the tire - I had maybe 2mm of clearance with not particlarly large tires when using a modern XTR derailler, and that was not enough to make me happy. I settled on an early 90's m901 XTR derailler to get a cable line and shifting performance that I was happy with.

My handle bars are right where I want them, but I could easily seee where a shorter person would have to run a negative rise stem to achieve the same position. Maybe not a huge compromise as Cannondales with headshoks have required that for years.

There's no need to force fit everyone on to a 29er. Some shorter people will like 29ers. Some taller people may not like 29ers at all.

I think that 29ers are a blast to ride!!! 26ers are also a blast to ride. I also like CX, road and fixies. Who cares what someone is riding as long as they're on a bike. I hope that 29ers and 26ers survive for a long time!

There seems to be way too many people on this forum that are convinced that 29ers will replace 26ers. Why is that? 29ers are not for everyone. If they work for you great, but I personally would not recommend them to everyone that is looking for a new bike.
 

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laffeaux said:
Current front derailler designs do interfer with the rear tire. I went through 3 front deraillers trying to find one that wasn't too much of a compromise. The new low-mount deraillers do not provide any clearance between the FD cable and the tire - I had maybe 2mm of clearance with not particlarly large tires when using a modern XTR derailler, and that was not enough to make me happy. I settled on an early 90's m901 XTR derailler to get a cable line and shifting performance that I was happy with.

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I had to take a hacksaw to my SRAM frt der. to make it work on my paragon
 

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Bicyclist
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The guy rode an AMP for years...

as his favorite bike and those things are pretty light duty and fragile. Consider the source. My Fisher has tons of toe clearance in the L size and the medium size looks just as good toe clearance wise. I wonder if he's considered modern hydroformed tubing frame designs. Chainstay length is a non-issue, RC has always been an advocate of ultra-short stays while for most folks longer than "traditional" chainstays are found to be surprisingly useful once actually tried.
 

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Kinda got me thinkin that maybe the future holds different size wheels for different size frames as a standard. small 26, med 27 and 28 on the large+ or what not. Makes sense!
 

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Misfit Psycles
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Fisty said:
Kinda got me thinkin that maybe the future holds different size wheels for different size frames as a standard. small 26, med 27 and 28 on the large+ or what not. Makes sense!
i dont think that is too much fiction.
i do think that more frames will accept multiple wheel sizes, particularly with the increasing # of disc only frames. wheel size is (could be) another way to customize the fit and geometry - no less than stem angles and handle bars.
 

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laffeaux said:
There's no need to force fit everyone on to a 29er.
It's not about forcing everyone on to a 29"er. It's about making 29"ers fit everyone properly, then letting them choose for themselves. Some people may think Cloxxki is a jerk when he says "toe overlap is just the fork makers screwing up", but that On-One fork is pretty interesting, and perhaps it's implications for an "unforced" fit for shorter riders.
 
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