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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, when I first started looking at bikes (this is my first mountain bike) I was looking at 26ers because I did not even know that 29ers existed!!! After much research, I was sure that I wanted a 29er, but now after watching a bunch of videos and talking to my friend who does a lot of DH riding I'm worried that I might regret getting a 29er.

But here is where I am coming from. Even though I would like to believe that I will be doing jumps and a lot of aggressive riding, the reality is that I probably won't be. I do not think that riding once a week will give me enough skill to be able to do anything aggressive .... let alone jumps. But, at the same time I would like to be able to do that if I decided to. With a 29er, I do not feel as if I would have the same option.

I think a 29er would be better for me, but it does limit a bit what kind of riding that I would do. Also, my choices for 29er bikes are limited when it comes to 26ers.

I just want to make sure that I make the right decision. I am STILL leaning towards the 29ers and any input from you guys would be greatly appreciated!!!
 

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This thread could end up with a 1000 comments. Go to bike shop now, get on 29er, test ride, and you'll know. Nothing we can say will be able to out-do the experience of just riding one, riding a 29er is the ultimate conversion tool. Try a rigid SS even if you aren't looking to buy one, just so you can get a purer experience without analyzing other variables like shifting and suspension. I was sold on the concept after a quick tour of a parking lot, try hitting a curb with a 29er and you'll understand why.
 

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Your typical 26" XC hardtail is not really designed for jumps or drops either. You state that this is will be your first MTB. Have you done any mountain biking at all? What are your trails like?

If they are rough/rocky/rooty I would definitely suggest looking into a 29er.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That is probably my biggest problem. Everyone says go and test ride bikes and you will know which one is for you. Well, thats a great solid suggestion but that hasn't really helped me out too much. I rode a 29er Kona, 29er GF, 29er Rockhopper and then I rode a 26er Stumpjumper, 26er Cannondale Trail, etc. And while both of them felt just a bit different than the other ones, I could not make a distinct decision. Probably due to me not being on a mountain bike since I was 14 or 15 years old (almost 15 years ago).

I am jealous of a lot of you guys that can take a bike for a quick spin and see if its the one for you!!!!! I live in the eastern part of NC and the trails here are great. Not too many trails with really tight turns unless I drive a hour to the mountains which makes it ideal for 29ers. In case I am on a trail that I'd like to do a bit of aggressive riding and maybe a couple of baby jumps....... would a solid hardtail 29er hold up to that?

I am 6' and about 170 lbs so the 29er does work a bit in my favor.
 

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You won't be able to conclude much in the parking lot. :) Most of us have owned 26ers and some of us still do. To me the criteria is...if you don't ride super technical trails where you need a lot of quick change in direction and agility on traversing courses, a 29er is all good. A 29er won't beat you up as much is why I like them and they hold their momentum a bit better if you don't change your speed a lot...again if you ride less on tight courses. I am a smooth sailing XC high speed kind of guy and for that a 29er is perfect. One way of looking at is, a 29er is more of a bullet proof road bike with fat tires and generally with front shock, so its good for high speed cruising. A pro can negotiate any kind of course on one and it doesn't matter much at the amateur level anyway. The silver lining for you is you can't really make a mistake going either 26 or 29er. If you know what kind of riding you will be doing there is one bettr tool for the job but for the recreational riding it doesn't matter much other than personal satisfaction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is a bit off topic, but one of the reasons I'm a bit frustrated is because I have not found a 29er I am in LOVE with. Maybe subconsciously, that is why I have not committed to a 29er yet. So I'm still looking and I know that NO MATTER what, I do not want a bike from the internet..... simply does not make me comfortable!

Does Niner make complete bikes or just frames. I went to the Niner site and cannot figure it out!
I really liked the Rockhopper, but Specialized really did screw it up for me. The normal Rockhopper 29 only comes with Dart 3 shocks, which I want a better shock than the Dart 3's. The Rockhopper SL which has the Tora RockShoxs is in this RIDICULOUS red color scheme which also has red wheels.... seriously??????? And the other Rockhopper SL 29er is a single-speed so I'm kinda screwed on the Rockhoppers.

I did not care too much for the Gary Fisher Cobia since it felt bit too heavy for me, but then maybe I was still bitter about the Rockhopper. I did not care for how the Marin or Fuji looked (I know I shouldn't pick based on looks), but I want to be happy with how my bike performs AND looks if I am going to fork over $1,000 for my first bike!!

As of right now I am leaning towards the 2009 Kona Big Kahuna which has decent components (Tora fork, XT Deore, Shimano M575 Hydraulic Disc). Sorry I am turning this into a complicated post, but I feel as if I can find a 26er that I'll be happy with, but if I can actually find a 29er I like then I'll like the ride better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Then I'd have to reduce my budget by half and then for sure I'll hate them both!!!

Here is a picture of the Kona that I am seriously considering. Its not 100% what I want, but its the best out of the bunch I've looked at as far as 29ers go.

2009 Kona Big Kahuna (I can get it for about $1,000 since its a '09 model)

Kona Big Kahuna
 

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That's a good deal for the Kona.

The poster who said that the 26ers you're looking at are also likely xc or "trail" models as well. Most hardtails are, aside from a more niche market. I think an XC bike is a better place to start for a new rider anyways, as it is likely to cater to the type of riding that is most available to most people. If you ever go to a lift assisted area you can rent a long travel bike.
 

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M_S said:
That's a good deal for the Kona.

The poster who said that the 26ers you're looking at are also likely xc or "trail" models as well. Most hardtails are, aside from a more niche market. I think an XC bike is a better place to start for a new rider anyways, as it is likely to cater to the type of riding that is most available to most people. If you ever go to a lift assisted area you can rent a long travel bike.
i agree.

To the OP, your DH buddy is coming from a particular perspective so keep that in mind. he rides DH so is definitely biased towards that style of riding, especially if you've expressed interest in it too. but you're just getting into the sport, so get something with some versatility. odds are, and you even admit it, that you aren't going to be doing major hucks and drops with it and the majority of your riding is trail riding.

and don't downplay color. if you're not excited about the bike(parts, company, color, etc), you won't ride it.
 

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I know that you mentioned a budget of $1000 but have you considered looking at a Giant XTC 2. The MSRP is $1350. It has quite a nice spec. and in the current economic climate you may be able to twist someone's arm for a discount.
 

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i bet your DH friend is telling you not to get a 29er...but he is saying that based on his style of riding.

29ers are known for being xc bikes but there are AM 29ers as well out there too. first decide what type of riding you are will be doing.

it sounds like xc riding. just like what was stated, whether you get 26" wheels or 29" wheels, its still a xc bike and neither of them are intended for big jumps, drops or serious DH terrain.
 

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Elonheater said:
That is probably my biggest problem. Everyone says go and test ride bikes and you will know which one is for you. Well, thats a great solid suggestion but that hasn't really helped me out too much. I rode a 29er Kona, 29er GF, 29er Rockhopper and then I rode a 26er Stumpjumper, 26er Cannondale Trail, etc. And while both of them felt just a bit different than the other ones, I could not make a distinct decision. Probably due to me not being on a mountain bike since I was 14 or 15 years old (almost 15 years ago).
I know exactly what you're feeling. I was in the same boat about 3 yrs ago when I decided to start riding a bike again as an adult. With the exception of riding a couple times in my late teens - late 20's I hadn't spent much time on a bicycle at all. I was clueless, but I did go to as many LBSs as I could and asked questions to learn as well as test ride bikes. I still didn't know what I wanted. I spent too much money on a used 07 Stumpjumper Comp HT (26") when I should've bought something cheaper to re-learn on. Less than a year later I picked up a leftover 07 Gary Fisher Rig (which was less $$ than the used Stumpy). I learned a lot about riding on that Rig. Singlespeeds are great to learn on IMO. You focus on the trail and not what gear you think you should be in. The big wheels just clobbered over obstacles on the trails. I learned about keeping momentum and pedaling efficiency. I miss that bike and I should've never sold it. It helped me become a better rider.

My suggestion is to buy a cheap Craigslist special or an inexpensive discounted bike at a LBS and just ride it. After riding it for awhile (it could be a month or it could be a year...it really depends on how much you ride and push yourself and the bike) you'll start to know what you like and don't like.

Good luck!
 

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hobiesmith said:
i bet your DH friend is telling you not to get a 29er...but he is saying that based on his style of riding.

29ers are known for being xc bikes but there are AM 29ers as well out there too. first decide what type of riding you are will be doing.

it sounds like xc riding. just like what was stated, whether you get 26" wheels or 29" wheels, its still a xc bike and neither of them are intended for big jumps, drops or serious DH terrain.
You can catch plenty of air on a 29r HT. If you can spend closer to 2k check out the Niner EMD9 of MCR9 builds from Speedgoat or Webcyclery. I'm sure they'll work with on the build to bring the price down if necessary. The Giant and Kona are both nice bikes for the 1-1.3k range. You should also check out the Salsa El Mariachi.

I'm the same size as you and I kick myself for not trying/switching to the 29r format much sooner than I did.
 

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E,

The more time you over-analyze this the more it puts off you getting into the saddle. ;)

It's sounds like there are a number of options available to you that will get the job done, so perhaps that's contributing to your indecision. I would recommend test riding the bikes on your short list again (and again and again if needed). If possible, grab one of your buddies' bikes and take it for an off-pavement excursion, just ask/tell them before you do it, of course.

Do not worry about going 26 vs. 29. Get the bike that feels the best to you and has a spec group that you can live with for a while. Remember this is your first mountain bike since 14 or 15, and you'll have fun on anything with 2 wheels as long as it's serviceable. If you stick with riding long enough, you *will* upgrade components based upon evolving needs, component failure, terrain choices, etc... and/or get a new bike entirely.

I implore you to think shorter term here, then let the trails, your level of fitness, and your cycling goals dictate what the next step is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks guys for the help.

Giant is probably the only brand I have not really looked at. My LBS had Giants, but none that I liked and they did not have the XTC like above. Looks like a nice bike. How does the Giant's Marzocchi Forty-Niner fork compare to the RockShox Tora? I noticed that the Marzocchi has 100mm of travel as opposed to the Tora's 80mm. $1,300 is not a problem as long as the price does not creep into the $1,500 territory..... wife would not be happy!

The Niner EMD and MCR9 looks sweet, but it seems as if their frame technology is not quite up to par to others in its price range. Looks a bit skinny. Guess it might be skinny to save weight since its made out of steel????

Which do you think would be a better bike (a better bet)? The 2009 Kona Big Kahuna or the Giant XTC 2?
 

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My $.02

Elonheater said:
Hey guys, when I first started looking at bikes (this is my first mountain bike) I was looking at 26ers because I did not even know that 29ers existed!!! After much research, I was sure that I wanted a 29er, but now after watching a bunch of videos and talking to my friend who does a lot of DH riding I'm worried that I might regret getting a 29er.

But here is where I am coming from. Even though I would like to believe that I will be doing jumps and a lot of aggressive riding, the reality is that I probably won't be. I do not think that riding once a week will give me enough skill to be able to do anything aggressive .... let alone jumps. But, at the same time I would like to be able to do that if I decided to. With a 29er, I do not feel as if I would have the same option.

I think a 29er would be better for me, but it does limit a bit what kind of riding that I would do. Also, my choices for 29er bikes are limited when it comes to 26ers.

I just want to make sure that I make the right decision. I am STILL leaning towards the 29ers and any input from you guys would be greatly appreciated!!!
Last summer I spent a TON of money building an aggressive Turner 5 Spot that was supposed to be a do anything trail bike. After riding all last summer and realizing that all I ride is mostly smooth, fast singletrack, I sold it over the winter and got a 29er hardtail. I LOVE the new(my first by the way) 29er and wouldn't go back to full suspension for anything! My lesson I learned: buy the bike based on the reality of what you'll actually be riding, NOT what you "think" you'll be riding.
 

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Do not discount steel....especially modern steel!!! you are not at a level yet where you will feel or care about the 500gish weight difference...also keep in mind that Niner is the one of the original 29er builders...steel has it's benefits also!!! If I was choosing between the Kona and the Giant I would take the Giant for the tapered steerer and the 15 through axle and take the rear derailler and brake hit..those are better on the Kona..none of this is important unless you like and feel right on the bike
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I think that when you said that I need to buy a bike based on the kind of riding that I WILL do as opposed to the kind I THINK I might be doing....... that makes a ton of sense!!

Thanks!

Right now, I'm kinda leaning towards the Kona. Why did Specialized have to make the Rockhopper SL 29er with red wheels.... RED WHEELS!! Its not even cool red.... its more of a dorky red!
 
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