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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lets face it, most of us know by now that bikes like the Specialized Enduro 29er (S-works) and Santa Cruz tallboy LT (Carbon, high spec) crush all the competition when it comes to all mountain bike reviews. They are amazing bikes jam packed with the latest technology and they can do it all, climb and descend really well and they aren't too heavy to spend all day on and don't hold you back on long distance trail rides. The point being that bigger is usually better BUT only if you can afford a high spec bike. 29er wheels are HUGE and the problem with less expensive wheelsets on 29ers is that they are heavier and not as stiff. Both of these factors are critical on a bike. Imagine the exact same bike with the exact same components and then evaluate them with budget, mid-range and high end wheelsets. As the wheelsets get cheaper you will notice the issues with a 29er, flex -> tracking, acceleration etc. So, my decision to buy a 27.5 ultimately came down to this. I found that riding a 29er (that I could reasonably afford) I could really feel these issues when I pushed the bike. I'm sure if I had the money to buy something fancy I wouldn't have found it a problem and would have loved it. So when I test rode a mid-range 650b bike I found it handled great, accelerated well and I didn't notice flex in the wheelset, fork, frame etc that I would on an equivalent spec 29er. So, if you have a load of money, (like 5-10k) buy a 29er. Maybe a Specialized Enduro 29er S-Works etc or something else equally pricey with a great stiff light carbon wheelset and top end fork. But if you are just spending 3-4 grand, go the 650b and I think you will be happy. IMO they really offer the best of both worlds for people who don't have all the money in the world.
 

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Good thoughts.

I spend all day this past Saturday demo'ing Trek bikes in 650b and 29" sizes.

Coming from a 26" FS (Trance with a 130 mm Revelation fork and 100 mm rear so it is somewhat slack compared to the original design back in 2007 when it would have come with a 100 mm fork) I fully expected that I would prefer the smaller size. Having ridden 29" before, I never found one that I felt was worth the entry fee of a new bike so I kept riding the 26".

This week, I started with a Trek Remedy 29" and I had all my preconceived notions on how heavy it would be, difficult in tight situations, etc. I was more than a little surprised at how much I liked a longer travel 29" (140 mm front and rear), how it actually felt lighter then my 29 lbs Trance, gave me little trouble in tighter situations, etc.

Next I switched to the Remedy 27.5/650b with almost an identical build to the 29". I figured this would shine but riding the same trail for an hour as the 29" I was totally disappointed. It felt just like my 26". The rocks that would slow down the Trance, slowed down this size. While on paper the bike should have been lighter, it felt much heavier and just plain slower. Weird as I was not expecting this. To say the least, I was very disappointed.

Next I took out a Fuel EX 29" and, again, enjoyed the larger wheel size but found I liked 140 mm over 120 mm.

I tried to go into these demo's with an open mind and have not sought anyone else's opinions since what works for me is a personal choice related to how and where I ride, my age and desires for a bike. I hope to demo a lot more bikes at Dirt Fest at Raystown Lake, PA in a couple weeks and narrow down my choices. It's possible a 27.5/650b Giant would feel better and I still haven't ridden one of the new Specialized.

Because of marketing decisions made by other companies, some obvious choices are not sold in the NJ market so I'm not going after them at the moment. I'm referring to Santa Cruz and Pivot who only have one dealer in my area and it is not close to where I live. I try to be open minded enough and accept that there are lot's of very good FS bikes around these days and not going with a boutique brand is not a big deal anymore.

Just some thoughts on my first experience with latest wheel size. How I wanted it to be different and it may be very different if you are coming from a 29". It is different than a 26", just not different enough for me at this point.

Enjoy your day..............
 

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This is the only way to pick a bike, back to back demos on different bikes. Where I live, it seems that Giant is the only company that sends out a demo van every year making such comparisons possible and easy. No Trek, no Spec. My city just too small & irrelevant I suppose
 

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I generally agree with you about heavy 29'r wheels and how it effects acceleration and handling, however I just bought a new carbon TallBoy with XT build and decent wheels for 1/2 the price of the S-Works or Bronson, or other Gucci high end bike. Oh, and this included a Dropper seat post. So I don't think price should be your main criteria.
 

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Axxis I couldn't disagree more with you and especially with you money argument. You can find good 29ers for less than 5-10.000 and of course if your problem are just the wheels you can replace them without spending a fortune.

Also I couldn't disagree more with people saying that they see a huge difference between 26 and 27.5 (which in reality are less than 27.5) wheels unless of course they compare crapy 26ers with high end 27.5ers. Unless you think that everything else equal 1cm higher radius can cause such a huge difference. I don't say that it doesn't but I believe it is more a placebo effect.
 

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Yeah, the money argument doesn't really apply in my opinion. They are still throwing Enve Carbons on every bike you can spot online. LOL For a reason...they are stiff as hell and everyone who rides them thinks they are the bee's knees. Pretty sure they will help the ride of any size bike. That's just an example.

I reached a point in my new quest for a bike where I was past "Which wheel size is best" and had moved onto "Which Wheel size is best for ME and the terrain that I ride most." Then, I got past the fact that there is a compromise for each size as well which I wanted to ignore for a long time. I wanted the PERFECT quiver killer, and it just doesn't really exist.

I spent the last year and a half on a 29 but its now for sale while my 27.5 Troy is on order. After doing a few test rides I just wanted something more playful and agile than what I was riding and the 27.5 seemed to be it as I wont go back to 26. I know it won't roll as fast as my 29 and might be a little more work, but that's the decision I made. My riding style is evolving as well as the terrain I've been tacking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The main point I'm making here is the following...

There are a number of disadvantages associated with the larger 29" wheel size but as the component spec/prices go up they almost disappear.

I totally agree that price isn't the main factor, what, where and how you ride obviously come first. However, after that, for me personally, (thread title "Why I chose 27.5/650b") the price will always be an issue and ultimately affects the final decision. Even testers will admit that budget is a factor and it does actually make a difference in the wheel size debate.

It's just my opinion, that budget matters, and something for readers who are about to purchase a new bike to consider.

We all know what bikes win the tests (eg. Enduro Compare-O: Mtbr’s Best of Test Award Winners | Mountain Bike Review) and this makes us want to go out and buy one of these bikes, even if it's a lower spec version, but sadly for many of us, these bikes just aren't a viable option. Even the "Best value bike goes to a $5k bike, almost twice my budget. ****, 3-4 years ago I thought $1k was a lot to spend on a bike after years of riding $500 bicycles. Then a year later I stretched my budget to $1.5k and got my first 29er and just this year I doubled it to get something "decent" and honestly it still seems like an insane amount to spend on a bicycle.

Background...
After much negotiating with my wife (and selling my other bikes to buy just one) I had just three grand to spend. I promised her this bike was going to last me a while so I needed decent components/brakes that would last the test of time, but sorry, no carbon frame, no EVNY wheelset, no RS Pike fork.
So I selected a bunch of bikes to test ride in both wheel sizes (based on online reviews). The 29ers I could get for that price (all aluminium frame/wheels, mid range fork) felt considerably heavier and I could notice the flex in the frame, fork and wheels way more than I did on the 27.5 and they just weren't as fun to ride as the 27.5 bikes. As a comparison I also test rode some really high end bikes, both 27.5 & 29ers (just to see, and because the bike shops are always trying to get you to spend more) and if I had more money to spend the wheel size/bike I would have chosen was different.
 

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[ My Knobby Nic 2.25" measure 27 3/4". You should do a little research.sQUOTE=Paris Galanis;11163365]Axxis I couldn't disagree more with you and especially with you money argument. You can find good 29ers for less than 5-10.000 and of course if your problem are just the wheels you can replace them without spending a fortune.

Also I couldn't disagree more with people saying that they see a huge difference between 26 and 27.5 (which in reality are less than 27.5) wheels unless of course they compare crapy 26ers with high end 27.5ers. Unless you think that everything else equal 1cm higher radius can cause such a huge difference. I don't say that it doesn't but I believe it is more a placebo effect.[/QUOTE]
 

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[ My Knobby Nic 2.25" measure 27 3/4". You should do a little research.sQUOTE=Paris Galanis;11163365]Axxis I couldn't disagree more with you and especially with you money argument. You can find good 29ers for less than 5-10.000 and of course if your problem are just the wheels you can replace them without spending a fortune.

Also I couldn't disagree more with people saying that they see a huge difference between 26 and 27.5 (which in reality are less than 27.5) wheels unless of course they compare crapy 26ers with high end 27.5ers. Unless you think that everything else equal 1cm higher radius can cause such a huge difference. I don't say that it doesn't but I believe it is more a placebo effect.
[/QUOTE]

Point you're trying to make is?.....
 

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@Ridezum

I see that from my post you only focused on the actual 27.5 dimensions so since you already did your research hear this also. My 26 wheels with 2.35 Bontrager XR4 are 27.2 inches. So what?

Not even women don't pay so much attention on inches or understand so small differences when it comes to mens ### but some people see HUGE differences from 0.5 inch better rollover! I suppose that you are better riders than me.

Anyway my main point was that you don't need to spend 5-10.000 to get a good bike. Except for that i respect whatever makes people happy or better riders.

@Axxis

I respect your decision and I pretty sure that you made a good choice based on criteria but usually people select first the bike category that fits their riding and then decide within the category based on their budget.

For example if you think that a 29er suits your riding style better then it doesn't make much sense to buy a 27.5 because it has better VFM, does it?

Anyway the most important thing is to enjoy your riding.
 

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I don't know man, I just don't seem to agree with the cost analysis/point but that doesn't mean that I think its an invalid point totally. Of course if you gave me a $8K 29ner over the $3500 27.5 I am buying right now I would ride the heck out of it, but I am choosing wheel size for wheel size. If my budget doubled or tripled I just don't see it changing my mind. No doubt that the higher end models of the same bike/wheel size will feel different. My max budget for my new ride was $3K and its now stretched to $3500....so I relate to your pain.

That being said, I've never rocked an $8K 29ner to know any better...probably never will. HA! I try NOT to ride anything I cant afford because I am THAT guy who will never be satisfied with my ride if I do. I need to make sure this new bike lasts me a looooong time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I find it interesting that people choose wheel size first when there are so many reviewers and testers who had said "I'll never ride a 29er" experiencing certain bikes and being shocked by what they are capable of. With technology marching ever forward closing off doors too early just because "I'm just a 26er (insert wheel size here) kinda guy" could be considered a little closed minded.

First Look: S-Works Enduro 29 Weighs in at 27 lbs with 155mm of Travel | Mountain Bike Review | Page 2

S-Works Enduro 29 Weighs in at 27 lbs with 155mm of Travel

The Breakthrough

The Enduro 29 is the most exciting product to come around in the last year because it breaks the mold. People did not expect a 29er with 155mm of travel to be good, but this one definitely is. The chain stay is so short at 16.9 inches that one can say that this bike handles quicker then many 27.5 bikes and even 26er bikes. The stays are shorter than most bikes with shorter travel and it’s even shorter than the Specialized Camber or Specialized Epic. In fact, the 16.9 stays are shorter than the stays of most 29er hardtails. The result is a bike that handles so quick and is so playful.
 

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No matter what bike or what wheel size, regardless of price you choose, you shouldn't have to justify it to anyone but yourself.
I ride a SC Blur Xcc converted to 27.5, the bike cost me around 8k, I love it, it does exactly and more for what I built it to do. I did ride and compare other similar bikes and still like my bike better than any other 26", 27.5" or 29er that I have ridden, just hope that it never breaks, because SC doesn't make the Blur Xcc anymore. I did like the Giants and Scotts that I ridden though.
 

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I agree with this; ignore wheel sizes, just test bikes based on the general type of riding you are looking for.

I find it interesting that people choose wheel size first when there are so many reviewers and testers who had said "I'll never ride a 29er" experiencing certain bikes and being shocked by what they are capable of. With technology marching ever forward closing off doors too early just because "I'm just a 26er (insert wheel size here) kinda guy" could be considered a little closed minded.
 
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