Gregg and I have gone on three mountain bike rides together recently, to try out some loaner mountain bikes. They have 29" wheels instead of 26" wheels. Anyway, it's been a fun few rides. Gregg is as excited about me loving the 29ers as I am about him going back to school. Here's a post he wrote on MTBR about one of our rides:
Have been researching/lurking on 29ers for months, and was already pretty much convinced of the benefits. But what I really wanted was an opportunity to ride one. I usually ride a 2005 StumpyFSR100disc, whittled down to 25 lbs ( and disc hardtail winter bike-27lbs ). In addition, my wife recently got back into mtnbking, and has always complained about technical and/or steep(to her) trails. She rides a pretty light rim-brake hardtail. This past weekend I was able to get my hands on a pair of '05 GF X-calibers... 17.5 for me (5'8"-with 31" inseam), 15.5 for her (5'5") and now we are both believers!! Genisis geometry does not fit me that well, (top tubes too long, even with short stem) so I swapped the 90 for a 70 mm stem (inverted), and removed a spacer.
The demo bikes were a bit heavy, but they rode like much lighter bikes. I noticed immediately the extra traction climbing steep/loose stuff, and when cornering the tires stuck like glue. The bikes picked up speed fast, and I could carry it through corners with ease. My wife was less wow-ed, so the next day we went to a small area she likes and took her bike AND the demo. First lap (30 min) she rode the 29er, and I could tell she was riding these trails faster than usual. Then she got on her old 26"bike...she liked that it was lighter, but felt less stable right away. She was also slower everywhere, had rear tire slippage on the loose climb, and felt the front tire was less planted. I followed her down one straight stretch of downhill, that ends with a right turn . On the 29er she was doing 17.3mph down the straight, and went through the turn at 16.8mph. On the same stretch of trail,( on her regular bike, 30 min later) she only hit 16 mph in the straight, and slowed to 13mph to make the turn, and felt a lot less in control. Oh, she also noticed that the 29er hardtail was more compliant than her 26" with shockseatpost, very important with her bad back.So now she doesn't want to give the demo back...(does not like the orange '06 color), and I need to sell some of our bikes quick ( I'm getting a RIG first, then Paragon ) . I'm just glad she feels more in control on the big wheels, she's always liked riding, but only easy stuff. Now she wants to try harder trails. I liked the extra speed, she liked the stability, same bikes and we're both happy. I'll try to add some pics later...late for work, thanks for reading ( those that made it this far).