The reputation of the RIP 9 is unassailable – in the six years since its introduction it has helped define the new-school genre of trail ripper both with riders and the cycling press.
So how can it be improved? Keep the attitude, boost performance, shed unwanted weight and build on the legend. The changes to this new beast can’t really be called “evolutionary,” because the word implies a slow process of incremental gains and small strides. That just doesn’t describe the changes to the new RIP 9 – there’s nothing incremental about a kick in the pants.
The Niner that is at home on just about any trail or any terrain – The RIP 9 incorporates global rider feedback as well as Niner’s rigorous progression of alloy design, engineering and testing standards. The RIP 9 has over 30 glowing media reviews for ride quality and handling – the new RIP 9 takes these characteristics and ups the ante with air formed aluminum alloy tubes that redefine performance, a lower weight, ISCG compatibility and additional travel.
AIRFORMED ALLOY FULL SUSPENSION FROM NINER
125MM OF PATENTED CVA SUSPENSION IS EFFICIENT IN EVERY CHAINRING
COMPATIBLE WITH 120-140MM FORKS
TUNED FOR CVA – ROCK SHOX MONARCH RT3 HV
ISCG 05 TABS AND OFFSET LINKAGE DESIGN FOR CHAINGUIDE COMPATIBILITY
FORGED SUSPENSION LINKAGE AND UNIQUE NINER ALLOY HARDWARE
Airformed Alloy Frame – Shaping the frame tubes with compressed air in a heated mold gives us greater control over wall thickness and material uniformity, allowing the use of less metal. Tubes that are manipulated using this process can be up to 25% lighter than a similar hydroformed shape at the same strength.
Niner RIP9 in Action
To progress as a rider you need predictability, balance and nimble handling. We are proud to be the company that first made these attributes a reality in 29ers. Climbing or descending, the geometry of the RIP 9 is tuned to keep you in control and ready to conquer new terrain at every turn. The RIP 9 is intended for 120 to 140mm forks, allowing riders to further fine tune the ride.
Niner RIP9 CVA Suspension
The RIP 9 features Niner’s patented CVA™ suspension (U.S. Patent No. 7,934,739) and delivers 125mm of fully active travel with superb compliance and damping via a tuned for CVA™ RockShox Monarch RT3 HV shock. For those seeking the technical advantages of 29″ wheels combined with pedaling efficiency across all chainring combinations (not just the middle ring), CVA™ is the front-runner. The result? A faster, smoother ride up and down the trail.
Niner RIP9 CVA Suspension
The RIP9 in Black Licorice and Niner Green
The increased surface area of a tapered headtube allows for a larger downtube, increasing strength and rigidity at this critical intersection. Tapered fork steerer tubes measurably reduce fork deflection, which means your Niner tracks straight and true. The full spectrum of riders from XC racers to All Mountain shredders benefit from these features which is why we incorporate the technology in all our frames.
Forged Pieces New RIP 9
From the head tube to the rear axle, we looked at every single detail and asked “can it be done better?” We’ve revised the shapes of the forged yokes and attachments, subjecting them to mechanical and real world testing to ensure they’re as light and strong as possible.
The New Niner RIP9 Linkage
New linkage shapes increase strength and stiffness and shed a few more grams, the lower link has a pronounced asymetrical form to make room for ISCG tabs and increased chainstay clearance. Larger pivot hardware and a switch to 8mm alloy shock mounting bolts shave weight and increase the bling we love so much. Saving weight doesn’t mean skimping – pivots are still outfitted with Enduro Max full complement sealed cartridge bearings for smooth, friction-free suspension.
Niner RIP9 Rear Axle
This newest member of the RIP 9 line up will be available for demo across the country, beginning this Thursday at Sea Otter. It is available for order from Niner dealers now, with first frames shipping internationally May 7th. Pricing on this frame has not increased over the original RIP 9 – MSRP $1849 USD. It is also available as a complete bike – full details here.
For the last year or so I’ve been interested in bikepacking and ever since I watched “Ride the Divide” it immediately went on my bucket list. Not that I love gravel grinders, but I have a big sense of adventure and that seems to be the most adventurous thing that I could actually accomplish in my life. Last year I researched, purchased all the gear, and attempted to ride the TNGA (Trans North Georgia) route. It’s a brutal 350 mile route with over 50,000 feet of climbing across the N GA mountains. It started out well and good, but a seatpost that slid down without me really noticing, led to some knee pain and put me out after only 120 miles. I’ll be back to try it again later this year, but for now I figured a flat(ish) adventure across warm and sunny Florida during the winter was the way to go. It was also perfect timing for a mid-winter mountain bike “training camp”.
Fast and flowy Florida singletrack
I heard about the Huracan 300 route from a friend, read some great write ups around the web, and after talking through Facebook to Karlos (who created the route and runs the race in March) I downloaded the GPX file on my Garmin 800 and started to get excited. The Revelate Designs bags (Pika seat bag, Jerry Can, and Sling) went onto the bike, I got all my gear together (http://goo.gl/LsLgo for a gear spreadsheet) and I took a couple of days off work (the best part!)
I spent some time in Google Maps checking out the route itself, as well as lining up plenty of places to stop along the way (http://goo.gl/maps/VBqcU). I planned on doing 3 100 mile days and staying in hotels overnight. It was a beautiful 70 degrees during the day, but with 40 degree overnight temperatures, I didn’t feel like camping this time around. Technology is very cool, as I was not only able to look up places to stop, I was able to check out Street View and verify that they even existed.
Good morning Florida!
I took off on the route on a beautiful Friday morning and got a cold start as it was in the high 30s. It warmed up fast as the sun started to come up all the way. I got treated to some very cool swampy paths and some fun twisty single track through the palm trees as I headed for Ocala National Forest. The forest itself is a network of sandy gravel roads and has a Naval bombing range right in the middle. I got my timing right, as I rolled up just as some fighters were performing a bombing run. Too cool!
Naval Bombing Range
After 50 miles, I stopped by a very lonely convenience store to refuel, and kept on riding. I heard/read about the crazy deep sand and wanted to hit it while I had plenty of energy. It ended up being pretty brutal, but not as bad as I was fearing. Between keeping a very smooth pedaling stroke (Thanks Eddie!) and spending some time riding on the side of the road, I was able to get through the deep sand pretty quickly and headed to some fun single track in Wekiwa Springs.
I made it across the “creek” crossing!
There is a small “river crossing” in Wekiwa Springs, and considering it’s Florida and that the water was “chest high in some spots”, I was pretty worried about getting eaten by a gator. The nice “yup, there’s gators in those waters” from the Park Ranger didn’t make me feel any better. I got to the crossing, did some yelling to scare the gators away (ha!), picked up the bike, and waded through quickly. No big deal! I made my first 100 miles, was back to civilization, was feeling great, but decided to go ahead and call it a night vs continuing on. I wanted to save any energy that I had for the next couple of days.
After some good Italian food and some easy sleep I headed out for Day 2. I didn’t realize that the route today has a good bit of pavement so the first 50 miles flew right by. I saw an unexpected grocery store (Public) right off the route and treated myself to an awesome deli sandwich (and a ton of peanut M&Ms, I was craving those the whole time) The next 40 was a mixture of forest service roads, more sand, even more sand, some more sand, and finally some pavement (never thought I’d be GLAD to ride pavement on my mountain bike). There is a super long “rails to trail” section and I got to ride quite a few miles through it. When I got to where I planned on spending the night, Ridge Manor, it was 4:30, I still had 1.5 hours of daylight left, and I knew I’d hate myself if I stopped now. The longest mountain bike ride I’ve done in my life was the day before at 100 miles, so why not try for 140 to get to the next town. After all, I had lights, and it was still nice outside.
Did I mention there was some sand?
I hit a gas station for some dinner, pushed through and hit the Croom singletrack north of town. There is about 10 miles of pretty technically challenging singletrack, especially with a 40lb loaded bike, and I had to walk a few sections but it was still really fun. It shot me out on some country back roads, and I just spun along and enjoyed the stars. Spent some time with my lights off riding to the moonlight. I was a bit worried about some back country rednecks, but didn’t encounter anyone at all. I was feeling really good considering the mileage, and I knew I hit what I read about earlier: Diesel Mode. It’s basically when your legs and heart are too tired to go hard, but they feel just fine going a certain speed, and for some reason you feel like you can just go forever at that pace. At around 10pm I rolled into Inverness after 142 miles and 13 hours on the bike. Long day and I was ready for a burger! I ate, turned on the TV in the hotel room and instantly fell asleep.
Dieseling along some forest service roads
With such a long Day 2, Day 3 turned into a super fun “short jaunt” through the Santos Mountain Biking trail. Combined with the Ross Praire forest, it’s nearly 40 miles of great dirt and singletrack. Santos is very fast, flowy, and a blast to ride. It was awesome to finish with this trail as it gave me a “singletrack high” and I finished up the route feeling really good and in great spirits.
Riding this route renewed my appetite for bikepacking, and I’m really looking forward to attempting TNGA again this summer. I also got to see some great sights, as Florida is full of nature. (My full gallery of pics here: http://smu.gs/15tRFHA) From the National Forests, to the Wildlife Management Areas, to the all the back country roads, it was all awesome! And let’s not forget about the unlimited “all the peanut M&Ms you can eat” diet you can have during one of these adventures. Heading into a gas station and needing 1000 calories of junk food is so great. I can go through my full gear setup if there is any interest and I’ll also post my ride report from the TNGA in July. Also, here are the Strava links for each of the days: Day 1 - http://app.strava.com/activities/39705204 Day 2 - http://app.strava.com/activities/39705219 and Day 3 - http://app.strava.com/activities/39705186
Last night, I got the chance to take the Renovo Badash 29er wood bike out at our local trail and put some miles in. I hooked up the GoPro Hero HD on the frame and the new GoPro Hero2 HD with chest mount. Check out the Badash on our XC trails and getting some airtime in the light FR area. Review coming soon so stay tuned…
Hit the gear on the bottom right of the video to change it to 1080p HD.
Back in December, we found out about a really cool wood bike company named Renovo Hardwood Bicycles. What originally caught our eye about these unique frames was not necessarily the fact they are made out of wood (that has been done before with bamboo), but that the 29er mountain bike and road frames actually looked like something we wanted to hammer on the road and trails.
Fast forward to now…Renovo Hardwood Bikes sent in their Badash 29er for review on Bike198. It is time to finally get one of these beauties out on the trail and it is beautiful.
Quite possibly the most unique bike to grace the Bike198 offices since the Wolfhound, the Renovo represents everything the bike industry isn’t right now…unique. In a market where plastic bikes rule all and everything is starting to look the same, Renovo produces a truly unique frame with incredible craftsmanship. We haven’t even gotten this frame dirty yet and it is hard not to just sit back and stare at it.
Where Renovo really sets themselves apart from other past wood bike manufacturers is their use of hardwoods. The Badash 29er is manufactured with the options out of the Appalachian series which consists of hickory, walnut, ash and maple in one or two series per frame for $2,550.00 MSRP. There is even a walnut center strip to add to the flare of the frame and beautiful internal cable routing. The dropouts are natural aluminum.
Once we posted up a picture of the frame on Facebook, there was some question on the durability of the frame itself as it is manufactured out of wood. Here is what Renovo has to say.
So, some time ago when we tested our road frames for impact resistance, we were pleased at how well they held up. Curious, we tested against butted frame tubes of aluminum, steel and titanium and were surprised that our frames, particularly hickory, withstood impact much better than the metal tubes. I confess we were a little smug about that, but failed to pick up on the implication that our frames would likely survive a fall onto rocks better than the other frame materials. Later testing showed our frames to be brutally strong; our lightest road frame failed at 2002 pounds, one ton, or twelve times the weight of the average rider. Putting 2 and 2 together (after a while), I finally recognized we probably had the makings of a seriously tough mountain frame.
So here are the pictures. We are looking forward to getting this bike out on the trail for some real abuse. At the very least…it should attract a lot of attention. To check out more about Renovo and their testing on the frames, head over to RenovoBikes.com.
Here is a quick video of the Badash in action from Renovo.
For those of you that wanted an AM 29er out of Santa Cruz Bicycles…now you have it.
The Santa Cruz Tallboy LT was released on April Fool’s Day and it brings 135mm of rear wheel travel, ISCG tabs and a 142mm rear end at 5.3 pounds to a very popular Tallboy lineup.
The first LT’s are going to be available for shipping around the week of April 13th which means they are basically ready to go at this point. I know a lot of people have been waiting for Santa Cruz to answer the 29er bikes with a little bit more travel than your typical XC setup.
Santa Cruz was a little late to the 29er party with the original Tallboy, but it gained traction quickly in the market to become one of the top sellers in the industry. It will be interesting to see how this bike stacks up with the likes of the Niner RIP 9, Specialized Stumpjumper EVO 29er and the other bikes in the 135 – 140mm rear wheel travel range.
My guess is that they will sell out of these on the first run just because of the Santa Cruz name and the reputation they have built up over the years of producing solid performing bikes back with great customer service. Additionally, there is an aluminum version (the plain LT) available for those looking for a frame on more of a budget or aren’t up for the full carbon layout.
The Pacenti TL28 26er mountain bike rims have been built up, mounted and thrashed around north Georgia. It is time to weigh in and let you guys know what we thought about the new rims released by Kirk Pacenti at Bikelugs.com.
First, these rims caught our eye almost instantly due to their light weight and wide width. As seen in our first look post from awhile back, these 26 inch wheel rims weighed in at 360g (vs. 470g of the Flow) on the scale while being 28mm wide. The inner width is actually .4mm wider than the Notubes.com Stans Flow rim at a weight that rivals the Crest (an xc race rim at 340g to 370g) in their same lineup. Having been a long time fan of the Flow, this was a rim that we had to try out.
For the build, we enlisted one of the best wheel builders in the business, Chad DeValls at Red Barn Bicycles. Every single set of wheels I have ever received from Chad has been rock solid and he is known for being one of the best on MTBR.com and around the MTB community. When I asked Chad how the Pacenti wheels built up, this is what he had to say…
As far as the wheel build goes i’d say the rims built as smooth and as good as it gets. They were round and true from the get go which as you know allows for a solid build with little spoke correction for trueness. But a couple other things i liked was the seamless weld at the rim joint. Looked like it was probably done via laser weld. Very clean. I also liked the finish of the rim and the decals/graphics were sweet too.
The dimensions look to be spot on for folks in the AM catagory and an ideal rim choice for folks who like wide tires but who also keep their wheels on the ground. I like the reinforced eyelets. I like the width. I’d like to see how they hold up because i’m guessing will end up mostly on 5-6 inch travel suspension bikes. 360grams….wow, that’s light and if anything i’d be interested in seeing how a set works for myself or under a pal that i know. Would give me a very good idea of their capabilities. I will be bringing in a set for testing very soon. Nice work on the rim project!
To get a grasp on how the wheels would perform in multiple conditions, I had Roger (our resident test freak) take them out on his Titus Motolite. When he was done, I bolted them up to the Turner 5.Spot to see how they handled the super stiff and capable frame from Turner Bikes. The silver spoke combination laced to red Hadley hubs (which we also love as you can see from this review) really looked great on the dark setup of the 5.Spot.
I asked Roger to send over some thoughts as a veteran racer and flowy singletrack enthusiast and this is what he had to say about the new Pacenti TL28 rims.
Robb sent these wheels over to try out on the most handling challenged bike I own. My Titus Motolite is a great bike, but does not carve corners very well. This would be a real test for the new wheels.
The first ride was eye opening. The stiff, wide, wheels transformed the bike from just ok handling to excellent. The bike now leaned over and carved turns. Almost like magic, it will make tight switchbacks and precisely hold a line. The rear wheel with its through axle made the rear of the bike almost flex free. Chad at Red Barn did an outstanding job on the build which added to the stiffness. The wheels have stayed perfectly true over the course of 15 hours ride time. I think I may have found my new favorite rim.
Those were strong words from a rider to is very critical about frames and components. Once I got them back from Roger, I stripped them down to take a look at how the build was doing and do a weigh in comparison with the Flow set I had on the bike previously. Hadley Racing did change the design of their hubs slightly, but the weight was pretty close to previous. Here are my weight comparisons between the Flow and Pacenti set laced up to Hadley hubs with the same spokes.
Flow Front Wheel Weight: 880g
Pacenti Front Wheel Weight: 790g
Flow Rear Wheel Weight: 1050g
Pacenti Rear Wheel Weight: 930g
As you can see by these specs, I gained .4mm of width and lost about 210g total on the wheelset. As Roger mentioned above, the tires mounted up without any real issues and aired up fine. For the review, I used the Big Betty 2.4 from Schwalbe up front and a 2.35 Specialized Eskar on the rear. The increased width of the rim wasn’t really noticeable against the Flows just by looks, but the weight could be felt in the build almost instantly on the bike.
If you run narrower tires than I had mounted up, you will really notice the increased flat section tread profile with the increased rim width over your current set. Wider rims do a lot to increase grip on the trail by providing you with the best possible scenario for tread contact.
Out on the trail, the Pacenti rims build up by Chad at Red Barn Bicycles performed flawlessly. The wide contact patch due to the rim width provided a ton of grip on the trail and allowed for lower tire pressures. It also gave the bike more traction on technical climbing and more grip in the turns where the tire’s contact patch with the trail is extremely important. The decreased rolling weight was also instantly felt on climbs as the bike seemed to take less effort to get rolling. On flat sections where pedaling is necessary, this same sensation brought the bike up to speed quicker with less energy expended. Basically, everything you would expect from losing weight and gaining width on a mountain bike rim.
The build kept completely solid without any need for truing or adjusting spoke tension. While this speaks very highly of Chad’s build, it also proves that the TL28 rims can hold the build well. The 5.Spot loved the decreased rolling weight (the most noticeable weight loss on a bike) without having to sacrifice rim width to get there.
Through rock gardens and technical trail, the rims took hits in stride. There are several areas around the wheel that are showing silver nicks that would dent a DT Swiss rim so the structural integrity and metal composition is good. The metal is not so hard that it is brittle but not so soft that everything that hits it dents in. DT Swiss had some serious issues with soft metal on the 5.1 and 6.1 in the past with that.
However – keep in mind – while these are wide rims that can make 2.4 tires incredibly happy, Kirk had told us up front that they are not meant for hucking. The ideal riding for the new TL28 rims is trail riding with small to medium jumps with transitions. That makes them perfect for bikes in the 120mm to 150mm travel range if you are not planning on doing drops to flat. While I didn’t run into any issues beating these up (hard at times), just keep that in mind if your riding style lends itself to hard landings. If I had anything bad to say about these rims, it would be that the width might throw some riders off by giving them the illusion that they can handle hard drops to flat.
Honestly – for my purposes – I didn’t thing I would find a better rim than the Flow. After spending some time on the TL28, I can tell you that these wheels will not be coming off my bike anytime soon. The decreased rolling weight combined with a nice, wide rim that holds a wheel build makes for the perfect trail bike setup. We used to have to sacrifice rim width for light weight. Thanks to Kirk Pacenti, it appears that is no longer true. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this new rim that is also available in 650b and 29er varieties.
How do you get your hands on a set?
You can buy the rims directly off of BikeLugs.com for 85.00 per rim. Personally, I would recommend calling Chad at Red Barn to build you up a set on your favorite hubs. He has rock star pricing for a build that is insanely good. I hate to sound like a cheerleader…but I have been dealing with him for years and all of his builds have been incredible. If you haven’t tried out the Hadley hubs yet, I would go that route as well. 72 point engagement (same as Kings) with an incredible build quality.
While at the SE Bike Expo this past weekend, I got a chance to throw a leg over the new 2012 Trek Superfly 100.
As many of you already know, the Trek Superfly 100 is a carry over from the Gary Fisher days. Trek brought the two brands together to essentially give them a Trek branded 29er lineup. They kept the Gary Fisher name by making it a collection, but you are basically getting the same bike as before with the Trek logo. Trek owned Gary Fisher anyway, so it really made sense from a branding point of view.
For 2012, the big change to the bike was the addition of the 142mm rear end with 12mm rear thru axle. This does a lot to stiffen up the rear end and unify the rear triangle with the front main frame. We are starting to see a lot of manufacturers go to this setup over the past couple of years. While it creates yet another variable (the 142mm rear hub width vs. conventional 135mm), anything that brings more rear end stiffness to full suspension mountain bikes is a welcomed bonus.
The bike still features the Trek Active Braking Pivot a RockShox Maxle thru axle system.
The color scheme also changed for 2012 to a raw carbon look (vs. the white previously) with bright blue accents. Personally, I am liking the darker color scheme Trek is using for their lineup this year. The Fuel EX and Remedy got the same treatment. Other than that, you get the same G2 geometry that you are used to out of the 29ers from Fisher and a host of Bontrager/Shimano components to round out the build. Weights for this Elite model (MSRP $5,249) are coming in around 26 pounds.
One thing to keep in mind with current Trek bikes, their sizing is a little bit different than you might be used to. I typically ride a large in just about all brands. On a 2012 Trek, I ride a 21.5 frame because it is an actual 19.5. When you go to test ride a Trek, try the one size up than you normally ride first.
The Trek Superfly 100 is a purpose built machine in all reality. While there will be a lot of enthusiast riders who buy this bike purely because they want a light 29er, the real purpose of this bike is to go fast on XC race courses and endurance events. During these events, all of your time that is made up to hit the podium is done on climbs…not the descents. So fast race machines have to be able to climb like a bat out of hell. They don’t really care how they descend…just get me to the top and do it quickly.
The Superfly 100 is built to do exactly that…climb. When you get into slight rises or long ascents, the bike seems to just pedal forward with enough suspension to gain traction without robbing you of precious energy. The Active Braking Pivot does a great job of preventing unwanted pedal bob while hammering up the climb and the geometry of the bike keeps the front end planted down while tracking straight. Basically, everything you would want the bike to do while climbing…just works.
That is where the love affair with the Superfly 100 stops…at least for me. Those same stable characteristics that make the Superfly 100 such a great climber are it’s downfall in tight/twisty singletrack and downhill. The suspension on the Superfly (at 25% sag) is really setup just to take enough of the edge off that you don’t get super beat up on XC races. You still feel just about every single part of the trail while you ride. It is not a plush setup even when you start to let air out of the 110mm rear travel frame.
That stability you feel in the climbing is also largely in part because of a long wheelbase on this bike. That same long wheel base makes the bike hard to maneuver between tight trees and switchbacks. It is more of a sweeping turner than a pinpoint direction changer. It takes more body english and throwing your weight forward on the bike to get it to spin around.
While headed downhill, the Active Braking Pivot works as advertised by keeping the suspension active under braking forces, but the bike just isn’t comfortable with the tires leaving the ground or bombing technical descents. However, I would expect this out of a bike that is essentially built to be a mountain goat.
Overall, the bike is great for what it is built to be…a light XC race/endurance bike that will make up time where it matters the most…on the climbs and flats. It pedals incredibly well and makes you feel like you are faster than you are when you are pointed skyward. Throw a little bit of money at this Elite (ok…maybe a lot of money) and you could have a 23 lbs. racing monster that will get you to the podium.
Those same characteristics that make this bike such a great racing thoroughbred make it a hard sell for enthusiast riders in my eyes. If you want to have the latest and greatest light full suspension mountain bike frame, then you are probably looking right at this offering from Trek. However, I think there is more fun to be had on several other bikes in the industry (especially for this price) if you are looking to maximize your fun on the trail and not just be the first one to the top of the climb. It is not going to be confidence inspiring going downhill unless you already have some serious skills.
For my purposes, I would look into this frame if I was going to race endurance events. For fast XC racing, I would probably look closer at the Niner Jet 9 RDO as it’s geometry will turn faster through tight sections of trail.
I know what you are thinking…more rims? What makes these different than everything else that is already on the market?
Well…outside of being available in 26, 650b and 29er sizes, the new TL28 series of rims extends the wider and lighter trend to the next level. As you can see by the scale, these Pacenti TL28 26er rims weigh in at 360g (Feedback Alpine Scale) while having an inside width of 28mm and are tubeless friendly. What does this mean in comparison to the competition? If you are familiar with the NoTubes.com Stans rims (some of our favorites here at Bike198), that means you get a rim that is as light as the Crest (370g vs. 360g) and wider than the much heavier Flow (23mm vs. 22.6mm).
In talking with Kirk before these rims were sent in for review, the TL28 rims are designed to be trail ready rims that are not meant for drops and hucks. Basically, if you are the kind of rider that looks for a wide contact patch on your 5.5″ rear travel mountain bike or under but you are also concerned about weight, this might be the perfect rim for you as long as your primary riding keeps away from stunts.
This set of rims are on their way to Chad at Red Barn Bicycles to get built up and ready for review. We will keep you guys updated as this process gets up and going. Kirk is going to have these rims available for purchase starting in November 2011.
The image below shows an side width of 29/32″ which equals 23mm.
The TL28 is our new, tubeless friendly, high-performance MTB rim. At 28mm wide and just 360g for the 26″ version, the TL28 is AM wide and XC light. Designed to do it all, the TL28 strikes an excellent balance between a wide cross section and light weight for modern trail bikes.
Ibis Cycles enters the 29er mountain bike market with a DW-Link, 120mm travel, carbon mountain bike frame named the Ripley 29. Weighing in at TBA (not much information given on detailed specs) and to be delivered by sometime in 2012…the Ibis Ripley 29 mountain bike should prove to be great competition for the influx of carbon full suspension 29ers hitting the market.
As you can see by this diagram, the Ibis Ripley 29 is getting a host of new technologies that are taking over the industry. From a 142mm rear Maxle from RockShox to the tapered head tube…any 29er geek should be loving the spec sheet on this frame. Pricing and weight should be right in line with everything else we are seeing released to date and finally the 29er crowd gets a real taste of the DW-Link suspension setup in carbon once this bike is ready for official sale. Hopefully, it stays in this all black appearance as shown on the Ibis site to keep that stealth look that seems to be making a comeback.
With the widespread adoption of the 29er mountain bike in manufacturing and the mountain bike community, the growing debate of 29er vs. traditional 26″ mountain bikes is getting hot amongst riding groups. If you are in the market to upgrade your current mountain bike or get into the sport, your options are wider than ever which is a good thing for the sport but can be debilitating when looking to purchase a new rig.
There is no “right answer” for every mountain biker, so let’s take a look at the 26″ vs. 29er mountain bike debate and see where it shakes out in my opinion. This topic is probably the most debated in the industry, so you will find that every rider has what they think is the right answer for you (typically what they bought).
The 29er Mountain Bike: What is the big deal?
Before we get into what will work best for you, let’s take a look at this larger wheel size and see how it affects the mountain bike in a general way.
What does a 29er do well?
Rolls over rocks and roots easier due to the wider circumference.
More distance covered per pedal revolution.
Higher air volume in tires smooth out ride.
The larger diameter wheels of the 29er mountain bike can create the sensation of having an 1″ more travel than the bike is spec’ed due to the larger air volume and larger contact patch with the ground. For this reason, it has become the go to size for much of the hard tail and shorter travel mountain bikes in the industry. The racing world has really embraced the larger wheels size for these benefits it brings to the trail.
What are the drawbacks of a 29er?
Large size equals larger weight.
Harder to maneuver in tight, twisty single track.
Longer travel (5.5″ and higher) 29ers feel REALLY big.
Sizing and geometry issues with smaller riders.
Larger radius needs stiff wheel build and fork to prevent deflection.
Just as with any big change, it is not all good news. While the true 29er zealots will probably tell you these things are not true, the reality is that you are adding bigger wheels to the mountain bike than traditional 26″, so there are going to be negative side affects that go along with the positive changes.
26″ vs. 29″ Wheels: Which is right for me?
When you are taking a look at the 26″ vs. 29er mountain bike, there are several personal questions you need to ask yourself as you make your decision. As with all things, there is no right answer that fits all people. How you ride your bike and how you want it to react is the most important factor when making this decision…not what your friend bought and says is the best.
So here is how I see it shake out…
How tall are you?
As the distance from your head to the ground increases, the 29er wheel size actually becomes more proportional to your size. Riders in the 6 foot and up crowd that are looking for a XC to light AM mountain bike should test ride a 29er just to see how they like it. You might find that it fits perfectly and you have finally found a bike that feels like it actually fits. Shorter riders in the 5’6″ range and lower will need to take a serious look at geometry and test ride different frames as they might find the bike feels too big or isn’t able to maneuver as well. I have known shorter riders that have loved the bigger wheel size, but that is typically in hard tail applications.
Taller Riders: Yes
Shorter Riders: Maybe
How much travel are you looking for?
While the argument that a 29er “adds an inch” of travel is almost true in theory, there is a big difference in 140mm forks and 160mm forks in mountain biking. The thicker stanchions and construction make a huge difference for riders looking to get into the more technical side of riding. If you are in the market for a 140mm or 160mm travel mountain bike, a 120″ travel 29er is not going to give you that same stiffness and confidence from a bike build and component standpoint. Also, as you move up in travel the bike feels bigger and when you add in the larger wheel diameter, that gets multiplied and can hold you back in slow tech and DH situations.
However, if you are looking at lighter 130mm to 140mm travel 26″ mountain bikes and you are taller, the 120mm travel 29er might be a great option. It will roll over technical rocks and roots on most single track easier and you will still be able to keep the overall bike weight under 30 pounds in most cases.
In the short travel and hard tail mountain bike market, the 29er mountain bike has almost completely taken over.
HT and 100mm travel and under: Yes
120mm to 130mm: Yes
160mm and up: No
What type of trails do you ride?
As mentioned before, 29er mountain bikes do take more to maneuver through tight single track. If all of your riding is filled with tight turns in trees, you will want to try out a 29er on your own local trails before making a decision. On the other side of the spectrum, if your trails are more open and rocky, the 29er wheel size can really excel and bring more speed as you can hit sections faster.
Do a lot of racing and forest service road riding? A 29er is almost a no brainer in those situations. If you don’t believe me…just try to keep up with a 29er rider on a FSR. This adds up with the shorter travel and hard tail mountain bike market.
Tight and twisty: Maybe
Open and rocky: Yes
Racing and FSR: Yes
What do I personally use? 29er or 26″?
When I spec out my personal mountain bikes given trail conditions, this is how everything lays out for me personally given my specs. I would describe my riding style as technical. I like to find the nasty lines possible and make them ridable at speed. For this reason, I typically like to ride mountain bikes with big forks and more travel, but I also like to dip into the XC and race side every now and then as I have a background in those applications. At 6’1″ tall, I fall into the taller side of the sizing spectrum in between large and x-large. To fit my need to find all tech riding, I am on large size mountain bikes to keep the bike easier to move in slow tech.
Singlespeed and Hard Tails: 29er
Short Travel Race Bikes (100mm and under): 29er
Trail bike (140mm and higher): 26 inch
As of right now, I have not found a 29er mountain bike that has been able to handle what I want to throw at a 140mm travel or higher mountain bike. It has not been agile enough and the 32mm stanchion forks mated with higher radius wheels are not built to withstand the abuse. Given the specs of 29ers, I do not see this changing for me as a rider.
On the shorter travel end, there are a lot of advantages of the larger wheel size that have made a couple of 29ers the fastest bikes I have ever ridden for those applications. I doubt if I will ever go back to 26″ wheels for anything under 100mm worth of travel.
What is the right bike for you?
As you take a look at all of these specs, you have to look inward at your body type and riding style to see which wheel size will be the best option for you. There is no right option for everyone and the 29er wheel size is not going to take over the mountain biking industry like a lot of the Kool-Aid drinkers are trying to say. The larger wheel diameter does have some serious advantages in certain situations, but it also does not work for others.
The best option…test ride your top 26″ candidate on your local trail and the top 29er candidate if they are available. If they aren’t, find the closest substitute. At the end of the day, you are the one making the investment in your mountain bike and you will be the one riding it…not everyone else that is trying to inject their opinion in your buying decision.
As you may have already noticed, things have changed a little bit here at Bike198.com. This week, we went live with a new design that has been in the works that has drastically changed the look and feel of the site. The goal…make all of the content easier to access and easier to read with less distraction. After going live with the design and getting initial feedback from you guys…I believe we accomplished that goal.
With the design change, I wanted to check in to give you a heads up on what you can expect from Bike198 in the coming months. Much of this will go live pretty quickly and some of it is already making its way on the site.
Bike198 Reader Reviews
Bike198 is known for providing reviews from our review team, but we want to hear what you think about the products you are using on the trail. We are in the process of building out a reader reviews section where you will be able to rate your bikes, components and accessories on Bike198.
Bike198 and YouTube
With helmet cams like the GoPro continuing to increase in popularity, we are seeing a ton of trail videos make their way to YouTube. We have a Bike198 YouTube Channel that we like to favorite videos from around the world, but we also wanted a way to show our favorite videos on the site. Simple solution…when we favorite a video, it is now going to show up on our Videos page. Start sending us your Vimeo and YouTube links so you can see your video on Bike198 and get more views!
We have had great success and feedback with the 29er Size Does Matter Tee (it stock and now shipping). We are looking to expand that lineup in 2011 and offer some different designs for other segments of mountain biking. Be on the lookout for these as we head into 2011.
We are working with top name and smaller companies throughout the industry to get in more product to review here on Bike198.com. If you have any specific bikes, components or gear that you want to see reviewed, let us know and we will do our best to get it on the pages of Bike198.
Also in the works are some more eBooks that are going to focus on items like at home bike maintenance.
Looking Back at 2010
As the crew here at Bike198 looks back at 2010, we have accomplished a lot during this calendar year. We officially broke past the 10,000 subscriber mark, released our first premium eBook (Ramped Riding), released the 29er Size Does Matter tee, released the new Bike198 kits that benefit the Livestrong Foundation and continued to crank out content relevant to mountain bikers around the world. However, none of this would have been possible without you guys and we are greatly appreciative of the support. As we head into this holiday season and new year, it is a time to be thankful…and we are extremely thankful for the support of the Bike198 readers. Without you…none of this is possible.
Can you remember a time when 29ers weren’t prevalent at your local trail head? Maybe they still aren’t, but at this point in time…29ers are gracing the covers of magazines and even seeing downhill runs with longer travel options from companies like Niner and Lenz Sport. However, it wasn’t that long ago that 29ers didn’t really exist at all for the regular mountain biker. For awhile, they only graced the custom hardtail market as parts were hard to come by and mainstream mountain biking hadn’t caught up to the trend. Now, for many mountain bikers, the 29 inch wheel size graces their everyday ride as that portion of the industry continues to grow and expand.
The big question…how many of you use the 29er as your primary mountain bike. If you want to chime in why…hit up the contact form at the bottom of this article and hit us up with your reasons why (or why not) the 29er is your primary mountain bike.