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I'm a 5'9.5 and I use a 26er gt and I don't feel that comfortable as it feels so small. I've also tried a 27.5 merida, it was an improvement but I can't still quite grasp that same feeling when you were a kid and bikes were huge. I feel a 29er would be better for what I'm craving for, but since I've been hearing about 29ers being sluggish, for a guy who loves single tracks, would buying a 29er which is slightly more expensive a choice to regret?

BTW I live in a city where there are limited bike shops, and they don't give test rides. So please help me. I don't want to spend my budget on something I really want and then regret it. An answer from someone who already had or have a 29er would be great, but anyone would be appreciated.

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    Why not rent a 29er or two on a trail and see how it rides? – Batman Nov 26 '14 at 4:13
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    It should be noted that a "29er" is a plain old 700c rim, the same as road bikes. The larger tires produce a larger wheel overall, but not enormously larger so long as you're not talking 3" tires or some such. (However, at 5'9" it's not an easy choice. Also note that there are different bike ("frame") sizes for a given wheel size. You need to try to settle on a frame size at least.) – Daniel R Hicks Nov 26 '14 at 12:29
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    (And a bike shop that doesn't allow test rides isn't a bike shop, it's a store that sells bikes.) – Daniel R Hicks Nov 26 '14 at 12:30
  • Its a store, doesn't matter. We can't test ride bikes, which I know sucks. Again, I am aware that there are different frame sizes, what I'm really worried about is would it really affect my skills (not that I have good skills) on single tracks. – cocoradical Nov 26 '14 at 14:10
  • or is the people who say "it feels sluggish" or "it sucks on single tracks" just too short to handle big wheels. That is why I asked is a 29er a good fit for a. 5'9. But thanks for the infos. – cocoradical Nov 26 '14 at 14:18
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I would say it depends on your riding style and the geometry of the specific bike you are looking at. 29'r is definitely not to big for you (I am 5'10" and my 29'rs are just fine). However, there are reasons that a lot of all mountain, freeride and almost all downhill rigs are still 26". 29'rs are less suited for highly technical riding, but much better suited for cross country and trail riding. As always, tailor your bicycle choice to your riding style.

If you are into flowy single track and aren't hitting drops, ripping through rock gardens and generally abusing the landscape with your rig, then 29" is probably a better choice for you (with the right size frame).

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Here is my experience with 29'er - just one persons view point in an evangelical war....

I am around 5'9", moved from multiple 26" 's (soft and hard tails) to 29er (hard tail) and ride XC. Recently we got my wife a 650B Merida. The 650 is slightly lower price than the 29er - and my favourite 26er I was riding most is an old/classic from Mid 1990's weighing under 10kg

On non-technical ground and fast flowing single track, the 29er is not a bad bike. Once the corners get tight the 29er is, "a difficult child". It takes effort to initiate turns and get it do what it should do. Maintaining precise lines though corners next to impossible and even on straights I have to concentrate on holding the line. I initially put it down to geometry differences rather than wheel size (but I have ridden many 26" and never had this problem) as everyone was telling me how great 29er's were, how could it be the wheels. Then I rode my wifes 650B on those tighter technical trails. I will never again buy another 29'er. I now ride my wifes 650B when I head out on technical stuff if she not coming with me.

So is the difference wheel size, or geometry - my guess, 50/50. The way I see it the 29er was a failed experiment in bigger MTB wheels that made the industry a fortune with people doing upgrades. The 650B is a much better wheel size of a majority of riders, hence the move by the industry towards it. In a few years 650B will be nearly as ubiquitous as 26" was - for good reason - and only very specialised and custom builds will have 29er. Smaller frames may come with 26" just like youth bikes have 24".

I will keep my 29'er for non technical XC and unpaved road riding, but will not take it out for serious XC.

As @Batman suggested - rent a 29er and see if you like it. My guess is its a love it or hate it kind of thing, not something you sit on the fence on.

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26 or 29 is the tire size. You need to buy a frame size that fits you. At 5'9" you are tall enough for 29er tire size but not an XL frame. You would be a medium in most frames.

I have moved from 26 to 29 and 29 is a big step up. 29 tubeless is even better.

  • Yes I am aware. But is it true that it feels sluggish or clumsy on off-road trails due to the size, or will my size overcome? – cocoradical Nov 26 '14 at 2:48
  • Never felt sluggish or clumsy to me. If you go to a race you will only see 29er on the riders in the front. 29er is pretty much all you find on new models for a good reason. – paparazzo Nov 26 '14 at 2:53
  • So basically I need a 29er with a medium size frame? – cocoradical Nov 26 '14 at 3:19
  • "You would be a medium in most frames" – paparazzo Nov 26 '14 at 3:22
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I have rented a medium frame hard tail 29er silverback with deore drive train and was not surprised. You guys were right, tight corners were really hard to handle at first, gut some bruises to realize it as well. But later on it became much easier. I was clumsy at first (it was a huge transition from 26"), and I could feel an added weight compared to 26ers. In drops, there were not much of a problem, it was basically the same, just apply the same techniques. In my whole 1day experience, I would say a little more practice and I would surely get used to it as my cornering with the 29er rapidly improved during several runs.

I have made my decision and will take the 29er giant revel 1 next week.

Thank you guys! Tell you all about it next week

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A 29er will definitely fit you. I know shorter people who ride 29ers.

If the most intricate riding you'll be doing is single track, then I don't think you'll find a 29er to be "sluggish".

As Chris said, dh/freeride bikes have smaller wheels, but that's really about your ability to muscle the bike around, and having the wheels be able to withstand more lateral pressure. It sounds like that's not an issue for you.

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