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I can't really figure out what kind of bike I should be getting as a "loaner" bike. I have plenty of friends who want to go for a ride but have no bike, and ever since my last loaner got "borrowed" 2 years ago by a friend after the ride, I've been riding solo :(

I have a road bike and a full suspension mountain bike. I do light to medium trails half the time I'm riding, but I cover double those miles on when I'm on the road.

I want a bike that can be a catch-all for friends to join me. Previously I had a hard tail Specialized of some sort with not knobby tires on it that I left between 50-80 PSI. I also never had had a 29er before, and if I'm going to get another bike, I may as well have use for it too. My full suspension is overkill for the local rail trail.

Chances are though, I'll end up on a few good 20-50 mile road bikes with these friends, and I don't want to make them hate the sport due to having the totally wrong bike.

Hoping to get some feedback on how good or bad of an idea this may be! I'm eyeing a used Specialized Fate that's priced relatively well on Craigslist. (But there's a hundred other 29er hard tails out there!)

  • How light are these light trails? A rigid hybrid like a Trek 7.2 fx might be a good option if its something like fire roads. – Batman Apr 15 '16 at 0:59
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    Your focus is wrong - A used quality/lightweight 26er would be my pick, as people cannot give them away today because they are so last decade. get the best quality bike you can afford, regardless of tire size. Fit an adjustable stem and take the time before setting out to adjust the bike to the best fit for the rider. – mattnz Apr 15 '16 at 1:04
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Short answer yes, a hard tail 29 would be a good fit for what you have described. And it sounds like you already have a fun FS bike and a road bike so it only makes sense. The equation N + 1 comes to mind, where N is the number of bikes you currently own.

29ers roll like nobody's business, they don't accelerate like a smaller tire but the roll over is awesome. For longer 20-50 mile rides a hard tail would not hold you back either especially if your using a fork with speed lock out and smooth tires to reduce spent energy. It won't keep up like a road bike but it won't be completely unbearable either. But a road bike taken on a trail could get interesting quick for an amateur rider.

Sounds to me like you know what you want and have narrowed it down pretty good on your own. I say go for it though.

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Yes, HT works well as a general purpose machine.

I've used a Hard Tail for everything. Harsh single Trails, Cross-country racing, 300km road trips. I found it works pretty well.

I do recommend getting a suspension with 'lockouts' (A remote lockout even better, but at least manual lockouts).

For road trips, I usually pump my tires to it's maximum. (65psi or so) for lower rolling resistance and lock my fork. I do the opposite for trails.

With that said, for more serious/fast road trips, having a good road bike helps with efficiency, (about 10-30% more efficient at higher speeds).

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