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Thread: Rider height and 29" XC bikes

  1. #1
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    Default Rider height and 29" XC bikes

    I've been thinking a lot about, and researching equally as much, the idea of a 29" bike for myself for XC riding/races. I've currently got a 2012 Giant XTC 26" bike, which I really enjoy as a bike, and while it may not be an expensive bike, it's given me a lot of fun times, and allowed me to blast off in front of guys with much more expensive and fancier bikes. I'm 48, so it's kind of a good feeling when you leave behind fit 25 year olds.

    Despite some often heavy, and sometimes ridiculous arguments against 29" bikes, I can see merit in them for the type of riding I do. I've not ridden one yet, so keep that in mind!

    The one thing that has stopped me going ahead and buying one, is I've read a lot about what rider height and 29" bikes can mean for the rider. I'm 5'9" and read that it's hard to get a 29" XC bike to suite a person of my height. I know there's probably ways of getting around this with adjustments in bike set up, but Nino Schurter is 5'8" and that's why he asked Scott to make his a Scale 700. Another member of the Scott Team, (sorry, can't recall his name at the moment!), is 5'9" (same as me) and couldn't get the set up right for himself on a 29" bike.

    Are any of you a similar height to me who own a 29" bike? How have you found the change? Did you have to do anything to make it feel right? I'm just not sure about whether I'm wasting my time looking at them and spending a lot of money to find out it wasn't a good decision.

    My feeling is, that 650b's (27.5") bikes might be a better alternative for me that a 29'er. I'm disappointed that the main manufacturers are not interested to bring out some models for 2013, while they wait and see what the market wants. I suspect there are people like me who would buy a 650b if there was more choice in bikes of this size. Who's going to blink first?

    I'm grateful we all get a choice of wheel sizes, and respect the rights of those who choose to ride whatever bike suites them. To be honest, I'm over the "I hate 29'ers 'cause they look goofy!" arguments. Given that 29" bikes have made a big appearance in XC events, I'm thinking I might not be subjected to the "I hate 29'ers just because ......!!!" comments. Seems some of us complain when we don't have enough choices, while there are others who complain because we get a choice of three wheel sizes. I'm glad we don't have that problem when it comes to buying cars, houses, beer etc!

    With that said, I'd really appreciate your ideas on rider height and 29" bikes, and 650b bikes.
    Last edited by MTB Pilot; 25-02-2013 at 06:39 PM.
    MTB Pilot
    Current bike - One very awesome 2014 Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 1.

  2. #2
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    Hey mate,

    Don't stress it, I am 174cm and ride a medium Santa Cruz Highball Carbon 29r. Prior to that I also had a Gary Fisher in the stable, again no issues.

    It was easy setting both up and I have been most comfortable making the transition between my 26in duallie as well as my 26in SS.

    Get on, ride a few and you will see that you will be comfortable changing the paradigm and having a crack on a 29r.

    650B will more than likely take over from 26in and then will sit comfortably next to the 29r segment.

    Ask your mates to have a crack or contact the distributors of the brands you wanna check out to advise which of their retailers have demo bikes.

    I personally like the Santa Cruz Highball Carbon in the HT range hence why I have one, and I have ridden many others.

    Bottom line you are plenty tall and much taller than the 5 ft nothing girls comfortably riding 29rs out there.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Cheers mate for your reply. I really appreciate it. I was hoping to hear the type of things you said, and I'll definitely take up your advice.

    Thanks again
    MTB Pilot
    Current bike - One very awesome 2014 Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 1.

  4. #4
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    I am 5' 8" and I ride a medium Lynskey Ridgeline 29 VF (titanium). Absolutely love it and have had zero issues getting it set up for me. I think you will be surprised at how good the latest versions of 29ers have become. Mine absolutely rails tight single track (supposedly one of the weaknesses of a 29er) and loves the down hill. Naturally it climbs like a billy goat. I have seen many women riders much shorter than me riding very happily on 29ers. Go for it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member disappearin's Avatar
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    My missus rides a 29er and she is 5'6. According to her both the 29ers she has had are far more comfortable then the previous 26in bikes she had (that comment coming after her last 12hr solo race). The only changes made to her current bike were a zero setback seat post and a 70mm stem.
    Best bet is to ride a few 29ers and make your own mind up.

  6. #6
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    Default Switched and stoked

    Focus 1.jpgGarden Shot.jpg
    175cms tall - 44years old.

    Just switched from race 26inch Hardtail to Focus RAVEN 29er in medium. No drama in set up. I did have to fiddle a little with the headset height/stack and reverse the stem but it was not a big deal.

    The race feel has not been lost and I could not be happier.

    Raced Nationals XC on the 29er without concern.

    Looking forward to a couple of marathons to test it out further.

    Don't be put off by Nino and crew's set up. chances are you would not have run your 26 set up as low as they ran their 26..

    Remember Nino's a super tecko rider.. his Dad is the Swiss downhill coach after all.. he CAN ride.

  7. #7
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    Thanks fellas! Once again impressed by the assistance I get from others here.

    I often thought about the women riding 29'ers, knowing that many women wouldn't reach the 5'9" figure I kept reading about.

    Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I'm going to go shopping very soon I think.

    Cheers
    MTB Pilot
    Current bike - One very awesome 2014 Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 1.

  8. #8
    Junior Member a wombat's Avatar
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    A lot depends on the position you like on the bike. All things being equal the head tube on a 29er is going to be 1 ½” higher than on a 26”. If you run a lot of spacers on your 26” bike or like riser bars then this is unlikely to be a problem. However if you run no spacers or a negative stem you may have trouble getting that extra 1 ½” of drop to keep your bar at the same relative height to your seat as you had on a 26”. My partner is about you height and she needed no spacers and a -17deg stem to get the same XC race style position as her 26” bike (spacers and +5deg 100mm stem)

    If this is the case Look for a frame with a short headtube as they can vary a lot. Some will vary with frame size too. An integrated headset is also something to look for if you are worried about a high front end.

    An easy way to compare is to park your 26" bike next to the 29er and compare bar height. Bottom bracket will be very very similar height so the comparison should be valid.

  9. #9
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    Armed with the advice to date, and encouragement from you all, I went to my local bike shop this morning and did some investigating. I looked at the Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er 1, amongst others and what a machine!!!!! Oh my! I went to town not thinking of going to the shop in the first place, so went in thongs and with no riding shoes.

    I looked at a small, medium and large frame bikes, and went for a ride on a medium framed version! I've read a lot about riders feeling like they're sitting within the frame on a 29'er as opposed to sitting on top of a 26" frame, and that was noticeable straight away. I guess I could compare it to sitting on an MX bike, and then sitting on a tourer. It definitely felt different, but in a nice way.

    I know riding around a bike shop hardly compares to riding tracks but it was good to get riding on one at last. I then took it out of the shop for a ride, and what a beautiful thing! I really felt at home on the 29" bike, and while it obviously felt different to my 26" bike, it really did feel fantastic under my backside. It would of been interesting to have ridden some of the very early model 29'ers and compared the general handling to the modern day versions. The may not have the flickability of a 26", but from my limited time on them today, I'm not that concerned. They'll handle very well for my riding style and the areas I ride. The handling was quite a surprise to be honest! I have read a lot about them, and I guess I had built up a bit of a mental image about what I would expect, but I was pleasantly surprised in the end.

    I know riding around the shop and car park without clipless shoes and pedals is hardly ideal, but it was still a great feel. I looked at Merida, Norco and a few others, but the Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er 1 is an absolute weapon. I forget the weight of the medium model, but the large one without pedals is 9.9 kilo's according to the tag on that model bike.

    I'll do some looking around at other 29" models, but the Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er 1 is rating highly so far. The RRP is $3999 for this bike, so I definitely won't be rushing into making an irrational decision. In the meantime, I'll be selling my 2012 Giant XTC 1, because I seriously don't see myself riding it after I buy my 29'er.

    I'm so glad you guys responded with such great advice regarding my post and basically told me not to worry about my height for this bike. Thanks so much!
    MTB Pilot
    Current bike - One very awesome 2014 Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 1.

  10. #10
    Senior Member cleeshoy's Avatar
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    I am 170cm and rider a 29er (S-Works Epic) - wouldn't go back. Combined with actually getting fitter, I feel the 29er has improved my riding (well my results suggest I am quicker!)

    29er wheels may have some disadvantages (extra weight, more of a struggle in super tight switchbacks) but for me, the advantages outweigh them easily.

    Wife is 168cm and has a 29er - she is in the midst of getting ready to sell her 26"
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