2018 Mountain Bikes: Long Travel 29er Takeover

The 29″ vs 27.5″ wheel size debate is easily one of the hottest in mountain biking.   Some riders have made up their mind and there is no debate, but 29″ wheels are making a resurgence in 2018.  The availability of revamped 5-6″ travel bikes coming for 2018 will make big wheel fans head spin trying to figure out which to buy.

The biggest eye opener for this resurgence came earlier this year on the World Cup Downhill scene. Many of the worlds top riders began jumping over to 29″ wheels and quickly proving they could work.  Does it stand to reason that trail and enduro bikes can be designed to take advantages of both wheel sizes if the top DH riders are?  Can we have the best of both worlds in one bike?  The benefits of improved rollover and momentum of a 29″ combined with the agility of a 27.5″ sounds like a dream.

Yeti Lunch RideThere are loads of great 27.5″ wheeled bikes out there and even a few exciting new ones.   The new Yeti Lunch Ride is one that comes to mind.

For 2018 though, most of the exciting new bikes have larger wheels.  New 2018 29er’s from Rocky Mountain, Evil, Ibis, Pivot, Kona, Scott, Transition, Norco, Intense and Santa Cruz are a few that come to mind.

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evil-following
The Evil Following is a great trail bike that can fit the needs for many as the one bike “quiver killer”.

 

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2018 Rocky Mountain Instinct
The 2018 Rocky Mountain Instinct nails a sweet spot among 29er trail bikes with an ability to be superb on nearly any terrain.  If my instincts are correct, I think I am in love. Read the review here: 2018 Rocky Mountain Instinct Review   Photo: Paris Gore

2018 29″ wheeled bikes are looking to take over!

Why are 29er’s gaining popularity on longer travel trail and enduro bikes now?  The agility of 29er’s is increasing and the bikes are getting more FUN thanks to geometry updates.  Essentially 29ers are now able to be designed with very similar handling characteristics to 27.5″ wheeled bikes.  Here are a couple interesting examples of how companies describe their own bike that is available in either wheel size: https://www.norco.com/sight/ and https://us.yt-industries.com/cat/index/sCategory/511

When looking for a new ride, I’m always looking at future resistant bikes.  These are the bikes that will still be hot in another couple years.   Some of the things I might look for in today’s current 29er bike market are:

  1. 2.6 or at least 2.5″ tire compatibility
  2. Modern geometry – Fun, comfortable and confidence inspiring.  Not necessarily the shortest stays or the longest reach or wheelbase. The actual numbers DO NOT always tell the whole story of how the bike will ride.  Things like fork offset and trail are part of the equation as well.
  3. Boost hub spacing front and rear (110mm and 148mm).   110/148 is the current standard in trail bikes.
  4. Compatible with longer dropper posts.  Ideally 150mm.
  5. Threaded BB – Not because I think there’s a problem, but press fit BB’s have a finger pointed at it as the culprit of many bike noises.

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2018 Mountain Bikes: 29" Wheel Trail Bike Take Over
The Ibis Ripley Version 3 is an incredible machine despite geometry numbers that don’t tell the whole story. Quick steering and playfulness are traits the Ripley is known for.  Now with the ability to run 2.6″ rubber, traction and confidence are as well.

What does this all Mean?

If you’re a big wheel fan preferring increased roller over and momentum it’s going to be an exciting year of new bikes.  I’m not debating which wheel size is better.  That’s for you to decide.  With 29″ wheeled bikes blurring the lines of the traditional differences between wheel size, great choices for 2018 are plentiful.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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