What is a 29er?
A 29er is just like a normal mountain bike but the wheels are 3 inches larger in diameter, making them the same size as a 700c road wheel. But don’t get all excited and think you can just throw 29er wheels on your current mountain bike. The frame and fork also have greater clearance to accommodate the larger wheel and tire size. These frames also offer taller riders a more natural and well proportioned geometry.
How does this effect the way the bike rides?
First, there is the obvious fact that a larger wheel can more easily roll over obstacles because of the decreased the approach angle on objects. A larger wheel also gives a more substantial contact patch in length. Having this larger contact patch increases cornering, straight line speed, and also prevents sinking into mud and sand. All of these facts sound great on paper, but does the bike feel better or is it just different? That is up to you to decide, but we feel it is better.
What does Gilad think?
“If you’re riding a 26″ hardtail I feel sorry for you. Once I really got into the 29er and tried to ride 26″ again all I felt was hatred and dispair. I am a SMALL guy and I look funny on the bike but it rides soo much better. I could do things I could never do on a 26″. If you’re still riding a ‘normal’ sized wheel come talk to me.”
What 29er bikes does lifecycle carry?
Niner Bikes– Every bike this company makes is a 29er. From full suspension all mountain bikes to fully rigid hardtails.
Kona World– Kona carries a wide variety of 29er bikes but we feel that the Scandium Hardtail Big Unit is the most versitle and best riding bike in their line. With the options to run it as a single speed or geared it can easily go from a summer XC bike to a hassle-free winter mud slinger.
We also can get 29ers from:
This is what one of of our customers thinks about his Kona 29er:
Kona Kula Deluxe 2-9, The Dirty Little Secret, Reviewed
If you look around the Life Cycle community of riders, particularly those of the knobby tire persuasion, you will notice a particular frame that is taking the Eugene forest by storm and manages to take the spotlight away from the rest in the 29er category. That frame is the Kona Kula Deluxe 2-9, and I picked mine up about 2 months ago. I literally haven’t looked back since.
I’ve been a recreational Mtn. biker for about 10 years before I picked up the 2-9, with all of that time spent on the smaller 26″ wheels. My most recent setup prior to the Kula was a Giant NRS full suspension, outfitted with old XTR, Mavic Crossmax SLs, and straight/flat handlebars. It wasn’t all bad by older standards, but you know what they say… ‘what you don’t know won’t kill you.’ But it won’t help you either!;-) Last winter I pedaled my rig over to the guys at the Life Cycle Shop looking for some advice and some gut wrenching rides. I got to ridin’, but something was amiss about those pro-monkeys… They were all on 29’er single speeds! and grinning ear to ear. I was on that full suspension with a half smile partly due to the lactic acid build-up in my legs, but also because my rig looked and felt old in comparison after Gilad let me test his Kula 29’er for a stretch of single track. Gilad couldn’t believe I was pretty happy on that NRS, at least as stretched out as I was and with those flat bars. Truth be told, I didn’t know any different, and I came to understand just how bad my riding position was: I had a totally disengaged core, and was way out of balance, far too stretched out. I had pretty much discovered that I had been riding wrong for the last 10 friggin’ years!! And all this time I thought I had it dialed, nope.
Knowledge is pedal power:
Ok, so a few rides and some hard earned freelance bucks-in-my-pocket later, I was back at Life Cycle and getting professional advice on replacing the ol’ NRS with a custom build. I asked Gilad how the Kula was and he just replied with a giant grin:-)… I was intrigued and a few of the pre-sale bullet points went like this…
• Trust us, get the Kona Kula Deluxe 2-9, we all swear by it.
• The scandium frame is lighter than aluminum but more forgiving as well
• The larger wheels will roll over things like roots and rocks with so much ease, you won’t need full suspension.
• When you stand out of the saddle your rear tire won’t spin-out.
• If you have us custom build your 29 wheels with Chris King Hubs, and the lightest/strongest spokes around and combine that with the Stans No-Tube Rims, you will have wheels that are lighter than your Mavic SL’s, and serviceable for years to come. “C’mon, it’s Chris King Bling.”
• Replace that flat bar with a bar that has rise and a bit of sweep, and also close the distance from saddle to the handlebar so your core can aid you.
• Also, give the Stan’s Crow semi-slick tires a go… Run them low pressure, 18psi, and your traction will be roughly equal to the knobbies without the weight penalty.
Post build and sale, I must admit, every single one of those points held true, (See attached photographic proof of me grinning ear to ear after my first ride.)
Here’s what I think:
A new rider position: After being slumped over for 10 years, the new proper upright position Life Cycle put me in, changed my entire view of the forest and dare I say… Of the world too. I now see squirrels I never saw before, branches before they stick in my eye. More importantly, I’m totally friggin’ comfy, my core is engaged, my arms are now nicely bent instead of straight like a 2×4, my balance is improved, my confidence is improved, I’m happy as a clam and now just like the rest of the Peeps at Life Cycle, grinning ear to ear.
And the bike itself? Stripped of all that full suspension hoopla, the Kula climbs like a dream. It’s very stiff in the bottom bracket and the Scandium frame is a perfect balance betweeen steel-like comfort and aluminum-like weight savings. I ride the 16” frame, and it has in my opinion totally balanced geometry. It bombs down descents with total precision. And with the shop spec’d Chris King/Stans 29’er wheels mentioned above, it sprints and accelerates what seems like twice as fast as that NRS. Certainly the 6 lb. loss of overall bike weight helps, but the speed is really in those wheels I invested more in. The Kula can easily be converted to a single speed, but for someone like me the gearing is great too. I had the shop put a Fox full suspension fork on, which I love, but I can easily see why a suspension fork isn’t necessary with the 29’er wheels because they simply aren’t jolted and snagged on objects like the 26 wheels are. The Stans Crow Semi Slick Tires that the shop spec’d, roll like lightening and I was way impressed but I found them to be a bit too much on the slick side, even though rider experience and handling could make up for the loss of traction performance. I did replace the Crows with Maxxis Crossmarks, which are still light, and they added a lot more control with wet mud or loose pine needles. I added a Cane Creek thudbuster (the best alternative to full suspension) seatpost to plush it up just a bit to taste, and the Avid BB7 brakes I have found to be second to none in adjustability, servicability, price and performance.
If you are thinking of joining the 29’er club, there is only one thing to do, buy the Kona Kula 2-9 frame and build it up however you see fit. This bike has totally transformed my entire approach to riding. You will be grinning ear to ear just like me.