69er Conversion Complete

29er Main Mountain Biking Projects

Last night I spent some time piecing together a 69er bike. I’ve always wanted to try one out but riding one in the parking lot of an LBS doesn’t really count. So for the longest time I’ve wanted to build a 69er project bike. I’m a big skeptic when it comes to the whole 29er thing, just not my cup of tea. So with a 69er, I figured it was right in between what I love, 26er and what I wasn’t sure of, 29er.
69er bike

I took the Single Speed Sette Reken and used it as the test bed. Moe let me borrow his fork from his KHS Solo One, Jeremy let me use his old Maxxis Ignitor tire. I then used a 700c wheel I had in the garage, an Alex G600 wheel and since I didn’t have a 29er tube, I made a 26″ tube work.

Then this morning I got up extra early to see how this thing would ride. I admit I was only on the trail for a bit, total of 3 miles…what…I had to get ready for work!

I did weigh the bike after I converted it, the bike is only 1lb lighter. The handling wasn’t affected much since I was running a 100mm Marzzochi fork to begin with. The rigid KHS fork made for great climbing, no bob.

I’m looking forward in taking the bike through some berms and switch backs since everyone seems to think 29ers can corner well. The bike is quick, thanks to the 26er in the rear, but the Kenda Smallblock eight tires are also a big reason why I was rolling like gangsta’.

I’ll be testing this “theory” out and see if its even legit or worth buying a better fork and an actual 29er wheel, but for now, my garage-built 69er should be fine.

RL Policar

RL Policar is an avid mountain biker and the Editor In-Chief of MtnBikeRiders.com and BikeCommuters.com. Between the two sites, he's published well over 4,000 articles (and growing).


23 thoughts on “69er Conversion Complete

  1. No toe overlap at all. If you look at the photo, the offset of the fork allows enough clearance. Slow speeds, felt great. I do need more time on the saddle to make a clear determination if this set up is even worth it. But I have to say the Sette Reken frame from Pricepoint.com has been very versatile, its meant to be a geared bike, but I’ve used it as a single speed, now a 69er..single speed. Who would have thought…

  2. I’m interested to see what you think of the 69er setup. I’ve gotten a chance to spend a lot of time on the Carver 96er and then the Trek SS 69er. It’s a fun ride and you do get the advantages of the big wheel up front, however I just don’t see a compelling reason to actually spend money on one over a full 29er.

    But as far as your setup goes… that Reken has a 70 degree head angle, which is already pretty slack, I would think jacking it up higher with a 29er fork would make it ride like a chopper and be pretty useless in any tight turning singletrack.

  3. head angle, slack, and all that don’t really matter to me. If the bike feels great, then I ride it. If it doesn’t, I won’t. I’m sure I can sit at my desk all day trying to figure out which degree, offset, angle and blah blah blah would work, but that’s no fun.

    I’m here to have fun and if I can have fun on a bike,then its good enough for me. Besides, its the bike company’s job to figure out all that, not mine.

    I also didn’t spend money on this project…

  4. Go Travis Brown! 96er / 69er. Looks good RL. We’re going to have to swap pedals one day and let me ride it.

  5. quote: So with a 69er, I figured it was right in between what I love, 26er and what I wasn’t sure of, 29er.

    Sounds like you should build up a 650B.

  6. Am I wrong, or don’t the 69er models use a 29er frame? I’m guessing the riding geometry would be much different than using a 26″ frame?

    I really like the Titus 69er. It was actually featured in a full length articl with pics in MBAction with the guy that rides it at Fontana, about a year back. I only remember that he said the large front wheel was good at trucking over the rough stuff. It was based on a Racer-X model so it still had the minimal travel in the rear. I suppose that helped smooth out the rougher feel of the 26″ in the back.

    Your ride certainly looks jarring. Welcome to Fullrigidland man!

  7. Lance: 69er specific bikes don’t use 29er frames… the frames are built specifically for the little/big wheel setup. The reason some people like the idea of the 69er is because it keeps the rear wheel in the “normal” position that people are used to with a 26er while giving some of the benefits of having a big wheel up front. An issue that can arise from taking a 26er specific frame and slapping a big wheel up front is it can throw off the geometry.

    RL: I agree, it’s the job of the bike company to figure out the geometry, which I’m sure Reken did with this bike, but it’s built to be a 26er with a slacker geometry, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m just wondering how it’s going to ride. Right now I’m looking at the specs “on paper” because that’s all I have, but it seems like the bike will be thrown way back since it’s already a slack head angle of 70 degrees and then you push it slacker with a bigger fork underneath it. My guess is it’ll be killer stable on straight aways but be a bitch to handle when it comes to any tight turns and maneuvers. But yeah, that’s my guess “on paper” so I’m interested to see what you have to say after actually riding it.

    Also, do you have any rigid 26er forks laying around? I know some people have been able to successfully squeeze a 29er wheel/tire into a 26er fork. This allows you to keep the geometry closer to how the bike was intended to be and still get that big wheel feel up front.

  8. RL, good job on the 69er. I think you’ll enjoy riding it if you keep an open mind and not dwell on the “numbers”. IMHO, your average rider wouldn’t notice a degree or two change in head angle, those that say they can are either elite pro riders or they’re just saying that because other people do. Just like saying 29er are slow turning, I think people just think that because people say it’s so.

    I’ve ridden my home built rigid 69er on a very technical trail and didn’t notice any ill effects from the “tweaked” geometry. As a matter of fact, that’s where the advantage of a 69er really shines if you ask me. And my bike is a 15″ Hard Rock with a Karate Monkey fork up front.

    Everyone has to decide for themselves, but no one should look down on someone because they ride something different than they do.

    It’s all about having fun on your bike, regardless of the hoop size. Ride on brotha…

  9. Dana: Don’t really agree with you there. It doesn’t take an elite pro rider to tell the differences in geometry. Any rider that spends a good amount of time in the saddle will notice a difference in handling between a frame with steep angles and a slack ones. It’s a totally different ride.

    And I’m not saying the way RL has the Reken setup is necessarily bad, I’m just giving how I think it will handle and am interested in hearing if I’m right or not once he spends a lot of time on it and does a full review.

  10. I’m pretty well in agreement with Dana — a degree or two of headtube angle isn’t going to do a hell of a lot in terms of changing steering “feel”. You may notice it a tiny bit, but it won’t be a big deal.

    The same goes with crankarm length. I call Bulls%$t on folks who say they can feel the difference between 172.5 and 175mm or any other combination.

  11. Dana,

    How do you like your set up? What are some of the differences you felt right away? I’ve only had a few miles on mine and I’ll be riding it tomorrow, but for now I’m curious to know what your input is.

    Oh and you know how you mentioned, “Just like saying 29er are slow turning, I think people just think that because people say it’s so.” Well that shouldn’t be an issue with me cuz, like Jeremy’s article, I have M.A.D and I’m F.A.T.


  12. I love my 69er. Something about seems soooo wrong but when I ride it, it feels soooo right!

    Of course, I try to ride between riding my Fully, Geary mountain bike and my SS 29er with some squish so it’s fresh in my mind on how the other two bikes perform. Also, I have a trail that I am building so I get to compare the characteristics of each bike on the same trail.

    I will admit, like the 29er, handling at slower speeds can be a little sketchy but the trade off is the roll over you get with the bigger front wheel up front.

  13. RL,

    The ODIS is fantastic. It is extremely stiff but steel too so you get the minor dampening qualities with it. I considered the Jenson “Zion” 29er fork but $30 sale price and a couple of bad reviews(on Jenson) made me turn to the ODIS. I’m glad I did. I’ve got a 7″ rotor on mine. Love it, love it, love it!

  14. I just recently reconfigured my Klein Attitude with a rigid Surly fork and a 29 inch front wheel. The ride was decent. Leaving front suspension behind may prove to be the breaker for me, however. The 29 inch front wheel rolls nicely over the little twigs, but by the end of the test ride my hands and arms were numb. See http://www.racedaynutrition.com/?p=76 for a complete review with photos of this build.

  15. Kevin,

    I felt beat up after riding my 69er rigid for 12 miles. I’m not convinced that there’s an overall benefit to it, so I went back to my old ways of a front suspension 26er.

    But I do have another project bike I’m currently working on that may or may not incorporate some steel…more to come!

  16. I have been wondering about one of these things for a while…I have a 26 with a 29 marrzocchi bomber fork running 26 wheel up front( no front brakes)…I want to go 29 up front and every bike shop guy tells me I cant do it. They say the head tube cant handle it and will crack the frame, I dont buy it, but I’m no frame engineer or anything I just like to bash on the old coal mining trails I live on. My frame is a Giant Rincon, super light and it flies I swear, I just think the extra clearance up front would be kool. give me some thoughts, should I do it, is it worth it or stay with what I got…thanks

  17. LP: I’m sure you can give it a try but your bb/ground clearance will be compromised and if your usual trails are rocky or rutted then that might post some problems you reckon?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *