Bigger than a 29er?

I just finished reading an interesting thread on the MTBR forum. The author was working on a mountain bike with 36″ tires! Check it out here.

My first thought was “Why go that big when the 26 or 29 inch bike works fine?”. But then I stopped myself and realized that my thoughts are the same thoughts most 26 inch bikers have when the 29 inch bike was introduced. So, with a more objective mind, I decided to read about the 36 inch bike.

As with any increase in bike tire diameter, you are going to gain some major benefits in keeping momentum & rollover ability. The trade off is weight and fit (as in ability to fit people).

Most of these have been mentioned before in the 29er advantages/disadvantages so we won’t rehash those. But something interesting to note is that as the wheel diameter gets bigger, the more funky the geometry has to be and the less people it will fit.

The geometry numbers posted:

Wheelbase: 46 inches.
Weight: 36 lbs, (with full Surly flask and holder!)
Chainstay length: 520 mm
Drivetrain: 3 X 6, 20-90 gear inches
Standover height: 30.5 inches
Top tube length: 24.5 inches

To me, the chainstay length jumps out. The new Ibex Section 29 has a chainstay length of 17.7″ compared to 520 mm (20.47″), the Section 29’s chainstay is small. Of course bigger tires are going to equal larger chainstay length.

But the number that surprises me for being quite normal is the 36er’s Standover height. Although a standover height of 30.5″ pretty much limits this bike to riders over 6’2″ tall, I was suprised that they were able to build a frame with that low of a standover height to begin with. After all, we’re talking about a bike whose wheels are a full 10″ larger than a 26 inch mountain bike.

Another number that is almost normal, is the wheelbase. A 46″ wheelbase is pretty big, but if you think about it, it’s not really all that much out of the norm. An XL Gary Fisher 29er has a 44.27″ wheelbase while a XL Niner bikes R.I.P. 9 is 45.5″. It’s not that much of a “stretch” to get to the 46″.

So maybe the geometry is not too funky.

Before I become too technical about this, I have to remember that what really matters when mountain biking is the enjoyment derived from it. Some derive joy from climbing, some from descending, some from being able to roll over cars with ease. And if the 36er provides lots of enjoyment, then that’s a good bike. For me it would be a cool bike to have in the stable for those days you want to cruise around the neighborhood/park/trail/beach and surprise people!

Good luck benwitt1 1 and keep the updates coming.

Review: Fezzari Alta Peak UPDATE

Earlier this week, RL & I spent some time tweaking the Alta Peak to fit my dimensions. We initially tried to install a longer stem, but we were missing a headset spacer, so we scrapped that idea.

We then spent some time tweaking the air pressure in the rear shock to minimize pedal bob & adjust the front fork to better fit my weight. These minor adjustment paid off nicely.

Where once I felt minimal pedal bob I now find virtually no pedal bob. When I climb, no bob. When I hammer, no bob. Pedal bob has disappeared to the point that I didn’t lock out the shock on any of my climbs.

Ario 2.2
This simple fix was completed rather quickly with the use of RL’s shock pump. You just find the cap on the shock, unscrew it, put the pump on and pump or release air until desired air pressure is achieved.

We also spent some time fiddling with the front fork. This change was less dramatic but helpful as well. Because RL previously rode this bike, the fork was a bit soft for my tastes. I noticed this when I was climbing on a previous ride. During the climbs, I had the feeling that the front end wanted to lift up. I originally attributed this phemomenon to bike geometry and the fact that the bike was a little too small for me. But after fiddling with the fork, the front end of the bike felt much more planted, even during my climbs. It might not hae been just a size issue afterall.

I guess the moral of this post is that getting your bike fit to you will help you to maximize the abilities of the bike as well as your comfort on the bike. Not doing so can leave you feeling unsure and uncomfortable.

Evomo DH Descent

I got an Evomo t-shirt today. The DH Descent fits me quite nicely. Some shots for your viewing (I’d add “viewing pleasure” but my mug isn’t a “pleasure” for most people, the t-shirt is though).

Evomo DH Descent on Jeremy

Graphics are understated & nice

DH Descent Graphic

Cool sleeve Action

DH Descent Sleeve

Good quality stuff. Check out more at Evomo.

Review: Fezzari Alta Peak

Alta Peak at Dawn

As a caveat to this review, I’d like to mention that this bike is about a size too small for me. I normally ride a size Large, but this Alta Peak Large is better suited for a rider between 5’6″ – 5’9″ rather than my 6ft height. I would highly recommend giving Fezzari your measurements so that they can fit the bike exactly to your specs (and why wouldn’t you, it’s currently FREE).

The Alta Peak is Fezzari’s top of the line Full Suspension (FS) bike. It is outfitted with a Deore levers, Juicy 3 brakes, Rock Shox Tora 302 fork & Ario 2.2 shock. The cranksets is a Truvativ Blaze while the wheels are Mavic 117 shod with Maxxis Larsen TT 2.0. The front derailleur is a Deore while the rear is spec’d XT.

Deore Front Derailleur

My first thought is “I really like riding full suspension.” As a FS newbie, I have very little experience on the FS so my reference point is a hardtail. That being said, I really enjoyed riding the Alta Peak because it allayed many of the worries I have about FS bikes.

As a hardtail rider, I was most worried about the extra weight of the FS. I believed the extra weight would weigh me down and I would not be able to finish the climbs I normally would. I was so worried about this that I actually packed extra fluids in case I ended up staying on the trail longer than originally anticipated.

Alta Peak Suspension

But I found the extra weight of the Alta Peak although noticeable to be negligible. Yes there is extra weight, but no it was not enough to make me get off and hike-a-bike. In fact I was more than able to clean the climbs albeit at a slower than normal pace. But the downhills more than made up for the longer climbs.

Descents are the Alta Peak’s forte. The suspension gave me boldness I normally did not have while on a hardtail. As I rolled down the hills I began subconsciously choosing more and more difficult lines and looked to take jumps rather than avoid them. The full suspension ate up everything on the trail so that obstacles that would normally jar my rear ended up being almost gentle. As my friend (who swapped rides with me for an uphill climb and downhill descent) put it the Alta Peak makes you feel “very confident on the downhills”.

Jeremy on Alta Peak

Another plus with the Alta Peak is the ability to lockout the fork & shock. With the lockouts off, there was pedal bob (another worry). Don’t get me wrong, but coming from a hardtail there was just enough bob for me to notice.

But with the lockouts on, the pedal bob was non-existent. The bike felt very efficient and I was able to climb and clean what I would normally climb & clean with my hardtail. In my first impressions of the Alta Peak I mentioned that the lockout on the shock, although small, was very easy to find and engage/disengage even when I wasn’t looking. This stayed true the whole ride and I gave that shock a workout, locking it and unlocking it numerous times.

Ario Shock

Some other notable features included the juicy 3 hydraulic brakes. These brakes were not set up for me, but they performed extremely well. I always felt that there was enough power to stop me and at over 200 lbs., that’s saying a lot.

Juicy 3 Levers

Juicy 3 Caliper & Rotor

The XT rear derailleur shifted confidently each time and the Purple Extreme lube, applied by RL, made the bike’s drivetrain feel very smooth and efficient.

XT Rear Derailleur

For my conditions (mostly dry/hardpacked), the Larsen wheels performed very well. There are only a couple of difficult spots on the trail and the tires gripped with confidence. When I rode through a sizable puddle then immediately climbed over a worn wooden beam the wheel did slip. But give the Larsens credit, the rear wheel engaged right away and I didn’t need to put my foot down.

Lastly, the beautiful white paint makes me smile every time I see it. I don’t know why I like white bikes so much, but the Alta Peak is a beauty!

Pros:
Weight (surprisingly not noticeable)
Love the lockout feature
Fork & Shock are confidence inspiring
Juicy 3’s have lots of power
White paint!

Cons:
Pedal bob (minor, but you can tell if you normally ride a hardtail)
Need to go a size up for most people
Larsens not for all conditions

Alta Peak Head Tube

Check out the Alta Peak here.

Update: I’m going to spend some time dialing the Alta Peak to my measurements. Hopefully this will solve some of the pedal bob I was experiencing as well as make me feel more comfortable on the bike. Check back to hear about the changes and the results.

Specialized 29er w/Fox Fork?

A commentor on a popular 29er site says that Specialized will be coming out with a “full line” of 29er bikes in early summer as 2008 models. If this rumor turns out to be true, this is a great step for 29er bikes.

Who is going to reap the benefits of this? All mountain bikers in general, but potential 29er riders & 29er enthusiasts in particular.

Fox forks are considered by many to be the premiere mass produced fork manufacturer. Some potential 29er riders, though, have lamented the lack of fork choices in the 29er marketplace. If Fox is in the fold, 26er riders have one less barrier to hurdle and their own premiere fork to use on the 29er.

29er enthusiasts are excited because without competition the Reba fork was/is dominating the 29er market. And although the Rock Shox Reba is a great fork, there is always room for competition to give the consumer more choices.

29er consumers win again because another major manufacturer has also decided that 29ers are not a fad, but an actual trend in the mountain biking marketplace. This commentor mentioned that Specialized was not coming out with just one 29er (a la Cannondale), but a full line of them.

Does that mean singlespeeds, geared hardtails, full suspensions, steel? We don’t know. But whatever “full line” turns out to be, it shows that Specialized has a lot of money invested in the 29er market! This can also turn out to be a wake up call for Trek, Giant & others to start producing 29ers which will in turn encourage more components makers to support this growing market.

As a 29er enthusiast I am very hopeful that this rumor comes true.

Fezzari Alta Peak: First Impressions

I went on a pre-work ride with RL this morning. I was riding my X-Cal 29er until about halfway through when I got the idea to swap with RL to try out the Fezzari Alta Peak.

Just wanted to jot down few first impressions:
– It’s a much beefier bike than my 29er. Not in a bad way and (surprisingly) not in a heavy way. It’s just thicker. Thicker down tube, seat post, seat tube, top tube, everything is thicker. It’s a good look for the full suspension bike.
– The top tube is shorter which put me in a more upright position that I enjoyed.
– The juicy 3’s stop very well.
– The rear suspension felt nice. I liked the lock out feature on the rear. It was easy to find while riding (I didn’t even have to look) and easy to use, just a quick flick with the gloved fingers and it’s done.
– The white finish is gorgeous.

More thoughts on the Alta Peak to come as I get in a longer ride on it. Sorry no pictures, but check out the beauty here: Fezzari Alta Peak

Don’t know what it is but I love white bikes!

Fullerton Loop Easy Route

A small group of us went mountain biking on the Fullerton Loop this past Saturday. We came up with an easy route because one of the guys was a newbie who has never ridden mountain before and I had a minor injury.

Luckily, the Fullerton Loop is conducive to creating new routes because it’s in the middle of a city. The advantage is that you can jump off the loop at certain points to miss harder parts (ie. climbs) ride on paved roads and catch up with the loop at other points. We were able to do this a couple of times to make most of our route flat, with a couple of small uphills.

For those of you who know the loop, we started from the courthouse and rode San Juanita Cooke (SJC) trail to Hiltscher Trail. We rode down Hiltscher until we hit Euclid Street. We then turned around and rode back up Hiltscher trail to SJC trail. We took SJC, using Morella Avenue, to ride to Laguna Lake. After a quick lap around the lake, we took SJC trail to the railroad tracks. We finished off the ride by riding the golf course area into the dam area and then using Harbor Blvd to get back to the courthouse.

Am I the only one crazy enough to “easify” my favorite local trail just so I can ride with a minor injury? And if you’ve done the same, which one have you “easified” so that I can ride?

Group

29er Disadvantages

Yeah, sure there are some.

Wheel Weight
Probably the biggest disadvantage the 29 inch wheels have over their 26 inch brethren is that a larger wheel equates to more wheel weight. A 29er wheel made from the same material as a 26 inch wheel will always weigh more. Therefore, the lightest 29er wheels will weigh more than the lightest 26er wheels. Photo below courtesy of Wikipedia.

29er versus 26er

Major Manufacturers
Major manufacturers of 29ers are limited. Cannondale, last year, came out with a geared hardtail 29er called Caffeine and there are rumors that Specialized may have a 29er in the works (although oddly enough they have a high volume 29er tire, the Resolution, with no in-house bike to wear it!). But Giant is still not on board and Trek decided to go half way with a singlespeed 69er (a 29 inch tire on the front and a 26 inch tire on the rear). Kudos to Gary Fisher for getting on the 29ers early and establishing itself as the largest manufacturer of 29ers along with the most complete lineup to date (singlespeed, aluminum hardtail, steel hardtail, full suspension).

Fork options are limited as well. White Brothers, Rock Shox, Pace, and Maverick compose the current manufacturers (that I know of) of 29er suspension forks. But some of the big boys haven’t come out to play yet, Fox? Marzochi? Manitou?

Currently Rock Shox probably makes the standard for 29er forks with their excellent Rebas. These air forks are light weight, plush, infinitely tuneable and sold at a great price. But there is more room for fork growth. The 29er is almost begging for a longer travel fork (Rebas limited to 100mm) because of it’s natural advantages in rollover ability and grip for the freeride and all mountain riders.

Rock Shox Reba SL 29 mounted on Gary Fisher X-Cal.
Reba on X-Cal

Tire options are also limited, but thankfully growing. The number of tires out there can not begin to compete with the selection of 26 inch tires currently available. But, there are choices which could not be said without a smirk last January.

Short Riders
Lastly, 29ers do not fit shorter riders as well as they do taller riders. Most people suggest that the 29er rider needs to be at least 5’6″ to ride a 29er. If not there are serious geometry issues for the shorter rider including toe overlap and (very important!) stand over height. But custom builders have been known to build 29ers for the shorter rider.

Should these hold you back from riding a 29er? In my humble opinion, no. The wheel weight disadvantage will always be there but unless you are racing professionally, where grams can determine podium placement, wheel weight will not take away from your enjoyment of riding a 29er.

The fact that the major manufacturers are not producing 29ers is really their loss. Some of our partners who are 29er advocates do have 29ers available:

Ibex Section 29.
Ibex Section 29

KHS Tucson.
KHS Tucson

Raleigh XXIX+G
Raleight XXIX+G

Ahren’s Revolver
Ahren Revolver

And as I mentioned before, for the shorter riders custom is always available. Personally I think the advantages still outweigh the disadvantages and that’s why I own and enjoy riding the 29er.

What do you think? Are the disadvantages too much?

Night Ride: Bryan, Moe & Jeremy

Had a great night ride with Moe & Bryan on the Fullerton Loop. It was my first time riding at night and it was a blast!

I rode my Gary Fisher X-cal 29er. Moe rode his K2 with the Sweetskinz tires and Bryan rode a hardtail Diamondback that he built up himself.

Moe & Jeremy with the 29er

I got to rock the new Optic Nerve (nerveusa.com) Savant glasses too. I used the clear lens and I have to say that worked great. Most times I forgot I had them on.

Below is a picture me & Bryan with the glasses still on. By the way, Bryan has never ridden the 29er so he took mine for a quick parking lot spin. He’s considering building up a single speed and I told him that the 29er is the way to go.

Bryan & Jeremy (Moe's K2 w/Sweetskinz in the Background)

If you look carefully, you can see the Sweetskinz (sweetskinz.com) on the K2 in the background. The reflective parts of the tires look pretty cool.

We didn’t get any pictures while out on the trail mainly because Moe & I were huffing along trying to keep up with Bryan, the machine. He’s a machine because he can climb the hills as if he were doing the flats. Ridiculous power to weight ratio.

Lastly, got to thank RL for the Cygolite LED (cygolite.com) he let me borrow. The light was a handlebar mount (which has its positivies & negatives compared to a helmet light). The LED was surprisingly bright, very light & best of all, it didn’t fail me all night. Thanks RL.