Our guide to the long travel 29er bikes coming next year
We had a look at the hottest 650b mountain bikes the other week, (which you can see here.) we also thought we’d have a look at the long-travel 29er today. While the wheel size debate does seem to be settling down a bit (it is, isn’t it?) it’s clear 29ers are here to stay. And with the current crop of the latest long travel 29ers, that doesn’t look a bad thing at all.
Here’s my top five…
Canyon Spectral AL 8.0
The German company has launched the brand new Spectral this year (replacing the Nerve AL+) which is available in 650b and 29in wheel sizes. The 29er version here gets 130mm of travel (140mm on the 650b) from the newly redesigned frame, using a four bar suspension layout with a curved rocker linkage driving the shock.
There are all the modern details like a 142x12mm rear axle and tapered head tube, and a 67 degree head angle and 1,172.5mm wheelbase on the size large. Choose from three models, priced from £2,299 up to £2,999. The entry-level model is well equipped with a Reverb post, XT 2x10 drivetrain and Avid Trail brakes.
[part title="BMC Trailfox 29"]
BMC Trailfox 29 TF02 Trailcrew
Swiss company BMC’s Trailfox TF02 packs a full 150mm of travel from their Advanced Pivot System twin linkage suspension design, all wrapped up in a stunning carbon fibre frame. The geometry has been worked on well, with a very short head tube, long front end and low bottom bracket height, all traits that should make this a real trail/enduro ripper. The head angle is 67 degrees and chainstays are 435mm for the large.
BMC offer a number of builds, with two Trailcrew models (BMC’s version of Specialized’s Evo package) with the £6,000 TF01 XX1 Trailcrew and the more affordable TF02 SLX model here costing £3,600. That gets you a frame with a Fox 34 Float CTD fork and Float X shock, Shimano SLX 2x10 group set and SLX brakes with 203/180mm rotors and a DT Swiss M1900 Spline/Conti Mountain Kind 2.4in wheel set.
[part title="Santa Cruz Tallboy LT"]
Santa Cruz Tallboy LT
The Tallboy has been around for a few years, and is now one of the Californian companies best-selling models. The LT model takes the same frame and ekes 135mm of travel out of the VPP suspension platform. It’s available in alloy or carbon fibre versions, to suit the girth of your wallet.
While some manufacturers have squeezed as much as 150-155mm out of their 29er bikes, Santa Cruz felt 135mm was optimum. It gets harder to package the big wheels and the suspension components the more you increase travel, and keep the front end low and the head tube short enough to make it all work properly. The LT gets a 69.4 degree head angle, steeper than most of the other bikes in this roundup, with a 1,137.9mm wheelbase and 449.58mm chainstays for a size large.
Complete bikes start from £2,999 and you can buy the frame for £1,799.
Bikemagic had a chat with Santa Cruz head designer Joe Graney at the launch of the LTc, which you can check out here.
[part title="Specialized Enduro Comp"]
Specialized Enduro Comp
It took them some time, but eventually Specialized applied its 29er thinking to the longest travel trail bike in its range, the Enduro. Specialized has managed to package its FSR suspension, providing 155mm of travel, into a frame with short 430mm chainstays (just 11mm longer than the 26in Enduro), 1,183mm wheelbase (size large) and 67.5 degree head angle.
The Enduro Comp is the entry-level model, from a range of three, and uses an M5 alloy frame with ISCG05 mounts and 142x12mm dropouts, Fox Float CTD Evo shock and 160mm RockShox Pike RC fork, with a 750mm handlebar.
[part title="Niner WFO 9"]
Niner WFO 9
Niner is a company that has made 29er bikes their specialism, and the new WFO 9 is their latest long travel offering. It takes their CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension, a dual-link design with a rocker linkage activating the shock and a short linkage down at the bottom bracket, to supply 150mm of travel at the rear wheel. The numbers on paper look set to deliver a bike that is highly capable on the trail, with a slack 67 degree head angle and 1,185mm wheelbase with 443mm chainstays for the size large.
The hydro formed alloy frame is compatible with 150-170mm forks and has a custom tuned RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 shock, ISCG05 tabs and 142x12mm rear axle. You can choose from the £1,999 frame only or two complete bikes prices £4,799 (SRAM XO1 and RockShox Pike) or £5,299 (SRAM XX1 and RockShox Pike fork).
There are plenty of other bikes we could have included in this roundup, showing the breadth of choice, from the Yeti SB95 to the Turner Sultan and Orange Five to mention a handful.
Which long travel 29er would you choose?