Last Saturday we headed north to Rutland Cycling’s new Fineshade shop, located in the lush woods that give the new shop its name, surrounded by a newly developed trail centre.
The reason for our visit however (besides riding the new trails for an upcoming feature) was to look in on the 29er demo day the retailer was running, as part of its 29er days of February.
We all know what the industry thinks of 29ers, but we wanted to find out what those expected to part with their own money on these new bikes thought of them.
There’s clearly a lot of interest and curiosity in the new wheels. People we chatted to attended the demo day because they wanted to find out for themselves if the bigger wheels were for them. To see if the riding matched the hype.
With a recorder rolling, we interviewed a handful of people to get their reactions fresh from hitting the trails on a 29er. Our opening question was ‘how did you find the 29er?’
Tim Parr rode a Yeti Big Top hardtail
Very fast, it’s quite nimble, even with 29in wheels, no less nimble than my standard bike. Guess that’s probably something to do with the hardtail. It’s got a carbon rear end, accelerates very quickly and maintains speed.
Do it change your expectations of 29ers?
Based on your test ride, are you converted?
Yes well absolutely, there’s space in the garage, it’s just getting it past the guard.
Martin Kelly rode Scott Spark
It was really, really nice. I wouldn’t say that the 29er was worth the while, but the bike as a whole was fantastic. I rode well, very quick, the berms were good, still able to pop behind the seat and do all the usual things I do. Just as quick
Did you struggle on the bigger wheels?
No, not at all, it just felt like a 26er. Round these woods, it’s fairly smooth; it’s hard to tell the difference.
Will you be buying one then?
I would ride the bike first, and if I felt that was the bike that felt nicest, I would buy a 29er. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy a 29er, because the difference, I’m sure there is a difference, it’s hard to pick up on, at least on the Scott. Because the Scott rode beautifully, the adjustable suspension, with the lockout is really good. It’s hard to pick fault.
Bob Barfield rode a Giant Anthem X29
It doesn’t feel very responsive. It seems to resist turning, it does roll faster, but don’t know whether it’s manoeuvrable enough.
Are you sold then?
I don’t know? I’m looking for a change; I’ve got a Whyte 46 at the moment, Santa Cruz Superlight. I was told it (29er) would suit me because I’m tall. It just feels like the Whyte, sit up in the sky a lot, just too high. Your centre of gravity doesn’t feel low enough.
Matt rode a Trek Fisher Rumblefish
It impressed me. First ever 29er I’ve ever ridden. The rolling speed was really good, it carried a lot more speed, it was just fun. It handled really well, especially on the climbs, the last climb what we did, it was quite muddy up there, it didn’t lose traction, and it really did the job
Has the 29er surprised you then?
Yes it has surprised me. I thought it would be an experience, I thought it would be fairly similar to a 26er, but I’m swayed now
Space in your garage for one then?
Maybe at the end of the season.
John Mansfield rode a Trek Superfly
First time for me riding a 29er. At slower speeds it took a little bit of getting used to, slightly slower to turn into the corner, much quicker in the last 25%. Only took a couple of minutes to get used to, but the speed I noticed almost no difference between the bike I ride, a Specialized Epic S-Works 26er.
Felt very comfortable at speed on it. I found the ride a little bit rough compared to the s-works. I would struggle to justify taking it on a big xc run unless I was purely in the adrenalin flow of wanting to be in the zone, with no one else about.
But I was very surprised how quickly I got used to it. Very fast, what we noticed on the skills loop, a couple of rolling jumps, followed by a raised rock section, it rolled over that very well
Buying one then?
Not at the price, I think it was probably, for the quality of bike you can, I would probably say no, I’m not convinced. There’s no space in my garage as of yet. Space in the chicken shed.
An interesting selection of views and findings, based admittedly on a short loop test track.
Do you agree with these thoughts? Comments in the box below please:
Thanks to Rutland Cycling for inviting us along.