My name is Andre and I’m currently working as a designer at Stand Jasma, Portugal’s Scott bikes distributor, and I’m soon to be a proud owner of a 29er.
This is the first time I’m writing but, since I’m a frequent visitor of Bikemagic.com, both for work and pleasure, and your Month of 29ers caught my attention, together with the fact that you are currently testing a Scott 29 Expert, curiously, the bike I’m eagerly waiting for…
The main reason I’m writing is actually just to give my opinion and also to give you a close idea of the actual 29er bike scene in Portugal.
The Big Wheel is basically hitting the country right about now. Everybody is starting to jump on board, unfortunately (personal opinion, of course), for the wrong reasons. I’ve being riding bikes for most of my 31 year life, mostly Trail and XC riding, and used and tested a lot of gear and bikes. I can accurately say what kind of bike suits me the best and also, what kind of bike I would love to have at home to grow as a mountain-biker (also a roadie on designated weekends).
As a consumer and now, working inside the business, I found that most mountain bikers don’t really have any idea of what they actually are in terms of skill, stamina and overall bike technical ability. They easily mistake themselves for technical wizards and die-hard cross-country riders when, in fact, most spring off the bike at the mere sight of a rocky singletrack or a long steep climb with one or two roots on the way. Be honest with yourself, for starters, before choosing your ride suitable for your style.
Should they be buying 29ers? I personally think so. They are more stable, they can be more enjoyable and easy to negotiate technical trails that aren’t too twisty. Why are they buying 29ers? It’s THE thing! I’ve heard of a lot of people returning the 29er bike they’ve just bought, to get back to a 26er, disappointed that the big wheel made them slower or made the ride less interesting. Personally, after testing three bikes from the Scott 2012 line-up (Scott Spark 20 (26er), Scott Spark 29 Team and Scott 29 Expert) I can honestly say: I will never ride a 26er hardtail again!
The 26in Spark is an awesome bike, fast, well balanced, climbs like no other and gives you loads of confidence on the descends. It is very accurate and is probably the best bike I’ve rode (I’m a fan of short travel bikes basically because I can handle them better than long travel bikes. Although I usually never shy away from a technical downhill, my normal routes are more than doable with a 100/120mm bike).
But the bike that thrill me the most was the Scale 29er. It is fast, fun, easy to handle and out-performs a 26er on most of the trails I rode. My 30km weekend ride turned into a 40 plus km, 2h ride, full of short ascents and short and technical descents. No back pain and I always arrive home energized and actually wanting to ride some more. Sure, it loses out on acceleration, and maybe it is a bit tricky to work around twisty singletracks, you really need to anticipate more and use a different riding style (easier to place on the right route because you are not bouncing around, but harder to brake due to the momentum it gains and, also, the larger wheel circumference). But you gain everywhere else.
The Spark 29 Team I’ve tested is a lesser equipped bike. Heavier and the front suspension lacks adjustability. The wheels weigh much more than the frame and you do feel they are a bit flexy, likewise the suspension. But oh so much fun I had! If you just sit down and climb, it goes, no matter where. The frame is awesome, rigid and responsive, it takes a kilo off the bike. The descents where fun, even with the Recon springy behavior, and the speed you gain is amazing, tacking every root, rock and corner with great ease. I just wonder what I wouldn’t do with a lighter frame and a more tunable suspension…
This leads me to the Spark 29 Expert… When will you post a review about the bike? [Soon, very soon – ed.] Or have you already and I missed it? I saw the videos you put out riding the Spark, also noticed that you (the tester) kept pedaling with the Twinloc open, therefore, using the open travel mode on quite plane tracks. How good was it and you should try to use it closed (the Reba has a small amount of travel to offer).
To sum up this e-mail, and thanks in advance for your attention, I read a phrase in a Spanish magazine, where a tester said something like this: “the 29ers are slow? Or is a 26er too nervous?”
Like I said above, I know what bike will make me grow as a mountain-biker. The Spark 29 Expert. 29ers are sweeping the mountain bike world and I feel that we are always a bit tardy getting there, but we eventually do. Howare the 29er bikes doing in the UK?
Is it fad or it is having a good repercussion on riding skills and getting more people riding? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments box below: