Help with choosing a new mtb

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  1. #1

    Help with choosing a new mtb

    I decided to step up from my 2007 Specialized Rockhopper but the choices are overwhelming, so I'd like some help with getting a new bike. I'm not looking to get a used one.

    I narrowed things down by defining my budget first. I'm willing to spend about about $ 1500 - $ 1,800.
    Since my primary criterion that I want to improve upon (vs. my Rockhopper) is weight, my new bike has to be light, somewhere around 25 - 27 lb. For around $ 1800 or less I should be able to find a light hardtail with good components.

    Question here then is about the wheel size. I have no practical experience in making a choice between a 27.5 and 29 size wheel. I read that the 29ners may not be "nimble". I like riding technical single track type of terrain and I'm 5'6". I read that shorter folk like me are favored by choosing 27.5 size.



    I would like a bike that I can swiftly guide through the trail, so "nimble" is very good.
    I did find some possible choices (Trek Superfly 6 for instance), but they tend to have the 29 size wheels. Will the 29ner be more difficult? I would be stepping up from a 26 inch wheel.
    Will the 27.5 be more fun? What about the 27.5 plus?

    Just about all the bike shops I spoke to are OK with me taking a short ride close to the shop, but that will not even come close to a trial on a real mtb trail, so I have no way making the judgement as what will work beetter for me (27.5 vs 29)

    Just for reference I ride mostly in the Blue Hills (Canton, MA), Bear Brook, NH and every now and then I'm in Stowe, VT so all the mtb trails there, town and the ones up on Luce Hill (Trapp Family trails). Having a new fun bike, I'm hoping to ride in many more places.
    All comments will be appreciated.
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  2. #2
    bvibert's Avatar
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    If I were you, I'd be looking for bike demos. That way you can take it for a decent enough ride to get a feel for the bike. Since you have a working bike, don't rush into something new until you know what you want.
    Brian

  3. #3
    I would go with the 27.5 over the 29. I would also suggest looking at mtb sites like pinkbike.com for bikes. That is where I got my Pivot Mach 6 for half of a new one. JRA cycles will let you take a demo bike out for $ and can be applied to purchase.
    Live, Ski or Die Trying!!!
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  4. #4
    I've recently (3 years ago) went from a 26" to a 29"....Here are some of my takes/experiences.

    As for the nimble piece….My experience has been that is barely noticeable except for the twisty & tightest of trails, so for me it’s really not been an issue. For reference, I’ve ridden Bear Brook a number of times, and I don’t ever recall wishing I had my 26” bike. I think there are some pros & cons to each wheel size, and they are noticeable (however not to the extent that the marketing folks may make it sound). Typically, what might be a pro for one is typically a con for the other & vice-a-versa. 29’er pros: better rolling over obstacles, more tire on the pavement for better grip (however more rolling resistance), & more distance travel per pedal stroke. 26’er pros: typically lighter bikes, typically more suspension travel due to the geometry, and more nimble. For people trying to understand the difference I sum it up by saying, “It’s easier to go faster on a 29’er, and easier to go slower on a 26’er”….In other words, if you had to start form a stop on a really technical section of trail you’d probably wish you had a 26’er…whereas if you did the same section of trail coming into it with some speed, then you’d probably wish you had the 29’er. I’ve found the “roll-over” benefits are a real advantage on a 29’er especially when you have some momentum.

    Physics will say that a 26” wheel is stronger than a 29” wheel, and lots of wheel builders/bike shops will dismiss this….I kind of lean towards the side of physics….I’ve ridden a 26” for over 20+ years and NEVER had any issues with wheels/spokes breaking, however I suddenly started to snap spokes once I got a 29”. I think some of the issue were due to a “lemon” (cheap) set of wheels, and that has since been resolved by investing in some good wheels….However there’s definitely some durability differences between the wheel sizes, especially if you like to rider her hard.

    If I were to do it again, I would lean toward a 27.5 wheel with full suspension (currently have a HT & my back is feeling it)…It really comes down to what type of trails to do you ride & what advantages/disadvantages can you live with. Super twisty, super techy riding, that demands a lot of suspension, then I’d lean towards the 26” end. Techy riding, with some flow, that doesn’t demand lots of suspension travel, then I’d lean towards the 29”. Good luck & let us know what you get

  5. #5
    buellski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvibert View Post
    If I were you, I'd be looking for bike demos. That way you can take it for a decent enough ride to get a feel for the bike. Since you have a working bike, don't rush into something new until you know what you want.
    Exactly. Go to a demo or find a shop that demos/rents. AJ's and iRide in Stowe are nice because you can hop right on the town loops.

  6. #6
    Great thread. I'm in the market for a new mountain bike too. Things have changed a lot since I last bought 10 or so years ago.


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  7. #7
    bvibert's Avatar
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    There is certainly a lot to be considered, beyond wheel size. Personally I wouldn't get too worked up on the wheel size, especially before you ride some bikes with both sizes. I don't think it makes as much of a difference as everyone makes it out to be, personally. I recently went from a 26" to 27.5" and couldn't be happier. I think that has more to do with newer suspension design than wheel size though. I've had limited time on a few 29er demos, and wasn't overly impressed. I just didn't find that much of a difference, though they did seem less agile. It wasn't an experience that made me say "I've got to have one of these!".
    Brian

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bvibert View Post
    There is certainly a lot to be considered, beyond wheel size. Personally I wouldn't get too worked up on the wheel size, especially before you ride some bikes with both sizes. I don't think it makes as much of a difference as everyone makes it out to be, personally. I recently went from a 26" to 27.5" and couldn't be happier. I think that has more to do with newer suspension design than wheel size though. I've had limited time on a few 29er demos, and wasn't overly impressed. I just didn't find that much of a difference, though they did seem less agile. It wasn't an experience that made me say "I've got to have one of these!".
    I find that the 27.5" rolls much easier over rocky terrain than the 26. Much less effort in pedaling, but I did havt a big jump in suspension from 120mm to 160mm in the front and 155mm in the rear.
    Live, Ski or Die Trying!!!
    "Life is not measured by the numbers of breaths we take, but by the ski runs that take our breath away."

    SKI THE EAST!!!!!!

  9. #9
    Check out the 2016 Santa Cruz Heckler. It may meet your needs.
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  10. #10
    27.5" is the way to go. I feel that the advantage of 29" wheels is lost on short people like me. I finally replaced my ancient bike with a shiny new (to me) 27.5" with 150mm F / 150mm R travel and I love it. Definitely rolls over stuff easier than the 26."

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