Downhill Mountain Bikes – The 29er

The “29er” is a large diameter bicycle wheel gaining popularity and used on some downhill mountain bikes. It is approximately 29 inches across (hence “29er”), in constrast to the more traditional “26er”, or 26 inch diameter wheel. It was first attempted by Gary Fisher around the early 1980’s when the first specialized downhill mountain bikes were produced.

The 29er is claimed by many to have much better traction on sandy surfaces, like beaches, with the larger size providing additional suspension. Detractors say it adds to the overall weight of the bike and slows it down, but that objection was put to rest as racers, including Lance Armstrong, won events with it. There is a different rhythm to the pedaling, and a different feel when rounding corners. It is said to be easier to use for those inexperienced on bicycles.

Early on, supply constraints slowed down adoption due to the lack of not only tires, but of rims, suspension forks, inner tubes, and frames adapted to this unique tire size. In addition, there were no standards on tire sizes themselves. Each country had their own way of doing things, so two tires, each designated with a the same number, could really mean a slightly different diameter and width, making them incompatible. Furthermore, companies would distort dimensions and weights for marketing purposes. This situation persisted until the early 80’s when ISO standards were introduced.

The market for 29ers came into being slowly, as the infrastructure to support them was gradually built up. There were a few false starts, where 29ers were introduced but failed to find a sufficient market. This included the Project bikes in 1992 and the Nanoraptor in 1999. In the mid 2000’s, success was finally acheived when Gary Fisher introduced the Rig, and other manufacturers followed suit. Variations have been produced, such as the “69er” where the front wheel is 29″ while the back is 26″, and the “96er”, with opposite wheel sizes.

29erTree Downhill Mountain Bikes   The 29erSo do 29er’s grow on trees?

Video: Banshee Prime 29er Prototype – Sick Lines – mountain bike … – Banshee had a prototype 29er they’re calling the Prime at Sea Otter this year. Check out the video with Keith Scott talking about how its different from other 29er’s out there currently. Video: …

Big Wheels or Small Wheels? – I must ‘fess up to the selfish excitement I felt when I first heard about 29-inch wheels. Being a tall rider never completely comfortable with feeling a bit gangly riding with others, a tall bike with normal-sized wheels looks out of proportion and, well, gangly. …

96er, How it Works – Bigger where it counts, 29 inch front wheel, 26 inch rear wheel. Our first production bicycle is the 96’er, incorperating three basic theories, Roll It, Rip It and Punch It. Here is how it works. …

Main MTB News: TWENTY NINER – Like most of you I’ve been curious, to say the least, to test out a 29er. The hype has been that they outperform 26” wheel bikes. Most people who have made the switch say they will never go …

singletracks: 1×9 and Feeling Fine – Like most mountain bikers I started out riding a 27-speed mountain bike with 3 crank rings and 9 gears on the rear cassette. When I bought my 29er a couple years ago I made the switch to a 9-speed, 1×9 …

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