AGGRESSIVE BIG WHEELIN’
Q: Have a 2011 Specialized
Stumpjumper Elite. I have had a
Transition Bottlerocket, and I
really like the company. Is it worth
selling my Stumpjumper for a
Transition Bandit 29? I ride very
aggressively, which draws me
toward the Transition.
—Luke, who wants to get rad
A: Nope, that would be going in the
wrong direction. If you are really an
aggressive rider, those bigger wheels are
not going to hold up as well as your
26er, and the bike won’t turn as sharp
or maneuver around the trail as easily.
This is due to the longer wheelbase.
The longer rear end will also mean that
lifting the front wheel off the trail over
obstacles requires more effort.
Aside from the geometry issues, bike
weight comes into play. In general,
29ers at the same price are heavier than
26ers. The wheels are larger, and the
frames are larger to accommodate the
wheels. Since aggressive riders need
fatter (heavier) tires, that really slows
down a 29er. By the way, we loved the
Bandit 26er (tested MBA May 2012).
PUTTING THE IRON HORSE OUT TO PASTURE
Q: Am looking for a serious upgrade from my Iron Horse Maverick 1.2
with its outdated V-brakes and barely moving fork. I want another 26er
hardtail because it’s perfect for the riding I have around where I live. I’m
between two bikes: the Giant Revel 0 or the Specialized Rockhopper. I’m
not looking to spend more than $900. Which bike would be better?
—Kyle, who’s ready for a new steed
A: Both bikes would work fine. Performance-wise, you’d have a tough time
differentiating between the two. In cases like this, it comes down two things: the
shop that represents the brands and the bikes’ aesthetics. Since you will find that
both Specialized and Giant bike shops are top-quality service centers and well
stocked on accessories, in your case it all comes down to aesthetics. When we
look at the Specialized, it just looks so sweet. If you feel good, you ride better.
We’d go for the Specialized.
Some quick and inexpensive upgrades are to convert the wheels to tubeless and
get some clipless pedals, but you don’t even have to do that. Just ride it.
CAN’T GO WRONG
Q: Specialized Epic Carbon versus Niner Jet 9 RDO. Do you have
a favorite? I am an aggressive cross-country rider who races
once a year. Or, will there be a
better cross-country option in 27
inches in the next one to two
—Ted, who has a tough choice
on his hands
A: Can we give an emotional
answer? We dig both bikes, and both
companies offer above-average
support. However, we would go for
the Niner because they are just so
passionate about the 29er platform.
That’s all they do. That’s all they
ride. Lots of riders will have a
Specialized (because, let’s face it, they
consistently make the best products
out there), but only a select group
rides the Niner. We see the value in
As for a 27.5-inch-wheeled cross-country option, it’s hard to say which
bikes will be offered in that wheel
size in the next two years. As of late,
new models with 27.5-inch wheels
have primarily been in the 5- to
6-inch-travel range and geared toward
trail and all-mountain riders. We
expect most high-end cross-country
race bikes to keep utilizing the
29-inch wheels at this point.
All in all, you can’t make a
mistake with the two bikes you have
narrowed your search to. ;
UPGRADE OR GO FOR NEW?
Q: Should I purchase a new
ride or upgrade my 2008 Trek
EX9? I’ve been thinking about a
Trek Remedy or the 2013 Trek
EX9, but both are pretty pricey.
—Mike, who isn’t sure
whether to refurbish or replace
A: It all depends on how much
you ride. If you ride a lot (three
times a week), your ’08 is going to
be getting pretty tired by now.
Sinking money into it would not be
a wise decision. You’d be better off
saving your money until you can
afford the new bike and sell your
’08. If you ride three times a month,
your bike should still be in great
shape, but you still don’t want to
sink serious money into a bike that
old. Some upgrade suggestions that
won’t break the bank are to convert
the wheels to tubeless, put on a
wider handlebar and replace the rear
suspension pivot bearings. You can
justify slightly more investment into
an upgrade if you can “take it with
you” to your next bike. That might
include investing in a new wheelset.
Photo: Niner Bikes