Q: Have a 2011 Niner Jet 9 built with SRAM X.0 components and Stan’s
Arch wheels. I was looking to go to a 29er carbon fiber hardtail. Is it worth
swapping over components to the new frame and saving some money, or
should I simply go with a new bike?
—Matt, who has good parts to start with
A: If your components are in good shape and compatible with the new frame
(that is usually the biggest problem with so many changes to wheel spacing and
bottom brackets), you should swap them. You save a bunch of money, and the
frame you are left with can be sold to a rider who wants to move his parts from
a cheaper frame.
GROWING LIKE A WEED
Q: My 10-year-old son is just less
than 5 feet tall and growing quickly.
His Trek 24-inch-wheeled bike is looking a little small lately. Should I look
to get him a small 26er, or wait it out
until he can manage a 29er? I wonder,
because he has long arms and legs and
29ers rule our Pennsylvania terrain.
—Steve, who may be jumping the
A: While 29ers may be the ideal
weapon in your local riding area, we
wouldn’t be so quick to get your son
riding one. The best way to keep him
interested in riding is to keep him on
bikes that fit him and that he can throw
around the trail with relative ease.
Sure, he may be able to fit on an extra-small 29er soon, but the large wheels
will most likely be a lot for him to
handle. Have him try riding a 26-inch
and a 29-inch bike from your local
bike shop to see how he handles them.
There’s a good chance the right answer
will become much clearer after you’ve
seen him ride both bikes.
sale is as important as the sale.
The bike shop sells both? If you are
hard on equipment, go with the Kona.
They make very tough bikes for nasty
conditions. If you are a good rider and
ride in mostly good weather conditions,
go with the KHS.
HARDTAIL VS. SUSPENSION
Q: Shopping for a new bike, and
people tell me dual suspension is the
way to go. I weigh 275 pounds. How
does dual suspension hold up for the
—Tim, who has always ridden
A: Dual suspension holds up fine
for big guys if they are willing to spend
$4000 or more. We especially like
Specialized bikes equipped with the
Brain shock for big guys, because they
eliminate the need to make adjustments
to the shock’s damping while you ride.
If you plan to spend less than $3500,
we would guide you toward a 27.5- or
29-inch-wheeled hardtail. The more
simplistic suspension configurations
of cheaper full-suspension bikes can
be less fun to ride than hardtails, and
that’s not just true for big riders.
Q: I’m upgrading my bike soon, and
I’m stuck between the Trek Remedy
9 and the new Remedy 9 29er. Even
though I understand the benefits of the
29er, I’m only 5 foot 5, so I don’t know
how well I’ll feel on the bigger wheel
size or if it’ll be too tall for me. This is
the only thing that’s really holding me
back from the 29er. What do you guys
—Alex, who is in a wheel-size pickle
DON’T SHOOT THE
A: This may make your decision a
bit easier. Trek recently launched a
Remedy 27.5-inch option to replace the
26-inch-wheeled model. Trek makes
29ers for all-sized riders, and while we
agree that newer 29-inch designs better
fit a wide-size range of riders, we still
think height should be a factor, along
with many other variables, when
making a choice.
Determining what you want out
of your bike is the key to answering
whether or not a 29er would hold you
back. For fast and flowing terrain,
nothing will roll as quickly as the big
wheels, but if your riding features
some more technical and tight terrain,
or your riding style involves a lot of
finesse on the trail, we think you’d
have more fun on the new 27.5-inch
model. It will close the performance gap
a bit from where the 26-inch bike was
in terms of rolling over obstacles, yet it
will still be more flickable on the trail
than the 29er, especially at your height.
Q: Own a Trek Liquid 25 I bought
new in 2007. Want to upgrade. Mostly
interested in a fork, shock and probably
drivetrain. What would be your
—Scott, who wants old to be new
A: Sorry, Scott. A seven-year-old
mountain bike has already seen its best
years. You are far better off saving your
money for a new bike than dumping
money into your Liquid 25. No matter
what upgrade you make, it won’t come
close to matching the performance that
a new bike, designed around the newer
technologies, will bring to the trail.
Replace the normal wear items (tires,
cables, grips), and pass on more