Saturday, November 19, 2011


For most of the summer I'd been thinking about a new mountain bike. After the Big-M race, I decided that I probably would have been faster on a 29er. Somewhere else, I read the comment that if you're still riding a 26" hardtail, you're probably at a disadvantage compared to a 29er or 26" full-suspension bike.

So, this Fall, I started shopping around, and I eventually decided to get a Specialized Epic 29er. I had Kinetic Systems build it from the frame up, so I could get what I wanted. I didn't really like the standard Specialized 29er builds. It took a little while, but I finally picked it up last Friday.

I've only ridden it once so far, but it's a really nice bike. I think I'm going to like it, and that it will eventually help go a little faster.

A few of impressions:
- I don't seem to have the suspension set up quite right. It seemed like the fork was diving too much. Maybe the fork is too soft, or maybe the rear is rebounding too fast? I think it will take some experimentation.

- The Brain seems to do what it's supposed to. When I was sitting and pedaling, I couldn't feel anything moving. But going downhills, off drops, etc, I could feel the suspension working.

- The rear suspension wasn't quite what I expected; granted, it may not be set up correctly yet. At times, it seemed more harsh than I expected. On the other hand, landing from drops was super soft, so that was cool. I also must have bottomed it out at least once, but I didn't feel it.

- This bike has XT hydraulic brakes (with heat sinks on the pads, hah!). They're really nice. Good power and good modulation.

- As for the 29er hype, I did feel like the bike kept its momentum over rough terrain faster. There's a little rock garden at Pontiac Lake, and this bike definitely rolled through it faster than my old one. For some reason, technical climbing also seemed better.

- More 29er stuff: the bike definitely handles differently than my 26" wheel bike. I'm going to have to relearn what steering / leaning inputs I need to make to get the bike to turn the way I want. I didn't feel confident turning at higher speeds. I think that's just going to be a matter of getting ride time on it though.

It will be fun to dial the bike in and get more confident on it!


Jez Andrews said...

It still amazes me that amount of hype in the US over 29ers. It still hasn't really greatly received in the UK and I'm yet to see one on the trails. Even my recent magazine MBR is not convinced of its virtues yet, hoping that the craze would have blown over by now. I'm holding back buying a new bike as I'll wait to see if things change that much. Will you now race better with a 29er as promised. I look forward to finding out!

Keith said...

Thanks for the comment. In the Michigan racing scene, 26" wheel bikes are increasingly rare. I haven't ridden my new bike enough to see if it will live up to the hype. I hope so!