Back from the dead: 29er studies

With the Dos stripped of components and hanging in my garage, let's just say 29er studies aren't at the forefront of my interests right now.  I found the answers to my questions.  However, Cycling News is hitting the issue hot and heavy .

It's nice to see an organization with some industry ties and a bigger budget is taking the time to look at the issue.  They do have some interesting analysis techniques proposed, such as using GPS and MotionBased to analyze specific sections of a route, comparing between the two bikes.

There are a couple of deal killers in the study, though.  The first one hit me in the head so hard I nearly passed out.  They aren't using power!  Without measuring rider output, how can efficiency possibly be determined?  It can't.  You could determine which bike was faster over a short course by repeated time trials, sure.  But that doesn't apply to the endurance racer, the segment of the cycling market that is gung ho on 29ers.  Efficiency is king to the endurance racer.  We have a limited supply of energy, and the more distance we get from that limited supply, the better.  Gotta have power.

An example:  Robert Chung of the wattage list (I think he is a statistician by trade, but not sure) assisted with the data analysis of my files from the Old Pueblo 24 hour event.  He looked closely the files comparing a couple of laps with similar times but different power, one on the 26, the other on the 29.  What he found was that for most of the time, the power between the two bikes was very similar.  There was 1 section, though, that required a lot more power on the 29 when compared to the 26.  For those familiar with the course, this was the Corral trail.  This section is slightly downhill, twisty but very fast.  Time to cover that section wasn't much different, but power was much different.  That sort of observation would have been lost without the use of power.

The second issue is that they've gone to great lengths to normalize the cockpits between the 2 bikes - and I'm assuming this implies there is only 1 test rider.  It's been my observation that larger riders tend to prefer 29ers more than smaller riders.  By larger, I'm talking about weight more than height.  There is probably a reason for that...results from one person's runs will likely be different from anothers, especially if they differ in size.

In short, CN has tightly controlled for equipment variables but without objective energy measurements, their results are just going to stir the pot rather than provide any sort of definitive conclusion.  They could change all that with an SRM or Ergomo...are you listening???

Don't settle for 80% CN, this ain't the pareto principle. 


Published Thursday, June 08, 2006 4:46 AM by Dave
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# @ Thursday, June 08, 2006 1:10 PM

29ers rule! screw anyone who says they dont! Screw 26inch bikes and thier small wheeled feebleness! ;)

I agree, they need to have some hard data coming out of those tests, otherwise they are just the same subjective "comparison" we have seen.

Why do you think that heavier riders prefer 29ers? I am curious, because I consider myself, at 170lbs (165 by the 24th hopefully) a heavier rider. I love my 29er, but I loved my Fuel 100 as well. Anyway, brace yourself for the storm that will be sure to follow CyclingNews' study, regardless of the outcome :)

Tear it up at Steamboat!

Adam Lisonbee

# @ Thursday, June 08, 2006 6:26 PM

Hi Dave -

Here is Walt's take on that CN article and the 29'er setup they are using. His "status blog" changes regularly so his comment may not be there long (he overwrites the blog entry):

Basically he thinks the 29'er geometry, chainstay length, not matching trail vs. keeping head angle the same, etc. is all wrong.

You numbers guys!

Hey man, good luck at Steamboat and have fun!!

Ed E


# @ Friday, June 09, 2006 11:38 AM

Hey Dave -
For big boys like me (think Clysdales) a 29'er may be the way, but the key question is why would a 29'er require more power output over the 26'er?

Dr. Woo

# @ Friday, June 09, 2006 12:25 PM

Good luck at Steamboat! See you at the E12 hour :)


Chris Plesko

# @ Saturday, June 10, 2006 3:06 AM

I wish someone would get this testing done "properly" so I could make a sound decision. :)
Did I mention I already love my bike?
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I am hooked on UST and I don't see myself leaving it behind (unless a 29" frame falls from the sky, then it is an omen).


# @ Monday, June 12, 2006 11:39 AM

Nail on the head Dave, and no, I dont think they are listening.

Jesse J

# @ Thursday, April 19, 2007 5:34 AM

Question, what is your size and weight. A person that is 5'9" 165 will NOT be able to ride a 29er as effectively as say sombody that is 6'3" 240... also for a door slammer comparison, go put some 26" wheels on a road bike and test it.... just some random thoughts.


# @ Thursday, April 19, 2007 6:18 AM

Swedge - 5'9" and 145 lbs. Beyond bike fit, I'm not sure what rider size would have to do with it. I know some riders smaller than I that swear by the 29 inch platform (and they totally kick butt on them too). But seriously, I've done more legitimate testing than anyone I know of. It's a dead issue to me. That isn't to say my results should translate to everyone...if you're happy with your ride what more can you ask for?