A few days ago, I read Zach White's column on Velonews where he talks about how 26" wheeled bikes are ultimately superior to 29" wheeled bikes. I've been riding 29ers for quite a few years now by choice (OK, for the first couple years, Gary Fisher would come over to my house at night, put a gun in my mouth while I was sleeping and say, in a voice oddly like Gary Busey's "Wanna live? Keep riding your 29er.") and I wasn't picking up and buying the stuff he was putting down and selling. Zach has a lot of anecdotal-type proof — based on who was faster or slower during a group ride on a given wheel size — for why 26" wheels are faster. So I thought I would go out and test-ride a 26" wheeled bike to see what I was missing out on, or maybe prove once and for all that 29" wheels are faster and better.
The bike I chose to test ride: VeloCB's titanium Seven Sola.
- Rider's height: 4ft 22in
- Rider's weight: Fat, even for this time of year
First thing I noticed was that, even with a reasonable to slightly unreasonable amount of seatpost showing, I was still kneeing myself in the lip with every pedal stroke. Obviously 26" wheeled bikes cannot be made big enough for average height to tall riders.
I also found that my jeans, containing my flabby, off-season thighs, rubbed on the top tube as I rode. This never happens when I'm riding my 29er while wearing lycra.
The flat pedals were a huge plus. The GYROSCOPIC EFFECT caused by the puny 26" wheels is so far less than the GYROSCOPIC EFFECT of gigantic 29" wheels. The bike was so unstable, it kept tipping over. With clipless pedals I would have fallen over repeatedly, hitting my face on mailboxes, but with the flat pedals I was able to quickly put my foot down to save my face from getting hit on mailboxes.
This morning I picked up a heavy mug full of sand and lead several times, then I put it down and immediately picked up my coffee mug...it felt very light, so light that I almost threw it against the ceiling like it was made out of nothing and feathers. I think that was caused by GYROSCOPIC EFFECT.
I just think saying GYROSCOPIC EFFECT a lot makes me sound smarter than I actually am.
One item on this bike that I really liked was the Easton Monkey Lite bars. They were very stiff while I was standing out of the saddle the entire time during my .7 mile test ride that will surely prove once and for all, with science, that 26" wheeled bikes are crap.
The Chris King headset was smooth and expensive. I hear that Chris King's warranty is void on 29ers because the incredible weight of the larger wheel puts too much stress on the steering system.
I found that I couldn't even really use the Rockshox Pushloc remote lockout lever because, whenever I did, I would flip over the bars the first time I hit an acorn or a gum wrapper. It must have been due to the decreased angle of ATTACK of the smaller wheel when confronting obstructions.
The whole 9 speed thing is another matter. I've been on the ten speed stuff for so long now, I don't even know what to do on a 9 speed bike. 9 speed bikes should have a special racing category like single speeds and bikes ridden by old people.
The Ritchey WCS stem...I think the WCS stands for "Wicked Christian Stem." And for whatever reason, whenever I touched it, my hand burned.
I was going to make fun of the wee-bitty wheels, but all that comes to mind right now is how, one time, I ordered something called a "Rocket Ron" out of the back of an American Bear magazine (or was it International Leatherman) and it was most certainly not a mountain bike tire made by Schwalbe.
While riding down the technical sidewalks of Somerville, I was staring at the Chris King front hub going "My god, it's beautiful" until I ran into a mailbox.
The Avid Elixir brakes were of no help, mainly because my hands were nowhere near them — they were occupied with clapping rhythmically to my Chris King hub inspired chant: "Shiny, pretty, shiny, pretty, shiny, pretty, woo!"
And the Chris King Rear hub didn't help matters either; it was too busy doing its best "I am a swarm of killer Africanized bees that want to sting you until you swell up and die horribly" impression every time I stopped pedaling.
Under this vast preponderance of empirical data you have no choice but to concur that 29" wheeled bikes are far superior in every way to 26" wheeled bikes.
Zach White is getting so fired and I am so getting his tech column on Velonews.