I’ve had a good bit of time on the 29er now and it’s evolved a bit since my baptism of fire in the Cape Epic.
This is probably more of a long term review than anything else. Firstly let me detail the current spec: I have fitted Truvativ Noir Carbon flatbars, and matching seatpost in 400mm with setback and finished the Truvativ cockpit with a white Stylo World Cup stem. Stopping duties are now left up to Formula’s R1 brakeset and 160mm rotors – these brakes dominate and you can slow down at any rate you want, just add more squeeze and keep the back wheel planted! Also new is the OEM Specialized S-Works double crankset with 26/42 rings mated to an 11-32 cassette. This is proper oversize BB now and plenty stiff while maintaining light weight. Pedals too have been changed in favor of Look Quartz Carbons for more weight savings and still decent float. The wheels too have changed as the Crest 29er rims finally arrived and I rebuilt these onto AmClassic hubs for a 1450g pair. These really changed the bike and the front end feels very flickable. The total diet leaves a 9.5kg race bike including pedals, two cages and my CS600 computer, so ready to race.
So how does it go?
I spent a fair few rides getting comfortable, maybe I was asking too much of the front end, but I kept washing out, ok it was wet too, and muddy, so I can’t blame the bike, but I looked for setup answers and found that the stem was too low, I tried shorter and lower but the 110mm and slightly higher position works. I also was trying to run the tire pressures too low. I use Specialized’s Fastrak LK 2bliss front and rear and hit the magic mark at 25psi. Any less and the front is sluggish and will try overturn at slow speeds, and roll on the rims at lower speeds in tighter turns. Any more and it’s harsh. I also run the fork a bit stiffer on the pre-load now at around 135psi top and bottom. too little and I bottom it out too often and also end up with too much sag, thus dropping the front end. You want a low race position but not too low. I weigh 80kg.
The only drawback I felt was tight singletrack hairpins while climbing, everywhere else this bike is as fast or faster than a 26er. It’s forgiving enough to ride all day and still stiff and light. The frame is strong…I hit drop offs, roots, rock jumps (Okay only 2-3 feet) but still airborne and the frame has never shown any signs of weakness. The matte paint has also stayed looking good, despite my best efforts running it off the trail and through the brush on numerous occasions – (See Nitida)
The wheels make a huge difference on the 29er and this lightweight but strong pair of wheels changes the 29er for the better. I have zero issues accelerating from standstill, stopping and changing direction. The big wheels also handle technical descending better as they cope with ruts and bigger rocks better.
I am still very happy with the bike and it’s performance, it’s now working sweetly 🙂
It’s road season now though and it’s starting to look at me funny ;p