Editors Note: This is the third and final installment of this series. However; it is not the end of the story. We’ll be focusing in on different aspects and theories concerning 29″er geometry throughout 2008

One of the things I mentioned on Twenty Nine Inches in a different post concerned the seemingly divergent paths that the designers of 29″er bikes and forks are pursuing. I’ve also seen it mentioned in recent comments. This post will explore a bit of those concepts to perhaps get a clearer picture of what is going on.

Hi Fi Pro with G2 geometry

One of the paths that designers have been pursuing over the last few years is a way to get 29″ers to feel more “26”er-ish”. This mostly has to do with getting away from the feeling that a 29″er sometimes has of requiring more input to initiate turn in and to overcome the 29″ers natural tendency to want to stay on its path as it spins, or in other words, its gyroscopic tendencies. Combined with a larger trail figure, this can be felt as a “sluggish” feeling in some riders minds. Various types of designs have attempted to address this trait of big wheels to various degrees. The flagship design of this type of philosophy in my opinion is the G2 29″er geometry that Gary Fisher Bikes has offered on its 2008 line of 29″ers. It excells in being a design that 26″er devotees can hop aboard and feel right at home on. Still possessing 29″ers abilities to roll over stuff and carry momentum easier, it has erased the “heavy” feeling some associate with 29″ers.

Interestingly, some refer to the Fishers and similar bikes as “new school” geometry. I think, if anything, it should be called “old school” geometry because most of these bikes are trying to emulate the “old” 26″er steering feel. Not a bad thing, but in no way is this a “new” thing. Whatever you call it, it is a definite trend and I expect it to expand with the passing of time.

LenzSport Lunchbox: Sometimes the #'s don't add up!

There still is a contingent out there that celebrates the 29″er wheels stability and steering quirks as being the very thing that differentiates 29″ers from 26″ers in the first place. This design philosophy was best demonstrated to me by this LenzSport Lunchbox 29″er. It has dual suspension and longer travel, and that certainly factors into things, but the trail figure on this bike was off the charts high compared to anything I had yet ridden. Still, it behaved quite well on the trail and imparted a sense of security that inspired me to want to tackle bigger hits and attain more speed while doing so. I think the enhancement of the 29″ers inherent traits made me feel these things as much as the longer travel did, if not more so. (Special mention for a bike like this would also go to the Raleigh XXIX+G with stock geometry. We’ll be testing this bike in that form again soon.)

Most 29″ers out there today are somewhere in the middle of this “handling continuum”. Being able to tune the handling to go towards one end of this continuum or the other is a trick that we didn’t have only just a year ago. What a great time to be riding big wheels!

Look for “updates” to this story over the course of 2008 as Twenty Nine Inches seeks to discover just how all this geometry works out on the trail.