Most trails don’t have 4-5 foot drops. Real “free ride” courses are few and far between, unless you live in SoCal or Vancouver B.C. Even the trails we’re doing at Cal MUni Weekend this year are not full on free ride courses. They do contain some optional free ride elements, but you still end up riding mostly XC trail.
The more I do MUni, the more the 24" MUni feels like a downhill bike. It’s great for the downhills, but unless you shuttle it you end up suffering through the uphills and flats for a relatively short descent. Whereas, the 29er is nonstop flow-riding fun. So where’s the 29er category for CMW?
Hmm, i live in SoCal and there are tons of great technical trails with a wealth of big drop opps, with a lot of it is on the “flanks”, where we routinely stop to session the various lines and drops, etc.
And are you saying that the 29er is actually easier to climb steeps than a 24? Hmm, I don’t know about that, but I suppose crank length would play a role for sure. Like a 29er with 175’s might make climbing easier vs a 24" muni with 125’s. I’ve done distance rides on a 29er while waiting for my 36er, and I found it light, nimble and failry fast, but for sheer speed and long distace riding, it pales to the coker/36er IMO.
I can see how it would be nice for longer, more cross country riding, but for down & dirty hardcore muni I just can’t see it. A 26er maybe. But then maybe the 29er will become the Muni size of choice in the future. It kinda seems like some people want the 29er as a “dual” use uni; Muni and coker-esqe distance uni. IMO it’s just better to have a uni made specifically and purpose built for each category; a hardcore 24" muni setup, and a 36er.
In my experience, my KH29 with 152s climbs just about as well as my KH24 with 152s (both are the 05/06 Onza hubset). I know this seems counterintuitive, but the difference is largely in the tires, I think. In my case, I run a WTB Exiwolf 2.3" at around 24 psi on my KH29 and a Duro 3.0" at around 18 psi on my KH24. The slightly higher pressure larger diameter tire feels snappier, and it rolls over bumps better. These benefits make up for the larger diameter when climbing. And, on the downhill, the higher pressure isn’t as big of a deal as it would be on a 24" tire because the larger diameter rolls over the rough stuff better.
Where the 29er suffers compared to the 24" is on bigger drops. I feel pretty comfortable up to about 18" drops on mine, and frankly even when I ride my 24" I rarely seek out drops larger than 18". It’s just not required for the trails around here, and my ankles are prone to tweaking.
Longer cross country riding is hardcore muni.
I truly believe that a 29er fills a necessary gap between the 24" and 36" setups. A 24" is just too small for long XC rides (unless you’re Kris and you’ve ridden 50K trails at the drop of a hat ), and 36ers are disproportionately heavy enough that I lose the flickable feel that a 29er has.
All sizes have their ideal purposes. Compromise is inevitable when riding diverse terrain with only one wheel and only one gear, so it’s really a matter of what a rider prefers for the terrain that is most readily available.
I find that you roll over stuff (tractor) much more easily with a wider, high volume fatter tire, like the 3.0 Duro or Gazz, than a narrower tire like the 2.3 with higher psi and lower volume. Maybe it’s just the added momentum of the larger diameter wheel; I love taking my 36er out on the trails for MUni, just as is planned for each of the 3 days for this year’s CMW.
And when I think of hard core muni I guess I’m mostly referring to the intensity of doing big drops, not just long distances. While it’s fun to just drop in and go non-stop over mostly singletrack for miles and miles, I also love really technical, rocky MUni where you can stop and find a variety of lines to session, or big ledgy drops either on the trail or off on the sides.
It’s not really the momentum of the larger wheel that makes it easier. It’s simply that (all other things being equal) larger diameter wheels generally roll over bumps more smoothly than smaller diameter wheels. For example, consider rolling a 20" trials wheel up a small curb compared to a 36" wheel.
29er MUni is inbetween what you describe. Miles and miles of technical trail without the “big stuff” that forces me (and any other mortal unicyclist) to dismount every few minutes. I usually associate sessioning with trials more than MUni. When I’m in the mood for MUni I want nonstop riding, not, “Oh, let’s stop and play for 15 minutes and see if we can clear it without maiming ourselves!”
I’m still a relative newbie at Muni with less than a year, but I am riding a 26" muni and I find it to be the best of both worlds between the 29 and 24. This past winter/spring I rode the 36er hard on a lot of Colorado hill climbs. I know the joys of the 36 inch tire. I’ve been riding muni with other people on 24" and I find them to be SO slow, on the flats and gradual downhill especially. It seems like on my 26" large marge setup tire I can bomb through steep rocky crud so much faster, and with the LM rim and 3 inch duro (I agree with Terry on the tire size) it can absorb so much. I don’t do 5 foot drops yet but I’m getting there. I guess my two bits is I am psyched about the 26 incher.
Also, just a note about the Surly Endo 4.0 tire vs. the 3.0 inch Duro. I really wanted the Endo 4 inch tire to be my everything tire. It just looks so friggin cool and it leaves such a remarkably bewildering tread to mountain bikers following you up wet singletrack! But alas, I reluctantly agree that it pales in performance compared to a 3.0 tire. I didn’t want to believe it, but my muni skills increased considerably once I went to the 3.0 Duro. I did do a couple of amazing rides in the Great Sand Dunes National Park on the Endomorph and for snowy/winter riding I will definitely keep it around, but I will stick with the 3.0 for dry singletrack riding.
It will be interesting to see what develops as far as wheel size when the KH geared hub comes out. I’ve read that it’s hard to use high gear on a 29 off road. This may bring back the popularity of the 26er. W/ a 3" tire it’s almost as big as a 29, and can absorb big drops.
What’s needed is a fat 29er tire with tough sidewalls. Apparently, there are a few of these in the works, but nothing for sale yet. My riding buddy, Gary, and I are sort of newby 29er riders (I just can’t quite get the feel of mine although it’s been a few months, and Gary just got his KH29 last week), and we were talking about how we love the speed possibilities with the 29er, but miss the big old cushion of a 3" tire. Climbing-wise, I’m not quite as good on the 29er with cranks in the 150 position as I am on the 24 w/165s, but it’s not as different as you might suspect. The larger wheel does carry rotational momentum better, and so spins up the hill a little more readily than the smaller one.
I probably wouldn’t want a 3" tire on my KH29 because the weight would make climbing more difficult. I think my current setup of KH29 + WTB Exiwolf 2.3 is fairly analogous to a fully rigid XC single speed mountain bike in terms of the feel of a rough trail. The Exiwolf doesn’t even compare to a 3" tire on rough downhills–I do have to concentrate more, but the experience is similar to riding an XC mountain bike minus the latest suspension technology.
I think there has to be point where we draw a line between a “downhill” or “freeride” setup and a XC MUni setup, much like is done with mountain bikes. Each type of MUni is best suited for different types of trails, but I think it’s important to avoid overly relying on gear to make up for lack of technique if we want the sport to advance.
I guess Muni tires would fit in this thread topic. Anyway, I just got an “Intense” 24x3 DH tire from ride-this.com for only FIVE BUCKS! It’s used, but the guy said there’s still a good 90% tread left and still nubs, so that’s a great deal!
I initially went to the site to order an Arrow Wide bite 24x3, which is almost identical to the duro but about $10 less, but they were out of stock and I wanted one in time for cmw.
I also got a cool primo 25.4mm seat post (rail type) also for $14. Me happy!
Hit some trails the other day, stuff i did on my mountain bike some 7 years ago(just moved back into the area)
and running a 24, which is great for hopping up and over the logs and great for the drops… but boy do i feel slow. My old mtn bike loop that took 15 minutes… took… an unbeleivabley long time(partly because of the tire size, partly due to redoing the log hops etc…)
but oh it was so nice, the crisp fall breeze, the leaves falling, and jsut rocky rooting log strewn goodness!!