Having struggled a little to gain some traction last winter with the factory fitted Specialized Ground Control tyres that came on the Rockhopper I took the advice of my LBS and fitted a pair of Storm Control also from Specialized.
No sooner were they on, my grip improved in the wet muddy conditions. They cut through the mud well. I have left them on all year and haven’t had much in the way of problems to warrant changing them.
I mostly ride my 29er XC and on rolling terrain rather than on gnarly downhill and technical obstacles. There have been the odd sketchy moment on wet roots but I have learnt to deal with that (what tyre can truly cope with wet roots?) and the ability to beat the mud has defined these tyres for me. You won’t get one tyre that can deal with everything – but the Storm Control on my 29er has been plenty of tyre for me on this bike over the last 9 months or so. While I have been tempted to put some wider more aggressive tyres on for the summer, they rolled and rode well and with the wet weather coming they will stay put for another winter.
There are many a subject that us mountain bikers like to debate, but nothing is a hotter topic right now than the great wheel size debate.
Well you can all sit back and relax cos Chips, legendary editor of Singletrack Magazine and bike guru has spoken up and settled the argument for us, so we needn’t give it another thought!
Or has he?
Well did you read that? It seems conclusive that the main manufacturers are dropping the current 26″ standard in favour of 650b (27.5″ in English). Apart from a few isolated models it seems that 29″ and 650b will make up next years crop of bikes, with the 650b being the wheel size for the DH and all mountain brigade and the XC wheel of choice will likely continue to be 29″ and on a hard tail.
I have a 26″ full sus and a 29er hard tail (https://timfromwales.wordpress.com/my-bikes/) and here are my thoughts:
1. The 26″ bike is light and bouncy. It’s my first full sus and I haven’t ridden many others but it does the job for me.
2. The 29er is quick. It’s great for long distances, climbing and descending. Turning is a bigger deal and really technical trail obstacles specifically climbs are hard work. This maybe more due to it being a hard tail but I find it harder to hop over stuff. It’s harder to bounce a hard tail over roots and rocks.
3. So, I can totally understand the desire for a size in between.
29ers have become a more common site over the last year or so and it’s no doubt that rider feedback have driven the manufacturers to a similar conclusion to mine, the best of both worlds, a compromise – call it what you like.
I haven’t ridden a full sus 29er, I am sure I would like it but I can’t help but feel that the wheel size would be too big for my favoured type of riding – tight twisty technical descents – and for my mown physical size. What I can say for a fact is that I was considering a new full sus bike this year from my LBS, but I was looking for an ex demo and the only demo bikes they have are 29ers… Now I’m thinking that next year will be the year of the 650b for me…
Question is where and when can I test one?