You are hereForums / By Discipline / Mountain (off road) / MTB Gear / 29er hardtail vs 26er Full suspension

29er hardtail vs 26er Full suspension

snowey's picture

By snowey - Posted on 23 July 2012

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Hi guys

No doubt ill be needing to buy a new bike soon and im looking at getting a HT 29er. I currently own a 26 FS and im just wondering if there are any advantages/disadvantages to a HT 29er as opposed to a 26 FS

Any feedback would be wonderful

jaseh's picture

Have a read of the latest Mountain Biking Australia mag. There is a good article in there covering all wheel sizes in all configurations.

leopafe's picture

In my opinion it is pretty much a case of "horses for courses". I remember in the early 29er days people saying that a 29er HT was equivalent to a short travel 26er and this is the biggest BS I've ever heard/read.
I've got both bikes, a 5.5 inch 26er and a 29er HT and I have a lot of fun in both. My home trail has a lot of switchbacks and short ish climbs that are quite chopped up and have lots of loose rocks and my 26er is both much more comfortable and faster even in the climbs as the 29er (1.5 Kg lighter) looses traction as the rear wheel bounces. Both of my bikes are being run tubeless with similar tyres so it is a good comparison.
On the other hand, I did a couple of races on a smooth ish course and the 29er was brilliant.

If I were to have only one bike given my riding style (more XC) I'd go for a short travel 650b or 29er.

snowey's picture

yeah, its a fine line between a FS 26er and a HT 29er. I mainly ride rough, rock terrain on weekends and do XC racing, so i need a bike that can handle both types of scenarios,
Any suggestions?

Im more steering towards getting a HT 29er, or are hardtails dead?

ttmtb's picture

This is the hardest of all open ended questions to answer, with NO definitive answer.

All the replies above are very good and the article in the magazine mentioned is also excellent.

The best advice I can give is go and ride as many "Demo" bikes as you can. Ride both 26 and 29 and make your own mind up. I know people who have done this and have stayed with their 26 and others have been converted to 29.

Read the article and ride the bikes, then make your own mind up.

Good luck

ido09s's picture

I have a Trek Remedy 9 (26er, 6 inch full sus) and a Yeti Big Top 29er (HT) and i must say i dont enjoy the Yeti anywhere near as much as i do the Remedy. This is probably more to do with the fact i ride Manly Dam lots and i dont like riding clipped in. Because of all this i find myself off the pedals more than i am on them with the Yeti. Maybe if i got a trail that more suited to the bike i would enjoy it more, but then i wouldnt enjoy riding the trail as i like the rough stuff more than the smooth single trail

I have a test ride of a Yeti SB95 organised for this weekend but given Sydney's weather i may have to give it up as i wont be riding any local trails. I want to ride Manly Dam with it as it will be the best and fairest comparison to both my current bikes.

Once i have ridden it i will let you know what i think of it

Dicko's picture


I have / have ridden fs 26er, hardtail 26er, hardtail 29er, FS 29er (specialized epic).

For typical XC trails the FS 29er is the go - especially if you plan to do a few races or some longer rides. A mate of mine races the hardtail 29er, and the difference between him and me on the FS 29er, is the recovery, and how much energy the hardtail takes out of you over the longer distances and rougher terrain.

The best scenario is a bike like the specialized epic, where you have the beauty of a FS bike but have a true rear lockout if you want it. i have been racing XC on one of these this year - and the difference is remarkable.

PS - if interested that mate on the 29er hardtail is looking to move to a FS 29er, so there maybe a very good hardtail becoming available soon.

Floydo's picture

Perfect bike for what you describe. I ride lots of rough rocky trails and also endurance race (5Okm) for fun. I much prefer my 29erHT to my 5.5" Banshee Spitfire 26" dually over 40 years old. Its not the lightest, mind is around 12kg ish with 120mm fork. Short ribbed chain stays, slightly slacker head angle. It is more all mountain/ trail design than pure xc race and this makes it much more stable in the rough stuff. really comes down to what you prefer and where you ride.

Harry's picture

this could be a never ending topic because everyone has their own personal preference. I bought a 29er HT to see what it felt like and 6 months later sold my Yeti 575. It all depends on where you ride and for everything I've ridden so far the 29er does just fine. Don't find the back wheel bouncing or losing traction in climbs as mentioned on here but I run lower pressures and with baggy tyres it feels fine to me.

MikeyS's picture

Hi Snowey,
I personally own both types of bikes (a Trek Superfly Elite 29er and Scott Spark 26er).
Both bikes have more of less the same price tag so hopefully this creates some objectivity. I've noticed a few things really with these two bikes.
1) whatever you're doing the 26er is going to be much more lively and in my opinion much more fun as I can throw it around really easily and the acceleration is absolutely insance.
2) There is no dispute that the 29er is faster in 90% of cases. I ride Manly Dam with less effort and 1-2 minutes faster each lap (3 consecutive loops) on my 29er. Rare is the course where the 26er is truly faster.
3) This all being said the 29er is still a hardtail, very nasty on the back after a few hours (the Rocky Trail GP4 at Awaba a few weeks ago had my back aching after 3 hours as I longed to ride my dually which was in for servicing). Then again it may just be me not meditating on rule no.5 enough!
4) I rode my fathers 29er dually and found that although it was super fast, the thing was definitely not the best option for XC racing (then again I am a reasonably small and light rider).

So what does it come down to?
IMO ride any demo bike you can get your hands on. You know what a dually feels like already but try some modern ones. As for the 29ers my experience with the Trek Superfly has been amazing. Before you buy anything I would strongly urge you to ride one off road and make your mind up about them then. Otherwise brands like Specialized and Scott are also making great stuff in 29ers these days.
Hope this helps,

snowey's picture

yeah, thanks. That helps alot, ill take all those factors into consideration. By the way i got a dually 26er only a couple of years ago, a Giant Anthem, and the geometry for the bike hasnt changed a great deal. But yeah, i find that my anthem is comfortable in rough and is more fun than a hardtail (rode a friends), but im willing to make the fun and comfortable part as a sacrifice and turn that sacrifice into speed and control. Just curous if a 29er HT will make me a better rider and a faster racer than what i am now on my 26 dually

snowey's picture

cheers everyone for your opinions

vince-cox's picture

I've got both a dually (santa Cruz heckler) & a ht (XTC0 29ER with some mods) tend to use & Njoy riding both tbh. Done a few xc races, & tend to use the ht as o/a I reckon a bit quicker. Saying that I use strava also & my times tend to be very similar over most of the trails around the area.
Def reckon the HT improves u as a rider though as u can't just ride through things as u do on the dually... Even with the big wheels Smiling

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Best Mountain Bike