I didn't get a whole lot of good weather time to ride over break, but I did manage a few days where it was possible to sneak a ride in while the trail was frozen hard ("good weather" takes on a new meaning in winter, I guess) I was trying to solidify some ideas about wheel size and suspension, so I took my Razzo and ERB and headed to the beginner loop at P1 to repeatedly lap each bike over the short, two mile course.
Big wheel vs. small, suspension vs. rigid, carbon frame vs. ERB, big tire vs. er, bigger tire. Here's how it shook out.
The wheel size had the biggest impact. The ERB was set up 26" front and rear, vs. the 29ers on the Razzo. I like quick handling bikes, but the small wheels just made the ERB feel twitchy. It wasn't particularly confidence inspiring, even on the flat, easy beginner trail. With the shorter chainstays allowed by the smaller wheels, it was a bit easier to pop up the front end of the ERB, but not a huge difference.
The ERB was set up with my 29er fork and a 2.75" Dirt Wizard tire:
I theorized the longer front fork would slow down the steering from my last ride on the ERB, but it didn't seem to go far enough. Even with the fork, the ride wasn't as smooth as the Razzo with the 29+ Knard up front:
The only place where the ERB really scored a win was acceleration. Despite the overall heavier weight (suspension, gears), it takes off like a rocket. The Razzo is slower to get up to speed, but once there, holds that speed better.
Trying to tame the quick steering of the ERB, I set it up as a 69er for a quick comparo the next morning at the tiny (1/3 mile) loop in the nearby Avery Park woodlot:
This was definitely better overall than the 26" wheel and suspension fork, but still falls short of the comfort and control offered by the Razzo. I still need to do some more cockpit tuning on the ERB, since the bar felt noticeably narrower than the Razzo's. When I measured them back in the garage, it was narrower, but just by 20mm: 680mm vs. 700mm. Remember when we all rode around on 23" (580mm) bars?
I had been getting ready to pull the trigger on a 26" Soma Analog frame before they go out of production, but I really don't see the merit to small wheels anymore. And today I found this great interview with Titan Bikes, whom I've been corresponding with about a Ti 29+ frameset... which just moved another notch closer to happening.
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