That´s what I have heard from various sides until I couldn´t close my ears for that cry any more. After tried out some different 29ers the picture of “my” Bike appeared more and more clearly in my inner eye – and since some month I am a part of the steadily growing 29er-fan community.
From the very beginning some points were crystal clear: my bike should be real no-brainer, a good and solid piece of art, reliable, versatile, trail-eating and without any gimmicks. Everything set up for maximum fun and maximum reliability. After a deep rush through the pertinent web sites the decision for “my” frame was easy: Banshee Paradox – man-size XL! The Banshee bikes have been noticed ever since for loving trails, offering endless reliability and a very unique look and riding style – that´s what I want!
White Brothers Fluid 29er fork – with 140mm travel
I like the WB-forks when I fist saw them – and 140mm for a trail hardtail are really cool! Due to the super solid 20mm axle, all the cool CNC-machined parts, the excellent working adjustments and the super smooth working this fork seemed to be the best value to get. Sure that long fork may put an extra degree of slackness to the frame – if you don´t like it add maybe a 120mm-Reba – but I wanted it that traily way!
Shimano XLX Trail
As mentioned the key points are fun and rigidity – and so I came to the trail-version of Shimano´s SLX group. The new 3x10-speed with a 12-36-cassette to fit the gear ratio to the bigger wheels seemed perfect for me – and the look of the SLX is perfect for me. Not too shiny but very valuable. I also took the SLX disc brakes and combined them with a pair of XT-discs – due to the fact that this ones are available in international 6-screw-standard.
MRP XCG Crank protection
The perfect and most effective protection for triple crank sets you could add to you bike – just in case of hitting something!
WTB 29er wheelset with ST-Hardride-hubs
Solid WTB Laserdisc-29-rims offering the right mix of rigidity with some needed flex. Combined with a set of super-duty ST-Hardride-hubs – both held together by a set of Büchler 2.35/2.0-DB tandem spokes. A perfect combination for every trail in this world.
WTB Bronson 2.2 – 29“ – Tires
This new all round-tires directly from American MTB pioneers WTB are being called my all-time companion on every trail – I don´t want to change tires, I want to ride!
WTB Bronson 2.2. 29“ – Reifen
WTB Vigo saddle
Simply spoken because it is comfortable, offers a good length for variable riding positions and because it is not too heavy – and good looking. Perfect for my trail bike!
Easton EA-90 Monkey-Riserbar with matching stem and seat post
American knowhow for trail riding, design and rigidity – perfect match!
Adding some lock on grips and minor parts – ready, steady, GO!
After assembling the whole bike in an over night session – and after some hours of sleep – it was time for my first real 29er tour. Living in the middle of Germany, January means lots of snow or rain, rather cold and wet conditions. OK, all the advantages that have been mentioned in various articles and reports. Things like good rolling capacity, the feeling of more sitting in the bike, advanced safety, better grip – have heard about all this several times – but what´s the truth and what´s just marketing rubbish?
So I entered the bike, clicked into my Shimano SPD pedals – wow, look at the front tire, how near! Short head turn – jep, rear tire seems to be very near too. But anyway – let´s ride! After some minutes on a fire lane I use the first piece of grassland with some trees on as a perfect training field to get used to the bike. When does the rear start to slide? When do I loose grip while standing up and pushing? How narrow can I turn around a small tree? Things like that.
After the first minutes I am really stoked! Ok, position is sure some inches higher from ground than on a 26er – but you don´t really feel this. I felt very comfortable after the very first few meters! Ok, front tire seemed to be real near by – but no worries. Due to the relatively long-travel fork I had to get used to a slightly different way of cornering – blasted some turns and I got it: short haul off to the other side, add some speed – that all! But what´s about the saying that 29er can´t do switchbacks? Ok, next try, go for a real tight radius – speed and go! Cool feeling – ready for the trails!
Starting with a transition over fire lanes and some old paths to the woods I ended up in a cool trail meandering through some tries, some rocks, roots and nice little clearings. Paradox rolls like being nailed to the perfect line – my previous training session pays back. So I could really enjoy the bike-ride and left all the technical bla-bla behind. Some steep uphill ramps make me smile. Ok, the Paradox is no super lightweight race bike – especially not in this spec – but the WTB Bronson tire shows real phenomenal traction. Even slippery roots can´t turn him into sliding and makes me saving power by passing them. The 3x10 Shimano SLX works perfectly – even for an old “Grip shift addicted” like me. Thanks to the constant rain we had the days before the trail gets slippery and muddy the more I follow them into the woods and so I start collecting mud, leafs and needles all over the bike – but not at the tires! Very good mud extraction here – and the SLX even works when you couldn´t even see the derailleur in all that mud….very brave!
After two hours playing with the Paradox I got to one of my favourite woods, covered with lots of small narrow trails, cool corners and fast sections. The wet track allowed constant rolling and the Bronsons did their job. The mixture of this tires and the 29er traction advantage allowed a smooth ride even in sloping sections. Ok, so turn right into the corner section….roll from the outer side, short cut in the opposite direction with the front, back on the track with added speed – yeeeehaaa the Paradox turns like hell. The sun set makes me roll home – covered with mud, big smile on my face and really proud of my bike. Cool Paradox with superb parts – seems there is another 29er fan born!
The following weeks could see a big guy on a big 29er Paradox rolling along on the home trails – but the Paradox has also become my constant companion, sitting in my van every time I travel, being the perfect bike for an evening rollout with my dogs in the woods, relaxed, speedy and with all those small details only a good 29er can offer.