News of new models for 2017 seem to be revolving around slack, long travel 29ers with big wide wheels. The sort of mile-munching bikes that you can have lots of fun with when you decide you’ve had enough of climbing, with handling that’s on your side from the start. This makes my purchase of a YT Jeffsy unusually prescient. But what other options are popping up?
Well, first of all Orange continue to hone their folded aluminium, single pivot design that has been around since full suspension started. This week comes news of the new Stage 5 and Stage 6 bikes, Enduro style slack sleds which rock 140mm front, 135mm rear travel for the Stage 5 and 160mm front, 150mm rear travel for the Stage 6. Both have long wheelbases and either 65.5° or 66.5° head angles meaning fun is pretty much baked in. Head over to Factory Jackson for more info.
Next up, it would be silly to talk about long travel 29ers without a nod to the Santa Cruz Hightower, arguably one of the early bikes to this category. With a 67° head angle, long wheelbase and short chainstays it is bang in the sweet spot with 135mm rear travel and 140mm at the front. It’s also flexible enough to switch to 27.5 Plus wheels if you fancy and is the sort of bike to win lots of fans around the Surrey Hills.
Another brand, Ghost, have the SL AMR 29er to offer, with 150mm front, 140mm rear travel and a 67° head angle complimenting a tidy looking overall package.
Pivot also have the option of a long, slack 29er in the form of the Switchblade which has the added flexibility of accommodating Plus size tyres too. In 29er form it has 135mm of rear travel and 150mm up front with a 67.25° head angle. This is a bike I really like the look of.
A bike that’s been on my wish list to ride for a while is the Devinci Django 29, a slightly shorter travel option at 120mm of rear travel but a bike that promises to be sharp and responsive when you want it to be and milder natured the rest of the time.
Quite possibly a brand that many overlook is Orbea, who offer – in the shape of the Occam TR series bikes – 29ers with 120mm of front and rear travel with 68° head angles, longish wheelbases and short 435mm chainstays. The Occam (Razer, geddit!?) looks like a responsive, fun handling trail bike that you could push into a wide range of riding and love every minute of it.
Finally for this round up, new kid on the block Pole offer the Evolink 140 29 which pushes the envelope on what a 29er should be. With a crazy sounding 64.5° head angle, a long effective reach of 621mm and a wheelbase of 1284mm (for the medium) it’s a bike that is possibly better suited to descending than climbing; yet with its effective seat tube angle of 77.5° Bikeradar have described it as ‘one of the best technical climbing bikes’. I think riding it is the only way to really know, but for me it sounds more Enduro than Trail. Strangely, the damn thing is also foldable??
So there you are, if you are looking beyond a YT Jeffsy for long days ragging the trails this summer, there’s a lot to choose from… and a lot of fun to be had along the way…
Big wheels, keep on turning.