Specialized Epic 29er vs 26er

Specialized Epic 29er vs 26er

The big wheels made me go faster, both up and downhill!

The most recognizable performance point has been, how much more energy I saved towards the end of my runs, and as a result of this I was faster in both ways. I stayed focussed, sharp and had more energy left. At the beginning of the uphill run the 29er felt more like a big fish in the water. Never thought I am going to beat the 26er time, because the 26er felt so light and explosive. It took off like a race horse, but calmed down after mid way, and had to concentrate more.

After I have beaten the 26er uphill time with the big wheels I thought I am going make a even bigger time difference in the downhill. But I made two, three bigger mistakes at the beginning, plus the dh run is shorter, so when the real advantage of the big wheels came into play, I was already at the finish line.

In theory the big wheels have a different angle to tackle the obstacles and roll better over it, plus I definitely have the feeling that you ride „inside“ the bike due the big wheels. I think this are the key points which made me go faster on our rough testing track.

I have also tested both bikes on a super steep, long rocky uphill, with two walking sections. The 29er made me climb more of it, because I had better balance and grip and control.

I am totally convinced to race the Epic 29er for rocky, tough marathon races such as the Cape-Epic, or Roc d‘Azur.
For Cross-Country races with all the sprinting and accelerating out off the saddle, I will choose my Epic 26er. Because it is a little bit stiffer and lighter.
Cross Country is such a racing specific discipline where every gram counts, plus the tracks normally are not as rocky as the trail I was testing on. But for general public, the big wheels are absolutely the way to go. You will get a totally new riding experience, which is comfortable, fast and smooth.

(a great video of our testing day to follow soon!)

Facts and figures of our testing day:

26er in Uphill
Time: 19.21
Heart Rate Max: 168 Average: 162

29er in Uphill
Time: 19.10
Hear Rate: Max: 171 Average: 164

26er in Downhill
time: 15.02
Hear Rate: Max: 165 Average: 156

29er in Downhill
Time: 14.50
Heart Rate: Max: 167 Average: 157

Weight:
26er 9.1kg / 29er 9.8kg (standard setups)

Tires:
26er Renegade 1.9 / 29er Renegade 1.95

Tire pressure:
front & rear 27psi

Shock Pressure:
26er fork 50psi, shock 150psi / 29er fork 60psi bottom and 90psi top, shock 150psi

Track:
5km singe trail, 220m elevation difference, rocky, rooty, sandy, smooth, tight and fast corners