UPHILL AND XC PERFORMANCE
I gushed and babbled about the Altitude’s climbing ability when I first reviewed the frameset. I might have used words such as “terrific climber” and described it as having best-in-class rear-wheel traction. There’s really not a lot to add to those thoughts except to say that the big-wheels add to the Altitude’s already exceptional climbing ability. This is my first big-wheeled bike; rumour had it that wagon wheels roll through obstacles easier and help one maintain momentum. Well, rumour is true. The Altitude 29er chews up rooty, rocky singletrack. In particular, once you get up to speed, it isn’t that difficult to maintain speed (trail conditions permitting).
I would note that my observations above were true of 90% of uphills and flat trails. The only caveat is that I found that climbing a 29er in exceptionally tight singletrack requires different techniques and perhaps slightly more effort than with 26″ wheels. By this, I mean that when turning very tightly uphill, I’ll micro-wheelie a front wheel around a corner to maintain power and speed (this allows you to not have to deliberately turn the bars and slow down in corners (of course this little trick requires decent traction). This is not easy to do with a big-wheeled bike; and the only time when I could actually feel the extra size/heft of the 29″ wheel working against you. Eventually I got used to the slight extra size of the wheel and would start my turn a little quicker and initiate the turn a little less deliberately than when on a 26″ wheeled bike.
To summarize, on balance, the 29er Altitude climbed at least as well, if not better than the 26″ Altitude.
Kill Me Thrill Me – Whistler
Ladies Only – North Vancouver