Review: Bailey Bikes 29er

29er Cross Country

The Bailey 29er perched atop the famous Flume Trail above Lake Tahoe.

  • Insanely light at 19.8 pounds
  • Outstanding value at only $1,100 for the frameset
  • Low bottom bracket delivers exceptional handling and cornering
  • One of the best warranties in the industry
  • Low bottom bracket has a tendency to clip rocks
  • Lack of paint and graphics options might be a deal breaker to some
  • Not designed for riders over 200 pounds

For those of you who read my 26er vs. 29er rigid singlespeed comparison at this year’s 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, you might remember the 29er I rode was from Bailey Bikes, a boutique manufacturer of carbon fiber race bikes based out of North County San Diego. Although in my test the nod went to the 26er, I still really liked the way the Bailey rode. So to get a better feel for the Bailey 29er, John Bailey set me up with a geared demo rig that I took to Tahoe for a week of riding.

John Bailey is not only an engineer and designer by trade, but he is also a top flight cyclocross racer from the Pacific Northwest who now resides in Southern California. With numerous state titles to his name, Bailey knows how a fast bike should feel and handle. For about the past seven years, Bailey has designed his own road, cyclocross and mountain bike frames, contracting with leading quality Taiwanese factories to manufacture his creations. In addition to starting his own brand, he has also done suspension designs for Turner Bikes.

The disc brake is mounted on the chainstay.

The Bailey 29er is John’s first foray into mountain bike frames after primarily focusing on lightweight and aggressive cyclocross rigs. Just looking at the Bailey 29er, one can see the cyclocross design influences. Ultra-thin seatstays that rival a Cervelo R5 (jokingly called “petite-stays”) for maximum shock absorption and minimal weight, bridgeless seatstays and chainstays for maximum mud clearance and room for up to a 2.4-inch rear tire, a disc brake mount on the chainstay for better braking performance and aggressive geometry that’s designed to do one thing – go fast.

An innovative Kevlar ding guard is molded into the downtube.

Because every frame is designed by racers for racers, Bailey has no flashy paint schemes, belabored graphics or big budget marketing campaigns. Instead, Bailey takes a page from Henry Ford’s book; you can have your Bailey in any color you want, so long as it’s black. A simple unidirectional carbon gloss finish frame is standard and features aggressive race geometry, a press-fit BB92 bottom bracket, tapered head tube, metal inlaid chainsuck protector and a slick Kevlar bash guard integrated into the mold of the downtube just above the bottom bracket. Both the rear disc brake and rear derailleur cables are fully external running down the down tube while the front derailleur is internally routed.

Continue reading for the Bailey 29er riding impressions and photo gallery.

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

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  • dan says:

    MTBR states frame price is $1100 yet Bailey’s site lists $1250.

  • Mountain says:

    So nice to see a racing frame with weight limits. Too many companies are afraid of the blowback and perception from putting weight limits on their products. The ability to alter thickness and angles of carbon layups offers a lot of opportunity for tuning the ride of a carbon frame, but even so a frame designed to withstand use from a 250+lb rider without it feeling like a noodle is going to ride like a board for a more typical 140-170lb XC racer. There are plenty of options out there for Clydes, so it’s nice to see a frame that’s tuned to give a good ride to the lighter guys.

  • Arek says:

    If only it was available as a single speed frame (with some sort of sliders/swinging drop outs, not ebb of any kind – I’d be on A9C otherwise) I’d be all over it! Beautiful and I love the geometry!

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    Hey Arek, my buddy Joe rides a Bailey as a singlespeed without a chain tensioner. He has numerous gear configurations by using a couple half-links on a normal 8 speed chain. He loves the bike, and when he had it set up with a rigid fork it weight a whopping 17.5 lbs! If you have questions about the setup, you can email him – joe at carbonframerepair dot com.


  • gregg says:

    it kinda looks like a Foundry Broadaxe

  • Roger says:

    $1100 or $1200 for a framset, a value?? If it was the whole bike, that would be a value!! This is what’s wrong with the bike industry!

  • Kevin Carlson says:

    I love my Bailey.. The value is impeccable in this industry.. 1200 bucks for an XX Carbon Fork with Frame lighter than an S-Works Race ready… I will take it any day!

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