Ask MBA – 29er’s are Back

Time for a New 29er


Q: I wanted to thank Mountain Bike Action for steering me towards the purchase of a first-generation Santa Cruz Tallboy several years ago. The bike has been great for the riding I do in San Diego County. I did end up putting a 120mm Fox fork on the front, but 100mm is really enough for the bulk of the riding that we have down here.


However, my vacations often involve trips to Fruita, Moab or Sedona; in other words, high desert with more rocky, technical riding than we have in SoCal.


Niner Bikes RIP 9 RDO 5-STAR PUSH Edition

I often feel that this older Tallboy is a bit, well, “tall” on the steep rocky stuff. Slowly but surely, I’ve become a 29er rider. My next bike will be another 29er. I know there are a lot of great bikes on the market right now, and it’s a good time to be a mountain biker. I also know that the mid-travel (say around 140mm) category is fairly competitive in 2018.

My question is simply this: in the mid-travel 29er category, what bike does your wrecking crew like the most as far as climbing ability? I’m fairly certain that any 29er that I buy that has 140mm of travel (or more) up front will do what I need on the descents, so for me it’s really the climbing performance that matters.

Read MBA’s Ibis Ripmo 29 Bike Test

One slight addition to my question: is the new Ibis Ripmo almost as good at climbing as the standard Santa Cruz Hightower (not the LT), or is the Hightower still a noticeably better climber due to the fact that it has less travel, both front and rear?

Read MBA’s Santa Cruz Hightower LT Bike Test

Read MBA’s Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 70 Bike Test

Read MBA’s Pivot Switchblade Bike Test

I have also considered the Rocky Mountain Instinct and Pivot Switchblade as well.

I’m a long-time subscriber.

Thanks for your time, and keep cranking out the great mag.

Graham Hobbs
San Diego, CA

A: There are a lot of good mid-travel 29ers out there right now, and we have tested most of them! The bikes you mentioned are all good contenders. We tested the Hightower LT, so we can’t really compare the non-LT to the Ripmo. We will say that the Ripmo is an impressively good climber and capable descender.

Read MBA’s Trek Fuel EX 9.9 29 Bike Test

Another bike that is quite capable but also climbs well is the Trek Fuel EX 9.9 that we tested in our March issue. With 130mm of travel, the EX might seem more lightweight, but it is plenty capable.


Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.

Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Subscribe Here

Contact us via email at [email protected]

You might also like