So, I ran over to the local bike shop and handed over the cash for the Trek Wahoo 29er. With a few days down now, I’m glad I chose this bike. I’ve also come to understand the ups and downs of the 29s a bit better as well.
One thing that changed quickly with this bike, is that I’m much less cautious and move a lot faster on the off-road trails. Of course, my stiff old Trek 800 was a jolting experience on rough trails compared to this bike. On the old bike, I spent a lot of time weaving around the exposed roots and rocks. It wasn’t simply the bumps, but some obstacles nearly stopped my old bike dead in its tracks.. 26 inch wheels? I don’t know where that line is.. but I can say that the Wahoo with the 29 inch wheels simply climbs over anything. The shocks make the ride much smoother and help me maintain control on the rough spots at speed. Even though this is Trek’s low-end mountain bike, it’s certainly a luxury ride for me compared to what I was used to on the local trails.
Now the second need for me was that the new bike played the domestic role as well. On many days I’m simply buzzing around town with my little pack on the back filled with goodies. Although different, the bike is still fun in the city. In fact, I enjoy how nimble it is when moving around in the urban environment. One noticeable change from my old 800 was that after a day of riding around the city, I was a bit more burnt out. My guess, from reading other reviews as well, is that since the 29s take a bit more effort to get up to speed than 26 inch wheels, that all the stop/starts in the city just add up over time. Of course I also find myself riding a bit more aggressively and that may also be a factor.
One unexpected downside with the Wahoo was how the shock felt when I stood up to climb hills. You see, when I approach a hill I stand up and power up the hill. I don’t rely on the gears. It’s just the way I’ve always road. (A habit from the “no gears” days!) The problem is that the front suspension gives way and you begin to pump the front of the bike up and down as you climb. This simply kills your leverage, and you lose the whole advantage of standing as you power up the hill. I’ve found that if I put my weight further back it helps, but not enough. It’s as if the bike simply wants me to stay seated and use my gears.. But where’s the fun in that? I think in the long-term I may want a shock with a lockout that will easily allow me to stop that give completely when I’m street riding.
Again, I can go back to what we know about buying a kayak; The style, speed, quality, etc., that you need is really dependent on your skill level and your goals. Newbies often go for a whole host of “rad” features, and have no clue what they are getting and in fact, will never see the advantages that a pro might get from high-end gear. As a causal rider, I know that I don’t notice many things that a real enthusiast would. I’m not concerned about saving a quarter-second on a track. I’m not measuring ounces. I’ve just learned over time, that you don’t buy a bike from a discount box store and riding your bike should always be fun and not a chore. I’ve always been happy with Trek quality. I know that with a bit of care, it will last as long as I choose to keep it. The Wahoo is fairly light in “my world”, nimble and very fast once it’s up to speed. I’m riding through any terrain, jumping curbs, crossing ditches, etc., where I never would have before. All big pluses. Yep, I do feel like I work a bit harder, and someday I will replace that shock… but that’s still a small price to pay.