Still think 29ers can't cut it?

The big wheeling comeback continues. 29ers had a bad start in life – caused by poor geometry rather than larger wheels – and for some narrow-minded riders out there they’re still something to knock.

Thankfully we’re now living in much more enlightened times.

>>> Nine 2017 bikes you won’t have seen before

29in wheels were always really good at carrying speed and grabbing traction. Now they’re being paired with decent geometry, healthy amounts of suspension travel and stiff forks and wheels.

YT Jeffsy


  • 140mm travel
  • 66.8° head angle
  • Direct sales game-changer

Decked out in all the best gear, it’s hard not to love the Jeffsy CF Pro, and just like the Capra transformed the enduro segment, Jeffsy looks set to blow the doors clean off the 29er trail bike category.

>>> YT Industries Jeffsy CF Pro (2016) first ride

Santa Cruz Hightower


  • 140mm travel
  • 66.8° head angle
  • Up to date version of the Tallboy LT

Okay so it’s one of these new breed of bikes that snuck in a revised 29er design under the guise of 27.5+ compatibility but to a lot of SC fans out there this bike is the new Tallboy LT. Not as rangey in length as some bikes but still packing all that much-desirable Santa Cruz attention to detail.

>>> Santa Cruz Hightower CC first ride

Evil Wreckoning


  • 161mm travel
  • 65.5° head angle
  • Unapologetic steamroller

Evil arguably have the two most eyebrow rasing 29ers out there at the mo. There’s the shorter travel trail bike Following and this, the beastly Wreckoning. Whereas the Following is meant to be some sort of ‘sporty enduro’ vibe, the Wreckoning is more akin to a ‘bludgeoning DH bike’.

Transition Smuggler


  • 115mm travel
  • 67.5° head angle
  • Short in travel, big on fun

This bike looks positively sane coming after the Evil Wreckoning above. Indeed some of the numbers don’t really set the pulse racing; 115mm rear travel, 130mm fork, 7.34lb frame weight… but the Smuggler is all about geometry. Much like their similarly modestly travel-ed 27.5 Scout bike, the Smuggler is slack, long and low and rips trails with gay abandon (yes, we said just that).

Specialized Enduro 29

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 14.20.07

  • 155mm travel
  • 67.5° head angle
  • Bung some offset bushings in there and prepare to bomb

Specialized may have arrived late to the 29er party, but once in, boy did it pump up the volume. As a result, the Enduro was a truly cutting-edge 29er. You’ll still be hard pushed to find a long-travel 29er that can party as hard as the Enduro. And wait until you see the new one…

Niner RIP9 RDO

Niner RIP9_1-2

  • 150mm travel
  • 67° head angle
  • Boutique brand has always done a burly one

The previous RIP9 only had 125mm of travel and a rather, ahem, conservative head angle of 69.5°. The new version has wiped the slate clean and dived wholesale into the brave ‘new’ world of bags of travel and slacker geometry.

Yeti SB5.5c


  • 140mm travel
  • 66.5° head angle
  • Yeti’s most aggro big wheeler to date

Perhaps it was this bike that first made a lot of people realise that 29ers hadn’t been killed off by the onslaught and widespread adoption of 27.5. It’s taken a while, as is often the case with Yeti, but the SB5.5c looks like a great combination of modern geometry, fine detailing and extremely attractive looks.

Nukeproof Mega 290 Pro


  • 150mm travel
  • 66° head angle
  • Very nearly a perfect long travel 29er

Although at just over £3k the Mega 290 is not exactly ‘cheap’, it is much less expensive than most of the other bikes in this list. The designers at Nukeproof have got the geometry spot on – it’s roomy and slack – but some of the component choices are disappointing. Read the full review.

Vitus Escarpe VR


  • 135mm travel
  • 67° head angle
  • A total steal for a total blast

We’ve got the new version of this bike on test as Longtermer in the current issues of the magazine. Here’s what we thought about the previous version of the bike: “If the devil truly is in the detail, then the Vitus Escarpe was forged in the furnace of hell. Just hop on board and commence trailblazing.”

Kona Process 111


  • 111mm travel
  • 67.5° head angle
  • A genuine modern classic

We unashamedly love the Kona Process 111. It redefined our perception of what a short travel 29er can do thanks to its low standover, progressive geometry and sorted suspension. A fantastic bike on British trails and man-made singletrack. Really, you don’t need much more than this.

Trek Slash 29

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

The latest arrival in the radical 29er posse, the Slash 29 from Trek is quite the piece of work. It’s full-on in every sense – including the price tag. Trek: “With the new 2017 Remedy moving deeper into All-Mountain territory, new Slash sets its sights squarely on Enduro racing. With that in mind, we designed it around a carbon frame with the fastest-rolling wheel size.”