Twentynine inch wheeled mountain bikes are becoming more popular in Carson City. I know quite a few people that have them now. The bigger wheels float on top of the sand better than the smaller wheels, and climbing and cornering traction are also improved. The larger wheels also make the bumps and obstacles feel smaller. Although there is a weight penalty for increased rotating mass, the benefits of consistent momentum seem to outweigh the added grams.
Jesse recently purchased a new bike, and he decided to go with a 29er hardtail. Here are his first impressions of the Kona Big Kahuna that he purchased at the Bike Habitat. Jesse writes on his blog Nowhere Nevada:
I recently purchased the 2009 Kona Big Kahuna 2-9er from Bike Habitat in Carson City. I rode the 2008 Kona Kula 2-9, 2009 Kona Kahuna 2-9 and a 2004 Kona Coiler the week before to get a feel of what I wanted to buy. Dennis at Bike Habitat took care of me from start to finish and I finally decided I wanted the Kahuna but I also wanted beefier components that the Big Kahuna model provided. The only thing I would change would be the Maxiis Ignitor tires, they are not suited to Nevada’s dry conditions, but that is just a small detail that is easily ignored and quickly replaced.
I picked up my new rig on Friday. After taking a deep breath while swiping that bank card and picking up a few extra tubes I was off and rolling. First off, let me tell you, this bike was designed for technical climbs and rolling terrain. At first, the big wheels are a little awkward but as you progress into the turns it gets a little more comfortable. The RockShox Tora Race shock was nice and responsive compared to my old RockShox Dart 2. The big wheels make large rocks feel like small ones and encountering steeper terrain was a little less challenging.
I have tested this rig out on some different terrain, namely Ash Canyon and Centennial Park. The latter is a combination of volcanic rock, rutted jeep trails and sandy single track. At first I bounced around a little bit. After dropping my tire PSI down to around 30 pounds per tire I really got to see this bike perform. I was rolling right over the smaller bumps and hitting the larger stuff with greater confidence. Right away I got the sensation that I was rolling in slow motion. It’s really hard to describe the feeling you get on a 29er, you feel like you are rolling through molasses yet the bike is moving at a normal pace. The slow sensation took me a few rides to get over but now I hardly notice it.
The bottom line? This bike kicks ass and takes names. I love the stretched out feel of the Big Kahuna. Downhill runs are done with more confidence and less need to lean off the back end of the seat. The big tires lessen the bumps and vibrations and it’s just all around fun to ride. Go down to your local Kona dealer and take one for a spin to see for yourself!