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The first time I heard about a 29er bike is around mid 2012 in Jakarta, many Indonesian rider were very skeptical on how the big wheels size will affect on most of people. Here in Jakarta average rider height is around 165 cm (5.4') to 170 cm (5.5'). Myself height is 171 cm just a little bit above average Indonesia male height. Most bike rider that I meet that talk about 29er bike saying is that a 29er bikes is not for Indonesian people who is not got the average height of 175 cm. So my statement for late 2012 to middle 2013 is that 29er bikes is for tall person only.

Around early 2012 to middle 2013 I was madly in love with my Yeti SB-66, I studied on how to handling that bike and work hard upgrading most of it parts to became more perfect until my last birthday on July. Finally I think my big project on SB-66 is done (well almost most of it....almost :P). Here is my picture of my Yeti SB-66 on it perfect form (I'm still thinking of replacing the Fox 34 fork with Rockshox Pike though)

Here is the spec

Frame : Yeti SB-66

Rear shock : Fox DHX 5 air (Thinking on changing it to Fox Float X or CC DB Air CS)

Fork : Fox Talas 34 160-120 (To Pike or not to Pike :D)

Handlebar : Spank Spike 777

Grips : Odi Yeti

Stem : Renthal Duo

Headset : Chris King Mango

Brake Set : Hope Tech M4

Rotor : Hope Tech

Shifter : Shimano XTR

Saddle : Fizik Aliante Gamma MTB

Seat post : Rockshox Reverb

Clampset : Hope Red

FD : Shimano XT M786

Crankset : Raceface SixC 38-24t

BB : Chris King Mango

Pedals : FSA Gravity

Sprokets : Shimano XTR 36-10t

Chains : Sram 1091

RD : Shimano Saint 10 speed

Rims : E*Thirteen TRS

Hubs : Hope Pro II Evo

Tires : Maxxis High Roller II 2.4 (Front) , Ardent Race 2.2 (Rear)

I will write on how I feel about this bike later on (cheers)

And so back to the 29er things, so while my Yeti SB-66 is in the currently almost perfect state, my mind already thinking about building another bike just to please my hunger for bike riding experience. Then I remember how I want to have a hard tail bike again like what I used to have before all these full suspension frame corrupt my mind. During 2012 I was thinking about building a hard tail bike with the Yeti ARC, the turquoise color I can handle but the white color on the frame makes me turned down on building a MTB hard tail bike on it. That is also the year when my eldest son is moving to elementary school so I need to save money for his education. The image of having MTB hard tail bike is just going poof on my mind until late 2013.

During early 2013 I rode with some friends from Yeti Tribe Indonesia, and one of them rode a Yeti SB-95. Only two SB-95 that currently available at that time (until now I think) and I meet one of the lucky person who rode it. He's got many riding experience with most of Yeti's bike, from 575, ASR-5, SB-66 and his latest bike (until now) is the SB-95. He said actually his favorite Yeti bike is 575, he like how the bike flush during riding downhill. The SB-66 he didn't like because he said it to stiff and hard during riding it downhill. I also had a hard time adjusting the suspension on my SB-66 until I change my Fox Float CTD to DHX 5 air, I finally get my SB-66 tuned the way I want it. Back to my friend that using SB-95, he said he like the bike so much. He notice that perhaps that there's some riding style need to be change and some part of his bike need to be adjusted. But overall, what he get with his SB-95 is a new bike riding experience. He said he like how flush the bike fell during downhill riding and how the bike climbing the rocky road and muddy track. He said like your having a big step forward so everything is fast now matter you go up and down. All that cool thing about SB-95 my friend said always stick on my mind, the saddest thing is Yeti SB-95 is nearly impossible to get here in Indonesia unless you buy it online which is very expensive and risky.

Back at home, I saw my father's Specialized Crosstrail bike that he never used. I knew the bike is kinda lame but I remember when I took the bike to go city riding. Some people thought I was riding a 29er bike, I said it's not a 29er bike it's 700c bike. I read and read on the Internet then I knew that 700c and 29er is almost identical, and so I think maybe I can start my 29er project on my father's lame 700c bike and it became like this

Here is the spec now (I still have it just for city riding, and perhaps I will write on how I feel about this bike also :D)

Frame : Specialized Crosstrail

Fork : Suntour 700c / Salsa 29er Rigid fork

Headset : Chris King red

Stem : Crankbrother Iodine 2 red

Handlebar : Crankbrother Iodine 3

Grips : Ergon Carbon

Brakeset : Shimano Deore

Shifter : Shimano SLX

Saddle : Specialized XC

Seatpost : Woodman

FD : Shimano Deore

Crankset : Shimano XTR 48-26t

Pedal : Shimano

BB : Hope Ceramic BB red

Sprocket : Shimano XTR 34-10t

RD : Shimano XT 10 speed

Rims : DT Swiss 470E

Hubs : Strummer Pro

Tires : Continental Sport Contact

At that time I was confident enough on how this bike with this spec is 29er enough for me, until I realized how small the gap is for me to put a real 29er tires on the frame. I think that is the different between a 700c frame and 29er, another let down is I just realized how low the bb is to the ground when I change the fork with the Salsa 29er rigid fork. My orientation on buying a rigid 29er fork is because a 29er suspension fork is too expensive to buy and I don't want to risk buying expensive stuff to thing that I probably wont like. Well the bike spec and the rigid fork is quite 29er but I don't know about the frame, so I think no way that this lame bike will transformed into a cool 29er bike. I need a real 29er frame bike, so the searching for the perfect frame for me begin. I look and I look but so far nothing interest me, either I didn't like the model or either too expensive.

One afternoon I went to my local bike shop where I go the most, the Formula Bike on Ciputat. There I just realize that they were the authorized dealer for Niner bikes. I know I've seen some of Niner bikes were sell there since 2012, but I just didn't notice because 29er frame never cross my mind during 2012. In the shop, I saw a black Niner 2nd hand frame of Air 9 and it's love at first sight. My standard on choosing the right bike (or choosing everything else like my cars, gadgets, or my wife) it's have to be love at first sight. And I think this bike is a winner, but the downside it size L :( this is a big let down. In desperation time I was thinking of buying the big frame anyway because the seat tube length is 20 inch while my SB-66 seat tube length is 16.5 inch and my Crosstrail is 18 inch, it's just 2 inch more. But while during hibernation on buying the Niner frame, I opened the Niner website and look on the sizing chart and found out that using a big frame may cause a difficulty on handling the bike and the right size for me according to Niner website is using size S.

The next day, I came to the store and lucky me. The store still have the black Niner Air 9 size S, but it's brand new. Well, I'm almost became the luckiest person on having a very cheap 29er bike with a 2nd hand frame but a new frame is better right?:D I moved all my parts from my crosstrail to this awesome all black Niner Air 9 frame and here it is

Frame : Niner Air 9

Fork : Niner Carbon RDO

Headset : FSA

Stem : Raceface Turbine

Handlebar : Raceface Next flat wide red

Brakeset : Shimano XT Ice Tech

Rotor : Shimano XT

Shifter : Shimano XT iSpec

Grip : Lizard Skins DSP Grips

Saddle : Fizik Aliante VS

Seat post : Raceface Turbine

Seat Clamp : Salsa

FD : Shimano XTR M986

Crankset : Shinamo XT


Chainring : Raceface Turbine 38-24t

Pedals : Shimano XTR

RD : Shimano XTR

Sprocket : Shimano XTR 36-11t

Chain : Sram 1091

Rims : E*Thirteen TRS 29

Hubs : Hope Pro II

Tires : Kenda Slant Six

Before the spec for this bike come to this, I was using the Salsa 29er rigid alloy fork but I was lucky enough to have a 2nd hand Niner Carbon RDO fork and using a DT Swiss X470 for the rims. I also using a Shimano XTR double rings chain rings but since it not compatible with the frame I change the crankset using Shimano XT tripple chain rings (now I'm saving money to buy Raceface Next SL crankset :P)

I will wrote how feel about this bike later on, but I can tell you now that this bike is an brain canned opener. This bike is giving me another new riding experience perhaps like what my friend that using a SB-95 feel. Since this is actually an a XC bike, I bring it to the XC track near my house and this bike is a killer. This bike move fast in the up and down track, my friend that using a 26 wheel told me to ride slower because they said I was riding too fast. I'm not pushing my pedal hard, I just rode like I normally do but my friend said I was riding quite fast that day. I also riding longer that day than I normally do, because I don't feel tired like everybody does. I usually rode slow and short because that's what I like when I riding a bike, I like enjoying the view and the moment, that's is why some of my friend called me Tokek rider, because I moved slow and usually on the back during riding trip. But not that day, I was fast with my 29er bike. I admit during the first lap, I was a little bit groggy on how big the wheel size is, but after the 2nd and 3rd laps, I got the hang of it and having lot of fun ride.

Later on, I bring my 29er bike on a stiff up hill track on Sentul and like I said before this bike is a killer, it didn't make me lose power during climbing and keeping me to move on and on without hesitation. For me 29er bike is a new era for mountain biking and I don't know why many people keep saying that a 29er bike is not for them. Niner sizing charts that a size S frame is suitable to people with 161cm (5.3') to 179cm (5.9') event my wife that only 155 cm (5.1') tall can ride a XS 29er frame. So I think a big wheels size it not an excuse to short people right.

This is the reason why I write this story, because I personally didn't like a rider who keep saying that 29er bike is only for a tall rider without ever trying a 29er bikes. It's true that you need a leap of faith to accept a new bike tire size, it's easy saying that I build a 29er bike because I got money, time, bla bla bla bla bla........I build a 29er without sacrificing arms and legs although in the end I scarified my twinkie finger (just joking :P) but in the end I got a new riding experience. It's not about 29er is better than 26' but for me it's about telling a different story to your friend when your'e having a beer or perhaps a hot ginger tea here Indonesia :P. I still love my SB-66 and perhaps I would like to keep it as long as I can, or perhaps until bike shops around the world stop selling 26 spare tires. Until then I will keep on riding on 26 and 29 bike.

People keep arguing 26 is still the best tire sizing, for me doesn't matter which is the best 26 or 29. every bikes have it's own advantages. For me now a 26 tire is best for riding all mountain while 29 is best used on XC track but that's because I have an XC bike for my 29, I'm thinking about building a full suspension 29er bike but at this time I want to enjoy my 29er hard tail bike for a while and perhaps thinking of having a suspension fork in exchange for when I ride a long trip on it :D

*2014 updates

On Christmas day, I bought and installed Race Face Next SL with 30mm spindle and the e*Thirteen PF30 bottom bracket. The performance of my Air 9 is getting better and better, I notice how the bike becoming more aggressive like when I'm using a 26' bike. Later on January 2014 I Installed the Chris King PF30 ceramic bottom bracket. I'm telling you there's now way I'm going to turn my back on a 29er frame from now on.

Here is the photo of my Air 9 for 2014

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