While the question of 26 vs 29 continues to be debated by consumers nation wide, it seems that even the pros are still going back and forth. It certainly seems that many XC pros are taking to their new big wheels to try and win races, however not everyone is on board. In fact, just recently Geoff Kabush could be quoted as Tweeting, “Bunch of my euro colleagues are posting pics of new big wheel touring bikes. Curious to see how many actually race them at first World Cup.” So as much as many of 29’s proponents would like to think the ultimate wheel size has been decided, there is clearly still some disagreement.

In one of the first races of the season, which Julien happened to win, he was still aboard his 26″ Orbea Alma. However, when the time came for the Off Road Cassis, Julien lined up at the start aboard his Orbea Alma 29’er. Perhaps the large marathon style course with a total distance of 35 miles helped to make up his mind on which wheel size to choose.

Take from this what you will, but he finished 4th out of what was claimed to be a very tough field. The next race though? Well, that race he won. On 26’s. Clearly, Absalon is interested in testing the big hoops on the race circuit, but I wouldn’t expect him to completely change just yet. After his 4th place finish in the Off Road Cassis, Absalon had this to say about his new bike, “I am satisfied because I had fun and I’ve tested it. This new type of bike is quite different, and I must get used to it and that we continue to work at the particular weight to make it more competitive.

If you haven’t seen it, check out the Mavic video with Julien Absalon after the break. Perhaps when Julien says they need to work with the weight, he means help Mavic develop a lighter 29 inch wheel?

Julien appears to be riding his 26 through the entire movie, but you have to wonder what else they’re working on?

Here, Julien leads they way on his white Orbea Alma 29’er during the Off Road Cassis. You can pick out what bike he’s on pretty easily due to the fact that his 29’er is all white, while his 26 inch is still the black and red frame as shown below from his most recent victory at La Teradel.

Photo c. Sebastien Boue


  1. Jeeez I’m bored of all this 29er news.

    So Orbea are marketing their 29ers and bullying their top riders to ride inferior bikes so people spend more money. Incredible.

    Can we have some normal bikes on the site please, since that’s what most people ride?

  2. Haha, come on Luke. Bikerumor isn’t putting out the bikes, just reporting on what’s new. if manufacturers released 5 new 26 inch bikes this week, Im sure you would see it on the front page. you can’t report on what’s not there!

  3. Rich’s post is very insightful. I do notice a lot of non-29er posts, but I suppose folks like Luke overlook that and foam at the mouth whenever some questionable 29er marketing ploy comes up.

    I’m skeptical too, but a surprisingly large amount of people apply logic to news such as this and come to wild conclusions. Kind of like how Irminger’s success is believed to be due to her switch to 29ers, since she started getting good results from then on. There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, she’s hit the peak of fitness and became more spiritual around that time and made a lot of changes in her life and also took that change to ride a 29er. I’m sure that made her sponsors happier. I think she even says it herself that she is confident that she could’ve done it on a 26″ bike as well.

    Despite what I said, I find it bothersome that Luke stands by his beliefs of 29ers and declares that he won’t race on one… that’s fairly short-sighted. I guess there’s some virtue in that though, to stand behind your beliefs firmly, at least when compared to someone that’s the extreme opposite and is indecisive.

  4. ha , ive been riding with locals who started in 1985 mid to late, when one went on holiday to America and tried these new bikes called mountain bikes they had these gear things on which they tried and liked (true story). they brought a disc brake kit from hope who then used to provide the disc lugs so they had to weld them on them selves to mount the front brake (true story) check with hope if you want ! they have seen it all everything and when i mentioned 29er they laughed and said they have already been out then faded away i think it was the early 90’s, if you want to make the ride smoother and less bumpy go ride a road bike

What do you think?