Podcast Episode #30: EFA’s, 26 vs. 29 Inch Wheels & Why You Can’t Just do More of the Same

Here’s what you’ll find in this episode of the MTB Strength Coach Podcast:

Nutrition Tip: What are Essential Fatty Acids, why you need them and some tips to keep in mind when taking them

Gear Review: Some different insights into the 26 vs. 29er debate

Training Tip: Why you can’t just do more of the same thing to get to the next level

Please you can download the MP3 file and subscribe to this podcast by clicking on this link.

-James Wilson-

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WordPress Comments:

  1. Flatlander says:

    Wow. Just listened to the *whole* podcast just now. Many good points (as usual), but I gotta say…

    Your podcasts should be approximately 1/3 as long based on the total content. No offense, just quite a lot of repetition/rearrangement of identical points and perspective.

    Reply • October 13 at 8:19 pm
    • bikejames says:

      While I agree that I may repeat some key points it is only to drill them in. I have 10 minutes (the average time of a segment) to explain what I’m trying to say and then drill the key points home. Repetition is a learning tool and I’m trying to educate as well as entertain. Even though you may not enjoy it, it works – you noticed my talking points and I’ll bet you remember them.

      Thanks for the feedback, though, but I actually do some of that on purpose but I’ll try to be more conscious of it in the future.

      Reply • October 14 at 9:11 am
  2. WAKi says:

    There is a good quote I heard from my boss. He read it somewhere, don’t remember what he said he took it from, it was some general writing to some leader (might have been Alexander the Great, Napoleon or even Hitler whatever…)

    “sir, I am writing a long letter because I have no time to write a short one”.

    BTW Great podcast! It really got me motivated to switch to something else, as I think I reached a plateau. I want to do it even if the plateau is super technical, super fun, half a year ago I was unable to ride it as well as I do now, and I’m damn proud of that new “ability”. I need to do something new so in half a year I hit those trails faster and harder 🙂

    Reply • October 14 at 5:50 am
  3. dblspeed says:

    A few more things to consider about 29ers:
    historically “authority figures” have been strongly against 29ers, among other things: “they’re not good in tight twisty singletrack” (impression gained from parking lot runs), as a matter of fact you’re some kind of “authority figure” yourself;
    point 3 is actually not a 29er selling point, traction and better cornering are; same “wheel rotation per pedal stroke” (gain ratio) of a 26er can be achieved by using a smaller gear.
    29er feel clumsier in the parking lot just like a ducati vs a vespa, the racetrack and the trail are different stories.
    Just like you would compare 200$ clipless pedals to an equivalent set of flats/shoes, you should with a 26/29 bikes, possibly on a trail and over the course of several conditions.

    Reply • October 14 at 7:07 am
    • bikejames says:

      I’m never said they were bad in any way, simply pointing out how the “advantages” are nothing that can’t be gained through skills and fitness training. If you are already working on those things, seeing progress and want to use a 29er then fine but if you don’t train at all and are simply using the new wheel size to make up for that lack of skill and fitness then that is another thing entirely. It is not a real gain in your riding ability and will be short lived. You’ll plateau again and be on the quest for the next bike or part that will make you better. I just hate to see that cycle of frustration.

      Reply • October 14 at 9:15 am
  4. scott says:

    Advantage #1 – roll over objects easier – I think you are misunderstanding this advantage. It doesn’t have anything to do with slamming into an object. The advantage of a 29er wheel is that it rolls more easily on trails that are full of rocks and roots. I agree that when it comes to obstacles such as logs and large rocks that require you to unweight the front wheel a 29er offers no real advantage. However, on trails like we have the southeast that are covered in small roots (1 – 2 inches or so) I believe a 29er wheel does offer a real advantage because of its ability to “smooth out” root-filled trails. I know you would advocate strength training to improve riding on rough terrain but for any given level of strength a 29er offers an advantage on the type of trail I am describing.

    Advantage #2 – maintain momentum better – I think what you said in response to Advantage #3 about not pedaling much actually provides support for Advantage #2. I believe a 29er wheel actually would complement a rider like yourself who does not have to pedal much. I agree that technology should never substitute for skill. Again, given that it takes extra effort to get a 29er up to speed, once you do get it up to speed, if you are able to pump and corner well a 29er will allow a rider like yourself to take full advantage of momentum.

    While I believe 29ers have their place I don’t think they would benefit aggressive riders like yourself. Right now I mainly ride a single speed 29er but I aspire to become a more aggressive rider and eventually move up to a full suspension 26er.

    Thanks for all the great info.

    Reply • October 14 at 10:27 am
  5. WAKi says:

    I will put my head under a gilotine here but, in my very honest opinion 29ers are the MTB version of Fixie in bicycle commuting world. Its a fashion thing, much more than any serious argument driven choice. As long as you do it just so you like it being different: fine! we all have some area where we like being out of the mainstream, everyone just need to feel special in some way. Some have it with furniture, others with clothing, some like me will choose watching Desperate housewives over a football match. Nothing wrong with fashions, liking hypes or just trying something new: just don’t make too much science out of that.

    P.S. 29er & fixie analogy is a bit overdone. It is harder I believe to get hurt on 29 singlespeed on Champery dh track than on Fixie in average urban area.

    Reply • October 14 at 11:59 am
  6. Christopher Kelly says:

    The BBC recently ran a podcast that covered essential fatty acids in some interesting detail:


    Case Notes Good Fats & Bad Fats 14 Sep 10


    In particular they discuss why flax seed oil isn’t as useful to humans as fish oil. It’s great for oiling cricket bats though!

    Reply • October 15 at 5:45 am
  7. Martin says:

    Isn’t spending money on skills and training an argument for not buying any new bike, not just a 29er? Of course being a better rider is good but people like short cuts and new toys. I’ve seen plenty of people buying full suspension as a skill compensator.

    Reply • October 15 at 9:10 am
    • bikejames says:

      Yeah, you can really apply this general argument to anything. It just helps to de-mystify the hype around these things so riders don’t feel left out or left behind if they don’t change.

      Reply • October 17 at 2:41 pm
  8. Mark says:

    Quote from James on 29er Bikes podcast

    “I haven’t ridden one (29er) on the trials, only around a car park”

    WTF how can we take you seriously when that’s the limit of your research!!!!!!!!

    Reply • December 2 at 7:26 pm
    • bikejames says:

      I think you missed my point – I said several times I have no problem with 29ers. I have several friends who ride them (not exclusively though) and while I wouldn’t spend my own money on one if I had the chance I’d check one out.

      My problem is with the marketing hype that drives riders to think that their wheel size is what lies between them and a better ride. Once you are not trying to make up for lack of skill, fitness or flow with bigger wheels then ride whatever you want.

      Reply • December 4 at 8:14 am
  9. Mark says:

    Hi James, thanks for reply to reply, yes understand your marketing concerns, but really it’s a double edged sword if you base your critique on 29ers and the relationship to marketing. Really mtbs and cycling in general is heavily marketed (and branded), that’s the reality of the industry. By focusing on marketing it weakens the real focus of the topic which is: are 29ers any good or just a fad? I agree with you they won’t make a gumby a better rider.

    From my experience (have been riding and racing mtbs for over 10 years) 29ers are an interesting innovation and I reckon are up there with full suspension bikes and carbon etc. Why? Well I am someone who has sold all his 26ers for 29ers, so 29 is now my default ride. Think 29ers have an advantage in the following areas: rollabilty, grip on climbs and corning, pedaling efficiency – more road bike like. Disadvantage, loss of flickabilty in tight terrain.

    Above all, 29er’s are no magic bullet, rather can offer a proficient rider some advantage in certain environments, my particular interest is the pedaling gain, the 29er feels like my roadie and I can really pump it along terrain, seems the bigger wheels offer a slightly longer pedal range which is great for climbing as well. Overall I have found the 29er is a very stable pedaling platform – that is just that bit better than 26. Thanks and keep up the work.

    Reply • December 13 at 8:26 pm

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