I have now been riding my Ellsworth Enlightenment 29er for 2 months & love, love love it.
I admit it is the first & only 29er I have ridden, but I am converted. I also have a 26 inch bike, an Ellsworth Truth and love it for riding bigger rocky-drop, downhill type terrain (which to be honest doesn’t happen a ton) but like a favorite pair of jeans, I reach for my 29er carbon first.
My stats are:
Frame Size: Medium
Type of Rider: Xterra Triathlete & XC Mountain Bike Racing
Getting a 29er just made sense with the type of racing I do. Typically most of the Xterra courses are not super technical (albeit Moab) and the bigger wheels just make it more efficient at covering ground.
The fact that the Enlightenment is a hard tail is hard to believe. Not only because 29 inch tires smooth out the bumps with less rolling resistance, but the carbon frame is designed that the layers actually have some dampening/ absorption properties. It is a structural element of the carbon that allows is to absorb some of the force, so it is a surprisingly smooth ride. I didn’t notice much difference on the trails around where we live in Vail Colorado.
The pro’s for me are: it is more efficient at rolling & it’s light because it’s carbon and a firm tail. Although calling the Enlilghtenment a ‘hard tail’ just sounds too harsh to describe how this baby rolls.
The frame is just flat out sexy! So many dudes give my bike the up and down, like they are checking out a woman. The rolling curvy frame is hot. But don’t be fooled, it does require some TLC. Carbon, although strong, is tough to repair if it is mishandled. I was petrified of falling and scratching my bike for weeks. Whenever I took a digger my husband would yell “Did you scratch your bike” instead of baby, are you alright?” I guess the sexy bike had his attention more than me!
Now that being said, I am generally pretty fussy with my stuff. Carbon frames typically cannot handle the same forces as a metal bike. They are strong and sturdy, but they require you to be careful. Packing them in the car for instance, I always wrap t-shirts and old towels along the frame. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t ride it in fear of crashing, rest assure I have done plenty of that. Yes the bike may scratch but it buffs out really well. Just be mindful of having another bike or something rubbing up against the frame.
I also recommend going tubeless. I find I can run my tire pressure lower on a 29er. At 130-135lbs, I personally run around 24 psi, maybe a little more for a bouncy hard hitting downhill course. Running a lower tire pressure also has the benefits of absorbing some of the bumps and producing a softer feeling ride.
Now those ladies who area scared of getting a 29er, don’t be. I won’t lie, it does take a little adjustment. You feel higher off the ground and cornering takes a little more input, but if cross country events and ultra endurance is your thing, get yourself an Enlightenment.
The stand over height is also amazing, there is a ton of clearance. The bigger wheels are are harder to accelerate but they are incredibly efficient at rolling over stuff like jumbly rock. I am definitely covering a lot more ground efficiently compared to my 26. Needless to say I do find myself getting out of the saddle a little more. I put this down to having to accelerate the bike to overcoming the rotational weight of a bigger wheel. Also, since it is a hardtail, there is no “bob” when you climb out of the saddle. I look at it as an opportunity to switch muscle groups and stand for a bit. I don’t find I have much trouble getting it up to speed. Although, I am not sure I would win a sprint on it!
I enjoy the feel of control & stability I have on looser ground, it is calming. I have a narrower straight handle bar and adjusted pretty quickly to cornering. One thing I have noticed is that I do bottom out on my pedal every now and then. I have to be more mindful of which part of the pedal stroke I am in when I get to more technical terrain, again this is an easy adjustment.
One of the feature of my bike I like are, the gear indicators. The little red lines are easy quick reminders of what gear I am in. This is especially helpful in a long ride when fatigue starts to set in. I think this is standard on the newer Shimano XT kit.
My bigger camelBak Podium water bottle fits in the medium frame just fine. Although I find it easier to get it out of the cage with a side mount. I went with Arundel Sideloader from Moontime Cyclery and love it, it is so much easier to get my bottle in and out on the trail.
All in all, I love it. And I could talk/write about it forever. Please comment or send an email if you have specific questions on it.
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