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Photo ©: Bettini

Pro bikes, August 10, 2005

Cameron Chamber’s Gary Fisher Two-Niners

Photos ©: Steve Medcroft

Big wheels keep on turning

Part one - Gary Fisher Sugar 292

By Steve Medcroft

The 29in version of the Reba Race
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Cameron takes his wheels tubeless
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It doesn’t matter
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Chambers says he’s so used to the feel
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Cameron Chambers and his Gary Fisher Sugar 292
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Gary Fisher introduced its first 29-inch-wheeled mountain bikes in 2002. The concept had just started to gain popularity throughout the industry. In an article titled ‘The Effects of Mountain Bike Wheel Size on Performance in Uphill and Cross-Country Cycling’ by J.T. Herr and Holden S-H. MacRae of the Department of Sports Medicine at Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA (found on the Bontrager Web site), the case is made that two-niners roll better over smaller obstacles, are more efficient for sustained climbing and take nothing away from a rider’s efficiency on neutral or technical terrain. The authors propose that there’s a four percent increase in efficiency to be had just by switching to a 29-inch wheeled bike.

The format is even approved for UCI cross-country competition - so why doesn’t everyone do it? Probably for the same reason so many of use one company's computer operating systems: 26-inch tyres are deeply entrenched, there are fewer two-niner bikes and components choices and it’s not seen as the commonly-acceptable style of bike.

But Fisher, among other manufacturers, is solidly behind two-niners. To help promote its line, Fisher opened up a couple of sponsorship spots just for two-niner riders. In 2005, one of those riders, Cameron Chambers of Great Bend, Kansas, rode his Sugar 292 to victory in the NORBA Solo 24-Hour National Championships earlier this year, proving, at the very least, that 29in wheel bikes are competitive with regular 26in machines..

Chambers has two choices of two-niners when he races. The full-suspension Sugar 292 is his standard bike but for special occasions, or for a course that suits it, he can pull out the pearl purple Rig Two-Niner Singlespeed.

Gary Fisher Sugar 292

Chambers says his Sugar 292 is a production aluminum frame with “carbon-fiber bits on it”; bits like Bontrager’s high-end carbon stem, handlebar and seat post. On that Race XXX Lite OS carbon bar, he runs SRAM’s X.0 grip shifters, which he only tried for the first time this season. “I’ve had SRAM’s trigger shifters before and I didn’t know how I would like the grip shift,” he says. “I figured I’d race it at the first couple of NORBA’s then go right back to the triggers but I loved it right off the bat. It has such a positive shift, you know. You really pop into gear. I like that a lot.”

Also mounted on the bar is a lockout lever for the Rock Shox Reba Race 80mm fork. “I run the fork pretty soft,” Chambers says. “The recommendation is 100 to 115 pounds positive and negative for me but I run 95 in the positive and 90 in the negative because I do the longer riding and need it a little softer. I also slow down the rebound quite a bit compared to a lot of people; I like it coming back kind of plush and slow.”

For stopping power, team sponsor Avid sets the 292 up with its Juicy hydraulic brakes. “This is our first year with the Juicy and they’ve got some features I really like,” says Chambers. Such as? “They use these beveled washers (on the mounting to the fork and frame) so you have adjustment at the caliper mounting. Instead of only being able to adjust the caliper side-to-side like everyone else’s, you can tune out any shimmy or rub in the rotors. Even if things get kind of bent, you can tilt the caliper a little.”

Chambers runs Stan’s No Tubes on Bontrager Race Lite 29-inch, disc-specific wheels and IRC Mythos XC tires. About the Stan’s, a latex-based preparation that allows regular tyres to be used without tubes, he says, “So far this season, since the first couple of weeks where we were kind of working out the kinks, things have been perfect. I have a bunch of races on this exact setup now with no flats.”

Chambers runs SRAM’s 11-34 cogset and “triple chainrings all the time.” He explains, “I think the granny gear is pretty much obsolete on a 26-inch bike but on a two-niner, the bigger wheel size changes up the gearing so your granny gear really becomes useful. On a super steep climb -- Colorado style, tons of switchbacks -- I can keep the bike rolling at just below tempo heartrate. Which for me, in a 24-hour race, is great.”

When he wants to keep things simple, though, Chambers reaches for his Gary Fisher Rig singlespeed, which we look at in part two.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Steve Medcroft

Full specification

Frame: Platinum Series ZR9000 double-butted aluminum with Genesis 29" Geometry
Fork: Rock Shox Reba Race 29" with100mm travel and remote lockout lever
Rear shock: Fox Float R

Bottom Bracket: ISIS GigaPipe
Cranks: Bontrager Race Lite 44/32/22
Chain: SRAM 9-Speed

Front derailleur: SRAM X-Generation Front Derailleur
Rear derailleur: SRAM X.0 Rear Derailleur
Shifters: SRAM X.0 Grip Shifter

Brakes: Avid Juicy Seven hydraulic disc brake
Levers: Avid Juicy Seven levers


Rear sprockets: SRAM 9-Speed PG-990 11-34
Tires: IRC Mythos SXC, 2.1 x 29”
Wheels: Bontrager Race Lite 29", disc specific wheel system

Bar: Bontrager Race XXX Lite Carbon
Grips: Bontrager Performance
Stem: Bontrager Race XXX Lite OS Carbon
Headset: Cane Creek S-6 Aheadset, sealed

Pedals: Crankbrothers Candy Ti

Seat post: Bontrager Race XXX Lite Carbon, 31.6mm
Saddle: Bontrager Race X Lite