I use my current bike, Specialized S-Works Stumpjumeper 26er 2010, weighing approximately 11.5 kg with 130 mm of travel front and rear, for the average type-marathon routes especially in Liguria where I run the beaten track, dirt roads, natural jumps, mule steps, with tight hairpins, etc., etc..
Currently exploited through the travel, at least according to the different position of the clamps, placed on the fork and shock, tested before and after the run. Why change? Because some people tell me that the 29er over obstacles more easily, but at the same time I do not want:
- more difficult to pedal uphill, as I suspect will happen with a Stumpjumper 29er same excursions
- easier or equal uphill, such as a Epic 29er full excursion 100, but less accurate, because of the reduced excursion, on natural jumps
-They are, both 29er, more difficult to turn in hairpins compared to my 26er.
I referred to the Specialized bike because I know them well enough and because I found good the Brain system.
Relating to this, I was thinking of spending a maximum of 5000 Euro including in this the sale of my bike.
What is better to do? Stay with my current bike, go to a Specialized Epic 29er or Specialized Stumpjumper 29er?
a 29er is easier to drive, because of the larger wheels, of course with the same excursion and components weighs more, so it is slower uphill (with the same technical skills, because it may well be that the greater ease of handling fees the greater weight), generally less handy (although the latest models are equivalent to an unwieldy 26) and slower in acceleration due to the increased weight of the wheels.
If now uses the whole travel (but also 20% less) exclude an Epic 29er, which is lighter, easier to drive, but that will suffer the most challenging jumps.
The 29'' wheels allow to work less to the suspensions, but only on small bumps, a jump in the diameter of the wheel has little effect (plus the speed with which it faces, the height, the speed of the jump and the total weight) and then if today uses 110-130mm travel, you will not ift a 100mm.
Then the transition to a 29 knowing that the advantages and disadvantages in your case almost the same and, of course, there are more disadvantages than advantages. Instead, the passage today to a bike with 130mm 29er means having a different bike in behaviour, but not so different in overall performance.
It all depends on how much ascent you run and how long you lose uphill than downhill gains. Then a lot by your actual capacity to drive; as said if now rising you are in difficulty of driving, with a 29 rise better, but if the problem is only in the "leg" then with a 29 worsen and not improve. Since you use most of the travel, I do not think you have problems driving so not sure how many real advantages to having with a 29.
My advice is to stay with your bike as it is for 2013, awaiting the arrival of the new 27.5er (which sooner or later will come at Specialized also), leaving unchanged the span of 130 mm. So you will find a easier to ride bike, close to a 29, but with more lightness and responsiveness, and this I think is a real upgrade for your bike.