Well this whole experiment is starting to wind down to a close now. I have the Fox F-29 with G2 offset yet to try out and then the ol' Blackbuck will get the Spinner 2Nine fork slapped up front for a longer term. I need to evaluate the Spinner fork and that will not only be the last fork in this experiment, but overlap into a review on the fork itself. Should work out if we have riding into the late Fall!
Anyway, some conclusions are being reached now that I have had the time to stew over my results. The findings are not too surprising, given my original hypothesis, which was that the "numbers" don't tell the whole story. They don't. You can not really fathom how a 29"er might handle just from a geometry table. A result of old thinking that was homogenized by years of 26"er inbred geometry figures and handling traits.
So what is the story? This shouldn't be surprising either, but I was sort of slapped upside the head with this one. Kind of a "whoa" experience where you are too focused on details and not seeing the obvious answer which is staring you right in the face the whole time. It is the wheel itself.
Yes, the nature of the 29"er wheel itself is the answer. It has a greater gyroscopic effect and causes your rig to have more stability. This in turn affects handling.(Duh! you say?) Well, what was not really understood was how much it affects handling. It colors handling in a far greater way than I thought previously. This is why a 29"er with a "ridiculous" head angle of 74 degrees with an "un-ride able" offset of 51mm can work. Not just work, but work pretty dang well.
That is why your bottom bracket height, which on one rig I rode at Interbike was something like 14 inches, doesn't really throw off handling like you might think it should. It is why Fisher's G2 handling doesn't make any sense on paper. It is the wheel folks. It does stuff to a bikes handling that smaller wheels just couldn't do.
And that is just one more reason I like 29"ers better than the smaller wheeled choices. Nothing else quite measures up.