First let me introduce myself as the web guy. I'm the guy that set up the site, fixes problems with the site, helps add any new features etc.
Because I contribute this, I also get to ride some pretty sweet mountain bikes despite my beginner status.
To clarify how beginner I am:
I've been told that I'm not lacking in technique and would probably be more of an intermediate rider if I was physically in shape but unfortunately I'm more inclined to mess around on the computer than do most other activities.
However, lately I've been riding a bit more and my stamina and strength are getting better.
Before deciding that I prefered 29ers my bike was a hardtail 26er Gunner RockHound and since I have been doing this I prefer not to ride a 26er for normal trailriding.
The closest thing I can compare it to is: as a kid riding a BMX was where it was at! Â But as the height and pounds came on, a bigger bike became more preferable.
I now am 6' 1" and weigh 175ish and when I get on a 26er it feels like I'm going back to a BMX.
I'm not going to say that I know all the technical stuff about mountain bikes but a few things were obvious to me.
- Rolling over pretty much anything became much easier
- Because of this no obstacle seemed as difficult and therefore my confidence was boosted significantly
- When climbing while all the 29ers I rode have been heavier than my Gunner the ascent became easier due to less sliding and slipping around on uphill roots etc.
- Because of all or most of the above I was able to concentrate more on my technique rather than feeling like I had to muscle my bike through the trail.
Again the above is my perspective as a beginner and I did notice some of the drawbacks others have mentioned as well, such as slower starting speeds (more than made up for by the momentum gained due to larger wheel size). Also the 26er seems more favorable for jumping (at least the small jumps I hit).
Really though if you are a taller / heavier rider and ride the typical types of trails that most do, I believe that you will find very quickly that the 29er is for you.
Just a beginners perspective.