Saw this on dirt and it got me thinking.
So I wasted my night and wrote this perhaps I should have been doing something else on February 14th!
Here’s my take on the 29er thing. As I am starting to get a bit fed up with the whole subject
First of all this is what I think to 29ers. I have owed one for quite a few years but only as a XC hardtail. That style of bike has got loads of advantages over a 26” XC hardtail and there are no negatives over a bike like that for its intended use. I don’t think I would ever buy a 26” pure XC bike again and they have got a place in the market.
I ride lots of different bikes from XC to DH, like a lot of other riders out there. So you start to think what would these bigger wheels be like in another discipline.
I go out and have fun on my bikes and you can feel the difference in grip and speed when I am out on my 29er but I also know what is intended use is.
The thing is I own and have paid for my 29er XC bike so I don’t want to trash it down a DH track to see what it would be like. I have got a problem with that video of “Cedric Gracia Blasting on a 29er”. Cedric is a top pro Mountain biker and probably one of the best all round riders so if you put him on a Santa Cruz Tall boy he is going to ride the hell out of it and do things on it that take the bike out of its XC bounders. If that video was of Cedric blasting on a Santa Cruz Blur (the 26” equivalent) the video would have all the same footage of someone riding a XC bike on a DH track but no one would have thought anything much to it apart form someone riding a XC bike on a DH track. But as he was on a Tall Boy people think that he might do a DH race on a 29er this year!
Its more about the rider not the just the bike. Just look at that kid doing some crazy tricks on a old shopper bike. We are not going to go out and buy a Pashley bike thinking it will make us ride like Danny Macaskill are we?
I have ridden a Tall Boy and they are really good bike and make the most out of the big wheels but I felt that the fun factor was lost a bit when riding it. If I could only have one bike I don’t think I would have a 29er as they are just not as versatile as a 26” bike.
I think that 29er’s are here to stay and I have to agree with the article in dirt about them (even if it was a bit one sided to 29er’s) they are really good to ride as a XC bike or a 120mm trail bike. In a few years they will out sell 26” bikes for this style of bike.
The thing is the industry have seen the advantages of the big wheels and are questioning the 26” wheel now. I really don’t think we will see 29er on the DH circuit, you might see the odd manufactures experiment with them but I just don’t think it would work in the long run.
The problem now is that they are questioning the 26” wheel size. They know the advantages of a bigger wheel but I think they with start/if not already realise that 29er wheels are just a bit to big for a bike over 150mm of travel.
I think that’s where we might start to see 650b. Until last year 650b was a very niche wheel size in the world of mountain biking. I am led to believe that it if a 650b tyre had a xc tyre on it , it would be similar in size to that of a 26” wheel with a high volume 2.4 tyre on it. So imagine a 650b wheel with a 2.4 high volume tyre on it. That could be one sweet set up? Also if you look into it there are a lot of manufactures planning on making 650b products in 2013. Especially considering the availability of 650b frames at the moment it is quite shocking.
As someone who likes to buy and build up bikes this worries me. I was looking to build up a “all mountain” hardtail. Its the style of bike that I have always enjoyed the most but stupidly sold mine a few months ago. But do I buy a 26” bike something that I know works and I could have a lot of fun on, but it might be completely out out date within a year. Or buy a 29er something like the Transition Trans am 29, a bike that could work but it might be a bit of a gamble. Or see what comes of 650b? I have decided to do nothing and just enjoy the bikes that I have got.
Unfortunately I feel that the industry will be playing around with different wheel sizes for a good few years before they settle down on a certain size. I think there will be a option of different size wheels and it will just be the case of picking the right one for a given job.
At the moment we are in that test period and we are expected to fund it. I think at this given time manufactures would be better off sticking to what they know and trying to bring down the cost of part and bikes instead of passing on all the R&D costs of new parts onto the consumer.