Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘29er’

Interbike 2009 wrap: In search of a showstopper

In Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 27, 2009 at 2:09 am

Another edition of Interbike has come and gone, and a good time was had by all. Lots of 29ers, lots of carbon, lots of improved this and streamlined that. But if there is anything that Interbike 2009 will be remembered for, it’s that there isn’t anything Interbike 2009 will be remembered for.

Unlike past Interbikes, no major breakthroughs like VPP or DW-Link or rad shocks or tubeless tires headlined 2009. In fact, nothing really headlined 2009. This year was not so much about new. It was mostly about improved.

A better drivetrain from SRAM. An HD helmet cam from Hero. New tires from WTB. Better lighting systems, lighter wheelsets, iPhone bike apps, a bladder that tells you how full it is from Camelbak.

And a great t-shirt from Thule.

myonlyrackisathule

All nice. But not earthshaking.

Much of the subdued aura at the Sands had to do with the economy, of course. The bike industry isn’t being hammered as hard as, say, the auto industry or housing sector. In fact, there are bright spots, including increasing ridership, commute penetration numbers and respectable sales of mainstream bikes. And although final numbers are not yet in, organizers who were expecting a drop in attendance feel the headcount may actually prove to be higher this year than last.

But high-end bikes are pretty much dead in the water. And they’re the ones with the fat margins that make the money to fund R&D that leads to tech advances in the marketplace. The big bike manufacturers will deny cutbacks on skunkworks and blue-sky projects, and the boutique makers will say they’re still full steam ahead. But if you talk to the suppliers and vendors and even shop rats, you hear a different story.

You didn’t see a whole lot of new models at Interbike this year. There was the downhill 29er from Lenz we discussed, and Santa Cruz’s Tallboy carbon 29er, and Ibis’ HD (longer-travel) Mojo and some random others. We expected Turner to have prototypes of the DW-Link RFX available at the Dirt Demo, but it’s another tell (as they say at the Vegas poker table) on the state of the business that Dave did not roll this baby out. Giant and Trek didn’t even show up.

The biggest Top Secret whisper-whisper hubbub had to do with battery-sensored “smart fork” suspension from Cannondale. Remember earlier this year when electronic transmission was the next big thing? Like, where did that go?

This is no slam against the bike biz. Everyone’s hurting, so it only makes sense to lower expectations. And a lower-key Interbike is in some ways a more enjoyable Interbike. You could focus on the social aspects and networking instead of running around trying to absorb tons of new goodies that manufacturers were vying for your attention span over.

So even if 2009 goes down as one of the ho-hummer Interbikes, it hardly means the show wasn’t worth it. This is bike fever at its best, even in hard times. And besides, there’s always next year.

Interbike 2009: 29er anyone?

In Bicycle Racing, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm

It’s hard to know what to make of the 29er explosion on display at Interbike this week. Most boutique manufacturers are coming out with 29-inch models, and Lenz even was showing a 29er downhill bike — 7 inches of long travel (really long when you consider the bigger wheels) with a 26-inch mod kit for the rear if the big wheel is just too much. Why you’d get a 29er for downhilling and then switch out to a 26-inch rear is one of those great Unsolved Mysteries that will never make the TV show, but it is what it is.

First, a reality check. When manufacturers and PR types talk about the 29er revolution, they’re mixing marginal data with speculation and hope. I have yet to see an industry figure for 29er adoption. There’s another revolution in mountain biking going on, too, having to do with tubeless tires. For loose yardstick purposes, keep the tubeless “revolution” in mind in evaluating the 29er revolution.

I can’t see most downhillers, who are compact guys and gals between 5-9 and 6-0, getting much advantage from a 29er. But someone who did come to mind is the all-time greatest, Steve Peat, a big guy with shoulders broad as Texas who tosses a conventional 26-inch downhill bike around like it was a BMX.

It’d be interesting to have a guy of Peaty’s dimensions (6-2, 200 lbs) try out the 29er DH. Or even the new Santa Cruz Tallboy 4-inch 29er for that matter (Peat rides for SC). If Peat smokes the field riding a 29er then I’d say yeah, we have a winnah!

There’s no question that a 29er is going to roll faster and cover more ground than a 26-inch bike. If downhilling were just a matter of point and rip, then yes, by all means, a 29er would belong in your quiver. But downhill courses are among the most technically demanding racing a rider can do. There’s lots of twisting and turning and braking and railing. It’s a big question-mark whether the gyroscopic advantages of going 29 translate into an arena modeled for 26-inch competition.

Here at Bike Intelligencer, we’re keeping an open mind. We’ve ridden 29ers and like them. We don’t own any. But we have friends who love the things (for awhile; after the honeymoon, most relegate their 29ers to specific trails and types of riding), and who are all over six feet tall. We may yet see the light. After all, we are just a tad over 6-0. And out of the seven bikes we own, one does actually really truly sport tubeless wheels.

Interbike 2009: Carbon copying

In Daily Roundup, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Following up on our previous post re the carbon conniptions at Interbike, some random links:

The belt drive gets a thumbs up. Some folks questioned my skepticism about the Gates carbon drive system, pointing out its proven service for motos, lawnmowers and the like. I say give me a year with this thing on a mountain bike in the rainy, the muddy, the cold and the rocky Pacific Northwest and I’ll have it cryin’ like a baby lost its mama…

Reynolds is showing off an 900-gram carbon wheelset for the princely sum of $6,000.

Lennard Zinn tried out REVL, a new brand of carbon brakeset, 115 grams, “very powerful.”

What happens when the carbon “revolution” meets the 29er “revolution”? The Ellsworth Enlightenment, for one.

Cyclelicio.us has an interesting take on magnetically cleated pedals. Yeah I’m skeptical ’bout them too ;^)

Then there’s wood, which may be the future new retro improved lighter stronger bike material we are always ready to embrace …

Daily Roundup: Lance’s chances (redux), Fluidride No. 3 results, BC Bike Race Day 2, Alaska biking and more

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on July 1, 2009 at 2:35 am

Velo News interview. Lance is still talking like he could win. He’s “not confident” like he was for 6 and 7, he admits. But he’s not willing to say he’ll lay down for Contador. “The road will decide.” Watch the video and compare his right shoulder (the injured one) with his left. The guy does deserve props for racing, knowing he could really mess his body up if he goes down again.

Fluidride Cup, No. 3, courtesy of PinkBike. Cool vid by Andy Tran.

BC Bike Race, Day 2, courtesy of Bike magazine.

Bicycles and Icicles: Cool blog this time of year. Downright cold the rest of the year.

Mountain Biking 198 conducted a poll on your next bike’s chances of being a 29er. Here are the results. I have a feeling they’re skewed. With all the mountain biking I do, I see nowhere near a third being 29ers. The only time I see a 29er at all is strictly XC riding, and flat at that. They don’t do so well on the steep tight switchbacks, and they ain’t much on jumps and drops either. They’re fine for certain riders (esp. tall ones) and certain applications, but they’re like the frame equivalent of going tubeless. They’ll stay on the margins, more power to ‘em.

I almost got a Knolly Delirium T, but it’s a bit of a tank and it cost way too much. Now Knolly has marked ‘em down, by as much as $1k they say, so if you’ve been waiting, check it out. The name makes my Top 10 of all time btw.

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