Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Rants and Raves

Today brought some interesting news concerning ultra-endurance events and their future. Check out the info, and if you at are all interested in such things, either plan on attending this little suare', or stay tuned to this channel for a synopsis of the goings on! I am excited to see the results of this think tank!

Another little nit that has been gathering attention, and much discussion, is the appearance of a little thing called a "96er". The whole premise of this idea is that the "best of both worlds" has been achieved in a single bike. A heady claim, to be sure. My take on this idea is that it is a compromise at best, and a bad idea, at the worst. To understand, one must see the reason for the execution of the "96er" in the first place.

One of the percieved downsides to a full-on 29-incher is that the wheels are harder to accelerate. To get the full advantage out of a 29-incher, you have to actually change up your riding style, as I posted on another forum. However; some don't see that as a possibility, so they change the bike to suit thier needs. They end up putting a 29 inch wheel in the front, to gain the "roll over advantage", and keep the 26 inch rear for it's quicker acceleration, and percieved lighter weight advantages. This is a valid way to go, but it is not better than a full on 29-incher! Here's why I think so.

First, let's look at the "advantage" of the rear tire versus a 29 inch rear. The rear tire, in 26 inch size, accelerates easier, yes. But it also decellerates easier. A 29 inch wheel carries momentum longer. This can be used to the advantage of the rider, especially when you consider that the rear tire has more grip in the 29 inch format due to it's different contact patch. More grip is better! Go faster into the corner, and keep it upright due to the increased grip. Also, the very reason that the front tire is desirable in a 29 inch format is even more important for the rear tire. Some say, "the rear tire is just along for the ride". My experience tells me differently. Your rear tire is weighted more than the front, most of the time. Wouldn't you want it to roll up and over trail obstacles more easily? It seems that you would desire this for the rear tire, especially when you consider that your weight is driving the rear tire downwards into the ground more so than the front is. Again, what's good for the front tire is even more important for the rear tire!

I can see some instances where the idea might be of some use, such as trials type manouverings, where there is more emphasis on technical moves than actual trail/ XC riding. Many trials rigs actually have a smaller rear wheel set-up. However; a smaller rear wheel in the twisties usually results in a bike that wants to swap ends in fast twisty singletrack, or steeper downhills. The gyroscopic effect is less with a smaller wheel in back, and usually results in a less stable condition in the rear of the bike, handling-wise. Besides, on a hardtail that 26 inch wheel is a harsher ride. I like the ride of a bigger wheel better. Think what your road ride would feel like with a 650c rear and a 700c front! This feeling is less of an issue with an off-road bike, sure, but it's there none the less!

And that name! Can't they come up with anything better than that! "96er" is such a mis-nomer anyway. It comes from the wrongly tagged "29er", which is a common mistake made by many of my big wheeled brethren, but I digress!

Hurricane Rita is looking to be every bit as bad as the Katrina disaster before it! Please, if you could keep these people in the Texas/ Louisianna area in your thoughts and prayers, it will make a difference! And I hope that you all can assist the needy when the opportunities present themselves. This is an unprecedented time that we are living in, let's step up to the challenge!

With that, I will sign off for tonight! I hope you all can get away on a bike ride this weekend to enjoy your passion. Ride well, and keep the rubber side down.

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