I just perused an interesting prognostication on the future of the 29 inch wheeled bike. Apparently, some out there feel that the 29 inch wheeled bike is really going to take off in '06. I'm not quite so inclined to see things that way. Judging from the recent bicycle show in Germany, called Eurobike, the twenty nine inch wheels barely made a dent in the conciuosness of the Europeans in attendance. I feel that until the Europeans get on board with the idea, the big brands will stay away. The idea is definitely taking hold here in the U.S., but only small pockets of interest are to be found elsewhere in the world. The future is looking bright in a few areas, but it's not a trend that is going to set the bike industry on fire, say the way freeride/ downhill has. At least, not until the market grows outside the U.S. borders.
I definitely do not think things are stagnating, or slowing down! On the contrary! There are many exciting new developements coming up for us fans of the big wheels. InterBike is only a couple of weeks away, and with it more things will become known that will positively affect the future of the 29"er. I have personally seen a surge of interest in the big wheels recently in the form of e-mails to me asking for advice on new bikes. This is a flattering thing for me, but also, it causes me concern. Something is not quite right out there!
Here is the deal in a general sense. If you work at a shop, and you are a human, you are going to look for the path of least resistence. Okay, here it is in layman's terms: you are lazy! You sell what you have. What you have always sold. If something comes along, and it doesn't fit in with your version of normal, it's labelled as whacky, stupid, or worse! I know, because I have fallen prey to this mindset, and it is a cancer! It doesn't have to be about 29"ers. It could be that you feel this way about recumbents, trikes, or tandems. Maybe you feel this way about BMX, skatepark, or dirt jumping rigs. Whatever! Maybe you just can't sell that kind of schtuff for whatever reason, but it doesn't mean that it's not valid!! Bicycle shop employees owe it to themselves, and to their customers to be knowledgeable, friendly, and encouraging to all forms of human powered transportation! Your shop will benefit, and prosper because of your helpful, encouraging attitudes towards these "off-shoots of cycling", even if you don't sell them. (And- perhaps you should be selling them!)
Oh allright! Rant mode off! I just wanted to write all of that to prove a critical point. If I am getting e-mails from all across the country regarding my opinion on 29"ers and what people should be buying, then maybe some shop people are dropping the ball. Maybe. Or maybe I'm just cool like that! NOT! So, really it boils down to people in the industry either getting behind a "ball that is already rolling", or getting run over by it! What's it going to be? I don't know for sure, but the big wheels are a rolling! Watch out!!!
So, if you are so inclined, you too can get my unbridled opinion at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will attempt to be fair with any and all inquiries, but you will definitely know where I'm coming from! Be forewarned!
Have a great weekend, all! Get out and RIDE!!!