I'm taking a break from "The Future Of Endurance Racing" series for a bit until I can arrange a couple more interviews. I still would like to hear any feedback that you guys might have, so let me know in the comments section.
Today, I was thinking along the lines of 29"er stuff again. It seems that the idea now is to introduce a simple hardtail at a sub-$500.00 price. These kinds of deals are starting to spring up all over the place! The really crazy thing is that in the near future, these deals will be on complete bikes, and not just on single speed bikes either!
Up until recently, you could get any number of framesets for the magical under $500.00 price point, but then you had to kit it out, which even in singlespeed mode, could end up costing you another $500.00 quite easily. This wasn't lost on the folks interested in possibly taking a look at getting a 29"er to try out. The price of entry was just too high for something that they weren't sure about. Now, with the promised entry of several models coming complete at or below $500.00, I think we will see alot more folks giving 29" wheels a go.
This is going to do two things. 1. It's going to increase the market for 29" bikes and specific parts. At the promised price points, alot more people will be willing to justify owning a 29"er. Then, as some of them get bitten by the bug, they may want to upgrade their rigs with better parts, some of which will be 29" specific, like forks. 2. It's going to be a market research project done for free for the big manufacturers. They are watching this 29" segment of the market very closely. If it looks like these small to mid-level manufacturers are getting sell through on their models, then I believe that the bigger companies will jump in. It's just a matter of time before we see that. I think the bigger companies are biding their time in hopes that their introductions will be timed to reap the sales from those riders who have tried the inexpensive route and are now wanting something nicer. That has been the realm of the custom fabricators lately, but if the big boys jump in, then I think alot of these small fabricators will suffer greatly.
Speaking of newer entries into the 29"er market: the mid-level companies are showing big interest in this market now. We have Kona, now KHS has announced a 29"er, and very, very soon their is going to be another well known company doing the same thing. Could the rumors of Specialized and Cannondale coming to market with 29"ers be coming true soon? Maybe.
What I've found quite interesting is how several folks that I have talked to have expressed dis-interest, or even disdain, at the very thought that someone like Cannondale or Specialized would come out with a 29"er. It seems that the prevailing wisdom is that as long as the quality and availability of the present offerings are remaining high, then what do these types of companies have to bring to the table? That's a fair question. I really believe that if Cannondale, Specialized, or Giant come out with a 29"er that it may as well be a version of their most innovative dual suspension XC, or "endurance" type platform that they have. Why come out with a "me too" hardtail now? If they want market attention, then this is where they will find it. A bold move? Sure! I say, put your top athletes on a 29"er, and when they podie, watch the money roll in. Who will have the guts and fortitude to be first? I don't know, but that company will be sucessful in the 29"er marketplace!
The rest? Ho-hum! We are not interested in me-too's! We want innovation and performance. We want value and quality. Oh! and more big tires, too! Yeah, did you hear about Maxxis coming out with two new tires for 29"ers? Uh, huh! Yes, and more and better forks that go squish-squish! Then I'd like a nice bean burrito with green sauce to go with that! Yum, yum!
Time for breakfast! See ya!