After some of the information came out on the new Raleigh XXIX, I got kind of curious. Why no suspension corrected fork? Why the shorter than normal seat tubes? I sent in a request for some answers to our trusty Raleigh rep. He forwarded my questions to the product engineering wonks, they answered him, and he forwarded it to me. Still following? Anyway.......here is the answer to "Why the non-suspension corrected fork?"
"The actual fork being used is a 40mm offset. The information that got printed was a typo. And that stuff happens.
The actual axle to crown height is 430mm. Not quite suspension height but not too low either. And we kept it this way to keep it as a true single speed and not have look abnormal. And like Mark pointed out…it does allow for more people to fit the bike. And that is why the seat tube actuals are shorter than normal. It’s to compensate for the larger tires. We didn’t want it to be too high with the bigger wheels and with a suspension fork with sag; the geometry is not much different. This is how our completely built samples, with and with out suspension, have measured out. Please note this is with an 80mm travel Reba compensated with 20mm of sag.
Rigid 70degree HA 315mm BB height
Suspension 69.5 degree HA 328mm BB height
And we are in the works with a geared version using an 80mm travel Reba."
So, that's the answer? They wanted it to fit shorter people? This is sort of strange, and I have noticed that alot of production 29"ers have leaned this way. Raleigh is at the extreme in this, however. The only companies 29 inch wheeled offerings that will accomodate larger riders is the upcoming Haro Mary, due out in August. I'm talking about complete bikes available at bike shops, not frame sets or custom jobs. I suppose you could make an exception for Niner and Surly, but they are not really availble on a nationwide scale on bike shop floors.........yet!
Anyway, these numbers on the head tube and fork offset are kind of weird. I'm not sure they will inspire those looking for quick handling. I might still be getting my hands on one of these, so I hope to report some real world test results. I just wish the seat tubes were longer. I'd have to run at least a 400mm post for the top tube measurement that would accomodate me!
So, it seems that the "mainstream" bicycle companies must be looking at their large and extra large sales figures for mountain bikes and saying, "well, these 29"ers better fit the medium and small sized riders, or we'll be sitting on a lot of Larges and XL's in the 29 inch sizes." So, maybe that is why we are seeing "large" sized 29"ers that would be "mediums" from custom builders. Perhaps these product managers ought to check out the mtbr.com poll that was run showing the vast majority of respondants wanting large and extra large sizes. Hmm............
These strange numbers are coming from strange ideas, me-thinks!