I got a comment on a post over at Twenty Nine Inches that indicated that Specialized field reps are saying they will have "a full line" of 29"ers for '08 and "don't be surprised if they have Fox forks on them." Well, this isn't really too shocking, as rumors about the big "S" have been heard before concerning 29"ers. Let's review some of them, shall we?
Going back to about 2003, Specialized was asked by the UCI for their opinion on whether or not 29"ers should be allowed in World Cup level XC races. They said no. (Actually, that's not a rumor!) Then a couple years later, it is rumored that Specialized was in developement of a 29"er for Phillipe Meirhaage for the Olympic XC race before Phillipe was banned for doping. The project was scuttled, but tires were said to exist. Finally, Specialized has an on-line raffle for the stockpile of Specialized 29"er tires. Eventually based upon the response to the raffle, Specialized introduces the tire quietly for retail sale. Then about late 2005-early 2006, several rumors start flying that seemingly contradict each other. Specializeds Mike Sinyard is rumored to have said something to the effect that it would be a cold day in Hell before Specialized did a 29"er. Then there were rumors of another 29"er tire, which spawned vast amounts of rumors saying things like there would be all kinds of 29"ers from Specialized coming out. 2007 product intro revealed a hybrid with a Reba fork and indeed, another 29"er tire. Yawn................
So, now the rumor mill is cranked up again saying 29"ers in '08 with Fox forks on 'em. Wow! This is getting even weirder. You've got a company with two 29"er tires and no "real" mtb to put them on. (The hybrid bike will accept them, or so I'm told) You've got a company whose head says "No" to the big wheeled format. You've got a company that is laying out huge jack to produce their own in house line of suspension products, and you hear that the 29"er is going to have a Fox fork? Yeah...........that's weird stuff all right!
I will say this, if Specialized indeed does come out with 29"ers for '08, they would be wise to get Fox forks on them and get an exclusive for a year. Why? #1. They are "late to the party". The bus has left the station for 29"ers and Specialized isn't on it. They need something to cause folks to look other than their name. Fox forks is that name, which leads me to....#2. Fox forks are eagerly awaited for by lots of 29"er afficiandos and "fence sitters". It's the "fence sitters" that Specialized can capitalize on. The folks that are so sold on Fox forks on their 26"ers that they can not see getting a 29"er because Fox forks are not available for the big wheeled bikes. If this rumor comes true, Specialized will reap some big benefits and help erase much of their sordid 29"er history.
Rumors are just that: rumors. Now let's see if Specialized steps up to the plate and delivers for '08. I've a feeling they will, but just how is yet to be seen. And don't forget about Trek either! They've got their own bunch of rumors and don't be surprised to see a 29"er or two from them!
This is going to be a good year. I can feel it! ( appologies to C'dale!)