If you work in the cycling industry for any length of time these days you have probably heard of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, or "BRAIN" for short. It's the only industry rag that matters, Stateside anyway. Well, we just got our latest issue at the shop and right there on the front page is a headline that says, "29ers Step Up from Niche to Mainstream"
Okay, if your industry rag is declaring it, it must be true, right?
So, what does this mean? (Assuming BRAIN is correct in it's analysis, and I believe that they are) I have a few random thoughts on the matter. Some serious and some not so much. See if you can pick out which are which.
First off, this would mean that we might not be calling these bikes "29"ers" much longer. If the new Specialized and Diamondback hard tail offerings in the $650-$900 dollar range are any indication, we might just see a whole new generation of inexpensive, big wheeled mtb's that will cause new cyclists to accept the wheel size as "normal" and end up calling them "mountain bikes" without reference to wheel size at all.
Of course, it also means that more and more choices relating to the wheel format will surface, like the Rock Shox Dart 29"er forks that will be on the Specialized Rockhopper. (By the way, no mention of this fork was made at all by the SRAM guys at their Sea Otter presentation. Weird.)
Then the obvious will occur, which is that a mass exodus of the early adopters will be taking place. They will adopt some other "fringe" mtb fad, like 650B mountain bikes, 36"ers, or go do something else all together away from cycling. Something like riding recumbents, maybe. Who knows?
Then the 29"er Forum on mtbr.com will just become "the normal cycling forum" (like it hasn't to some degree already!) or the moderators will start putting all the threads into their proper categories and shut down the 29"er forum all together. I mean, they are just a mountain bike with bigger wheels, right?
And it all hits home here with me having to change my header again to just saying "Guitar Ted Productions" with no reference to 29"ers at all, since they have been assimilated. Which also means that my gig at Twenty Nine Inches will disappear due to the sites irrelevance, or that I'll have to start writing about recumbent bicycles, since they always will be weird! (Not gonna happen....the recumbent thing, that is!)
So it is with some sadness that I read the headline in BRAIN the other day. Like American Pie says, "the day the music died", we've started the downward spiral, it would seem. We're just riding "normal" mountain bikes now. We're just normal trail riders. Hooray!
I think I'll go celebrate this new mediocrity by having a Bud Light.
Ha! Just kiddin'!