At one time not too long ago it was unthinkable that a 29"er would be capable of anything beyond XC duty. The wheels were too weak and the tires too flimsy and narrow. There wasn't a proper fork and rims were trekking designs and didn't have the width needed for heavy hitting mountain duty.
Well, all that changes with this bike right here!
This is a bike that isn't in production, (well, if you knew the right people, you might get one.......maybe!) so it's not a rig you can run down to your LBS and order yet, but the point has been made. 29"ers can and do make awesome all mountain/ big hit bikes. Of course, a lot had to come together to make this happen. As I mentioned above, tires, rims, and forks all had to become available for the concept to work. Now that those pieces are coming, or currently available, it won't be long before bikes like this one will be available at your LBS, (that's local bike shop ya'all) and you too can bomb down steeps and crawl back out again, just like I did on the bike pictured here.
On the bike: It's a super rare rig. It belongs to Mike Curiak, the ultra endurance guy and organizer of some nutty off road challenges you may have heard of. He was kind enough to allow this flatlander to get a taste of what is coming down the pike. This frame is designed by Devin Lenz of Lenz Sport Performance Mountain Bicycles. It's got a super rare White Brothers long travel fork on it and Stan's Flow rims shod with a WTB proto type tire that was huge and grippy.
My very short ride was revealing. Long travel messes with your mind! I was thinking about attacking the terrain in a whole new way. Steeps and hills were somehow flatter. Ruts and small rocks were total non-issues that my ordinary 29"er would have had a tougher time with. I was even contemplating doing some things I never considered before, all because the bike could handle it. Almost scary, it was!
Of course, I was riding this bike on terrain that it was designed for. Out here in Iowa, this bike would be silly. There's only so many loading docks, ya know! However, out in the West or in the rooty, rocky East coast environs, this bike makes a whole lotta sense. The big wheels mated to big travel are a whole lotta smile inducing fun. It won't be long and you'll start to see this Lenz perhaps, or the upcoming Niner WFO 9 hitting the crazy terain in your neck of the woods, er......mountain, that is.
And you'll be getting a fork or two, and the wider, stronger rims are already coming, as are the tires. Hold on a bit longer and you'll see it. Big wheels, big travel.........on yer left!