Last Sunday as I rode up that drifted over bike path and caught up with two cyclists I couldn't help but think two things. One: "Man! Those guys are having a slow go of it on those smaller wheels." But more importantly: "Those are some pretty old bikes they have there." Why is the second thought more important in my mind?
Well, I was thinking that sooner than later these two fellas are going to be looking into some new mountain bikes. They obviously had a sense of adventure, (Besides myself, they were most certainly the only other guys in town cycling that weekend), and they asked me some questions about my bike and 29 inch wheels in particular.
I have often said that a sub-grand 29"er would start bringing on more 29"er freaks and this scenario last weekend is the perfect seed for that to sprout from. Both guys were on hardtails that were verging on ten years old, if not older. In my time working at the bike shops around here, that's about the time folks start looking at a new bike. These guys were ripe. If they get into a shop that knows their stuff and has access to the sub-grand 29"er, I see one if not both of them getting on 29"ers. The thing is, it's a big "if" concerning the shop and the 29"er actually being there.
Many shops don't believe in 29"ers, or have staff that even knows much about them. Strange as that may sound, it is true. If there is one thing that is keeping 29"ers down, it is that. I am confident that once most folks ride one, it is a sold bike. Hands down, a 29"er will improve upon the average cyclists mountain biking experience over a 26"er any day. That alone should convince shop owners to carry them, that is if they care about their customers off road cycling experiences.
Sound like a harsh statement? Well, again- I believe most average mountain bikers would see an immediate benefit from riding a 29"er. They are more stable, less endo prone, and have better traction than their 26 inch counter parts. What's not to love for a recreational mountain biker about that? The trouble is, there are not many places that are versed in 29"ers. There are more that are all the time, but there are also lots of shops that are not.
So, if shops want to benefit from the next wave of mountain bike purchasers and turn them into enthusiastic off roaders, then a 29"er is a no-brainer. Get ready, or get left behind.