What It All Means To Me: First of all, thanks to everyone involved in making the 700c mountain bike tires, rims, forks, and frames a reality. What ever you might think about 29 inch wheels, they have made mountain biking more fun for a lot of people that otherwise may have given up on the sport, or never got into it to begin with. That in itself is reason enough to celebrate the history behind the format.
I know that for myself, I would not have been as deeply involved with riding mountain bikes anymore if it had not been for 29"ers. I was getting really tired of the way my 26"ers rode, and behaved for me. The 29'er made mountain biking more fun for sure. It's like Gary Fisher once told me: Buying a suspension fork buys you some "grace". The 29"er is like that for a lot of riders. It brings more "grace" and therefore you get to enjoy the ride more.
Well, that made a lot of sense to me, at any rate, and I know it is true. The 26"ers were fun, but "hair trigger" for me. I crash a lot less often these days, and for me, at my age, that is a very good thing! (Just ask my wife!) The way the wheels roll and make trails more fun is very much appreciated by me as well.
I could have been as happy as a pig in the mud the rest of my life just enjoying my 29"er and riding it. Trouble is, I found out about blogs and started writing about how great I thought these bigger wheels were. That got me into something I never foresaw before I started tapping on this keyboard. It took me to places and I met people I never would have dreamed I would have met before. So, I have the 29 inch wheels to thank for that privilege as well. Things started out with the now defunct site, "The Biking Hub" in 2005, and then, of course, it was on to "Twenty Nine Inches". Now I've been scribing there for over five years. I suppose you could say I've seen a thing or three concerning these 29"ers in that time. I've certainly met a lot of people, and some of them are part of the history I wrote about in this series.
Speaking Of People.... I have been reminded as I wrote these posts how blessed I am to have met many of you folks out there. I have also been privileged to have had contact with many of the rest of you. Without getting overly dramatic......thank you one and all!
Where Do We Go From Here? Ah, the inevitable question is that, isn't it? There still are some things 29"ers are not best suited for, and may never be. That said, these big wheels have gone from just a dream to places that I never thought they would. (29 inch down hill bikes? Really?) In the future, I still believe that the 29 inch wheel will eventually supplant the 26 inch wheel for beginner mountain bikers and in the hard tail category especially. Women will continue to find the 29"er to be a stable, fun, and safe feeling off road machine. Longer travel 29'ers will continue to be developed as new forks, tires, and rims develop to cater to those styles of riding that demand "big" equipment.
The 29 inch wheel is perhaps, as Wes Williams believes, the biggest advancement in mountain biking since the purpose built mountain bike was first born in Marin, California. If not, it is pretty close to that. We still have not seen the extent to which these wheels will change the sport. 26 inch mountain bike wheels will never go away, most likely, but neither will the "adult" sized wheels. They are here to stay, thanks to those passionate and visionary folks that helped make it happen with "The Tire" in 1999.
I would like to thank and acknowledge the contributions to this series by: Wes Williams, Geoff Apps, Gary Fisher, Mark Slate, Ross Shafer, Bob Poor, Bruce Gordon, Charlie Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Mike Curiak, Mountain Bike Review, and anyone else that had a hand in bringing the WTB Nanoraptor into existence.