I've written on this before, and I want to bring the topic back up for discussion again, but first- a quick recap for those who don't know what this is about.
When the 29"er came about, several good and bad things were noted right off the bat. One of the "bad" things was in regard to gearing. You see, your wheel size affects your end gear ratio. Late 19th Century cyclists would have been quite familiar with that concept, but with all the cassette gears and crank chain rings in between the pedals and the drive wheel these days, how a rear wheel affects final drive gear is lost on a lot of folks. Essentially, a bigger wheel is a "harder" gear, all else remaining the same. You go faster, but it is harder to get rolling, and harder to climb hills, etc. Make sense?
So, 29"ers, with their larger diameter wheels, were stuck using gear ratios optimized for smaller wheels. This left the low end of the range wanting. (Well, for some folks anyway. Bear with me here.) Suggestions to remedy the situation included getting a cassette with a 36T low gear, (got that now, huzzah!), and using a crankset with a 20-30-42 tooth chain ring set.
Now some will be about a millisecond from the comment button right now ready to pounce and tell me about Middleburn, or Action Tec, or whatever. Sorry folks. This has to do with those that control the market with OEM spec. Namely SRAM and Shimano.
Okay, and then there is the argument that says you need to lose weight, get fitter, pedal harder, yada, yada, yada. This doesn't apply here either. Yes, that is a valid point, but we're putting that "over there" for a minute, okay? Some folks "need" this lower gearing. Shimano and SRAM are not giving it to them. Close in the case of SRAM, but no cigar.
Historically, Shimano has been all over the board with regard to gearing on hybrids and mountain bikes. One thing is for certain, unless the Shimano company is going to sell "a lot" of product to OEM's, they don't really care what you and I think "mountain bike gearing" should be for any bicycle. They are a research and development company that specializes in forged metal products. They are not much for market research. They definitely do not chase "niches". Until most mtb's become big wheelers, (and that looks to be starting to happen), Shimano will not make a "29"er specific crankset. Heck, they don't even do a single speed crank set for mountain biking. And we all know how long that's been around.
SRAM is hedging its bets with 2X10 drive trains, and hoping that will become enough to make 29"er folks happy. Very soon they will offer what they are billing as crank sets good for 29"ers in a 22/36 configuration. Not low enough gearing, some will say, and I'd have to agree that it seems to be a lateral move. I mean, you can 2X a triple and practically get that gearing.
Nope! Until one of the big outfits does a 20-30-42, we'll continue to hear about this gearing thing for 29"ers.
Looks like another Milwaukee Bikes 29"er is headed over for testing and review. Ya know......another steel hard tail!
I don't know how the new rig will compare, but I nearly bought the old one after testing and reviewing it, I liked it that much. But....I sent it back. This one? We'll see. Check out Twenty Nine Inches for all the updates.
I'll just say that it is Fall, which is the perfect time to single speed, this bike will be a single speed, and Reynolds steel at that. If it rides anywhere as near to the older Milwaukee rig, it's gonna be good times in the woods!
It is great to just hammer the single track without fear of ripping off your derailleur when a stick gets caught bin your spokes. That happens a lot here in the Fall due to the windy days that knock down a ton of twigs, branches, and well......sometimes entire trees!
Those pesky twigs and branches get kicked up by your front wheel and wham! (Not the George Michael "Wham!", but ya know.....a sudden bad thing kinda "wham" Well........I guess you could say those are both bad kinds of "wham"!)
Anywho.......yeah. Bad deal there when the ol' rear mech goes belly up into your spokes. I've been clear of that issue for more years than I care to count, but then again, I single speed most Fall seasons anymore! Now I've gone and jinxed myself, I suppose, but we'll see.
Okay, have a great weekend folks! Ride bikes, Take pictures!