|Continental Announces 27.5"er tires at Eurobike '12|
I've already pontificated on this subject here. But I'll make a few more observations based upon what is happening right now in Europe at the annual Eurobike show.
First- I never thought 27.5"ers were "the best of both 26 and 29 inch attributes", although you'll hear that a lot from the marketing wonks moving forward. 27.5"ers are different, but they can not do near what a 29"er can do. In fact, this is something of an issue for marketers, who feel that once 27.5"er product gets out there, it won't impress the 29"er folks, and won't get much traction there. Of course, this is why the 27.5"er will be heavily invested into over in Europe. There 29"ers are still very new, not entrenched, and marketers feel that the 27.5"er, being less of a jump from 26", has a better chance of becoming "the next big thing".
Tires, wheels, and forks are all going to be unleashed this very week at Eurobike to prove my point here. Brands will also introduce new 27.5"er bikes, (mostly in the longer travel categories, which are selling flat of late), which will further the reach for this wheel size.
|Rocky Mountain recently intro'ed a whole new line of 27.5"ers|
In the end, as I have always said, the riders will vote with their dollars, as long as there is a choice. That seems to be the case as long as the "Big Three", (Giant, Specialized, and Trek), don't capitulate and in one fell swoop, relegate 26 inch wheels to the dustbin of mtb history. Will that happen? Not anytime soon, that's for sure.
For now this will be an experiment for mid-level companies looking to capitalize on a "new trend" that they may have missed out on, (read: 29 inch wheels), last time. Make no mistake- this is an exercise in marketing, and we'll see if it pans out in the long run.
How can I say this? Well, 27.5"ers have been around at retail stores since 2007, and they haven't done diddly squat in the marketplace. That's six years ago in model year terms. Six years into the 29"er becoming available at retail stores the wheel size was well on its way to becoming more than a niche. All without marketing driven hoo-ha. (In fact, marketing departments resisted 29"ers like the plague in the early years, for the most part.)
Want another example? Try fat bikes, which have had little to no industry horsepower behind them, yet are a growing segment that shows no sign of stopping yet. Why? Because these are rider driven demand products, not "top down" marketed platforms. Again- I am not saying 27.5"ers will not be any good. No- this has to do with marketing. Maybe it'll work, but I haven't seen this sort of success in a product category in my years in the cycling business. That's what I am saying.
Again- I may well eat my words here, and that is fine, but I do not think 26"ers are going anywhere soon. But the mtb segment will have to make some room for these upstart 27.5"ers at any rate, whatever you may think of them.