Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Mid-Fat Future?

Buzzin' on the Buzzard
I dug out the Singular Cycles Buzzard yesterday and aired up the tires for a bit of a runaround to see if I needed to do anything else mechanically to it after my earlier gravel escapades with MG this past late Winter. It seemed to be operating just fine, and the new to me WTB Pure V on this bike is heavenly! Love that saddle on this bike.

I hit up some of the downtown urban stuff and the Buzzard basically just laughed it off. I tell ya- this bike is way more capable than the rider! I basically would have to start looking for trouble to get into before the bike would be pushed to its limits and the margin for error would be slim to none with dire consequences for missing it. That's how good this bike is. That said, there is one thing holding it back right now and that is a poor fork for the Velocity Dually/On One tire combination I have on it now.

That is the only reason I didn't go to the dirt Wednesday. Lean the bike to the left very hard at all and bzzzzzzzzttttttt! I'm not interested in an unplanned sudden stoppage of fun. So, hopefully a plan for a new fork comes to fruition that will clear the big "half-fats" better.

Which brings me to another point- that being that the "new" thing in mountain bikes will be "mid-fat" sized bikes. Not true fat bikes, because they are too heavy and cumbersome for many folks. Not 29+ because that requires a totally new rig, and smaller sizes are simply out of the question. So what then? I'm thinking a 584ISO wheel with a 2.8"-3.0" tire, bringing the overall diameter to 29-ish inches is what wiill be the ticket. Why? Because it will fit many current frames, and it gives folks a lighter than 29+ wheel with all the benefits of that size.

Or maybe I'm totally nuts.


MG said...

It'll happen... While I love my 29+, I also know there is a big potential market for the slightly smaller, but still mid-fat, wheels you propose.

It's a fun time to love riding bikes!

JYB said...

"gives folks a lighter than 29+ wheel with all the benefits of that size."

In my opinion, all of the current and future wheel/tire choices will have their pros and cons. That being said, many who have spent considerable time on 29+ would probably argue that smaller wheels with big tires would not provide "all of the benefits of 29+". People might make comments similar to those you reported on 5/9 where your friends were saying that 27.5 isn't the best of both worlds. I personally, like you, welcome more options and hope that 29+ sticks around and sees more product development because it really is a blast. Rock on!

Guitar Ted said...

@JYB: good point, but.....

The b+ wheels will measure out to 29", and the 29+ is what? About 30-31" in diameter? When one considers the cost of entry, the b+ idea, which will work with a lot of current 29" frames and forks, has an advantage. That's my point. Of course, they will ride somewhat differently, but the advantage of not having to develop frames and forks to make the b+ idea work is what I think brings the idea heads and shoulders above 29+, performance issues not withstanding.

That and making a 30+ inch diameter wheel fit smaller people is going to be a bigger challenge than making 29"ers work for smaller folks, and here weight advantages come into play as well.

Don't get me wrong- 29+ is cool, but it is a standard with a lot more limitations than the b+ idea.

JYB said...

I hear ya' loud and clear. The b+ idea is about the only thing that would really draw any of my attention to "b" at all, if you catch my drift. Especially if well designed tires follow suit. Certainly exciting times for those of us who like to ride larger rubber donuts.

Doug M. said...

I like my regular 584ISO Bs (that I've been riding for 4 years), I like full fat 26x3.8", I like 29ers, I like pushing 700cx past it's limits, I haven't seriously ridden them on trails but think 29+ is cool; B+ sounds awesome too! Options are nice to have, at least for consumers.

And really, we're talking about riding bikes in the woods, so there's no way it can be bad :-)

jkeiffer said...

I agree with JYB that b+ is the only way I'd leave 29. I really liked the look of that Rocky with the b+ wheels. I totally agree that is makes lots of existing bikes more viable.

rideonpurpose said...

I've been saying this for a couple years. They are all just bikes- in a couple years people will be back to buying the tire size that works best for their intended purpose rather than based on hype. In practice this will mean 29" race bikes, 26x3 or so all-mountain bikes (or will they be 27x3?), etc. right?

Guitar Ted said...

@rideonpurpose: Your comment brings up something that is very misunderstood by most cyclists, (but maybe not you, maybe you are just not being specific enough?) Anyway....

Wheel diameter, since the advent of the bicycle, has always included BOTH the rim and tire,and was never a size defined by the rim alone. Thus, we shouldn't even be talking about "650B" at all, since that is a rim diameter designation and does not describe wheel diameter, which when you think about it, is what matters in the first place.

Example: saying that fat bike wheels and a Trek 3700's wheel are "both 26 inch wheels" is such a farce is isn't even worth considering. That conveys nothing of the ride features either a fat bike or a Trek 3700 has.

So, in reality, it would make far more sense to speak in terms of overall diameter and width. So- a 29+ should really be a 31 X 3", a 650B/27.5 X 3" should be called 29" X 3", since that is about what it measures out to, (so I have been informed)

But we live in a world that is marketing driven, so whatever the marketers can get the consumers to think, that's what whatever the wheel size in question will be called.

"B+" isn't what I would use, by the way, and in my way of thinking, it just makes things more confusing for consumers not attuned to the latest bike geekery. I like "mid-fat", since it simplifies things. Consumers not into the tech-speak can understand that much, and since we already have "fat bikes", it dovetails right into the lexicon.

forgivenick said...

"mid-fat" dovetails right into the lexicon, but shouldn't diameter be mentioned as well for frame clearance and tire/wheel designations GT? 31 Mid-fat and 29 Mid-fat nominal designations would make good sense to me. I think you are correct about the marketing driving the terminology craziness, but remember that we also call headsets by their imperial measurements (1 1/8") while calling handlebar diameters by their metric measurement (31.8mm) even though they are the same diameter. Whats up with that?! When these rims on 29ers have widened and Surly decided to make one wider that can handle a wider (29x3 knard) tire for that rim, it probably made more sense for them to describe it however it came into being. Meaning that it came from rims designed originally for 29er tires, just widened. Of course, this has ultimately left us with a 31x3" platform as you mentioned. I think the bicycle industry as a whole could benefit from some standardizing a little, but at the same time, its nice having the feeling that its still like the wild west...especially when we head out into the hills on these steeds. :)