Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Where Are The Non-Believers Now?

Wait a Gol durn miniute! They were doin this in '08! Image by mtbr memeber "crashtestdummy"
"Nope, it can't be done. And even if it could, they shouldn't, because those big wagon wheels are just too heavy, fragile, cumbersome, and make a bike handle like a truck. "

What is it that I am talking about here? Well, if you go back ten years ago, that was the the common response to anyone asking why there weren't five and six inch travel 29"ers. The common wisdom at that time relegated 29"ers to single speeds and maybe a full suspension XC racing bike. Maybe. This was when 26"ers ruled the long travel category of the mountain biking world. You remember long travel 26"ers, right? Boy! Have things changed in the last few years!

Of course, they were all wrong even back then about 29"ers and long travel. Many won't remember, or even care, but credit for shoving the long travel 29"ers in the face of a disbelieving mountain biking world has to go to Devin Lenz and Mike Curiak. Devin was, and still is, the mad scientist at Lenz Bikes.  Mike Curiak was, and maybe still is, somewhat of a brand ambassador for Lenz. I actually rode a 5 inch travel 29"er in 2007 at Interbike courtesy of Lenz and Curiak. By the way, the bike actually worked really well. Then the following year I got to ride the newest, six inch travel version, and the following year Lenz brought a seven inch travel model to Interbike. So, yeah.....pioneer, ahead of his time, and all of that.

I think the deal was back nine, ten years ago, was that there were no good components to go with the ideas. Lenz was using cobbled together forks from Manitou and White Industries. Tires weren't anywhere near what was needed to really get the platform working to potentials, and rims were hard to find that were wide enough, and stout enough. Still, it was plain for any big company engineer to see that a long travel 29"er was, indeed, not only possible, but worthwhile to check in to.

The 2017 Trek Slash ultra-spectacular enduro machine of doom!
As I said, I actually had the chance to pilot the six inch travel version of Lenz's bike courtesy of Mr. Curiak, (that's me above with said bike), and I was dutifully impressed to the point that I seriously was considering buying one. Like I really needed that kind of a monster! But the bike was so fun, handled so well, and was so capable, I wanted one despite the fact I needed it like I needed another hole in my head. So, wisdom prevailed, and I passed on owning a piece of history.

The thing was, all that time the naysayers were putting forth all their efforts to slam the idea of a long travel 29"er. Then 27.5"ers hit the scene hard in 2012, and, well....... I figured that was the nail in the coffin for any long travel 29"ers, and so did most everyone else. I had different reasons for thinking that way, but I never saw this day coming.

Apparently tinkerers and mad mtb scientists still inhabit the sport, because somewhere along the line, enduro racing was infested with 29"ers. You know, enduro racing? The whole reason long travel 650b bikes were taking over the 26"er bike category and killing them off? Remember that? The industry foisted the move on the market as the heat of the 29"er craze was waning in order to boost sales up for a bit longer. Well, that basically, in my opinion, not only killed 26"ers, but made 650B a thing it would never have become unless the industry did what it did back then.

Anyway, somewhere along the way, 29"ers started winning enduro races. Lots of them. Then companies started to take notice. Bigger companies, with bigger influences that could get things made to, ya know, actually make that old idea of a long travel 29"er that Devin Lenz was doing all along actually have cutting edge technology. Now we see the Slash 29"er with 150mm travel rear and 160mm travel front coming to the fore. A bike with a promise to be a very capable, maneuverable, robust, light, and better than anything else out there.

Where are the non-believers now?

1 comment:

Bob said...

They have moved on to non-believing the newest trends like + and e bikes. Plenty of stuff to non-believe in the bicycle world and the Internet is their pulpit!