Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday News And Views

2017 Anthem X Advanced- Image courtesy of Giant Bicycles
How's That Crow Tasting, Sir?

Okay, first of all, since I am a fan of history, I like to take stories I see in context of history. That way, I feel, we are getting a truer picture of what is going on today. Take, for instance, the quiet refocus on 29"ers from Giant Bicycles.

Giant made waves three years ago when they steadfastly said that 27.5"ers were going to supplant 26" and 29" wheels in their line up of mountain bikes. They basically said that all other wheel sizes would be phased out eventually and that they were going to focus future mtb development on the "tweener' wheel size. Now we see that Giant has turned back on those sentiments and have reintroduced 29"ers into their XC categories.

Okay, so what's the deal here? Well, I think you have to look at two points in history concerning Giant and wheel sizes that may help us make sense of it all. First was the very late entry of Giant to the world of 29"er sales. Giant didn't get into the 29"er game until 2010 with a modest line of hard tail bikes. They arguably were the very last bicycle company of note to enter the 29"er market, which by this time was dominated by Trek/Fisher, and to a lesser degree, Specialized, and every other bicycle maker of note. At the same time, moves were underway to deep six the 26 inch wheeled, long travel mountain bike as the choice for mountain bike riding in the back country and even for competitive, gravity oriented mountain biking. What we didn't know in 2010 was that in two years the 27.5"er, "enduro" bike would be the newest darling of the industry on the dirt side. Which leads to the second point.....

B+ wheels on an OS Bikes Blackbuck: Image courtesy of Bob Poor.
The genesis of this whole B+/27.5+ thing goes back to a chance meeting I had with a fellow by the name of Bob Poor in 2011 at the Interbike Outdoor Demo. I was poked in the back and I turned around to see Bob, (who, if you don't know, has a previous history with big wheels you can read about HERE) who had a very simplistic sketch of a wheel size idea. Using a 584ISO rim and a big, 2.8" tire, Bob theorized that a fatter, cushier, more tractable mtb tire could be slotted into many 29"er hard tail bikes. A "mid-fat" idea, that wouldn't require a new frame, like 29+ did. I liked his train of thought. Bob let on that he had presented the idea to WTB and that they were at work on the idea. I was told to sit on that info, but that it was going to happen. Someday......

So, it made sense that Giant would ditch the different wheel sizes for 27.5 and run with that idea, since the "enduro" thing was happening full tilt by 2013. What Giant hadn't bargained on was that 29"ers weren't going away, and that B+/27.5+ was coming along and would upset the apple cart. The enduring nature of 29"ers caught the attention of these very same "enduro" cycling athletes who pushed to try bigger wheels at these events. Eventually, serious rigs were produced which garnered serious results. So much so that we now have 29"er long travel enduro machines like Trek's Slash 29. Of course, we all know what the impact of B+ wheels has been. So it comes that Giant was essentially put into a corner on their own with the "only 27.5" wheels thing.

So, now they quietly come back with 29"ers. Will their be plus bikes and longer travel 29"ers in their future? We will see......

For another take on this, read the Bike Hugger's article here.

Salsa Cycles Demo Tour: 

2017 Salsa Cycles Timberjack
 I just wanted to give a bit of space here to say that Salsa cycles is coming to Waterloo/Cedar Falls with their demo truck chock full of 2017 bicycles to try out and drool over. There will be Timberjacks, Woodsmokes, Fargos, Bucksaws, Mukluks, and maybe a Pony Rustler or two. You can ride them on the trails of George Wyth State Park from 4:00pm till 7:00pm on Monday, August 15th.

For details go to the Facebook Page Here.

It is a great chance to actually feel and see the newest 2017 stuff from Salsa Cycles. The Woodsmoke is the incredible, raised chain stay, 29+ machine that can also handle 27.5+ and 29"er wheels, the Timberjack is the new 29'er or 27.5+ modern hard tail- slack and long in front, short and steep in the rear- that should make for a playful, fun bike. These two models are brand new, never before seen here bicycles that I think will be exciting to check out.

I'm not sure that there will be any touring Marrakesh's or Vayas on the truck, since I was told it was going to be heavy on the mtb/fat bike side of the equation, but Europa Cycle & Ski does have both of those models on their floor so you can always go there to check those out.

Remember- 4:00pm to 7:00pm only, so don't be late! I'll be there as well, in case you'd like to meet me and say "hello".

Thanks and have a great weekend, y'all!


Scott said...

Just read that Jared Graves, a top enduro racer from Specialized who won the last EWS race in Snowmass on a 29er, will be riding a new 27.5 x 2.6 tire at this weekend's race in Whistler. This could be interpreted as a first step towards 27.5+. GT, your crystal ball seems to be working quite well!

Doug Mayer said...

In fairness to Giant, the 29er XTC and Anthem never went away 2014-2016 (though I remember the goofy video making wild claims about 27.5" in XC & marathon). I think it was a bigger deal that the Trance 29 went away, ceding the mid-travel trail/enduro 29er category completely before it really picked up steam.

Got to ride the Transition Smuggler out in Washington, and even as a little guy, it rips! I think this category of 4-5.5" 29ers will be popular for a long while.

Tyler Loewens said...

Giant indeed already has a plus bike:

Bob said...

The b+ deal was a perfect storm. The popularity of 27.5, the Surly introduced + concept and the fact that they almost get to 29"es (which the "tire" doesn't even achieve) was kind of a slam dunk. It took awhile as things will in the industry to gestate and it still is only another tool for the shed. Mark Slate is once again the man.

For me the ability to use as low a psi as possible, a figure that has been spiraling downwards since the first Carlisle was aired up to 45 at the dawn of mtb, is the real plus and a lot of that ability is due to rim width, which I wish I had worked out years ago. The Kris Holm rims i35 rims that showed me the light were made in the last decade so I missed out on a few years there. Oh well, I have it down now!

As far as the Giant deal goes that same year, 2011, the b+ idea was spoon fed to BR at 9r and they kicked it out the door and just now have gotten with the program. So even the little guys get stuck in their marketing plans.

Guitar Ted said...

@Bob: Hey there! Thanks for popping in again. Hope all is well with you, Sir!