|It sure was a purty bicycle!|
Head tube angles were in flux yet, fork rake was about to be opened up for choices, and geometry wasn't completely understood yet in 2006. It was as if 29"ers were going through the same growing pains that 26"ers were going through in 1985.
So, it is no wonder then that brands and engineers at those brands did not understand 29"ers or how they were supposed to work. Think that's crazy? Well, consider that a 29"er with a 70° head angle in 2006 would have been considered to have ultra-slack geometry. Going back from 72° on the head angle back then was considered risky. Raleigh actually used the same frame from their XXIX rigid, non-suspended front fork model to build the XXIX+G bike which had a suspension fork. That bike had a "slack" head tube angle and wasn't a big hit when it came out since the rest of the bike did not really compliment what the longer suspension fork was bringing to the table.
I think 29"er geometry has really just come into its own. Consider head tube angles in the 65°- 68° range, which is pretty standard fare for trail bikes with 29" wheels these days. Even the mere suggestion of a sub-70° head angle in 2006 would have gotten you labelled as a loony bin worthy subject. There was no way that was ever going to happen! So, the bikes with 29"er wheels we have to choose from today are pretty incredible, I think.