Friday, February 24, 2006

29" Single Speeds: Like White On Rice?

Is it me, or does the 29" wheel almost always get mentioned in conjunction with single speeds? It wouldn't have to do with the fact that there are so many models available, or soon to be available with 29" wheels that are also single speed compatible, would it? It seems that every new offering has the ability to be built up as a single speed, or is specifically a single speed frame. Take any of the number of new offerings coming down the pipeline. Redline's newest Monocog is a 29 inch wheeled single speed. Kona's Unit 29 is a single speed with capability of going geared. And now I hear that Raliegh is coming out with an affordable single speed! Ahh...........gears, anyone? What's up with that?

Then you have the custom builders and the niche manufacturers with all the single speed specific or single speed compatible frames that they have available for 29 inch wheels. It's like a plague of grasshoppers! Even the single speed guys are wondering if anybody rides a single speed with 26 inch wheels anymore!

I myself ride a single speed 29 inch wheeled bike. I do not answer for any of the manufacturers, or other riders out there, but here is my take on the situation. There are about as many reasons people ride single speed bikes as there are people. I'm not going to delve into that subject. I do it because that's what I grew up on. I never really quite got on with gears, although, for road riding, I've got the hang of it. But that's just me! As for the reasons that there are so many offerings in the single speed, 29 inch wheeled bike, and hardly anything geared specific, I think is a little clearer. Single speed bikers are perhaps seen by the marketers as an independant thinking bunch. I remember when single speeding was gaining traction amongst mountain bikers. It was an idea that was thought to be a passing fancy by many industry people. Then a few companies like Surly and Spot came along. That pretty much sealed the deal! Now, the marketers see this 29" wheel phenomenon as another single speeders thing. It's true that much of the early production of custom bikes were single speed compatible and built up as single speeds with 29 inch wheels. Then Surly does it again with the Karate Monkey in 2003. The manufacturers on a mass level now equate single speed and 29 inch wheels together. The result is all these offerings in single speed compatible/ specific frames.

Then there is the commitment thing. You know....disc or cantilever mounts.......geared or single speed......rigid or squishy. The manufacturers don't know which way to commit, so they cave in and give it all to you. I'm not a big fan of that, and I own a Karate Monkey! ( Hey, it was cheap and easy for me to set up!) I just wish that some of these manufacturers would give up the single speed thing and just produce an inexpensive hardtail 29 inch wheeled bike in hard tail and full suspension. That would be a good selling product launch for no other reason than that no one else does this! Besides, then I could buy one of those bikes and be different again!

Oh, so you ride a 29"er, huh? So, how do you like single speeding? (!!!!)

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