Thursday, August 24, 2006

Trek's "69er": A Case of What If

Ever since Travis Brown rolled out a pink proto type of this bike about a year ago, folks have been buzzing about the possibilities that Trek might be finally coming out with (a) a single speed bike, and (b) a 29"er. Well Trek answered the questions with (a) and half of (b). This leaves us with a strange bike with really cool details.

Let's forget about the fact that this bike hasn't got the wheel size thing sorted out for a minute and look at these details. Probably the most obvious of the details is the modified Maverick fork, painted to match the rest of the bike. (I can imagine that this was done partly to discourage folks from parting out the "69er" and selling the fork on it's own) We also see some machined chain retention devices on the rear cog and and crankset. This is about as close to a "signature" bike as you could imagine. I'm not sure why Trek didn't drop the rediculous "69er" moniker in favor of something more appropriate, like "The Brownie".

The rear sliding drop out/ chain tensioner is a heavy duty looking piece of machine work and looks to be a reliable way to keep the rear wheel in check, even though it looks a bit out of place on the elegantly curving, hydro formed frame. This frame, by the way, looks suspiciously like a Trek 8000 series frame. I wonder if the actual head and seat tube angles on the "69er" were at all tweaked to reflect the use of the 29"er front wheel. Hmm.............

Now on to the "What if" portion of my take on this bike. Even with all the "Travis Brown-esque" coolness of this bike, it still is a conundrum of a bike that will no doubt leave many a single speeder scratching their heads. The obvious "why" of the front and rear wheel sizes alone will be enough to put this bike in danger of being a "hangar queen" at the bike shops. (Although Trek insists that orders for this bike are "brisk")

The bikes "bling" nature will obviously appeal to some single speeders, but it certainly goes against the grain of your "typical" single speeder mindset. Not to mention the fact that it's an aluminum frame, which again isn't really a single speeders typical first choice in frame materials.

What if Trek had instead come out with a steel single speed? Certainly Trek has a long lineage in steel hard tail mountain bikes. A "Single Track Single" would have been way cooler than this and most likely far cheaper than the $1650.00 price tag of the "69er". Now what if the bike had not only been steel, but designed by Keith Bontrager, and stickered as such? ( Drooling yet?........I thought so!) My guess is that Trek would have had more than "brisk" orders coming in for that single speed!

Okay, let's say Trek and Mr. Brown still get their way, but allow for the "69er" to fit a 29"er wheel in back. More takers that way? I'm thinking, yes. Let's say that Trek not only did that, but served up a replacement right side drop out to allow for gears. More takers? You betcha!

So, is Trek stupid, or what? It's like they are saying no to more sales. I hope that their little foray into odd ball single speed blingleness is somewhat successful, and not a flop, but it's really apparent that there are better ways to serve up a single speed than this. Come on guys! I'm just a simple Iowa boy and I'm certainly not a marketing guru, but this bike isn't making alot of sense to me. Especially considering all the what ifs.

............and that's not even getting into the "69er" thing, which is another story!

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