Monday, February 26, 2007

What'll It Be? 29 Or 69?

There has been a lot of speculation going on yet about a bike Travis Brown was spotted on in Texas over a week ago now. Was it a "69er"? Was it a full on 29"er Fuel full suspension proto type? What fork is on it? On and on goes the speculation and interest. Here's my take on what is up here.

The Bike: Some swear it's a 29"er and some swear it's a "69er" and this coming from folks that were eyewitnesses to seeing the bike. Up close even! So, I can not say with any authority what is going on with the bike other than to say this: Travis Brown digs "69ers", and a racer races what he believes in. I have got to side with the "69er" here based on that alone. My contact within Trek said as much, as well.

The Fork: What at first glance appears as a Reba seems to have a mysterious polished crown causing no end of speculation. The scuttlebutt is that it's a new offset crown being tested. Others say it looks like an old Marzhocci crown. Some are saying it's a disguised Fox fork. My take is that it is indeed a new offset for the Reba. It's not an old Marz crown, Travis wouldn't race a "frankenstien fork". Why? Same thing for the Fox theory. Besides, if you were Rock Shox, you might have a thing or two to say about other companies using your lowers to develope a new product in public. Chevy doesn't disguise their test cars as Fords, for instance.

No, this is a new offset for the Reba fork. Rock Shox has to do it since Manitou and eventually Fox are going to have "29"er specific" offsets. Rebas will be a dime a dozen if they don't do something to keep it fresh now, especially with these new players coming out this year.

A Trek Fuel 29"er?: If Travis' bike was indeed a "69er", Trek needs to look at actually doing a full on 29"er Fuel based on this web discussion alone. However; I wouldn't stop there. What Trek could do to own and revolutionize the high end 29"er market is to throw all of it's OCLV technology at 29"ers. Think about it. It's a brilliant idea.

First off, Trek is the only bicycle company that's doing anything like OCLV. It's U.S.A. manufactured, and it's super light. Trek has been making mountain bikes out of the stuff since the early 90's, so the experience is in place. Secondly, it would address one of the major concerns of 26"er racers, that being weight. I can't imagine that a hardtail couldn't be made out of the stuff with a frame weight that was hovering around three pounds or less. A 9.8 29"er complete at around 22-23lbs shouldn't be out of the question. Especially if.......

If Trek made an Tubeless Ready OCLV disc only rim for 29"ers. Add to that the carbon Bontrager bits that already exist, and you'd have the coolest hardtail XC racer in a 29"er package ever. But Trek shouldn't stop there.

They could also do a carbon Fuel and Fuel EX 29"ers. On the other end of the spectrum, I think Trek should do a couple sub $1000.00 geared only 29"ers, which with it's distribution, would be very popular sellers.

Trek has already trodden the "69er" path and have ended up in a tangled underbrush with an overpriced single speed. It's time they put that experiment to bed and take a look across the corporate aisle to Fisher to see what their next step should be.

Actually, I think that they have. Trek "69ers" or 29"ers? I don't think there is any doubt about which one they should- and probably will - do.

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