Saturday, August 01, 2009

Sometimes I Wonder....

I was perusing some web-o-sphere sites I haunt from time to time and came across this missive on a bike I think is very intriguing. The Eastern Woods Research "OWB 29"er" is a funky monkey of a bike, but I've always been attracted to odd looking rigs and for whatever reasons, this one has always caught my attention as something that made sense in a weird, twisted sort of way. I have noticed the work of EWR since the 90's when they first came out with the 26 inch wheeled "Original Woods Bike".

Now as I settled in to read this review by Ryan LaBar, (Recently of Dirt Rag fame), I was expecting the "it's heavy" comment, the "weird water bottle placements" nit, and even something negative about 29"ers. I was floored; however, to read these lines;

"The OWB excelled on rough and steep terrain. The 70.75-degree headtube angle eased the twitchy, about-toendo feeling that plagues many 29ers. And with no seat-tube-mounted bottle cages, the saddle drops all the way to its rails."
Whoa! Three zingers right in a row! I couldn't believe what I was reading. Here I will break down each statement:
#1:The OWB excelled on rough and steep terrain: Okay, fair enough. This is said about a lot of 29"ers. The stability of the big wheels and the longer contact patch of the tires are two big reasons why. I've ridden everything from 69 degree head angle 29"ers to 74 degree head angle 29"ers and those two stabilizing factors made both ends of the spectrum totally ride able. (Of course, the bicycle is a system. You really can not derive what you are feeling from one aspect of any bike.) I will say that in the 26 inch wheeled world, you can not get away with that wide of a spectrum in geometry without some major consequences. That said, the next statement in Mr. LaBar's review must be taken in context with this statement and my comments to fully grasp the bizarre nature of the comment in #2......
#2:The 70.75-degree headtube angle eased the twitchy, about-toendo feeling that plagues many 29ers: First of all, there is a typo in the quote. I'm pretty sure it is supposed to read, "about to endo". Or in other words, Mr. LaBar often feels as though he is going over the bars on 29"ers. Now this I find rather bizarre. Most folks, myself included, ride 29"ers precisely because we do not feel as though we are going to go over the bars. Yes....I feel quite confident that Mr. LaBar is in the vast minority here. That statement is just plain odd. Not to mention that the trail figure on the bike ends up being about 86mm, which is far more telling than the head angle alone indicates. Anything with that sort of trail figure is going to feel more secure, and you know, some 29"ers have even more trail than that. Even so, I think just about any seasoned 29"er rider will tell you this statement is way off the mark.
#3:And with no seat-tube-mounted bottle cages, the saddle drops all the way to its rails: The very next statement to follow up that bizarre one in #2 is even more puzzling. Okay, as an aside, as a "hey, check out this weird thing" kind of a statement, I think it is fine, but this review is pretty short and that comment is about as mundane as it gets. With space so short, I would have edited that out for something much more useful. Like maybe why do you feel as though you are going over the bars on most 29"ers? That would have been interesting. This comment, well- it just doesn't matter to anybody looking to buy this bike.
So I was just floored that this post made it on to Bike magazine's web site. It's an odd review and there are other weird things about it that I will leave for anyone that wants to check it out to find. You know, it isn't that it is a 29"er so much as it is just crazy that this disjointed piece is there about such a unique rig. Well......I thought it was weird anyway.
And hey.....I suppose I shouldn't cast any stones since I'm in the same glass house, eh?
Have a great weekend!

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