Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Carbon Hard Tails Are "It" For 2012, But Don't Forget This......

An example of carbon done well.
I've said it here before, and it is true. Carbon hard tails for 29"ers in 2012 is the big story that will come out of the Eurobike and Interbike shows. Whatever you might think about carbon bikes, they are viable and here to stay. We may as well get used to that.

And I like the material if its potential is maximized in a design. Carbon for "carbon's sake" is going to happen though. Heavier, stiffer, deader. This sort of feeling I have felt in old carbon road frames and it isn't very fun, comfortable, or inspiring. You could say the same thing about cheaper aluminum frames and even cheap steel frames can have that type of "dead", lifeless feeling and usually poor handling to go along with it.

But there are great handling, fun to ride carbon fiber bikes out there, and some of them are even 29"ers! I would stick my Specialized Stumpjumper Expert carbon in that group. Nice feeling ride. Stiffer than some, but weirdly smooth as well. Hard to 'splain it. But that's the sort of "magic" that carbon fiber is supposed to bring. Like any material- It can be done right, or wrong.

The Milwaukee 29"er: Might be seeing a nuther one soon!
But Don't Forget The "Classics":

In all the carbon "hoopla" you will see and hear for the coming year, it should be noted that steel framed 29"ers have not gone the way of the dodo bird. Nope! They still are quietly being pumped out and I'll tell ya- They are still impressing riders out there. 

Again, one can certainly scorn steel bikes as being too heavy, technologically behind the times, (Not many tapered head tubes or PressFit BB-30's here!), and just....skinny! However; these beasts are still being pumped out, and riding just peachy, thank you very much. Some folks will like the "standard" components that most steel rigs still use, and some will gravitate toward the more, well.......gravity oriented hard tails that are being produced now as well.

Yup! Big wheeled, longer travel forked steel all mountain rigs are already out there too. While those may have a limited appeal, the XC/Trail hard tail in steel, done well, is a joy to be riding on. Easy to take care of with a known failure mode. That's a nice bit of "peace of mind" that some folks will find attractive, for sure.

All I know is that a good, well designed bit of steel is a whole lot of fun to ride on. I am sure glad that we get carbon fiber wunder-bikes  to look at and ride on, but give me a great steel bike and I might not ever come back to look at carbon again. Something about that stuff. Like I said about carbon, it is true for steel as well- hard to 'splain it!


mw said...

steel ... and maybe even made by a living breathing person

RC said...

Vicious Motovator!!!!!! Wow, what a ride. RC