Monday, February 18, 2013

Numbers And Trends

There will be more from where this came from...
Last Friday I wrote a wee bit about the upcoming NAHBS, which is the custom bike builder's exhibition show of preeminence happening in Denver, Colorado this coming weekend.

I mentioned how gravel/adventure bikes were going to be a trend this year. Well, obviously there will be other bikes as well. One type of bike I'm seeing teased is the fat bike. I expect they will make an impact this year, and you can credit that to the burgeoning popularity of these bikes. I know many will scoff, but the numbers don't lie. Check out this from Byron from "Bikehugger", who runs a a popular bicycling blog, and had the following to Tweet from over the weekend:

"QBP says 10k Fat Bikes sold, expects 10k to sell, while independent builders have wait lists, 30% increase in sales."
So, with significant numbers of these bikes being sold- most during what is traditionally the "off season" for bicycle sales here in North America- it isn't any wonder that the custom bike builders are picking up some of the slack in sales of these rigs? In fact, several builders have staked their largest chunk of output on fat bikes. It's reminiscent of what happened when 29"ers took off as a trend in the early 00's, and we all know what happened then.

A Krampus I rode last September
 I see another trend starting up as well, but I don't know that NAHBS will reflect it or not. This might prove to be too new. It is the so-called "29+" wheel size as exemplified by Surly Bike's Krampus.  The main feature of these bikes are the 3 inch wide 700c bead diameter tires and the accompanying rims, dubbed "Knard" and "Rabbit Hole" respectively.   There are all kinds of folks slamming Rabbit Hole rims/Knard 29"er tires into frames, folks trying Knard tires on different rims and checking out fitments, and a general hub-bub surrounding this wheel size has started to flame up out of control like a wildfire in a forest infested with pine beetles.

This has all the earmarks of a budding "trend" as well, and perhaps some astute builder or two will be on that. Regardless, I see the 29+ thing as becoming another sub-category of mountain biking that is going to sell in bigger numbers than maybe some people are thinking now. Certainly the concept has captured the imaginings of the cycling nerds already. If that continues, you will start to see ordinary folks jump on the band wagon as well. At which time- of course- the "trendseekers" will have to shuffle off to find "the next big deal" and who knows who will invent that. I mean, who'd a thunk a Krampus up before this?


Zeroack said...

I was looking at cranksets tonight over at I was surprised to see so many company's already making dedicated cranks for use on fat bikes.

Head Honcho said...

Take a picture a couple years down the road, and I think the Krampus is going to over take fat bikes. Its more 'normal'. Easier for people to accept. I was impressed enough with my test ride that I sold my Mukluk, and am eagerly anticipating the build up of a Krampus. I think that bike does a very good job of bridging the gap between fat and skinny. I'm the type of riding that doesn't need that huge amount of float. Considering conditions of snow this year, 3" of tire should be fine enough. We'll see though. I've got a Pugs in the back pocket, and Singular just may still do the fat project...

Guitar Ted said...

@Head Honcho: You might be "partly correct"- Here's why: 700c X 3 inch tires = bigger than 29"er, which folks already grouse about when it comes to smaller sizes. legitimately, there would be really no good way to make a smaller Krampus without it becoming ungainly. Think 36"ers with huge tires and maybe it will start to make sense to bigger guys like us as for why that would be.

I think the big, 3" tire thing will work better for more folks on a 584 ISO diameter standard, which would work out to be 29" or so in overall diameter. I know that there is a small, as yet unheard, push by insiders for this sizing. Time will tell.

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