Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Now Is The Golden Age

B+ wheels on the OS Blackbuck
Bike nerds rejoice! You have more crap to play with and occupy your time with these days than ever before. At one time there were only 26" wheels for "serious' off road action, then those pesky 29"ers came about at the end of the century. Next it was the 650B/27.5"ers, and then Surly comes out with 29+! If that wasn't enough, fat bikes get in the act, then Surly does a 26+ wheel, (as seen on the Instigator II), and finally, WTB introduces the B+ concept. Did I mention 36"ers? Yeah....those too!

Look, if you don't like any of these wheel sizes, or want to bitch about any of them just for being, then you don't like bicycles or off road riding. I mean- think about this- There are more ways to satisfy the itch now and probably more than there ever has been in the history of cycling. Now is the "golden age". Don't miss it because you want to argue about a stupid wheel size. Just pick one and ride it already! Again: Bike nerds rejoice!

29+ wheels on a fat bike? Get outta here!
I am amazed at any single one of the many bicycles I own now days. I mean- I woulda killed for these wheel size choices in 1995! Back then it wasn't even a thought. Wheel size? Well.......duh! 26 inch! And tires? If you could find anything wider than a 2.25" tire it was a rarity. Rim width? Whatever! There were Mavic rims, and maybe a Campy Thor rim, or Sun Ringle' rims, and Velocity AeroHeat rims. All were skinny, road bike width rims by today's standards.

So, I wince, and chuckle, and smile wryly when I see all this wheel size posturing and arguments going on in forums or in the bike shops. We have it good now- real good, but it seems no one is getting that. "Choices are good", they say. Good for causing negativity, it would seem. Too bad. Some even seem to want to return to that simplicity and lack of choices. Really?

Pfft! I say it's all good. More choices to meet more specific needs and more ways to enjoy the fun of riding a bicycle. Could we have gotten along without it all? Sure we could. We could all "Tom Ritchey Up" and just use a road bike for everything, but isn't it more fun the way it is now?

I'd like to think so.


jkeiffer said...

But how soon can we get your real world ride impressions of the B+ wheels? I don't complain about much, but I do want to hear feedback on these things ASAP.

Guitar Ted said...

@jkeiffer: That will come out in part on Twenty Nine Inches soon, (my draft is ready, just waiting on the German contributor for his half), and then after that I'll be free to say more about these wheels here.

Looking at later this week/first part of next week before this all happens. I've ridden them a bunch so far and have much more to do before I decide what, if anything, these are good for.

Ben Welnak said...

Amen. I've been saying this since I had the chance to say it on the "airwaves" of MBR. It's weird that so much negativity pops up too.

all/bjl said...

This question is a little bit "in the weeds" on the overall topic of a golden age of wheel/tire choices, but why do you think front/rear-specific tires haven't become more prevalent? I, obviously an ignoramus on the subject, would think that front and rear tires have pretty different roles (forgive the pun) to play: front tires have more braking responsibility, they lead the way into turns, and they don't have to provide traction for climbing or acceleration, whereas rear tires do less braking, they have to follow well in turns, and they need to bite into the trail when power is applied to the pedals. On-One has the Chunky Monkey/Smorgasbord combo, Maxxis has a matched set of Minions, Schwalbe has the Fat Alberts, and maybe a person can still find both Panaracer's Dart and Smoke tires, but that's about it. Is there not really much difference in the demands between front and rear tires? Or is there a meaningful difference, but just too high a production cost to exploit it?

MG said...

Amen, Brother! Life is good indeed...

Guitar Ted said...

@all/bjl: Front and rear specific treads were all the rage in the mid-90's (thus the existence of the Dart/Smoke combo), however, riders didn't really bite on that idea, and the distributors and retailers hated it because it was an inventory nightmare.

Think about it: How many "fronts" do you carry versus "rears" and if you don't have the matching rear/front, you lose the sale. Not a problem if tires are all the same design for front or rear use. This also explains tires that are typically seen as "front" tires, but are not specifically marked as such, to avoid the above, and the same with "rear" tires.

Making a specific call on usage just causes a lot of misunderstandings, bad inventory experiences for the distros and LBS, and it isn't really all that necessary.

Heck- we used to run Smokes on the FRONT of our rigs back in the day for their increased braking traction. So much for it being marked as a rear specific design.

Michael_S said...

couldn't agree more! the only big issue I have is what to buy/build next. Too many choices and not enough time/money to do them all!

1st up is the new WTB B+ for sure.