|WTB says it is "Plus Road". Others say "Welcome to the party". (Image courtesy of WTB)|
Fat, 650B tires and steel frames have been a "thing" since the 1940's or so. In certain times, the style and availability of parts was almost non-existent, but it never went away, and builders and small, niche companies kept the flame going for years up until now. Compass Tires, Velo Orange, Kogswell, and Rawland, amongst others, have spurred on an inetrest in 650B road-ish rigs with fat, 42mm-50mm tires all these years, and now some upstart mtb company has the chutzpah to come around with a similar tire and say it is a new thing.
You can read all about that here, but I find that some of the reactions to the news are very predictable. On the one hand, we have all the rando freaks, bike nerds, and traditionalists saying that this isn't any big deal, but have a variation on "this isn't as cool as "X" brand", or on the other hand say, "welcome to the freak show". I also wonder about some of the reactions since it is a company like WTB and that there is a new marketing twist on the old theme now. It's almost as if some are feeling put out that their niche is now being "exploited" and revealed to the masses. I remember seeing similar reactions when Specialized and finally when Giant came out with 29"ers. Well, whatever the deal there is, I will say I was a bit surprised that WTB did this.
Will it catch on? Look.....WTB introduced the 27.5+ tire to the market and everyone laughed. WTB also introduced 29"er tires first back in 2009 and everybody laughed. Hmm......
|Heller Bikes "Shagamaw" 27.5+ bike (Image pinched from Fitzgerald Bikes Facebook page)|
I had to work on a Diamondback Ascent the other day at the shop. I was explaining to a young co-worker, just out of college, that this was the bike style that defined mountain bikes in the 90's: A steel hard tail, 26" wheels, of course, rigid fork, low head tube, long seat post extension, and a relatively long, flat rise stem with really narrow "broom stick" handle bars. You could argue that the "oughts" were defined by the hard tail 29"er with everything new that the format brought. Now we're solidly into the "teens", and fast ending this decade. I feel that the defining bike of this decade is something like the new Heller Bikes Shagamaw. (Is that a city in Michigan that made sub-par 4 speed manual transmissions? Hmm....) Anyway, this bike features a slack head angle, long front/center dimension, a stubby stem, really wide bars, "plus" sized 27.5 wheels, and a Chinese "catalog" carbon fiber frame.
|NOT a carbon Stache. (Pinched from Lamere's Facebook page)|
So, where will the "standard" mountain bike end up growing next? Hard to say, but I never would have predicted we'd be looking at a bike like the Lamere or Heller back ten years ago. By the way, the Heller bike is brand new, and if you are going to Frostbike, you'll get to see it. I won't, as I am not going to be there, as I said yesterday. I'll be out riding my gravel bike since it will be the best day yet all year to do that.
Okay, so, if you are like me, and are itching to ride in decent weather, by all means, do so! CIRREM riding this weekend? Good luck! Going to NAHBS? Geek out! See ya later and keep the rubber side down!