Ten years ago this week it was deep Winter in Iowa and I was trying to find ways to cycle whenever, and however, I could. Of course, back then I was doing this odd activity called cross country skiing. Remember doing that, Iowans?
Ironically enough, I spoke with a man last week, (December, 2018), at the shop and he was from Western New York. He mentioned he was here on a family Christmas visit. He also said he'd skied 34 times already. Thirty-four times?! I don't think I've cross country skied 34 times in the last ten years. Mostly because, well.......it was impossible. That and "fat bike". That came into my life late in 2010, so in another year I would fairly abandon cross country skiing for fat biking. Then Winter, well........Winter with snow, disappeared, for the most part, and as you know, it's been tricky to even see anything white here resembling snow in a long time.
Let's see, so what else was going on in early, early 2009? Well, a couple of years prior, in 2007, Pacenti launched the 650B tire for mountain biking and it was quickly lauded as the "best of both worlds", a tire that would quickly erase 29"ers, (those silly wagon wheels), and replace the too-small 26"er. Two years later, in early 2009, and what did we have but.........(yawn), not much of anything. I wrote a musing on this fact, then I made the following prognostication, just barely after 2009 started.
"I also still think that 650B will not go away, but it will most certainly not attain the popularity that 29"ers currently enjoy without unseating 26"ers or 29"ers."
Hmmm...... Looks like I had that correct, and 26"ers are now, for all intents and purposes, a dead wheel size for mountain biking. Of course, this was not due to riders picking up on the tweener wheel size. No, had manufacturers not foisted the wheel size on consumers by developing the 'new" enduro discipline, and introducing small wheel sized mtb's as 650B bikes and not 26"ers, the "B" sized wheels would have died out, assuredly.
|Ice glistens in the branches against an early morning Sun on my way to work in 2009.|
But it was painfully obvious, (both in the metaphorical sense and literally), that the bike industry was swinging hard for 650B by 2011. That hurt "Twenty Nine Inches", the website I owned at the time, and times were tough for anything new on the big wheeled side for a while. But back to 2009. By this time, in 2009, decisions were being made and this is when the whole 650B deal was started, but it would take two years for all of that to come to fruition on the retail side. Manufacturers, bitten by sitting on their hands when Trek/Fisher raked in the sales on 29"ers in 2007/2008, (along with other early adopters), wanted to create the next "big thing" in mountain biking and they saw a chance with 650B and enduro, or in other terms, by replacing what had been known as "long travel" 26"ers. (5"-6")
Of course, back then, all I knew was that three wheel sizes in the shops weren't going to cut it. I was correct. Then "Plus" wheels and fat bikes pretty much wrecked that scenario!
As a side note, I think, because I cannot verify this anymore, but I think this 650B post from ten years ago was the one that spurred a violent rebuke from a few 650B fanboi's from mtbr.com here on the blog. They basically decided to flood the comments with bile, and what they thought was funny. The blog didn't have comment verification or spam control.....until after this point. I ended up having to install that on the blog then. It was my first run-in with internet style "bullying", and it wasn't cool.
But, I learned a lot from that, and so in the end, it was all good. I also had to learn about all this spam management and comment moderation for "Twenty Nine Inches" anyway, so that was a trial by fire! It served me well. In the end, the bullying made me a better blogger and internet site owner, so I guess I should thank those numbskulls.