by Dave Anderson
February 18, 2013
Thoughts from last week’s bike rides.
Let’s just start with a disclaimer here; performance enhancing drugs in sport are bad m’kay? But ol’Lance was right about one thing. It’s not about the bike.
Or rather it’s not about the wheel size. Of the bike it’s not about. Clear?
There’s been a lot of industry buzz about wheel size of late, the trade shows are awash with it and that in turn has translated into forum static and white noise about the same. Endless conversations abound. Is the 26″ wheel dead? Will 29ers now prove to be an evolutionary dead end? Is 650b the one true way? Which way is the future? Which is fastest? Which rolls best? Which will be ‘better’ for downhill/enduro/cross country/twisty singletrack. Blah, blah, blah.
Although I got to try a lot of 29ers that came through the office I was a late adopter. Not through some neo luddite resistance to change but rather because the early offerings failed to ignite even the slightest spark of excitement when I rode them. They seemed to be for other people, and other peoples riding. Great if you wanted to cover distance on some neutral handling bike of blandness, not so good if you wanted something more involving that sucked up technical singletrack and spat it out. But things change , designs move on and along came a better designed set of big wheeled bikes that felt good to ride so I bought in. Enter the Highball.
And just as 29er design and geometry are sorted, the arguments are fading and we’re all coming to terms with the choice of two wheel sizes along comes another standard to start it off all over again. Does the industry not realise that mountain bikers are resistant to change? ;o)
I like the thought of 650b, I like the fact there are people out there willing to experiment with something new in case it leads to progression rather than holding on to 26″ “because that’s what it’s always been”. Change can be good, you may even prefer it,it may change your riding for the better but with no one forcing you to buy into any new standard what’s the gripe?
A 650b bike may be in my future, if there’s a bike that grabs my interest. If not I’ll stick with what I’m riding now. But I’ll be keeping an open mind to any developments because I’m sure one day I’ll try something that gives that little kick of excitement again.
The moral of this story I guess is ride what you like, what suits you and your riding style, what fires you up to hit the trails. That’s what matters. A well designed bike is just that, a well designed bike, regardless of wheel size.
It’s not about the bike, it’s about the ride.
I’ll be packing 650b inner tubes though, they should cover every eventuality on group rides…