Archive for September, 2006

2006 Interbike: The Year of the 29"er or Tip of the Iceberg?

September 30, 2006

Here is the first of several post show posts that I hope to put up regarding the 2006 Interbike show and specifically the 29″ers and parts associated with them.

The pre show prediction that I made was that this would be a show predominently marked by 29″er news and I wasn’t dissappointed! Wow! There was so much stuff to cover that it was a show unto itself. The manufacturers must finally feel that there truly is a market out there, so all kinds of surprises showed up. I’ll post more about that later.

What I’d like to concentrate on is the future of the 29″er. Is it the “Next Big Thing”? Is it overblown and ready to collapse under the avalanche of new offerings? I think somewhere inbetween those two is where the answer lies.

Certainly the 29″er is not going to single handedly save the bicycle industry as mountain bikes did in the late 80’s. It’s also just as certain that the segment won’t dissappear like the chopper craze of a few years ago. I do think 29″ers are going to be a strong growth segment in the next few years and then perhaps it will taper off. It’s certainly not going away anytime soon.

To wit: Several tires were introduced at the show, but three more designs are said to be in the works by WTB for 29″ers along with the much anticipated Hutchinson Python which didn’t make the show, but is coming. Tire molds cost money, and new developement in the size indicates growth.

What’s this mean to trail riders like you and I? Well, for one thing it means more and better choices. Things like 29 inch specific front forks, rims, and frame designs will be worked out. If there are tires, the rest follows suit, and believe me, there are some really good 29″er tires coming to market. What we lack is the other really important 29″er specific part and that’s front suspension in quality choices. Sure, there are a few good ones out there, but several types of forks are not available to 29″ers yet. Word is, that’s about to change!

This all boils down to one thing: was this the Year of the 29″er, or just the tip of the iceberg? Are better things coming? I think the answer is that I was wrong. 2006 isn’t the year of the 29″er It’s really just the start. As a certain Salsa Cycles employee was heard to say, “There’s more!”

I for one can’t wait!

Interbike: The Final Days Surprises!

September 29, 2006

One of the more fun things to do here is to poke around into all the unusual nooks and crannies to see all the crazy stuff people hawk here. Once in awhile, you actually uncover a surprise or two!

I poked my head into the J&B Importers booth. They are a distributor for independant bike shops here in the U.S.A. Well, lo and behold, they had 29″er stuff! Their in house brand, Origin 8, is going to have a steel 4130 29″er frame set that is quite unusal. It reminded me at first of an old Eastern Woods Research frame with a severely sloping top tube that flowed right into the seat stays, which were at an extremely low angle and in line with the top tube. To support the seat mast, there was a short tube running from the seat collar down to the sloping top tube. Really different and it offers boatloads of standover clearance. The frame continues on with unusual details like horizontal, plate style rear drop outs that incorporated a derailluer hangar. Very burly looking and looked to be able to withstand alot of abuse. The frame has downtube routed cable stops by the way. Also, and probably most stunning, both the frame and 4130 unicrown fork have two brake bosses for 26 or 29 inch wheel use! Crazy! No geometry details were available yet, but I can’t imagine the bottom bracket height would be too good in 26″ mode. So, a single speed or geared frame with a choice of 26 or 29 inch wheels! A true “do it all” frame!

The fun didn’t stop there either. They also showed a carbon/aluminum constucted front fork. Rigid, 29″er only, disc only or disc/canti versions, and all at 770 grams with an uncut steerer! The fork crown and drop outs were black forged aluminum bits with an aluminum steer tube. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these. Approximate retails for the frame and steel fork should be in the Karate Monkey range, while the carbon/ aluminum fork should be a bit more than $350.00. All are slated to become available in the Spring of ’07.

I also stopped by the Velocity booth. They make some fairly decent rims that I’ve built wheels out of since the 90’s. Aeroheat anyone? Well, they showed those rims in a multitude of powdercoated colors, and even one sample was in a pastel blue. They also showed me a prototype disc only rim for 29″er use. 26mm wide in the rim well, no eyelets, and it will also recieve the powder coat traetment. They expect rims to be out for sale by the Spring of ’07, as well.

Finally, and a little more single speed related, I found that AC Components were still kicking about. A company that used to make really cool cranks, hubs, and other bits back in the “CNC Era” of mountainbiking is still at it with really cool cranks in square taper, ISIS, or outboard bearing designs in several lengths. They have alot of 110 BCD chainrings in unusual sizes like 35T and 37T, along with other traditional sizes. The real cool thing was that you can get alot of this stuff in ano colors like purple, green, blue, gold, and red! Viva La 90’s!

More pics will be uploaded sometime…….maybe yet today. Stay tuned!

The Final Day: Interbike '06

September 29, 2006

The final day of the show is upon us. So much information has been uploaded in my brain that it’s going to take awhile to disseminate it all here, but here’s a few more tidbits of info that I garnered from yesterdays ramblings.

Tires: A couple of notes to add here. The Smallblock 8 from Kenda is going to appen. It’s looking like a great tire for fast hardpack, loose over hard
pack, or even a race tire. A nice round, high volume casing here, so until the time that it’s released comes, you can look at the 26″ version and drool. The Nevegal is almost here. The word I got was early October. The guy at Kenda was crossing his fingers as he told me this, so……. The newer version of the Karma is really a 2.1″, high volume tire. They are keeping the first Karma and re-labling it as a 1.9″.

Carver, the “96er” folks, are developing a dual suspended bike that will have the ability to swap out swing arms to make the bike a full on 29″er. I noticed the show sample had a decal that said “99er” on it. They just don’t give up, do they?

Folks, there are alot of really cool 29″er intros at Interbike this year, but I’m going out on a limb here and picking a “Best of Show” anyway. My vote goes to the Salsa Mamasita hardtail with carbon fiber rear stays. People, at 3.5lbs, and the capability to be built up as a sub 23lb front suspended race bike, this rig is stunning. But when you consider that the retail price on the frame is under $900.00 msrp, and that the distribution network behind this bike is huge, you have a potential smash hit on your hands. Once it becomes available, which should be by late winter/ early spring, almost anybody can build themselves up a 29″er at a weight that will be competitive with any 26″er race bike out there. Amazing!

Look for more Interbike coverage in the days to come. For now, I’ll be looking at a redeye flight from Sin City tonight! See you all later and don’t forget to ride!

September 28, 2006

What more needs to be said; my ex-wife was replaced with a slice of heaven.

Custom 29er SS

September 28, 2006

Hand built custom steel 29er & more @ Clarkcustomcycles.com

Custom 29er SS

September 28, 2006

Interbike: Day Two

September 28, 2006

Today was a day of getting some loose ends tied up and meeting more people. Checking on some of the other 29″er introductions and scoping out new parts was also on the agenda. Here’s a quick overview of what I’ve seen so far today.

Ellsworth 29″ers: Yes, that’s plural for a reason. Ellsworth made a bit of a splash right before the show with the introduction of the 29″er Evolve full suspension rig. The thing that I found out today was that they are also introducing a version of their 26″ hardtail with carbon fiber rear stays. Yes, the rear end is all carbon! The Evolve had a pretty impressive tubeset that allowed for a medium frameset to have the standover of a small. The seat tube mast is reinforced so that you do not have to run a super long seat post. Ellsworth has followed the mantra set by Intense and others that says a steeper head angle is a quicker handling 29″er. So, the Evolve is sporting a 72.3 degree head angle. The head angle along with a reduced wheelbase in comparison to the competition is said to make this bike a fast handling rig.

Michelin Tire. The Michelin tire company showed their AT treaded 29″er tire. It looks to be a very good mud/ loose soil type of tire. Not a ton of volume there, but a nice addition to the quiver.

Other Tires: IRC was only showing the Mythos XC tire. CST, the parent company of Maxxis, was showing a 29″er tire. It’s a 2.1 heavily lugged tire with a not to terribly open pattern. Interesting and possibly inexpensive, as most CST offerings tend to be. Maxxis showed the now stalwart Ignitor and promised a Cross Mark treaded 29″er tire by late winter.

KHS 29″ers. This company showed two steel hardtails and one aluminum hardtail in 29″er flavor at the show. Only one of the steel bikes was a dedicated geared setup with disc brakes. The other two were single speed, linear pull brake, disc compatible, entry level bikes.

Niner Bikes: Introducing the R.I.P. 9 has the boys at Niner shaking in their boots. Why? Because of the overwhelming response to the Outdoor Demo of the full suspended 29″er. They fear they will be scrambling to get them out at first. So, you’ve been warned, you fence sitters! In other news from Niner, they are now going to offer two complete bikes through their dealer network and have also introduced a geared only S.I.R. 9 in a few new colors.

Bits and Pieces: I went by and saw a demonstration of the Industry 9 freehub and spoke system. Folks, these are stellar wheels! The engagement mechanism is very impressive and the machine work and tooling is top notch. The fact that they have alot of super cool anodized colors doesn’t hurt either! I took a closer look at the Mr. Whirly crankset due out from Surly next spring. It’s impressive. It’s going to be a hot item for single speeders, but it can be set up as a double or triple, as well. The Extra cycle rig is crazy! I love it! (Even if it’s not a 29″er) It’s the truck of the cycling world, for sure. I went back for a second helping of Salsa’s Mamasita 29″er with the carbon seat stays. I asked Bobby of Salsa what it weighed and he said the frame was 3.5lbs. Built as a geared bike with a Pace carbon fork as shown at Interbike it weighed an impressive 21 lbs complete! Now theirs a 29″er that won’t suffer from being “ponderously heavy”, right?

People: I have met more impassioned cycling nuts here than you can shake a stick at. Some more notable people include Reed Pike, the head of Raleigh, for all intents and purposes, Nat Ross, the awesome 29″er riding enduro freak, and Lynn Bush of the Tough Girl Cycling Team. There’s way more folks, but I couldn’t possibly list them all. I’ll tell you this though, it’s a really cool sport, this cycling, and ya’all should be proud to be participating. Speaking of……whattya doin? Get out there and ride!

redline

September 28, 2006

New and its for sale.Email for Specs and info

Interbike First Day Impressions

September 27, 2006

I have said in the days leading up to this event that the tag line for the show just might be “Interbike: The Year of the 29″er”, and I think that’d be fair to say. My impressions of the first day are as follows:

Positive feedback from shop owners: I heard alot of 29″ers were seen out on the trails at the Outdoor Demo this year and exhibitors have verified that today. Stories of dealers riding and coming back smiling were the norm. Several companies 29″ers never saw any rest and had lines of folks waiting to take a ride on them. This is good news for those of you who have been frustrated by having to search for dealers savy to the big wheels. It looks like the times are a changin’

The New Tires: Some of the new tires are awesome- (Panaracer Rampage, Kenda Nevegal 2.2) some of the tires were a bit of a let down, well only one really- (Weir Wolf LT) and some weren’t there but listed- again only one, (Kenda Small Block 8) So we have a better selection, but maybe there’s a few holes left.

Forks, what forks? I’m a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more to talk about in the arena of front suspension. I have to do more digging on this, but the only “new” front forks I could find were the Pace and the Manitou, (read- unobtanium) There wasn’t a Reba on dispaly at Rock Shox in a 29″er flavor and no one else had anything either. Hopefully I can uncover something in the rigid fork arena tomorrow.

Handle bars: While not 29″er specific in nature, handle bars that are out of the norm are seen quite often on 29″ers. Salsa’s 17* bar was really nice in the 25.4 size at 180 grams. Several other funky bars are out there, so perhaps I’ll have to scour the floor for more of that. So far I’ve seen the aforementioned Salsa, a bar by a company named “Viking”, and the WTB flared drop which appears to be available in 25.4mm thankfully!

…..and the bikes: Of course, there are the bikes. So many really nice bikes! Salsa has a new race hardtail made from Scandium with a carbon seat stay and a revised headtube/ downtube junction that eliminates the gusset used previously. This feature will be applied to the Dos Niner as a running change. The Mariachi will be offered as a complete bike, 1 X 9, with details such as color matced CroMoto stem, and skewers. The Badger Dorothy was unvieled here and is super sexy! Fillet brazed joints, blue panels on blue paint with a headbadge rendering of Dorothy herself. Way sweet! Orbea, Bianchi, GT, and Van Dessel were all fun to look at with big wheels. Jamis and Raleigh had geared only bikes in reasonable price ranges. Lots of high end bling with Ventana’s newest 29″er and the Intense Spider 29″er. (Hint: look for a longer travel Intense 29″er in the future!)

Okay, there’s more, but my brain is fading from lack of food and drink. Yes: when you are a bike freak, you neglect the necessities!

El Mariachi

September 27, 2006

This is my new 29er rig. So much fun! Salsa steel frame, X9, Juicy 7, Chris King to Delgados, Thompson, Ritchey wcs stem, Salsa carbon bars, Exiwolf 2.3, Race face cranks, Reba.