Archive for January, 2008

Is A Carbon Framed 29"er In Your Future?

January 31, 2008

Editors Note: Picture courtesy of’s Interbike Blog

Carbon fiber, that pernicious black fabric that is seemingly everywhere is going to be making its presence felt in an even bigger way in the future of 29″ers. The two bikes most known as the trendsetters in this area are, of course, the Orbea Alma 29″er and the Fisher Superfly. However; that ain’t all folks! There’s more where that came from.

We have already seen the prototype Felt 29″er, (pictured above) and I have it on good authority that at least a few other companies are toying with the idea of hitting the 29″er market with carpet-fibre goodness. Is this a good idea?

Well, one of the main concerns for folks looking at 29″ers is weight. As we have already witnessed, a Fisher Superfly, for example, can be pared down into the low 20 pound range for a complete bike, which is certainly on par for what a lot of 26″er XC race bikes weigh. What about durability? If the past is an indication of what we can expect, I think a well designed and executed carbon fiber frame is not going to be a problem off road. We’ve seen carbon break, yes. Any material can be broken, but I don’t feel that carbon fiber need be feared as long as the homework was done on the front end of the design process.

Then there is price. Certainly a carbon frame should be a more expensive proposistion than a lot of aluminum or steel frames, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a frame only offering hitting the sub-grand barrier in the future. I feel this is exemplified by what we have witnessed in the fork market. You can pick up a really fine carbon fork for around $300.00 which isn’t a whole lot more (and in some cases less than) a small builders steel fork of comparable ride quality.

Whatever you might think of it, carbon fiber 29″ers are coming. The future of 29″er hardtails may have a “3D”, iridescent black look to it, and it will be interesting to see where this goes.

New Demo Shoes

January 30, 2008

There are many decisions that need to be made for my upcoming custom 650b project. I have researched, asked builders tons of questions and been looking at various geometry specs. In the end I need to ride a 650b wheel bike often. Which is very hard as I can’t go demo one from my local bike shop or even find one in the remote area of Charlotte, NC. A few weeks ago I contacted Pacenti about a demo bike. He has one but he won’t let it out of his hands until after NAHBS which is rightly so. Plus I hope to have my bike well under way by then!

Enter in demo wheels. Pacenti agreed to send me a demo set of wheels/tires to mount up to my Surly 1×1. Yesterday the beautiful dirty Cane Creek wheels showed up. Once home I quickly tried out the front wheel on all of my 26″ forks and frames (I will start forming a list around this shortly.) I even found that I owned a fork that cleared well with the Baby Bear  (Neo-Moto) tires! An ’04 Marzocchi MX Comp that I had recently traded some parts/cash with a friend for. The 1×1 went together with a 34×18 gear and Hayes hydraulic brakes. I am so amazed how much clearance is still left on th 1×1 with the 650b wheels. I could probably put a 2.5 tire in the frame with out rubbing. Tonight is the first ride and I am looking forward to seeing how the wheels, tires and gear feel all together.

Detailed pictures will be up shortly but due to low light last night this is all I have.

Out of the box


Tires not fully mounted


Fuzzy photo of tire clearance



Who Does "Monstercross"?

January 29, 2008

A Twenty Nine Inches fan photo

Monstercross, that category of bike that isn’t quite a 29″er, and isn’t really legal for “true” cross racing in most sanctioned circles. The category of big wheeled bikes that blurs the lines between road and mountain bike. If you are not familiar with “monster cross” type bikes, here is a loose definition of the breed.

A typical monster cross build could perhaps best be described as a cyclo-cross bike on steroids. Usually a cyclo-cross frame with enough clearance to fit something between 45mm and 52mm of fat rubber will get you the “monster cross” tag. (Well, if you are actually using the fat rubber, that is.)

Twenty Nine Inches wants to know, “Who does ‘Monstercross’ out there?” and why. How do you use your “monster crosser”? Should it be included in 29″er coverage?

Use the comment section and let us know what you think.

OS Bikes Blackbuck: First Look

January 27, 2008

Guitar Ted's OS Bikes Blackbuck- driveside

Here is the finished build of the OS Bikes Blackbuck that Twenty Nine Inches will be testing soon. ( As soon as our trails clear up!) I thought I would post up these images so that everyone could see just what we’ve got to work with here.

Guitar Ted's OS Bikes Blackbuck- non-driveside

The build itself went without incident. The frame was very well finished, no burrs or funky problems with threads or with the EBB either.

Again, to remind everyone, we will be using this as a test sled for determining the effects of different forks on the handling of one 29″er. In this case, it is the Blackbuck. It is a particular interesting choice in that OS Bikes sells it with a Reba fork in the complete bike package or with a rigid, non-suspension corrected fork if you want with the frame only option.

I chose to transfer over my On One Superlight Carbon fork over to the Blackbuck first. This was done so that I can become familiarized with the Blackbucks traits and not have to wonder about the steering since the geometry will be very near to what it was with the Inbred that the fork was on previously.

After the initial “get to know you” phase is out of the way, I’ll then mount up the Blackbuck rigid fork and do a comparison. I’ll also be swapping out to a Reba and an RST M-29 as the testing continues.

Stay tuned for more updates as the trails thaw out and I get to riding this off road.

Custom ZR Cycles

January 27, 2008

From what I gathered across the Bare Knuckle blog there is a very sweet 650b ZR Cycles floating around that was built late last summer.


The build looks solid – Shimano XTR drive train, Hope headset and hubs, Rock Shox Reba fork, slick Avid Black Box levers and BB7 disc brakes. Heavy Mettle tubes and prototype Baby Bear 2.3 tires. 25 lbs without any super crazy light parts is pretty good for a “heavier” wheel size of a 650b.


650b Sizing According to YiPsan

January 26, 2008

As I am in the works of creating my own custom 650b I’ve been searching out those builds and frames that have already gone down the path. Looking at the angles, fitting, what forks people have used and loved or hated. I’m learning a lot from google, blogs, custom builder gallery’s and flickr. Every once in awhile I will cross a little gem. Someone’s genuinely honest opinion of why they like or dislike the 650b wheel.

Earlier this week the blog of a builder by the name of YiPsan had a good amount of good information to be shared. Now, I don’t know much about the builder other than his bikes can be found at a shop near where I am from in Maryland but again the information seemed to be genuine.

I think 650B is best suited for riders of certain body specifics. Height, weight, riding style, and application. In fact, that is why 650B had survived in Europe all these years. During the popular cyclotouring era, 650B was the wheel size of choice. Because of application and road condition at that time, it really is the best. Some riders who carry on the cyclotouring sport have chosen 700c with 30-ish tire size in modern times but I can tell you this size is not optimal for a lot of riders.

As for off-road, 650B has its place too. Kirk Pacenti will tell you one of the main reasons is for long travel full suspension bikes, and I completely agree with that. On top of that, it is also very nice for hard tails. As you might have read that many people have switched to 29ers over the past few years, and most of them will cite the better momentum, how much easier it is to roll over obstacles, etc. These benefits will also appear on a 650B bike, not in the same magnitude, but the characteristics is there. Also, bear in mind why some 26” riders tried 29 and did not change. They will tell you cornering is just not very natural, slow technical handling is cumbersome and that their climbing prowess is not as good. This is where 650B will shine just like a 26” mtb plus some of the benefits of 29er. But these are simply generalization. Like for road bikes, the choice should be rider driven, their body dimension, riding style and application.

I believe riders of 5’4 to 5’9 are major benefactors of this wheel size. You will have a bike that handles properly, no toe overlap, fit properly with correct weight balance. As tire and rim choices expand, we will see more discerning cyclists switching to 650B wheels, and purpose built 650B frames.

Interesting Story

January 25, 2008

While stumbling around around the interweb tonight I found an interesting Q&A with William Ostrem of Northern Letter and Sean Virnig of Rawland Cycles.


The part that intrigued me the most about the answers that Sean was giving was this :

Bill: My wheels [on my Surly] are 700C, I think. Why would I change to 650B?

Eric: My Baccheta recumbent is 650C.

Sean: 650B has more volume than 700C of the same size (width). You’ll feel more comfortable, the ride will feel more smooth over potholes etc (especially with Carol [Molnau] still the Commissioner of the [Minnesota] Dept. of Transportation). 650B is also beneficial for off-road tires. I don’t like the 29er because it’s too big in my opinion. It handles funny because it uses the same rim size as road bikes (700C). The 650B off-road wheel/tire has the same outside diameter as your 700C so it handles just like a road bike. Moreover, with the disc Sogn, one can swap between off-road 650B wheels and 700C road wheels without affecting handling characteristics, geometry, and so on. That’s an extreme example, but you get the idea.

One interesting story: in the early 80s before mountain bikes became popular the founding fathers of mountain bikes decided on 650B as the ideal size for mountain bikes, but [the] CCCP [the Soviet Union] bought out all 650B tires from a Finnish tire company so the fathers had to switch to 26.

Image from Northern Letter

Titanium Rumors

January 24, 2008

Titanium seems to be making a bit of a comeback as a popular choice for hardtail mountain bikes again and 29″ers are not exempt. Twenty Nine Inches is hearing some rumors and soft news regarding the grayish hued wonder metal.

Lynskey Performance Designs, which showed a cruiser bike recently, is going to also show a belt drive titanium 29″er at the upcoming NAHBS in February. (By the way, they will also be using the Belt Drive idea on a city bike to be shown at NAHBS as well.) The belt is made by Gates, a company well known for making belt drives for the likes of Harley-Davidson amongst others. You can read about my test of a Spot Brand single speed set up with the Belt Drive system here.

Lynskey also figures highly in our next tidbit on titanium. On One, the United Kingdom based purveyor of fine steel 29″ers, amongst a slew of other cool cycling bits, is having Lynskey produce a run of titanium single speeds in the near future, including a 29″er. Details are not set in stone as yet, but we are hoping to bring you some images of the bike soon. More on the On One/Lynskey collaboration as we get the info….

Finally, one of the hits of the indoor portion of Interbike this past fall has to be the twin titanium bikes on display at the Niner booth. As promised, we are keeping up with the developments regarding which version will ultimately be produced. We are hearing a rumor that the single speed is going to be the version chosen to be produced and that in a very, very limited quantity. We are hearing less than 200 units. However; it won’t be anytime soon, as Niner is still busy putting the final touches on its upcoming J.E.T. 9 full suspension rig. Design work and production won’t even be looked at until the J.E.T.9 project is fully completed and going out the door to waiting customers. (We’re hearing that pre-order numbers are very high for the J.E.T. 9 too.)

More on any of these stories as we hear about it………

Manitou Fork Compatibility

January 24, 2008

Hayes Bicycle Group’s blog has posted up compatibility of their various forks with the Panaracer 650b x 2.3 tire.

(Photos and info were borrowed from the above blog.)

Manitou Minute (non-29er):

Clearance to casting = 3.41 mm
Clearance to crown = 1.06 mm

Manitou Minute 29er:

Clearance to casting = 6.50 mm
Clearance to crown = 16.89 mm


Manitou R7:
Clearance to casting = 1.28 mm
Clearance to crown = INTERFERENCE


Manitou Travis:
Clearance to casting = 10.4 mm
Clearance to crown = 14.9 mm


Don't Forget to Enter

January 23, 2008

You’re chance to win a Pacenti 650b. Ride a bike built by the man behind the wheelsize.

Pacenti 650B Mountain Bike Raffle
Presented by
Pacenti Cycle Design
Chattanooga, TN

Monday, December 10, 2007 to Monday, March 10, 2008

Online Registration Closes
Sunday, March 09, 2008 at 8:00 AM ET



Check out BikeReg for more details.