Big Wheel Evolution: Part II

Recently an industry trade magazine ran an article on how the evolution of the road bike has resulted in the situation where nothing but the front wheel of a typical early 70’s road racer would fit on some road bikes from today. Mountain biking is following hard on those foot steps.

I wrote about some of the things I saw coming down the pipline several months ago. Now it would seem that those things are starting to come true. Fox has let it slip that they will be introducing a tapered steer tube fork for 29″ers for the ’09 model year. Pivot Cycles, as reported in the previous post, is bringing the “inboard” bearing two piece crank idea to 29″ers with their upcoming FS design.

What else might be showing up to further take us away from “current standards”?, ( I use that term very loosely) Well, here are a few more things I see going on that may have a good chance of actually supplanting our perceptions of what is “standard” issue for a 29″er mountain bike.

Bolt on front derailluers: These are already here on some 29″ers, but I think that with full suspension designs and the already tight clearances in the bottom bracket area on 29″ers, we may be seeing more of this. Hardtails could benefit from having a more forward posistion to reduce the chance of striking the rear tires when going into the smallest front chainwheel. Shorter chainstays might be possible as well. A side benefit to this would be stiffer front mechanisms for crisper shifting.

Integrated headsets and cupless designs: These have also been around and as much as I don’t really like the idea, I think it’s here to stay and will be a big deal in future frame designs. Crank Brothers new head sets, (they don’t even call them “head sets, preferring to use the term “directset”), is a step in this direction. All this will reduce front end height on 29″ers and allow designers to spec longer travel front suspension without paying the price of greater front end height. (By the way, why doesn’t somebody make a bottom bracket that works with the same cups as a headset? Just curious.)

Oversized Bottom Brackets: The only place left unsullied by all of this oversizing and shape shifting has been the lowly bottom bracket shell. Well, road bikers have seen big changes in this area and it is going to come over to mountain bikes. In fact, Cannondale has been doing an oversized bottom bracket for several years on some of it’s elite mountain bikes. They recently dubbed it the “BB30” and have opened up the design to be used by others. Now it is being reported that Specialized (ironically) has also adopted the standard and that component maker FSA is also introducing several compatible pieces soon. This means that soon we will certainly be seeing BB30 bottom bracket 29″ers. Stiffer bottom brackets and cranksets should be a boon to larger riders especially.

Wheel Over Lock Dimension changes: For several years the standard over lock dimensions ( OLD) for mountain bikes has been 100mm front/135mm rear. With a few of the recent long travel 29″er bikes I have seen, the rear OLD has been 150mm with fronts still locked in at 100mm (110mm for through axle front wheels). I see this changing for 29″ers and all mountain bikes. I suspect that 140mm rear OLD wheels are on the horizon and that 120mm front OLD wheels and forks will follow shortly afterwards. But dont rejoice at the prospect of having a dishless rear wheel just yet. I have had a funny feeling this was going to come when 10 speed rear cog sets were foisted upon us by Shimano. (But that’s just the cynical, conspiracy theory part of my brain talking there!)

Will all of this come true? I’m betting most of it will. The winds of change are on the horizon.


No Responses to “Big Wheel Evolution: Part II”

  1. the Gimp Says:

    I have a rudimentary understanding of 29’ers at best, and the same could be argued for bikes in general. (If you want to cringe and see something done in the caveman/most inappropriate way… come over to my place. I installed my Chris King headset with a rubber mallet fer chrissakes.)

    anyhow re: BB cups and oversized bottom brackets…

    Aside from weight concerns, isn’t a BMX BB what you’re referring to here? With the stresses that bottom brackets go thru normally, amplified by singlespeeders cranking up a hill; and 29’ers being inherently flexy, wouldn’t a BMX bottom bracket address this issue? Don’t they have large press-in bearings (not so unlike a headset, especially some of the beefier ones?)

    I know I am going to get a talking to regarding my lack of knowledge here, but seriously… BMX standard cranks and BB sets are not THAT much heavier, and the added stability and abuse they can handle… doesn’t it make sense? ESPECIALLY for some of us ‘Clydesdales’ (I fall into the category somewhere under Clyde but well above racer-titanium boy)

    Then, if that is a bit too ‘Conan the Barbarian’ for everyone There is a new standard being pushed in the BMX world known as Spanish BB. It is slightly larger than a traditional MTB BB, but smaller than the massive BMX one. Stability and strength without as much of a weight penalty.

    Last thing, I know many people as singlespeeders will want to shave weight wherever they can, seeing as they are the only motor, and with no gears… well I know how much I suck WITH gears… But My Solid Mission cranks are CroMo ones designed for freeriding and DH use. funny thing is, they weigh only slightly more than my friends White ENO ones. (200g or so)

    —the Gimp

  2. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Please, God. Don’t let press-in BMX bb’s make their way into the mountain bike category. Please oh please.

    Any part that requires a block of wood to install shall never touch my frame.

    And God bless the USA. Except Idaho. Screw idaho.


  3. the Gimp Says:

    Seeing as they have headset presses for the same sort of application, I assume they have a BB press for these. But if you WANT to go down that road… anything that was good enuf for Buford Pusser, is good enuf for me.

    And **** Idaho… ESPECIALLY Sandpoint.

  4. Oderus Says:

    Long live Stu Thompson.

  5. vichercules Says:

    I don’t mind oversizing everything with the exception of the wheels.

    That would suck, like Idaho.

  6. Steve Says:

    Most of these changes are being championed by makers of Taiwanese aluminum bikes. This is bad news for the small guy who can’t CNC and Hydroform everything.

  7. Dirt McGirt Says:

    There actually still isn’t a tool for BMX press-in bb’s. If you go using a HS press, you’ll have two things:

    A broken Headset press
    A headache from a broken headset press.

    That is all.

    Buford Pusser Kicks much ass, by the way.

    And so does the Rock.

    If you smelllllalalala what I’m cookin.

  8. EuroWheels Says:

    Good job on the article!

  9. Big T Says:

    GT: Forgive my ignorance but what is a tapered steer tube fork? and what is the advantage to this design?

    Gimpy Im with you: Im a heavyweight biker in a weight weenie world, and I might add ive had to build up bikes that will hold up to my punishment instead of buying a bike off the shelf for years. I havent ridden a BMX bike since I was like 10 because ive allways been a freakishly tall kid, so im not familiar with the issues associated with bmx cranks.

    I love beefy stuff, and if I can run beefy stuff on my single speed, beefier the better as far as im concerned. I like the Idea of the press in BB and head whatevers for the reasons GT mentioned, I like reliable fire and forget components. I enjoy riding more than fixing.

  10. Desert9r Says:

    Wonderful! everything about the 29er is heading the way of the Bigger-is-better Theory, making them even more expensive.
    I am ALL for keeping 29ers out of the “marts”, but I also want more people to ride/start riding, and I don’t want price to be the deciding factor between 26 and 29 If the person really wants to ride a 29er.

  11. Sevo Says:

    GT I agree with you on the headset/bb thing. I sketched out an idea years ago for such and always thought it would be a great idea.

    Rear wheel to 140mm….Sounds good. I seem to remember Doug Bradbury’s early Manitou’s had such a custom hub and believe the original WTB boys used that standard in a Greaseguard rear hub on their custom bikes (Like Chuck C’s and Steve P’s customs). I agree, especially in this day and age of big wheels turning it’s a good idea.

  12. Chuckc1971 Says:

    What about the maxle? Overkill for XC?

    I’ve been to Idaho. Thought it was a cool place to bike. Why does it suck?

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