29"ers: A Little More Mainstream?

I just arrived home from my week long vacation to the typical pile of mail that any one of us accrues over such a period away from home. I recieved a few of “those” mail order catalogs in the pile. You know, the ones you get all summer long with the same mechandise on every page in every issue? Yeah………those mail order catalogs!

Well, on page two of one of them there is a small grouping of 29″er related stuff featured. Hmm……this makes me wonder. If these guys have caught on to 29″ers, what does it mean? Are 29″ers the latest trend to be cashed in on, or is it just another sign that sooner or later, 29″ers will be “just mountain bikes”? Assimilated into the mountain bike culture as a whole.

Here’s what I’m saying: “They” probably don’t get it. 29″ers, that is. It is just something that popped up on the radar and they thought they would take a stab at it, is my thinking. I’m not sure that a whole lot of independant bike shops are “getting it” yet. At least I know there are more than a few around here that don’t.

Then you would also wonder about the demographic this stuff is aimed at. I’m guessing there are more than a few scratching their heads now after looking at the page and wondering, “What is this 29″er stuff anyway?” They maybe are seeing the term now for the first time.

Well, if anything, it maybe is getting 29″ers talked about a little more. A few more people will ask about it, do computer search engine stuff on the term, and maybe some will even get into 29″ers because of it. 29″ers becoming a little more mainstream? Hey, bring it on, I say!


No Responses to “29"ers: A Little More Mainstream?”

  1. John Wm. Says:

    A couple of years ago, when I took the 29er in for service, the normally “way too cool” bike shop dudes would flock around, wanting rides and asking questions.

    These days, barely a grunt from these denizens of coolness. I’d say: “29β€³ers, a little more mainstream.”

  2. Desert9r Says:

    I think the 29er has gotten to the point that multi-bike-owning crowd has an opinion of them but the single bike/dicipline crowd and the beginers/mart bike crowd have no idea what a 29er is., and 75% or more of the mt bikers I know, don’t like 29ers.

  3. GreenLightGo Says:

    funny – when I first moved to Montgomery, AL in July 2007, I went to the LBS (Raleigh, GT, Giant, Haro dealer) fully expecting to see at least a Mary or XXIX. Nada – I asked the young guy at the counter if they had any XXIX’s hidden – he was dumbfounded, didn’t know what it was. Didn’t know what a Mary was either. On the tire rack, they had one 29″ IRC Mythos front – that’s it. Almost a year later, the Mythos is still there, plus they’ve added two 29″ Ignitors. I saw an 18″ Mary XC once but it didn’t stay long, sold quickly (hint, hint guys). Same with the LBS up the road, they stock a few tires like the WW 2.55LT and some ACX, ordered my DryX from there but I’ve only seen one 29er – a FELT Solo one. Every 29er that comes in, said the owner, is already spoken for – i.e. someone’s ordering.

    Makes me wonder why, down here where you can ride almost year round, there aren’t more off-the-shelf examples in the stores.

    I see plenty on the trails, Mariachi’s, Monkeys. Northern AL is a hotspot for Sultans….

    On any particular day though, my Sultan gets a few stares.

  4. Oderus Says:

    Here in Northern Colorado, my shop, and many others have embraced the 29er. We stock all of the Gary Fishers and and healthy supply of Niners. We also offer the Salsa, Suryly, Redline and Indy Fab. We have Black Sheep in town that does custom ti 29ers…….and they are nice. We move a few Cobias and Xcalibers a week here. It is becoming mainstream in my opinion. But it has only become so because we ride them. Most of our service department rides a 29er and we all preach the gospel. When we lead group rides, it’s on our 29ers. People are wondering why we go so fast with so little effort. We show them, they ride, they buy. It’s mainstream here because all of the LBS make it so. It’s not just us, it’s everybody from Ft Collins all the way thru Boulder.
    Having worked for “them” in the past, I will say that “they” probably do get it. “They” have taken a while to stock and sell anything because “they” are cautious and are concerned more with making a dollar than selling a bike. “They” have been watching for a while and now that more and more people are on 29ers, “they” will sell them goods on the cheap. Sadly, it means all of us LBS have to now compete with mail order 29er parts. But, we still have the benefit of knowledge, experience and the passion that “they” will never have.

  5. Davidcopperfield Says:

    In the US when you have so many manufacturers and components’ option it’s no biggun, however in small countries where there is none for/hubs & wheels manufactires and one or two poor bike small wits 29ers even do not exist at all. In 5-10 years they will be new thing and in 20 they might be known, only if priced under 1 thousand $.

  6. Evan Says:

    I got it. Literally. Yesterday. Picked up a Redline Monocog Flight 29er.
    Was so stoked I rode it to work today, with my work shoes on top of my Time pedals.
    Can’t wait to get it on dirt…

    LBS owner has an XXIX + G, but I think that’s the only other 29er in town.

  7. Dirt McGirt Says:

    It’s just a matter of time before the White Man takes something cool and waters it down for the mainstream. Look at the Tony Hawk 2008 collection, coming to a Department store near you.

    Also we may reminded of Rock n Roll. The White man stole that too.


  8. professed Says:

    May the USA continue on leading the way with visions new – as it always has and probably always will.

    In Europe, only Coxxki rides a 29er and down under here in Oz, you can count the total of 29er riders on two hands…

    May “they” remain ignorant, as 29ers allow “us” to race elite when we should really be relegated to the hack classes !

  9. kilowahn Says:

    no you’re wrong – cloxki ain’t the only owner of a 29er in europe:

    there is a big 29er community for the german speaking people
    (from swiss, austria, germany) and a big one in france too – and
    it’s growing day by day.
    and also it catched my eyes, that there is a growing amount of
    shops in the eastern european countries (pl, cz) offering 29ers.

  10. Shiny Flu Says:

    Ramblings from a shop monkey:

    There’s growing interest here in Australia… like most things it takes a little longer for products to get out here. Rigid SS 29ers have had there place for a while now… but a popular Australasian company called Avanti (also a hugely popular brand here) released 2 29er models: a rigid SS and a Tora/X9 level HT. In my books, that’s huge because Avanti’s a brand that reflects the Australian and New Zealand markets. Most shops are carrying a few 29er tyres and tubes.

    29ers are only cracking into the SS and HT market at the moment. The trail rider enthusiast who’s happy to spend AUD$3-4k on a dually can’t drop the money on a boutique frame (Niner, Turner, Titus, Intense, Lenz etc.) whether it be a 29 or 26″ bike. They can only afford a stock bike. Those are far and few between here. The price points of these bikes here are ridiculous or simply not on the floor at the LBS. But I think that’s pretty much the same case everywhere πŸ™‚

  11. Davidcopperfield Says:

    &kilowahn First of all not eastern but middle, eastern europe is from Russian boarder to Ural Mountains- see geographical atlas.

    Secondly there are very few of them, as shop owners know little nothing about them. They often confuse them with touring bikes or cross bikes. They believe that the first 29er produced by GF is the ultimate quintessence of 29ers> they reckon that the 622mm wheels are the only culprit for sluggishness then, they do not believe than wheels for 29er can be light, they repeat what was remarked in 2001, while kiddy wheel riders, not even having seen a single 29er, persist in recycling their thoughts and discourage others against even thinking about 29ers widely on-line and orally. There must be a huge investment put into this market to convince more people- that means to provide free demo bikes throughout the country.
    Those bicycle must be almost state-of-the-art to show them how nimble and light they are- they are expensive and summarizing there is no such a wealthy and risky company to provide and sponsor so many demo days every day πŸ™‚
    In these countries you pay twice the US price and the income at the end of each month is one sixth of the US or western EU ones. Thus no justifiable sales volume involved.
    An average humanbeing can afford solely one cheap bicycle from 100-800$ and 29ers at those limit are crappy and weight a tone so what is the point in buying them. There are very few well-off guys who could afford a decent 29er like 3 thousand dollars. A 3 Thousand $ in us means almost 4,5 in those countries so imagine how many years one has to economize for a light 29er with all the benefits exposed and drawbacks muffled. Such bikes are sold each year in amount of 10 (ten) units!!!

    I contacted 700 shops and those who have something 29erish after selling it will not continue to stock anything more and most of them didn’t even know anything about 29ers their “knowledge” ened when they read in 2000 about GF releasing one or two models. They are dumb as a thumb.
    I hope that one you get it. We shall have to need a two deacades for eveyone to try a worthwhile 29er, which they will never be capable of affording.

  12. Clint Says:

    I think they are more mainstream as well, heck I’m on one. I think its a good thing because as demand increases it will drive innovation as well as increase the number of products available to us all. I just don’t want to be like the punk rockers out there comparing who is more punk, in this case it would be who is more 29er. Its a sweet ride, why not share it?

  13. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Holy crap, man! Do you have too much time on your hands or what?!?! Let’s keep it to 5000 words next time… Sheeeeeeeeeeeesh!

  14. Dirt McGirt Says:

    BTW, I’m WAY more punk than all yous.

    snooch to the nooch

  15. professed Says:

    thanks kilowahn, I was being a little facetious but glad things are looking up in france and germany as a lot of design and engineering originates there. perhaps we might see a euro 29er in the mainstream market soon. my comment was based on a trip last june to france and italy where I saw, read and heard nothing about 29ers.

  16. Cloxxki Says:

    I don’t feel special anymore riding a 29″er in The Netherlands. I picked up Cross-Country Skiing in stead.

    Fisher stopped actively pushing itself as a brand in Europe, which is a shame. I suppose they don’t need to, as they are making bikes as fast as they possibly can for the US market. A few years rumored to be heading towards being a B brand to attack the lower priced ones on the market, what I see now is an A brand setting market standards once again. Go Fisher!

    It’s easier to convert the average muslim to christianity or the other way around, than to convert the average MTBer to 29″. While let’s face it, here at least it’s clear which is superior, and which outdated πŸ™‚
    Cyclist are so resistance to reolution, it’s a miracle by itself that their wheels are allowed to turn at all.

  17. Clueless Joe Says:

    Although I don’t qualify to post here since I have never ridden a 29er, I want to offer comment. When my FSR broke I went back to my old Klein bike which I had reverted to it’s rigid fork. I realized that I enjoyed my rides more on that bike than the full suspension. I even got Specialized to replace the broken FSR with a hard tail. Now I am wondering if they would have worked with me to get a 29er instead, and wishing I had thought to ask. The benefits make sense to me theoretically and the reviews I’ve read confirm the advantages. I think some of the resistance from the 26″ world is because the trend is opposite their definition of progress. Always longer travel full suspension, more complicated, and more expensive. It took a frame failure to get me to go back to the type of bike that made me love Mtn. Biking. It looks like 29er’s take that experience and up the ante to the next level. (I still don’t get single speed, but I am an old guy with bad knees and a beer habit)

  18. Robb Sutton Says:

    I will say that I was one of the first to think that the 29er thing would just fade away. After spending some time on a few rigids and hardtails…I really like the way they ride. I don’t think there will be a long travel 29er revolution (here I go again saying it won’t happen), but I see a lot of benefit in the hardtails and rigids. We’ll have to see what 650B/27.5 does for long travel, bigger wheels but I have a feeling it is just too close to both to get any real headway.

    So are they becoming more mainstream? I think so, and against previous beliefs…I think that is a good thing. Variety is the spice of life!…man that was corny…

  19. kilowahn Says:

    @clueless joe:
    off course you have bad knees and a beer habit – you’re a mountainbiker πŸ˜‰
    by the way – i think your posting makes the point regarding the doubts of a lot of the 26ers…

  20. Brendan Says:

    29ers have begun multiplying like rabbits in RI, CT and MA. The last two seasons have seen an explosion of 29ers at races and trailheads. Still plenty of 26 to go around although I have yet to see a 650b bike. I haven’t seen even one, let alone a wheelset crammed in a compatible frame (1×1 etc..). The riding season is just beginning in earnest in these parts (for those who don’t ride in the winter) and I’m sure that’ll change soon enough.

  21. MG Says:

    It’s funny, because just yesterday, because as I was ogling the sweet new 26er Salsa Ala Carte frame they’d just gotten in, Nate from Monkey Wrench Cycles told me that the primary reason he ordered it was because it was brown… He said his 26er market has pretty much dried up.

    That was confirmed on the weekly Tuesday night shop ride, when out of about 20 riders, only two riders were on 26-inch bikes. The rest were 29ers.

    It’s rapidly becoming a 29-inch world in the circles I ride and race in… The guys leading rides are on 29ers, and I suspect the guys winning races around here are gonna’ be on 29ers as well.

    It’s no surprise to me, and I don’t think it surprises most of you either…

  22. Guitar Ted Says:

    MG: What does surprise me is that it took off in the Mid West before the East or West Coast caught on. Isn’t that a bit odd? I always thought we were last to “get it” πŸ™‚

  23. John Wm. Says:

    Mr. McDirt:

    Maybe so, right now, but your accumulated punk points are still relatively low. Some here began amassing points in the 70’s.

  24. Jwiffle Says:

    As more major brands offer economically priced 29ers, they will become more mainstream. When a geared hardtail runs $1500, I don’t sell too many. But with companies now offering geared hardtails for under $700, we’ll start seeing many many more. And if they can get them down to the $500 price point, we won’t see too many 26ers. Seriously, I show a lot of people a Mary XC, and they love it, but just can’t afford it. And most of my customers who are looking at spending $1500 want a full-suspension, so they have no choice at that price range but a 26er.
    They are becoming mainstream…I had a customer in the other day looking for a new seatpost for his FSR 29er…and he only rides it on fireroads.

    So, my perspective: 29ers are only not mainstream because of price. As they continue to come down in price, they will become more mainstream. Most people I show them to quickly understand their benefits, especially for rocky east coast riding.

  25. vichercules Says:

    In the SouthWest, 29er’s seem to have become mainstream and pretty much just another bike. If you go to a race here, nobody notices your wheel size and the vast majority of people have figured out wheel size is nothing more than a preference. My local shop sells more high end 29ers than high end 26ers.

    I could care less if 29ers are mainstream, in fact I guess I would prefer that they were so more new 29er specific parts will be available and competition will drive prices down. I like to ride what I like to ride, if others agree or disagree is really not my problem and I don’t care if I am in a select group of people who get it or not.

    GT, the answer to your Midwest 29er question is simple, you have no substantial hills and the switchbacks that come with them. The biggest reason I hear in Colorado and New Mexico for not switching is gear ratios and switchbacks. Those two things are non issues in states with a total of 300 feet of elevation gain. πŸ™‚

    I have to admit in a serious switchback environment, my 29er has been at a disadvantage. The jury is out for me as to whether the new fisher fork offsets will help me since I have not yet had a chance to test the hypothesis, I just got the bike but have not been on a high mountain trail with it yet since they are still snowed in for the most part. I can’t wait to find out.

  26. Guitar Ted Says:

    vichercules: Well, we may not have a “sustained” long climb, but we do infact have switchbacks and we do have a lot of climbing. You just have to know where to go to get at it. πŸ˜‰

    I invite you to come to the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in June to try out your climbing legs. πŸ™‚ I think you will come away with a totally different concept of Iowa and the Mid West.

    At any rate, I have done switchbacks on a 29″er, I have seen others do it in locals from California, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, etc, and I think you can find plenty of folks that will agree that a 29″er can cut a corner just as well as any 26″er ever could. Now as far as you and your bike, I can not vouch, but I’m saying, it can be done.

    Oh yeah, if you can’t make it to the Ballyhoo, you could always do the Iowa 24 Hour race at seven Oaks. I think there are a dozen switchbacks per lap. Not that we would know anything about switchbacks. πŸ˜‰

  27. Clueless Joe Says:

    Try Lots more mainstream. Since I posted a few days ago I have done many web searches and visited my LBS (Props to Cycle Loft in Burlington MA who handled my aforementioned FSR failure). Companies like REI have 29ers offered. The LBS sells lots of Fisher and Specialized and will be getting 29er demo bikes soon. (If spring ever comes to Mass) They sold all of the Stumpjumper 29ers that they ordered. I think 29er is about to become mainstream, with all the advantages that brings. When I challenged the salesman re variety of tire and wheel choices he said they had plenty of choices. It will still be a while before the catalogs have as many options for those of us who buy cheap and put it on ourselves, but I am certain it is heading in that direction.

    One last thing: The LBS guy disagreed with my statement that with 29″ wheels, full suspension was redundant for xc riding. He said a dualie would out descend a hard tail every time. What do yall think?


  28. Jwiffle Says:

    Clueless Joe: “One last thing: The LBS guy disagreed with my statement that with 29β€³ wheels, full suspension was redundant for xc riding. He said a dualie would out descend a hard tail every time. What do yall think?”

    29 inch wheels do smooth out the ride, of course, but not the same as 4″ of travel. There is definitely still a place for suspension in the 29er world. I love my rigid ss 29er, but I sure enjoy my 4.5″ travel full squish 29er, too! Can definitely push it a bit harder with the full suspension. I liken 29er wheels to equivalent comfort of 1-2″ of travel on a 26er–not exactly the same feel, but equal comfort. So if you want the same xc ride as 4-5″ travel 26er along with the advantages of the bigger wheels, the best choice is a 3-4″ 29er. That’s my opinion, anyway.

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