The Future Of 29″ers: 2009 Report Card

Back in January we were all dreaming of warmer weather and raging some single track. We were also dreaming about what equipment we might be doing that on. Here is the post where I made some prognostications and gave some thoughts on just where all this 29″er stuff might be headed. Now that we are six months into 2009, let’s see how I have done so far…..

bonty29-3-09-008Racing tires like this Bontrager 29-3 rear are already available.

Racing Tires and Wheels: I have pretty much hit the nail on the head here, I think, just judging from what I see here being tested. New tires and wheels have certainly made a splash already in 2009. I think we will see the meatier treads following now, but the reason for that will be coming up yet, so keep reading!

Carbon “Fork” Print: The carbon forks are slow in coming, but they are coming. Bontrager’s new Switchblade, which now will finally be available in G2 Geometry (51mm offset) and “regular” offset (46mm) is hitting the warehouse later this month, I am told. The Niner carbon fork should be hitting trails any day now, and Soul Cycles fork is still in development, but should see the light of day soon as well.

Will there be more? Probably. However; this segment will not see the development that suspension forks have already and are going to soon. The tapered steer tube is already a staple of many 2010 bike designs, and the 15QR through axle looks to be the “QR killer” I spoke about back in January. Look for the existence of longer travel forks to start leaking out here this summer.

On Gearing: The Deore level 11-36T cassette has already been announced in 9 speed. Now with the development and introduction of SRAM XX, look for more options in 10 speed wide ratio gearing to be introduced by Shimano in the fall. New XTR will show up as a 2 X 10 group with a wide ranging cassette to compete with SRAM for mtb dominance. I suspect that even an XT option will surface as well. This would explain the lower level 9 speed casette we saw introduced earlier and why it isn’t a higher level cassette. 2 X 10 and to a lesser extent, 2 X 9 set ups will be the hot ticket going into 2010. On the opposite end of the spectrum, look for something in a 9 speed triple with 20/30/42 chainwheels to surface as well.

A Word About Carbon: We’ll see more carbon fiber rigs and we have already seen a fair number debut already. Who will drop in the 29″er bandwagon with the black magic? My bet is that Trek, who is strongly rumoured to be entering in 2010 with 29″ers, will be offering it’s highest end hard tail with big wheels and carbon construction based upon the Madone road bike. There will be a carbon/aluminum composite from Giant, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two to three more carbon frames show up with big wheels from several manufacturers, including Santa Cruz.

A Word About Titanium: Don’t forget about this grey wonder metal. I am reasonably sure that something is going to surface made from the metal with 29″er hoops on it. I have seen at least two titanium bikes come as far as rideable prototypes only to get axed in the end, but I’ve a feeling there will be something coming out that a lot of folks will find surprising.

A Word About Full Suspension: We haven’t seen the last of the new FS designs for 2010 yet. The aforementioned Santa Cruz will debut something this fall, Fisher Bikes, which has showed its hand with the Superfly 100 isn’t quite done yet, and if Trek is bowing with 29″ers, don’t be surprised if they show up with a big wheeled FS rig. But that’s not all folks, I know of at least two more FS 29″ers waiting in the wings, and more are coming. Long and short travel. Stay tuned…………


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No Responses to “The Future Of 29″ers: 2009 Report Card”

  1. discodave Says:

    I’m still hoping for a Roscoe 29er and hopefully at least 120mm Santa Cruz which would be nice since the 140mm Blur Lt is there #1 selling bike.

  2. Shop Mechanic Says:

    So do you already know of a 20-30-42 crank in development? And why hold back the news on the FS 29ers? If you want relevancy you have to beat the other websites to the punch. That is why the euro sites are so good. They seem to either get the info quicker or they aren’t afraid to post it. Either way they got the drop.

  3. JeroenK Says:

    Euro websites do not know sh*t about sh*t, when it comes to 29ers, and that comes from me, a European citizen. In my view, GT does a pretty good job keeping the 29er world up to date.

    If I read it right, some of the above post is still somewhere halfway between prognostications and scoop. If you want to drop some news earlier, there has to be something substancial to tell.

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    Well, I “could” spill the beans, and then that would most likely be the last time I hear anything from “those” companies in regards to what is going on.

    There is “news” and there is friendly sharing of information. All folks in the cycling media have to be careful to distinguish between the two. I have said what I could say. 😉

    When it is cool to reveal more, I will.

  5. Andrew Brautigam Says:

    If I had to guess, I’d bet that we’ll see a short travel, scandium, xc’ish rig from Salsa in the next year.

    I really like the idea of a fancy trek HT 29er – the crabon that they make is nice. Oh, and made in the states, which is a plus.

  6. Lee T Says:

    GT – you have proved an extremely informative and a valuable resource – you should continue to respect your sources while you support your readers.

    That said, I am confused as to how the Trek/Fisher marketing will work – it seemed GF having the 29er focus and Trek the advanced geometry 26ers was a clean choice to make.

    It will be interesting to see how the lines will differentiate now – especially with the new Fly coming in OCLV, the Trek materials.

    BTW-when we will know pricinfgg on that SF 100? I almost don’t want to hear …especially with the new XX group we’d all like to have.

  7. MG Says:

    Thanks for the great info, Guitar Ted. This is fun stuff and a great indicator that our world is in an awesome state of development. We’re riding some sweet equipment today, and it’s only going to keep getting better.

    I’m particularly interested to see how the titanium market develops. You and I had a good discussion this past Friday about what I’d like to see in a titanium big wheel frame — one that’d be distinctly different from anything else that’s out there currently — but we’ll see if it’s ever produced. It’d be a pretty expensive frame… and I don’t know anybody whose done a tapered headtube in titanium. But man, wouldn’t it be sweet?!!

    I like what Andrew is talking about… Bring it on!


  8. EJeppsen Says:

    I’d love to see more 2×9 drivetrains, but I hope 2×10 doesn’t spread. In my opinion, the extra gear isn’t worth the decreased chain life. I run through 10-speed road chains in 3 weeks. I like that 9-speed mountain chains last longer.

    As for forks, I think QR15 is a great development, and I think it might most benefit riders on rigid single speeds. I wonder which fork manufacturer will figure that out first.

  9. cg Says:

    I want to chime in with the others congratualting GT for his work. What good will it do us readers to have breaking news once and only old news ever after. It is only too easy to fall for “secret news” once and spoil long built good relations.
    As an insider GT has to respect his sources and he does good doing so – it is the only way to do his job professionally.
    Being European myself I must defend the euro site for most also try to bring the 29er movement on its way, some maybe not in the most politically correct way but there is a plentytude to choose from to your liking. Breaking news in 29er in the majority come from the US but there are some things surfacing here first and it is only too correct that they get communicated first in Euro sites if that´s where the connections are.

    I also am stongly into Ti 29ers but am curious to see what is coming up in all the different categories be it XC or AM fully, carbon racer or 29er specific componentry.
    Many good things happening at the moment – just keep your eyes open for them.

  10. Oderus Says:

    As an industry insider like GT, I often find myself with information that I can’t share as well. GT, thank you for all of your efforts and the fantastic platform with which you share your information in what I know to be a timely manner. Thank you and keep up the good work.

  11. Davidcopperfield Says:

    What about Ibis Mojo 29er? Iron Horse 29ers?

  12. Guitar Ted Says:

    Thanks for the kind words and compliments. I will try to get news out as soon as it is available to give and will continue to work hard on getting all the big wheeled reviews and product overviews out that I can.

  13. t0m Says:

    Kona is one middleweight company I expect to see a FS 29er from soon. Giant’s Maestro platform is sweet and I’d be surprised if Spesh and Trek got into the 29er FS ranks without an answer from the world’s biggest maker.

  14. Toddre Says:

    Well we know about the Specialized Epic and I “think” Trek would keep the 29ers seperate with Fisher (And I think they do with putting a ABP on the new Superfly).
    My guess would be fullies from Cannondale and Giant with Giant offering a “longer travel” bike in the 5 inch range. Cannondale’s will be a “Scalpel-esque” type set up.

  15. Guitar Ted Says:

    As for Trek keeping the 29″er stuff on the Fisher side, they have done that plan since 2002 and believe me, the Trek dealers are not too happy about it, especially in the Mid-West. My thinking is that dealer pressure has made Trek re-think the plan.

    Keep in mind these facts as well: Fisher sells more 29″ers than 26″ers in the mtb category. Fisher and Trek both sell 26″ers, so selling 29″ers on the Trek side doesn’t necessarily mean that Fisher will be cannibalized in terms of 29’er sales. Also, technical manufacturing techniques are already shared across both brands in numerous areas. In fact ABP is on the 26″er Roscoe, so saying that Trek will not do a 29″er based on technical details already on Fishers isn’t really logical.

    The shop I work at is a Trek dealer, and the owner was stoked at the possibility that Trek may have a 29″er. His hope was for Trek to cover the low end, sub-grand 29’er with maybe a $600.00 geared 29″er. Hopefully, that would be possible with Trek’s clout with parts suppliers and manufacturers.

    I have said for several years that Trek was foolish not to do 29″ers, and every year that they wait is money lost to other 29″er providers which now include Giant and Specialized, two of the biggest competitors to Trek in the U.S.A.

    Finally- As for Cannondale, it is well known that 29″er Scalpels have been tested in the field for at least two years now. Whether Dorel, the parent company of Cannondale, sees 29″er numbers to justify moving forward with the project or not is not known at this time. I can report that in the past the answer was that dealer pressure to bring it to market and Cannondale’s own sales figures did not justify the project. I don’t see a lot of marketing going on with Cannondale’s 29″er line up as it is. My feeling is that it will not be seeing the light of day anytime soon. Hopefully I am wrong about that.

  16. Dan Says:

    Hi gt talk to aaron at blackspire and they are making a batch of 28 tooth chainring along with there 38 tooth chairing would make a nice 2×9 set up. Great that big companies are focusing on 29 specific gearing . keep up the great work.

  17. Thunderlump Says:

    I would like to see a carbon 29er Epic but I don’t think its in the works. Or at least not in the near future. I think GF is going to make a killing with the Superfly 100, id like to test one out thats Fo Sho!

  18. Brad Says:

    Carbon “Fork” Print

    You failed to mention the new Shimano produced PRO line of parts that offers a carbon 29er fork. I had the switchblade and IMO this looks much nicer and is the same style and another offering to the 29er world.

    Any chance On One will ever run their forks again

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