Archive for the ‘36er’ Category

A Real Wagon Wheeler: Impressions On A 36″er- Part II

April 30, 2009

I’ve been logging some miles on the Pofahl built 36 inch wheeled bike and will now offer some first impressions to you on what it is like to ride this bicycle with the Conestoga sized wagon wheels.


Wheels. That’s the first impression you get visually when looking at the 36″er. They are very large, and perhaps a bit goofy looking. However, what you don’t notice is how big the tires actually are on this thing. Their size is masked by the sheer enormity of the diameter of the rims. However; 29″er riders would drool over the measurements of this hunk of two ply. Check out the width, which is a generous 57.3mm. The height of the casing is even more impressive at 52.2mm, which is at least two millimeters taller than a WTB Prowler. Talk about volume! This hand cut tread 36 inch tire has it in spades.

Yes, I said hand cut tread. The tires are made for unicycle use on roads. So the two ply casing is smooth treaded for the most part. Their are grooves running parallel to the tire casing, but these are useless for gripping anything but tarmac. The designer of this rig, Ben Witt, wanted something that would be all terrain approved, so he bought a tire groover and spent about a half an hour per tire cutting in a front and rear specific design.


So these tires are really big too, and heavy. The whole wheel is pretty heavy, so it acts like a huge flywheel. Getting the 36″er up to a speed takes some effort, but gearing helps overcome much of the initial inertia on flatter terrain. Once rolling, you can take a brief break from pedaling, return to spinning the cranks, and find that you haven’t lost any speed. Even rolling up inclines becomes effortless if you speed down the preceding down hill.

That said, nothing happens very quickly on a 36″er. It forces you to be calm and deliberate in your pedaling, your maneuvering, and in your whole attitude while riding. A calming experience? Perhaps, I don’t know that I would go that far with it, but it is fun. Very fun, and it makes you work at a much lower level, but constantly. In fact, for early season training, “long, slow distance” becomes a reality with the 36″er. There really isn’t another choice.

Not to say the bike is slow. It’s fast as any other bike on the tracks I have tried it on. In fact, I cut off some time on my work commute with it. It just feels ponderous, and your body works at a slower pace while riding it. Strange sensations, but pleasant ones, and quite different than smaller wheeled bicycles. At least in my humble opinion.

Now for some distance riding and maybe some mild single track, but only after the spring floods have cleared. Stay tuned!

A Real Wagon Wheeler: Impressions On A 36"er

April 21, 2009

The first time I became aware of a 36 inch wheeled bicycle was back around 2002 when I saw a picture of a Coker cruiser. That was pretty much a novelty bike. I didn’t really think anything more about that. However, in 2006 when Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles told me he was designing one, I was floored. He was adamant that he thought the concept would be more than just a curiousity, and his enthusiasm for the project got me really excited about it too. Then, in 2007 at the annual dealer open house at Quality Bicycle Products I saw it, and rode it. It was as I said at the time, “the most grin inducing bike I have ever ridden.” That still holds true today, and now that very bike, painted red, is at The Lab here for a short time.


So hang on as I take this big wheeled rig on some rides and report on my findings here. I’ll give my impressions of this bike and my thoughts on its applications. One thing is for sure: It’ll make you smile everytime you ride it.

For more on the tech behind the 36″er, watch for my report on The Cyclist coming soon.

Get Trendy.

May 14, 2008

The 650b wheel is a niche market, as niche as they come right now. Well the 36er might be a bit more hidden and harder to come by as of today but most folks don’t know what 650b is, or was, or will be.

The largest issue I see holding back the 650b, or any large technology advancements, is that the cycling industry is trying to streamline every part of the bicycle.

As a shop employee I can recognize the need for standardization. In a shop it helps with stock, knowledge and over head. In the industry at large it helps with tooling cost and allowing all the parts to work together. Being too standard can be a problem too as it can keep from the industry growing. What would of happened if years ago when Aheadset was figuring out thread less technology they thought to themselves “Gee, this is going against every threaded headset standard and we might have to redesign forks too! That is sure a lot of work, let’s give up.” If they had said that or thought anything along those terms we all, maybe, would be riding thread less headsets.

Everyone is scared of the 650b. If this is to catch on, who is to say that a 28″ wheel won’t be released at the next Interbike? No one. So now the industry is huddled up, waiting for the next big name to jump on board before THEY take the head first plunge. The ball (or trend) has started to roll and as the ball is getting larger it also means larger companies are starting to jump on.

One other thing I am noticing, almost daily, is that the consumer base is catching on and this trend is not stopping. Every one of my last 6 rides, on one of my 650b steeds, someone has taken notice. They stop me in the parking lot or at the end of a race to ask me about it. Sure, these are avid cyclist that search the internet and MTBR daily but they know what it is! They have been interested enough to read up, visit this blog and others, to be educated.

36 Inch Wheels: Update Part II

February 23, 2008

Lately there has been some excitement regarding 36″ers, the huge wheeled bikes that were first just a novelty. In fact, the first 36″ers widely known were Coker cruiser type bikes. Now there is a “new breed” tramping the trails and back roads with a hint of more to come.

Twenty Nine Inches presents a brief history now of the 36″er for off roading with pictures. (Because really, what’s a story without pictures, right?)

Arguably the first off roadable 36″er came from the mind of Ben Witt of Faribault Minnesota. (There are rumors of a Kansas 36″er, but only hearsay, no real evidence has come forth) The bike made it to The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo where Ben put it to the test on some single track. From that effort, Ben went back to the drawing board and produced a better, more refined 36″er, which resides at his shop to this day.

Inspired by Ben’s 36″er creations, Blonde Fabrications was the next to produce this stunning 36″er. It wasn’t just for show either.

The bike was ridden in the Fat Tire 40 event during the Chequamegon Fat Tire festival in 2007. This raised a few eyebrows in the racing community.

Enough interest was raised that this effort was produced for an attempt at the 24 Hours at the Old Pueblo in 2008. Sporting 180mm OD hubs and dual front disc brakes, this version of a 36″er attempts to address the issues involved in making a truly strong off road 36″er wheel.

Are there more 36″ers coming? The obvious answer is yes. As far as a “trend” or any mainstream acceptance is concerned, it is doubtfull that 36″ers will ever become something you will find at your local bicycle shop, or will it? Time will tell.

No matter where 36 inch wheeled bicycles go from here, one thing is certain. They are the most smile inducing bicycles this author has ever ridden, bar none.

36 Inch Wheels: Update

February 6, 2008

About a year ago we reported on the 36 inch wheeled bike belonging to Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles. We got to ride it there and we also got another look at it in June at the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Since it has been awhile since we had heard anything on the “big” big wheels, we called Ben up and chatted with him. He told us about some recent developements in the wheels that might make future 36″ers a bit more practical.

Nightrider 36 inch tire and wheel.

Of course the really astounding and problematic thing with any 36″er design is the wheels. Ben was quick to point out to us last year that he was concerned about the stresses that a disc brake would put on the spokes and in particular, the spoke bed of the rim. Ben was concerned that a spoke might be pulled through the simple rim design he had to use, ( seeing as how it was about his only choice) and that the lack of eyelets to reinforce the area around the spoke drilling was to blame. Well, now it appears that another, more refined rim choice is available along with a better tire. Enter the Nimbus Nightrider tire and Stealth rim combo that will soon be available from

The Nightrider tire and Stealth rim have made many improvements over the original wheel and tire used on the 36″er we saw at Frostbike last year. The rim has reinforcing eyelets around the spoke holes and has a parallel machined brake track. Ben says he has not seen the rim yet, but the features indicate to him that the rim is of a better manufacture than he used before. It is also reportedly lighter as well. The Nightrider tire is of a 2 ply design, which Ben says will lead to a more supple casing, lower rolling resistance, and will be lighter. The cross hatched tread pattern will also make customizing the tread easier for Ben and will result in further weight loss.

It looks as though we will be seeing more developements in 36 inch wheeled bikes besides these tires and rims. Ben and others interested in this wheel size are playing with some ideas and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Ideas that will be revolutionary and at the least, very interesting to check out.

Twenty Nine Inches will continue to keep tabs on the future developements in 36 inch wheels and bring them to you as they appear.

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo report, take two

June 27, 2007

“The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo could be the next Sea Otter”

“This event could be the midwest Pedro’s festival”

Those are both quotes from industry folks that were there.

“The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo makes you a better lover”

I said that.

The sponsors made the event possible. Buy their stuff. It’s good stuff.

Salsa Cycles

Gary Fisher Mountain Bikes

Niner Bikes

Raleigh Bicycles

Bike 29

SRAM/Rock Shox

Chrome Bags

Cliff Bar

And the exhibitors provided the sweetness…

Slingshot Cycles


Niner Bikes

Titus Cycles

Salsa Cycles

Gary Fisher/Trek
Gary Fisher

And my report will mainly be my favorite pictures…

This is Steve from Niner realizing his minuscule 29 inch wheels are already obsolete next to the 36er.

Who the hell said cyclists are all skinny?

Say what you will about big bad corporate Fisher… but they keep on pushing that envelope…

Here’s Bobby from Salsa again. His new nickname is Shrek. I can’t imagine why.

Pimpin’ (in tights) ain’t easy and nobody does it like Brent from Twin Six.

Speaking of pimpin…

Jason from Salsa leading us ballyhooers in prayer

Ahhhh… drunk dancing.

When I try to wheelie a 26er I usually hurt myself. This was a long wheelie on +10 inches.

Sure, it was a big wheel event, but who can resist a limited edition pink Surly 1×1?

The event was a great time… for those 99.9% of you readers that didn’t make it, you aren’t gonna wanna miss next year. All of this year’s exhibitors will be back with way more fun and mayhem already in the works.

Geax Saguaro 29 X 2.20 Tires: First Impressions

February 24, 2007

Geax Saguaro

I have gotten some of these Geax Saguaro tires to try out for a short period of time. These are Geax’s first entry into the 29″er tire market. They look to be a fast rolling pattern with rows of rectangular and squarish knobs arranged in a chevron pattern across the face of the tires carcass. The central knobs are all tied together by rubber reinforcements making the center of the tread a continuous section that should roll really fast on hard pack. The samples I have weighed an average of 660 grams, and mounted easily.

Once aired up, the casing looks flattish in the central two thirds of the tread with the outer edges falling away at an angle suggesting that these will be tires that will like getting “pitched” into corners rather than rolled over onto the edge knobs. We’ll see once the trails clear up. One slightly disappointing factor was the overall width, which appears to be more of a 2″ width than the stated 2.2″ width. I’ll be measuring these with a digital calipers soon. The other odd thing was the stated low pressure limit of 37psi, which alot of guys run under with other tires. Way under that psi rating!

Look for more on this tire in the coming weeks as trail conditions begin to improve here.

36 Inch Wheels: The Next "Big Thing"? Update

February 18, 2007

36er in the snow

This weekend I had a chance, along with several others, to test ride the 36″er mountain bike developed by Ben Witt. Before I get to my thoughts on the bike, I’ll recap some of the salient features of this rig.

First, the wheels. The rims and tires are stock unicycle pieces that have the tires modified by using a tread cutter. Normally the 4 ply tires are slick treaded. Ben hand cut the tread pattern with a rear and front specific pattern. The cutting took about an hour and twenty minutes for both tires, but Ben says he can do it in 40 minutes now that he’s got it figured out.

The frame was fillet brazed from stock 29″er tubing by a local frame builder. Several small details abound in this specific design. One of the most obvious is the forward joint of the down tube/seat tube area. ahead of the bottom bracket. This allows the use of an “E” type front derailluer and give it room to do it’s job. Also rather diferent was the use of doubled chainstays. The idea was explained by Ben as actually yeilding a lighter weight than a single larger diameter chainstay and also figures to give the bike more vertical compliance. The bike had a dedicated mount for a Surly flask, and Ben says when the flask is full, the bike weighs 36lbs on the nose! (Kind of appropriate, don’t you think?)

The top tube is 24.5″, the seat tube 17.5″ and the overall wheelbase is only three inches longer than most 29″ers. The bike was equipped with a Profile rear six speed hub and a triple crank front for 18 useable gears. The bottom bracket sounds tallish at 13″, but it did not feel at all out of whack balance wise. Actually, it was quite the opposite!

Okay! Enough number crunching! How did it ride? Well…………..normally, I’m afraid to say. Actually, if you couldn’t see the bike, you wouldn’t think things were too bad at all. A bit more effort to bring up to speed: check, easy to keep it going: check, and manouverable: check again. The bike absolutely erased curbs and bumpy grass was muffled to almost non-existence. The angle of attack on these wheels is even more advantageous than 29″ers and it’s quite noticable. Slow speed handling was astounding. You could go slower than walking speed and it wouldn’t fall over in the rough gravel I rode it in. Those big gyros giving it loads of stability.

One thing that is noticeable is that hard braking yeilded some flex that was a bit disconcerting if you were not expecting it. All that can probably be accounted for by everything being so long: fork blades, spokes, and tire contact patch. The first two making flex felt and the tires causing it to be worse because of so much grip. Ben had spec’ed 8″ rotors on the bike but may go back to 6″ rotors to help negate some of that flexing.

So what is it? What would I peg this bike as? Well, for one thing, it’s a odd tool for most cycling jobs. For some, it will be the ultimate townie/ commuter. Erasing all pavement chatter and having the ability to roll up onto fancy European sports cars. (Just kidding about the last bit!) It might be the ultimate open, rolling course bike with it’s huge flywheel effect. It might do okay as a light duty single track/ fire roader. Who knows? One thing I do know, it’s fun, fun, fun to ride! And really, why else would you ride a bike anyway? There wasn’t a single person not smiling after they rode this bike. That’s what it’s all about for me.

Will it ever be available? Probably. No exact costs were given for a complete bike, but all the parts except the frame, fork, and modified tires are curently available parts. If any more information becomes available, we will post it here.

36 Inch Wheels: The Next "Big Thing"?

February 14, 2007

As if 29 inch wheels were not enough, now there is a geared 36 inch wheeled mountain bike roaming the planet. The picture shows the new beast next to a Salsa El Mariachi 29″er for comparison. You can see these wheels are huge!

What would the reasoning be behind such a project? What would something like this be good for? Will anyone want or be able to ever buy such a beast? Twenty Nine Inches hopes to answer these questions and more. This coming weekend, I will take a closer look at this bike and it’s designers intents. Hopefully, I’ll even be able to throw a leg over this bike and give you some idea of what this bike is all about.

Look for an update on this bike next week!

Forget 29 inches… I'm going with the 36er

July 11, 2005

This beach cruiser is quite a unique bike. It’s the Monster Cruiser bicycle with 36″ tires and an old fashioned classic design. You’ll feel like a kid again riding the Monster Cruiser bicycle. Don’t let this bike’s huge, jumbo-sized wheels fool you. It is easy and fun to ride. Tower above your friends as the giant 36 inch wheels give you a true “over the road” feel. It’s perfect for casual riding, especially on the beach or in the park.

Some Highlights of Monster Cruiser Bicycle are:

  • 36″ front & rear Coker button tread tires
  • Chrome wheels
  • Comfortable springer seat
  • 30″ handlebars
  • Rear coaster and front caliper brakes
  • Available in White only

via Commute by Bike