It seems that 2012 is set to go down in the history books as the year of the 29er.
So are 29ers the future? We pitched this question to a few industry insiders to get their reactions and thoughts on the biggest debate in mountain biking right now. Here are their responses:
Chris Garrison – Trek Bikes UK
2012 might not be THE year of the 29er, but I suspect it will be the year of the “29er curious”. Enough has been said in the cycling media to pique the curiosity of some rather influential journalists; people who were, previously, devoutly anti-29er.
Those people are now speaking positively about 29ers openly. The domino effect of that might take more than a year to really settle in, but what we are witnessing now is definitely the toppling of the first few tiles.
Dickon Hepworth – Santa Cruz UK
There are several key factors:
Increased range and availability of 29er models from major manufacturers. Instead of being the smaller, high-end brands it will be the big three pushing more 29er sales due to their model ranges featuring a higher percentage of these bike. Dealers who were still undecided on 29er bikes will now be carrying stock of them because of this. The entry level hardtail will predominantly be 29in.
This will lead on to an increase in most riders first mountain bike being a 29in model. This is a significant factor as these first time riders will not be comparing them to a 26in bike’s riding characteristics, which is the source of most current negativity. The 29er bike and how it rides will be their ‘norm’.
The last of the mtb press in the UK seem to have finally got their heads (and words) around 29ers and are now portraying them in a positive light.
David Ward – Giant UK Product Manager
2012 will be the year of the 29er because there has never been a better selection of spec options and price points across the brands than there is this year. Having 29er versions of established 26” models makes such a difference rather than having niche 29er specific platforms. We’re still offering 26” options as well as 29ers but the market is already showing a shift to the bigger wheel only 3 months into this model year.
Anyone who hasn’t tried a 29er should! Better traction for acceleration, climbing, braking and cornering, better momentum and the way they roll over stuff better can’t be ignored. Weights are coming down too although they’ll never weigh what a 26in does. From a handling point of view, get the geometry right and they do steer! Both my hard tail and my full suss are 29ers for 2012, I’m convinced.
Cy Turner – Cotic
2012 will be the year of the 29er because the forks and tyre and rims are finally available to allow designers to put together great handling bikes. Also, with the majority of the media now behind it, there’s pretty much no stopping it.
Simeon Madder – Wiggle Bicycle Buyer
I love talking about 29ers – it’s like talking about politics, you can guarantee there will be an argument!
A couple of years ago when 29ers were really kicking off in the US the vast majority of the UK bike industry from shops to press rubbished it and put it down as a fad that would never cross the pond. You could be literally laughed out of the office for suggesting otherwise which in fact I was.
Regardless it seems riders have had the last word, between 2009 and 2010 our 29er sales increased 600% and doubled the year after.They aren’t the second coming but they’re far and away the biggest growth category in MTB right now.