On the 29” wheel Santa Cruz V10, Greg Minnaar reaches a milestone not only in his own career but in the evolution of the downhill mountain bike. But as much as many are making a meal of the performance gains on such wheel size on which teams including the Syndicate, Trek, Commencal and Intense have taken advantage of, Fort William proved emphatically that it was in a dirty, technical root section that the race was largely won and lost.
From this we learn that the bitching might be better aimed at track technicality than wheel size, an arms race in which many have been caught napping. Bikes are evolving but not the tracks it seems. Loic Bruni has been very vocal that his dislike of 29″ wheels is that it makes things easier and not loose and cool to watch, and also that it is largely because we are not providing the challenge for the wheel size. Loic and many riders say “the tracks are getting easier, it’s not the direction I want the sport to go in.” It’s true if tracks had more of that middle section Fort than the ‘cross country’ and ‘motorway’ lower sections then the discussions would be about pure riding rather than equipment. Technical steep terrain would bring strategy into racing where teams would have decide on wheel size rather than get psyched out by the current state of affairs where the bigger wheels are at a clear advantage.