Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2008 through to the end of November 2009. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2010 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

3. The reviewed products were provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for review. I was not paid or bribed for this review. I will give/gave my honest opinion or thoughts through out.

That said, let’s get on with this……

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Number 1: Salsa Cycles Fargo: Salsa Cycles introduced the world to the Fargo at Interbike 2008. Twenty Nine Inches got a Fargo in for testing in the fall of ’08 and we wrote up the last post on it in June. This steel hard tail rig is sold as a frame and fork or as a complete.

Why It Made The List: The Fargo is a steel hard tail, fully rigid, non-suspension corrected bike. “Yawn”, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. It isn’t so much the Fargo as a bicycle but more about what the bike represents. No other 29″er has reached as many riders like the Fargo has, or has inspired as many competing designs, save the Karate Monkey from Surly. The Fargo appeals to the wanderlust, the adventurer, and the utilitarian cyclists out there looking for something different, versatile, and having big wheel capability. The Fargo is that bike.

My Two Cents: I have been a proponent of what I call “Adventuring” for cyclists of any wheel size, saying that it will become the next big movement in cycling. Well, little did I know that Salsa Cycles was on a similar page but when I saw the Fargo, I “got it” straight away. Apparently so did a lot of other folks. As I have written here already: It isn’t so much the bike, but what the bike represents that makes the Fargo a very influential bike. Yes- I said influential. Think I’m nuts? Well, the Fargo posts continue to be #1 on the stats here on Twenty Nine Inches and on my own personal blog, Guitar Ted Productions. The Fargo has had several bikes follow in its wake, Singular’s Gryphon, VooDoo’s Nakisi, Van Dessel’s WTF, and most recently, Siren’s Sierrita. One of the main features here is the drop bar specific design, which you either get, or not, but there it is.

The Fargo as a bike specifically just happens to live up to its promise too. It handles really well off road, does back roads, gravel, and pavement with aplomb. It does loads, and it has capabilities to mount plenty of water bottles, fenders, and some sizes even have a pump peg. Now, not everything is great with the Fargo. It has a slightly lower bottom bracket for better handling, but some may find this annoying off road. It also is geared specific, which limits possibilities of single speeding the bike or using internally geared hubs. Finally, you can’t really put a suspension fork on it, and flat bar choices may not work very well on this drop bar specific frame. That said, there is no denying that before the Fargo, there wasn’t anything available like it with big, fat wheels. It defines a category, and you can’t say that about many 29″ers, if you can say it about any other 29″ers at all.

The Salsa Cycles Fargo is my #1 pick on the Top Ten 29″er Products Of ’09.

Thanks for reading Twenty Nine Inches this year. Your Reader’s Choice Award will be revealed in the next post. Stay tuned!