We are very fortunate to have a European contributor in “c_g” who can attend the Eurobike trade and consumer bicycle show in Germany. Here “c_g” files his report from the Eurobike Outdoor Demo with images of new 2011 29 inch wheeled bikes which seem to be gaining steam in the European cycling community.
Eurobike Outdoor Demo Report: by “c_g”
EUROBIKE 2010 – First day (DEMO DAY)
Hi folks, here in Germany the first day of EUROBIKE, the DEMO Day is over and boy, those 29ers were everywhere.
I remember last year there were hardly any 29er bikes present and if they were, they were the least requested of the pack. This year it was completely different with new 29er bikes (many of which were by European companies) everywhere and there was a real run for them. SPECIALIZED for example was present with a total of about 70 test bikes with 20 of them being 29″ers, NINER showed their full range in various sizes, SCOTT had a decent fleet of 5 or six Scale 949s and Cannondale were showing some – and most of them were gone almost all the time – being ridden by some curious European wanting to find out what these BIG WHEELS were all about :). In several cases where I had hoped to get a ride in, I only got the opportunity to take a quick shot or a “parking lot ride” before someone “plied” it out of my hands. All in all it was a very positive experience for 29er fans (and a bit scary, too because now the underdog status here has completely vanished.
See here some pictures of the European bikes shown. (in fact there were several others … that I just saw underneath some rider that I didn’t get a shot of nor ride – but I hope to get some info and pictures at the trade show) –To show how fresh the 29″er trend is here, many of the bikes shown and seen there had little written info with specs, prices and such available:
ORBEA ALMA 29er: This bikes has already been introduced by Guitar Ted here but it was neat taking a closer look at it – some really unique features.
Double tapering? No this unique head tube is “strangled” by an massive one piece cable stop where torsional forces are lowest and wider where bigger, The elegant seat stays are nicely sculptured and fairly beefy with good tire clearance.
NICOLAI – the German high end manufacturer has shown one new 29er called the Argon Ro (“Ro” stands for “Rohloff compatible” by special sliding dropouts and a split seat stay for Gates Carbon drive). Though not shown there I was told there would be a total of 3 29er introduced – the Argon 29er (same frame with standard rear) and a full suspension Helius 29er and the Argon Ro 29er (shown below)
The bike is a Nicolai typical approach with excellent workmanship and intriguing details though by my experience with the Gates and Rohloff I know the shown configuration with a 55 tooth front ring is limited in its trail worthiness.
FOCUS: Focus was showing the Redskin in its final version and specs – unfortunately it will not be available with the interesting rigid fork as it has been sighted at Sea Otter earlier. There was only one huge frame available so I had not been able to test ride it.
HAIBIKE: The European wide operating company HAIBIKE is introducing one new 29er hardtail they call BIG CURVE which will be available in two specifications, a higher end BIG CURVE RC (shown, estimated price € 2499.-, claimed weight 10,5 kg) and the mid-range BIG CURVE SL (selling for € 1699.-, claimed weight 11.5 kg). The frames are designed for 100 mm forks and nicely executed with triple butted tubing, tapered heat tubes (seems everyone has to have them ;-)), ample tire clearance, through axle front and rear, and short seat stays at 435 mm !!
You can see that by trying to get the chain stays shortened there is little room left between tire and the seat tube on this pre-production model, a thing that will be modified by introducing a slight bend to the seat tube in the lower third of its length (see the ORBEA or RAGLEY for that feature) in the production version.
The bike was gone most of the time and so a short ride near the day´s end had to do but the first feel of the bike really made me anticipate a neutral and fun handling bike. Though the frames a Taiwan made the bikes are all assembled here in Germany. Good news for smaller and taller riders is that the bikes will be available in four sizes from 44 cm through 56 cm.
Ragley Bikes: A personal Highlight for me was the opportunity to test riding a bike I have heard much about but never ridden myself – the RAGLEY TD:1.
This Lynskey made titanium bike designed by Brant Richards wasn´t a new introduction but the idea of doing a 29er specifically for racing applications and with a 440 mm rigid fork and had me wanting to ride it for some time.
Besides the unique geometry this bike features strongly ovalized main tubes to optimize lateral stiffness and add some vertical compliance, a slightly bend down tube (for impact strength, not for fork crown clearance, I was told), a ring reinforced 1 1/8” head tube (for a change J) and a bent seat tube to avoid derailleur/tire interference. A nice feature for our climate are the easily removable cable guides throughout the entire frame (nice for people wanting the clean SS look plus geared function) for full length cable and brake hose housings (remember the bike comes from even rainier UK). A simple yet functional thing is the RAGLEY specific 3-finger seat stay bridge, providing extraordinary tire clearance and no muck build up whatsoever.
The trails around the EXPO had received torrential rain the last days and so were super muddy and slippery – perfect testing grounds for such a steed. I went into the ride without much introduction to simply feel the bike and WOW – that is some unique machine. I have hardly ever ridden a bike that made me want to hammer out of the saddle as much as the TD:1. Steering was super precise and quick like only some people will appreciate, the ti frame made for a laterally stiff yet compliant chassis, while the stiff fork and cockpit were on the harsher side. This bike defined agility to new levels without feeling overly nervous (though some probably would feel this way). The TD:1 requires an experienced hand and constant concentration by the rider – no cruiser at all but a pure bread racing weapon. While it may not be the bike I´d take on long alpine trip it simply made me want to go all out fast.
If you like to be on your toes all the time, go all out, and favor a rigid 29er – take a good look at the RAGELY TD:1. My bike was set up geared but the sliding drop outs made running it SS easy and I´d imagine the bike´s characteristic would make it to be a superb SS bike. The super short 50 mm stem on my demo bike made it feeling a tad too short and made the bike endo earlier than I had anticipated. I think a 80 or 90 mm stem (and possibly sliding the dropouts back a bit more) would alleviate that for me and make an exceptional climber.
I was promised a neat surprise at the show from Ragley (something that would suit the TD:1 well :)) – so stay tuned for more.
Many US brands were present with their 29ers also (SCOTT showed a whole fleet of their SCALE 949 29er, CANNONDALE had several FLASH models for test, NORCO was demoing the SHINOBI and YETI showed their new 29er with alloy main triangle and Carbon rear, unfortunately no GIANT 29er L) but knowing that Guitar Ted and Grannygear will cover those in more depth during their time at INTERBIKE, I didn’t focus too much on them.
Niner Bikes: There was one bike though that I was particularly interested in riding:
The NINER Air 9 Carbon (in a rigid version).
Thanks to the great folks of NINER bikes (Brett, Steven, Chris and to Mauro, the Italian distributor of NINER) I ended up being lent the bike (with some pretty interesting components, too) for the duration of the show to turn the Demo ride into a “Short term test” and so I will leave you with only this picture of the bike with more to come soon – kind of mean isn´t it but I got to go and ride :).
Stay tuned and RIDE ON,