Frostbike 2011 will be remembered as the show that got snowed out on day two of the event. This reporter barely escaped the Twin Cities in the middle of the night to avoid becoming stranded in the snowstorm that marooned many there beyond their intended stay. Oh well, that’s the way it can go here in the Mid-west in February.
I did indeed get back to file this report safe and sound, so without further adieu, here are the things I saw and heard relating to future 29″er product coming your way in the months ahead. One thing to note here is the optimism for growth in the 29″er marketplace, largely influenced by what we saw happen in Europe in 2010 in regards to the acceptance of big wheeled bikes. Manufacturers are responding to future European interest and additional North American growth in model choices for 29″ers by adding new product, or improving current choices. All very good things for those of us already into the 29 inch wheeled bikes.
Salsa Cycles Mamasita: The Mamasita, which has been in Salsa’s line up before, returns with a new aluminum frame. No more carbon fiber rear stays. This model also features the same type of EV-6 Extralite aluminum alloy that the recently introduced Spearfish full suspension bike is using. This has resulted in a frame that is lighter than the older Mamasita and according to Salsa Cycles’ Tim Krueger, is also stronger.
The frame still features flattened seat stays, we assume in an effort to enhance ride quality, and which Salsa Cycles has used on other models as well. The frame is also a geared specific frame, thus quelling the rumors that this would also have Altenator drop outs which Salsa uses on its El Mariachi steel bike. Could a new Selma in EV-6 aluminum be coming? We’d like to think so. Especially if it comes in near the $599.00 MSRP of this Mamasita.
The Mamasita features much of the same interfaces that the recently introduced Spearfish does, and we suspect that Salsa will pursue these standards on all their future introductions as well. A tapered steer tube matched up with a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. These features make the Mamasita easier to manufacture along with elevating performance benefits. (Perhaps it could be a single speed with an eccentric bottom bracket adapter, such as we’ve been seeing on some recent carbon fiber bikes. Hmmm…)
The new Mamasita is suspension corrected for a 100mm fork travel. An 80mm travel fork can also be used but will steepen the head tube slightly and lower the bottom bracket a bit as well. The head angle with a 100mm travel fork is similar to the Spearfish. The rest of the geometry is similar to the titanium El Mariachi. We have images here of a complete Mamasita, but initially the frames will be all that is available. A complete model is in the works, and will be spec’ed similarly to this show model. A specific release date was not available at posting, but Tim Krueger assured us it would be before fall.
Tire Introductions: Eurobike brought on a slew of tire introductions and with the new growth being seen in Europe coupled with several new plans to add 29″er models by manufacturers in 2012, tire manufacturers are not waiting to get tires out there. We saw and heard about several new tires at Frostbike. Here is a rundown of those. First, it must be stressed that every tire representative we spoke with mentioned that tires are going to be “significantly more expensive” in the coming months due to rubber shoratges. So, if you see new MSRP’s that you find shocking, just be forewarned that this isn’t an isolated thing with certain companies, or going away anytime soon. That said, let’s take a look.
Kenda Tires: We are happy to see more tires coming on-line and Kenda had a few to talk about with us. First up is the new 29″er Kommando in a 2.2″ size with a 120TPI casing. This tread looks like a promising one for loose, rocky conditions and mud with its widely spaced, low tread blocks.
Next up we have the Happy Medium, which is a racy looking tire that features a low-tread, micro-knobby look up the center with large, lateral blocks for cornering grip. Could be an excellent rear tire for hard pack trails. This one is slated to be a 2.1″er and will have the same type of 120TPI casing.
We’ve mentioned the Slant Six already, but this tire is the only one of the three we saw that you can get now, or very soon, from your favorite retailer. Called a “mix between a Nevegal and a Smallblock 8″, this should find its way on to many 29″er freaks bikes soon with a promise of great all around performance and fast rolling feel.
Kenda has no plans to release a tubeless version of any of these soon, but is working on something to bring tubeless compatibility to their lineup, probably by 2012.
Michelin Wild Race’r: Michelin re-designed the Wild Race’r after a year of the old tread’s introduction. The improvements feature a faster tread pattern coupled with lower weight. Look for these to be available very soon in 2.1″ and 2.25″ sizes. Michelin is in the process of developing more 29″er tires for the increasing demand from Europe with their next 29″er tread slated to be the Wild Grip’r in a 2.4″ size.
Maxxis Tires: With the recent introduction of the Ikon, Maxxis has a fast, all around tread design for 29″er fans, but they also talked to us about two new “true UST” tires in the 2.25″ Ardent and the CrossMark. These will not require sealant to be tubeless. The Beaver 29, a mud type tread, has been withheld for the time being due to some mold adjustments that needed to be made. Expect a release in early summer now. Also, Maxxis hinted at a big, beefy tire in development that will please the AM/Trail riders wanting a tough, high performance tire. While I can’t say what it is, I do know many will be saying, “Aha! I knew it!“, when they find out what it is.
Schwalbe Tires: We know Schwalbe is going to offer some new technologies on the 2011 tires. Here is a clear breakdown of what to expect; First off, all 29 inch tires will feature a tubeless ready bead going forward. This includes the Furious Fred. The Racing Ralph 2.25″ and the Nobby Nic will also be available in the Snakeskin sidewall, which gives a more scuff/cut resistant sidewall to those tires. Additionally, this makes these tires nearly a UST in performance, since Schwalbe says in their testing these tires hold air pressure without sealant in a manner that would pass certification. (Although these are not UST tires and are not intended to be thought of as such.) Finally, all 29″er Schwalbe tires now feature the “Pace Star”
dual triple compound tread, which should result in lower rolling resistance.
Continental Tires: We have been testing the X-King tires, (see introduction here) for a bit, but Continental has also made us aware that the Trail King is not far off. Once the Trail King is available, Continental is confident in a line up for 29″ers that should cover all of the big wheelers needs. They will have a Trail King in 2.2″ and 2.4″, the X-King in a 2.2″ and 2.4″, and the Race King in a 2.0 and 2.2″ Continental also indicated that the higher end technologies, like Black Chili compound and more, will be coming to the 29″er line up for 2012.
Enve Composites: The company formerly known as “Edge Composites” now known as Enve, has released a date for the introduction of their re-designed XC 29″er rim. It will feature everything that the old model had with an addition of a redesigned rim bead interface designed to UST specs. This will allow easy conversion of an Enve XC rim to tubeless compatibility with a simple rim strip and valve designed for tubeless use. The rims should be available by April and the wider AM rims will be available in this configuration at a later date.
Manitou Forks: We stopped by and spoke with Manitou about their upcoming modifications to their 29″er fork line. This spring should see the release of their 15QR design and compatible forks. The operation of the lever to release the front wheel with their design is said to be faster than a typical quick release, since you don’t have to deal with “lawyer tabs”. The Tower forks, (which we have on long term test), will also start showing up with the tapered aluminum steer tubes as well.
Even more interesting, we found out Manitou is is development of shorter travel, lightweight XC race forks that will feature high end damper technology borrowed from their Marvel line with the addition possibly of carbon steer tube/crowns and other features yet to be reveled. These forks will be 80-120mm travel forks with the focus primarily on the 100mm models which will be what most XC applications will be focused on. The forks are a ways off yet, but Manitou hinted at a 2012 model year intro with after market sales coming first. Stay tuned….
Marzocchi Forks: Manitou isn’t the only company with aspirations of covering more XC/Trail applications for 29 inch wheels. Marzocchi is also working on shorter travel options for 29″er wheels. Again, using technology already in place from their 26 inch forks, Marzocchi plans on doing higher end materials and damper technology with a release date of 2012, but sneak peeks of what they are up to might be ready to be demoed or at least looked at by Interbike.
DT Swiss: DT Swiss, who have inherited the Pace carbon suspension forks and have since improved and evolved them, is now going to offer 29 inch versions of these forks in a more traditional magnesium lowers type construction. This should knock off a bunch on the MSRP and I was told to look for these forks to be sold at around the $800.00-$900.00 price point. These forks will feature similar benefits to what is offered on their 26 inch versions of these forks. Look for more details coming soon, but these forks are on the way soon.
All City “Def Wish”: Lately I came across the “fixed gear free ride” Def Wish from All City, which is another of Quality Bicycle Products brands. Why does it matter? Well, for one thing, this genre’ of bike is utilizing some 29 inch specific componentry, and especially the tires. All City’s Jeff Frane tells me it’s just a bike to get “all rad and @#*& on”, and so it is, but I find the bike to be an interesting mash-up of 29″ers, BMX, and fixed gear. Look for an in depth report on this to come in a few days.
That’s a wrap on a snowy, blustery Frostbike 2011. Hope ya’all enjoyed that……..