Editor’s Note: For several years now I have closed out the year with a Top Ten List. However; with the proliferation of gear, complete bikes, and now our broadened focus on non-29″er related stuff, this approach made less sense to me. So this year we decided to bring you our thoughts on what we found significant, odd, or what ever it was that struck us as important to comment on from the past year. Each of us were free to choose whatever it was we wanted to write about.

I hope you enjoy these opinion pieces. Thanks for reading Twenty Nine Inches, and we all wish you a Happy New Year.

2012- A Look In The Rearview Mirror: Euro Edition- by c_g

OK- 29″ers are here for good, that is a fact by now … even here in Europe. In 2011 you were looked at strangely if you were riding/racing a 29″er. Now, in 2012, you were looked at strangely at a marathon event if you were not on a 29″er. Funny how things change.

This year also has shown how the pace of technological refinement is catching up with the long established 26“ offerings – some of the 2nd generation 29″er bikes we had on test from Euro companies (e.g CUBE, BMC or BERGAMONT) are bikes we would consider ‘near perfect’ (several made it into our Best of 2012 we did on the German TNI site … all in German but easily translated electronically). If you are looking for great handling 29″er Bikes, the field is no longer dominated by US companies … and we are happy about this ;)

2012 showed how 29″ers continued diversifying over here. First predominantly accepted in the marathon and endurance crowds (hard tails and short travel bikes) – which is likely to stay the ultimate stronghold for 29″ers – we saw more and more bikes appearing that were definitely trail-oriented. Though there may be a constructive limit to the maximum effective travel on a 29″er (widely accepted to be around 130 to 140 mm), I see this trend of more aggressively riding 29″ers and 29″er components to continue for 2013.

But there is another trend I see: With 29″ers becoming mainstream here in Europe we seem to have left the beauty of simplicity behind. 29″ers started out with hard tails, rigid bikes and lots of steel, ti frames – Now when we hear news, it is mostly carbon and the latest in suspension technology that come through. And as a mirror of that 29″er scene, we are walking the same lines more often than not. I see that technological advancement has done a lot to enhance our fun (and safety) when riding, but as a tester, I sometimes find myself reaching out for the roots of simplicity again, which I do by getting on my completely outdated rigid steel bike from 1999.

Somehow this experience helps me … rediscovering both the ‘small kid’s fascination for biking and the appreciation for the current bike technology, because really things were not necessarily better ‘back then’. This helps me to recapture the conscience that it is not the technology behind the bike that has me go out and ride, but a factor that cannot be measured in numbers.

It is the RIDE of a bike, that should be the essence of riding. As long as this is the case, I don´t care whether the bike is made of steel or whatever space age material – if a bike puts a grin on my face, then this already is a huge step, and it is our goal here at TNI when reviewing to look beyond numbers and figures, but let you have a look into the feel of a bike or component.

Sure, all the other things need to be right too, numbers are important, ( as a German I am probably fed with numeric milk from babyhood on ;-)), and here at TNI our small team tries to cover these grounds with as much depth and expertise as we know how to. However; it is this certain search for the ‘Perfect Ride’ that has me do what I do and enjoy it … and in doing so I try not to forget why I go out and ride in the first place.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013 and great riding to all of you,

ps: Interestingly it is a Carbon framed full susser, featuring the latest technologies, that ticked all our boxes (including that certain RIDE FEELING) and was crowned the „No. 1