Yesterday’s post generated a lot of discussion, and with so many various comments touching on so many subjects, I thought it would be best to address them in a “Part II”, instead of in the original post’s comments.


It Is About The Wheel: A few commented on how you already see the 29″er as “just a bicycle”, or mountain bike. While that is very true and a valid statement to make about 29″ers, it doesn’t really address specifics that matter. Yes, the way a 29″er wheel works is different, noticeable, and attractive to many riders. While the wheel/tire combination is essentially a “mountain bike” set up, it doesn’t work like the older mountain bike wheels do. Obviously, if they did, what would be the point, correct? Then if that is true, that they are different, they need to be singled out.

They were differentiated due to a visible difference and a tangible difference in performance. On that note, it would be remiss to say a bicycle fitted with wheels of this size is “just a mountain bike”. To my mind it is as if one says, “A square is “just a rectangle“”. Yes- that is correct in one sense, but it doesn’t tell the whole story, does it?

When 29″ers become “just a mountain bike” is when 26″ers are not either available, or considered for purchase as a mountain bike. I can’t say that this will happen sooner or later, but I feel it is well on its way to becoming more true than not. Many commenters bore this out in the first post’s comment section.

Horses For Courses: Some commenters touched upon how riders can now make choices dependent upon what is best for them. While this is true now, it wasn’t always this way. 😉 My feeling is, it won’t always be this way either.

Market forces, manufacturing, and retail pressure will want to re-center the market that is in flux. I see the mountain bike world right smack dab in the middle of that changing tide now. Many, dreaming of a “perfect world” of choice, would proposition the powers that be to offer three wheel sizes for off road use. 26 inch, 27.5 inch, and 29 inch. That would be awesome for those who would be for choices; however, I have always maintained that retail and manufacturing forces would be against such an arrangement on a large scale.

If the market goes for 29 inch hard tails, (and by all indications, it is in a very big way), manufacturers will cut loose the 26 incher for the models that sell. Retailers will breathe a collective sigh of relief having less skews to stock, and “most” cyclists won’t mind one iota. I believe that in as far as performance hard tails are concerned, this will happen sooner than later.

I think it gets into a gray area on longer travel bikes, full suspension with longer travel, and is a very big “if” where down hill is concerned. That said, I never thought I’d see the day when one could buy an actual down hill 29″er. 😉 Who knows…… Still, I like the “horses for courses” argument. You’d probably best choose now though, if you are one that likes a lot of choices. I don’t think we’ll see this many options in the very near future for mountain biking.

Velocitya23 001
Note: This is my Black Mountain Cycles “Monster Cross” model bike.

What Is That Thing?: While a bit off topic, I thought I would chime in on this. Another reader asked what a “monster cross” bike is and another gave a decent enough answer. There are just a couple things I have to add to that.

First off, a 29″er is a 29″er by virtue of its wheel assembly, consisting of a 700c rim mounted with a big enough, wide enough tire that the overall diameter reaches 29 inches. Simple. Put the wheel assembly that fits that description in any bicycle frame that will accept that sized tire/rim, and that bicycle becomes a 29″er. Again, pretty simple. So, by that definition, my example shown above is pretty much there- a 29″er. Yes- it looks like a cross bike, but it it isn’t that either. So, I would expand the tire size range to anything from 35mm-49mm for the in between, “monster cross” category.

Secondly, I don’t like the “monster cross” name myself. It doesn’t describe at all what these various bicycles are/can be, and how these bicycles are usually used. In my view, most of these bicycles are not racing bikes, per se, nor are they full on mountain bikes, but they get used for a heck of a lot of fun. I would rather call them “Adventure Bikes”, myself, and the activity they are used for as “Adventuring”. My opinion. To my mind, it sounds a heck of a lot more fun, and closer to the mark for this category of bicycle.