Big Wheel Revolution: The 29er

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

exotic 29er carbon fork 199x300 Big Wheel Revolution:  The 29erIn all reality the sport of Mountain Biking is still fairly young. After all the first bikes called mountain bikes were not out until around 20 years ago, and in the wide world of sports that makes this sport a bit of an upstart. However, this is actually a very good thing for mountain bikers. The reason is that because Mountain Biking is still such a young sport that people are still more than willing to experiment with different ideas in efforts to improve or change the sport. A great case in point is the emergence of the 29 inch wheel.

Up until recently almost everyone rode on the traditional 26 inch wheel. This makes a lot of sense when one takes a look at the geometry and physics behind bikes and riding. However people don’t use mountain bikes for just a ride down the road, mountain bikes are used by a large number of us for rough and tumble back country trials. This means that smaller wheels can slow a rider down and have more difficulty going over the large obstacles that are so often a part of the trails we enthusiasts ride.

Given the idea that we spend a lot of time on rough surfaces some people have brought around the idea of the 29 inch wheel. This process of changing out 26 inch wheels for 29 inch wheels is seriously gaining momentum and it is not beyond conception that not to long from now the 29 big wheel 300x300 Big Wheel Revolution:  The 29erinch wheel actually becomes more commonly used than the traditional 26 incher. While it is unlikely that the 26 inch wheel will go away entirely, the 29er or big wheel as some call it, is quickly becoming a staple to trails across the world.

Many people who first see the big 29er often ask the question of why? The nice thing about the big wheel revolution is that why is pretty easy to understand. Bigger wheels mean two things, increased speed and an easier time rolling over obstacles. This makes the bigger wheel ideal for both cross country and endurance riding where these factors are a huge consideration for most riders. However one problem does occur when you change wheel sizes.

Because the traditional size of the mountain bike wheel was 26 inches, most companies have designed their frames and forks for wheels of that size. This means that the geometry and physics of the bike are optimal when mounted on this size wheel. This governs things such as controlling the bike during turns, impact on the frame, and other things. When you mount a new size wheel on the frame you essentially change the physical basis the bike is designed on. This means that you have the potential of lack of control and frame damage among other things. Also some concern needs to be given to the rider themselves. While riding a bike that has only added three inches to the wheels may not seem a big deal, that is a large three inches.

In the end the big wheel revolution is happening as we speak, there is not really a lot that can stop it, nor should there be. While there are some tweaks that will need to be made over time for the 29er to officially become the wheel of choice, those tweaks are few and soon frames and other special items designed for 29 inch riders will start flooding the market place as this revolution continues to happen.

First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike

July 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Bikes

Homeboy’s skiing blog provides you skiing tips & tricks, road-trip stories, movie and book reviews, technical information, competition watch, resort reviews, news and photo sessions. Our main focus is to provide you how-to-information, such as how to ski in different conditions, how to fix your equipment and how to organize your ski trip. In the summer time our main sport is mountain biking and you will find quite a lot of mountain biking related content on the blog at the moment.

I recently wrote a short article about converting my 29er hardtail to fully rigid single-speed. Carl from Made-to-Order Bikes found my text and asked me to feature here on this site with a post about my Singular. Well, I found this a good opportunity to promote our blog a bit. I was also just about to write a first ride report with the new set-up, so the timing suited me very well.

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike1 First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike
My Singular

I guess the Singular brand is not the most well known in the USA. So, I start with a brief introduction of the manufacturer:

Singular is a small frame manufacturer from UK specializing in 29er bikes. A quote from their website tells the following:

”Singular Cycles brings you bikes for the type of riding you do. A blend of modern concepts with proven design and materials makes for beautiful bikes, which ride like a dream.

We’ve become disillusioned with ever more fragile bikes and components which offer no real benefit to the everyday rider who wants a bike which rides sweetly, looks lovely, and doesn’t need replacing every year.

Singular Cycles – singularly distinctive bicycles.”

The company also has a nice blog – check it out for more detail about e.g. product development, race results and customer’s bikes.

I have ridden the 29er now for a bit over two seasons. Before my current bike I rode (the original) Gary Fisher Rig for about one and a half season. I bought the Singular last November and didn’t ride it much during the winter months. I was pretty happy with the original hard tail set-up in e.g. this endurance event. However, having enjoyed the excellent rolling features the 29ers offer, I started to think that maybe it is the rolling and the geometry that weight more when defining the good riding characters of a bike than the suspension per se (Especially when thinking about cross-country/trail bikes).

With that said I was still a bit nervous about this project. After all, I pretty much learned to ride a mountain bike on a full suspension rig, as I already wrote in my original blog post about this issue. This feeling got stronger as the day for the test ride came – as the first notion on the morning was “damn, it has rained the whole night before…” (This means slippery with capital s on our trails…)

We rode some five miles to the trailhead and paused to let some air pressure out of the tires. I pumped the tires (Panaracer Rampage 2.35”) to about 3 bar (around 42psi) for the road and tried now to adjust them to about 2.5 bar (around 36psi).

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike descent 225x300 First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain BikeThe trail started with some series of technical short climbs. Which were not easy for me – I should have probably let even more air out of the tires as the rear wheel kept slipping. (I’ve read somewhere that Rampages are not the best wet-conditions tires anyway?) Also the bigger factor after riding gears for couple of months was sprinting for some square-edged “steps” on the climbs: I think I just got used to the seated/geared climbing again, and now the single-speed riding style just wasn’t immediately there. The 38-18 gearing felt a tad heavy; previously I’ve had 32-19, which suits maybe even better to our rooty/quite technical trails. (I think I keep it like it is though, because now the transition to trail head was bearable. With any lighter gearing the roads would start to feel total PITA in my humble opinion.)

However, the flatter sections of the trail were ok and the 29er wheel rolled nice and easily just like it should. With the rigid fork your hands are going to feel more impacts for sure but on the other hand lifting the front wheel and/or making small corrections were very easy and accurate – a pretty cool and new feeling to me.

Then we got to some nice steep rollers. Whoa, I never believed anrigid singular swift ss mountain bike downhill 300x225 First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike old-school rider friend that blasted how rigid fork is actually very good on steeps as the geometry never change during the descent. Check the pictures, I really dug to ride these slick rock sections, and was surprised how well it all went.

After that the trail got easier and I found the rigid bike very fun on some mellower, faster sections. After all, weight savings over a suspension fork must feel somewhere. Rigid bike, mellow up-hill and single speed – you don’t need any “pro pedal” set-ups, right?

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike singletrack First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike
Typical Southern Finland Singletrack

It was only when we hit one particular slippery part of the trail with big, wet roots when I got in trouble again. I wasn’t attacking the obstacles aggressive enough and kept slipping around – frustrating for sure but next time I know I should just pedal on and not hesitate…(funny how easy it always sound at the desk!)

Also, after about two hour of riding, I really started to feel the impacts on the arms, especially when the speeds got higher in the downhills. Today’s loop wasn’t much longer than that thought. I’ve yet to see if I can take some four-five hours ride with the rigid fork – at least you get some decent arm pump if nothing else…

At the end I also have to praise the Singular on some well thought design. Their rigid fork that is designed to go with the frame offers very good handling. The fork is quite long for a rigid one (485mm A-C) and has a rake/off-set of 48mm (that’s a good amount of it folks!). But this combinations just works – riding this bike will keep you smiling. Check this review from MTBR for further proof. It seems like riders way better than me liked the bike too.

And at last, I’d like to thank Carl for an opportunity to write on this excellent site. Happy trails and just keep pedaling! I hope you enjoyed my review.

Janne/ Homeboyski Team

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike trail First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike
Just another shot from today’s ride