Why the reluctance?
Disclaimer: I run TwentyNineInches.com and have very strong feelings on the superiority of 29 inch wheeled mountain bikes.
What is it about the bike industry that keeps people stuck in their ways?
One of the biggest movements right now in the mtb world is the 29 inch wheeled mountain bike (actually 700cc, but who's counting?). For those of you that don't know, historically mountain bikes come equipped with 26 inch wheels. What's funny is the size of 26 inches was chosen out of convenience... not usability.
In the past few years people finally began questioning why we run cross country mountain bikes on small wheels. Big wheels are faster, roll over stuff easier, more comfortable for adult sized people... seems logical.
A lot of independent builders started jumping to 29ers and then Gary Fisher became the first to make production bikes running 29 inches. And currently they are still the only major manufacturer, other then Kona, that makes them.
Now let's look at the market:
MTBR.com runs a huge mountain bike forum that, I would guess, takes at least 60% of the market in online mtb forums. The third most popular forum on the site, only under two general forums, is the 29er forum.
Also, according to my sources at Gary Fisher, and not exactly a secret anyway, they can't keep the 29 inch wheeled bikes in stock. Everything is back ordered and being sold out before it even hits the showroom floors.
So people are constantly talking about them AND buying them... yet the industry still treats them like an annoying bastard child. The users and riders... the ones that spend the money keep asking for them and nada. I continually hear arguments out of different companies arguing why they aren't as good or it's just a fad...
This makes no sense to me. In any other industry companies would be tripping over each other trying to get involved in a niche that was making mad money, yet in the bike industry people drag their feet and have to be forced into markets that are turning a profit.
I always hear people complaining that it's hard to make money in the bike industry. Maybe cause you let your passion and preconceived notions get in the way of your business sense.
Posted by Tim Grahl at 7:15 AM