Mitch wins the 2013 Fontana National on a 29er, cementing all the fears you've been worrying about. Big wheels are here to stay. The Taliban will take back Afghanistan. Hostess is out of business, and they're not coming back. The pillars of freaking civilization, people.
This just in: Santa Cruz releases a sweet looking 650b Blur TRc named after a mediocre WTB tire and a stellar action movie star.
Like I said, stellar.
Look guys, here's the deal, and this is the straight dope for all the industry guys listening. Either you make a 650b bike, and soon, or you're going to be completely irrelevant as company. Without a new 650b bike, I give you're company one to two years, tops.
If there's one thing I've learned as a professional racer, as I've worked and struggled to become an elite athlete, in my brief moments of success and brilliance and enlightenment, it's this one simple sentence:
It's about the bike.
Trust me guys, it's about the bike. All that noise you hear about hard work and discipline and training and love and passion, it's a joke. None of that amounts to anything if you have the wrong tires or brake pads or especially if, God help you, you're running the wrong size wheels for the race. I've hung out a lot with a lot of strong riders, and they know this simple truth. Guys like Adam Craig work hard to look like they spend their entire winters on a singlespeed, riding "just for fun" and trying to "enjoy life." Yeah, would guys like Adam need to spend huge amounts of energy pretending to enjoy riding bikes, especially simple, low-tech, elegant machines like singlespeeds if they didn't know the huge advantages of having the latest tech on their side? You and I both know the answer to that one.
Adam Craig knows that if it's about anything, it's about the bike:
I was thinking about entering some of the Oregon Enduro's, but it looks like I'm gonna be on a 26 inch bike, like a freakin animal. Guess what? Not even gonna bother showing up to those Enduro's, because I know that if I had the 650 bike I could be on the podium, but settling for less just isn't in my DNA. I'm sorry I was born this way, I'm a winner, and winners don't settle.
I put these videos in order of bicycle technological advances so you could see the incremental improvement of the different bikes.
DB Welcomes Charlie to the DF5 Team from Diamondback Bicycles on Vimeo.
Here's me riding a 26 inch trail bike, like an asshole and clearly having zero fun. As you can see my wheels are dropping into bomb holes left and right, dragging my speed down, and every bump seems to suck speed out of my ride. The only possible benefit to my bike is that it turns a little better in berms, but as soon as it's a bumpy turn? I might as well put it in park. Riding a 26 inch trail bike for Diamondback is akin to charity work. I only do it to help out the brand, otherwise my 26 inch bikes would go straight where they belong: the dumpster, or an orphanage, or Goodwill, or wherever rich, privileged, white people throw older but still functional stuff that doesn't make them feel cool anymore.
Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 Trail Battles - Let's Make It Interesting - More Mountain Bike Videos
As you can see, if Brad and Curtis are having 10% more fun than me, then they're carrying at least 20% more speed through the bumps on their superior wheel size. But, again, back to the technology: you could see that Curtis could barely get those big wheels going in that uphill sprint race. So much for acceleration, I heard that's not really important anyway... said NO RACER EVER.
Some people call 650b the Goldilocks size, some people call it the silver bullet. Maybe it's perfection, or nirvana. And not that overrated band from the crappier, rainier city North of Portland, but the real definition of nirvana that includes enlightenment and total loss of self.
So a Buddhist, a priest, and a Rabbi walk into a bar...
On second thought, 650b bikes aren't nirvana, because you're definitely not going to lose your sense of self on them. You're going to discover new levels of how awesome you are compared to everyone else who sucks. If you ride with people who kick your ass right now, trust me: you'll show them once you get on a 650b bike. Just look at Bryceland in that SC video? Can you imagine ratboy having that much fun shredding the rad** on a 26" trail bike? Neither can I. It's impossible.
Let's contrast that with how riding my 26er made me feel:
Riding a bike with 26" wheels is like charity work for me. I do it begrudgingly so I can feel good about how nice I am, but if I could pay someone or an organization to do it for me I would. True story.
Wheel size = winning or losing
**"Shredding the Rad" is a licensed trademark of Paul Lacava Inc.