Last month Christoph Sauser, along with his team mate Burry Stander, wrapped up a victory in the arduous Absa Cape Epic stage race, held in South Africa. He rode a Specialized 29er.
I was fortunate enough to ride the event a couple of years ago. I opted for a 26in-wheeled 100mm full-susser. During the event, I was witness to just a few 29ers, they were very much still in the minority. Those riding them told of their advantages on the local terrain, and now it looks like word has spread – everyone is riding them!
For the 2012 edition of the race, it’s clear that 29ers are now in the majority. At the fast pointy end of the race every UCI rider was racing a 29er, “…the wheels size changed dramatically over the last two years. It was the first time ever that every Cape-Epic UCI rider raced on a 29er,” comments Christoph, writing a blog on the iamspecialized.com website.
Christoph also picked up on the high level of 29ers across the board, citing that most bikes appear to be less than one year old. Most controversially, he comes to the verdict that smaller wheels are a compromise when it comes to cross-country racing.
“Would you like to drive a Formula One car for shopping and going to work with? In Cross Country racing it is all about accelerating, stiffness and having the lightest bike. There I even race with one chainring (34) only.
“Luckily we Specialized racers are fortunate that the geometry is perfectly adapted for the big wheels. We all (even a small Burry Stander) can be on stock frames and still finding the perfect position, plus our bikes flying around any tight corners. We do not want to loose the great rollover benefit of the big wheels, the stability of speed or the extra grip over any smaller wheels sizes. This even in cross country racing! Everything smaller is a compromise!”
What do you think of his view on 29ers? The bigger wheels have become the dominant choice on the world XC scene, and now long distance endurance events are making the switch. Comment below