Shift back to 2007 and an invite from Trek to head to their Idaho Press Camp. Like everyone else I’d spent some time avoiding the big wheels but that wasn’t particularly difficult then as they were only ridden by nerds. Soon there’d one extra tank top in the nerd camp.
The first ever 29er I rode was an ill fitting Fisher HiFi full suspension bike and I couldn’t really say I liked it, I wasn’t the only one. Thankfully there was a neat looking Fisher Paragon kicking around and after 3 solid hours of riding that thing on some of the best riding I’ve ever done in my life I was converted.
A pansy blue £1200 alloy 29er would become my only bike for the next 12months, replacing a 26″ wheel bike that cost more than twice the price and placing me in the firing line for banter since that day. I couldn’t stop riding it, and along with a second hand De Rosa road bike took me from 13.5 stone of lack lustre riding experiences to a 11.5 stone obsessive that couldn’t ride enough.
The current bike is only partially out of choice. I really wanted a Yeti, I’ve always wanted a Yeti and the black 2012 Big Top I think looks awesome. Everything else you see from the Niner forks through to the Mavic wheels, e.thirteen cranks, SDG I-Beam and Formula brakes simply came off of my old bike. Handpicked at some point or another and rolled over onto a new frame. It’s light, it rides great and after a few long rides over Dartmoor all the plans I had to change stuff on it have pretty much gone out of the window, it’ll probably just stay simple. I may change the fork for a tapered set to blend in a little better with the Big Top’s head tube but that’s just vanity rather than sense.
I get to ride a lot of bikes. The reason I have ridden 29ers for most of the time since that day in 2007 is simple, I find them more fun. With every bike there’s a pro and a con and as journalists we’ve spent the past few years pointlessly debating the argument of whether the pro is worth the con. There’s a few people that prefer to swim against the tide but for the most part I think all this reflects is a lack of love for cycling as a whole. Like any bike the individual needs to ride it; see how it relates to their riding style, their holiday destination or their race track.
A little time thinking about the type of riding you really love, riding some demo bikes and picking the tool for the job. You’re not getting a tattoo, you’re just getting a bike – if you fall out of love or you change your riding needs then you can always sell it on.
A life of cycling is a journey and the 29er is just the current stop on that passage, hopefully the train won’t stop here and we’ll continue to experiment and find new ways to extract fun from the track ahead.
Bring on the Yeti SB-95 and the Mega Avalanche.