NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE
Fisher considered eliminating their
29er models due to lack of sales. The
larger wheels built momentum slowly
but surely. When Chris Sugai and
Steve Domahidy founded Niner
Bikes, a company that only produces
29-inch-wheeled mountain bikes, it
was clear that the large rollers were
here to stay.
The third wheel size to join the
party is what we called the 27.5-inch
mountain bike wheel (also referred to
as the 650b for reasons that would
take another article to explain). This
wheel size falls between the 26- and
29-inch sizes. Sounds simple enough,
but not everyone agrees. Critics, who
by the way make their income by selling 26ers or 29ers, have cried foul.
This is where the slide-rule-toting
experts take their stand with statements like: “650b is not halfway
between 26- and 29-inch wheels. The
true way to measure a wheel is the
ETRTO, which is the true diameter of
the tire bead seat at the base of the
sidewall. So, a 26-inch wheel is 559
millimeters, a 650b wheel is 584 millimeters and the 29er is 622 millimeters. If 650b were truly 27. 5 inches,
the ETRTO would be 590.5 millime-That’s as clear as mud to the poor
sap trying to buy a new mountain
THE MBA ROLL-OFF
Like we said, we’re sick of it.
Instead of getting hung up on wheel
minutiae (that stuff is hard to pedal
through), one of the wrecking crew
suggested we do what we are famous
for. We are experts at simplifying confusing technology by taking out the
theoretical-discussion equation and
testing it in the real world.
We built ourselves the MBA rollout
frame. It is as low tech as you can get.
It consists of two 2x4s secured at
both ends and spaced wide enough
apart for a wheel with a tire to roll
down its length. The sides are
marked so that after one full rotation,
we can measure how far the wheel
traveled. We grabbed a bunch of bikes
from the MBA corral and spent the
afternoon rolling them down the rollout frame and marking the results.
Here is what we learned.
The 28. 5.