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I asked our own 29er knowledge base Jeremy Yang about this and here’s what he had to say.
Many people who covered Interbike this year considered year 2006 as the year of the 29er. 29er hard tails & full suspensions were showing up at many of the higher end boutique companies including Intense, Titus, Ellsworth, Moots, Niner, Turner, Ventana, Astrix, Lens Sport, Van Dessel, while even not so high end have gotten in on the action: Ibex, Haro, KHS, Cannondale & of course Gary Fisher. Trek came out with a 69er which uses a 29er tire on the front & 26″ tire on the rear and even raised it’s price from $1700 to $2400. Specialized even has a tire for 29ers with a bike coming soon.
Over the past year, for kicks, I’ve been monitoring the number of persons viewing the forums at MTBR.com. 29er bikes has consistently been the #1 forum viewed. Only once, over the past YEAR I’ve been monitoring the forum, have I seen another forum top the number of viewers on the 29er forum and it just by single digits. Many times, it’s not even close.
Jan. 16 at 9:30am: 29er forum: 319 viewing; next closes is Freeride/Downhill with 232 viewing. Passion came in 3rd with 223 viewing
MTBR.com’s founder, Francois, a huge 29er fan, just finished a write up 8 FS 29er comparo where he invited out 7 other riders to test ride the bikes in the Santa Cruz mountains. This comparo has been a huge hit on the MTBR site. http://www.mtbr.com/spotlight/29er/
There is a growing need for tires for the 29er rider. Because of 29er’s larger wheel size, they are a perfect candidate for big volume tires. Panaracer, Specialized, WTB & Kenda all came out with big volume tires over the past 6-8 months that have been very popular with the 29er riders (actually, I’m looking into switching my front tire for a bigger volume tire too, got to check out what the buzz is all about). Many people are also looking into tubeless + big volume.
Most 29er riders feel that the 29er is probably going to move towards the freeride/downhill scene. This is only logical because the larger diameter wheels allow you to roll over obstacles, such as rock gardens, instead of getting stuck in them as a 26 inch tire might.”