2019 Pinkbike Awards: Innovation of the Year Nominees

Dec 17, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  
2019 Pinkbike Awards


Innovation of the Year Nominees

Mountain biking has advanced dramatically since the sport's pioneers started riding re-purposed Schwinn cruisers, but even after nearly half a century of change it turns out there's still room for improvements. This year's batch of innovations includes a clever way to dial in the perfect spring rate on a coil-sprung shock, two sets of wheels that seek to achieve the ideal balance of comfort, stiffness, and durability, a wireless, electronic component group, and a cross-country race bike with a shock integrated into the top tube.









Why it's nominated

The 2020 Olympic Games are fast approaching, and a long list of new XC-race oriented products are being launched ahead of the event. Trek's Supercaliber is one of them, and while it first hit the World Cup circuit partway through the 2019 World Cup season, there's no doubt the potential for Olympic glory was a motivating factor for the unique design.

It's the IsoStrut that sets the Supercaliber apart from other softtails or short-travel cross-country bikes, a structural, frame integrated shock that was developed in conjunction with Fox. A carbon fiber carrier slides along the stanchion that's located under the the top tube to deliver 55-millimeters of travel, with an additional 5 millimeters of travel coming from the vertical flex of the seatstays.

Incorporating the shock into the frame allowed Trek's designers to hit stiffness numbers that wouldn't be possible on a traditional full suspension bike. In the cross-country world, unwanted flex, even if it's a millimeter here or there, is energy that would be better of being used for forward propulsion, which is why hardtails are still a common site on certain tracks. The Supercaliber's unique frame combines the benefits of a hardtail and a full-suspension bike into one potent package, a feat that puts it into the running for an Innovation of the Year award.

From the First Ride:

bigquotesTrek's IsoStrut serves multiple purposes - it contains an air spring and a damper, and also serves as a structural component of the frame. The IsoStrut's air spring can be tuned and dialed in exactly how a rider desires, and it can be fully locked out. With the IsoStrut integrated into the bike as a structural component that carries top tube loads, it allows the Supercaliber to achieve stiffness numbers that are a lot higher than a typical full suspension bike.








Why it's nominated

After six years in development, SRAM's AXS components debuted in 2019, bringing wireless, electronic shifting and a wireless dropper post to the mountain bike world. Along with eliminating the for cables and housing, the system opens up a new realm of possibilities when it comes to the shape and location of shifter and dropper post levers.

Incorporating a battery and a motor into a derailleur while keeping the weight down and maintaining a relatively low profile is no easy feat, but SRAM's engineers managed to pull it off. There's even a tiny gearbox inside the derailleur that converts the torque from the motor into the right and left motions required to shift up or down the cassette. The derailleur also has a secondary clutch, called the Overload Clutch, that's designed to disengage the gearbox and allow the derailleur to move out of the way during an impact. That movement helps keep the motor from being damaged, along with protecting the derailleur and hanger at the same time.

Out in the real world, our time with the AXS group has shown that the system lives up to the hype. It delivers quick, precise shifting every single time, along with an instant response from the dropper post, with no need to worry about bleeding a hydraulic line or fussing around with cable and housing. The battery life has been impressive as well, with testers getting 15-20 rides in between charges. Yes, the fact that you need to remember to charge a battery is the downside to an electronic system, but if you can remember to charge your phone every day or two, charging a derailleur battery once a month isn't the end of the world.

There wasn't one single aspect of the AXS component group that earned it the Innovation of the Year nomination. Instead, it's the system's level of refinement that cemented its spot on this list. For their initial foray into the world of off-road electronics, SRAM got it right, and it's going to be very interesting to see how they go about bringing this technology to lower price points.


From the review:

bigquotesYou can say that computers and batteries don't belong on your bike, and you can certainly moan at the cost as much as you want, but the bottom line is that nothing else on the market offers this combination of simplicity, consistency, gearing range, low weight, and overall performance.









Why They're Nominated

When carbon wheels first began to gain popularity in the mountain bike world, it was the increased level of stiffness that they brought to the table compared to aluminum rims that was one of the main selling points. And it's true, a set of light and stiff wheels can noticeably alter the feel of a bike, especially if that bike's frame isn't all that stout to begin with. However, it's entirely possible to have too much of a good thing, and overly stiff wheels can make for a harsh, jarring, and at times, downright unpleasant ride. Super-stiff wheels with tall sidewalls can also make pinch flats more likely, and can be more prone to failure due to their inability to absorb large impacts.

This year, we saw two companies take steps to create compliant carbon rims - Zipp with their 3Zero Moto wheels, and CrankBrothers with their Synthesis wheels.

Zipp's solution was to create a single-walled rim, one that looks similar to what's used on motocross bikes. That profile is intended to allow the rim to flex and absorb hard impacts, rather than transmitting them to the rider. Zipp isn't the first company to try this design – Mello Boumeester, who's now working with Crankbrothers, had single wall carbon rims on the market in 2014 – although Zipp claim they first tossed around the idea in 2012. In any case, it's still not a very common design, and based on the number of resin and laminate configurations that Zipp tried, it's a tricky one to get right.

Crankbrothers took a slightly different tactic, creating a wheelset with a stiffer rear wheel paired with a more compliant front. That front wheel uses a wider rim and a lower spoke count, while the rear wheel has a slightly narrower rim with more reinforcement to handle harder impacts. The rims use the more traditional double wall shape, but have additional reinforcement in key areas to provide extra impact resistance.

Zipp and Crankbrothers are both recipients of an Innovation of the Year award nomination for their efforts to improve upon the modern mountain bike wheel in a way that increases both performance and durability.

From the Synthesis review:

bigquotesThe difference between the ride quality of the Synthesis wheels and their high-end competitors is quite remarkable. Upon riding these wheels, it's easier than ever to comprehend that there's a lot more to a wheel than it just being stiff and strong. Compliance and ride quality directly translate to comfort and control on the bike.

From the 3Zero Moto review:

bigquotesZipp are rolling down the right path with the 3Zero Moto wheels – they're very comfortable, and track very well in rough terrain. They've also held up extremely well to five months of hard usage.










Why It's Nominated

If you've owned a bike with a coil-sprung shock at any point in your riding career there's a good chance you amassed a small pile of springs to go with it. Getting the correct spring rate can take a bit of trial and error, and it's not as easy as pulling out the shock pump and adding or subtracting a couple pounds of air.

Sprindex's clever new system helps make it easier to dial in the perfect setup – literally. A plastic (glass-reinforced polymer if you want to get technical) collar is mounted on the bottom of the spring, where it can be turned to one of 14 indexed positions. Turning the collar locks out a portion of one of the coils, effectively increasing the spring rate. The total amount of adjustment varies depending on the spring's length and rate, but it's between 30 – 60 lb/in, which effectively gives one Sprindex spring the range of two 'normal' springs.

This design falls squarely into the “Why didn't I think of that?” category, and for their efforts Sprindex receives a nomination for Innovation of the Year.

From the First Look:

bigquotesSprindex's new adjustable-rate coil spring system lets riders alter their spring-rate without needing to swap out coils or even reach for any tools. Instead, all you need to do is rotate the Sprindex collar by hand to add or subtract as much as 30 to 60 lb/in to the spring rate. It also consists of only a few extra parts, making it dead-simple to boot.











118 Comments

  • 149 2
 Taj's Sunday Comics get my vote...
  • 16 2
 Mine too.
  • 76 5
 Hey PB how about a " marketing blunder of the year"

I nominate:

1. Pole...bend the truth about bent stays
2. RM....break it down how safe their bikes are
3. Insert your favorite " thanks for all the great years" video, messages etc from teams that just got dumped by their top riders
4...
  • 49 0
 @pink505 - Definitely looking at doing a tongue-in-cheek awards video. Post those ideas here!
  • 61 0
 don't forget the ENVE E-bike wheels breaking about thee times.
  • 9 0
 @mikelevy: Top "I wish I hadn't done that" of the year goes to...
  • 49 0
 Sick bikes.
  • 30 0
 @mikelevy:

1) best xc uphill overtake.(not a joke)
2) outtakes of people pronoucing names wrong, like levy...
3) top ten loris noises.
4) when cathrovision got it wrong.
  • 3 5
 @mikelevy: Best E-Bike Specific product. Best bike name (does Cove still make bikes?).
  • 5 0
 Worst announcer quotes.
  • 9 1
 @mikelevy: Most Robbed
  • 7 9
 Its a bit late but I'd still very much love to see wheel size nomeclature get corrected, the marketing bs at the time that called 650b, 27.5", to make it sound mid size, when in fact it is literally only 1" bigger than 26" (584bsd - 559bsd = 25mm difference).

Now we have everyone saying 'six-fifty-bee' or 'twenty-seven-point-five-inch', both of which make us sound even more like idiots to any outsiders of the sport, how about just 27 inch.... which it actually is.
  • 11 0
 @ctd07: Because 27" rims and tires already exist and were common on road bikes until the mid 80s. BSD 630mm.
  • 6 3
 Bontrager WaveCel
  • 9 1
 @mikelevy:


Presenting the E-bike Mike Drop Awards -

Can Kazimer on a Kenovo drop Levy on a Levo?
  • 3 0
 @dtax: AKA the Brendogs
  • 1 0
 @fatduke: To be fair to those c*nts, their marketing was fantastic, they got people to shell out sight unseen on five, six different designs? Everything else they did was a disaster of the kind only self important hipster c*nts like that can produce, but their marketing spiel was amazing.
  • 4 0
 @ctd07: This is true, I still think a 28" size is in the works somewhere, just to get everyone going about new standards
  • 1 0
 @zyoungson: I've seen 700c hybrid tires listed as 28in...
  • 1 0
 @melanthius: i am aware of that, but as you stated, they pretty much died out a long time ago
  • 1 0
 Manitou Mezzer banner ad misspelling words.
  • 1 0
 @ctd07: There are still plenty of people that ride 27”. I’ve seen several in for tuneups and we always keep a stock of new 27” tires at the shop.
  • 1 0
 How about suspension linkages most likely to be used as a sex toy (supercaliber)
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: give some love to the comments section! best/funniest/upvotiest comments....!
  • 3 0
 @ccolagio: I’d definitely love to see the top 10 upvoted comments. Or top 5 and most downvoted 5?
  • 11 1
 @mikelevy:

bad ideas in no particular order:

1. How a about a video of actual dentists and their bikes....
2. Waki narrating a few of his best rants....the new years top ten countdown style.
3. A parody of some of the bike promotional videos with those super long intro panoramic mumbo jumbos and never even show the bike or bikers
4. The Walmart bike hot lap video ( get supplemental health insurance before the run please)
5. promo video for the ebike upcountry bike fieldtest
6. Interview with all the coulour blind bike designers picking out the " best" bike colors
7. Huck to flat football lineman or sumo wrestlers video ( not you 160 pounders1)



6.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: Definitely need a snake-oil award... Like that shiny crap people were putting on their wheels and frames to improve performance by "absorbing vibration" a few years back
  • 1 0
 @ctd07: I agree but you'd have to rename them all. 559mm is not 26" but 22" 584mm aka 650b is 23" and 622mm is 24.5". There is no 26", 27.5" nor 29" wheels.
  • 1 0
 @millsr4: YESYESYES
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: worst announcer quotes
  • 45 3
 Sprindex. Brutally simple solution that eliminates one of the biggest issues people have with moving to a coil. 'Nuff said.
  • 3 0
 Totally, it's a more refined version of the spring rubbers used in circle track racing.
  • 10 2
 Really tho, apart from the Sprindex this list is a joke. We have... 1. A different configuration for rear shocks. 2. Something that's been on the road bike market for years. 3. A wheel. Or two wheels. Whatever. 4. Something that actually makes life easier for a shitton of people and has never been done before, all in a smart, simple package.
  • 4 0
 the most simple answer tends to be the correct
  • 2 0
 @mnorris122: agreed. Sprinter is truly innovation for MTB.

AXS? Making a mountain version of an existing road group? Just because marketing puts “innovative” on the sales presentation materials doesn’t make it so...
  • 38 0
 A plastic Ring that no body thought of for 30 years. Gets my vote.
  • 2 0
 Looking for a "no stupid questions" kind of situation here, but can someone explain how that thing doesn't rob you of travel? Does a coil not usually fully compress? Am I misunderstanding how it works?
  • 4 0
 @N-60: if the spring were to bind before the damper was allowed to compress through it’s given stroke, then the Sprindex would not be a viable product and would not be for sale.
  • 3 0
 @lccomz: Yeah fair, but if you look at photos of bottomed out DH bikes, there is like 1mm of space between coils, with the damper presumably at full compression. So i guess my question is, when you take away 1-1.5 coils worth of spring, how do the remaining coils have enough excess space to make up for the lost travel?

I guess they must have designed the spring with this in mind, but I can't visualize how it would work. I'd love to see photos of it at full compression!
  • 11 0
 @N-60: No stupid questions bud. A properly sized coil should have plenty of coil spacing at full shock compression to handle that little bit of take up. I used to run one a little longer then necessary on my dh bike to stay further out of the possible binding window. Plus it filled the shock better and I thought it looked cooler. (I.e 3” stroke coil on 2.75” shock)
  • 1 0
 @cougar797: Makes sense, thanks!
  • 6 0
 @N-60: Also, coil shocks can accept a pretty wide range of spring lengths. The photos of bottomed out DH bikes you've been looking at may be race bikes where the coil length was chosen specifically to be juuuuuust above binding at bottom out to save weight. Shorter spring = lighter spring, but that's not the kind of calculus a Sprindex buyer will be doing.
  • 8 0
 @N-60: You guys are correct that the Sprindex spring is designed (with the mechanism installed) to allow the full travel (plus a little more) regardless of the spring rate adjustment. It was designed for the maximum stress and travel when adjusted to its maximum spring rate. We had to use the super high strength "lightweight" steel in order to meet these design criteria, and it's lighter than an ordinary steel spring anyway because of it. When fully compressed, the coils are not solid (more room for movement). I'll paste a picture of it fully compressed if possible and you'll see plenty of light between the coils remaining.
  • 2 0
 @melanthius: I never could stand that. Those just barely long enough springed shocks just don’t look right. Looking cool makes you faster then saving weight. Scientific fact.
  • 10 0
 The coil is really cool, additional adjustment, and for people in between spring rates.

I'm not sure on the wheels, for sure it seems like carbon wheels were too fragile and then too strong and the idea that they don't have to automatically copy aluminum rims is great. But cost VS performance when they are now trying to replicate the feel of aluminum it seems those are a bit of a hard sell when I can get the feel of aluminum for SO much less and the weight difference doesn't seem as drastic...?
  • 8 2
 Kinda shocked not to see the Trust linkage fork on here. We have a lot of local riders testing them here, and the feedback is really good thus far. Maybe just not mainstream enough?
  • 4 0
 Also came here expecting to see the first linkage fork anyone has actually purchased
  • 1 0
 check out last year
  • 17 13
 I can’t believe I am saying it but I vote for these carbon rims. Plenty of thickness in crucial areas looks promising. I hope it’s either them or the sprindex.
  • 15 0
 Im honestly surprised you mustered the courage to even type out the words "I vote for these carbon rims. "
  • 10 0
 @TheBearDen: WAKI's hacked!!!
  • 3 0
 @TheBearDen: This is a proof that he is a reasonable guy just fooling around. Future of carbon wheels is not light wheel that cracks from looking at it. But compliance, this is something which makes sense and where carbon can be better than alu.
  • 2 1
 @lkubica: alu has both compliance and durability at Ex471 xm481 level... it’s just that these are carbon rims that seem like they will last and lifetime warranty won’t be required too often
  • 5 0
 Definitely should go to Sprindex. Super simple, painstakingly easy to use solution to a huge problem.
  • 2 1
 An innovation should scale to a broader audience. By that reasoning, I'd say the Supercal and the Sprindex are my two faves.

Making spring rate easier to dial would make coiled rear ends more affordable and viable for the industry. While the current Supercalibler is a spendy beast, this design should transfer to a lower price point pretty easily.

Considering that an aluminum Slash frame weights only a pound more than a carbon one, and Trek is willing to sell aluminum frames with decent parts (Slash 8 is a really good deal) then we may see this setup at 3-4k with decent parts in a year or 2.
  • 2 1
 I have to vote for AXS. While the Supercaliber is freaking awesome, the likelyhood of that technology being adopted for the masses is very slim, whereas technology like AXS will more than likely become the standard for nearly all bikes in the future.

Sprindex is a good second place. Ultra-simple, innovative, inexpensive, and does what it claims. I don't ride a coil shock (or even a full-sus anymore), but this is a great product idea!
  • 1 0
 I cant agree with the AXS
The shifting is indeed amazing. But the lever Ergonomie is realy crap. My thumb hurts every time i see a AXS shifter. (Yea i know you can rotate it slightly, its still sh*t)
And on Bikes with lots of rear travel and a long stroke dropper the rear wheel can knock out the AXS battery, friend of mine used to ride with a spare battery until he finaly ditched the AXS dropper.
  • 1 0
 About the Superfly: "Incorporating the shock into the frame allowed Trek's designers to hit stiffness numbers that wouldn't be possible on a traditional full suspension bike." This sounds like marketing bullshit. Where's the evidence that their frame is stiffer? Their design ads a wiper seal, which means added maintenance and complexity, so the performance better be significantly better.
  • 10 8
 How about We are One composites for North American Made carbon products for a *more* reasonable price. Simple and resilient, and a lifetime warranty.
  • 3 0
 As Pubes says about the procal... Bike of the year is a non-cut ween squish machine.
  • 2 0
 Rainbow flatware - meals are full send now while my friends eye my forks enviously bc their flatware is monotone and boring
  • 1 0
 Only one of those innovations made its way into the component of the year nominations. Not sure if that says more about this list or that list.
  • 2 1
 I couldn't be happier with my Zipp 3Zero moto wheels. They're a game-changer on an aggressive hardtail in rocky southwest terrain.
  • 4 0
 Did you pay retail for them?
  • 2 1
 Really hoping I'll get to try these out sometime. They seem super cool and for sure get my vote.
  • 2 3
 Nope, I didn't. I don't pay full retail for any bike parts these days. I first rode these wheels at an outerbike demo and they blew me away so much that I got a set for my bike. I've ridden and owned a lot of wheels, and these are significantly different from any other wheel I've ridden.
  • 2 0
 How come 29" wheels are not nominated? We only hear about those these days seem to me like a serious contender
  • 2 0
 Trust shout and message have more innovation to me then a water proof servo attached to a derailleur.
  • 5 4
 Those Zipp wheels will void the warranty if used on a dual crown or dh axle standard. Read the fine print.
  • 12 15
 and who rides those bikes anyways, DH is dead
  • 1 0
 @avg-roadie: True that !!! (for mass audience I mean)
  • 2 0
 I don't see anything that makes me think they are other than trail wheels. Why would they be covered under warranty on a DH bike?
  • 4 0
 @avg-roadie: Nate hills literally just built up an SB165 using a boxxer and those wheels
  • 3 0
 @sosburn: I don't think he is concerned with a warranty tho...
  • 3 1
 @Mattntp, that's true, and we mentioned that in the First Look article: "Zipp stress that they aren't meant for DH or e-bike riders."
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: you guys should talk to Noble Wheels about their carbon single wall rim and discuss why they felt doing a single wall 29er rim was not a very good idea.

They have an interesting opinion on the single wall design and about when it's beneficial and when it's not.
  • 2 0
 @TheBearDen: anything online you would reference? Just curious.
  • 1 0
 @avg-roadie: A roadie from California thinks DH is dead.
Better tell the bike manufacturers in cali to close up shop.
  • 1 0
 @jaydawg69: you can find some info on the single wall carbon rim on their website. I had a pretty quick conversation with someone at Noble and they brought up some key points to think about when it came to the single wall designs.

To not put myself in a Situation where I could be seen as puting words in someone's mouth I won't referance the conversation or anything.

The folks at Noble are great people if you reach out with questions I'm confident they I'll et back to you.
  • 1 0
 @Yaan: ah you got me there... I spend summers up your way in BC Smile
  • 2 0
 My vote is for the sprindex or super caliber. Both are quite unique.
  • 2 0
 where do we get to vote? Or have I missed it / the point?
  • 2 0
 NAKED DUDES SELLING PEDALS
  • 2 3
 No one ever thought of using wedge adjusters on coil overs before? Really PB? Really Spindrex? I want some of what your smoking.
  • 1 0
 Ditto. Auto industry? Anyone?
  • 1 0
 Read the Crankbrothers Synthesis Wheels header in a secret whisper.
  • 1 0
 26 is only dead in your head...
  • 1 0
 That super Caliber is fucking sick
  • 2 2
 What about the Pinkbike e-bike story filter, it's made the site waaay more usable...
  • 1 0
 The adjustable rate coil spring duh. Clearly the best of the bunch.
  • 1 0
 That Trek Isostrut is hot.
  • 1 0
 sprindex I you would ask me: Oh why not add Pi-Rope to the list?
  • 1 0
 AXS!
  • 1 1
 Supercaliber no question.
  • 23 26
 We don’t need innovation




26 ain’t dead
  • 39 8
 Its dead.
  • 31 8
 It's dead and buried, dude. Sorry Frown
  • 4 1
 @mikelevy: not at my house, can’t afford to bury both my 26ers to upgrade to modern standards.

I do dream of the day I own the latest and greatest.
  • 3 0
 @Melon055: don’t be scared. It’s gonna be ok.
  • 2 0
 @lccomz: I ride a hightower lol. I figured someone would comment this, so I commented it first.
  • 11 5
 I think the whole bigger wheels are better thing is a load of marketing crap. I switched to a 27.5" GG Megatrail this year from a 26" Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon. While I love my Megatrail I still haven't beaten some of my PR's up or down that I set on my Mach 5.7. The Megatrail feels more stable and capable of more dh oriented stuff (duh, longer wheelbase and 155/165mm vs 145mm travel), but I honestly don't think the 27.5" wheels make it any faster. 27.5" and 29" just make it easier for less experienced riders to get over stuff IMO. It's not all about going as fast as possible or making everything easy anyways. If someone made a comparable line-up of 26" bikes with modern geometry I would've seriously considered sticking with that for its playfulness and cornering. I'm sure I'll get down voted for this but don't care...

Give me a bike that can run 26, 27.5, or 29....or maybe I'll just build my own some day. GG is on to something with their modularity.
  • 9 0
 @mtbandskiforlife: dood ur just gettin older
  • 2 0
 Try to shop for them, they are basically dead Frown
  • 1 2
 @hamncheez: There's no avoiding getting older. I've come within seconds of the PR's though and some of them were set this year right before I got the GG.
  • 5 5
 @mtbandskiforlife:
"but I honestly don't think the 27.5" wheels make it any faster. 27.5" and 29" just make it easier for less experienced riders to get over stuff IMO"

You for real? Like gun to your head you have to admit to this opinion you still doing it? Like do you honestly believe that the only advantage these two wheel sizes give a rider is the ability to make life easier for less capable riders?
  • 3 1
 @TheBearDen: That gun analogy is a bit drastic.

Yes, that and generating money. They're not lighter, stronger, nor are they easier to corner. Resistance rolling over stuff is really the only advantage I see to them and that comes with the disadvantages mentioned. I also question how much difference in rolling over things there actually is with suspension technology being as good as it is. My guess would be that it only offers a significant advantage for obstacles over a certain height. What other advantages do you see? I'm not complaining about being on a 27.5 bike now and I think all wheel sizes can be fun, but I just don't see or feel a significant advantage going up in wheel size.
  • 4 2
 @mtbandskiforlife: So, all those World Cup racers, doing endless back to back testing, not to mention the EWS riders doing the same thing, its all just... marketing? No truth behind it at all?
  • 3 2
 @mtbandskiforlife: I'm really not gonna get into this with you as based on your list of feelings and opinions on the matter it's evident we are never going to see eye to eye.

But I will say it's very I interesting that you talk about how larger wheels have the added benefit of rolling over things with more ease but don't equate that to being "faster".

Okay okay.... I'll give you one of the biggest PROs to the larger wheels. Contact patch.
  • 2 2
 @hamncheez: I'm not a World Cup nor an EWS racer. The testing can be subjective and I do think there is an element to the companies putting pressure on riders to get on the new "latest and greatest" for advertising purposes. Companies have teams and sponsor riders to boost their sales. Your comment is evidence of being influenced by what pros are doing...

I'm not saying it's the only reason but I do think that plays into people switching over. I never said that there isn't any advantage to larger wheels. I simply made the point that I personally don't see a significant advantage and I don't think the average rider does either. Ride whatever makes you happy.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: My old, battered hardtail says only the crusher can tell it when it's dead.
  • 2 2
 @TheBearDen: I'm actually pretty open to a discussion on this and welcome it. You make a good point about contact patch. I'd be interested to see what the percent difference is between wheel sizes for the same size tire. Another one I just thought of for larger wheels is rotational inertia, although it can also be considered a disadvantage for getting the wheel moving.

My initial point wasn't that I don't think people shouldn't ride other wheel sizes. Maybe they're not as big of an advantage that some have made them out to be. I'd like to see options rather than killing off something that still works and is still fast. Sales speak though and the industry has shifted to larger wheels. Would it be bad to offer more options? Would it be harmful to re-evaluate? There are advantages and disadvantages to all options. The "best" one is dependent on the rider and what they ride. To think that 29" is better for everything because the pros ride it is naive and short-sighted.
  • 2 1
 @TheBearDen: Also I just made an observation that my times haven't significantly improved. Maybe I suck at riding or maybe my times will improve with more time on the new bike. It's just an initial observation.

@TheBearDen: and @hamncheez: Keep drinking the Kool Aid the industry is handing out or decide to have an intelligent discussion on this. No need to get bent out of shape because I've questioned whether the "fastest" wheel sizes are actually faster.
  • 3 1
 For anyone who is not a Pro racer a lack of skill is going to hold us back way more than any piece of equipment. There is no room for reasonable debate because the premise is unreasonable in the first place. Just pick your favourite and be a dick about it.
  • 2 4
 @mtbandskiforlife: I'm not drinking koolaid. I have been riding mountain bikes since I was 12 and I'm now 31 I have owned an idiotic amount of bikes and when 29ers actualy got good I finally scrapped the 26 ignored 27.5 and went right to 29er. It's not about drinking Koolaid it's just learning that wether you pick 27.5 or 29 if you buy a well designed and thoughtfully spec'd bike it's gonna be better than an older 26" bike.

Your times haven't significantly improved for probably all sorts of reasons but it could be your wheels only really became 1" bigger, you probably have less time on your GG than you had on your Yeti and the fact ones suspension platform and travel length is very different than the other's.

Also an intelligent conversation wouldn't have started with you making statements about how 29ers only benefit was they made trails easier.

A trails difficulty is based solely on a particular riders abilities. A 29er isn't gonna make a double black diamond in whistler easier for a new rider compared to a 26" wheeled bike.

I did a timed race on a alloy Norco fluid with WTB superBee tires on it vs a guy on a YT Capra with all the bells and whistles and after two laps my fastest lap was 7 seconds faster. Why? Because our skill levels were very very different.
  • 2 0
 @mtbandskiforlife: I’ve been looking for this. Best bet for me so far is a Nicolai Saturn 14... it’ll take all my 26 » stuff but still leave me with a sensible bottom bracket height if using the right adjustment chips. It’ll also go up to 29, at the other end of the range, all with uber modern geometry. Just figuring out what I need to sell to afford it...
other contender is a banshee spitfire which can run 26 or 27.
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 26: still shredding
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 @TheBearDen: I agree that there are a list of reasons that have influenced whether my times have improved. Fact is I've put down quicker times with an outdated 26" Pivot with less travel on technical dh oriented trails...ones that are in the top 10% or better on Strava on trails that thousands of people ride. With that said I think I like the GG better. With that bike I could get rid of my dh bike and still be able to ride everything I do now. Dh bikes are fun and have their own advantages though.

I don't deny that I missed some things in my initial post and you brought up a good topic of contact patches. However, you can also run larger tires on small wheels to get comparable grip. There are many approaches to get similar performance. The industry is leading us to believe that it's cut and dry and that big wheels are better though. I 'm still of the opinion that there's some marketing B.S. being pushed on us.

My whole point is that options are good and things aren't as black and white that big wheels are just better. A modern geometry 26" could be a better option than 27.5 or 29 for a lot of people as I suggested and even you did too. There are many factors that determine what's best for each person. There's a lot of subjectivity as to what's best and a lot of it is just personal preference and getting used to a bike. People should think for themselves and weigh options rather than blindly following the fastest pros or what each company says is best.
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 27.5 has been around since 2013/4 . Move on guys.

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