Is Loic Bruni on a 29er? There hasn't been an official announcement, but the writing is on the wall—Loic's Facebook wall (see image below)—and in the pits. Photographer, Dave Trumpore snapped these shots of Bruni's Demo and the details say it all.
The only questions remaining are (1) How many of his Specialized teammates are going the 29 Demo route and (2) Whether or not Specialized has a 29er-specific Demo frame in the works. We have no definitive answer to the first question, but the second question is easier to tackle: What we're seeing here with Bruni's Demo looks more like the ever-popular "Make 29er wheels fit onto our 27.5 frame" approach. That said, if there is a single company that would welcome the big wheels on their gravity bikes, it has to be Specialized. These guys have been chomping on the 29er bit for some time.
Specialized was one of the last hold-outs on 27.5, largely because they beat everyone else to the punch on building a long-travel 29er that didn't suck (that'd be the Enduro 29, way the hell back in 2013
). The company was also adamant that 29er wheels simply offered more advantages to riders than 27.5. The market, however, wasn't having any of that "nonsense". Specialized complied with a host of 27.5-wheeled bikes. And yet...here we are today. Watching company after company rush to roll out wagon-wheel downhill bikes. Go figure.
A few questions remain: How much of an impact will the growing raft of 29er DH bikes actually have on results at Fort Bill and, in later races, the overall season results? Will certain courses favor big wheels? Will they make sense for every rider—even shorter riders?
Time will tell.