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Category: 29+

E-bikes and cargo bikes and fat bikes oh my!

E-bikes and cargo bikes and fat bikes oh my!

Day one of Outdoor Dirt Demo. There was dirt and wind and beer and bikes and… The Elliptigo. Maybe next year they’ll come out with a recumbent, E-Elliptigo but until then- I’m out.

Fatbikes. I like them. They are fun. Apparently other people like them too, and the bike industry has been selling lots of them. I also like cargo bikes. They have come a long way in the last few years and I’m trying to get my nephews set up with one so they are of particular interest to me this year. Another style of bike that piques my interest is the folder. Not just for smug commuters anymore, the folder is a great option for those that travel, don’t have much space in their houses, or those that may link up a few different types of transportation on their commute.

After missing the show last year, I was unsure what to expect- curious what changes had been made in the program as far as vendors and more importantly, the sweet deals that they sometimes bring to the demo.

One thing that was easy to notice as soon as you step off the bus, is the growth of the e-bike. I think it’s undeniable at this point that the cycling industry will have to make room for this growing sector of bikes. Like it, or not. Town bikes, cargo bikes, even mountain bikes were cruising up the hills at 20mph, quiet as a mouse with the driver pedaling with little effort and an unavoidable smile on their face. I tested one on a cargo bike platform (which as of this writing I’m going to say that its the only e-bike I’d feel comfortaly riding, unless no one was looking.) An Xtracycle Edgerunner, it had the Bosch gear box system which is pretty great, being a true pedal assist, unlike some that seem little more than electric mopeds. Though I rode it unloaded, I can imagine that with a full load of beer, kids, or potting soil- even steep hills would be climbable, maybe even with ease.

Dirt Demo, for whatever reason, is not attended near as well as Interbike. Some shop people or media folks love it- and why wouldn’t you? It’s 2 days in the desert, riding bikes you could never afford, with lots of trails, a pump track and even a goddamn shuttle. The interest seems to be waning still, with fewer attendees, and some vendors pulling out- maybe saving themselves for the show? Myself, I haven’t taken advantage of the shuttle, and don’t go buck wild on the riding- I just like to go around and snap photos of dirty bikes.

But I digress, the focus is on the bikes. So here it goes…

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Is 29+ the next fat?

Is 29+ the next fat?

Those that have ridden a fatbike know how much fun it is. The ability to float over soft surfaces is amazing when cruising on a 5″ tire. They make a bicycle more “omni-terra” than was previously possible. That said- riding around on a 5″ tire and a 100mm rim can make one feel a little sluggish when riding in hardback conditions. When I’m riding on my fatbike I’ve got 2 speeds: Slow and steady. And that’s fine. But sometimes I want to go… faster.

The beauty of the float has another side, rolling resistance and added weight. Enter the world of 29+.

What is 29+? Though there isn’t a standard (because the bike industry hates standards) for our purpose here I’ll say it’s a 29″ rim with a width of 45mm and wider, and running a 29×3″ tire. There are frames built around this platform (Surly Krampus and others.) I’m going to venture to say that the 29+ market is one that will be expanding at a fast rate. Many frames (not sure about asymmetrical frames) that will allow for a 5″ tire will fit a 29+ tire- giving you more cushion and float as well as speed and a reduced rolling resistance. I think they’ll be great for adventure touring and though you need a different wheelset, it damn near gives you a different bike.

Switching wheelsets can change the geometry, specifically the bottom bracket height of the bike- which some builders have tried to counteract with adjustable dropouts. I think it’s a fair trade off for most of us, myself included.

As I started looking into build a 29+ wheelset for my fatty, I had to look at a few things:

  • Width. As an emerging category- “wide” is being redefined. Though you’ll see some offerings at 35mm wide (which I’m sure is awesome,) I don’t think anything less than a 45mm rim should be considered a “29+.”
  • Weight. As a rider over 220lbs, I err on the side of durability- especially if you’re going to be headed off the beaten path, but that isn’t a reason to bring an anchor with you.
  • Price. I’m not a rich guy. Sometimes I can get a pro-deal or industry pricing on stuff which is great. But this blog doesn’t generate any revenue to speak of and I got bills to pay, so there. In fact- one of the reasons that I can argue to get another wheelset comes from the need for studded tires. With 45Nrth Dillingers costing an upwards of $225 each, and a 29″ set of studs running half that- I can put that $200+ I “saved” towards a new wheelset.  That’s how that works, right?

In all that, I put together the lists below to help those that may be in the market for a 29+ wheelset for their fat bike.

29+ Rims Updated 1/17/15

BrandModelWidthWeightHole PatternPrice per rim
Stan's No TubesHugo5252mm622g32h$145
SurlyRabbit Hole 2950mm699g32h$150
VelocityDually45mm675g32h$134
SchlickNorthpaw47mm645g32h$129
Kris Holm29" Freeride unicycle rim47mm840g36h$95
DerbyAll-Mountain Carbon35mm485g32h$329
NextieJungle Fox Carbon50mm510g28-36h$230
NextieSnow Fox Carbon50mm500g28-36h$220
Light Bicycle29er plus Carbon50mm490g16-36h$210
SarmaNaran Carbon50mm550g32h$600
Nox CompositesFarlow 29 Carbon35mm430g24/28, 32h$479
Ibis941 Carbon41mm488g32hsold only as wheelset

29+ Tires Updated 1/17/15

BrandModelCasingWeightPrice
SurlyDirt Wizard27tpi wire beadTBD$90.00
SurlyDirt Wizard120tpiTBD$90.00
SurlyKnard27tpi1240g$65.00
SurlyKnard120tpi980g$90.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty72tpi wire bead1025g$100.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty72tpi folding bead950g$110.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty120tpi folding bead920g$120.00
BontragerChupacabra120tpi Aramid bead850g$119.99
MaxxisChronicle60tpi1040g$79.00
MaxxisChronicle120tpi folding bead1050g$96.00

So when I get these things built up, I’ll fill you in on which direction I went. Until then I’ll be rolling around on my 4.8″ Lous on 80mm rims, slow and steady- like old people fucking.