It’s interesting for me to check site stats every once and awhile. I see trends of what people search for on Google related to framebuilding and bikes in general and what brings people to my site. Let me be the first to admit I don’t get a ton or readers, maybe 50 people a day clicking around for a total of 200 page hits. Some days there are less, some days there are a lot more. Mostly I see readers spending a lot of time looking at my framebuilding posts and getting tips and tricks that I’ve shared along the way. Happy that I can help others learn from my mistakes and (limited) experience. Other times I get a bunch of hits resulting from a friend sharing a post that has WAY more friends that I do on Facebook or Twitter (i.e., “My new road bike”). But I’ve noticed a pretty significant trend this past year and to me it says something about where things are headed in general. Not that I can predict such things because I have such a huge sample size, but because it’s consistent with other things i’ve been seeing.
Everyone knows that Fatbikes are huge now. Now I’ve been wrong before (for example, there are no 3.7″ 29er tires out yet, I blew that one!) I believe what’s happening with what were once only considered “snowbikes” will continue to transition into every other type of bike from road to unicycle. That is = fatter tires. If you look at my most popular post it’s “Fatbike vs. 29+ on dirt” — it’s received over double the page hits than any other post – 2,000 since I wrote it in July, 2013. I do think 29+ is and will get more popular but it alone won’t break the Fatbike’s records.
It’s my opinion that the various ‘plus-sizes’ (29+, 27.5+, 26+) will be bigger than fatbikes in popularity when we look back in 5 years. No, those aren’t all fatbikes already. A fatbike is considered any bike that accepts tires greater than a 3.7″ wide tire – and right now that is only available in the 26″ wheel diameter. These other ‘Plus’ sizes are new and seem to be settling in around the 2.75″ – 3.0″ tire width. With much wider 35-50mm rims these setups offer some of the benefits of a fatbike and not some of the bad parts. Compared to their non-plus size brethren they offer a bigger contact patch resulting in better traction while climbing, descending, and especially cornering, better floatation for sand and snow, a bit of added “suspension” but with less weight and rolling resistance than fatbikes, and with the a normal bottom bracket spindle width and crank Q-factor.
The current Surly Krampus with its 29 x 3″ Knards started it. The 26+ Surly’s Instigator 2.0 is also all about this.
The 2015 Rocky Mountain Sherpa and 27.5+ tire size from WTB beat Surly to the punch (finally someone did). These are not for everyone especially those most concerned about tire and wheel weight. But for the many riders, just test riding one of these bikes makes them want to buy one immediately because they’re so damn fun on all sorts of terrain. I can’t wait to get my hands on the 27.5 x 2.8″ WTB Trailblazers and Surly’s 29 x 2.75″ Dirt Wizards. More tires are on their way this year for the 29+ market with the Maxxis Chronicle and Vee Rubber Trax Fatty!
Other than Surly obviously it’s been the tire manufacturers that are moving the market lately. Beyond mountain bikes we now have Schwalbe Supermoto’s (29 x 2.35″) for fat-roadbikes. Some more fat cross tire options from Clement, WTB, Kenda, and Surly in the 40mm range. Monstercross tires in the 45mm range have been around for awhile from Panaracer (Fire Cross 45) and Schwalbe, but the Vee Rubber 12 and Bruce Gordon Rock n’ Road are better options in my opinion. It’s definitely hard for the framebuilder to keep track of and comply with all the new component standards and tire sizes, but that’s a rant for another time.
Oh, and funny that “Singlespeed Spacers” is my second biggest post. I’ve sold exactly ONE set in the last year…