Like clockwork, I have tomorrow off and the high is 8, with a -25 wind chill. Don't think I'll be riding. So with that in mind here's some interesting reading. Don's account of the origin of a new species is quite interesting. Quite long too, so I hope you've got some time. I've added two gents on the side bar, Wes Williams and Steve Potts. These two were key players in the 29er movement and two men that I have loads of respect for. As machinists, and as craftsmen.
You may be wondering why I'm drawing attention to this. Well, I have nostalgic tendencies. They usually fall after my attendence of some event or trade show. After touching base with Hurl over the weekend and checking out Geno's museum, I fell into one of my episodes. You see, in hindsight I had a front row seat to the mainstream birth of the 29er. I just failed to see the forest from the trees.
It was somewhere around 1998 when I started riding with a handful of the shimano skunk works riders at various locales. At the time some guys were playing around with big wheel bikes. They called them 28 inchers. Soon after, I began fielding calls from Gary Fisher and Steve Potts asking for us to make a Manitou big wheel fork. I was knee deep in other stuff but my partner in the race shop, Tom Rogers, spent weeks in the machine shop custom machining a fork for Gary during his lunch hour. Don Cook, Steve Potts and the rest had to settle for our Manitou 3 style 700c euro trekking fork. By the next year though, I was grinding the brake bosses off of Manitou X-vert lower legs and building 29er forks for the entire Fisher/Subaru team. It was the best we could do with current units. The WTB Nanoraptors only had about a quarter inch of clearance at the brake arch. Later on the UCI deemed 29ers illegal, so the bikes never really saw action. Almost a decade later we've got great products from WTB, Bontrager and Salsa.
I thought Nate was nuts ordering that Matt Chester 29er singlespeed. I'm glad I saw the light, enjoy the read.