As a 29er rider, I typically face the "why are your wheels so big?" and "what makes them better?" questions. No worries, I am used to it and I have gotten over the 'evangelist' approach to answering the questions. I try to convert less these days. Guitar Ted has the opinion that we are headed to normalcy as 29ers begin to filter across the mainstay brands and more and more folks roll them out of the bike shops and into the trails. Cool...and not cool cuz I have to admit I do enjoy some of the notoriety of big wheels. Well, there is always the SS, at least until THAT is all normal too. Sigh.
But I won't miss thisparticular type of interaction, one that just recently happened again on a weekend trail ride. A friend of a friend shows up for a ride on his very racey 26" FS. All these guys are rocket scientists, real ones. Lockheed Martin, JPL, etc. So this guy looks at my bike and says, "those are really big tires!" I begin the whole 'explain the 29er thing' that needs to go along with the 'big tires' and he asks the "why are they better" question. I begin with the way they roll over things well, traction, etc, and he stops me right away and says "now wait a minute....I can understand the idea, but how much of the increased angle of the co-efficient approach vector applies...blah...blah....etc"
Now I am used to a good debate and typically I am long suffering and patient, but not that day. I have known this guy for just over a minute but that did not matter. I held up my hand, palm facing him, and said "OK, shut up and put away your slide rule. You are an engineer, aren't you?" He nodded. My engineer buddy next to us is cracking up at this point and the new guy looks like I just knocked his scientific calculator into the dirt.
I told him that until you have ridden one, you don't know. You may not like it when you do, but stop trying to tell me that what I know to be true from hours and hours of riding is wrong. Darn engineers. Stick to rockets, would ya? There you are paid to speculate and calculate, draw up charts, computer model, etc. Do you ever fly the rocket? No.
I, sir slide rule guy, am a 29er pilot. Fear me. Think 'The Right Stuff' or 'Top Gun'. I appreciate that Newton's Theory of Relative Dirt Clods says I should not be happier on big wheels cuz they are slow, heavy and awkward. Luckily I am ignorant of such things and because of this, I smile when I ride and pass folks whenever possible. Mr. Newton, thanks for the tasty cookies, but as for the rest? Meh.
Maybe one day this will end like GT predicts and 29ers will blend in and be just another bike. I hope so, cuz if this continues, I may go postal one day. Either that, or I need to quit riding with rocket scientists.