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Who "Invented" The 29er

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Who "Invented" The 29er

Old 10-14-20, 12:38 PM
  #26  
Happy Feet
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This is an 84 Diamondback Ridge Runner.
Note the similar geometry to the Norco above and frame detail. Not really hybrid in any way.







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Old 10-14-20, 01:34 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
If you want to advance a hypothesis you need to use more precise language. I don't think anyone ever marketed a "normal" bike. What are you talking about?

FWIW, these are 28x2.0 tires. I don't think anyone would confuse them with 29r mtb design

Equally, early era MTB/ATB's could not be confused in any way with modern "hybrid design. This is a 1984 Norco that shows such initial geometry (the first commercial MTB was in 82). Yes, it's got mis-matchy parts, I just picked it up off CL.
what you (or the manufacturer) calls 28", is the very same what 29" or 700c is. That tire will fit on a rim marketed as any of the 3 designations provided the rim width is within reason of tire width. 28" has been standard wheel size for regular sized adults for ages. it is just that when MTB were "invented" there were no wide tires available in 28", so they used the cruiser 26" balloon tires. At some point they came back to 28", but to be cool called it 29".
Most of everything in the bike industry is around available tire sizes. A frame, even rims, can be jury-rigged in a garage to any size one needs. but you can't make your own tires.
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Old 10-14-20, 01:44 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
what you (or the manufacturer) calls 28", is the very same what 29" or 700c is. That tire will fit on a rim marketed as any of the 3 designations provided the rim width is within reason of tire width. 28" has been standard wheel size for regular sized adults for ages. it is just that when MTB were "invented" there were no wide tires available in 28", so they used the cruiser 26" balloon tires. At some point they came back to 28", but to be cool called it 29".
Most of everything in the bike industry is around available tire sizes. A frame, even rims, can be jury-rigged in a garage to any size one needs. but you can't make your own tires.
The problem with thinking modern 29r design was always around isn't regarding tire diameter, it's rim width. A modern 29r mtb tire won't fit a previously available 700c rim. Just like my 4.6" fat tires don't fit on standard 26r rims, even though they are nominally the same size.
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Old 10-14-20, 02:05 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
...it is just that when MTB were "invented" there were no wide tires available in 28", so they used the cruiser 26" balloon tires. At some point they came back to 28", but to be cool called it 29"....
The availability of wide 28" tires depended on where in the world you lived and how wide a tire you wanted. In Finnland they used heavily treaded 700x47C (28x1.75" or 47-622 ISO) and 700x44B (44-635 ISO) snow tires on roadster bicycles. In Europe there where also some 700C x 52mm balloon tires. Though these were lightly treaded road tires.
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Old 10-14-20, 02:09 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
The problem with thinking modern 29r design was always around isn't regarding tire diameter, it's rim width. A modern 29r mtb tire won't fit a previously available 700c rim. Just like my 4.6" fat tires don't fit on standard 26r rims, even though they are nominally the same size.
Correct, a modern (as in 2020 model) tire wasn't around in 2006 or before. Modern 700c and modern 28" tires also weren't around then.

A tire size consists of rim diameter AND width. A rim size consists of diameter AND inner diameter. You seem to ignore the width part. And there are recommended tire and rim width combinations. Of course, tires of very different width don't fit on the same rim.
I have 2" and 2.15" touring tires labelled as 28" and have them on my 29" labelled rims (marketed as MTB rims). They also fit on a wheel marketed as 700c I have. You also can buy a tire labelled as 29" and fit on all three rims.

The 4.6" fat tire doesn't fit on whatever you consider "standard" because of rim width, not because of diameter. I guess you could wrestle it on a 25mm rim if you really try.
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Old 10-14-20, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Graham Wallace View Post
The availability of wide 28" tires depended on where in the world you lived and how wide a tire you wanted. In Finnland they used heavily treaded 700x47C (28x1.75" or 47-622 ISO) and 700x44B (44-635 ISO) snow tires on roadster bicycles. In Europe there where also some 700C x 52mm balloon tires. Though these were lightly treaded road tires.
You also can buy fat tires (26x4 or even 4.8) with smooth profile. Not sure why, but they exist. Any tread can be on any tire width, it is just limited by demand to make it profitable since tires need to be produced in an expensive factory with very expensive molds.
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Old 10-14-20, 02:18 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
The problem with thinking modern 29r design was always around isn't regarding tire diameter, it's rim width. A modern 29r mtb tire won't fit a previously available 700c rim. Just like my 4.6" fat tires don't fit on standard 26r rims, even though they are nominally the same size.
The reason why it is difficult to fit some modern 700C/29er tires onto old 700C rims is because the modern tires are usually intended to be used without inner-tubes. The resulting extra tight fit can mean that you can break tire-levers whilst trying to fit them,

Despite this I have managed to fit two types of modern (tubeless-ready tires) onto my 1981, 700C, Geoff Apps Range-Rider off-road bicycle.
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Old 10-14-20, 04:53 PM
  #33  
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I think we may be talking at cross purposes here. My point is that the suggestion that 29" is the same as 28" as 700c and these sizes have been around for a long time, or that it is all just the industry creating new markets from old, does not address some very valid reasons for their developmental use.

You can look at 29r/700c use off road along two pathways - mtb or cyclocross, and see why they developed two very different wheelset and tire designs.

First cyclocross.
Road oriented off road riding with a lot of crossover in components. The desire to use 700c wheels with moderate tread and size. The use for racing XC, and arbitrary rules, limits the forward development in size or aggressive tread. Specific use dictates and limits design expansion. So you have road oriented off road bikes with light fast 700c tires that are moderately wide.

Perhaps Graham can comment as to whether the Finnish riders were seeking the ability to ride in snow with road bikes or had a more cyclocross orientation. I don't know about that.

Mtb took a different path.
From its inception, as well documented by repack rider (aka Charlie) one major purpose was riding downhill. The first klunkers were cobbled together to accomplish this goal. The first semi/commercially built bikes followed this idea and were not just road oriented bikes with smaller tires. Everything was beefed up to survive downhill abuse. To go larger tire at that point would have been problematic for several reasons: The wheels were not strong enough, the gearing was inadequate and the envelope for 26" design hadn't been achieved yet. 26" design was still growing it ability.

Rather, in the 1980's 26" rigid design moved towards its apex in capability. Then the suspension fork extended that capability and eventually full suspension evolved which allowed the rider to tackle terrain more extreme than before.

No longer limited by strength, lightness or suspension; larger wheel size, and its ability to roll over obstacles easier, became the limiting factor. The 29r evolved to meet that now apparent deficit. Same sizes nominally, but two very different performance objectives: light/fast vs strong/aggressive tread. Put a modern cyclocross wheelset next to a modern DH 29r wheelset and you see what happened there.

Coincidentally, braking and gearing also plays a part in 29r use. Once you have the suspension and wheel size to bomb technical downhill you are limited by your braking ability. Canti - V - mechanical disc - 160-180 rotor - hydro disc - quad piston... And with full suspension, larger wheelsets and the bulkier bikes to support them you need lower gearing to ride back uphill.

Some may think they just slapped some 700c tires on a mountain bike but I see the evolutionary process at work throughout.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 10-14-20 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 10-15-20, 01:06 PM
  #34  
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Hi Happy Feet,

It can be very difficult so separate marketing hype where even the most modest change is often sold as a major breakthrough, from real-world functional advances that have measurable benefits. But you are right to you conclude that some developments in wheel and tire technology have produced real advances in both MTB performance and capability.

However some of the benefits are very terrain specific. For instance, in the UK we have a variety of off-road cycling traditions one of which is called Roughstuff riding where traditionally, unmodified road bikes are ridden off-road. About ten years ago I took a Giant NRS full suspension MTB on such a ride. Because the NRS had a good reputation as an XT race bike I thought it unlikely that anyone would be able to overtake me. However on a long steep off-road climb I was overtaken by riders riding 1980s road touring bikes. They rode out of the saddle whilst using what looked like surprisingly high gears and where obviously used to tackling hills this way. At the top of the hill the track was bumpy so I soon caught up and going down the other side I was able to ride down at high speed whilst they came down slowly, braking in order to keep control of their bikes. In the early years of UK MTB racing Cyclocross riders used to compete and win races. The organisers responded by modifying the courses to make them more difficult for the Cyclocross bikes. There is no one design of bicycle that is ideal for all kinds riding conditions. General purpose bikes are inherently compromises, Jack's of all trades, masters of none.

Another interesting problem is the best width of tire for riding through mud. If the mud is only a layer on the surface then a narrow tire can be best, as it will efficiently slice through the muddy surface to find the firmer surface below. In such circumstances a fat tyre will be less efficient as it has to push much more mud out of the way. However, with deep viscous mud the fatter the tire the bettera apart from situation where the mud sticks to the tire and gums everything up.

The Finnish snow riders had a similar problem. On firm compacted snow a well treaded tire of any width will work, though a large diameter wider tire will have a larger contact patch and so more traction. However on soft snow there is the option of using a narrow tire to efficiently cut through and find the firm surface below, or a fat tyre in the hope that it will sink in less. The Finns used both narrow and wide tires that could also be fitted with tungsten carbide studs for riding on sheet ice. The rubber compound was engineered to remain supple down to -40 degrees Celsius.

There appear to have been two distinct Finnish traditions, a civilian one based on riding on snowy icy roads, and a military one based on all-terrain riding. The bikes I have seen are all single speed so it was probably a case of get off and push if the going gets tough. The Finns has regiments of troops who used skis in the winter and bicycles when there wasn't enough snow for skiing to be practical. These regiments had a long and successful history including holding off the Germans in WWII and various Soviet invasions. The 1970s/80s military bikes were fitted with fat 650B tires.

Early British 700C off-road bicycles had reinforced frames and highly effective hub brakes. Even so, they suffered from wheel breakages caused by poor-grade aluminium rims and hub-flanges that were too narrow. In 1985 an engineer called David Wrath-Sharman started making these bikes and by 1987 he had solved those structural issues. This involved manufacturing his own hub brakes and other components whenever suitable alternatives were not available . In the late 1980s he went on to develop suspension systems for his bikes.
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Old 10-15-20, 09:35 PM
  #35  
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Thank you Graham, for that excellently detailed response
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Old 10-19-20, 09:07 AM
  #36  
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was indeed a well-written summary
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Old 10-19-20, 02:17 PM
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Thank you both for your appreciative comments.

Some commentators have chosen describe the original 1998 WTB NanoRaptor tire as the first true 29er tire. This is misleading because the overall diameter of this tire mounted on a 700C 622mm rim is less than 29 inches.

The sizes written on the side of the original NanoRaptor was 622 x 52mm (or 2.1 inches wide).
So with 622mm diameter for the rim and 52mm extra for the tire you end up with an overall tire diameter of 726mm or 28.58 inches.

The tire was also marked as 17c - 29c, which denoted the minimum and maximum recommended internal rim width in mm. Even calculating for a 29mm wide rim the overall tire diameter would be in the region of 732.5mm or 28.8 inches.

So the term 29er was a marketing term based on rounding up the diameter of the tire to next size in whole inches.

The 622 x47mm Finnish Hakkapeliitta tire had an overall diameter that calculates to 716mm or 28.2 inches.
Whilst this is only 10mm (0.4") less in overall diameter than the NanoRaptor, there is a much more significant difference in the air volumes of the two tires. So whilst the 700C NanoRaptor did not actually measure 29 inches, it gave considerably more cushioning and so represented a significant improvement in terms of off-road capability.

Last edited by Graham Wallace; 10-19-20 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Clarity
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