First, there's this...
photo cred: Mike Stanley
I'm sorry. The Honey Badger is over. Both Kenda Tires and SPOT Bikes have a 2013 product bearing the unfortunate moniker, and it just bothers me to no end. Look for something called "Gangnam Style" to start showing up on the shelves in 2014.
Here's my other beef; 650b or as "the industry" wants to call it, 27.5.
Or as Tom Ritchey called it in 1977, 650b
photo cred: Mike Kuhn
I have two theories as to why 650b/27.5 has gone big time this year.
The Theory of Evolution.
Kirk Pacenti the Darwin of wheel sizes. We all know that 26" and 29" wheels are borrowed technology. A big thanks to beach cruisers and road bikes for supplying us with the rims and whatnot, but the true wheel size for proper mountain biking sits directly in between your two offerings. It required an evolution of the mountain biker to wheedle through the options. Crawling from the muck and mire of primordial ooze on the flappy fin-feet of 26" wheels. Learning to walk upright on two oddly shaped limbs and shave off the unwanted body hair of 29" wheels. We are now at the zenith of our existence with the perfect wheel size to traipse across the terrain, homo fully erectus.
The Conspiracy Theory
After looking over a few years of declining sales figures and ad revenue, they realize they need to come up with something new.
Something new to sell and something new to write about in magazines.
"Bigger wheels!" shouts someone.
"We just did that," decries Emperor Palpatine, "but what if..."
All the big companies that were slow to react to the 29'er movement were judged harshly (by me, probably others as well). Perhaps they learned from that lesson. Regardless of who starts a new trend, it may be better to be seen at the forefront, as an innovator, not a follower looking to cash in. 650b bikes will selll, especially if "the industry" embraces the size as a whole and tells us it's the new black.
Some folks swore that 29" bikes were just something new to push down our throats. I'm a firm believer in the 29" wheel, so that's a big pill for me to swallow. Like a good Republican, I hold firm to my faith, regardless of new information or what some call "facts." I would like to try a 650b, in the same way that I would like to try mushrooms or cross dressing. I don't want to blow my own money, and I'd prefer there were no witnesses.
So, is it evolution or a conspiracy?
Time will tell.