29″ Mountain Bike Racing in China

Myself racing in Huangshan - Chiru Bikes makes a very nice 29er carbon frame

The 29er is now very popular in the US and Europe and is catching on quite rapidly in Australia and New Zealand as more riders increasingly adopt the newish mountain bike trend. The 29er phenomenon in the Asia region is still a very fresh concept, however we are on the cusp of a 29er explosion.

2012 is the year that will see an rapid increase in riders on the 29″ wheels. It could be that China will lead the way with the trend-setting, especially as far as 29er specific events are concerned. This coming 25th December, marks a special day in history, will be the first ever 29er specific mountain bike event hosted by Format and WTB.

I’ll be attending this historic event on behalf of WTB and will be racing on the Orbea Alma 29″ bike. It will be interesting to see how many riders actually enter the 29″ category as very few riders in China have such bikes. Many believe 29″ bikes are too big for them, however this could change as there is some quite decent prize money up for grabs for the top 15. The winner takes home 10,000 rmb which is equilivant to $1570USD. For information on the event you can visit QQRIDE. Its in Chinese so you may need to use Google translate to help!

I had put together a press release about the Guangzhou event which can be found on Cyclingnewsasia.  Adopting the 29″ trend has its advantages but of course there are two schools of thought and many top riders are still sticking with the traditional 26″ MTB. Singletrack wrote a good article about the benefits of both types of bikes 29er V 26er. Dirtmag highlights the fact that many prominent bike brands are now rolling out with 29er versions of their mountain bikes. Men’s Fitness also wrote an introductory article about the 29er boom and discuss the benefits of riding a 29er and recommend some bikes. See Wikipedia for the history of the 29er.  For more debate on the 26 V 29 mountain bikes and to find out which is the right bike for you, check out Bike 198 – Live the Ride.

Jaroslav Kulhavy's dirty S-Works EPIC 29er bike

You maybe surprised to learn that WTB – Wilderness Trail Bikes has been a key player or trendsetter with their 29″ involvement. 12 years ago, WTB introduced the “Nanorapter”, the first true 29″ tire. It was also in this year that the White Brothers produced the 29″ suspension fork, however it was only a small number of obscure bike brands that produced 29″ frames like Niner Bikes and Surly Bikes. Gary Fisher was the first big brand to come out with a line of 29″ bikes  but never really sold well. In recent years, the 29″ became more popular; I observed at the Interbike 2011 the massive influx of companies rolling out their 29″ range.

WTB has six 29er TCS tires

The biggest recent news was that German brand, Cube, is going gang-busters for 2012. Entering the 29er market for the first time, they are rolling out a line of 10 29″ mountain bikes. They potentially could have the answer for smaller riders who are reluctant to embrace the 29er due to the large sizes. Check out the Cube report by Bikeradar.

Scott's new Spark 29 FS MTB

BMC has a several 29er bikes to offer

2012 promises to be a bigger year for Asia and many of the Asian countries are witnessing steep growth curves in cycling, and the numbers of riders on 29″ mountain bikes is set to increase and it looks like the WTB-Format 29″ MTB event is going to be the milestone or trend-setter in the history of China’s (as well as Asia-wide) 29er scene.