When the Santa Cruz Syndicate shocked the world cup pits with their introduction of the 29in v10 back in Lourdes 2017, many bike brands made a hasty attempt to not fall behind, especially after the impact they had on their first competitive run against the clock. Round one of qualifying in 2017 saw half of the top six places filled by the new 29in wheeled bikes. It took two world champions ( Loic Bruni and Danny Hart) and a four-time world cup overall winner in Aaron Gwin to separate them.
Since then manufacturers have had time to refine their designs and test their prototypes. They are all now on the same level playing field with many riders favouring the big wheels over their 27.5 predecessors. Despite some mixed opinions and loud voices against them, it is obvious the 29er is here to stay in downhill!
Notably, the new kid on the block filled seven out of the ten podium places available in the men’s downhill for the first two rounds of the 2018 season.
So when we were up at Fort William for the second round of the world cup, we got a closer look at a few of the freshest 29ers as we wandered round the pits.
We also got a chance to see Miranda Miller riding a prototype Specialized 29er over the weekend. While the official word is hushed, everyone is free to speculate about the new linkage system and the departure from the concentric bottom bracket pivot. We like the low-down shock position and what looks like a stiff rear triangle and are excited to see this new development from big S.
Reece Wilson and Amaury Pierron were the talk of the town after the men’s finals in what was, perhaps, an unexpected top five. And it’s fair to say Scotland’s local hero, Wilson, totally stole the show and the fans’ voices when it came to his appearance on the Fort William podium. It was a well-deserved celebration after an incredible effort from the young rider, and the first time a Scot has stood on the steps of an elite world cup podium.
With the news of Shimano’s new XTR groupset being released a couple of weeks ago, they were showing off their new gear in the flesh at the Shimano stand. The enduro groupset, with a massive 510% range cassette, four pot brakes and the I-SPEC-EV integrated dropper-post lever and brake mount looked very smart. We tried to record their new SCYLENCE ratchet system freehub, but it was so quiet all you could hear was the background noise from the crowd.