Thursday, April 23, 2009

Niner Forks

Niner had a huge display of 29" mountain bike forks in their tent at Sea Otter both rigid and suspended.  What's big in big wheels?  Tapered steerer tubes.  Note the conical steer tubes in the three suspension forks in the picture below.
As dual suspension 29ers are being developed, people are taking them places the big wheel has never been before, like downhill courses.  The larger wheel is ideal for rolling over obstacles at high speed but larger frames and longer spokes suffer from a stiffness problem that makes steering under load less precise.  A larger lower headset bearing is one way to stiffen the front end assembly of a bike and not something that is necessarily needed for the XC designs that have so far dominated the 29er market.  What might go good on an XC 29er though, is a compliant carbon fork.  Check these babies out:

That first one on the left is colored 'Tang' and matches the paint job on my Niner MCR.  Not that I would replace the fork, I'm very happy with my Rock Shox REBA.  Speaking of rigid, check out this carbon shell saddle.

The rails are an integral part of the shell making this one light weight piece of gear.  It was, however, stiff as hell.  Most saddles form a sort of hammock because you have a flexible plastic and leather shell supported at the tip and tail by the rails.  This allows for flexure in the middle.  The carbon saddle was supported right in the middle and the shell was stiffer than usual.   On a hardtail MTB no less.  Most cyclists don't have a ton of extra cushion in that region but maybe some people like the pain?  It would be perfect for this Rabobank rider.

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