The last blog mentioned an unusual period of quiet, which in my experience almost always precedes even more quietude. In this case, precedent has held and it’s been even more quiet around here.
On our Facebook page, we posted a picture I took during a mountain bike ride over the long weekend. Before posting it, Mike and I discussed whether posting a picture of a “November Mountain Bike” would be a good thing or a bad thing. You see, despite the fact that I have the bike that would have become the November 29er, we decided even before we’d gotten the prototype/sample frames that the mountain bike market wasn’t a good fit for us. Between cross country hard tail and full suspension, all mountain mid travel and long travel, enduro, and gravity, across three wheel sizes, two or three rear axle formats, 3 front axle formats, and usually with the desire for a single speed variant in each, a player like us has lost before we’ve stepped onto the field.
Putting aside for a moment the risk of having a container full of hard tail 29er frames when all of a sudden dual suspension 650B (or 27.5, whichever the world decides to call it) becomes the belle of the ball, there’s the simple obstacle of our ability to do everything we do as well as we can. Quite simply, you can’t have expertise in everything.
While the mountain bike market is moving ever further away from consensus on materiel, the road market at least has moved to a unified aesthetic: black. Black, black, black, it must be black. I get that Schooly D song “Am I Black Enough For You?” stuck in my head every time I think about it. This is a slight challenge for Mike and me because it’s not the look we prefer, but while we’re unwilling to sell performance or functionality in which we don’t wholeheartedly believe, we’re less resistant to accommodating a prevailing aesthetic. So our aesthetic direction, for good or bad, is generally “fade to black.”
Going back to Facebook, we were just asked for a status update on a shallower Rail. Having now gotten a collective 10000 or so miles (actually, probably quite a bit more at this point, maybe I should track that more closely?) on the pre-production Rail 52s, we are overwhelmed by how universal the “I can’t believe how stable these things are in cross winds” feedback is. We’ve felt it ourselves, of course. The first several times I rode them my overriding thought was “I’ve got to get someone else to confirm this because I can’t even trust what I’m (not) feeling here,” but we’re biased and it wasn’t until more objective people confirmed it that we really let ourselves talk about it.
What does that mean for the shallower Rail? It puts it firmly on the back burner. With significant aerodynamic advantages and enough stability in breeze to make that a non-issue until it’s windy enough that just plain riding bikes is an issue, we struggle to find the objective need for a shallower Rail. Knocking off 80 or whatever grams per set would be endlessly more beneficial on paper than it would be in actual fact. Speed that exceeds our old 85s at stability that exceeds our old 38s, all at very very raceable weight, makes the 52 look an awful lot like a one wheel solution.