I’ve been planning on writing this piece for a few weeks now, but struggled with finding the right way to go about it. Wouldn’t you know it, before I got my act together and sat down and finished the thing, badass mountain biker Stacey, posted something very similar to the draft I had begun. I considered scrapping my piece altogether, but after more consideration, I thought maybe I could build off of what Stacey had started.
So what is this popular issue? I’m calling it self-deprecation. Stacey calls it our need to apologize.
“I’d love to come, but you might be waiting for me at the top of the climbs…” “I’m not sure I can handle that descent...” “I’m racing, but my goal is just not to be last...”
They say that there are seven stages of grief. I went through all of them when I heard that plus-size tires would be the ‘next big thing’ in the bike industry. You know–shock and denial, pain and guilt, angry-as-hell muttering and throwing of crap at the wall.
Photo by Van Swae
But you can’t stay mad forever. I mean you can, but if you do you usually wind up living under a bridge, coaching a troupe of dancing rats. So, I resigned myself to getting some answers to the following questions:
What the hell is “plus-size” anyway? What are these bikes supposed to do well? What are their limitations? What kind of rider might like a plus-size bike? Is this the end of ‘normal’ mountain bikes? Why are we also getting new fork and rear axle standards?
Ryan Palmer, Bike magazine’s gear editor, and I headed out on a cross-country journey to find those answers. It was like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” or maybe “The Fellowship of the Ring” minus the orcs and the foxy elf chick. We wound up shooting four hours of video–a mere 12 minutes of which made it into our “Blueprint” video.
Our goal with the video was to cover the broad brushstrokes. What follows are some of the more tech-oriented details–stuff that matters but couldn’t fit within the video without us making some kind of three-hour epic about spoke bracing angles and legally-mandated tire clearances in France. No one–not even the geekiest of you–would have watched that crap.
WTB’s Trail Blazer 2.8 tire sure wasn’t the first “plus size” tire, but it kicked off the 27.5+ boom that’s making waves now.
Former NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says a nimble, tactical-urbanism-style approach was key to her success. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
Last week, former New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan spoke to a packed house of enthusiastic urbanists in Seattle as part of a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) speaker series on the future of city transportation. Sadik-Khan is something of a celebrity in the alt transportation world for her role in implementing major positive changes to New York City streets under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Introducing her to the crowd, SDOT Director Scott Kubly said, “It’s not an overstatement to say she changed how the entire country thinks about transportation.”