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Who "Invented" The 29er

Old 04-14-17, 06:32 PM
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Bike Life
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Who "Invented" The 29er

I talked to a guy with a bike on craigslist. He was telling me about owning a Specialized released in (I think he said) 2006 and it was collectable because it was the first 29er on the market. I thought it sounded like BS but I really don't know. Anyone know who released the first 29er?
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Old 04-14-17, 07:10 PM
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https://clelandcycles.wordpress.com/history/
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Old 04-14-17, 07:45 PM
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Absolute bull****. The first mass produced 29r was the Gary Fisher Supercaliber 29 in 2002. And there were some small manufacturers making 700c wheeled off road bikes way before that.
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Old 04-14-17, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Roll-Monroe-Co View Post
I gotta say-- that Cleland Landseer is just awesome. I love things built for a very specific purpose. That bike doesn't even need trails. Also looks delightfully mental.

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Old 04-14-17, 09:04 PM
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Here's some history.
https://g-tedproductions.blogspot.com...r-history.html

Gary Fisher/Trek was way more instrumental than anything Specialized did. Unless you're some weird Specialized collector, I can't see anything notable about a 29er from 2006...

The wikipedia page even says:
"Even companies that openly dismissed 29" as a bad idea or passing trend, Specialized and Turner, are bringing 29" wheels to market."
Although there is no reference associated...
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Old 04-14-17, 09:40 PM
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Bianchi sold a 700c mountain bike in the early '90s called the Project 7. They were limited by the then available narrow rims and 45mm knobby tires.
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Old 04-15-17, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by gl98115 View Post
Bianchi sold a 700c mountain bike in the early '90s called the Project 7. They were limited by the then available narrow rims and 45mm knobby tires.
This is interesting. I was putting 45 knobbies on my 700 wheel Hybrid in the early 90's. I couldn't find any more after I wore out the first pair.
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Old 04-15-17, 07:44 AM
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Malvern Star sold a 29er in 1954 called a Digiradoomee, it was a true hybid dragster with chrome bell and a banana seat.

It looked a bit like this, but with much bigger wheels obviously.


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Old 04-15-17, 08:32 AM
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The guy is confusing 29er with the first mass produced mountain bike. Specialized was the first to do that.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specialized_Stumpjumper
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Old 04-15-17, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
The guy is confusing 29er with the first mass produced mountain bike. Specialized was the first to do that.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specialized_Stumpjumper
In the early 80's....
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Old 04-15-17, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
The guy is confusing 29er with the first mass produced mountain bike. Specialized was the first to do that.
That honor goes to Univega, which released the Alpina Sport a week before the Stumpjumper.
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Old 04-16-17, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Repack Rider View Post
That honor goes to Univega, which released the Alpina Sport a week before the Stumpjumper.
I think the last word has been said. If anyone knows, it's going to be our good Mr Kelly.
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Old 04-16-17, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Repack Rider View Post
That honor goes to Univega, which released the Alpina Sport a week before the Stumpjumper.
You missed the key words "mass produced"
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Old 04-16-17, 07:44 PM
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Guitar Ted has an in-depth post about the history and background of the modern 29er:

Guitar Ted Productions: The Beginnings Of The Modern 29"er: A History

Here is where to get started.
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Old 04-16-17, 07:58 PM
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Surly's Karate Monkey popularized the 29er and Gary Fisher's Dual Sport line, a hybridized 29er, made it mainstream.

The progenitors of the big-wheeled, ginormous tire 700c bike we have today.
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Old 04-17-17, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
You missed the key words "mass produced"
The Univega Alpina Sport was made in a Japanese factory just like the Stumpjumper. The first Stumpjumper production run was only a few hundred bikes.
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Old 10-10-20, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ed View Post
I think the last word has been said. If anyone knows, it's going to be our good Mr Kelly.
There is 'Trek Bicycle' video on YouTube called "The History of Mountain Bike Wheel Size".

The video is by Gary Fisher, the man who funded the creation of the moulds for 700c WTB 29er Nanoraptor and the earliest bikes made to fit them.

Without Gary Fishers backing the 29er movement would probably have never have happened. He had learned that large wheel tyres were a good idea after importing Finish show tyres from English pioneer Geoff Apps in the early 1980s. Based on this experience he spent his own money to manufacture a fat 700c tyre that would not fit existing bike frames. He then went on to develop 29er frames and encourage others to make 29er suspension forks.
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Old 10-10-20, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Bike Life View Post
This is interesting. I was putting 45 knobbies on my 700 wheel Hybrid in the early 90's. I couldn't find any more after I wore out the first pair.
This reminded me of the original tires on my old 90's 700c Trek Multitrack. Not exactly knobby but I loved the traction and low rolling resistance.

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Old 10-10-20, 12:26 PM
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A few years back I discussed the origins of the 29er with Joe Breeze. Breeze believed that it was the principle of using wheels that were larger than standard 26 inch ones that was important. In his opinion the exact size of wheel used was less important

Before 1990s there where a handful of larger wheel/tyre sizes being used for off-road riding.

Cylocross riders where mainly using narrow knobbly 700c tyres that where only slightly wider than toad tyres.
The French VCCP and English Roughstuff riders used using 650b x 40mm French randonneur balloon tyres,
In Finland they where using a range of sizes of large diameter heavily treaded snow-tyres including 700x47C, 700x44B (44-635 ISO) and 650x54B military bicycle tyres.
The UK 'Tracker' (dirt-track) riders where using knobbly 650x35A tyres originally developed for cycle speedway racing in the late 1940s.
In the US and Europe from 1985 there where 700c Hybrid tyres. Though I remember many of these as being fairly smooth road style tyres.

Of all these larger than 26" off -road tyres, it was the Finnish 650B and 700C tyres that inspired Gary Fisher to invest his money in developing the original Nanoraptor
As Fisher says in the video, he was sent these tyres by UK MTB Pioneer Geoff Apps who had been using them on his own bikes since 1979.
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Old 10-14-20, 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by FrozenK View Post
Absolute bull****. The first mass produced 29r was the Gary Fisher Supercaliber 29 in 2002. And there were some small manufacturers making 700c wheeled off road bikes way before that.
Ehm.... I found a cheap Diamondback 29" MTB on a dumpster a while ago. Based on the components it carried, it was a 90s bike.
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Old 10-14-20, 08:04 AM
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As the first 29er MTB tire wasn’t even produced until 1999, that seems highly unlikely. It is confirmed by Fisher et al that there were no dedicated 29er bikes as late as 2001. So the 2002 date seems most accurate.
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Old 10-14-20, 08:52 AM
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That could be confused with a 90's 700c hybrid.

I think when one asks "who invented" there are different ways of looking at it, as noted by others. Who first put 29" wheels on a bike? Who introduced the concept to the mainstream consciousness? Who mass produced it?...

As Charlie noted in his book about mountain bikes, other people may have done something here or there individually but their ideas never caught on and died out when they stopped doing it. Others create an idea, that creates another idea which leads to an adopted design who's concept can be traced back in line to the source.
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Old 10-14-20, 11:04 AM
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700c, 28" and 29" are exactly the same size, just different names. They have been on the market forever.... I remember the 28" from the 1980s, Maybe not on an MTB-designated bike, but on what one would have said back then " normal bike", maybe labelled as hybrid these days. the MTB from the old days had the same geometry as " normal bikes" anyway.

Vintage is just a nice word for outdated.
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Old 10-14-20, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
That could be confused with a 90's 700c hybrid.

I think when one asks "who invented" there are different ways of looking at it, as noted by others. Who first put 29" wheels on a bike? Who introduced the concept to the mainstream consciousness? Who mass produced it?...

As Charlie noted in his book about mountain bikes, other people may have done something here or there individually but their ideas never caught on and died out when they stopped doing it. Others create an idea, that creates another idea which leads to an adopted design who's concept can be traced back in line to the source.
Well put!

The idea of putting large wheels on off-road bicycles did not start with the creation of the 29er. The list I compiled earlier in this thread gives several examples of tyre sizes larger than 26 inch (ISO 559 mm) being used long before the creation of 29er tyres.

Most early off-road bikes simply used the largest diameter most aggressively treaded tyres they could find in their own part of the world. According to Charlie Kelly, in the USA there was only one fat aggressively treaded tyre available to the early Klunker riders and MTB pioneers, the 26 inch Uniroyal Knobby. This tyre was easily available in the US, was inexpensive and was classed as a children's size so incurred less in the way of tax and import duties. Though heavy, It was the obvious and only serious contender for the US MTB pioneers to use.

However around 1980 Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly started to correspond with UK off-road bicycle pioneer Geoff Apps. Apps told them about the existence of other makes and sizes of off road tyre and also sent samples for them to try for themselves. Fisher ,Kelly and others had bikes built to fit these larger diameter tyres which would fit high quality Super Champion alloy rims. They did well in races using them and went on to import hundreds of them from Apps over a period of about four years.

Due to their larger adult sizes, these tyres were subject to high US import duties and taxes and there were also availability issues. Meanwhile, new lightweight ISO 559 mm tyres and alloy rims came onto the market in the US. At that point Fisher lost interest in developing larger wheeled mountain bikes and as a result US mountain bikes developed with 26" wheels.

The only two exceptions I know of to this trend was US frame-builder Bruce Gordon, and Ibis with their Hakkalugi bicycle named after the Finnish Hakkapeliitta tyres. Gordon really liked the Finnish 700x47C snow tyres that Fisher had imported and carried on making frames to fit them. Around 1988, his supply ran out so he had copies made that he called the Rock 'n' Road tires. US frame-builder Wes Williams also built bikes to fit these tyres which are still sold today.

Fisher, who had been busy promoting his 26" bikes, did not forget about the idea of large wheel mountain bikes. Around 1999, encouraged by Wes Williams he approached Mark Slate at WTB and allegedly paid him around $50.000 to design, mould and manufacture some 700x52c Nanoraptor tyres. A tyre that at the time would not fit a standard MTB frame in the US.

Meanwhile in the UK there were 650B mountain bikes from 1979 and 700C ones from 1981.

Last edited by Graham Wallace; 10-14-20 at 11:28 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 10-14-20, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
700c, 28" and 29" are exactly the same size, just different names. They have been on the market forever.... I remember the 28" from the 1980s, Maybe not on an MTB-designated bike, but on what one would have said back then " normal bike", maybe labelled as hybrid these days. the MTB from the old days had the same geometry as " normal bikes" anyway.

Vintage is just a nice word for outdated.
If you want to advance a hypothesis you need to use more precise language. I don't think anyone ever marketed a "normal" bike. What are you talking about?

FWIW, these are 28x2.0 tires. I don't think anyone would confuse them with 29r mtb design





Equally, early era MTB/ATB's could not be confused in any way with modern "hybrid design. This is a 1984 Norco that shows such initial geometry (the first commercial MTB was in 82). Yes, it's got mis-matchy parts, I just picked it up off CL.


Last edited by Happy Feet; 10-14-20 at 12:24 PM.
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