Welcome To The New Year.
It’s a new year which means it’s a whole new chance to do things differently (as opposed to a few days ago when you were legally trapped and bound to the old ways). This is your chance as a rider to set new goals, try new things, ride new trails, let off the brakes, and gather new experiences.
As for the mountain bike industry, it’s a whole new chance to bumble fuck the consumer by introducing a swath of new “standards” into the wild and see just how slippery everyone’s grasp of money really is.
I don’t claim to be an expert on any of the new axle standards being proposed but here’s what I have gathered in the 5 minutes it took before my head was ready to explode:
-15mm X 110mm front axles. First there was QR and 20mm. QR sucked but it was light so people couldn’t ride bikes for shit used it. 20mm was dope and it was stiff and it was also 110mm wide. Then came 15mm and it was 100mm wide. Now some a-holes have decided that the extra 10mm was a good idea all along because it grants more stiffness and perhaps some additional tire clearance. So why not just stick with the old 20mm standard all along? Sales? Marketing? Nothing better to do? I’m going to guess nothing better to do.
-12mm X 148mm rear axles, also known as BOOST. The only thing it’s boosting is my blood pressure. For years we had 135mm wide rear ends that were either bolt on or QR and that was fine. Then downhill came out with 150mm hubs. Okay, they sort of needed a burly option to handle the stresses of a clearly diverging market. Then came 12mm axles with the 142mm width. Why? I have no idea. People who rode the Blur TRc one year with a 135mm axle and the next model year with the 142 equipped swingarm probably couldn’t tell you the difference in a Pepsi challenge. Were you really having that hard of a time changing rear flats? No. You were not. If you were, you should bury yourself in a ditch covered in lye. 142 wasn’t stiff enough or something so from what I gather, some “engineer” with his whole arm up his own ass at Sram or Trek came up with the brilliant idea to make it a smidge wider and have it be 148mm wide. God knows why. Swingarm/tire/crank clearance is some how vastly improved by 2% in a CAD drawing at the cost of a 99% increase in ass-ache from having to buy entirely new shit every 2 years.
-12mm X 157mm rear axles. Downhill bikes were feeling left out by the tiny increases being added elsewhere, so this axle standard was hastily loaf-pinched into the world, and it has taken off like a urinary tract infection.
Bonus Round Prediction:
-12mm X 162mm rear axles. Because why the hell not? If trail bikes are getting BOOSTed into the future, why not downhill bikes? You know how everyone has been complaining about how the back ends of DH bikes are not very stiff and how flat changes don’t happen fast enough and how no one can seem to tell their ass from a bag of garbage? This standard serves to address at least some of these very real concerns.
And a few words on fat bike axle sizes:
-Who gives a shit.
Here’s how you, the consumer, can brave the storm: Buy whatever you want for a frame and for wheels. Smash the frame together over a narrower hub OR spread the frame open to fit the wider hub, install 12mm axle, tighten, and keep riding. Surely some “engineer” will come on here and tell us that the binding/spreading forces will void warranties and cause an increase in bearing load that will result in 2.7% stiction increases and blah blah blah blah blah. For front axles, I don’t know… just pray that you can keep swapping hub end-caps until the end of time.
As for the brilliant minds of the cycling industry responsible for every new standard, here’s some advice:
In conclusion, right now is a pretty killer time in the mountain bike world in that much of what you can buy is really quite good. And when I say that, I mean that you can spend ten thousand dollars on a trail bike these days and struggle to not only keep up with new “standards” every year, but you can also struggle to keep up with anyone on the trail, because you’re probably the kind of person that spends more time on forums and comments sections than on dirt. OR you take that same amount of money and you can buy a 26″ wheeled bike with carbon enve wheels, a dope suspension set up that you can have PUSHed, and have enough left over to live in Whistler for the summer and learn how to ride your bike like a god damn champion.
So far 2015 is a crock. I’m going back into hibernation. Wake me up when y’all sort this crap out.