Well, maybe not steel, more like Alpha Platinum Aluminum to be exact.
Since the invention of bicycles, there has always been a special bond between kids and their two-wheeled counter parts. Christmas, birthdays or any other gift giving occasion, little boys and girls from all around the country dream about bicycles at a very early age, and I was no different. From my younger years into my mid-teens, I was always riding a bicycle of some type, BMX, Raleigh 10 speed, or some other Franken-bike that my friend Tim and I would put together from various pieces and parts we had hanging around. These bikes provided basic transportation until I was old enough to drive, but then, around 1994, I heard about a new type of bike. Bikes that were said to be rugged, had fat knobby tires and could be ridden just about anywhere. Wait, WHAT!!??? Take my money!! Despite growing up in South Florida, I have always been obsessed with dirt, trails, rugged terrain and all things off-road and these new bikes were my ticket off the beaten path.
Fast forward many years, and I continue to be obsessed with two-wheeled self-propulsion, especially through the woods. I have been riding off-road for more years than I’d like to admit and every bike I have owned thus far has been equipped with the standard 26 inch wheels. The last new mountain bike I purchased was in February 2006, it was a left over 2005 Trek Fuel EX8. Beautiful bike with hydraulic disc brakes, fully tunable front and rear suspension, and of course, 26 inch wheels. This bike has been an absolute blast to ride for almost 11 years, but she is definitely ready to retire. She started showing her age a few years ago, so I treated her to a day at the spa and had her suspension rebuilt. After another year of off-roading, she is finally ready to hang up her clipless pedals and stick to the neighborhood streets and bike paths.
Technology has changed drastically since I purchased my last mountain bike in 2006. Suspension components, frame geometry, building materials and overall engineering. Everything today is light years ahead of what it was in 2005. Since I was a very good boy this year, Santa talked things over with Norm at Daytona Bicycle Center and felt I deserved a brand new 2016 Trek Fuel EX8. Alright Santa! It is everything I had in my 2005, except it is brand new AND has 29 inch wheels! Will I like the new 29 inch wheels or do I prefer the smaller, more nimble 26 inch wheels? I don’t have an answer to that now, however, stay tuned and look for my next blog entry regarding how the 29ers ride compared to the 26ers.