Head out to the trails in the UK today and you’ll see a few 29ers, but not many. Head out to the trails anywhere in the world today and I bet you fifty Vietnamese Dong you won’t see a rigid.
Justin Smith, co-owner of Joyride Cycles tells us about his rigid 29er and why putting your money in travel and tech isn’t where its at.
What prompted you to build it?
Well, it started as a joke! There’s so much hype in the industry about 29ers, so I wanted to see what it was all about, but I’ve never been particularly interested in the style of riding they were intended for, ie. the cross country race scene. So instead of just building a normal 29er, I wanted something simple for winter riding without worrying about the trouble and expense in servicing gears and front suspension.
Sounds uncomfortable, what’s the key to it riding so well?
There are two parts to it; the geometry and the material used for the frame. This particular bike is designed to work solely with a rigid fork, so there is no compromise in getting the correct frame geometry. Given that it is completely rigid, I wanted something that offered a bit of give. Aluminium was never option as it’s too brittle and offers too rigid a ride, so the only other options were carbon, titanium or steel. Carbon and ti were out of the question based on expense so that left steel. It was the logical choice as it offers durability and a certain level of comfort. To compliment the overall ride feel of the steel bike I decided to go with a set of custom made carbon handlebars. These offer quite a bit of give and help to take out the brutal impact that a rigid fork can offer.
What makes you pull the 29er out of the bike shed instead of, say, a standard issue 26″ hardtail?
As a comparison the rigid 29er rides fairly similarly to a 26″ with 80mm at the front. The bigger wheels allow you to roll over obstacles so easily – sometimes you hit something waiting for the kick at the back but it never comes. However, this bike is a little bit different because it’s also singlespeed; the appeal is in the complete simplicity. I don’t have to worry about gears, and I get the true feel of the trail underneath – there’s no suspension between me and it.
Is rigid making a comeback?
Not sure yet. There are some specialist companies making specific rigid bikes, however it is a very niche market, and these days everybody seems to want more and more travel and tech for their money. I think if people took the time to look at these bikes more closely they would realise how much fun they can be without having all the servicing costs associated with suspension bikes. It also helps hone your skills as a rider, as it makes you focus on picking the right lines all the time. You can’t always afford to make mistakes and rely on the suspension, so if anything it should make you a better rider overall.
Do you ever regret taking this particular bike out on a ride?
No. There have been times when guys with a full compliment of gears have ground to a halt because of the mud jamming their rear mech, whereas so long as my legs keep going, my bike keeps going. I may not be the fastest going up or going down the mountain, but then I don’t have to go so fast to get the same sort of thrill.
Genesis Fortitude Reynolds 725 steel frame, with custom Joyride carbon handlebar, Dedacciai stem, Shimano SLX brakes and crank, Blackspire 32t chainring, handbuilt DT Swiss X470 rims on Halo hubs and a 1990 edition Selle Italia Flight saddle to compliment the oldschool rigid theme.
To get your hands on a similar custom build, budget in excess of £1000.