What ever happened to those 29ers?
If you’ve been following what we’ve been up to over the past couple of years, you’ll have heard mention of, seen pictures and maybe even touched one of our production 29er mountain bikes. Unless you actually bought one, it would have been a fleeting glance though.
If you look at our range of production bikes now you’ll notice the 29er is conspicuous by it’s absence. I’ve been getting emails and calls asking about our first production mountain bike over the summer and I guess I should try and clear up what happened with this model.
The short story is that we’ve put it on hold for the immediate future.
The long story is that since we’d built a lot of mountain bikes in the past, mostly full custom 29ers and ‘world tour’ type off road bikes, it seemed like the obvious step was to introduce one into our production range. One thing about what we do at Shand is to try and stay authentic and make sure the bikes we build are bikes we understand and bikes we would, and do, ride ourselves. Now I’m pretty old school, not having full suspension since an old Kona about 15 years ago, it was always going to be a hardtail. I also have pretty limited experience with longer travel, slacker geometry, so for our first production frame I was always going to lean towards a short travel, lightweight race bike.
So we designed something round those parameters and ended up with a cracking, lightweight, fast offroad bike. We’re huge fans of Reynolds 853 so it made sense that we’d choose that for the main triangle. We had Reynolds make some nice curved downtubes for fork clearance and to minimise front end height which can be a problem with those big wheelers. We went for an oversized seattube to make it dropper post friendly, 44mm headtube for tapered forks and a direct mount front mech.
All sounds good so far. The problem was, we were building it using our normal fabrication methods and applying the same high end painted finish that we do to the rest of our bikes and all of this is labour intensive in the extreme which means in order for it to be a viable product, we’d have to charge close to £1000 for the frame. Now while lots of people really appreciate a beautiful paint job and lovely smooth fillet brazed joints, does it make sense on a mountain bike that’s going to be used and abused? I’m not sure.
You can buy a Cotic Solaris for £500. That’s an 853 hardtail, similar tubing to what we were using, dropper post compatible, 44mm headtube, blah blah blah. And by all accounts it’s a great frame, ok, it’s made in Asia and isn’t finished as well, but for a workhorse like this, does that really matter? Is ours twice as good as that? Well, the answer is no, it’s not. That makes it really hard for me to include it in our range. The ones we sold, we sold for £850 in order to be at least a little more competitive and to be honest, I don’t think we made any money.
The other thing that made it difficult is that we couldn’t think of a good name! It was at various times, The Spunk, Fat Boab, Yer Maw and I’m sure a bunch of others that I’ve forgotten.
I’d like to think that we’ll have a production mountain bike in our range at some point but I suspect it’ll be tig welded and powdercoated. We’ll wait and see.
I’d be interested to hear what you think about a UK built mountain bike, if you’d pay a premium for something not imported and what sort of things would convince you to buy a Shand over something else.