Well, this could be interesting.
Bike maker Moots Cycles was in fine form at yesterday’s SBT GRVL event in Steamboat Springs, Colo. The hometown company used the occasion to show off a new prototype gravel rig built around a prototype 750c wheel platform provided by WTB.
Bicycle journalist Ben Delaney snagged a video of Moots’ own Jon Cariveau showing off the titanium build — dubbed the Routt CRDD — and got a few sweet details on those (relatively) big wheels in the process.
“We’re looking at highly prototype material,” Cariveau told Delaney. “Feels like it’s 1998 again, going from 26 [inch wheels] to 29 [inch wheels], but it’s just a step bigger than what we’re currently running, 700c.”
According to Cariveau, component maker WTB is “toying with the rim and the tire, and they’ve come out with the Nano Raptor (tire).”
“The premise is obviously bigger diameter, rolling over things easier. [This wheel size] could play into a lot of applications for custom builds for tall individuals,” Cariveau continued. “But yeah, this is our first build and something we wanted to give a sneak peek of.”
If you were around and riding in the late ’90s, you’ll remember what a splash the introduction of 29-inch mountain bike wheels made. Some people loved them, some people hated them, and the debate continues to this day (and now, of course, we have 27.5 inches as well). One thing’s for sure: It’s hard to find new bikes built around a 26-inch platform these days.
Will that happen again now that WTB and Moots are toying with an accepted standard? Hard to say. The reaction to Delaney’s Instagram post is mixed at best. If Moots and WTB bring this to market, rabid controversy will surely ensue among the legion of gravel diehards.
On the one hand, introducing a new wheel standard will play merry hell with most people’s builds. On the other hand, the line between gravel and mountain bikes is constantly eroding, and in many ways, this step feels inevitable. How you feel about it may depend on your age and/or relative level of grumpiness.
We’ll keep you updated when we know more. Stay tuned!