While the question of 26 vs 29 continues to be debated by consumers nation wide, it seems that even the pros are still going back and forth. It certainly seems that many XC pros are taking to their new big wheels to try and win races, however not everyone is on board. In fact, just recently Geoff Kabush could be quoted as Tweeting, “Bunch of my euro colleagues are posting pics of new big wheel touring bikes. Curious to see how many actually race them at first World Cup.” So as much as many of 29’s proponents would like to think the ultimate wheel size has been decided, there is clearly still some disagreement.
In one of the first races of the season, which Julien happened to win, he was still aboard his 26″ Orbea Alma. However, when the time came for the Off Road Cassis, Julien lined up at the start aboard his Orbea Alma 29’er. Perhaps the large marathon style course with a total distance of 35 miles helped to make up his mind on which wheel size to choose.
Take from this what you will, but he finished 4th out of what was claimed to be a very tough field. The next race though? Well, that race he won. On 26’s. Clearly, Absalon is interested in testing the big hoops on the race circuit, but I wouldn’t expect him to completely change just yet. After his 4th place finish in the Off Road Cassis, Absalon had this to say about his new bike, “I am satisfied because I had fun and I’ve tested it. This new type of bike is quite different, and I must get used to it and that we continue to work at the particular weight to make it more competitive. “
If you haven’t seen it, check out the Mavic video with Julien Absalon after the break. Perhaps when Julien says they need to work with the weight, he means help Mavic develop a lighter 29 inch wheel?
Julien appears to be riding his 26 through the entire movie, but you have to wonder what else they’re working on?
Here, Julien leads they way on his white Orbea Alma 29’er during the Off Road Cassis. You can pick out what bike he’s on pretty easily due to the fact that his 29’er is all white, while his 26 inch is still the black and red frame as shown below from his most recent victory at La Teradel.