German Federation opens doors to 29ers

Larger wheels could change German mountain bike scene

The German Cycling Federation, Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR), will allow 29er mountain bikes in future races which it sanctions according to The Revolution Sports Blog. In contrast with current UCI regulations, Germany had previously banned the use of 29ers in its nationally-sanctioned races.

The UCI has allowed 29ers since 2004, thanks in part to a petition from mountain bike legend Gary Fisher, whose Trek-owned brand played an early role in developing and selling 29ers.

29ers are already popular in races in other nations, such as the United States. Bronze medallist at the cross country World Championships, Willow Koerber, converted from the 26-inch platform to the 29-inch platform in 2009, and has said she has no intention of switching back. In addition to cross country races, 29ers are frequently raced in marathons. 

Many racers notice the effect of rolling more easily over obstacles and technical features with the larger wheels, though some also report the experience of slower accelerations.

The new regulations mean that the next German national champions may ride to their titles on the bigger wheels.

Olympic champion Sabine Spitz, who is also the current marathon World Champion, considered the change. "Mountain biking has always been an innovative part of cycling. So I think it is good and important to open new options," Spitz told Cyclingnews. "But I don't know if it's real progress. At the moment I don't see it."

Spitz doesn't think allowing 29ers will change much in the German race scene, but would consider trying the platform.

"It's a new opportunity for each racer... especially in marathon racing. It could be that the future is 29er bikes. For the cross country racing I don't think so. But who knows?

"So far, I've had no experience with 29er bikes," said Spitz, who added that she would test one should the opportunity arise.

When a similar rule change was effected in Holland, some racers chose to show up on 'cross bikes, much to the chagrin of those on 26ers.

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