At this year’s Interbike, Singletrack editor Chipps Chippendale won a $100 bet set in 2008. In that year, Chris Sugai founder of 29er bike brand Niner, told Chipps that he thought there would be more 29ers in 2011 on the Interbike floor than 26inch MTBs. Chipps, owner of a 29in Surly Karate Monkey since 2002, took him up on the challenge and a wager was set.
Every time the two met up over the next few years the bet was reconfirmed and both were confident that they would each win when they met at this year’s Interbike.
There were a couple of ground rules: the bikes had to be mountain bikes – no ‘cross bikes, no beach cruisers, no adventure bikes or road bikes, and Sugai stipulated they needed to be over $1400, too.
Chipps takes up the story: "We met up on Friday morning at the show, shook hands and picked two transverse rows of the hall, walking them and both counting the bike on the booths that touched that aisle. It seemed the fairest way of doing it without counting every bike in the hall.
"At the end of the two rows, after counting nearly 100 qualifying bikes, there seemed enough of a sample for a reckoning, so on ‘three’ we shouted out the totals."
It was a surprising result, given the supposed dominance of 29ers at Eurobike and Interbike. Sugai counted thirty-four 29ers; Chipps counted fifty-one 26inch bikes.
"Even discounting snow bikes and including the cheaper bikes, which were actually nearly all 29ers, the total was still in favour of 26 inch wheels," said Chipps.
The Niner boss has offered double or quits for 2012. Chipps, so far, has yet to take up the bet.