Bianchi have been selling 29in-wheeled hardtails for four years, having first experimented with big wheels on mountain bikes way back in 1990. Now that 29ers are really gaining a footing, the Italian company have launched big-wheeled versions of their Methanol SL cross-country race bike and mid-range Jab. The development of these bikes has also resulted in tweaks to some of the rest of their hardtail range.
Methanol 29SL and Jab 29
As you’d expect, the carbon fibre Methanol SL is packed with all of Bianchi’s best tricks for maximum performance, including Triple Wall Tubes (an extra carbon wall down the centre of the top and down tubes), Embedded Reinforcement Construction (the large ridges wrapping around the head tube) and the rather more self-explanatory Shock Absorbing Seatstays.
There are also a number of new design features that are debuting on this bike: asymmetric chainstays that shorten the rear triangle and allow greater chainring clearance; fully moulded carbon fibre dropouts, post-mount brake tabs and cable guides; a 1-1/8 to 1-1/2in tapered head tube; and Ti-NET titanium mesh down tube protection that’s built into the frame rather than stuck on afterwards.
The 2012 Methanol 29 SL and SL2 both get Bianchi's new Ti-Net titanium mesh down tube protection
Bianchi admit the latter is a design flourish as much as a practical safeguard, and that a plastic guard would do the job equally well, "but it's not so nice to see". No weight was given for the Methanol 29 SL frame at Bianchi's 2012 launch in Bergamont, Italy this week.
The new Jab 29 has geometry specifically developed for 29in wheels but is otherwise the same as the existing 26in bike, with a hydroformed 7005 aluminium frame with post-mount brake tabs.
The Methanol SL2 and SX2 hardtails both gain the huge tapered and reinforced head tubes, full-carbon dropouts and post-mounts, and the carbon cable hangers that were developed for the new 29ers. The SL2 also gets the Ti-Net down tube protector.
Even the cable hangers are carbon on the new Methanol SL2, SX2 and 29 SL