The latest work-in-progress frame from British mountain bike company Pace is this big-wheeled (29in) version of their 104 cross-country hardtail.
Named the 129er, it's handmade from Reynolds 853 steel and displays Pace's trademark attention to detail, with fillet brazed joints, chrome-plated drive side chainstay and coachwork line detailing.
Other features include a Slideout dropout system to adjust chain tension and a custom one-piece handlebar and stem. It'll be available as a complete bike with WTB, Shimano. Pace and Race Face bits, or as a framekit. It's designed around a 100mm-travel suspension fork or rigid equivalent.
The version shown here is a first prototype, produced after four or five months of development work; production models should be available later in the year. We spoke to Pace's Adrian Carter to find out more.
BikeRadar: Has the development of this frame been prompted by customer demand or was a 29er just something you wanted to try out?
AC: "A bit of both really. We've been monitoring the market and the acceptance of 29ers. When we used to display our fork range at American shows we'd discuss 29ers with customers there and it was amazing how enthusiastic they were about them, with a lot of them selling off their full-sus bikes and hardtails. I always had it in mind that at the right time we would introduce a 29er frame."
So, this new bike takes design cues from the 104 ...
"Yes and no. With a 29er you're looking at totally different geometry and tubing dimensions. What we're trying to do is create a 29er with the ride quality of the 104. The prototype is a fully rigid bike but we're really impressed with how soft and responsive it feels – we were actually surprised because we thought it might be a little harsh. We've tried to eliminate all the issues with the way 29ers usually handle and make it snappy and fast."
Any idea when production will start, and how about pricing?
"It's ready when it's ready, but we're impressed by how the bike has progressed. It'll be later on this year, and sooner rather than later. Look at the cost of the 104 (£594.99 for the frame) – there's no reason why it won't be aligned with that.
"Having said that, we're heading more towards being a bicycle brand and supplying complete bikes rather than framesets. It depends when we're happy that the spec we've got is correct and the price is right."