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Isn't it fascinating how 5 short years can seem like an eternity or a flash in the pan? MTB's ubiquitous, standard 26-inch wheel has gone from everywhere to nowhere. I'm not here to argue the merits of one wheel size over another, that's been done to death. I'm here to marvel at how fast the change has taken place. Most major MTB brands don't make or market a 26-inch-wheeled mountain bike anymore in 2015. They've all gone 27.5, they continue with 29 and we're now also seeing the introduction of the Plus-size wheels in both 27.5 and 29. You can't even find 26-inch wheels on $100 bikes in Wal-Mart anymore, and now our journey to the Darkside is complete (it's May 4th, had to drop a Star Wars reference.)

When I first saw the new Trek Stache 29+ bikes at Sea Otter a couple weeks ago, I couldn't believe the height of the wheels and tires. I've been a monster truck fan since I saw Bigfoot at the Silverdome in 1984 and I remember that one year, long ago, when Bigfoot's Bob Chandler and crew put 10-foot tires on the blue beast. It looked ridiculous, it wasn't very functional, but they did it. My first impression of the Stache 29+ bikes was kind of like that - "Well, they did it, I guess."

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Trek crammed that massive rim and rubber combo into the frame and the bike still looked kind of "normal" because the wheelbase and chainstays were "normal" when compared to most average mountain bikes. The layout reminded me of my old Superco Charger on steroids. The purple Stache 7 29+ was Grave Digger with pedals;  kinda cool, but nothing I'd ever want to ride. Then after 3 days in the Sea Otter pits, the whole Plus thing was what became the aesthetic norm because it was everywhere. When I got home and saw my 26-inch Stumpy EVO from 2012, it looked like a clown bike, but in reverse. The wheels looked so ridiculously small. After you see Bigfoot with the 10-foot tires, even though it's goony, the regular Bigfoot looks like it'll high-center on a parking block.

Not too much later, I had a dream where I was on a section of rocky trail on my 26er. There was a hole in the rocks that would have sucked the front wheel into it, just big enough for the 26. If I fell in the hole, a 1000-foot drop awaited. I walked it because I hate heights. Dreaming about 26-inch wheels being too small is f'ing weird.

Prior to the dream, I thought I should test the Stache 7 29+ with those huge-ass wheels. Why not? What have I got to lose? It could be fun, it could be horrible. I'm the perfect demographic for the bike - a mid-life-crisis-aged male with family priorities who doesn't ride as much or aggressively as he used to and wants to try the latest thing in MTB. Trek responded, a bit surprised that Vital would test a bike like this, and they obliged. I should see the bike soon enough.

As a result, I've been researching these monster trucks and wanted to compare an average hardtail in a similar price range from 2010 to see how different they were to these new wagon wheelers. My mind was blown and the photos show the differences.

The 2010 Trek 8000 compared to the 2015 Trek Stache 7 29+.

I'm pretty nervous to try the Stache 29+ because, what if I like it? MTB sure has changed a lot in 5 years. -gordo

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