The Story of the Trailblazer
15 March, 2015
How it went from this:
From: Mark Slate
Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2013 12:36 PM
To: Mark Slate
...the idea that we could do things that have not been done before. Looking back I think that our greatest successes and our notoriety comes from being different...
...Your response is required. If I do not hear from you before the end of next week I will hunt you down....
In order to tell the tale, we actually have to go back further than the October 2013 e-mail from Mark Slate to WTB Staff letting them know he'd hunt them down if they didn't honestly respond to him. We have to go back to this:
What is this? This is Wes Williams' Mountie 28" with WTB NanoRaptor 2.1 29" tires on it, outside of Wes' shop in Crested Butte, Colorado in April of 1999. Why do we need to go back to this? Because Wes Williams was instrumental in the creation of the first 29" tire, the WTB NanoRaptor, and in 1998, Wes Williams didn't have e-mail. Bob Poor had e-mail. Bob Poor was in Crested Butte. Bob Poor was the direct line of communication between Wes and WTB and was also instrumental in the tire's creation.
Bob Poor and Mark Slate are creative, independent thinkers. I remember meeting Bob Poor at Interbike 2013 - he had kindly helped me work on a 29" history project I'd been tasked with leading up to Interbike and in return I'd secured him a VIP pass for Interbike. I was at Outdoor Demo, preaching the merits of our product, it was hot, dusty, I may or may not have already been frumpy. I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around to see a rugged man attired in a broad smile. He offered smoked salmon. Good smoked salmon. Salmon he'd caught on his boat in Alaska. That was Bob Poor.
Bob had real ideas. He was seeing the rising popularity of 650b/27.5" and he also saw how much attention fat bikes were getting. After Interbike, Bob visited Mark at his house. They thought a lot, talked a lot, looked at and created drawings, and settled on 2.8" being the fattest 27.5" tire that would fit within most 29" bicycle stays.
WTB employees debated the pros and cons over rides, while jockeying for position in our sized for one (large coffeemaker that is) kitchenette, and, of course voted in favor.
Before we knew it, Interbike was upon us again and Kris Henry of 44 Bikes welded a beautiful steel frame showing the tire in all its glory, not to mention absolutely impeccable welds. That is a standard 29" fork by the way, plenty of clearance, Bob and Mark's time was well spent:
And of course, being the outdoor kids we are, we promptly had to go shred trail, camp out, and shred more trail upon return in Marin. Jeremy Rozen, rad rider that he is, kindly showed us how to put the big tires to good use:
And of course we camped out:
And when it came time for iF Design's Taipei Cycle Awards, we knew we had more than we needed, a tire that transformed the ride while working within existing standardization. A tire that takes you out there and was developed in a very WTB way - listening to our extended WTB family, rethinking enhancing the rider's experience within standardization, then voting together on it, and finally being fortunate enough to be recognized for it, for being a Trailblazer, through iF Design's Taipei Cycle d&i Awards for WTB Trailblazer tire and WTB 27.5+ System. So, grab your bike, slap on some Trailblazer tires, and get out there: