The Cascade Peak: Changes in the Bicycle Industry PART 1


Recent years have seen tremendous changes in the bicycle industry–it seems like everything from wheelsize to drivetrain has been re-thought, re-built, and re-vamped. For those heavily invested in the bicycle industry, it’s all like a dream come true–each change giving us the smoother, faster, better handling we’ve been begging for.

But for many, all these changes can be a little confusing. “What’s the difference? Why is it more expensive? What does that mean?”

We totally get it. Unless you get the chance to ride a lot of different bikes with different components and geometries, it’s hard to know what difference it all makes.

Well we’re here to get you up to speed. Let’s take a quick look at how the Cascade Peak–one of Fezzari’s best selling bikes–has matured over the years. The Cascade Peak is in line with many industry trends and works great as an example of some of the most common recent changes in the bicycle industry. We’ll discuss what changes have been made over the past few years and why we’re pumped about what’s coming for us in the next few years.

changes in the bicycle industry

Left: 2017 Cascade Peak Right: 2014 Cascade Peak with a few modern upgrades

Wheel Size

Probably the most noticeable difference when it comes to bike trends is wheelsize. 26-inch wheels dominated the industry for years until 29ers took the biking world by storm. That one change brought on a huge debate about which was better–29ers with their excellent rolling capability and fast climbing, or 26ers with their easy maneuvering and tight handling. When 27.5″ (or 650B) came into the picture, it seemed to have the best of both worlds, with it’s ability to roll over obstacles and cover ground without losing too much nimbleness and handling ability.

Tire and Rim Width

Want to know what makes a bad rider good and a good rider better? Enter Plus-sized tires.  27.5×3.0 inch wide tires give unbelievable traction, preventing slide-outs while cornering and slipping while climbing. Plus-sized tires needed a few more adjustments though, since wider tires also required a wider rim to allow for a stiffer base that prevented sidewall folding while cornering. Aggressive tread on a wide tire also needed a wider fork with a wider, boosted hub. Plus bikes soon became whole new animals with a whole different level of stiffness and plushness all at the same time. While 3.0 wide tires make for fun bikes that boost riders’ confidence, for more technical riders they can feel quite sluggish.

changes in the bicycle industry

Left: 2014 Cascade Peak with 29er wheels, Right: 2017 Cascde Peak with 27.5×2.8 wheels


So this year, the 2017 Cascade Peak has a slightly narrower tire size–27.5x 2.8 inches. And believe it or not, the difference is mind-blowing! 0.2 inches. That’s it. Rim width decreases slightly from 45m to 40 mm, and hubs stay conveniently boosted, but that 0.2 allows you to throw around these wheels much easier than you would a 3.0 plus size tire. The handling is awesome; the ride is plush. 



You might have read a bit about “boost” lately, but if you haven’t, it’s seriously a game changer. With a boosted set up, axles and hubs are built to 110 mm in the front and 148 in the rear, wider than previous trends. Wider hubs means a stiffer, stronger wheel. Rigidity in wheels means better handling, better cornering, better efficiency–simply better riding.

plus bike review

2016 Cascade Peak with 27.5×3.0 tires, 120 mm suspension, 110x15mm front axle, 148x12mm rear thru axle.

Coming Up In Part 2

While the wheelsize, rim width, and tire width are probably the most noticeable differences, they aren’t the least of what’s improved on bikes over the years. In Part 2 we’ll explain a few other changes in the bicycle industry that have made a huge impact in the way we ride today. Plus, we’re building a side-by-side comparison of all the components so you can see exactly what parts have changed each year. Stay tuned!

  1. This was great to see and read since I own a 2014 and 2016 Cascade Peak. After getting the 2016 I decided to keep my 2014 so I could have a 29er but I changed out the drive train to be the same 1×11 as the 2016. I ride them both and enjoy both of them.

  2. I bought a Rock Hopper in 1992 (?). It is time for another and newer bike. Would like to keep the bike cost at/or lower than $2000. Would you make some suggestions.

  3. Notify me when part 2 is posted. Great post! I changed my 2013 Cascade Peak tires to a 2.35. I am happy they fit w/ little tweaking, but I still can’t keep up w/ my riding buddies who are in worse shape rolling on 27.5.

  4. What is the range of tire widths compatible with the 2016 rim at 45mm vs. 2017 at 40 mm? If I get the leftover 2016 bike with 3.0″ tires, would a later change to 2.8″ work well or not? I assume that the narrower 2017 wheel has the advantage of lower weight either way.

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