Hello, bike industry here.
I assure you that the big sinister marketing machine is nothing more that a bunch of bike-loving people sharing what they think is cool. "Hey we made a fatbike and it's fun to ride. We're stoked on it, let's put it in front!", not "Let's invent this new useless bike to sell to all the consumerist suckers."
Sure, I have no doubt that most of the dudes working in the shops (and even some people at headquarters) aren't thinking with dollar-signs in mind, but I find it really hard to believe that there weren't a bunch of number-crunchers at Trek who, after letting the little guys take the lead, ran the math and saw the kind of outsize profits they could make by following on the fatbike trend, selling their own, and pricing it at $2600. Same with the $10k Madones, or the auto industry and SUVs; all areas where manufacturers wisely found psychological tricks that allowed them to sell to consumers for higher prices than they would otherwise pay. Or are you saying that there aren't actually any profit-minded people in the bike industry?
Especially considering all the people in the office who wanted one and couldn't get it because we sold out in a week.
Have you considered that all the people in the office might in fact be consumerist suckers? :-)
The difference is that tires 700C x 20mm - 35mm or so will all work well enough on the same rim width, which covers everything above. Go significantly wider than that... say, MTB tires... and a wider rim is necessary. So no, OPros would not work for mountain biking (and that's just the width problem, not to mention MTB rims are built stronger/heavier);
Yeah, I didn't say that OPros would be good for actual mountain biking
, just that a lot of people with mountain bikes would be fine with OPros since they don't actually use their bikes for mountain biking. Maybe it's different where you live, but every single plastic-grocery-bag-hanging-from-handlebars forced-by-need bike commuter I see in the suburbs out here is riding a frikkin' mountain bike. The top-selling bike at Wal-Mart? A frikkin' mountain bike. At least it's not the full-suspension version, but they still sell plenty of those too. :-(
Maybe Mavic is a bad example, but of their 5 "29er" rims, 4 of them are only 19mm wide (and the 5th is only 2mm wider). 3 of their 7 "road" rims are the same 19mm wide. So in terms of tire width, it really appears that the average "29er" rim is no different than a standard hybrid/touring rim. (curiously, their recommend tire widths for their 19mm road rims are 28-47mm, which matches the ISO 5995 standard
, while for their 19mm MTB rims, they recommend 38-58mm (1.5-2.3in) tires; I'm not sure if there's a technical reason for that, or if that's just more marketing leaking out).
and there's no way "you should spec MTB's with slicks and narrow rims because people will only ride them on the road" is anything but ridiculous. We do make those, they're called hybrids. If someone wants a MTB despite the LBS directing them to the proper bike for the job, that's a personal problem
Yeah, I'm certainly not recommending that actual MTBs are sold with slicks and narrow rims (though, given that Mavic actually makes a few 17mm
MTB rims, some surely are!), just that people don't buy MTBs if they aren't going to be doing much mountain biking. And similarly, that they don't buy fatbikes, unless they already have at least 5 other bikes and are FI 3x over (or, are one of the 0.01% of the population that lives somewhere where a fatbike would actually be the optimal bike to use more than twice a year).
Sure, people frequently make sub-optimal decisions, but it's not entirely a "personal problem"; they are heavily-influenced by marketing to make those sub-optimal decisions. As Mustachians, we aren't to simply throw up our hands and say "eh, oh well", we're supposed to point out those tricksy marketers for what they are and punch some goddamn faces!!