Scott Swisspowers Nino Schurter wins Pietermaritzburg World Cup XC on Scott carbon 27-5 650B hardtail prototype

Rumors have been swirling that It’s well known that Scott Swisspower athlete Nino Schurter won this past weekend’s World Cup XC at Pietermaritzburg on a 650B-wheeled mountain bike, and now we’ve got confirmation on the frame.

Scott Sports USA’s marketing manager Adrian Montgomery confirmed to us that Schurter was racing aboard a carbon fiber prototype built around the 27.5″ wheel size.

“We’ve been testing alloy prototypes for the past few months,” Montgomery said. “Nino’s was the first carbon prototype. What you’re seeing is an experiment, we intentionally didn’t make a big deal out of it. We wanted to see what the press would say and gauge the public’s response.

“Scott Sports takes the stance of develop and test first. If it works, then we’ll see if it makes sense in the market. We don’t just create something and throw it under our athletes and tell them to win so we can sell it. In this case Nino wanted it.”

Of course, also in this case, it worked out pretty well for them, and Montgomery admitted they’re pretty stoked to get a World Cup win on their first outing. Click through to learn more…and see the rest of the cropped image above, it’s pretty wild!

Scott Swisspowers Nino Schurter wins Pietermaritzburg World Cup XC on Scott carbon 27-5 650B hardtail prototype

The top picture was cropped from this one, provided by Scott Swisspower team’s photo gallery from the race. All photos by Armin Küstenbrück.

Scott Swisspowers Nino Schurter wins Pietermaritzburg World Cup XC on Scott carbon 27-5 650B hardtail prototype

As for the nomenclature, “We’re sticking with the same measurement standard as 26″ and 29″, calling it 27.5″ (and not 650B),” he said. “It just makes sense rather than mixing measurements.”

And to explain testing the middle wheel size, Montgomery said Schurter, who is 5’8″, wasn’t able to produce the power he wanted on a 29er, but wanted better roll over than a 26″. He continued: “I can confirm that it was 27.5″ wheels. But what you’re seeing here is just us testing, I wouldn’t say it’s anything you’re going to see for 2013.”

Scott Swisspowers Nino Schurter wins Pietermaritzburg World Cup XC on Scott carbon 27-5 650B hardtail prototype

Of course, there are plenty of high end parts on display for something that’s just an experiment, and we’ve already heard that many brands -bike and components- are working on 27.5″ / 650B frames and parts. On Schurter’s bike, you’re looking at a 27.5″ fork and carbon tubular wheels from DT Swiss and Dugast tubular tires.

Scott Swisspowers Nino Schurter wins Pietermaritzburg World Cup XC on Scott carbon 27-5 650B hardtail prototype

We had to blow this one up quite a bit, hence the graininess, but it’s worth pointing out that tire clearance at the fork arch and near the seat tube are almost identical to the clearance shown on their 26″ Scale hardtail…part of the reason it took us a bit to confirm this was in fact a new wheel size.

The 2012 Scott Scale SL 26″ hardtail, from their website.

This last one is from SRAM’s PR bit about him winning on the new Grip Shift XX, but it shows how everything on the bike that would normal indicate wheel size was missing…and that his bike totally belongs on

So what do you think? Does a World Cup win on a course with some obvious gnar help sell you on the middle child wheel size?


  1. Seems like everybody’s making a big deal out of the wheel size. Don’t forget that Schurter is one fast racer on any bike, and he won plenty of world cups on 26″ wheels in the past.

  2. Ditto yup, I am just waiting on more frame/wheel/tire options to build one up. I think it would be a killer size for a SS commuter/XC rig, a little less clunky than 29er for dealing with stop and go traffic and the local short XC trails in town.

  3. Very cool. good job to Scott for making a real carbon option and not forcing it with lame modifications to an existing frame.

    people will argue that you ‘don’t need’ another wheel size, but their same reasons would back the argument that we don’t need XS-XL frame sizes…..only S and L.
    side note: nice to see some gnar in the XC tracks lately, heavier duty than lots of crappy ‘DH’ tracks that some people have access to.

  4. “This last one is from SRAM’s PR bit about him winning on the new Grip Shift,”

    Nino wasn’t on Gripshift, just Kulhavy and Absalon.

  5. I think all this talk about what size wheel is faster is ridiculous. The best, most fit rider will always win, period. We’re not talking about huge differences between each size and different trails will cater to different wheels. It’s not rocket science, it’s just rider preference. I’m all for what anybody wants to ride and what any manufacturer wants to produce, but the debating is absurd.

    In terms of funny statements in this article, I particularly enjoyed the one that said, “Schurter, who is 5’8?, wasn’t able to produce the power he wanted on a 29er…” Really? The tire size affects how many watts his legs can produce? That’s an interesting (read: bullsh*t) comment. I understand the concept of rear wheel power vs engine power in a car, but what they are referring to here is just perception. Bicycles are almost a direct drive system. So he doesn’t like the feel of a 29er… that doesn’t in any way mean it made his legs weaker.

    Admittedly, I am a 29er convert after racing XC on both. I notice(d) significant added top end speed on open sections and stair step downhills are significantly smoother and safer with the larger rolling diameter. I also live in Texas however and if I was racing mostly uphill I would be happy to consider a 26″ wheel for the easier turnover. It’s all preference like I said… Not news when a world class rider is still a world class rider on a new bike.

  6. to be fair they did say the Schurter couldn’t replicate his 26er position on the 29er, so I guess that could affect his power, but point taken. I think simple reality is that Schurter found the 27.5 an advantage so used it. How big an advantage that is can be debated, but he obviously felt it was worth it, which speaks volumes

  7. @Matt I am sure that they are referring to his position on the bike, not that the 27.5 wheel size make him more powder but the right position on the bike does. There is a practical limit to how low you can get your handlebar in relation to the wheel size. If you are 6 feet and over you will have no problem getting you bars low enough to have you weight distribution on the bike dialed regardless of the wheel size. From 5’8 -5’9 and lower on a 29er bike it will be more difficult to get your bars where they should go. It is a subtle difference but one that will make you faster as the more balance your weight is on the bike the faster you will be able to go up or down.There is also the fact that a bigger wheel will roll over stuff better. I am 5’10, have try 29ers bikes from specialized and Niner and I couldn’t get the bars low enough to feel right. I have a 27.5 Spooky now, the weight distribution is perfect for me and I am faster on this bike because of the bigger wheels size compared to a 26. The point is that, against what bike companies what us to believe, 29er wheels do not work as well for shorter people.

  8. It isn’t true that the biggest engine/most sill always wins the race. Who thinks Nino would have won on this course with 20 inch wheels? What about one of those tiny little circus clown bikes? If a big jump in wheel size (say 20 inch to 26 inch) would make a big difference, then it stands to reason that a smaller jump in wheel size (26 to 27.5) would make a small, but still significant difference. Nino won by 11 seconds in a 90 minute race. Tiny advantages can easily make the differences in closely contested races.

  9. @Lorotomas I totally agree about fit being priority. I will say however, I am only 5’10” and I have plenty of room to drop my bars further. I also have a cat 1 friend who is 5’3″ and consistently places / wins on a 29er epic when she didn’t on her old (admittedly not as nice) 26er. At the end of the day it’s all what makes you feel the fastest and fits the trails that you ride best. I also think peer pressure plays a big role here. Meaning that if you were consistently placing 5th place at races and 1st-4th were on 29ers, you would be pretty damn tempted to jump on the band wagon. I definitely think it takes extra effort to find a 29er that fits identical to a 26, but it can be done. The geometry of different brands varies greatly.

    Anyway, top racers are top racers. 8/10 guys at the Mellow Johnny’s UCI race were on 29ers and were flying uphill, but you didn’t hear about it because 29ers are old news and expected now. 650b / 27.5″ is just another thing to further personalize the bike experience. I say RIDE ON no matter what your steed…. just keep riding.

  10. Let’s call 26″what it is, 26.5″

    Yes, a whole new wheel, tire and bike for a whopping 1″ (show that between idex and thumb next to a wheel to understand the significance).
    2.5″ which 29″ has over 26″ corresponds to just one and a half frame size. Most bikes come in 4 sizes, so go figure.

    Pro riders take themselves way too seriously. 5’2″ Willow Koerber DOES have the power to win a WC on 29″.

    Nino just girled himself.

  11. Talk with your wallets! Do not support yet another ridiculous standard. Look at what happened with bottom brackets, BB30, Pressfit 30, BBright, EVO386, BB90 etc. etc. these companies are all marketing companies that just happen to sell bike products. Don’t give into the hype, go talk to a REAL mechanical engineer and get educated about how minute these differences are.

  12. laranja, by your argument I might also say he could have won by more had he been on 26″ or 29″.

    Wheel size was completely irrelevant to his win.

  13. @Matt M., nobody said anything about the pro’s who “were on 29ers and were flying uphill”, because there wasn’t any significant climbing at Mellow Johnny’s…It wasn’t an easy race, but there was minimal climbing.

    @XCSkater, funny, I don’t remember Koerber ever winning a WC. Last year was the first year in a couple, that she had the option to race anything other than a 29er and she had planned (before the baby) to race the Trek Top Fuel (26in).

  14. Until this weekend a women had never won a world cup on a 29er. It took the 2010 world champ a full year to win a world cup after switching.

    Anybody think the Colango girls will quickly switch back to 26er? After all their 29er experiment last weekend had both of them placing 25 places worse then what they normally do.

  15. I say bring it. It has an advantage over the 26’ers, and none of the downfalls of clown bikes (29’ers). Rid the world of those big wheeled monstrosities, talk about a marketing hype.

  16. If you want to see why Nino won, just watch the race coverage on Red Bull, the guy’s skill was night and day better than almost evry rider in the field – and these guys are the best XC racers in the world. He was floating the rock gardens compared to the guys around him. I don’t know how many times I said “how is he doing that!” while watching the race.

    To get an idea on how technical the course was you have just got to look at the injury list from training; a couple of collar bones, wrists and ankle etc.

    Please guys watch the race, don’t worry about the tyre size thing – although what Frischknecht was saying about having size specific wheels in the future was very interesting. Sounds like they are looking at using 26″, 27.5″ and 29″ depending on frame size which makes sense.

  17. I did a training camp with Nino in September last year. One day he rode the 26″ Scale/899. Next day the 29er. Day after that, the 26″ Spark. Dude shreds on anything and everything. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me 🙂

  18. Still threading in my bbs, and still inflating my 26′ tubes, and still faster than everyone else around me. Marketing bullshit. Wheel sizes are atleast 26% more true than whatever bottom bracket bullshit you can throw at a bike so you can build it more out of spec and out of flimsier carbon products.

  19. So let me get this straight….heavier than a 26 with out the benefits in speed of the 29er? where does this bike fit in? What does it do better than a 26 or a 29er….nothing.

  20. @John and Brad – have you ridden a 650b bike? I doubt it. John your funny. Your comment about mechanical engineering is akin to saying you read a book about riding and are ready to shred with Nino through the rock gardens.

    And @Jesus Christ, OF COURSE you are faster than anyone else, no matter what you ride…you’re Jesus Christ!

  21. It’s not that 650b are a awesome evolution. It’s just that 26″ was technically the wrong standard to start with. It made sense a the beginning of Mountain biking, providing already existing components to a niche market, but clearly 26″ have too much rolling resistance off asphalt.

    And 29″… Well… If you like the circus look of a clown bike… 😉 (just kidding!!! come on…)

  22. I’m still waiting for the 27″ mountain wheel. All of some of the ability to roll over obstacles, with most of some of the acceleration. Is the bike industry listening?

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