Last week, Specialized quietly announced two 650B models after having spent the last year sitting on the sidelines watching the wheel size battle playout. The company’s lineup in the recent past has had been decidedly 29er centric, with only the Enduro, Stump Evo, and Enduro Evo models holding down the small wheel fort on the trail side.
This middle sized announcement comes as no surprise, since the company recently released several pairs of new 650B tires. The long wait for the new models was likely due to the fact that Specialized spec’s it’s own tires and wheels on the majority of it’s bikes. Unlike smaller manufacturers, they couldn’t rush to market without developing the supporting products that help keep the bang-for-your-buck value high.
This week several of our local shops started receiving their first shipments of the new bikes, so we stopped by two of the best Specialized Dealers in town to take a look a closer look at the new offerings. Head past the break for close up pictures, weigh ins, and a short Q&A with Global PR Manager Sean Estes!
The healthy spacer stacked on the Rockshox Revalation fork stood out, we have yet to receive official response from Specialized as to what it is for….We have more pictures and speculation further into the article.
The $6,500 Carbon model has an aluminum rear triangle, and features an all “new hidden Specialized Command Post IR, X01 drivetrain mated to carbon cranks, and improve suspension.
Also included in the package is the SWAT chainbreaker steer tube cap, which is perched on a Specialized branded 70mm stem and aluminum handlebar.
The Carbon model comes stock with clear downtube protection, a precaution we’d love to see more manufacturers adopt. Cable routing is still under the downtube, and the internal dropper routing option seen on the comp also carries over.
We’re not sure why Specialized has included such a tall crown race but we have some guesses. Once upon a time, particularly on small frames, frame manufacturers didn’t take into account fork clearance on the downtube. So manufacturers like Ventana produced spacers that allowed the fork to spin without clearance issues. Upon closer inspection, it does look like the frame has clearance for the fork without the spacer, but we didn’t try it.
Another popular theory is that it changes the axle to crown of the fork, to help keep geometry slack. A closer look at the geometry settings on the Specialized website shows that the company lists a “low” setting. Replacing the spacer with something less tall would certainly steepen up the headtube angle slightly. We have heard some hypothesis that the new 650B model and 29er models share the same front triangle, but we measured the steer tubes and they are not the same lengths.
Weights & Geometry
Q&A With Global PR Manager Sean Estes
Hi All, we appreciate all the comments but wanted to set a few facts straight. Sean is actually a pretty rad dude. He lives locally, so we’re always bumping into each other on the trail and riding, and we’ve also put back more than a few adult beverages together. During the launch, Sean was actually on vacation, but was kind enough to type out some responses on his cellphone. Due to some miscommunication, he was not aware that his responses would be copy and pasted directly. He’s always been very forthcoming about information, and helped us put together some great content in the past – like this Enduro 29er video breakdown. So don’t be too hard on the guy. We have a meeting setup at Sea Otter, and will be bringing you more coverage soon. – ed (Updated 4/3 at 4:30 PM PST)
1) What other frame or feature changes were made with the 650B model intro?
None. Construction/materials are the same as the 26 and 29 versions. Some components were changed but that is reflective of the fact that these new 650b bikes are next year’s models so they have 2015 spec.
2) What were some of the distinct challenges of developing bikes for 27.5″ wheels over their slightly smaller 26″ cousins?
Due to 650b being only slightly larger in diameter than 26″ it was relatively easy, at least compared to the design challenges we overcame with the ground breaking Enduro 29, for example.
3)When did you first start playing with the 650B wheelsize and how long have these new models been in development?
We are always experimenting with prototypes – be it wheels size, geometry tweaks, tire tread and compounds, etc., etc., in search of giving riders the best possible experience every time they saddle up. Specifically, we have tested numerous 650b setups over the past few seasons, in addition to the countless other things we have tested and continue to test daily.
4) Last year Specialized had three (?) 26″ trail bikes in the lineup, all evo models. Will we see any standard (non evo) Stumpy 650B bikes, or will it just be 29ers and Evo 650B bikes?
Riders and dealers are embracing this new wheel size and our mission has always been to deliver on riders’ needs. It is safe to say we will offer more 650b bikes in the future.
5) Will there be any 26″ FSR models offered now?
All of our current product offerings can be viewed on Specilaized.com. The rest of the 2015 line will be announced later this calendar year.
If you’re in the Bay Area, you can give ABS a call at 831-427-2232
Special thanks to both Another Bike Shop and Scotts Valley Cycle Sport, for letting us hang out and take pictures. As of yesterday, SVCS had one Comp model on the floor, and ABS has both a Comp and Expert built and ready to ride. We’d also like to give Sean Estes a shout-out for taking the time to answer all our questions.