What’s Driving the 650B Explosion? Interviews, Tech Breakdown & More!

26 inch 650B and 29er wheel tire and rim size measurements comparison diagram and chart

Seems there’s no hiding from 650B discussions these days. Depending on who you listen to, the sudden explosion is either driven by consumers  looking for something better or industry folks trying to drum up new business. In reality, both are true, and 650B / 27″ / 27.5″ mountain bikes are headed to bike shops this fall. What’s surprising is the “explosion” part. Unlike the slow adoption and cautious market entry many brands practiced with 29ers, no one wants to be left behind the latest craze.

We talked to a wide variety of domestic and foreign bike, component and tire brands to get the scoop…and they opened up pretty well!  Interviews after the break, but first, a little primer on the wheel size.

The 650B size isn’t new. In fact, it’s been used for decades on cruiser and commuter bikes in France. Originally, the 650 number referred to the outside tire diameter with different letters (A, B, C or none) referring to different size tires and rim widths. Note that the number doesn’t refer to the rim’s diameter. To make matters even more confusing (or nonsensical, depending on your point of view), 650mm equals 25.59 inches, which isn’t remotely close to the 27″ or 27.5″ English conversion we’re seeing on parts. It’s a rabbit hole, and if you’re interested in the red pill, MTBR recently posted a nice timeline on 650B’s modern evolution into mountain bikes. Sheldon Brown also has a few good articles on tire size and rim measurements.

The short of it is this: With 26″ and 29ers, those numbers generally refer to the outside diameter of the tire. With 650B, most manufacturers we talked to are leaning toward calling it and marking their parts with 27.5″, which should not only reduce consumer confusion, but also more accurately portray the tire size…sort of. Much of it depends on the tire’s width. Put a 1.75″ slick on your 26″ bike and you’re probably rolling on little more than 25″ of outside rubber. On the flip side, run something like WTB’s massive Weirwolf 2.5 29er and you could very easily be around 30″. As you can see from the images in this post, 650B is actually much closer to 26″ in diameter.

650B wheel size comparison with 26 inch and 29er

A visual comparison of the three mountain bike wheel sizes. Brands are Ellsworth, ENVE and Mavic.

We pitched the following questions to a wide range of product and marketing managers. There’s a bit of redundancy (and a few surprises), below are their unedited responses. When I started the conversation with the brands, it was with the assumption that the industry was driving this, and in some cases they agreed. Naysayers may cry foul, that they’re just trying to boost business, but I think this quote from Paul Aieta, MRP’s VP of Sales, puts a better perspective on it:

“The industry is fueled by thousands of enthusiasts (like me) who strive to make a better bike.  The victor is the consumer because they keep getting better and better bikes and gear that they didn’t even think to ask for.”

Enjoy…

WHAT’S DRIVING THE SUDDEN EXPLOSION IN 650B?

SPECIALIZED (Sam Benedict, MTB Product Marketing): It’s not new to riders, we looked at, and tested, it years ago and continue to pay attention to it.  This latest surge is coming from the manufacturers though, not the riders which is interesting.

SRAM (Tyler Morland, MTB Communications Manager): There’s a few different factors coming together on this. As 29” bikes have gained momentum, there’s more interest in bigger wheels. However, particularly at longer travel, many frame designers feel challenged in designing a full suspension bike with 29” wheels. 650B allows the designer to take advantage of a “bigger than 26 inch” wheel without the same design challenges as a 29” wheel. Weight has also played into the discussion as well. While at the premium level, weight differences between 26” and 29” component parts and frames have narrowed, at the mid and entry level there’s still a big difference. 650B allows the creation of a lighter weight “bigger than 26 inch” wheel bike at these price points.

CONTINENTAL (Brett Hahn, US marketing): Actually not all that sudden, been around for a long time and used more recently by smaller, custom builders like Pacenti or more mainstream like Jamis. Basically the limitations of 29 with regard to frame design/geometry have been fully-realized and it’s time to fix it.

PIVOT (Chris Cocalis, founder): I think the sudden interest in 650B is a combination of things. Some companies have seen where there are limitations to where we can go with travel and frame sizing on a 29er and 650 offers a good alternative to this. Also, some of the European countries really have not bought into the idea of 29ers and this gives them an option to go bigger without following the 29er trend. I think there has been swelling interest for quite some time, but we all needed Fox and Rock Shox to develop some product to make this happen.

CANNONDALE/GT (Bill Rudell, PR manager): I think this is driven from three directions: 1) Riders seeing the benefits of 29” wheels on hardtails & short travel bikes and wanting those benefits on their longer travel bikes that face fitment challenges of the big wheels. 2) Shorter stature riders wanting to reap some of the rewards of bigger wheels, but who can’t fit on 29ers. 3) Euros.

650B wheel size comparison with 26 inch and 29er mountain bike tires installed

A visual comparison of 26, 27.5 and 29er wheels with tires.

AMERICAN CLASSIC (Bill Shook, founder): With the increased popularity of the 29er people are realizing there’s something to the easier rolling of large diameter wheels. The 29er doesn’t fit into long travel suspension frames. 29ers weigh more than 26. Some people are too small to really benefit from 29. So 650b is in between 26 and 29. It addresses all these issues. 650b’s roll well, they are lighter and fit long travel forks/frames (not DH travel).

SCHWALBE (Sean Cochran, Field Marketing): This is an interesting one because several years ago there was a push from the US to create this wheel size but nothing really played out. This year it seems the main interest is coming from Europe. I believe it’s because they found themselves behind by not investing in 29ers and now they don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

KENDA (Ben Anderson, MTB PR): The sudden interest in all being driven by the OEM segment of the market. Aftermarket and end consumers are not the driving force and are in some cases sitting back, puzzled by this sudden burst of excitement in 650B. Jamis and KHS as the long standing supporters of 650B are continuing to push forward on it, and now we are seeing the increased interest from OE accounts globally. I think that part of the mad dash from OEM’s is in some way driven by all the product managers not wanting to potentially miss the boat on this like some companies may have with 29’ers. Tack on to that the fact that Nino Schurter is killing it on the World Cup circuit on 650B (tubulars no less).

MRP/WHITE BROTHERS (Paul Aieta, VP Sales): Not sure, really, maybe because the White Brothers LOOP 650 fork helped Jamis get a great review from Mountain Bike Action (Ha!). Or because the word got out that one of the “majors” was going to get into it, and then everybody rushed to design their bikes and components.

SCOTT (Adrian Montgomery, US Marketing): First, we call it 27″. #keepitinches because all the other bikes in the category are measured in inches, we need to look forward to the retail and customer conversation and keep the units of measure the same. I think that both suppliers and consumers have had a taste of the Big Wheel (29″) and like all the benefits it offers but 29″ doesn’t suit all riders or all bike types. For instance, you cannot build a bike with more than 130mm of travel with 29″ wheels because the BB offset and the rest of the geometry would be WACK. So, some are considering 27″ as an alternative to 26″. #keepitinches

TOMAC (Joel Smith, Owner): Companies looking to grow their sales and differentiate it’s brand. It’s obvious the 29er market has matured and is saturated, so there’s few places to go to grow sales. I mean, bigger than 29 isn’t going to happen, and you’d get lynched for something smaller than 26. It seems natural to go big for 650b, especially when the market is developing and you can be seen as “innovative” for even making a 650b bike.

SANTA CRUZ (Mike Ferrentino, whose comments were presumably vetted by suspension engineer Joe Graney, who is on the record as not looking forward to 650B): First, i do not entirely agree with (the premise that the industry is driving this). I think consumers are a big part of this interest bubble right now. According to francis at MTBR, “650b” is the second most popular search term on their site at the moment, and the 650b forum traffic is showing huge growth. It is valid to argue that the industry is at fault for even beginning to entertain the idea of 650b wheels, but consumers are clamoring right now for what they perceive to be the next better mousetrap. Another thing to consider – IF this takes off, does anyone realize how much crow the industry is going to have to eat listening to grant petersen saying “I told you so?”

650B wheel size comparison with 26 inch and 29er mountain bike tires installed

Comparison from another angle. See below for tire models.

I think on the consumer side there is a desire for some sort of better mousetrap/magic bullet – a wheel size between 26″ and 29″ that will combine all the positive attributes of both into one bike that will do everything. That desire is a bit naive, but people go down that road all the time.

At the industry level, you’ve got the fading popularity of 26″ wheels on hardtails and short travel xc applications butting headfirst into the very real packaging issues surrounding use of 29″ wheels for long travel, high abuse riding. I think within the industry, for some companies at least, there’s also a pretty heavy fear of being left behind if the ‘tweener wheel takes off, and somehow becomes the miracle wheel that everyone defaults to. You know, some sort of amplified 1992 syndrome – fear of being left with a giant pile of 1″ and 1.25″ threaded headsets, right around the time that 1 1/8″ threadless steerers became the industry default. Okay, maybe not.

LAPIERRE (Serge Lopez, Product Manager): There is no doubt now that 29″ wheels are helping a lot but that you can’t design a long travel frame with 29″ wheels. So everybody is trying to find the best compromise and in some cases, 650B could be the proper dimension.

JAMIS (Sal Crochiola, marketing): We saw the sudden explosion with Rockshox and Fox announced that they’d have forks. A lot of brands were watching the market, watching us and KHS do it, and maybe started developing a couple test bikes, and maybe that’s what spurred the two fork leaders to be on board, then that allowed it to explode. Then the tire guys, then rim and wheels guys followed suit. And that was really only in the past six months! We watch the forums a lot, and it seems like people are showing more interest as they’re hearing more about it and as our bike tests start showing up in more magazine tests. And people have been retrofitting their 26″ bikes when they can, and that’s been silently growing. We’ve been explaining it for years, but with 650B, you really have to ride it to get it. I think it’s taken the last few years for the product managers and engineers to get a 650B bike under them.

American Classic 650B rims

American Classic's 650B rim profiles.

If your brand is getting involved, when and why? What’s the strategy behind your timing – are you taking a wait and see approach or looking to lead the segment?

SPECIALIZED: We will continue to look at it but right now we are not getting involved.

SRAM: RockShox is currently in production with a Revelation fork in 650B, and our 650B Rise 40 wheelset will start production in June. Across a number of OEM brands, there were clearly expressed desires to create 650B bikes, but key components like suspension and wheels were missing from the market. With both these products, we were driven to produce these products by the requests from our OEM partners. At SRAM, we pride ourselves on offering choice to the market, and creating 650B options felt like it was supporting the idea of choice.

CONTINENTAL: Way too big to ignore, every major interest is taking the step. We plan to support the dimension with multiple patterns, widths and versions.

PIVOT: We will be in this segment for sure, but it won’t just be a 26” bike adapted for 650. I consider it an all new platform that needs to be developed properly from the ground up.

CANNONDALE/GT: GT is actively looking at 650B for the future for potential use, but it’s a little too early to say if/when these would make our product line.

AMERICAN CLASSIC: We have had 650B for about + 3 years. This is our SECOND generation of 650B. We have 3 new wheel models and one rim only model coming out at Eurobike and available for early autumn 2012. Wheels are RACE 650B tubeless, All Mountain 650B Tubeless, Terrain 650b Tubeless and the new tubeless rim project “Disc 101” tubeless 650B 32h.

SCHWALBE: Schwalbe released its first 650B tire in 2009 the Racing Ralph we did not receive a whole lot of requests for the tire and we almost retired the mold this year but with all the interest we decided to keep it. Schwalbe has always believed in being an innovator we started working on other options last year which is why we will have a full complement of 650B tires in 2013.

KENDA: We are already in the market with the Nevegal 2.10 and 2.35, we never stopped production on it. We are also developing three new tires for the 650B segment, the Karma 650Bx2.00 having already been shown at Sea Otter this year, in both tube type and tubeless ready SCT constructions. As one of the leading tire manufacturers we plan on being a leader in the 650B segment too.

MRP/WHITE BROTHERS: White Brothers helped Kirk Pacenti pioneer this segment by doing the first 27.5” x 100mm travel fork in 2006.

SCOTT: Our involvement has been limited to producing a prototype Scale frame for Nino Schurter to race the World Cup. We opted to make this for him to provide any advantage possible for the Olympic year. The reason we made him a 27″ Scale is that he wanted bigger wheels but had real fit issues on our Scale 29″. If you remember Kulhavy was smoking fools on the 29″ bike last WC but he’s over 6′ tall so it worked for him, it did not work for Nino.

TOMAC: We will do it, because I have learned that missing trends is missing sales and no bike company today can afford to miss sales.

LAPIERRE: We are already testing a lot of things since a few months and, obviously, we are here to lead every segment! When? When we’re happy with the way our samples work… and we’re not far from that. Why? Because we’re convinced that in some cases, 26” are not the best compromise and 650B could help.

JAMIS: Obviously we’re looking to lead it. Last year we introduced two 650B hardtails and that was consumer driven. Our full suspension bikes came in 2009, but shops were asking for hardtails. We’re going to add more models for 2014, we’re developing more for sure.

650B wheel size comparison with 26 inch and 29er mountain bike tires installed

The larger gap between 27.5 and 29er is evident when tires are installed. Shown here are, left to right, Michelin Wild Race'r 26x2.1 - Pacenti Neo-Moto 650Bx2.1 - WTB Nano 29x2.1

If you’re working on it, how long has 650B been on your radar as something you wanted to bring to market?

SPECIALIZED: We have tested other manufacturers’ bikes as well as built our own as far as three years ago.

SRAM: We first started fielding requests for RockShox forks about 5 years ago. However, at that time the requests were all over the map in terms of intended use, travel and price point. Some brands were looking for longer travel forks, while others viewed it as a potentially lighter weight alternative to 29” for race bikes. Last summer (2011), interest began to consolidate around the trail bike segment, in the 140/150mm travel range. We formally launched the development project in September of 2011.

CONTINENTAL: 3-4 Years.

PIVOT: I tested with 650 wheels 4 years ago and at that time pushed hard for both Rock Shox and Fox pursue it, but 29ers were just really gaining steam so it wasn’t in the cards at that time. The announcement about 8-9 months ago that both companies were going to be developing forks changed the game. We will have something special when all the testing is done and we are happy with the end product. I think this is a perfect application for longer travel designs (more than 5.7”) where 29ers have some issues.

CANNONDALE/GT: Personally, 650B has been on my radar for the past 5 or 6 years and on the GT brand radar for the past 18 or so months. I’ve personally always looked at 650B as the size the industry should have done, but didn’t.

AMERICAN CLASSIC: About 1 year or so for this second generation.

KENDA: With the existing Nevegals going as far back as the end of 2008 it has been on our radar for a while. However, the new interest has been something that we have been watching and preparing for, for the last year.

MRP/WHITE BROTHERS: Since 2006. In 2011 we introduced the LOOP 650, the first dedicated 650B series of forks, from 80mm to 150mm.

SCOTT: So far it is not on our radar to bring to market. We’ve been testing since last summer for Nino’s bike and we have some real good data on how the wheels accelerate, the size of their traction patch and their improved rollover when compared to 26″ but at this point we are not planning to make a 27″ production bike. We’ll read through the comments on this story to gauge the market input.

TOMAC: It’s been on the radar for a long time, but the components to build the bikes have been somewhat limited. That’s changed in the past 6 months, which makes it much easier to put the bike you want together.

LAPIERRE: Approximately 1 year, we’ve started to push some of our suppliers because we need them to bring the appropriate products/parts to the market.

JAMIS: We started developing the first 650B bikes in late 2008 and in the market as a 2010 model year. We started with a 5″ travel full suspension bike because we were getting a lot of pressure for a full suspension 29er. Once we hit 130mm travel, it was so difficult to get a good full suspension design, but the 650B wheel size worked, so that’s how it came about.

2012 Jamis Dakar 650B Pro mountain bike

The 2012 Jamis Dakar 650B Pro full suspension mountain bike.

Assuming the wheel size takes off with rapid consumer adoption, how do you think it’ll change the retail landscape? In other words, if it’s successful, what sort of bikes do you think we’ll see on IBD floors in three years?

SPECIALIZED: The retail landscape will not change too much. Shops will still carry mountain bikes and help people get the best ride for them, cross country, trail, DH, etc. Mountain biking will still be a lot of fun. The tricky part will be what shops stock. Most shops have expressed to us that they are not interested in carrying three wheel sizes. Too hard to explain, to carry everything they need, and service new and old bikes. Shops will probably pick two, maybe even one wheel size and focus on what is best for their area.

SRAM: If rapid consumer adoption occurs, there’s a few different scenarios that could play out. It’s entirely possible 650B could become the dominant wheel size in a few years’ time. While I don’t expect to see 26” or 29” disappear entirely, we could see a shift to the point where most “mountain bikes” would use 650B. While short term this might be a challenge for the IBD, a few years out this could actually reduce the amount of variation and complexity in the mountain bike world. Alternatively, it’s possible that wheel size could become a part of intended use, similar to travel. So, shorter travel XC bikes would be 26”, mid travel and all mountain bikes would be 650B, and longer travel bikes would be 26”. Of course, all this depends on the bikes being offered providing a real advantage that the consumer can appreciate. That still remains to be proven.

CONTINENTAL: 26 will remain the longest in the gravity segment, and 27.5 and 29 will merge in the 80 – 160mm travel world, with XC hard tails and shorter travel trail bikes in 29 and the rest 27.5.

PIVOT: In the next couple of seasons, I think there is going to be massive confusion at the shop and rider level with 3 wheels sizes. That part is impossible to get around. It’s pretty clear at the long travel end of the spectrum. Just like now, about ½ the riders like the maneuverability of 26” wheels and the other half like the big wheels. In the longer travel bikes, we will have two options. At the XC race level, the 29er wheels hold a clear efficiency advantage for many riders on most race courses, but it doesn’t have a weight advantage and there are some sizing restrictions so it will be interesting to see how the war wages on the XC front. I think the trail bike (5-under 6”) of travel will have 3 wheels sizes existing for awhile. This category is still dominated by 26” wheel bikes for a reason. They are fun, light and capable. In any case, we are excited to be a part of it and when we release something in the 650 wheel size, it will be incredible.

CANNONDALE/GT: If it takes off as some are predicting, I could realistically see 650B taking off for most dual suspension bikes globally and on hardtails in Europe. For the US, I think we’re solidly in love with our 29ers and it might take a rebirth of Heston himself to pry them from our cold dead hands.

AMERICAN CLASSIC: IBD’s will ultimately go to 650B and 29er bikes. 26” will eventually become a “big box” store item as time goes on.

SCHWALBE: In North America 120mm-160mm bikes for sure. Europe may be a little different in they will most likely have both trail and hard tail race bikes. One things for certain there will be one hanging in my garage.

KENDA: If this is successful, there will be eventual acceptance from retailers who may be initially reluctant to stock an additional tire size and range of product offerings in their shops. In time you may see each of the three main tire sizes become a dedicated tire to a specific type of riding, with some overlap between the categories. 26” tires will remain the tire of choice for downhill, 650B will take over the Trail/All Mountain segment, and 29” will be the tire of choice for cross country in the US. Obviously there will be some overlap, potentially seeing 650B in XC for smaller riders. Additionally, we are already seeing that in Europe there is push for 650B in the XC market too.

MRP/WHITE BROTHERS: 650 could realistically take over a large slice of the pie. 29” hardtails for racing (except perhaps in the smaller frame sizes) and 26” for DH will remain unaffected.

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

Nino en route to a World Cup victory on the prototype Scott Scale 27".

SCOTT: I think if we do see another wheel standard take hold then retailers will have one more exciting product to sell, and consumers will have more variety. Think about it like this, kids get 12″, 16″, 20″ and 24″ bikes to fit, why should adults only have two sizes? We come in all shapes and sizes and have varying interests. The ballon tire (26×2.125) standard has been around for about 75 years, isn’t it time we challenge it? I mean we’re not all running around on 1″ threaded steerers anymore, and our BB’s come in varied PF sizes and our FD’s have more mounting types than I care to count. We’re already challenging convention in MTB, this is just another step.

TOMAC: Well, it’s hard to say. I don’t think anyone 2 years ago would have suspected we would be talking about nothing but 650b in 2012. But, here we are, and there’s not denying all of the hype is creating a market for something no one knew they needed two years ago. And you can imagine some brands will do different wheel sizes for different travels, or different wheel sizes for difference height riders, but in the short term it will just be more options for consumers, which is always a good thing.

SANTA CRUZ: IF it takes off, it makes sense that ‘tweener wheels would find acceptance in the mid-travel AM-ish trailbike segment, Nino Schurter notwithstanding. the same people who want that elusive jackalope of a do-it-all 6″ travel bike that is their one ride, they’ll be the prime target for the wheel size. 29″ wheels will continue their crushing of everything at the hardtail and short travel xc end of things, 26″ wheels will still have primacy in the world of DH. But what the hell do I know? I remember thinking hydraulic disc brakes were a fad.

LAPIERRE: That’s a little bit strategical and maybe a little bit early to reveal it at this moment. But if you take a look at what will be happening to Lapierre entry level bikes next year, then, you’ll probably understand where we want to go with the wheels sizes…

JAMIS: In two years and beyond, I think we’ll see a lot more 650B bikes from other brands. A lot of guys are testing prototypes now, as are we. Five years down the road, when you walk into a shop in the US, you’ll probably only see 650B and 29er. When you go over $700 retail today, about all you see now is 29ers. For brands that were considering a high end full suspension bike, you’ll see 26″ go away, replaced by 650B.

——

What do you think? Are you interested in riding 650B? Where do you see bikes headed in three to five years? Leave a comment, the industry’s listening!

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Topmounter
Topmounter
10 years ago

I’m sure the industry wants to see more bikes added to the “required” multi-bike quiver… Road bike, Cyclocross Bike, Tri-bike, 29″ Hard-tail, 29″ FS XC, 650b trail bike, 26″ DH, etc., etc.

Dude
Dude
10 years ago

Zero interest in this wheel size….

pass the gravy
pass the gravy
10 years ago

I like my 650B Jamis a lot, and a Pivot with those wheels sounds like the coolest thing I can think of.

Gillis
Gillis
10 years ago

@Topmounter, you’re mistaken, no wants a “tri-bike”. Unless you mean a tricycle by which you further mean an adult-sized big-wheel for hooning around the neighborhood on. IF that’s the case you are right.

Adrian (Scott Bikes)
10 years ago

Just wanted you all to know we’re reading the comments here to gauge the market interest so fire away…

Topmounter
Topmounter
10 years ago

Well ok, only Tri-athletes want Tri-bikes… I should have said TT-bike.

In addition to smaller frame sizes, 650b does make some sense if you want larger-than-26 wheels and a longer travel rear end. I just don’t know if 650b is “better enough” (to justify its existence) on longer travel FS bikes versus sticking w/ 26″ wheels.

aj
aj
10 years ago

I can’t wait, Im only disappointed that I am not hearing that there will be full-blown race bikes in both hard tails and full sus from these guys in 2012. After riding a 29er and going back to 26 it is obvious that 26 is a very small wheel and at disadvantage at a 29er at some things. 29 is a big wheel though and to go full sus sometimes means compromises. 650 is making so much sense. It will be a long time in the US for 29 to fade, if ever, but 26 will fade for sure when 650 arrives.

aj
aj
10 years ago

2013 that is ^

john
john
10 years ago

http://www.sixfifty.com check this out

ZIP
ZIP
10 years ago

Im a 6’1 professional athlete.

Love all types of biking, that even does include TT.
Last bike 26″ Blur LTC – Loved it.
Current 1 of my 6 Bikes 29″ Niner Jet 9 RDO – Love it. (yes I need to sell them)

Do not see the need to dilute the market with a third “tier” of product. I believe that the second hand market will not move as well and in turn the retail will not turn over as much the bike industry is shooting itself in the foot for a short term financial gain.

A very wise man once told me “Keep it Simple, do the Simple things well”, I offer this advice to the bike industry. Bike companies who focus attention on developing more and more bikes take away from their other products (generalization). Jack of all trades master of none. I know cause I am a jack of all trades.

DON”T BUY INTO THE 650B / 27.5″

Jeff
Jeff
10 years ago

I have been riding 29er’s since 2006 exclusivly and since I have no need / want of a LT FS bike of any wheel size I have zero interest in 27.5″ wheels. Plus I am 6’5″ so 29″ are finally big enough to make my bikes look like a adult bike.

Alex
10 years ago

Yet, another way to make you buy a new bike.
What’s was wrong with the 26″ wheels? Nothing !!! is the true answer.

rc
rc
10 years ago

27″ is legit (since people are buying/using them) and I think the Scott rep captured the sentiment well in his response to the last question. I’m scratching my head a little from Specialized’s response which seems very “head in the sand” for a company that wants to dominate every bike segment — or maybe they’re trying to throw other companies off the scent.

Anyways, I’m 6′ and ride a 29er. While the bike fits me and I don’t need any more travel, I think there’s something to be said for handling and the ability to get a shorter chain stay with the 27″ size (if the geometry is right, could improve handling a lot). That and maybe weight savings would be the biggest factors to me.

Darren
Darren
10 years ago

I agree with what most of the manufactures are saying. I think
26er will be for DH, Jump, Box store bike.
27.5 will be smaller rider HT, small rider FS XC and the FR segment
29er will be for XC HT, and Short travel XC

I am 6ft and will not be owning a 27.5, but I am interested in the idea of putting of a 27.5 in the back, and a 29er up front.

I run 2.4 or 2.55 on Rigid 29er HT, would be interesting to run the same thing with a 3.0 27.5 tire in back.

CJ
CJ
10 years ago

One of the reasons 26″ will remian viable is the available gearing selection for those who are more gravitationally challenged. Turning the cranks up a steep incline on a 26″ vs a 29″ is why 650b is seeing the interest. That said I am, running a 650b on the front of my Turner and once some fork and position adjustments are made it is a better version of the same mousetrap.

stan
10 years ago

Great article. I appreciate the work in getting so many manufacturers to chime in on this. Based on responses it seems like that while there is some consumer interest, it is the manufacturers not wanting to be left behind that is driving it more (at least that’s what I get some bike makers). Fork and tire makers — glad they are getting on board….it would be a short train ride w/o them.

RKT
RKT
10 years ago

The only thing I’m waiting on is my Stan’s wheels. As soon as they are in, I will own a reasonably lightweight Jamis hardtail 27″ bike. Really hoping that companies come out with race oriented hardtails and full suspension bikes, but realize the big attraction will be longer travel trail bikes.

rich
rich
10 years ago

Go figure that a 6’1 professional athlete doesn’t mind 29? A big guy with a lot of power should have no problem keeping the big wheels moving fast. But what about those who aren’t 6 foot and aren’t pro? 650 seems like a good option for customers looking for bigger wheel advantage but don’t want boat anchor wheels that come with entry level 29ers. I’ve always thought 29ers were great for racers, but I’ve seen a lot of entry level riders struggle with cheap 29ers

Xris
Xris
10 years ago

Doing the 650B thing here in Toronto is iffy. Our shop has a ton of traffic from bikers who have heard of it but are still only just getting into 29er and that shocked a lot of people and still does. It’s still a fresh wheel size that the general public has only now started to fully embrace. I don’t think it’s too soon, but it needs to be introduced with more force than 29er was and have bikes ready to go from a large list of major companies (Scott, Giant, Trek, Specialized, etc), for the general non-mtb enthusiast to actually catch onto it. They’re the ones driving the industry. It’s not the guys who eat, sleep, and breath bikes.

GChambers
GChambers
10 years ago

I would own a 650B 140mm travel bike as my “Do Everything else” bike in a heart beat to compliment my Single Speed 29er Hardtail.

highpointer
highpointer
10 years ago

GT and Schwinn (the ones before they were sold) used the 650b wheels many years ago. Has a Trek dealer I would like to see the Trek Fuel EX with the 650b wheels. I think it will happen for 2013 but maybe 2014.

Craig
Craig
10 years ago

I have a 2010 Jamis 650B2 that I’m really enjoying, can’t wait for further refinements (carbon, more tire/wheel options etc.)!

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Silly for the manufactures to be thinking about doing this. Complicates the retail environment, adds to the required inventories of the manufactures/ distributors & confuses the average customer.

Lets be honest, what lets the bike industry exist is the customer that would never be reading bikerumor. I can imagine the pain in the a** complex dynamic of showing a customer to the “perfect bike” for their needs, with additional variables.

Don’t do it. Good call Specialized, let the other companies chase “buzz interest” from a bunch of internet bikers that do not ride and burn themselves. It only works if the shops want to sell it and from what I have heard the don’t.

Blooseville
Blooseville
10 years ago

I agree with most of the manufacturers and Darren. 26 = gravity; 27.5 = all mountain – enduro; 29 = xc – hardtails. Choose your terrain/way of riding and then choose your wheel size. There is enough demand in the market for the 3 wheels size.

Rideit
10 years ago

Ok, I have been riding mt bikes since~86′. Owned a shop for many years. Have been alternately skeptical and enthusiastic over the years, part retro-moto grouch, part a gee-whizzer. All that said, at 5’8″, and my favorite trails being quite technical (Peru, Porc, Teton Pass, Whistler), well, 29 just feels WRONG. to Me. unweildy, sluggish, doesn’t like to flick or hop. 26″ has its limitations in wheel efficiency. I Have been wanting something like a 650 platform for a long time, and could not be more enthused for consumers, who simply have another viable choice. And choices are what make this all work and progress! now, if we could only bring back Zapata’s prediction that the 25″ tire would revolutionize DH riding…

Dallas
Dallas
10 years ago

God please no! The last thing we need is another standard. Two wheel sizes and a “quiver” approach to your stable of steeds is enough. For retailers, this is going to be a nightmare. For consumers, a conundrum. If we feel we must venture down this 650b road, then death to 26″. Three is a crowd…

Ryan
Ryan
10 years ago

It’s going to come down to what fits within a 17″/430mm or so chain stay length. Sorry but any bike with 18″ chain stays is going to climb like a 2wd s10 on a snowy road. Long chainstays are awful. I can see FS 29ers fading and hardtail 26er’s being reserved for DJ and light trail. Like so many have said wheels size will be opposite travel length.

Wheels stiffness comes into play too. 29er MFG’s should just adopt 150mm dh hubs for the sake of stiffness and be done. 135mm-142mm? No one wants to stand up on a bike and feel like the rear wheel is going to turn inside out.

jeoff
jeoff
10 years ago

Hey all you 6ft + riders hating on 650B: congratulations on being tall and being able to use 29 without funky frame issues. 650B is perfect for those of us of medium height that want the benefits of a larger than 26″ wheel. Finally we’ll have different wheel sizes to go with different frame sizes, shoe sizes, etc. ’bout time.

Dhracer84
Dhracer84
10 years ago

Living in the north east and being only 5’7″ tall, the 26″ wheel rules! I have test ridden 29ers and have not found one that fits me or my riding style. I feel like I am riding my big brother’s bike that is not as nimble or responsive. Yes, I want all the benefits the 29er wheel offers, but if the bike doesn’t fit me, what good is it?

For the same reasons the 29er doesn’t work for Nino, I doesn’t me either…I really want a 650b bike. Build a 650b mountain bike for guys like me, and guys like me everywhere, will line up to buy it. 

KD
KD
10 years ago

You’re diluting the market! You can barely find a good store to work on suspensions in San Diego and no one even works on Lefty shocks here and suddenly you’re ramming a third standard down our throats when you can’t even get the specs on your bottom brackets right and we’re all still dealing with creaks and pops with PF30, BB30, BBright, BBEVO etc. etc. 650B is the avg of two tire sizes and thus encompasses all the disadvantages and advantages, this is no magic bullet and is not benefiting anyone by having “another choice”.

pcs
pcs
10 years ago

I ride XC or trail which is arguably the largest market segment of mtb.
Thus far all my bikes have been 26″ bikes. However, going forward I have almost zero interest in another 26″ ride. I was pretty set on reverting to a HT but with 29″ wheels. However, I have been concerned about the added weight, handling and giving up the dual suspension. A 650b dual sus sounds like a fantastic compromise, particalrly at my medium height.

Joshua Murdock
10 years ago

Bike companies: Please DON’T embrace the new 650b trend.

Now, a lot of people will be quick to point out that if the industry had listened to similar advice five years ago (roughly) we wouldn’t have our beloved 29’ers today. However, there is one fundamental difference here: the driving force behind the trend. Consumers wanted 29’ers for long enough that the industry responded by supporting the wheel size on a greater magnitude. The industry itself is the driving force behind the new 650b trend. Very few riders want or are even familiar with 650b products but the industry is telling them that they need it. It is essentially an attempt to foster a synthetic repeat of the 29’er revolution, just with the “next best thing”. That’s the difference.

When an industry can convince its consumers that they all need a new bike because one wheel size is inherently deficient, every company that chooses to support the new standard will benefit.

At this point, I’m sure someone will be quick to respond with a reference to Nino Shurter’s World Cup performances on a 650b prototype. On the surface his victories are a huge block in the foundation of the 650b argument, similar to Kulhavy’s performances aboard a full-suspension 29’er last season. Once you dig deeper, though, it is apparent that he was settling by riding a 650b bike. After testing 26, 650b, and 29’er bikes, Shurter preferred the handling and performance of the 29’er but is simply too short to achieve his ideal fit on a 29’er. He rides a 650b bike because it’s the closest wheel size bike to a 29’er that he can fit on properly. Scott tried to build a 29’er he could fit on because it was the best performing wheel size.

SCOTT BIKES: “…he wanted bigger wheels but had real fit issues on our Scale 29?.

The last argument against 650b is the most simple: it is essentially a 26″ wheel with a fat tire. Look at the diagrams and pictures above. While it is marketed as being halfway between 26 and 29, it’s barely larger than a 26” wheel. One might be able to convince me of the merits of a true 27.5 wheel but not a oversize 26’er.

In short, 650b is a silly trend. It’s not a fad, though, as it very well may become popular (unfortunately). It’s essentially the soft-tail of wheel sizes – a compromise with none of the benefits afforded by either alternative. It should go away.

Justin
Justin
10 years ago

I think choice is good but I am glad I am not a bike shop or a manufacturer of bikes.
Who is 27.5 targeting?
Riders who are new to mountain biking will buy whatever their friends or local bike shop tells them to buy (they’d buy a 35er if they were told that’s the latest and the best).
For the rest of us who are already heavily invested in our equipment – I doubt too many of us (with the exception of those early adopter / gotta have the latest types) will trade in our 26″ bikes for what is likely to be only the smallest of performance improvements (and let’s face it, when comparing a large volume 26″ tyre to a normal volume 27.5 – the improvement is going to be nominal at best). So, if new buyer will buy what’s already in the market and existing buyers won’t trade in – what’s the commercial point of all this? Sure, when my bike is old / broken and it’s time to buy something new – I’ll consider a 27.5 if they’re any good – but I won’t be spending any money that I wouldn’t be spending anyway on a 26er (or 29er if I was that way inclined).
So from my POV – I think this is just a pointless and missguided dash-for-cash on behalf of the bike industry. The consumer will benefit in the long-run (maybe) but is it really worth all the fuss and hassle ?

Alan Stevens
10 years ago

Let the manufacturers build a 27″ bike if they want. It honestly won’t affect my choice in the least. I liked Scott’s comments about other component sizing standards, and it seems like good justification. Just because they sell a 27″ bike doesn’t mean I’m going to buy one. Just about every company makes a ‘roubaix’ model roadbike too, but I won’t buy it either. If there’s really a market, it will exist. Everyone else will keep riding what they want. I race and train on a 29″ HT, but I like riding 26″ bikes too. Each wheelsize does not have to be mutually exclusive. Though I will say, I’m a little scared of a franken-bike coming…remember the trek 69er?

Zombinate
Zombinate
10 years ago

Gotta say, I love hearing the “it’s the plague comments.” Harkens back just a few years to what was being said about 29ers.

Anyway, In my shop, we have 2 650B converts. Myself and another, both of us are shorter. I am 5’10” and he is 5’8″ish. While I am sure it is out there, I have never found a 29er that felt right. I ended up converting a 2004 Marin Rift Zone with a fork swap. 4″ of travel front and back with better roll over is pretty sweet. He put together a Soma B-side for his racy bike.

I am looking for the 650B all mountain rig. Something like the Scott Genius LT, Cannondale “Over-mountain” line, GT Force, etc. 650B with 6 Inches of travel? Yeah I have my sights set squarely on that.

Tom
Tom
10 years ago

At 5’8″ The 29’rs did not feel right for me and the tight twisty W.N.C. riding I do. Luckily a friend was an early adopter of 650b and I quickly realized it was a better choice for me. I took a chance and ordered a Haro sonix 650b three seasons ago. the ride is light years better than the trek liquid it replaced. I have been a little nervous about fork and tire choices in the future. It appears that is a non-issue at this point.
I will never buy another MTB that is not 650b
P.S. for any industry folks reading. Most of us serious recreational riders don’t want A)more gears B)more levers C)batteries other than the light’s we carry!

ch
ch
10 years ago

I’ve been riding a Soma B-Side for a couple of months now. It is a sweet, sweet ride!
For the past 4 years, I’ve ridden a Turner Flux (26″ x 4″ XC bike). I have loved my Turner since the day I bought it. During that time, I’ve owned a JET9, SIR9 and Kona Unit. Not one of those bikes were fun to ride. I live in an area where 29ers should work best. It’s pretty smooth and flowy. God knows that they are popular around here. Alas, I have no love for the big wheels. Perhaps it my relatively short stature (I’m 5′ 7″) or point-and-shoot riding style. There are lots of people much shorter than I who love their 29ers. Although, I can’t fathom how based on my experience with them.
Back to the B-Side. It is a bike that, like my Flux, just “feels right.” The wheels roll suprisingly better than 26ers. Sure, it doesn’t roll over things like a 29er, but it also doesn’t try to hide freight-train handling behind overly steep head angles and jacked fork offsets. What a fun bike this is to ride!
I for one, want to vote for more focus on the XC market. What I’m waiting for is a Turner / Pivot / Sant Cruz 100mm full suspension 650B XC bike. Since I’m asking, I’ll throw in that I prefer light-weight aluminum over carbon.
Lastly, shout out to Jamis and KHS for commiting big resources to this wheel size. I did test ride a Dragon 650. It was a great bike. If it were available with sliding dropouts, I would be riding one of those beautiful green machines today. KHS – your 609 is sexy!

rob b
rob b
10 years ago

Giant NRS carbon fitted up with 650B. Fantastic!!!!!!! (did take a little mod’n).

Mike
Mike
10 years ago

I am 6’1″ 185lbs. I have demo’d 3 full sus 29″ from different brands. generally, these bikes carve wider and slower than 26″ wheels, and feel higher off the ground with a higher center of gravity. I have observed that there exists an adjustment/break it period, where a person who prefers 26″ wheels will need to ride a 29r in a different way. I recently bought a 650b hardtail, without a field demo ride – and there is no change in riding habits necessary – it noticeably rolls over roots/boulders better than 26, and is still nimble in carving corners…I do wish it had a slightly higher bottom bracket.

29r may be the best wheel for SS HTs – but riders who simply dismiss 26″ and 27.5″ possibly lack any real bike handling skills in the first place. bike skills always differentiate riders, and so bike equipment should really be what is the best fit for a given rider – to provide the level of confidence enough to attempt tougher trails and practice skills. 650b wheel has the broadest application as a wheelsize applicable to multiple niches of bikes, and rider sizes – it is exactly like multiple wheels for kids, and shorter crankarm lengths

also, affordable 2×10 is a better spec for 27.5″ and 29″ bikes..get rid of the 3 front rings!!!

i work in a bike shop. the 650b interest is not fueled by corporate giants desiring to push products on people, but the quest to create bikes that are optimally suited for their design purpose, with the least amount of negative design consequences in the cost/benefit tradeoff balance.

Bill
Bill
10 years ago

The 27.5 wheel size adds a new dimension to existing 26-in mountain bikes. Rolls with 29er speed and has the agility to knife through turns. This market is rapidly gaining momentum as wheels, tires, forks, and frames are in the pipeline. Joel Smith at Tomac hit the bullseye with his comment that no bike company can afford to miss sales ! Schwalbe tires has identified a market in 27.5 for their line of tires that riders are craving. Scott bikes – The market has exploded as Nino Schurter’s exposure on the XC World Cup scene has generated a frenzy for the 27.5. We await the Scale and Spark to hit on the main stage – when ? yesterday ?

Johnny
Johnny
10 years ago

Ouch I guess I’ll have to rethink my purchase of a Scott 650b hardtail. Hello Eriksen or Kish!

Gillis
Gillis
10 years ago

Personally I see 650b as something targeted at those who don’t think 29″ is for them or weren’t ready to jump on the wagon wheel ride.

But my attitude is that the size of my (26″) wheels have NEVER kept me from enjoying my riding experience. Nor has it kept me from conquering any terrain under any conditions, and I am not slower or more fatigued by comparison to those on different sized wheels on a similar bike.

Obviously if racing is your thing that’s a whole different situation…use whatever is fastest. But the racer market is a fraction of the whole.

I'm On a Boat
I'm On a Boat
10 years ago

Well,
the interesting thing about most of the comments so far, is no one has said, I’ve ridden 27.5 and it’s this or that. Everyone is just chiming in with an opinion not really ridden the wheels to create a true opinion.

I have ridden this wheel size for almost a year with great and happy success on a 26″ dual susp. frame from a well known bike manufacture and on a fork brand, that does not recommend using 27.5. I have ridden-raced 26″ for over 15 years.
I have ridden a few 29ers, but didn’t really enjoy their slowness and frame fit for my size. They are Not very agile and not quick enough – up short steep hills and not that fast in and around trees or swoopy trail sections, and the worst part – their inability to spin up fast.
I have found the 27.5 wheels, easy to flick around, (like my 26) they are quick to spin up, they roll as well as a 29er, I can maneuver the bike as easily with the 27.5 as I can with my 26″ wheels. With the wheelset I am using – Stans – there was no weight penalty, my tires are Pacenti set up tubeless. My dual susp. bike with the 27.5 wheelset weighs in at 22lbs. I am one gear-up on the cassette for the same inclines I was riding with the 26. After almost a year, I can’t seem to find a negative.

At a recent national endurance race in TN, I saw so many guys/gals racing-finishing competitively on 26″ wheel’d bikes. So, it’s not all podium time for 29ers all the time. They aren’t always the faster bike and don’t work for every “body” out there – See also Scott (Nino) winning World Cup’s on his 27.5 wheelset against others all on 29.

Let me comment on Specialized statements. If you copy and paste their comments into one document and read them together, you’ll see they are saying – we make the determination where our brand is sold and how we force each dealer to sell what we want them to sell and market. They are truly limiting choices for their dealer network on many levels not just on their brand of product. They are not a company that moves fast on their feet to change or embrace change, hence why they won’t let their dealers sell other brands that conflict with their name. ALL THIS – coming from a company that doesn’t even have a true carbon cyclocross race frame and is a company still pushing ‘downhill bikes’ (who the fu** rides those anymore). Speci is also bleeding big money paying into all the pro tour teams. Hence all reasons they are closed to making dynamic change to the 27.5 model and not permitting their customer to have more choices.

I am glad that someone in the interviews brought up the MTBR data regarding traffic about 27.5/650b. This debunks the statement from Specialized, “This latest surge is coming from the manufacturers though, not the riders…” Specialized is so far out of touch with the customer.
>>> Bike-Frame Manufactures, Tire Companies, Wheel Manufacture’s go to MTBR and read through that forum. You’ll see hundreds and hundreds of Customers there waiting to spend their money on the wheel size and trying to find out what has already been manufactured that can be retro-fitted with 27.5. One word – OPPORTUNITY.

I look at this wheel size as a choice for the consumer. Just like BluRay/DVD, VHS/Beta, Mac/PC. Build the 27.5 stuff, sell them, market them, educate your staff, and let the consumer decide what bike and wheel size they want to ride and where. Stop trying to put baby in a corner.

Tomac (Joel Smith) got it right – “we will do it because missing trends is missing sales and no bike company today can afford to miss sales.”

Bike Rumor – you left out VEE Rubber 27.5 mtb tires and Velocity – wheels/rims.

Manufactures – stop trying to guess or brand market to fit 27.5 into some sort of frame or design or specific market. Options, give us options, 27.5 hard tail frames, 27.5 dual susp frames.

Manufactures – stop waiting around – many of you are so so fing slow to put out product anyway. Take a tip from Apple or some of these brands that are supporting 27.5, learn to adapt, change, and be quicker on your feet to bring new product to market outside the stupid bike shows and big races.

Support your local cycling clubs/teams. They are out there riding and training and racing. They can put 27.5 products in front of your other customers and market them. They can educate your other customer base and bring in sales. Why are you not giving them the best and most significant discount to ride/demo/use and abuse your latest and greatest product? OPPORTUNITY.
Or the teams/riders/racers can start bypassing the LBS and go right to the Manufacture to obtain the latest and greatest, then your customers will come in and say, why don’t you have 27.5, I saw these people riding these cool new wheels and I want some.

As it stands anyway – LBshops don’t carry what they should have in stock or on their shelf and are going to loose more biz each year to the interweb or amazon, if they don’t get out of the dark ages and the forced inventory from brands such as trek or specialized.

If your bike shop employees aren’t smart enough to explain the difference between the three wheel sizes, you haven’t done your job as a manager or owner or teacher or business coach. If they can’t understand the technology or explain it to the mountain bike customer, they shouldn’t be working in the cycling industry.

DeeEight
DeeEight
10 years ago

Let’s address a couple pieces of common disinformation shall we…

“barely bigger than a 26″ fat tire”… yes… a typical 2.35″ width 650B tire is what achieves the generic 27.5″ diameter that lots throw about instead of just calling them 650Bs like those of us who got on the bandwagon early… nearly 5 years ago, when Kirk Pacenti started selling the NeoMoto tires. And yes, compared to 26 x 2.7″ tire, its the same diameter. But outside of FR and DH bikes, and Surly hardtails, hardly any brand offers bikes that will actually FIT such tires on their 26ers. Many will have the room for that height of tire (which is why the 650B conversion is so popular) but not the width. And for that matter, a Neo Moto 2.35 is only about 750 grams. Nobody that I know of offers a similar diameter 26” tire, or even close to that diameter, under a kilogram.

“those invested in 26″ already won’t buy the new size”… wrong… those of us who were invested heavily in 26ers are who drove the conversion market from the start, and included folks from those brands that actually brought out bikes like Haro, jamis, and KHS. That many of the brands already had 26er models that fit the 650B tires then available (pretty much every used the NeoMoto 2.35 size to do their testing), sped up the convincing of their various owners/brand managers to endorse the format. I myself own a ridiculous number of mountain bikes, and aside from my fatbike, have decided not to build anymore 26ers for myself unless I ever decide, however unlikely, to put a DH bike together. There’s just no need for the size in my world any longer. And I’m 6’6″ tall. I much prefer 650Bs to 29ers in fact.

As to specialized’s fence sitting… that’s because they’ve been trying to beat trek to death over being the dominant 29er producing brand, and have invested too heavily in the 29er KoolAid now to admit that grant petersen and Kirk pacenti were right all along. Its pretty telling that part of that mtbr 650B timeline thread, someone posted a copy of a letter, signed by Gary Fisher, thirty years ago… when he tried to get some 650B x 2.1 off-road tires to test out. Even back then, Gary knew we should have been riding something other than 26” tires.

Todd
Todd
10 years ago

I’m a xc racer, live in Colorado, 5’8″. Ive been On a 29er HT for two years, and recently entered market for a 26inch FS XC bike. I miss the agility, 29ers feel weird to me. If Scott or any other company produces a 650b carbon XC hard tail I’ll be first in line to buy it. It just makes sense for my riding style.

pcs
pcs
10 years ago

Joshua M., your rationale make no sense to me. If Nino preferred a 29” bike but couldn’t get one to fit, why on earth would he ride a 26” bike over a 650b? Surely it’s an argument in favour of larger wheels over smaller? Or are you saying that all bikes should be 29ers?

I think it makes more sense to look at the other side of the coin. Optimise the geometry on frames and forks (other than 29ers) for a 650b diameter wheel. If you want more rubber, then you use a 26” wheel and a bigger tire getting the same (or near as) diameter as a 650b with “normal” tires.

Docbraunson
Docbraunson
10 years ago

26″ and 29″ wheels ride SIGNIFICANTLY different from each other. WHY not have a third choice???????
” this is no magic bullet and is not benefiting anyone by having “another choice”.”(most ignorant thing i have read in awile)
…………….Since when has choices been a bad thing????
26″ wheels were not sent down from the Gods as the “perfect wheel for MTBing” it is not blaspheme to want something larger.
All wheel sizes are arbitrary. All bike part sizes are for that matter. again the gods didn’t beam 175mm cranks down from the moons of jupiter. People didn’t go bonkers when companies started selling 172.5mm cranks, or did they.
I feel like Companies are not cramming 650b down my throat as much as the haters here are cramming 26″ down my throat! i don’t want to ride 26″ anymore. it’s too small for XC. look at the pros they are riding 29″s there is a reason. and it isn’t their sponsors. it is because the riders demand bikes that make them WIN. Period.
I don’t like the feel of 29″ wheels and feel that they are not utilized on the trails i ride (tight NW singletrak). if i lived somewhere else i might ride them.
Thank GOD that manufacturers are adopting this size. For the record i wish it was more exactly between 26 and 29 but oh well.

Federico F.
Federico F.
10 years ago

Of course 650b will take over 26″ everywhere apart from the DH/extreme FR market (which is big in terms of prestige, but very small in terms of sales). Everyone understood the pros and cons of 29″ and it just makes sense to try to extend them to longer travel bikes and shorter riders.

But one thing on part of the industry is absolutely NOT RIGHT: use the term 27,5″. THEY’RE NOT! They’re much closer to 26″ rims as all the photos in this article show and the 27,5″ name is entirely misleading. But I reckon that as long as the anglosaxon world will continue to use the entirely irrational imperial system and not convert to the metric one we will be condemned to see the 27,5″ name all over the place 🙂

joeford
joeford
10 years ago

For medium size XC racers who can’t or have difficulty riding a 29er, a 27″ inch wheels fit well. . . on a technical course i think it will be more superior in handling. Yes, I looking forward for this!

Tom
Tom
10 years ago

We were all happy to ride 26″ wheels five years ago, but I must admit that 29″ wheels are better for a lot of different riding style.
I used to think that 29er’s were for XC race bikes or single speed rigid bikes and that’s how I got into it as a single speed rigid bike as they make a lot of sense for that style of riding. Now I ride a 29″ steel hardtail frame with 100mm forks and prefer to ride it over my typical 26″ 140mm trail bike.
I can ride all the same stuff on it and fun to ride as well. So that has got me thinking that a 29″ full sus trail bike would be the way to go. Then 650b pops up and starts to confuse me. So I think I will stick with my 26″ trail bike for another years and see how 650b plays out. But I was riding my 29er the other day and I thought that I enjoy riding it and don’t have anything negative to say about it. So why wait to see what happens with 650b when 29″ works fine for me and 650b might not have all the advantages of 29″(one of the best advantages for me is how they just rail corners). I think a bike like the Santa Cruz TallBoy LT would be spot of for me and I wouldn’t be interested in a 650b equivalent.
I think the battle will be between 26″ and 650b. One will go and I think it will be 650b its just the middle ground a jack of all trades but the master of non. Its just a shame the consumer will have to fund this experiment. I feel sorry for anyone new getting into the sport as they will be confused on the equipment they need and not concentrating on just buying a bike to go out and have fun on.