The beautifully-colored layers of rock of the Painted Hills are mirrored in this adventure-ready bike, designed by Igleheart Custom Frames and Forks.
You could find, own and ride this bike! Find out more at http://traveloregon.com/7bikes7wonders
The beautifully-colored layers of rock of the Painted Hills are mirrored in this adventure-ready bike, designed by Igleheart Custom Frames and Forks.
You could find, own and ride this bike! Find out more at http://traveloregon.com/7bikes7wonders
Not much to say other than wow …
THE S&P RANDONNEUR PROJECT BIKE:
A joint effort between Brent Steelman and Mitch Pryor, the S&P Randonneur Project is a fully-featured, light-weight, event-ready randonneuse that is equally at home on remote gravel roads or your local chip-seal. Built by a factory of two between Redwood City and Chico, California with the finest raw materials available today. Available in 7 stock sizes.
Low-trail front end geometry and custom-fitted racks, optimized for front loading and intuitive handling provide a solid foundation. Provisions for generator wire routing, and ideal clearances for 650B x 42mm tires and fenders ensure supreme comfort over mixed terrain. Optional detachable low-rider racks for light touring. Extreme versatility in a bicycle that sacrifices literally nothing.
Standard features include:
i love my Lynskey 29er – it is the most versatile and fastest hard tail I have owned ….
this from DIRT
I’ll just cut to the chase here: If you are a product manager in the bike industry, I’m begging you, don’t kill off the 29ers in your line-up.
I understand that 26 is dead. I know that you could make the greatest mountain bike in the world and not sell a single one of them if they were equipped with “old” 26er wheels because 650b/”27.5” is now Jesus Chris’s Official wheelset of choice. I get that. I’m not really happy about it, but I’m a realist and I understand that the battle for the hearts of the masses has been won. 650b has effectively kicked sand in the face of 26 and strolled off with his girlfriend.
But let’s not also kill off 29ers. Not yet. Please.
I’d never have predicted that I’d one day defend the 29-inch wheel size. For years, I was not a fan. Or, to be more accurate, I hated the things. I’d ridden 29ers since 1999 and had never been impressed by their sluggardly handling. Most of them simultaneously annoyed and bored the hell out of me—riding one was the cycling equivalent of being trapped in a supermarket and being forced to listen to James Taylor butcher Marvin Gaye’s How Sweet It is for an eternity.
Wagon wheelers rolled over rocks with greater ease, sure, but for many years, they seemed to suck the soul out of riding. and while there are plenty of other reasons to ride a bike, I’ve never really given a damn about anything other than fun. Riding for fitness? If I wanted to be healthy I’d just stop eating bacon and drinking beer.
So 29ers and I were not a match made in heaven. But about five years ago the bike industry got serious about the wheel size and a much larger group of engineers and designers began fiddling with the larger wheels; in doing so, they wound up creating legitimately fun 29ers—bikes that not only monster-trucked over obstructions, but which also possessed some of the liveliness of the 26-inch wheel. The Santa Cruz Tallboy is the model that immediately comes to mind as the first 29er that rocked my world, but there have since been plenty of others and that’s because the market matured.
It takes years of product development for any technology to come into its own. Those first suspension forks sucked by today’s standards. Early disc brakes were nothing shy of scary. But after enough years of trial and error, you wind up with products that truly deliver on their potential. Cue the image of monkeys cranking out copies of Romeo and Juliet—it’s just a matter of numbers and time.
And that’s right where we stand with 29ers. This segment of the mountain biking universe is just growing out of its overweight, acne-riddled, 8-sided-dice-rolling ugly adolescence and is coming into its own. Frame geometry is largely dialed now. Single-ring drivetrains are enabling manufacturers to shorten chainstays and accommodate big tires. You may not have liked the 29ers of the past. I understand why—I didn’t either—but have you ridden the Yeti SB95 or the Santa Cruz Tallboy or the Specialized Enduro 29er? These are just a few of the big-wheel bikes that blow conventional wisdom about 29ers right out of the water.
In short, we are on the verge of bringing 29ers into their own and, yet, I’ve heard product managers asking themselves whether they should cut 29ers out of their lines altogether and simply replace them with 650b.
Seriously? Now? We’re going to toss the 29er onto the funeral pyre right when its come into its own?
There are a few companies (Giant comes to mind) who have struggled to make their suspension designs really mesh with the largest wheels. I understand why those companies are embracing 650b, but those companies are vastly outnumbered by the ones who are considering shelving 29 because it’s suddenly no longer hip.
This bums me out to no end. I understand the logic. This is business after all. Those companies keep the lights on by selling bikes—not unicorns, rainbows or beer-soaked high fives. If no one wants to buy your 29ers, you’d be a fool to keep cranking out the big wheelers while ignoring 650b. And, yes, I like a lot of the new 650b bikes. Giant Trance Advanced SX? Brilliant. Kona Process? Fantastic. GT Force? Damned good.
So, fine, make some 650b bikes. They’re, to paraphrase Mugatu, so hot right now. But when it comes to 29ers, take a stand. Be bold. You don’t have to stock one in every model and size, but let’s not give up on the breed altogether. Twenty-niners aren’t for everybody and every style of trail, but in some applications, they have no equal. And, dammit, after all these years, we’ve finally gotten a good crop of the damn things. It’d be a shame to see them packed off to the glue factory simply because something slightly cooler just happened to show up.
Thomson, by Lynskey
Long known for its limited but well-executed range, US-based component brand Thomson has been on an expansion kick lately. Having already grown the label to include a dropper post, as well as titanium and carbon fibre handlebars, Core Bike sees a titanium 650b hardtail added to the mix.
Built in the US by Lynskey, this is the first of a planned 3-model Thomson bike range. The Elite 27.5 is out now, with the Elite 29[er] due around Eurobike and Elite Gravel road bike launching in 2015 alongside the company’s Pave road-oriented dropper/suspension post.
The Elite 27.5 is only available as a complete bike, spec’d with a Thomson handlebar, stem, top cap and spacers, seat collar and internally-routed Dropper post. Adding to the US build theme are an MRP suspension fork, Cane Creek headset, and Oury grips. A full XTR kit and DT-Swiss Spline wheels round out the £TBC/$6,800 package. Four sizes are offered and with a 3.9lb frame the complete bike should weigh in around 23.5lb.
They’re all at it…
So, after spending a few days in among the latest new products, with glimpses of next year’s stuff at the Sea Otter, it is quite obvious that there’s something going on with this 27.5in thing.
So much so, that I can make a prediction: The 26in wheeled bikes on sale now are as good as they’re ever going to get.
Every bike manufacturer currently offering 26in wheeled bikes is actively redesigning their entire range for 27.5in wheels. Companies that mainly do 29in wheels are still looking at 27.5in wheels for their enduro and trail bike models, and even their full World Cup DH bikes. Companies that only do 29in wheels, like Niner, are looking on with interest and puzzlement. The 26in wheel, I’m afraid, is suddenly, inexplicably, going to disappear virtually overnight on production bikes of any quality. This is not conjecture. This is going to happen.
Every wheel company I visited at the Sea Otter, had a 27.5in wheel. Every tyre company. Every fork company. They were all ready for the revolution. “But what about all those great, existing 26in wheel bikes?” you ask. Well, they’re carrying on just fine. Take Turner for example. He just showed his new 29in carbon bike, the Czar. He also had his staple bikes like the 5Spot (26in) and the Sultan (29in) and the Burner (27.5in). Will there be a 26in carbon 5Spot. “Never” apparently. Even if he’d been considering it, to come out with a new 26in model at a time when everyone is promoting 27.5in (and clearing out their 26in models) would be suicide.
Is it a fashion thing? Or is there a real advantage? The less hype-prone riders and journos who’ve ridden both will all agree that there’s not a great deal of appreciable difference. However, they’re bigger wheels and bigger wheels are in. Imagine trying to sell a 26in suspension bike to a customer with a 29in hardtail. They know that they like the bike wheel rolling feel, but not many people can make a long travel 29er that isn’t tandem length. So what’s the shopkeeper to do? How about trying this new inbetween size. It can still behave like a 26in bike, yet it’s an nth better at rolling over stuff.
And what about racers? We know what a fickle, results-driven lot they are. All it will take is for a single race to be won on 27.5in and there’ll be an overnight switch. Teams are already testing 27.5in wheels for World Cup downhills. By Fort William in June, most factory racers will have a 27.5in bike available to them to ride. On the XC side, where many riders are still on 29in hardtails, it’ll be less pronounced. Although Nino Schurter raced (very successfully) on a 27.5in Scott all season, everyone else seems happy on 29ers. However, smaller riders will make the switch, and anyone else lured by the thought of a lighter bike with lighter wheels. Scott reckons the system weight is only 5% more than 26in, whereas a 29er is something like 11% more. It doesn’t alter the fact that 26in wheels will always be the lightest option, but despite that, racers have gone bigger.
The 26in wheel seems set for overnight obscurity. At least, looking around the Sea Otter. I saw one single new 26in bike (a carbon Kona Operator DH bike). Obviously, the UK has always been a bit different. You can buy 26in steel hardtails with 5in forks here – something you’d struggle to find in the US. So the small wheel flame will be held aloft on our little island, especially with the smaller builders. However, the big companies are all, ALL, working on 27.5in bikes. Next year, or the year after at most, I doubt that a company like Scott, or even Santa Cruz or Turner, will have a 26in bike in their range. They’re certainly not going to be launching any new ones in future. Santa Cruz admits that it’s made the new 27.5in 6in travel Bronson purely due to customer demand. And I reckon that when the current Chameleon, or Nomad, sells out, then it’ll be replaced with a 27.5in version. I might be wrong – and I’m not privy to much that any of the bike companies are planning. But I really don’t think I am.
It doesn’t make 26in wheels less great. And you’re going to still be able to enjoy riding your bike as you’ve always done. The simple fact is that when you come to buy a new bike in a few years, it won’t have 26in wheels, that’s all.
By Mike Cushionbury
Tom Ritchey built his first 27.5-inch wheeled off-road frameset in 1977 (which he called a 650b) as a personal bike. It never caught on at that time but now, 36 years later, the industry and many riders have begun to create demand for the in-between wheel size. Though most brands are looking towards longer travel, a few companies with roots in cross-country racing are utilizing the wheel size for that application as well.
Built from Ritchey’s classic heat-treated, triple-butted Logic 2 steel, the P-650b has new forged, socket-style dropouts and lightweight, chainstay-mounted disc brake tabs. The rest of the bike, including its iconic red, white and blue color scheme is a throwback to the past. The 68mm bottom bracket accepts English threaded cups (no BB30 here), seatpost size is standard 27.2, and the head tube is non-tapered at 1 1/8”. Our test bike came with a rigid, Ritchey-branded full carbon fork, though the geometry is adjusted to accept a 100mm travel suspension fork.
The parts build is just as cross-country specific, with a SRAM X0 2×10 drivetrain, alloy Ritchey Vantage 2 tubeless ready rims, WCS Shield tires and a carbon seatpost and handlebar. I was impressed with the ease in which the wheels were converted to tubeless and the quality of the wheelset in general on the trail.
I’ll admit, the P-650b was a bit of shock to my overly suspended system on our rougher east coast trails. Ritchey’s steel tubing remains one of the most refined and compelling materials for cross-country riding and racing, albeit with a weight penalty compared to carbon fiber, but this is still a fully rigid race bike no matter how nice the frame feels through the rough. I would have liked the addition of a suspension fork for some added comfort but for long, west coast fire roads and smooth singletrack this build will flat out fly.
After a few weeks with the P-650b I’ve developed a bit of an attachment to its old school charm. I’ve also realized just what type of rider will more fully appreciate everything the Ritchey has to offer.
Want to read the full, long-term review? Grab a copy of Issue #171 and check it out.
Wheel size – as he says ‘does it wheelie matter ‘ I am a 29er convert but other views are available …
There are many a subject that us mountain bikers like to debate, but nothing is a hotter topic right now than the great wheel size debate.
Well you can all sit back and relax cos Chips, legendary editor of Singletrack Magazine and bike guru has spoken up and settled the argument for us, so we needn’t give it another thought!
Or has he?
Well did you read that? It seems conclusive that the main manufacturers are dropping the current 26″ standard in favour of 650b (27.5″ in English). Apart from a few isolated models it seems that 29″ and 650b will make up next years crop of bikes, with the 650b being the wheel size for the DH and all mountain brigade and the XC wheel of choice will likely continue to be 29″ and on a hard tail.
I have a 26″ full sus and a 29er hard…
View original post 256 more words
Blog post about 650b and how it suits the smaller racer: it looks just so sweet too……
until the summer of 2011 I had only mountain biked on hard tails. 2011 opened a window into just how much fun can be had on a mountain bike when I received my first dual suspension bike. I was able to descend much easier but to be honest, the bike was a tank. I was a turtle going uphill and while I became more adventurous in letting the bike roll over rocks, I was still not a bold descender because I still felt that front wheel could taco at any time. I wanted a 29r. I had sipped the kool-aid and I wanted to be part of the big wheel revolution. But how when I am pint-sized?Jon at Pro Peloton had been raving about a Boulder custom-made bike builder called Mosaic. Well it was a grand idea and all, but I knew something so ornate would surely come at a pretty penny…just look at the head badge for an idea of what I mean. This is when Pro Peloton and Mosaic stepped in to make it possible. Chris at Pro Peloton fit me into his busy week of bike fits so we could properly work out the dimensions of a frame based around the big wheels. After working out different ideas with bar height and stem length and all those complicated dimensions it became clear a 29r would fit similar to a New Belgium cruiser…we’re talking high rise bar Harley Davidson cruiser silliness. So Chris and Jon brainstormed and worked out dimensions for the middle brother that so far people didn’t want to pay attention to. They hashed out a blueprint of a 650b which looked to be the answer.
Aaron at Mosaic took this project on with enthusiasm as his first 650b project. He did a stunning job with the welds and with Chris and Jon’s impeccable taste of parts to complete the bike, the end result was literally a piece of artwork. The titanium 650b weighed in at a feathery 20lbs so to climb it felt like I was ethereal like the angels. Coming from a road racing background I always cringed at the thought of suspension because there seemed to be so much wasted energy whilst climbing. So, while the dual suspension bike was something new, something fun, my climbing was mentally and physically exhausting. Returning to a hard tail was a breath of fresh air..when you really need it as you’re wheezing at the top of a climb! The bigger wheels also made for more efficient climbing. The DT Swiss suspension fork had the ability to lock out at 80mm so the front end became lower and I could get enough weight over the front end for strong climbing, even on the really steep & punchy climbs. On the flats I simply felt like I had an extra gear because of the bigger wheel circumference. I could roll along at a fast clip and any bumps only felt like minor hiccups. This feeling could only be a sign of positive benefits on the descent!
The Windham World Cup course has been dominated by hard tails and up until a couple years ago, these were all 26″ hard tails. So there are a number of holes which were created through the 26″ wheels diving and biting into the soft dirt following any sort of drop. I remember riding this a few years back and having to be careful not to let my front wheel fold into these and go head over teacup. But all the hype you hear about the 29rs rolling over things? It is all true. The 650b rolled right over these, no problem. I was suddenly able to roll out of these with more speed and confidence. Then came the big rocks which are always a fright to me but the bike allowed me to treat them like pedaling over a handful of skittles. Next came a wicked steep and loose descent snaking through trees to lead into a very sharp left turn. Ahem, I passed 2 people in this section alone. The bike gave me a new confidence and what seemed to be a new skill set. I felt more in control of the bike and I could brush away any nitty-gritty scary details in the course. Maybe this is because I was just a bit higher up and I didn’t have my nose to the ground to see all the details! But I think it is the combination of the titanium which absorbed much of the roughness of the course paired with the bigger wheels which truly rolls better and easier.
The skeptics say big wheels make cornering harder because your center of gravity is higher and the big wheels cannot turn as quick. Perhaps this has truth to it with the 29rs. But the 650b bridges the gap between small and big wheels and I firmly state that I did not lose any control or feel my balance off kilter. I think the 650b is the answer for non-giant people. The bike raised my ability to climb, descend, power along, navigate switchbacks and rock gardens. It made my short mountain bike season a lot more fun and I am craving my next ride on the Ti Mosaic!
A bike comes along now and again that just looks so right – I love this colour scheme – probably one of the more iconic throwback to the race era of the 70’s and 80’s … Love it
Ritchey built its first 650b bike back in 1977, and now, keeping with the trends and going full circle, it’s producing a frame, tires and wheels in this wheel size.
The Ritchey P-650b’s frame takes the successful P-series platform and adopts it to fit medium-sized wheels. This frame is set to retail for $1,100, and should be available in December. The wheels are based on Ritchey’s Vantage II wheels, which will have a proprietary tubeless-ready rim, weigh in at ~1,550 grams and will retail for about $800. The tires are the Z Max Shield, which were developed with the help of the powerful Scott-Swisspower mountain bike team. The tubeless ready, 2.1-inch tires are set to come in at 533 grams.
The Ritchey’s straight steerer uses internal bearings for a super-clean look.
Designed by the mustached legend, Tom Ritchey.
Staying up-to-date in the details, the Ritchey P-650b uses post-mount disc brake tabs.
following on from the reblog below look at these 650b beauties …. they also do a 29er for taller bods …. here is their site in full glory
We are all 29er junkies over here, but let’s face it not all size riders belong on a 29″ wheel. Over the years, we have observed many shorter riders grinding through trails on a 29″ wheel. What really caught our eye were the angles of a frame that seemed so whack to have to accommodate for the shorter top tube length but yet still allow for sufficient tow clearance. We decided there had to be a better option, so we turned our sites on the 650b.
Our intentions from the beginning were to create the best riding custom steel 650 to feed this niche. What we discovered is that the 650 is not only the optimal bike for a shorter rider but it is also one of the most fun rides for a rider of any size.
A smaller wheel equals better leverage to the rear tire, plain and simple. In our prototype process, we noticed immediately the quick off the line response especially riding a technical trail with many switchbacks. The front tire seemed to roll over everything and cut through sand just like a 29er. Overall we knew we were on to something. Matched with our custom steel formula we created the fastest xc riding machine on the planet. Frame weight: 3.5 lbs (medium).
- Hand selected tubing per customer ride preference
- 4mm custom poured headbadge
- Laser cut stainless bridge plate with logo
- Custom laser etched ID plate with customer name, serial #, tubing used, and year it was built
- Decorative lug head tube piece (per customer request)
- Custom paint with painted logo (no decals!)
- Custom geometry per customer request (additional charge may apply)
The recent UCI XC world Cup stage win has really opened the debate about 650b wheels again …. So why would you care about 650B mountain bikes? Well, there has been a lot of debate about wheel size in the mountain bike industry. The basic premise of the wheel size debate is that we came to our current standard of the 26″ wheel somewhat arbitrarily. The standard of the 26″ wheel size was established long before mountain bikes came around. So nobody can say that 26″ wheels are and always will be the perfect size for mountain bikes.
If this all sounds familiar, it should. This is the same argument the 29″ wheel crowd has been using for years.
So you might wonder why we don’t actually know what wheel size we should be using. Well, in most cases it comes down to cost. It is very expensive to make new tooling for different size tires and wheels, so you can’t just try anything out whenever you want.
Then there is the establishment issue. Nearly all of the advancements in mountain bike geometry and technology have been based on 26″ wheels. If you just change the wheel size, nothing says that all of the old established standards with 26″ wheels will still work. As with most engineering problems, there are both positives and negatives to almost every option. So, new design optimization may need to take place for each wheel size.
So why 650B? The people behind the 650B movement claim that with 650B tires you get all of the same advantages of the 29″ movement (lower rolling resistance, better traction, smoother ride, etc.) with less of the disadvantages (geometry limitations, toe clearance issues, higher center of gravity, suspension travel limitations).
Much of this may be true, but as I always say, you should get out on a bike and see for yourself if it works for you.
One cool thing about these 650B wheels is that some fork manufacturers are now giving them the OK to run in their standard 26″ forks. This will take the 650B movement a long ways down the road to longer travel without other sacrifices.
I find the idea of looking into different wheel sizes appealing, but I think it may be a long time, if ever, before we as an industry can say what wheel size is best for any type of riding and any type of rider.
If we take the arguments of both the 650B and 29″ movements to extremes, we will end up with custom sized wheels, tires, and frames for each and every rider.
I think in the end here, the bike industry will learn some lessons from all of this and we may end up with some better options for different sized riders and different types of riding, but don’t expect wheels to go through a rapid evolution. There is way too much invested in the 26″ wheel for it to go away anytime soon.
From his interview – this answer sums up my belief in this topic …
Are there courses that the 29er is good for still?
It depends on your riding style and how tall you are. I would say the most XC riders they are between 170-180 cm, and at that height the 29er is not the best size. You are more between the wheels and not on the wheels. For all those riders 650B is the best choice. Also for acceleration you feel it is lighter you don’t have a heavy fork, everything is lighter so in my eyes for XC it is the perfect size 650B. 29er makes sense for tall racers, or if they are not riding that aggressive. I talked to a lot of other riders that are not riding Scott and they said that they want to have from their bike makers the 650B. Im sure in 2 years in the world cup, there will be more 650B bikes than 26″ and 29er.
Lat month at the start of the UCI World Cup, held in South Africa, with Swiss rider Nino Schurter opening up his account with a stunning victory. While Nino was sipping champagne after the race, the internet was alive with the news that he had ridden to victory on a mountain bike with 650b wheels.
2012 is threatening to mark the biggest upheaval in the development of the mountain bike since, and the debate is all about wheel size. From the beginning, despite a few brief flirtations, the mountain biking industry settled on 26in wheels, and in the couple of decades since we’ve been blissfully enjoying 26in mountain bikes. In recent years the subject of the best wheel size for mountain biking has risen to the top of the agenda.
Why are we even on 26in wheels in the first place? The reason the Repack riders used 26in wheels back in the 70s and not the more common 700c road wheels around was down to one simple thing: tyre choice. There simply weren’t suitable tyres for off-roading in the larger size. Cruiser bicycle manufacturer Schwinn however produced bikes using 26in wheels, which came shod with fatter tyres, much more suitable for blasting down the tracks those long haired guys were racing. In those early years mountain biking moved swiftly, and there was very little discussion about wheel size. 26in was simply adopted as it proved to work reasonably well. 30 years later and that debate is now raging.
In the years since the first mass produced mountain bikes, there’s been some who have held firm that 26in isn’t the best for mountain biking. 650B is claimed in some quarters to be the best size for mountain biking. It has long since been the solve resolve of French cycle tourists, but if we go back to 1951 we discover that a young group of cyclists, the Velo Cross Club Parisien (VCCP) could claim to have invented mountain biking. Only they never realised it.
They adapted their 650b touring bikes for off-road use – there’s even YouTube footage of those early cyclists in action. Suspension forks were borrowed from mopeds and improved brakes and gearing were the main changes that allowed these pioneering cyclists to embrace the essence of mountain biking that we take for granted today. If this movement had gathered a little more momentum who knows how the sport might have developed. It could have been very different. Maybe we would all be riding around on 650b mountain bikes already?
Instead the industry continued with26in. Then, along came the rise of the 29in wheel size, in recent years we’ve seen an explosion of 29er bikes. 2012 really does seem to be the year of the 29er. Gary Fisher pushed the concept of 29in wheels, larger at 622mm diameter than the 559mm of 26in wheels and 584mm of 650b.
The first manufacturer to attempt to bring a 29er to market was Bianchi in 1989, when it brought out a bike with 700c wheels and components like flat bars, thumb shifters and a triple chainset that we would recognise today as standard equipment. It didn’t catch on. By 1995 it was quietly dropped from the Italian company’s range. Gary Fisher, an early adopter and pivotal to the rise of 29ers, brought out his first big wheels bike in 2002.
Now, with the support of most US brands, 29ers are going global. European brands have been forced to follow suit, with 29ers featuring in the catalogues of most medium to large size companies. They’re creeping into more bike shops and more bike sheds and garages across the country, and more people are considering a possible purchase.
So 29ers are the future? Perhaps not, as a 650b mountain bike (a Scott Scale) has just gone and won the first round of the UCI World Cup. This sent shock waves through social media networks like Twitter over the weekend as thousands visibly recoiled in disbelief. Is the future now 650b?
Does 650b offer the best of both world? That’s the question on many people’s lips. The handling could feasibly feel more akin to a 26in (as it’s only marginally better) but with some of the highlighted benefits of 29ers; increased rolling speed, momentum, smoother and more stable ride over rough terrain, more traction. Another advantage of the 650b wheel is the more vertically challenged people will be better able to get a good fit – we’ve seen some drastic solutions taken by sponsored riders forced to ride 29ers to get the handlebars low enough to replicate a fit they happily achieved on their previous 26in bikes. And we know how racers like to slam their handlebars and get as low as possible.
That’s largely a reason Nino is said to have chosen a 650b from a choice of three wheel sizes. And of course there’s the weight advantage, there’s no getting away from the fact smaller wheels are lighter.
What does it mean for mountain biking though? Is there space for three wheel sizes, is the industry really wanting to offer the huge range of bikes that the three sizes would clearly need?
And do the public have the appetite for three wheel sizes? Is the industry gambling with people’s patience and money? Or is this leading us to have a debate about the size of our wheels that we’ve never properly had in our young sport.
What do you think?
If you liked the video at the top here is the longer version – he seems to make absolon pay every time in the technical rock garden … greater skills …. bigger wheels …. who knows
From dirtrag – carver killer B review – more fuel to the fire
By Karen Brooks
Tester: Karen Brooks
Country of Origin: China
Price: $1345 frame with options, $2700 as built
Weight: 25.3lbs. built as a singlespeed, 27.3lbs. geared, 3.2lbs. size 17″ frame
Sizes Available: 13″, 15″, 17″ (tested), 19″, 21″, 23″
Having a “geeky physics background.” Davis Carver isn’t afraid to mess around with unusual wheel sizes, and in fact, sees advantages to offering more than the standard 26″ wheel for mountain bikes—in getting the fit just right, and in being able to mix front and rear wheel sizes. But the fact that he’s also a bike shop owner, and thus could argue against the potential multiplying of replacement parts, doesn’t dissuade Carver from experimenting. From his shop in Woolwich, Maine, he dreamed up some bike designs, and then about ten years ago met a bike builder based in China who offered to help make them a reality. Carver started with the 96’er, a 29″ front/26″rear combo bike (reviewed back in issue #112), and from there, has produced a collection of mountain bikes with almost every conceivable wheel size combination.
The 650B, or 27.5″, wheel size is something relatively new, at least as applied to mountain bikes. Andy tried out the first one for Dirt Rag in issue #131, a prototype by Kirk Pacenti. This “tweener” size, Carver feels, gives some of the sure-footedness of a 29er without the potential geometry problems in smaller frame sizes. The Killer B frame is made of 3/2.5 titanium and has a clean, “normal” appearance; at first glance it’s hard to tell what size the wheels are. The welds are not quite stack-of-dimes perfect, but aren’t bad either, and the closed-in, box-section head tube gusset is elegant. The top tube is subtly bent for standover clearance. The chain- and seatstays swerve in an S-shape for tire clearance, giving plenty of room for the Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3″ tires plus lots of mud.
This is a bike that felt comfortable right away (which was fortunate, since my second ride on it was the Shenandoah Mountain 100). Some of the instant comfort I attribute to the fact that it’s a fairly straightforward hardtail, but its 650B-ness was also a factor. I felt like Goldilocks tasting just the right porridge. With 29ers I tend to fit the smallest available frame size; this 17″ tester is right in the middle of Carver’s six size options, with geometry that is nearly identical to my personal 17″ Mooto-X 29er singlespeed (the smallest that Moots makes). The Killer B’s chainstays aren’t particularly short at 17.5″-18.5″ (depending on where the sliding dropouts are set), yet the rear end felt nice and compact. At 4.5″ the head tube was actually a quarter-inch longer than my bike’s, but no extraordinary measures were needed to keep the handlebar height reasonable, and in fact it measured 2.5″ lower than on my bike with a similar stem. Already some benefits to the smaller wheels reveal themselves.
Overall the handling was about what can be predicted—somewhere in between that of a 26er and a 29er. Duh! It was interesting to note how the tweener wheels worked better than two-nines or two-sixes in some situations but worse in others. The course of the 2009 Singlespeed World Championships, in Durango, Colorado, was a perfect test track to illustrate these pros and cons: there was a rocky ridgetop section, in which the wheels got caught up in between the giant slabs of rock more than 29″ ones would have (and I firmly believe I would not have been passed by so many racers if I hadn’t been crippled by smaller wheels—the elevation had nothing to do with it, I swear), and there was a tightly-wound woodsy section, in which I could sling the bike around easily, approaching the flick-ability of a 26er. In singlespeed mode, there was less of our old friend momentum coming from the smaller wheels, but that had its advantages in quicker acceleration.
Running gears, the bit of acceleration gained was nice to have. On long smooth sections, of which there were a lot in the aforementioned 100-miler, the 650B wheels rolled along slightly better than 26″ would, but didn’t generate the keep-on-truckin’ feeling of 29″.
I don’t tend to get airborne much, but when I did, the Carver was less bike to pilot, yet stuck to the ground upon landing a little better than a 26er. I generally felt less high-up off the ground than on a 29er, and it was easy to hang off the back of the bike in techy downhill bits. This could be due in part to the the Killer B’s low-ish bottom bracket height of 11.XX”; I struck my pedals more than a few times on rocks and logs, but I’ll take that in trade for more stability. The Neo-Moto tires’ in-between contact patch worked well in most situations, but once the mud started getting rehydrated in the fall I missed having a wider area to get a grip.
All that wheel size experimentation seems to have served Carver well. There was nothing jarring or weird about the ride. This is a bike that seemed perfectly at ease in a variety of cross country environments.
There are a ton of options for Carver frames. My tester’s sliding dropouts (with a derailleur hanger) closely resemble ones from Ti experts Paragon Machine Works, only thicker, and add $250 to the basic $1100 frame price. Carver also offers their own brand of eccentric bottom bracket (but Davis cautions that it can slip more easily in a Ti frame), as well as a BB30 option. Custom geometry can be ordered with no extra charge. A third bottle mount, fender mounts, and other tweaks are also available.
The only problem I had with the frame was the rear derailleur cable braze-ons—they stuck out from beneath the top tube enough, and were sharp enough, to put holes in my skin along with a couple pairs of tights. While I was running the bike singlespeed I wrapped multiple layers of electrical tape over them. Newer versions of the frame have these braze-ons more tucked under the top tube.
Carver also offers a plethora of build kits. My tester arrived with XT hubs and Velocity Blunt rims, a huck-worthy but hefty combination, although the Velocity rims have a fairly wide 21.6mm internal rim width, which helps eke out the maximum tire contact patch. (I’ll be reporting on a lighter 650B wheelset from Notubes.com in an upcoming issue.) Although the Killer B was sent with a straight handlebar, for all-day comfort I hit up Eric for the Carver MyTi alt-bar that he had tested in issue #144, and was damn glad I did. Its curves matched nicely with the frame’s and it helped keep the bike comfortable.
This Killer B got its suspension action from a 2009 X-Fusion Velvet fork, a $350 option. As we reported from Interbike ’09, X-Fusion has been flying under the radar for a while now, making forks and shocks for other brands, but they are poised to grab more attention soon. They just might do it by offering this excellent 650B fork choice (it’s actually a 26″ fork, but approved for 650B use). If I had to describe the Velvet in one word, it would be, well…velvety. Through all kinds of conditions, the fork remained supple and smooth. Its only drawback was the lack of a lockout.
So are 650B bikes the next wheel size revolution? Hard to say. Personally, I agree with Mr. Carver, and think it makes a lot of sense to offer as many options as are practical. The offerings from this particular bike maker, being grounded in real-world experiments, are especially attractive for conducting your own try-it-on-for-size experiments.
Going to get a 650b wheel made up for the carver. Stan’s ZTR 355 run tubeless on a Hope 2 hub with a lightweight 160mm rotor.
This should stop the very slight toe overlap from the 29’er wheel yet still give small bump compliance of a larger wheel.
The Stan’s No Tubes ZTR 355 650b Disc Rim is a lightweight 650b rim. At about 385g, it is comparable to most 26 inch rim weights, and can save valuable rotational weight to further enhance the 650b experience. The design takes advantage of both disc and tubeless technology to build a rim that is strong, thanks to a triangulated shape that holds the tire firmly, thanks to re-thinking what it takes for a rim to hold a tire. The tight fit makes running low pressure tubed or tubeless easy, and the short rim wall means that both pinch flats and “burping” is less common.
The Stan’s No Tubes ZTR 355 650b Disc Rim is crafted from 6061 aluminum and is drilled for 32 spokes — no eyelets. The rim works with and without tubes. Maximum tire pressure for 2.2” or larger tires is 40psi, 2.0”(43psi), 1.5” (50psi), 1.0” (55psi). 385g.