Wednesday, April 23, 2008

650b vs. 29er

HMMM, did I make a mistake in buying that 29'er or should I have gone 650b...

Needless to say I am surprised that 2 of the first three bikes we have sold in Germany are 29-ers. All of the 'experts' I have spoken to over here, would not give a 29 better odds the a cube of ice in the fiery depths of unholiness. I myself am not fan either, but this is not about my nor others unwanted opinions, but rather the validity of 650b and 29 and their viability in a market constantly screaming for the latest and greatest.

Finally a high-performance fork for the 9er crowd

It was nearly ten years ago I was exposed to 29er as the TuneUp picked up two identical Viscious Cycles 29'ers, which I was able to ride. While I was not impressed, I watched with the rest of the cycling community as the big wheel revolution grew. First it was a band of small framebuilders and component manufactures, that grew over the last ten years to encompass virtually all major bike and component manufactures. And it is rumored that if Jeremy Horgan Kobowlski gets his Bejing ticket punched, he will be on a Fisher Superlight 29er for the Olympic Games. It has been called a cyclocross course. Also seen sporting a 29er is TwinTowers Ryan Trebon.

Shimano 29 wheels

The last two years during the NAHBS the spotlight has turned towards 650b, offering a more manageable size, less toe-over lap, lighter weight, strongerwheels among other benies. However, 650b is experiencing the same growing problems as did the niner revolution ten years ago, lack of of available components.


Kirk Pacenti can be sited as the epiccenter of the new 650b movement, having been the most recent builder start back up with this design, as Ritchey, Bontrager and others have toyed with this design before. Pacenti with Panracer produced wheels and tires for this new set, and since Kenda and other are on borad as well. But you have to wonder, it took many manufactures time and money to ramp up their 29er production, with 650b is all of that just going to be obsolete? I doubt it. And what about the local hipster-duface that just bought his first 29er? Dohhh!

But don't run out and place you order for a new Sycip (enter any other manufactures name as you wish here) just yet. Companies like White Brothers claim their 29er forks are just fine for 650b applications, huh? Say what? Needless to say there is still a big void of forks, rims/ wheels and tires.

Big wheels make the world go around.

I personally have yet to ride, let alon even see a 650b bike, but as always am eager to give it a ride.

Big Wheel Sites:
Twenty Niner Forum
Everybody needs a good beer


Brian and Jenny said...

HI Ken.
I hope you are all (Sandi/Colin too)doing well. Gunni is pretty nice today. Spring has sprung and its so good. We've the first real group ride tonight. Still living on the faith that one day I'll make it back to town! Hey would you be able to email me your family blog address. I forgot it. cheers

Arleigh said...

In the next 4-6 months you will see a great explosion of 650b parts. Tires, rims and forks. After that bikes will follow.

Arleigh said...

oh yes -


I saw a few of them (650b) at SS World's last year. For the most part, everyone that I've talked to said that they had very little of the good aspects of a 29'er and also very few of the good aspects of a 26'er. Suffice to say (I could be biased), most people that I've talked to or seen reports from have been unimpressed.

Greg said...

Pah-LEEZE, KB?! That picture of me was of disbelief as to why I hadn't bought a 2-9er 10 years ago. I am not here to debate the pros and cons of 26 vs 650b vs 29 but as a validated user of 26'ers and 29'ers, there is absolutely no reason for me to go back to 26. I am 6'2" as you know KB and can accelerate the bike and its 'big wheels' like a BMX bike and the geometry of the frame I had built lends itself to nice/tight precise steering. So, this is an absolutely sold user.

As to the 650b's, in all sincerity, there may be a GREAT need for this...but I'd seriously say it will be a product choice for folks who are trapped between being too short for 29'ers but tall enough to rock something bigger than a 26 to gain some of the benefits of bigger wheels. I dunno. There is no need for me but if there can be a product injected into bike shops line ups to help sell some of the benefits to customers who could appreciate it, then I say the industry should go for it.