Fear and Jealousy will drive the 650b

There’s lots of talk and speculation on this “new” 650b wheel size hitting the mountain bike market. This tweener size of 27.5 inches that apparently has a lot of the benefits of the 29er while limiting the drawbacks. However this isn’t a discussion on the merits of the wheel size, this is my take on why the 650b will grow much quicker than the 29er did.


There’s a whole lot of companies out there with some extremely sticky egg on their face over this whole 29er thing. There were a whole lot of naysayers in the beginning waving the “just a fad” flag.

Once 29ers hit big, and it was obvious from the empty store racks, there were plenty of companies scrambling to catch up. So 2007 became the “year of the 29er” because everyone started releasing their “me to” bikes. These companies ranged from smaller shops just waiting to see if it would pan out before dropping the R&D cash to the bigger houses like Specialized that previously announced that they would never come out with a 29er (and we all know how I feel about that).

So fast forward to 2008 and the 650b is just starting to catch traction. I believe that bike companies will be much quicker to jump on this bandwagon because they don’t want to get left behind again. They saw the big cash that early adopters made on their first runs of 29ers and want a piece of that pie and let those eggs flying around hit someone else for a change.


Something else that plays here is the fact that the 29er is widely seen as Gary Fisher’s bike. Sure, companies like Diamondback tried them before, Niner Bikes sells them exclusively, Surly’s Karate Monkey has been around for ages and there were plenty of custom builders making them for years. But the current movement and sales figures are due in large part to Gary Fisher’s (the man and the company) push and involvement and funding. Read any history on the 29er movement (like in Dirt Rag issue #130) and you’ll see his name over and over.

Every new movement in the bike industry has people behind it, but no other platform is so closely associated to one name as the 29er. And that’s not a lot of fun when your a bike manufacturer… making bikes that will be seen and instantly compared to one other brand.

Why the 650b?

This is where the 650b comes in. Early adopters can be seen as trend setters and can cash in on early growth without being tainted by someone else’s name and reputation. While in the beginning of the 29er push there were a lot of companies sitting back waiting to see what would happen, there’s already a good number of people looking at the merits of the 650b. For example, take a look at what Jill Hamilton is doing at Haro… she’s been getting a good feel for the wheelsize and, if she gets her way, will have three different models of 650b in the Spring. That could be huge for a bike brand like Haro. Their image could be instantly transformed, in much more ways than even their earlier (than most) adoption of 29ers. Instead of the small, sideline image that brands like Haro often have, they could quickly be thrust to the front of the pack.

Jill is obviously putting the time and effort in to make sure the 650b is going to be a well performing platform for her customers, but do you honestly think it’s merely the merits of the wheelsize driving her’s and other’s quicker jump into this market? Of course not! It’s to beat that fear of being left behind and to avoid the jealousy of having your products be seen as merely following someone else’s footsteps.

So whether the benefits of 650b come anywhere close to matching that of a 29er or not, the platform will grow and grow quickly. Stick around to see if I’m right…


No Responses to “Fear and Jealousy will drive the 650b”

  1. BunE Says:

    Fear and Jealosy? Perhaps Innovation and Opportunity is a better description. I have commented on the 650 in the past, but would like to reiterate my belief that a good product with good marketing will succeed and a bad product will not. If Gary F and Niner can’t muster a challenge to the 650, then those of us that ride 29ers will be forced to scavenge for parts like jawas. The message of the 29 community needs to be unified and sites like this help.

    Will this happen? Uh, no.

    Thie 650 will be interesting to watch, especially from a marketing perspective. Who will join in? Will we finally see the industry use modern marketing to reach the consumer? Where is Lance? Who will be the spokesman?

    Oh well, I say the more the merrier. Choice, innovation, competition, its all good. Resources are scarce and so the bike industry MUST find a way to build demand. New products, taking chances and having fun ensures that we will have a bike industry in the future.

  2. Tim Grahl Says:

    That’s where I don’t agree… 650b won’t quickly gain traction because of Innovation and Opportunity…

    Both of those were there with the 29er and it still took YEARS for the industry to take it seriously. If you take out the whole 29er thing out of the picture and everybody was still riding 26ers, there’s no way the 650b would be finding the current backing that it is.

    No… companies aren’t jumping on this tweener size because they are merely innovative and looking for opportunities… they saw what happened with the 29ers and are scared the exact same thing will happen with the 650b and they’ll get left behind again.

  3. Dirt McGirt Says:

    I agree, this will be interesting to see how the 650B stuff pans out. The one thing I’m not understanding is why inundate the market with a FOURTH wheel size (let’s not forget our dirt jump bretheren on 24’s). Coming from a bike shop employee standpoint, that’s going to confuse a lot of people that WOULD buy a 29er. When you throw a 29er option at Joe Blow customer it’s almost a deer in the headlights situation, add another previously unheard-of wheel size in there and you’re on the fast train to Blankstaresville and then a connection to Ithinkillstickwithwhatiknowsville (that didn’t look as cool as I thought it would, oh well).

    Just a thought. Discuss….

  4. BunE Says:

    If that is the case, they will fail.

    The Bike industry must develop and release new products regularly to keep interest up and sales too. Sure they are worried about losing sales, but what would have happened if no one built, marketed and sold mountain bikes? Its all about driving consumer demand. The bike industry as a whole is really bad at marketing itself. You influence demand by changing consumer views and telling them what they want. Opportunity is created.

    The slow implementation of the 29er tends to say more about the inadeqate marketing and messaging abilities of the bike companies. If you want to make a splash, go balls out, if you don’t, well wait 10 years and leave a lot of money on the table. Make your innovation the standard that everyone wants.

    The Bike industry needs to take a page from the gaming industry or cellphone industry and get better at setting the trends than waiting for someone to find one and roll (ahem) with it. If the 650 is successful, it will because an effective message was framed and presented and the consumer bought it. The 29er could have been the standard today if someone would have had the cajones to use modern marketing, balancing pricing, features and performance to drive home value. No one but GF and niner to the chance and they real the benefits.

    Good luck to Haro. I for one am never going to a smaller wheel.

  5. jb Says:

    I doubt it. I think, again, that it’ll be marginal players involved at the start, who jump on something to try and differentiate themselves from their competition. What does a brand like Haro have to lose? They can deal in smaller numbers of frames without the risk of diluting their brand or alienating their existing dealer-base.

    “Big cash” on 29ers is still yet to be made. Just because some companies have sold out of their run of a couple hundred frames doesn’t mean anyone is really making “big money” on them. They’re still a VERY, VERY small niche of the overall mountain bike market, and 650b promises to be an even smaller niche, at least at the start. 29ers may have warmed people up to different wheel sizes, but not every bandwagon is worth jumping on, and a lot of the big companies are weary of throwing cash down the drain by pedaling out on what could end up to be dead-end trails.

    The real winners will be the custom frame builders who have begun to get squeezed out of the 29er market as all the production bike companies move in. 650b gives them a new, small, unique niche to fill for the early-adopter customers who want a bike that’s out-of-the-norm.

  6. Oliver Says:

    Ok, so as of right now, who is on board with the 650B movement? What frame, rim, tire, and fork manufactures are on board with this as we speak? Is this a viable option that will catch on?

    Guitar Ted?

  7. JZ Says:

    I agree that 650B will grow relatively quickly. I think the bike companies will see this as a great opportunity to give the consumer a reason to replace their old bike, which is the big challenge for a bike company. Bikes last a long time for most casual rider. The major companies should have jumped on the 29er bandwagon earlier for that very reason. I don’t think they will make the same mistake twice. Of course whether it will work depends on how well they market it.

  8. Guitar Ted Says:

    Oliver: Tires: One = Neo-Moto. More are promised, but as of now…………..

    Frame manufacturers: Rawland, Rivendell, Siren (maybe) and lots of smaller builders like Siren. Again more are promised, but as of now……………………

    Forks: White Brothers are making a 650B specific model or two. Some say use a 29″er or 26″er fork. One as of now…………………..

    It’s going to be an interesting interbike from this perspective. (650B that is)

  9. John William Says:

    I truely love my Soma Juice 29er. I used to truely my 26 inch bike (I haven’t ridden it in six months). If a 650B works out to be a little better, so be it — I’ll turn my 29er into a single speed.

    As for 29ers “hitting big,” until last Saturday, I really enjoyed my “status” as the only 29er around. At the bike shop, I actually saw TWO 29ers, including a really trick K. Monkey single speed with a Chris King “Rasta” headset.

    Bottom line: Bikes are great. Bring ’em on.

  10. Possum Says:

    I honestly don’t see the true value of the 650B. What’s a shop guy tell a customer? Well, it’s kinda like a 29er and it’s kinda like a 26er….I’d rather just have one or the other. No need to confuse the average consumer. I can swap my 29er wheels onto a cross frame and vice versa. I like my 29er for most stuff, and my 26er for the pump track and skate park. I have no real need for the 650B. Maybe it’s just me….

  11. BunE Says:

    The value of the 650 will largely be defined by the marketing message crafted by the manufacturers. Bike shops will need to decide where they fit in and how they want to play it. If a shop guy can’t transmit the message, than the shop guy needs to be schooled. This is largely the fault of the manufacturer though. Thier reps should be educatiing and screaming the message whenever and wherever they are.

    The bike industry as a whole leaves HUGE dollars on the table because they can’t get on the same page, they don’t support small business and they are pretty much run by men and women who ride bikes. Marketing drives EVERYTHING.

  12. BunE Says:

    The value of the 650 will largely be defined by the marketing message crafted by the manufacturers. Bike shops will need to decide where they fit in and how they want to play it. If a shop guy can’t transmit the message, than the shop guy needs to be schooled. This is largely the fault of the manufacturer though. Thier reps should be educatiing and screaming the message whenever and wherever they are.

    The bike industry as a whole leaves HUGE dollars on the table because they can’t get on the same page, they don’t support small business and they are pretty much run by men and women who ride bikes. Marketing drives EVERYTHING.

  13. Cloxxki Says:

    I prefer to call it “hobby organization” rather than “business”. Do we have to take the larger picture serious? It’s all a matter of who’s in front, and who’s walking against his butt.
    Someone out of convenience makes a handlebar out of a straight piece of tubing, puts it on an off-road bicycle, and VOILA : 3 decades of being the world standard in mountainbike handlebars. While many by now know that there’s more appropriate shapes for handlebars. In fact, those shapes are available on millions of bikes sold annually, just not aimed at off-roading.
    Now it’s like 26″ is all small, and 29″ is so big. If one would use proportionate wheels to body height (like we should), we’d outgrow 26″ almost the same year as growing into it, and the same for 29″. It’s so close…

    I heard somewhere that Kirk Pacenti is actually pulling the whole hobby org a leg. Getting a great laugh from seeing them scramble to join “his” magical standard. All this publicity, and what did it cost him? Som use of his industry connections to have a tire and rim be made. WB always makes forks for serious initiatives.

  14. bloody tongue Says:

    This is a pretty interesting discussion, it will be interesting to see where it all goes.

    BIcycleNewsWire has a list of companies showing bikes and parts in Vegas… They list 19 different booths with bike makers / parts makers and distributors all showing products. Itlooks like some companies are taking this pretty seriously….


  15. bigger is better Says:

    BunE said “Good luck to Haro. I for one am never going to a smaller wheel.”

    OK so why are 650b wheels not going to work then? there are people that can not ride a 29R but want a bigger wheel. hence why the 650b will survive. the world does not revolve around you and there are short people in the world that want to try larger wheels. hence the reason it will stick around.

  16. Guitar Ted Says:

    bigger is better: Just to make something perfectly clear, the fact is that 29″ers for short riders do exist and even in 5 inch travel FS rigs. (Lenzsport Behemoth) So, to say that we “need” the “B” size to make FS or small rigs work for short riders wanting big wheels is an erroneous assumption. To say that it’s “easier” to make with “B” wheels, now we’re onto something.

    The technology is in place and the bikes are being ridden in 29″er formats. The easier/more profitable road for medium sized manufacturers like Haro is to use “B” sized wheels instead. Barely any change at all for a “percieved” equal benefit. Why would you bust your head to do a proper 29″er FS if you can sell the “B” sized FS and seemingly offer the “same” advantages?

    I think we’re hearing money talk a bit here. Just a hunch. 😉

  17. Go Clipless Says:

    Why the 650b wheel movement in mountain biking should be killed before it gets started…

    I’ll say it. Do it now. Just kill it. DoA. Please. Just when the industry seems to be embracing the 29er wheel platform, in comes the next blast from the past bike trend. Enter the 650b wheel platform. When tires…

  18. bloody tongue Says:

    Tim Grahl seems to have a pretty good grasp on what is going on with the 650b thing. I don’t agree with all he’s said, but I do think he’s on target. I also appreciate the balanced and rational tone.

    Side note: this is not a shot at Tim, but I find it amusing that we all bemoan the general “lack” of 29″ bikes and components (myself included) and wonder why certain companies don’t listen to us more and give us what we want. But, when they do, they are perceived as “me too bikes”, “jumping on the bandwagon” or even worse “exploiting the market”. It seems like we want it both ways; niche coolness and exclusivity and lots and lots and lots of choice. Hmmm…???

    Now, where was I?

    Oh yes…


    I would respectfully disagree…. The idea that because 5″ travel 29ers are being made somehow proves its right or that anything less than 29â€? can’t perform as well is the “erroneous assumption” being made here. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean its correct thing or the best thing for the customer.

    These things [29ers] didn’t come about by design. The fact is that the developers were using what was available to them, i.e. 700c rims. Iirc, Wes was initially calling his bikes “28’ers”. If that is what he was shooting for this new application for the 650b wheel would seem to be much closer to that target.

    You are right on one count though; it is about money. It was cheaper to use 700c rims back in the day, instead of some other obscure rim size. Plus, no one back then knew bikes would be going to 4, 5, and 6 inches of travel or that tires would be approaching 2.5″ wide. Now that there is a lot invested in 29er “technology” people have a big incentive to make a return on those investments, regardless of whether or not it’s the “bestâ€? design.

    By the same token if you could get the “sameâ€?, “perceived equalâ€? or even better results from a bike design by using a different wheel and existing frames wouldn’t you be foolish not too? Companies are in business to make money, right? And it seems that some smart guys and renowned suspension designers are genuinely interested, some with 29ers currently in production.

    Couldn’t somebody say the same about you? That “money is talkingâ€? here and that you are shooting this wheel size down before you have even ridden one because you have something ($$$) to loose if it’s successful? Who knows where this will go, I for one am willing to reserve judgment until I ride one.

  19. BunE Says:

    Hmmmm, I dont believe I have rejected the 650 for anyone short or not.

    Oh well.

    New sizes? Bring it on. Let the market sort it out.

  20. BearSquirrel Says:

    Every 27.5 tire will come at the expense of a 29er tire. It’s too soon for another standard.

  21. Cloxxki Says:

    bloody tongue , you make it sound manufacturers and the industry as a whole have the intension to make the absolute best bikes possible. This also is an erroneous assumption.
    Main industry concerns :
    1- profits (easy to sell, no long stock
    2- image
    The two of those alone hardly ever allow for true development.

    29″ only came into existance when WTB dared to try it, without have order for more than the few dozen/hundreds Wes Williams could take from them. Gary Fisher launched 2 bikes for the 2002 season, which was a HUGE gamble, and had little to do with the above two concerns. Only these very large exceptions at mainstream sellers allowed for this wheel variety to surface to the world they are today.
    650b MTB is the brainchild of an industry insider who probably just just though “what the heck”. Looks like Kirk Pacenti paid it all from personal cash, as a hobbyist.

    No, the industry is not out to make you the absolute best bike possible. The vast majority (really, over 99%) of manufacturers did not make 29″ prototypes or even buy a competitor’s offering to find out about those big wheels. Ignoring and sticking to their own game was more important. It was like that for years, till the point where :
    – first, being an early adopter seemed to offer additional profits (On-One, Haro)
    – second, staying off the 29″ market was going to COST them profits (Specialized)

    Inbeaded in the “typical” geometry parameters of all bikes, road, city and mtb, are multiple “please don’t innovate this” features going directly against “offering the best bike possible”. Really, bike design, espeially the dimension from frame size to frame size, are a very long cry from even making any sense at all. Yet, bikes can be ridden, and we don’t know what we’re missing as all bike are built the same, by the same stupid lack of common sense.
    -All men and women on one “ideal” chainstay length (easy for the overrated designers, cheap for manufacturing).
    – All men and women on the same crank length (which should be proportional to leg length and composition, everything but a fixed size. Again, easy to pick the length, and cents cheaper per bike.
    – The somehow adopted 1.5″ offset on MTBs where closer to 2″ was “always” the standard.
    – The issue of the flat bar, bent over a whopping 3º.
    – etc.

    In a market without much growth left, innovation is starting to become a part of manufacturer management decisions. Fisher’s doing it. Thank goodness SRAM is doing it, to wake Shimano out of a coma. I know of other examples and I try to contribute myself where I see possibilities. It’s shocking to see what the market has been looking away from. Innovation is on it’s way, but it did take a long “me too” generation .

  22. Mike Says:

    I have to say that a 3rd wheel size maybe a little much, but people said the same thing about 29ers. I have converted two riders in my weekly ride group to 29er this season and a third is spec-ing out 29ers for next year. Bottom line in my opinion is what ever the market will bare, will be made and sold.

  23. art Says:

    I walked into a shop the other day to look at a 29er and was told they didn’t have any. “The 29″ format is over. We’re on to 69ers now.” The salesman then went on to spend several minutes extolling the magical virtues of a smaller rear wheel. Of course this shop sells Trek but not Fisher.

  24. Thunderlump Says:

    Id love to try one out. More stable than 26 inch, less rolling resistance than 29inch, I dont see any down sides; other than a massive amount of convincing to do. I have seen pics of a ritchey components custom wheels with 650 tubular mountain tires being ridden or raced by that swiss guy Friscksnet or whatever his name is. Id like to try it.
    But thats not saying anything, since Im such a bike slut. Did I mention I love the rumor and speculation I read on this site; keeps me coming back for more. Good on yah Tim.

  25. Thoglette Says:

    The thing 650B has is cachet – Sheldon Brown loves it, the radonneurs love it, it’s an old european size (dare I say it, French to boot) and even the would be single speed Parisian paper boys love it.

    Fact: 650B is SEXY

    I am a little suprised to see the MTB crowd go mainstream first, but (as yet) no-one buys bikes with fenders & hub gears in volume and the lycra crowd are still stuck in a UCI-induced double-triangle-and-700C coma. (Yes, I _do_ have a Y-bike in 650C) So, MTB it is.

    And, Oliver, Velocity make rims. Tyres, other than whitewalls, seem to be a problem.

  26. BunE Says:

    69ers. Don’t they average to a 650?

  27. Guitar Ted Says:

    bun e: Funny you should mention a 69er. I think the “B” wheels have a life in the rear of a hardtail with a 29″er front wheel. Get rid of that small 26 inch wheel! 🙂

  28. Tim Grahl Says:

    seriously Ted? Gonna intro another platform… so here’s what we can have:


    Am I missing one?

  29. JerYang Says:

    Sadly Tim, you are: 650b/650b
    That makes 6!

  30. Tim Grahl Says:

    Oh haha, yeah of course!

    And I also forgot about the 36er… which would then be…


    Oh the madness!

  31. BunE Says:

    Its all over once I finish my hoverbike!

  32. jb Says:

    Sheldon Brown? When was the last time he rode a singletrack mtb trail?

    650b is “sexy” if you hang posters of Frodo on your wall and own 12-sided dice.

  33. art Says:

    If you’re going to drag 36″ into this, you have to expand your rear wheel options down at least to 20″. Pretty soon we’ll be back to ordinaries.

  34. 650b, 27.5 inches? Says:

    […] with a bike, maybe at Interbike. But it is slowly gaining momentum. Tim Grahl has speculated that fear and jealousy is going to cause the 650b to grow while Graham from Go Clipless is hoping the 650b is killed […]

  35. rockhound Says:


    Frischy’s tubular wheels were 650c, a road bike size.

    Kogswell has been selling 650b frames and forks for years now. They’re not quite off-roadable, but they have been around for a time.

  36. Cloxxki Says:

    Indeed, 650C! It allows for longer rear travel, lower weight and stiffer wheels than 650B. And it’s already an established standard for racing, triathlon, lady road and mtb xc 🙂

  37. bloody tongue Says:


    I got the straight dope from Ritchey on that recently. The reason Thomas Frischknecht is using a 650 “c” wheel is because that is the only rim available in a carbon, tubular format. The tires are hand made tubular Dugast sew-ups glued onto the rim.

    They are knobbies in that they have little rubber bumps on the tread, but they are by no means a “MTB” tire… they are only 1.6″ wide or something! Travis Brown has been doing this for a while now as well.

    But Frischknecht is an old school racer and he’s all about the 17’lb XC race machine. Those things have nothing to do with “mountain biking” (imo).

  38. B bikes Says:

    Did you see this?

  39. Cloxxki Says:

    Bloody Tongue, this setup is used by dozens of Elite racers in Europe. Often Racing Ralph treads on the 43-45mm Dugasts. If one would handycraft a 700c tubular wide enough for an mtb tubular, that could be made just as well. Even with a 26″ donor tread if you will.
    Of course an unaltered 26″ frmee works fine.

    Furthermore, Thomas was known as a V-brake holdout till he swapped to carbon rims and tubulars. He chose the rim/tires over the brakes. Frischknecht on a heavier bike, it must really help him then.

  40. Rollin 29 Says:


    To those who predicted 29 inch wheels would “take over the world” or eventually outsell 26 inch, maybe 650b is the real undoing??

    I have an easier time envisioning 650b dethroning 26 inch mountain bike standard for all the right reasons.

    A world consisting of mostly 650b bikes for riders 5 foot 8 and smaller, and of 29 inch bikes for those taller, is more believeable to me.

    If 650b catches on it will surely steal some sales from the bigger wheel brands.

    It will definitely steal more sales from the 26 inch brands!!

  41. Cloxxki Says:

    In the scheme of proportionate wheel sizes, 26″, 650C, 650B and 29″ together form an extremely narrow band relative to actual rider heights (say, 4’10 to 7′). Only just more than would be appropriate to differentiate when going up one 2″ frame size increment, against 5 or 6 frame sizes.
    One inch of wheel diameter >>> just under 2 inches of rider height. That’s how proportions work best. For midgets and giants alike. And smaller riders are better served with too large than too small wheels.

    For nowadays adluts riding XC, FR and DH, by all means 26″ is the very smallest to be considered. 24″was tried on many occasions, and ditched.
    In all of cycling history, you see people going for the largest wheel size available that works for them. Basic physics. What size wheels did cariages have? Small wheels for quick acceleration, cornering on tight streets and steep unpaved roads? Euhm, no.

    If 26″ forks and frames are going to be made to work with 650B from now on, 650B will prove to be slightly better over the whole, as it’s just slightly larger. 26″could lose ground, and can only lose more from here. But 650B replacing 29″? What does it have to offer? 29″ has some 40 tires on the market now, and dozens of rims, not counting road/trekking-specific products which all work as well.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Cloxxki said, “And smaller riders are better served with too large than too small wheels.”

    If that’s the case, should really small children be riding bikes with 26″ wheels? Probably not.

    Bottom line, they’re just bicycles people. This isn’t that big of a deal. Not one of these formats are new. 26″, 650b, and 700c have been around long before and all three have been corrupted to work on mtb’s.

    I personally welcome more options.

  43. rockhound Says:

    Cloxxki said, “And smaller riders are better served with too large than too small wheels.”

    If that’s the case, should really small children be riding bikes with 26″ wheels? Probably not.

    Bottom line, they’re just bicycles people. This isn’t that big of a deal. Not one of these formats are new. 26″, 650b, and 700c have been around long before and all three have been corrupted to work on mtb’s.

    I personally welcome more options.

  44. Cloxxki Says:

    Actually, to respond seriously to your question, I’ve seen rather short kids (1m35 or so) improve their XC racing a lot when going from a 24″er to a 26″er they barely fitted on.
    That translates into 1m50 riders on 29″ers.
    What I meant, is that being a smaller combination, you get around corners alright anyway. No problems with sketchiness or lack of grip/traction. Turning radius.
    I could be off again though.

  45. Rollin 29 Says:

    Good points Cloxxi.

    Terrain primarily should dictate wheel diameter, not rider size.

    Three incremental wheel diameters seems unnecessary for the normal range of S-XL 15 inch to 21 inch frame sizes.

    XS-XXL maybe!!

  46. Cloxxki Says:

    IMO, ideal XC wheelsize is the largest you can get away with. So, actually a wheelsize per frame size. Skipping one at a time wouldn’t be too bad of course. Terrain can allow you to get away with too small wheels, rarely will it punish you for having having fitted large ones.

    Wheelsize directly translates into rolling resistance, larger being faster. RR is the largest chunk of resistance to overcome in XC’ing.
    It’s also a fable that large wheels would hold you up in technical or tight terrain. I’ve encountered such disadvantages only affecting my ride for fractions of seconds per 15min race lap, and my own body size was then probably the only real reason I was losing out inches in tight corners. Trees planted on my apexes…

    650B is welcome for me, as long as it’s treated as a 26″ alternative. It’s closest to that popular size.
    Throughout time, offroading and all performance cycling have been done on the then largest available wheel size for it. XC riding is static enough for that. Dirt jump and bmx are different, of course. Offroading requires larger wheel that on-roading (look at cars, jog buggies). Add it up!

  47. bloody tongue Says:



    This is a F*&@ing joke, right?

    As far as I can tell you make your living from 29″ wheeled MTB’s. You seem to be a, (if not THE) principal at http://www.twentynineinches.com and the “Big Wheeled Ballyhoo”.

    To say someone else’s idea about what a MTB should be, [before you have ever ridden one, btw] is solely motivated by making money is pretty outrageous. How can you possibly know what anybodies motives or intensions are?

    Out to make money from a bicycle wheel??? How much of a hypocrite are you? Welcome to the BICYCLE BUSINESS Ted. For that matter welcome to life… What commercially available product produced today isn’t on some level intended to earn money for the person producing it.

    After reading the article on your blog, I feel completely justified in telling you that your opinion on this matter is completely corrupt and invalid. It’s clear to me that your mind is already made up. And, unless it begins with “I was completely wrong”; no report coming from you or twentynineinches about the 650b bikes in Las Vegas will hold any weight with me.

    I for one am looking to riding them and giving them an honest review. If they work great, if not that is fine too. Perhaps you should read up a little on how to test any theory… may do you some good!


  48. Scott Says:

    Yikes, I don’t see yet another wheel size helping cycling…

  49. Cloxxki Says:

    bloody tongue, for some reason you’re getting most you’re reading all wrong here. Or you’re not reading enough.

    Check the top of your screen for starters. 29er Bike… it says. Means that this site is devoted to LARGE wheels. GT and others here have dozens of years experience on 26″ers, and easily half a decade each on 29″. Think they cannot write about the effects of wheelsize based on that? Will a tweener size magically ride differently then something in between? That’s farther fetched than a 96er being “best of both worlds”.

    Last time I checked GT was a bike mechanic with a passion to write about his sport. Tim Grahl was my boss when I used to wrote more on here. Few riders I hold in higher regard.

    Issues with people more knowledgeable than you when it’s about your main hobby?

    I think bicycle business is too large a name. Bike hobby associating would be more fitting. When has a bike company last made a true effort to sell the best bike possible for the money? Apart from Fisher, I know none who even qualify for a nomination.

    Smaller wheelsizes we have. kids and BMX’ers ride those. Larger we do not have, yet most all riders who try 29″, roughly 5’2″ and up, like it better. So, we need larger wheels, not in-between sizes.

    650B is just prank by Kirk Pacenti who well knows how bike physics work. He’ll likely redicule us in his memoires soon. First, those who followed his lead.

  50. EddyKilowatt Says:

    Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Second-oldest trick in the Marketing playbook.

  51. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Check this out yous guys!


    cryptic and stuff…. ooooooooohhhhh

  52. Guitar Ted Says:

    bloody tongue: Well, thanks for reading my blog too, (I think) Anyway, you missed the point. A: ALL things are done in business to make money. That was an assumption on my part going into that piece: that everybody was on that same page. B: Sometimes things happen PRIMARILY just to make a buck, and for no other really good apparent reasons. Okay, that”s where my blog post was coming from, I don’t see really sound reasoning being put forth by the champions of this wheelsize. If I do, yes, I will be the first one to say “I was wrong”. So, far the claims made are specious.

    As far as riding one, well that’s happened already. You can choose to turn the other way and not look, but I think you’ll see that my reasoning s sound if you do look at it.

    Your choice.

  53. Ronnie Says:

    I would first of all like to explain why I have been lurking on this website for a few weeks. I have been riding on an Intense 5point5 EVP for the past four years on the rocky, rooty trails of northern New Jersey. I have tweaked and swapped components. I believe that I have the perfect ( for me ) fork and shock. I really love this bike but I have been hearing the 29 inch rumbling noise in the background and my interest is aroused. Intense has even threatened to build a 5.5 29er and showed a prototype. Maybe they will announce a production frame at Interbike.

    So I come here to learn about 29er bikes. They tell me that the bigger wheels will roll better over roots and logs, unlike my 26″, especially when I get tired and neglect to pop the front wheel up enough. That seems to happen more frequently lately. I must be getting older. Anyway, to my horror I discover there is still another wheel size being considered, 27.5″! So I did the math. What is the point. I have true 2.3 tires fitted to my bike and I have accurately measured the tires inflated at 26.6″. That would make a 27.5″ wheel less than one half inch higher from the ground to the axle. If I’m going to make a change then I at least want to notice it.

  54. Cloxxki Says:

    Got it, Ronnie! Riders who were somehow ticked off by 29″ will like 650B better, as it’s back the other way. It takes some real imagination to notice an inch up in wheelsize when all of the bike is going to be different. If your 26″er has heaps of tire clearance and you’re dragging pedals, the choice for 650B seems sounds. However, for less you could sell the whole bike and get a 29″er, get much more of the big wheel edge.

    650B : better for adults than 26″. Just 30 years late.

  55. BearSquirrel Says:

    >> Posted By Cloxxki
    >>650B : better for adults than 26″. Just 30 years late.

    They may be 30 years late. But I also thing they’re about 5 years early as introduction at this time could hinder 29er adoption. Why don’t we talk about 32ers and 36ers while we’re at it?

  56. BunE Says:

    Wow. This is quite possibly a thread that has run its course.

  57. Tim Grahl Says:

    Thanks to everyone for all the great feedback on the article and the 650b wheels in general. I’ve spent a lot of time the past couple days talking to a lot of people in the industry about this “new” wheelsize. As you can imagine there’s all kinds of passionate arguments from all different angles on the subject. I’ll spend some more time digging up some opinions over the next day or two and will do a full article on the overall industry feedback towards this new development. Stay tuned…

  58. GRRRRR Says:

    Enough theory and speculation – I don’t care who is first to the table, why they do or don’t market 29 or 650B tires, or even what anyone has to say on this blog… i am going to try anything that comes out – and if it works, i’ll get a better ride and tell all my friends. I just so happen to think that a 650B upfront and a 26″ in the rear may be the ticket to an all mountain ride. Happy trails.

  59. Cloxxki Says:

    So what would be your reason to choose the slight difference in wheel size?

    With size differences being rather slight, personal preference in geometry and the actual turn out of a bike will matter more.

    It’s my belief that if your builder knows his stuff, larger wheels just work out better. A 29″ Huffy or Target, at this point, may not yet be better than a 26″er from their offering.
    Fisher’s been making 26″ers for 30 years, and seems to have the hang of it. Their 29″ers though, are setting the standad all bikes of all sizes will have to be measured by from now on. G2’s the real deal.

    Challenge : build a 650B bike that rides significantly different from 29″ without making it feel like a 26″er.

  60. GRRRRR Says:

    Here are two blogs worth reading on a 650B/26 front / rear combo:



    I think every tire size has it’s proper application, which each rider needs to decide for themselves. I can tell you why the 29 does not appeal to me personally 1) 29 cannot accomodate a 5″-6″ all mountain suspension 2) more effort is needed from a standstill or at lower speeds (I spend a lot of time going up steep, technical rock outcroppings and I don’t need the additional challenge of getting my wheels turning) 3) 29 is deficient in coming down tight, technical singletrack where quick steering is essential.

    I do believe a 29 bike is superior in cross country applications where speed and momentum can be maintained and tight technical situations are a minimum (up or downhill). While I am aware of the 29’s ability to steamroll large obstacles – this ability is diminished when the going gets tight , technical and twisty and the rider is now slowed to a mere crawl.

    I am not against 29 or 26 wheels, but I think a 650B offers the best combination of both worlds for an all mountain rider. Based on the reviews now starting to surface on 650B wheels, a rider is selling themselves short for not at least trying a 650B before blogging of it’s failure. I am strictly performance oriented which is why I will continue to try anything new to decide for myself whether it works better or not. Each rider needs to determine what is best for their own specific riding style and choose the corresponding wheelsize – which Is why I did not like reading in this blog of bloggers attempts to criticize a new wheel. Bloggers… If a 650B does not work for you – don’t buy it! But don’t tell me your 29″ is better when you don’t know my riding style and you have not tried a 650B for yourself. Cheers!

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