Which bike is for me?

At 650b.com we have been getting a fair amount of questions about frame size, what frames clear 650b, what tires do we recommend, and so on.  As time goes on I plan on posting these questions.

I don’t know if you have experience in all of these areas, but could you tell me the difference in running fat slicks on 700(29), 650B and 26.  I have a 29er with 2.0 Big Apples and a 26er with 1.5 marathon racers.  The 29er is too much work to do lots of distance on and the 26er doesn’t climb particularly well.

The other question I have is the difference between mountain bike and road bike geometry on 650Bs.  I kinda want a utility-ish bike that can eat up the miles, take a little trail and jump down a flight of stairs.  What kind of bike would work best?

Having ridden slicks on all three of these bikes I feel pretty comfortable to answer this question.

29ers with 2.0 tires to me still feels sluggish.  It rolls over things well and gobbles up any ruts in the road but the taller wheels with thicker rubber is very slow to start up, and can the slow speed handling leaves something to be desired.  (You can track stand very very well!)

26″ with 1.5 or even 2.0 tires don’t roll very well or keep momentum.  Riding a fully rigid 26×1.5 slick tire with high air pressure is very jarring. If you can lower the air pressure its not too bad but I would chose the 29er over a 26″ for this purpose.  The slow speed handling is very twitchy if you have a normal head tube angle, now you can slow down the handling by either putting a longer axle to crown fork or changing out the stem.

650b is a good medium to me.  Much like Goldie Locks – not too much but not too little.  Right in the middle!  I’ve ridden 650b wheels on mountain, road and cyclocross.  My personal favorite tires are either the Fatty Rumpkins which are fat road tires or the Pacenti Quasi Moto.  The Quasi Moto for “all arounder” and the Fatty Rumpkin for rides that are 90% on road.  The wheels hold energy rather well. Not as well as a road bike, but better than a 26″ wheel.  Both of the tires I enjoy aren’t too heavy like a Big Apple.  The cracks in the road are really smoothed over with the slightly larger wheel but don’t feel too sluggish with cornering.

For a utility bike I would recommend a mountain bike or something with more relaxed angles.  I recently converted a 26″ Salsa Ala Carte into a 650b Xtracycle.  The larger wheel made the handling a bit slower which I needed for the the long tail bike and the mountain bike geometry also helped with that.   One of my favorite “utility” or “all arounder” type bikes right now is the Rawland Sogn Disc.  The bike is designed around 650b wheels, but say you want to go with 29ers for a day, they fit and it handles well with them.  Several folks are actually racing cross on these frames with 700×32 tires. Here’s a link to Ben of Milltown Cycles blog where he writes all about riding it with 29er mountain bike tires.

I hope this answers your questions, and if it doesn’t feel free to post below.  There are many 650bers out there now, maybe one is somewhat local to you!


No Responses to “Which bike is for me?”

  1. umarth Says:

    Awesome. This makes me feel better about picking up a 650B wheelset. I’ll be converting either my road bike (I’ll be able to do full fenders w/o overlap! Maybe!) or an older rockhopper. If it ends up being good fun and fitting the need I foresee it filling, I’ll look for a dedicated frame. It is great to have a source like this to check out.

    I’m in Eugene, OR if anyone wants to try riding the conversion….

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