MTB

Is 650b the magic number for mountain bike wheels?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 4:07pm
Category: MTB

The Intense Tracer 275 X9 Expert (Intense Cycles)
It wasn’t too long ago that we wrote an article comparing 26” wheels with 29ers, and you got involved with the debate on whether they were the ‘next big thing’ – but now there’s another size looking to steal the limelight: 650b (27.5”).

Touted as the perfect balance between the standard-sized 26” with its nimble nature and flickability, along with the faster rolling, root squashing qualities of 29 inches, but without the weight and rotating mass, we’re expecting 650b to steadily creep into mainstream use, especially for trail and enduro use.

As with most cycling technology, the change is likely to be heavily influenced by pro riders as well as the bike and component manufacturers themselves. Swiss cross-country racer Nino Schurter had a barnstorming season this year, piloting his 27.5” hardtail to World Cup victory in Val d’Isere as well as many other podium-topping victories; Scott’s popular Genius range is now only available in 650b or 29er mode, and the likes of Intense have released one of their most popular models, the Intense Tracer, adjusted for 650b with Intense Marketing Manager Scott Sharples saying:

“If the industry had to decide on one wheel size, I would vote for the 27.5, without hesitation. It is just as much fun as a 26, but faster.”

So, are we starting to see the emergence of a new dominant wheel size? Is this the end for 26”, or another marketing man’s dream? Leave your comments below, we’d love to hear your opinion on this. 

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