27.5 All-Mountain/Enduro Bike Round Up

27.5 All Mountain Trail Enduro

Update: Nov. 20, 2013

We are doing another round-up in December. We’ll have an army of 27.5 bikes as well as some 29er bikes. What bikes would you like us to include in this shootout?

Update: August 1, 2013
The season is in full swing and a lot of good things have occurred in the world of 27.5 bikes. First is there’s a very strong movement to use the term 27.5 instead of 650b. Momentum has shifted towards the new 27.5 instead of the entrenched 650b moniker.

The other observation is that 27.5 is here and is here to stay. The growth of the 27.5 market in 2013 is absolutely stunning and 2014 promises to be an even bigger year. It is seen by many in the industry as the 26er replacement as most of the frame and tire development for the 26er wheel size has stopped.

Most riders are not seeing a dramatic improvement as they hop on to a 27.5 bike from their established 26er rigs. But there’s no disadvantage either as steering, quickness and standover issues are hardly compromised at all. The general observation is the the 27.5 bike is better than the 26er in every way. It may be a slight advantage of 10-20% in traction, braking, bump-rolling, stability and cornering but they all add up to a ride that is superior ride specially in singletrack trail and enduro/all-mountain applications.

The one clear disadvantage is the availability of components like forks, wheel and tires. There is a growing set of options out there but they all seem to be in short supply as the demand has clearly outpaced the availability of components. But 27.5 components are being introduced every week and suppliers are promising good availability in the coming year.

Some of interesting highlights are:

1) Trek has introduced the 27.5 Remedy and Slash. These will be rolling with high end Rhythm Elite Bontrager wheels and XR-3 and XR-4 tires by the end of the year. The Slash looks like a real ground-breaker 160mm of plush travel at a very light weight with prototypes coming in at 28 lbs. Details on this release are here.

2) Giant is going all in with 13 new models in the 27.5 platform. Details are here.

3) Specialized will NOT have any 27.5 bikes for 2014. Specialized is very focused on 29er at the moment and will not have any 27.5 products until their components are ready in this wheel size. But some insiders have acknowledged that 27.5 is the 26er replacement and perhaps they may have bikes in 2015.

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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Fast Wayne says:

    Not to mention the Jamis 650b one of the og full susser 650b bikes. I test rode one and it felt pretty close to the 29r rolling over obstacles and turning.

    • Joe says:

      Been riding my Jamis 650B for about a year, and couldn’t be happier. Could definitely tell a difference in it and my old Gary Fisher Sugar.

  • Gregg says:

    We had a 2012 Jamis for review and we covered that bike here: http://reviews.mtbr.com/jamis-dakar-sixfifty-b-comp-bike-test
    The 2013 Jamis was not quite ready.
    Francis also has been riding a Santa Cruz Blur TRc 650b converted.

    We also have a Banshee 650b bike coming in soon. In the end, it was just not possible to get all the bikes in at the same time.

    Other currently available 650b bikes include:
    -Rocky Mountain Altitude
    -Norco Range Killer B
    -Ventana Zeus

    Other 650b bikes on the horizon are:
    -Turner Burner 650b (which Francis and I have both demo’ed, but is currently being reworked)
    -Ellsworth Epiphany 275

    • professed says:

      dont forget to add Liteville 301 650b builds up almost as light as the Carbine 275. Bit slacker, bit bigger, more stable, less nimble, great for attacking serious terrain and fantastic at bigger speeds. Beast.

    • Neil ellis says:

      I hane a blur ltc that I want to convert to 650b
      Would the ltc be ok for 650b
      Would any 650b wheel set be ok
      Could I use a fork from a 29 inch wheel bike
      Are their any detailed explanations of how the conversion is done

  • Izzy says:

    The seat angle of the Sight is way off from what Norco claims. Why is that?

    • Francis says:

      >>The seat angle of the Sight is way off from what Norco claims. Why is that?

      We messed up the measurements by using a 160mm upgraded fork instead of the stock 140mm. The bike is perfectly happy either way but we will fix the measurements.

  • stripes says:

    No Ventana Zeus?

  • dan says:

    i read this somewhere, and i completely agree with it: “It’s here I take issue with 27.5-inch wheels. The traditional logic states that they roll-over things better than a 26-inch bike, but handle more nimbly than a 29-inch bike. However, if you flip that logic on its head, they don’t roll-through as well as a 29er and don’t handle as well as a 26-inch wheeled bike. For me, at least, 26-inch bikes are the most fun to play with and, at the end of the day, that’s what mountain biking is supposed to be about.”

    • Dean Henthorn says:

      Dan,

      Could not agree more. I just finished testing a 26″, 27.5 and 29″ on the same day, back to back to back and the 26″ is still the best bike for my money. That being said, more people would be safer on a 29″ because their technical skills aren’t there. The 27.5″ is a compromise on all fronts…

  • Tom says:

    Had 650bs on my heckler/f36 floats and didnt think it felt as good. Went back to 26. But on my blur ltc theyre killer! The frame and fork (2012 talas) are 26 stock.

  • winsail says:

    Sad you didn’t side by side all the 5 inch + bikes. Important omissions
    Rocky Mountain Altitude, Norco Range Killer B, Ventana Zeus, Jamis 650B, KHS 656
    For all those I don’t think the 27.5 650b doubters (haters) out there. They work , they’re in your local shop, try them & decide for yourself. Disclosure, I have ridden my Jamis 650b for over a year and I couldn’t be happier. Best bike for my 5’9″ Height I have ever ridden. Either myself and others are all crazy or 650b works great for my local conditions (Northern Coastal CA) and my body type, riding style (all mountain/x-country). Yes I rode 26 inches for years, tested 29ers numerous times, and settled on 650b as the perfect do it all ride for me. They used to call 29er geeks kooks 6 years ago. The 29er is now a major force. The sport changes despite our fear of the new.

  • howard619 says:

    This statement doesn’t seem true, “There are at least a dozen companies making full suspension All Mountain 650b bikes for 2013 (and even more making 650b hardtails…”

    Where are they all? Jamis, Saracen, KHS, Kona, Sirius, Carver, Pipe Dream…that’s far less than a dozen and I’m reaching with some of these brands being on the boutique/custom end of the scale. Let’s see some All Mountain Hardtails in 650b format!

  • Jojo says:

    nice bikes! need help on where i can buy a Norco Killer B (bike set) on line…living here in Qatar and have an Aramex mail box in New York…please help me out guys…tnx!

  • Bruce says:

    I was thinking about getting a full susp. 29er after everyone is telling me they loved their 29er. I guess I have to wait to hear these people to tell me how much they will love their 650B. For the time being, I loved my 26er!! Let’s ride!

  • HUGO GERARDO MENA CASTILLO says:

    Estoy convencido de las bondades de la 27.5 necesito comprar una les pido me den informacion de los valores talla M y como hacer para efectuar la compra

  • HUGO GERARDO MENA CASTILLO says:

    que costo tiene la SCOTT GENIUS 720 y la NORCO SIGHT KILLER B talla M tanto en aluminio como en carbono y como comprarla. Mil gracias. Pronto porque estoy que me monto en una de ellas. Mil gracias

  • Ricardo says:

    I am a surfer and I have been biking for 2 years MTB
    When I started surfing my surfboard was 1 Fin, then 2 fins appear , and people thought, nice maybe they are better, then 3 fins, and everybody thought , jajaja, this is too much..
    Now the standard is 3 fins, and there ares some amazing 4 fin boards, my point, is, people dont accept change easily, but it can be for the good of course, 26 , 29, 27, are very nice alternatives for MTB riders with diferent styles

  • deadly daz says:

    Cmon be fair. Its a multi company money boost. All bikes are better today than ten year ago. Sales fall down to durability and tecnology making them last a lot longer. Its a market that always need new ideas to get you to chop the bike you were happy with for the latest one to keep em running. Yep i totally agree with the concept but not all courses and trails etc are the same worldwide so if you’re used to your local trail on the bike you got then why go out early and spend the extra wonga. Wait for everyone else at competition level to use em for a year or so and get some real feedback (although will be sponsored by the company’s) enjoy what you got cus you never had it better. Keep riding people

  • Shred McFlow says:

    Please start part 2 of the roundup. Would love to see the Norco, Rocky Mnt., Scott, Santa Cruz and Nicolai compared.

  • Andrew Eunson says:

    Not only is the number of wheel sizes ridiculous, so are all the colours available, and different amounts of suspension travel and bar width, and pedal systems, and gear ratios, twist shift or paddle, different grips, different helmets. You whiners are silly. What the heck is wrong with choice? No one is forcing anyone to do anything.

  • louis tran says:

    I have a medium intense carbine 275. Love it but looking to sell to pick up an ibis hdr.

  • Loll says:

    I don’t know why you guys all think the Jamis 650B is all that great. I came from riding 29er only for 1 year. The test track was a baby head size rocky trail. From a 29er to a 27.5 was almost a downgrade as I actually need to start being careful again about not rolling over the bar on the bigger rocks. Turning wise, it is true, the 27.5 did turn a bit better on tight switch back. But there are a very few handful of 29er that has geometry that specifically address tight turns. I don’t feel it on the Trek G2 geo bikes, nor the stump jumper FSR 29.

    To be fair, I like and want to give 650B some more tries as I do think it can handle jumps and drops better due to the smaller sizes. There is a common saying that 650B is for more AM/FR. The Jamis is just so not set up for that. For example, my demo bike had a long 80mm? 90mm stem on it. The handle bar is narrow. Add to it that I came off a 29er to test this bike, I literally returned the bike after just half a test lap. Somehow, I think it was more the bike set up than the 650b size. Certainly didn’t climb as good as the 29er up the fire road to the rocky downhill trail. I was just not impressed by the Jamis at all.

    I do want to try the same trail on a 650b other brand bike though.

  • joe says:

    To me it’s still up in the air wether this is being driven by the demand side or the “supply” side. Articles by you (like this one) seem to offer a glimpse into the massive marketing effort that is afoot, and really make the argument that this is manufacturer driven-at least at this point.

  • Maxman6000 says:

    If your in the market for a new bike looking at 650b makes sense, but to upgrade a perfectly good 26er just because the new wheel size is the latest and greatest is a win for the marketing department

  • Juan says:

    I ‘m an old all mountain rider . At first I was confused about this issue of 26″ vs 650b/27.5″ (27″ actually). So, I read, asked everybody for advice only to be more confused. Eventually I found a quote from Brian Lopes in his book : ” … the most important upgrade you can make to your bike is the kind of tires you use…”. Moreover , I found a post on a forum: ” firstly, measure the height of your wheels at the preassure you ride, floor to top”. Indeed, with the tires I use (Continental Mountain King 26×2.4 @ 40psi) my 26″ bike is actually a 27.5″ one, since the floor to top height is a little over 27″. My tires are perfect for my riding and grip the ground as if glued. Moreover, I felt almost no difference between my bike and other all mountain bike 27.5×2.2″ I borrowed from a friend. I said “almost” because my 26″ bike has a better grip and roll over obstacles with as easily. I conclude that this whole 27.5″ (650b or whatever it ‘s called) affair is a dirty marketing trick to make us spend on a new bike. I’m not a radical 26″ for ever, but I’m not going to buy a 27.5″ until my 26″ die.

  • Angus says:

    I’d love to see you review a Liteville 301 Mk11 with their Syntace W35 wheels in 650b.

    But pick the appropriate variant to match the rest of the lineup – they have 140 or 160 rear travel options.
    Admission: I’ve already ordered one in 650b/27.5″ to add to my quiver (1x bike 26″ hardtail), as I don’t have an AM/enduro rig. As I’m getting an XL frame I can play with lightweight 29″ wheels (and altering the suspension travel) for a more XC setup.

  • matt says:

    i’d like to see how some of the more budget-friendly bikes compare, such as the Santa Cruz Heckler and the Norco Fluid 7. the Fluid 7.1 looks like a killer build for the $. I know it’s on the lower end of the travel spectrum, not sure if that disqualifies it from this round-up…

  • Joe Millionare says:

    This article did not even mention the Pivot Mach 6 which is arguably the most advanced 27.5 endure bike in its class.

  • DPF says:

    Devinci Troy, lapierre spicy, norco range & sight, canyon spectral & nerve, commencal META, SC Bronson/5010/Bantam & Heckler , Yeti SB75, Giant(s), Niner WFO,

  • mtber says:

    Norco Range carbon, Trek Remedy 650b & 29 and Slash, Yeti sb66c (yes this is a 26er) are my picks for enduro bikes

  • r1Gel says:

    I’m very much looking forward to seeing reviews of the Trek Remedy and Slash 27.5s.

  • Gerald says:

    KHS has been the leader for 650b and offers three all mountain models!

    7500 (new for 2014) $5549
    6500 $3949
    5500 $2499

  • Dennis says:

    I’m really curious why Cannondale isn’t jumping in on this 650b market. I just went from a Cannondale 26er to a Scalpel 29er.

  • Carts says:

    Hi just in from bike park wales had a whyte g150 on demo. Amazing from cornering berms, to jumps and tight twisty steep single track…..most likely my new bike now as well, unless I find something pretty special on next few demo hires.

  • Josh says:

    I have been looking at getting a Lightspeed 650b. The frame can run either a 650b or a 26 wheel. I am leaning towards the Pisgah but I think the Sewanee would be a better bike for this comparison. It would be great to see an alternative to the big manufacturers.

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