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.