THE Ultimate All Mountain Bike Platform?
Update: March 25
We are getting to update this with a whole slew of tires, wheels and forks for 2013. Also, we are proposing to rename the 2013 Sea Otter Classic to The 650b Sea Otter Classic. The amount of 650b/27.5 product introductions there will be staggering.
Jan. 17, 2013
650b/27.5 is the hottest category in mountain biking today. If you haven’t caught the buzz yet, 650b refers to a new size of wheel that falls between (but not exactly in the middle) of the traditional 26er wheel and a 29er wheel. Its purpose is to take what is good about the 26er wheel and what is good about the 29er wheel and combine them to strike a balance that is superior to either end of the spectrum. There are several advantages but chief among them is the promise of better bump rolling ability and traction than a 26er but more nimble than a 29er. For a more in-depth explanation of 650b and its history, check out the video and 650b info article we posted a last summer.
The popularity and acceptance of the 650b wheel for mountain bikes has taken off in recent months, with the development and availability of quality 650b specific forks from big manufacturers like Fox and Rock Shox. Add on to that the increased number of tires now made in 650b specific sizes and 650b (also referred to as 27.5 by certain brands) and 650b will thrive with many tangible, real-world benefits in the All Mountain bikes category, with 140mm to 160mm (5.5 to 6.3 inches) of rear travel.
There are at least a dozen companies making full suspension All Mountain 650b bikes for 2013 (and even more making 650b hardtails, but that’s another round up) and we have highlighted five of the latest and greatest here including: Norco Sight Killer B, Intense Tracer 275 and Carbine 275, Foes F275 and the Scott Genius 720.
Check out this video of Francis explaining 650b and how it works for the All Mountain category of mountain bikes.
Video: Part 1 Introduction to 650b/27.5
Video: Part 2 – The best bikes in each category.
More specs, photos, videos and info »
We have a spec chart showing side-by-side comparisons of these bikes including actual weights. We also measured BB height, wheelbase length, seat tube angle and head tube angle. One common concern readers expressed during our initial bike previews was the weight of these bikes. But one needs to remember that these are longer travel bikes and that this is the tip of the 650b iceberg and we expect weights to drop as more bikes and components come out optimized with different materials. It is also important to note that all the bikes in our round up rode lighter than their given weight. Regardless of climbing or descending, these bikes stealthily hid their weight and were able climbers. Also helping hide the weight was the efficiency of the platform suspension on of these bikes.
Being cutting edge doesn’t come cheap. All the bikes we tested were size medium and range from $4500 to $5500 including two carbon bikes (Intense Carbine, Scott Genius) and three aluminum ones (Norco, Foes, Intense Tracer). For the record, the Scott Genius 27.5 is also available with an aluminum frame (and even a women’s specific version). Norco is the only one who makes FIVE different sizes including an Extra Small (both Norco and Scott make an XL). The geometry numbers shown for the Scott are with the adjustable BB in the low setting.
All of these bikes featured All Mountain components and features like a dropper post (except the Scott Genius), wide 750mm handlebars, direct mount front derailleurs, tapered head tube and thru-axles front and rear. These bikes were made to handle plenty of jumps, drops and hucks but still get you to the top under your own power. All Mountain full suspension mountain bikes are where 650b will gain the majority of its market dominance.