27.5 All-Mountain/Enduro Bike Round Up

27.5 All Mountain Trail Enduro

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.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

Next Page: Conclusion and Bike Reviews »

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:


      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!


    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


    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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