Reviewed by Brian Mullin http://www.gramslightbikes.com/
I have really enjoyed my several months of test time on the Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B 2.3 tires, as they have good acceleration, cornering and traction, and excellent braking. The tire was designed by Mr. 650B himself, Kirk Pacenti, who in addition to being a strong advocate of the 650B attributes, was also an early proponent of the 29er. The Neo-Moto is a 2.3 inch wide tire, meant for multiple types of conditions, from Cross Country to All Mountain riding, and has an Aramid bead, 66 TPI casing and is made in Japan by Panaracer. Kirk had sent me a set of the tires to review back in Sept of 2009, so I have been extremely remiss in completing a review, although my major delay was caused by a lack of 650B wheels. Fortunately, through happenstance, Kirk graciously lent me a pair of his wheels for a couple of months this winter.
Caveat: Running a 650B wheel on a 26 inch designed fork will void its warranty, and manufacturers have lawyer double speak warnings, which all end with “causing serious bodily injury or death”.
The 650B wheel measures in at 27.5 inches, and although the numbers would suggest that it’s smacked exactly between the 26 and 29 inch size, they are somewhat closer to the former. One of the nice aspects of the 650B is that they are much easier to design into a frame, especially when the amount of travel increases to the 4-6 inch range. Designing a 29er with larger amounts of travel (towards 5 inches) can be accomplished, but it is certainly more difficult, and presents a myriad of complexities. The 650B can fit on some of the current 26 inch frames on the market, and my Ibis Mojo is a case in point. I am extremely familiar with a 26 inch setup, and I regularly ride my 29er (Moots Mooto XZ), so I have breadth of knowledge for cross comparisons for the new size. The 650B were in the middle of acceleration between the sizes, though closer to the 26 inch, but it lacked the ability to carry the monstrous momentum that a 29er can attain when it is brought up to speed. It had the excellent braking, and stair step and ledge climbing abilities of the 29er, and its berm and roll over anything capabilities were close to its big brethren. It did share the 29er’s difficulty to turn in sharp switchbacks and lacked laser like steering, somewhere the 26 inch shines, but the 650b were a nice compromise. I personally liked the size, but it is no better nor worse than the others, and it’s just another option.