Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B 2.3 Review

27.5 Pro Reviews Tires

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Impressions
It took me a short period of time to get used to 650B size, since it has a combination of attributes and deficiencies of both of its compatriots, so it gave me a slight amount of brain confusion, although it felt a lot more like my 29er.

When the Neo-Moto was tossed into ugly terrain, they were the happiest, as they had tenaciousness traction and a meaty robustness, and they especially loved rock gardens. On flatter terrain, when it was covered with baby heads, they tended to get bounced around, and were deflected sideways too often, although some slight balance and awareness alterations helped. Even with the low rolling resistance, they seemed to feel like they got bored on mellow singletrack, which is conjecture on my part, since they can’t be of that mindset. Which isn’t to say they don’t perform admirably in those conditions, as they love to roll along, humming away, and pep up when they get more chances to be able to slam over into berms and rollers, taking advantage of the 650B size and lovely chunky side knobs. Take them up onto steep loose terrain, and their braking ability was pretty amazing, and though they had good traction on climbs, you did need to watch your balance to keep the ground torque in the slop. When they were hammered through rock gardens, and rolled up to high speeds in rocky terrain, their low height and lack of width meant you sometimes felt the brunt of the trail. They certainly liked to fly, and the forward ramped tread pattern on top really made them sail out from underneath you, like they had after burners cranked on. The side knobs gave a good grip when tossed over on their sides, and they stuck well when railed hard when cornered, and rolled and carved into the berms with aplomb.

“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!

They had a decent grip when wet, and didn’t seem to slide around much on slicked rocks and roots, though for the latter, we don’t have the East Coast extremes in that department. I have this one root/log that lays diagonally across a section of a local trail, and if its wet I usually walk it, else you are going down, and when I tried it on the Neo-Moto, it flew through with flying colors. I used them quite a bit in moderate amounts of fresh to packed snow, which can feel like riding in sand, and they did really well, and always held their line. I think one of their hallmarks, is that it did just what you told it to do (tire you go there now), and didn’t need to be over handled to coerce it somewhere. I do wish the tire had a bit more width, since it came in as a skinny tire, and I would call it more of a 2.2 (measured 2.19) than a 2.3. I misplaced my calculation for their height, but they are moderately low, which is a good thing since it does help them fit within a larger set of the 26 inch bike frames on the market. I ran them at 23-25 psi with tubes, and they worked better with lower pressure, which increased tenacity, grip and feel. They tended to shed mud and snow quickly, though I didn’t get them in any gumbo type of conditions. In loose gravel and sand, they did pretty well, though the width issue cropped up when they were placed in some of the super deep local Pikes Peak gravel.

The rubber was plenty sticky enough and gave a nice tactile feel, and it definitely felt like Panaracer rubber, with a slight node towards a harder than softer compound, and had a tough thick casing. They fit fine within the confines of my Ibis Mojo, and I never had any interference in the rear. I would like to try them some time on the Velocity Pacenti P35 rims (35 mm wide) to see if it would help spread the width out a tad more, since I like my tire fat. I abused the tires pretty good, and I never had any sidewalls issues, and they seemed tough as nails, with exceptional durability and tread longevity.

Measured Specs:

  • Weight 722 and 719 grams
  • Width: 2.19 inch

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Bottom Line
The Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B 2.3 are a great tire, with excellent braking, good traction and climbing attributes, a useful and functional tread pattern, and tough sidewalls. The 650B is a nice cusp between the 26 and 29 inch sizes, and has enough of each other’s properties that they are a unique and productive addition to the bike industry.

Thinking back on the tires, I mostly remember how much they liked it when you treated them roughly, and tossed them into the meanest terrain, and that’s when they started to sing. Get them on the flats, and they felt and performed fine, but just seemed out of place. The great ledge and rock garden climbing, predictability, cornering, and excellent braking abilities were real highlights of these tires, while the lows were the lack of width, mediocrity on the flats, and a harsh ride flying down rough terrain.

Strengths

  • Fits in many 26 inch frames
  • Excellent braking
  • Traction in rock gardens
  • Ledge climbing abilities
  • Sticky
  • Good Cornering

Weaknesses

  • Mediocre on the flats
  • Bounced around by baby heads on flatter climbs
  • Lack of width – Too skinny
  • Harsh ride in rocky terrain at high speeds

MSRP: $59

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Visit the Pacenti Cycle Design website at http://bikelugs.com/

Pacenti NEO-MOTO 650B 2.3 Specs

  • Size: 650B x 2.30” [approx. 27.7” wheel diameter]
  • Weight: 725 g
  • Use: All condition XC / AM tire
  • Bead: Aramid
  • Casing: 66 tpi, high volume casing
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Incredible cornering grip
  • Works with Stan’s No-Tubes Sealant
  • Made in Japan

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • derby says:

    Great review Pastajet! After 3 year on these 650b Pacenti Neo-moto tires, I can only add that they are very durable, long lasting with tough sidewalls, and shed mud well too. Going back to similar 26 inch wheels on my bike just feels harsh and slow on rocky eroded trails. Cheers!

  • Morpheous says:

    I have had similar success with these tires over the last two years, tried the quasi-moto(summer hardpack) and these Neos(all weather/cond.) Great tread pattern, durability, and grip. Running 650B f/r on my 2010 Jamis XAM2 with no issues and great handling due to the rounded cross sectional profile that I prefer.. Go Kirk!

  • salimoneus says:

    This is the best 650b all-mountain tire out there. The Kendas are similar, but the Neo-Motos are faster, wear longer, and are much stronger in the sidewall. The Neo-Motos also work great with tubeless setups. A superb all-around tire, job well done Kirk!

  • Diesel says:

    For me, this tire measured 55.13mm when freshly installed tubeless on a P35 @ 30psi. I need to go back and re-measure it, now that it has had time to stretch for a few weeks.

    From a grip and tread pattern perspective, it is one of the best front tires I’ve used (I’m running 650b front only on a Mojo). It set up well tubeless, using the velocity tubeless kit + P35 rim. No problems with burps or losing air (w/2 scoops of sealant). I did need to seat it first with a tube, however, in order for it to seat tubeless.

    The jury is still out for me on 650b. I did not notice a huge difference in rollover, though the wheel does not seem to get stuck as easily in those perpendicular ruts that want to stop your wheel and send you OTB.

    The downside for me is the weight. The P35 is a pretty heavy rim, and the steering does not have that light, knifelike feeling, that allowed me to quickly thread a complex line through through a series of obstacles. I’m not sure how much of this is related to the rim, or how much of it is due to the increased gyroscopic effect of the larger wheel diameter.

    Maybe I just need more time on it, as I’ve only had the setup for about six weeks or so. If I could buy a Neo 2.3 in 26″, I’d buy one for my other wheelset.

    -D

  • salimoneus says:

    Diesel: the P35 is a heavy rim, but there are several other choices out there now, I like some of the Sun varieties. Also, if you would like a Neo in 26″, there basically already is one, it’s called the Panaracer Rampage. Edit: “The Neo is similar to the Rampage, and is actually made by Panaracer.”

  • Chris says:

    Good review.

    I haven’t ridden them yet but when choosing a 650B tire for my next wheelset for my FS SS it was between the Neo-motos 2.3s and Kenda Navegals in 2.35. I can’t fit a 650B on the rear so I’m going to run one on the front only thinking that may be where you would get the best advantage of the roll over capability of the larger diameter anyway.

    There were a few reasons I chose the Navegal. One it looked like it has slightly larger knobs and a bit wider casing so it might be closer to the fat tire you are looking for and I already know that Navegals hook up well. It is also available in a 127 tpi casing and I’m a fan of high thread count. I’m running a 26 2.35 Nav on the rear.

    The wheels and the tires are waiting for me to return to the Midwest in a few weeks and I’m excited to see how they work.

    It would be cool to see a side by side comparison.

  • Chris says:

    Oh yeah, also I’m running them on 27mm wide WTB Trail rims which are a good width compromise and lighter than the P35s which would have been my second choice.

  • salimoneus says:

    It’s too bad these tires did not get a chance to shine where they do best, which in my opinion is in a tubeless application. The sidewall of the Neo-Moto is quite robust, and using tubes is going to firm them up even more as noted by the reviewer. Many that have tried these tires much prefer to run them tubeless, and I concur. I recommend trying them again but next time ditch the tubes!

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Thanks everyone for the great information and responses. I am very familiar with the P35, since I tested a 26er wheelset fairly recently. They don’t have laser like steering due to the monstrous width, and they take some initiative to roll over from their very stable upright position, but can rail once on their side.

    Unfortunately, I no longer have the wheels, so no additional testing for tubeless can happen, although I am building a front P35 currently. Due to time constraints, and extra steps required for setup for tubeless, and that the wheelset wasn’t owned by me, I decided not to go my usual tubeless route. I am well aware of the changes of going tubeless can make to a tire, but it still wouldn’t have changed my main issue, which was the width (regardless of tubeless).

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