Sea Otter Quick Test: 27.5ers from Focus, Santa Cruz and Ibis Conversion

27.5 Sea Otter Classic

The new Focus Raven 650B borrows design cues from its 26-inch counterpart.

Focus Raven 650b

Borrowing design cues from the Raven 26er, the new Focus Raven 650b is designed to be a fast, nimble cross-country race rig that’s comfortable enough for all-day events. Molded from carbon fiber, the Raven 650b resembles the 26-inch model more than the Raven 29er, but incorporates new features like bridgeless seatstays for enhanced shock absorption over rough patches of trail, and extra room for a fatter rear tire. Fully internal cable routing gives the Raven a very clean, clutter-free appearance and a tapered head tube along with a BB30 bottom bracket help the Focus deliver increased lateral stiffness and sharp cornering.

Bridgeless seatstays help absorb shock and allow for more tire clearance.

Equipped with Shimano Deore XT components, SLX hubs and a 100mm RockShox Revelation fork with 15mm thru-axle, the Raven 650b weighs 24 pounds and retails for $3,950. Focus designed the Raven 650B to strike a balance between a hardcore race machine and a comfortable hardtail you can ride all day. It’s not quite as racy as the Scott Scale 740 we tested, but definitely takes a little more edge off the trail on the back end than the Scott.

The mixed matte/gloss finish is a Focus signature.

The Raven 650b could well be a solid choice for marathon/endurance cross-country racers looking for a bike that has plenty of speed and agility yet enough compliance and comfort to ride all day long. It climbs with more immediate acceleration than a 29er and smooths out choppy sections of trail better than a 26er. Although we had only a short time on the Raven 650b, we loved its balance of performance and comfort.

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • tv says:

    Can anyone point me to any info on the web regarding how/what Tim Cannard modified on the Tranny rear triangle?

  • Ted says:

    The 80′s called, they want their dayglow shoes back

  • The Angry Singlespeeder says:

    TV – Tim basically had a composites guy cut out a portion of the seatstay and chainstay bridge and re-carboned it to fit a longer rear wheel.

  • tv says:

    So they left the stays at their original length, but cut away material in the “body” of carbon where the stays merge and connect to the main triangle?
    I assume the “slot machine” was left intact, or at least intact enough to permit chain tensioning?

  • Ken Arnett says:

    ant details on this mod for the Tranny?

  • The Angry Singlespeeder says:

    TV – yes, that’s correct. Stays were left unchanged. Material was cut away from the body where the stays merge. The Slot Machine was not affected. I will see if I can get Tim to chime in here with the details.

  • Tim Cannard says:

    Hey there. So basically what I did was take out a bit of the slot machine and upper yoke to fit originally a 700×35 Cross wheel. This rear end was a test mule for my 324 Labs adapters some 3 years ago. And it just so happens a 27.5x 2.1 is the exact same size.
    According to the Carbon repair guy it was pretty straight forward. They made a backing plug for the slot machine when remolding it. And cut out the re-wrapped the top yoke. Looks clean and very close to factory.

  • Tim Cannard says:

    One more thing. About 1/3 of an inch of the slot machine travel was affected. And in my opinion not very critical since there is plenty of movement for chain tension after the modification.

  • Miguel says:

    Ouch…spandex, venus legs, and girl shoes isn’t going to sell 650B in these parts.

    • plume says:

      Gotta look good to go good Miguel. Baggies and flat pedals are for huckers son. I love that the Tranny mod got the best review makes me miss my hardtail 26ers of yesteryear.

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