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

27.5 Sea Otter Classic

The non-Ibis approved “brototype” 27.5-inch Ibis Tranny.

Ibis Tranny 27.5

One of the oddball bikes at Sea Otter this year was a non-Ibis endorsed, unofficial “brototype” Ibis Tranny built by Tim Cannard. Using a modified rear triangle with added clearance on the chainstay and seatstay bridges, this modified Ibis Tranny had plenty of room to run Ritchey Vantage WCS 27.5 wheels and 2.1 Ritchey WCS tires. The front Fox fork is a 26-inch model, but has a tall enough bridge to clear a 27.5-inch wheel.

Even in 26-inch guise, the Ibis Tranny is still one of the most nimble, quick and agile hardtails out there, featuring geometry that’s more like a dual slalom bike than a cross-country race rig. This relaxed geometry gives the Tranny exceptional handling characteristics, especially going downhill. And with the slightly larger 27.5-inch wheels, it takes all the greatest attributes of the Tranny and enhances them.

Although not officially approved by Ibis, the bigger wheels of the Tranny 27.5 further enhance the superior handling of this versatile hardtail.

The Ibis felt more comfortable downhill than the new Focus or Scott 27.5s we rode, soaking up choppy sections of trail with ease. Uphill, the Tranny felt slightly slower to accelerate than its 26-inch counterpart, but still far quicker than 29ers I’ve ridden. Although the Tranny was not designed for 27.5-inch wheels, measurements are still within the specs of 27.5-specific frames like the Focus. Bottom bracket height on the Tranny 27.5 increases about a half-inch to 12.5 inches, which is the same height as the Raven 650b.

Rear triangle was clearance for added space to fit a 2.1-inch rear tire.

Right now Ibis has no plans to offer a Tranny 27.5, but the exploding popularity of this tweener wheel size may pump new life into the 26-inch Ibis hardtail. It’s a concept that works, and in the ASS’s completely biased opinion, the Tranny 27.5 felt more comfortable, stable and agile at speed and cornering than either the 27.5-specific Scott or Focus.

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

The new Bronson C from Santa Cruz with 27.5-inch wheels.
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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon

The Bronson is a six-inch travel bike designed for enduro racing
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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon

The Bronson will be raced on the Enduro World Series by the Syndicate team.
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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon

The Fox CTD system helps the Bronson climb with almost zero detectable bob.
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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon

No, it's not named after Charles Bronson.
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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon

20 years of full-suspension frame design went into the Bronson.
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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon

The neon yellow paint scheme is our favorite.
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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon

The Bronson is surprisingly fast uphill too.
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Focus Raven 650B

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

A 100mm Rock Shox Revelation fork with remote lockout comes standard.
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Focus Raven 650B

Fully internal cable routing keeps the Raven looking so fresh and so clean.
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Focus Raven 650B

Internal disc brake cable routing to a chainstay mounted caliper.
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Focus Raven 650B

The Focus 650B with XT components retails for $3,950.
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Focus Raven 650B

The mixed matte/gloss finish is a Focus signature.
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Focus Raven 650B

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

The non-Ibis approved "brototype" 27.5-inch Ibis Tranny.
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Ibis Tranny

Although not officially approved by Ibis, the bigger wheels of the Tranny 27.5 further enhance the superior handling of this versatile hardtail.
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Ibis Tranny

Chainstay clearance.
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Ibis Tranny

Seatstay clearance.
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Ibis Tranny

Rear triangle was clearance for added space to fit a 2.1-inch rear tire.
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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