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As I’m sure you can tell from all of the coverage on Singletracks and other websites, 650b is all the rage… or is it? Some people claim that 650b/27.5 wheels are the perfect blend of 29in and 26in, and others claim that it’s all marketing hype generated by a bike industry that’s trying to stave off declining bike sales.

Instead of giving into the marketing hype or our own personal opinions on the topic, we’ve decided to collect some hard data from the most important source: you, the mountain bikers at large. We want to hear your thoughts on the wheel size topic. Love the new tweener size, hate it, or even think 29ers should never have existed in the first place, take our wheel size survey and give us your feedback: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1uWVPLLf-nS6o-PMTqcbGTsCxSYi95NgD12ASy-7nrlE/viewform

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# Comments

  • Jeff Barber

    I’m really interested to hear what “the crowd” thinks about the 650b/27.5. I suspect some of the results from this survey will be surprising.

    And don’t let the title of this post bias you on the first survey question. 🙂

  • skibum

    Good survey–looking forward to seeing the results.

    To date, I have only ridden one mid-wheeled bike and was somewhat underwhelmed–that despite the bike having an excellent suspension, the right amount of travel to please me, and being from a manufacturer who has always otherwise hit me in the sweet spot whether it be hardtail, fully, 26″ or 29″. But I don’t want to let that one sample form the basis of my opinion.

    I’d love to throw a leg over the new Pivot Mach 6, a Turner Flux, and the two new Yetis (SB-75 and the new 26.5″ 575)

    • delphinide

      Pivot Mach 6…that is the bike. 🙂

  • KleinGuy

    I wish I could help out more. I haven’t been on a 27.5 or a 29 🙁

    • skibum

      With a name like KleinGuy, we could have predicted that!

      Great ol’ bikes–I was sad to see them go–damn Trek!

    • KleinGuy

      Haha, yea. I’ve got 4 of them! I have 10 bikes. 8 26″ MTBs a 20″ BMX bike and a 20″ trials bike. Wow, that makes me sound rich or something, ha. Let me explain….the Klein’s I acquired over a period of 6 years after my original Klein was stolen. They were all pretty much pieced together. I have 2 05 Attitudes, a 97 Pulse Pro (brand new in the box) and a 97 Mantra Comp. I have 2 Airborne’s (Zeppelin Elite and Taka) which I got for being on the first Airborne Flight Crew. That was the most awesome experience ever. Huge thanks to those guys! I have an 05 Cannondale F400. An 02 Rocky Mountain Slayer. An 03 Monty X-lite Mod Trials bike and a 97 Gary Fisher Lush Rush Fuel BMX bike. All of my stuff is older and was mostly pieced together, ha. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to try out a 27.5 and a 29er!

  • MTI

    I’ll start off by saying a ride 26 inch wheels. As long as they are around I suppose I always will. On the survey I did put 29 ers are the best for XC because I believe for most people they are. I just don’t like the feel of them so even though i believe they are for old lazy people that can’t take the effort to hop over things I can’t argue with their success in XC market 🙂

    As for 27.5 I have rode a Santa Cruz Bronson and a Scott Genious I believe it was. I toyed around with a Kona Hardtail in a parking lot and I will say what I have said before there simply is just not that much difference between the 26 and 27.5. There is no WOW factor like you guys feel when you get on a 29 er. I was looking at a Yeti ASR-5 to get this year but they discontinued it. They discontinued most 26 inch F.S. Trail bikes that I would have bought. So I am simply not going to buy this year because as I indicated on the survey I am afraid they will not take off in the market and prices for parts will eventually go sky high. If I am wrong and the 27.5’s take off I will buy one when the time comes because as I said they felt just like the 26 but I will not dump money into one for the sake of something new.

    Let me ask this question to you people that ride 29 ers for trail/enduro/AM. Would you give up your 29 er for essentially the feel of the 26 inch wheel again? My guess would be no. You guys/gals are sold on that product. That would be the equivelant someone trying to convince me to give up my 26 to go up to a 29. It is not going to happen. That means potentionally a large segment of the market is already lost. Again I may be wrong but being 43 years old I have seen lots of marketing flops so far in my life. I think this is another.

    • delphinide

      To answer your question, I *might* give up my 29er for the 26 feel…but as I indicated on the survey…I’m invested in 29ers with carbon wheels, etc.. I’d have to find a bike with snappy geometry that gave me the same confidence to roll over chunder like I do now on a 29er…but I didn’t think the Bronson or other tweeners I have ridden can get me around tight switchbacks any easier. Most of the standover heights, chainstays, HT angles, and wheelbases, etc.. are almost identical on 29ers and 650b…so why would I. So, you are correct.

  • delphinide

    Where does the fatbike fit in on your survey? 26in rims with a 29in diameter tire…how about a 29+? I found the survey difficult to answer since I just bought another fatty. I am interested to see how the survey turns out too. I’ll never buy another 26in bike unless it is a DH rig. I have the most trouble choosing b/w the 650b and 29er…but when the geometries are equal, I’d choose the bigger wheels any day for almost anything. I was shocked when I rode the $10,123 Bronson and found it more sluggish and less responsive than my own 29er. I agree with maddslacker on previous posts…I think the Solo/5010 is the way to go for a 650b trailbike. I would just want to avoid one at the moment because of all of the in-your-face hype and the dark thought in the back of my head of someone silently labeling me ‘Sheeple’. And not to bias results, but MTB action did *another* but great article on the wheels size wars and found that almost all of the 27.5in wheels were actually closer to, or under, 27 inches…so not really a great description. Tweener or ‘fraction’ may be more appropriate…

    • Greg Heil

      As for Fat Bikes, stay tuned for a dedicated fat bike survey in the not-too-distant future 😉

  • k2rider1964

    Went over to 29ers (3) years ago with the 1st generation carbon Tallboy. I then moved on to the long travel Tallboy which was a great bike and plowed thru/over rocks on climbs better than the regular Tallboy. However, I missed the lighter weight and bought the new Tallboy 2. Just sold teh long travel (2) days ago and I’m in the market for a 27.5….the Bronson and Mach 6 will be the 1st bikes I check out.

  • hofkins

    I have been riding an Intense Carbine 275 since March. Graduated from a Santa Cruz Superlight 29 via a 26 SC Blur. These are all nice bikes.
    My confidence on the 275 and ability to attack the trail has won me over in regards to the 275/650b. I have raced 275/650b XC on fat Schwable Hans Dumpf and beat guys on 26 and 29 bikes. I am a short guy and love the format. That said I love my SS 29 Salsa El Mariachi. However I am hoping Santa brings me a Giant XTC 27.5 with the 2X10 Shimano XT build.

  • wfool

    Just got my 27.5/650B this week. I used a Santa Cruz Chameleon frame and built it to use the 650B format. I have ridden it 4 or 5 times and love it. My other bike is a Santa Cruz Blur and I love that bike too. I have never been fond of the 29 format, but that is just me. Everyone has their toys and what works for one doesn’t work for another. That said, I hope the 650B stays around, because the 26 seems to be going away. It seems like the 26 at the manufacturing level is being relegated to kids bikes. I think it is too bad, but that is what happens in manufacturing, you produce what people buy.

  • barrygxnz

    Horses for courses.My 26″ 5 Spot is perfect for the gnarly rocky rooty trails in South Florida, and my 29″ Felt hardtail is perfect for Georgia’s more open and hilly trails.
    As I build my bikes from used parts, wheel size doesn’t matter to me as long as there’s a good supply for what I’m building.
    Plus I’m not sure I am good enough to tell the difference a 27.5″ setup would make. I’m still keen to try a 27.5/26, that could work.
    Cheers
    Barry

  • Stamps

    I’ve ridden all the Trek offerings: 26, 650b, and 29er. The difference between 26 and 650b is subtle but there is definite difference. The remedy and slash were still very playful like a 26er but they do get a little better in the pedaling/rolling department.

    If I just bought a 26er or there’s still life left in my old 26er then I wouldn’t get a 650b just for the sake of upgrading. However, if my 26er was dying then I’d absolutely get a 650b to replace it. The entire bike world, except for Specialized, has jumped on board so access to forks, wheels and tires/tubes won’t be an issue going forward.

    Outside of cross country racing (29er seems ideal) and downhill (26er seems best for the amount of wheel travel), I don’t agree with qualifying a certain wheel size as best for a certain category of riding (For example: stating that 650b is better than 29er for all mtn riding). I feel the lines are more blurred and it is more about the rider and their style of riding that dictates what wheel size is best.

    Seeing comments from most manufacturers though, I feel its clear that 26ers will be phased out of most mid to high level spec’d bikes (aside from DH) in the next 5 years. Look at Trek’s 2014 lineup for a perfect example. Or checkout Giant who is putting all their eggs in the 650b basket.

  • DanK_NoCo

    I had picked out my next purchase (26” spec evo), but with the uncertainty in the market, I decided to hold off a couple years. I don’t want to throw money at 26 or 27.5, only to find I can’t maintain the bike. I won’t buy a 29er.
    I nearly decided to pick up a bike in the used market, but it still seems like I can keep milking my 2009 until the smoke clears a bit more.The tough part is that, given my age (nearly 47), waiting may mean that I won’t buy another high end bike, ever.

    Survey not submitted, because it requires me to choose exactly one answer, where zero or two answers would better represent my indecision. For instance, “Which type of MTB will you purchase next?”.

  • Jeff Barber

    We’re well over 400 responses which is enough to get statistically valid results for many of the questions we want to answer. However, we need input from more women to see if there’s a difference in perceptions b/w men and women on the new wheel size.

    So… if you’re a woman and haven’t filled out the survey, we’d love to hear from you! If you’re a man, you can skip it–(statistically) we already know what you’ll say. 🙂

  • Gose

    I recently purchased a 26″ FS after demoing a bunch of 26, 650B and 29ers. I chose a 26″ because those happened to be the wheels that were on the bike that I liked the best. In fact, I did not notice much, if any, difference between 26 and 650B. I don’t think the industry (especially the aftermarket parts industry) is going to abandon 26″ wheels anytime soon, even if 26″ are never manufactured again. 26″ bike owners make up the largest customer base (i.e revenue stream) for after market mountain bike parts manufacturers and will for years to come. In fact, 650B were, and still are, considered to be an aftermarket part for 26ers.

    The bike industry is currently in a down market and I don’t think its because people have been waiting around for a third wheel size to buy. People are more likely to spend their money on something better rather than something different. 29, 650B…neither one is better, just different.

    • Gose

      I would also like to add that I also own a 29er hardtail, so I’m not one those 26er zealots who hate change.

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