It’s been all over the blog and the forums on Singletracks.com: the industry is quickly jumping behind the new 650b/27.5″/tweener wheel size, whatever you want to call it. This year at Interbike I was tasked with covering the new 650b products–quite a tall order! In this series of posts I’ll highlight a number of 650b bikes that I spotted at the show. I’m sure that I missed a few, and others will be featured in their own posts–so stay tuned to the blog as we catch up on the Interbike madness!
(To read up on the handling of 650b bikes in general and where I think the 650b trend might go, check out the second section of this blog post.)
Three Models from Jamis Bicycles
As I mentioned in my preview of the 2012 Jamis Dakar SixFiftyB Pro, Jamis has been a long-time proponent of the 650b wheel size, and their 2013 line is no different. With updates to previous models as well as a whole new package, Jamis continues to help pioneer the tweener wheel wilderness.
The 2013 Jamis XCT 650 replaces the 2012 Dakar SixFiftyB Pro, as well as the previous 26-inch XCT. One of the key differences between this rig and the Dakar SixFiftyB is updated tubing. The XCT features a straight top tube instead of the old curved tube, which should help to increase stiffness. The downtube has been reformed as well for added stiffness. The thru-axle rear end has also changed from 135mm spacing to the increasingly common 142×12 rear. Drivetrain is still a solid 2×10 SRAM X0, but the fork has changed to the new RockShox Revelation 650B RCT3. The tires have also changed from Kenda Nevegals to Schwalbe Racing Ralphs. Finally, the XCT Pro is now sporting a CrankBrothers Cockpit. MSRP: $4,800. There is also a Comp build available for $2,800.
The Dragon returns for 2013 with a different paint job, but the same steel frame. With a Shimano SLX 3×10 drivetrain, White Brothers Loop TCR 650B 120mm-travel fork, American Classic tubeless wheels, and Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires, the Dragon retails for about $2,900.
The Jamis Nemesis 650b, back for 2013, is a more budget-friendly Kinesis 7005 alloy hardtail, with an MSRP of $1,900. To hit that pricepoint, Jamis spec’d a SRAM X9/X7 2×10 drivetrain, the XFusion Velvet RL 650B 100mm-travel fork, Alex XD Lite rims, and Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires.
KHS: Numerous Production Models, and a Prototype
If the folks from Jamis are tweener wheel wilderness pioneers, riding their 650b bikes westward on the Oregon trail, the folks behind KHS are the Lewis and Clark expedition. While they do have their own production models of other bikes, KHS has been very open about their development of a 650b downhill bike. While this is still very much in the prototype/testing stage, I began to ask one of the KHS reps, “So, do you think you’ll bring the downhill bike to developem…” “Yes,” he answered quickly. “We’re still in the testing phase, but we’re definitely planning on bringing it to production.”
KHS’s 2013 full-suspension 650b bikes are closely based on last year’s models. They have a number of different build kits: 6500, 5500, 3500, and 2500. The 6500 and 5500 are both 140mm bikes and the 3500 and 2500 are 120mm-travel bikes.
The 6500, pictured above, features a mixed 2×10 SRAM drivetrain with an X9 Type 2 rear derailleur, a RockShox Revelation RLT fork, WTB 650b Speed Disc rims, and Maxxis Ardent 650b x 2.25 tires.
The 3500 (not pictured) features a build kit that is almost identical to the 6500, but just in a shorter-travel package.
The 2013 650b Team, a lightweight carbon hardtail, is closely related to the 2012 SixFifty 608, which I got to ride at Outdoor Demo. For 2013, the Team features a 2×10 mixed SRAM drivetrain with an X9 Type 2 rear derailleur, 100mm RockShox Revelation RLT fork, American Classic Terrain Disc 650b wheels, and Maxxis Crossmark 650b x 2.1 tires. It is also available as the “800” with a more affordable build kit.
KHS is also offering two budget-friendly alloy 650b hardtails for 2013: the 600 and 500 (not pictured). The 600 features a 3×9 mixed Shimano Deore/Alivio drivetrain, a 100mm RST 650b Air fork, Weinmann XM25 650b wheels, and Maxxis Crossmark 650b x 2.1 tires.
Everywhere we turned, tire and wheel manufacturers have been quick to embrace 650b, thanks in large part to the demand from bike companies for OEM parts. While most tire companies, Michelin and Maxxis, for example, are releasing just two or three 650b models this year, Schwalbe has jumped into the market “tires first” with 650b in 5 tread patterns. According to Schwalbe, they are providing OEM tires to roughly 90% of the 2013 650b bikes.
Click here to read Part 2 of “The 650b (R)evolution.”
Great coverage so far, looking forward to part II.
One of the questions I asked a number of folks at Interbike (and I apologize if I’m stealing your thunder) is whether they’re seeing actual orders for 650b bikes and/or components. The tire people say heck yeah, we can’t make ’em fast enough! But those tires are going OEM; that doesn’t mean anyone is actually buying the bikes these tires are attached to (yet). Shop/consumer purchases are a bit murkier–no one could confirm whether there was real consumer demand for 650b yet. As Greg will tell you, as recently as a couple months ago it was impossible to find a 650b tire in an actual bike shop–and he looked in more than a few shops between Colorado and California! Until real buyers (retailers, then consumers) start asking for these bikes and components, 650b will remain “coming soon.”
Funny how the bike industry tends to re-use product names; I can’t believe KHS couldn’t find a better name for their bike than the 6500 (Trek anyone?).
While not a long time MBer- a few years now, I am however somewhat knowledgeable in marketing and trends and to that end here is my take and prediction …
29 has finally caught on. I for one sold my Scott 26 alum. ht and moved up to a 29er Ti w/2×10 XO components. I did not want to make the same mistake twice- namely buy a bike that I soon would want or feel a need to upgrade. I concluded that in the ht arena, 29 was the trend and direction on the one end of the spectrum and 650b on the other end, primarily fs bikes.
There is going to be a “grey period” in time, a time when mfgr’s will wait out the consumers indecision about their next upgrade. Meanwhile new to riding mid age and new young riders will immediately gravitate to the 650b for their first purchase.
Add to that the need of mfgr’s to continue to meet sales projections/profits will increasingly hammer 650b as a great profile in order to spur content with their favorite 26er to plunk down hard earned dollars on a new rig.
In five years every main stream mfgr. will showcase 650b’s at least 3-1 to 26ers in their lines. In ten years 26 will represent 10% or less of sales, while 650b and 29 will represent 60%/30% of sales or somewhere in that range.
I own a quality carbon road bike from VeloVie and a high quality Ti 29er from Moto. My next ride will be a carbon or Ti 650b 2×10 with high end components. I wouldn’t even remotely consider a 26 purchase. And that’s the future in my estimation.
I don’t think there is much of a “grey period” for manufacturers this time around–IMO they seem to be producing 650b gear ahead of demand. This is in contrast to 29ers where for a while there wasn’t as much selection in wheels, tires, etc. even after many consumers had jumped on board.
Many have said the industry was caught “flat footed” on 29ers and they’re afraid of making the same mistake on 650b. It’s possible for some the mistake may be jumping the gun this time around.
P. S. – that will be a 650b FS next time. the Ti 29er is my go to hard tail and I love it!
That’s OK, I may just copy/paste parts of that into the next post!
Yeah, I thought most of the KHS names could use some help from the marketing department. The numbers seem so 1990-something. However, names aside, they look like some good bikes!
Isn’t Jamis completely dropping 26″ wheels from their line up?
That I had not heard, but I could have missed something. Do you have more deets?
My bad, they haven’t dropped them completely, but they did cut 9 models out of the line up. http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/08/24/2013-jamis-650b-line-updated-26-models-cut-down/
OK gotcha. Yeah, they really slimmed down. If you read my blurb above about the XCT, basically they folded the 26″ xct lines and the Dakar 650b lines into one, dropping the 26″ wheel and keeping the XCT name.
That makes sense to me. Where it really gets confusing is when companies re-use the same model name for each flavor (26, 650b, 29). Hopefully we’re moving toward a “pick the right wheel size for the application” situation where the model will imply a wheel size.
McBikes: small, medium or large. Would you like fries with that? 😀
I’m really interested to see how the KHS 650b DH bike pans out.
I can see a 650b for my next fs rig,but I won’t make a move up until I see it as common as the 29er is now.It seems like it took the 29er a decade to be a major player in bike shops.How long will it take for the 650b to be as common as the 29?I hope it’s not a decade.