The 650b (R)evolution, Part 1: Jamis, KHS, and Tires

It’s been all over the blog and the forums on 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.

Jamis XCT 650 Pro

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.

2013 Jamis Dragon 650b

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.

Jamis Nemesis 650b

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.

Jamis Nemesis

KHS: Numerous Production Models, and a Prototype

KHS 650b DH Prototype Rig

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.”

650b DH Prototype Suspension Linkage
KHS 650b 6500

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.

KHS 650b 2500. Photo by element22.

The 3500 (not pictured) features a build kit that is almost identical to the 6500, but just in a shorter-travel package.

KHS 650b Team

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.

RockShox Revelation Fork

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.


Talking 650b tires with Maxxis

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.”