In November 08 I posted details of my Specialized carbon S Works hardtail. It was built from a mix of parts from my previous race bike and some budget/used components, because I was not sure how I would take to the 650b wheel size.
After just a few races I was convinced that this was the future for me, and have been slowly upgrading over the last few months. The last upgrades have now been added and I am really pleased that the weight is below 20lbs.
Initially the front forks were 2008 Rock shox SID race forks but although these cleared the fork arch, the crown rubbed on downhill sections so were replaced very quickly with a pair of Rock shock Psylo's. I can recommend these as a budget option for 650b, loads of clearance, adjustable travel & readily available on ebay. After a few races I upgraded to a pair of Fox F80 forks and have found these to be superb, I have never experienced any tyre contact with the crown running them at 70psi.
The wheels were originally built with Stans rims, LX hubs and silver DT spokes, but now feature American classic hubs with Sapim CX ray spokes on the front & DT Competition on the rear, all in black.
There are a few niche weight weenie parts but no compromises on performance. Having said that, the bike is in summer race trim, and a few parts will be swapped for winter racing, a pair of 2.1 Neo Motos will be first on the shopping list.
I spent a lot of time tuning the fit of the bike, finally settling on a shorter stem & riser bars to replace the flat bars, longer stem and stem spacers on the original build.
In terms of riding impressions, the bigger wheels give a real advantage over roots and the bike rolls over the ground as though someone is pushing you from behind! Acceleration is instant, something I never had with my previous 29er race bike and it is really nimble through technical singletrack.
Having originally specced the bike with 26" wheels before changing to 650b I can really feel the difference in bump absorbtion, the bike simply floats over roots and rough ground and the light weight means it is a revelation on the climbs.
Having owned a variety of full suspension bikes, titanium,steel & Scandium hardtails in 26" & 29" formats, this is simply the fastest, smoothest and best riding bike I have owned.
I can't see any reason why i would dream of replacing it.
10 years ago I could not have built this bike, the power of the internet and the vision of Kirk Pacenti have combined to give me the bike I always wanted. Thanks KP!