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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a bit lost in my search for a new bike. I'm in the market for my first FS rig and thought about giving 650b a try since my 29er frustrates the hell outta me in tight switchbacks and other spots that require quick turns. I headed out for test rides today thinking 650b would be the "solution". However, after riding a couple Norco's I wasn't terribly impressed. While it was a tad more nimble as expected, it just didn't "feel" good riding the smaller wheels. I also saw that the difference in size between a 26" and 27.5" really isn't much.

What am I missing? Are there any 29er folks here who also own a 650b and are happy with it? Am I looking at 650b for the wrong reason (i.e. being frustrated by switchbacks which are really only about 10% of my ride)? Wasn't sure if this post should be here or 27.5 forum, but figured I would get modded to the right place.
 

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Yes. Different bikes serve different purposes.

150mm 650b AM
100mm 29er FS XC
 

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I'm on a Santa Cruz TBc. I'm in the process of looking for a 150mm 650B. Different bikes for different purposes.

The 650Bs I've ridden are not as good as my TBc in switchbacks. The 650Bs are more slack and have longer wheelbases.
 

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I rode/raced a Jamis Nemesis for about 6 months, thinking it would be faster and more agile than my 29er on twisty trails, but it just didn't grab me. Nothing wrong with the bike, and it was more XC oriented than many of the newer B bikes, but it just didn't cover ground like my 29er's do. If I were in the market for an enduro or slack fully playbike, I would definitely go with a 27.5, but for trail riding and racing, I'm sticking with 29er.
 

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Got the opportunity to do some extensive test rides on two 650b demo bikes last weekend, a FS Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 ($8,299), and a Giant XTC Advanced 27.5 ($7,199) both XX1 drivetrains. I liked the nimbleness of both 27.5 bikes, felt very much like my old 26". I would get a 27.5 if I wanted that nimble feeling again. However, I don't think I would be any faster on the smaller wheels.

The bikes had a different feel but I prefer my 29er, it just rolls over things better and I don't think there is anything the 27.5 can do that my 29er can't. It might be a little less nimble but I like the feel of the bigger bike. However, after riding a 27.5 I see no reason to ever get another 26" bike, if I wanted a smaller bike it would be a 27.5.

Maybe your 29er has a longish wheelbase and for you the 27.5 would make a bigger difference. For me, other than feeling like a slightly smaller bike, the 27.5 didn't make me want to drop down a wheel size. I suppose you could also cheat and get a set of 650b wheels for your 29er just for fun.
 

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120mm FS (Trek Rumblefish)
155mm FS (Giant Trance SX 27.5)

I just won the Giant Trance a month ago. The jury is still out, but at this point, I am not over whelmed with the 27.5. Maybe one with less travel would be a better comparison to my 120mm. It doesn't handle better due to the raked front end, it isn't anymore efficient pedaling, it does not roll over the roots as well as my 29er. I did take out the Turner Flux on a 30 mile demo in Nov, the main difference I noted there was that it did not climb nearly as well as my 29er. Since it was a single test ride, I am not wiling to condemn that bike. So far there is nothing that makes me want to convert to 27.5. My next bike will likely be a 120 to 140mm FS 29er.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all, I appreciate the feedback. The "different bike for different purposes" is about what I expected, and I don't know why I didn't keep that in mind while looking around. Given that I'm not doing any all mountain or chucking this thing off big stuff, I think a FS 29er is probably where I'm headed.
 

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I wouldn't just focus on wheel size. Look at the overall geometry of the bike. If you are riding a bike with long wheelbase, high BB, and slack angles, it won't handle the switchbacks well regardless of wheel size.

Also keep in mind that many 29er bikes have started going to shorter chain stays and increased offset forks which helps the overall handling a lot, IMO.

Just as an example off the top of my head, compare the 2014 salsa spearfish / horsetheif geometries to earlier versions. The new ones have shorter stays, slacker head angles, and recommend a 51mm offset fork. All of these things work together to make a better handling 29er. (Full disclosure, I have no saddle time on the '14 Salsas - just using them as an example. I do have loads of saddle time on 29ers with similar geo to both the old and new salsas. )
 
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