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Well I got my first taste of 650b cool-aid. Tastes great!!!
I was supposed to be picking up my new 650B bike for the long weekend, only it did not arrive. This was a big problem as I had already sold my trail bike. Bike shop was super about it and offered up a demo Knolly Warden.

I have always heard great things about Knolly bikes but have never rode one.

Considering my previous bike was a 26" 150mm trail bike that I had pretty dialled to how I like a bike to feel and ride the Knolly would be a change.

I went from a 26" bike with quite a high setup on the handle bar and a 35mm riser to boot, running a Talas 36 and a X-Fusion Vector Air HLR, running Schwalbe tires (Muddy Mary & HD), with a dropper post to a Knolly Warden with a low riser (not flat but pretty close) and a low stack on the stem and spacers. Bike was setup with CC DB Air CS, and a Pike 150, Maxxis EXO DHF/DHR tires and no dropper.

One would think it would take some time to get the feel for the bike, but not so. the DB Air was air pressure was set at the shop, tried the CS in both positions and felt better with it open, left it that way. Increase the Pike to about 80-85 PSI from 65-70 to get a little more firm ride, dialled back a couple of clicks of LSC, all good.

After about 10 mins on a tech XC type trail, I took out the allen keys and swapped the 10mm headset space from the top of the stem to move it under the stem, immediately felt more comfortable.

Now to the ride. With so many changes in the old bike to the Knolly demo, it is hard to pick out things that would be the bike, the wheel size, the suspension components, but here is my initial thoughts given that both old bike and the Knolly are reasonable close in weight (Knolly 29lb, Reign 32lb).

27.5 wheels roll over holes, roots rocks and square bumps better than 26". I have only a couple of short rides on a 29r bike so not much to compare that way. I didn't notice and slower turning with the bigger wheels, in fact I felt the Knolly was quicker steering than my Reign, but that could be the bike or the low rise bar vs the higher rise I am accustomed to, or perhaps the Knolly just turns better, or perhaps the bigger tires provide a better grip and just lead the bike through a turn.

Traction on corners and leaning bike felt great. It could be the bike with the active suspension, fairly new Maxxis tires, the larger wheel size who know, but it was noticable.

Traction climbing up loose steps and rocky ledges was great, only broke traction once where I didn't expect it, but it was a small greasy root that I didn't see and spun out on part of the climb.

One last point that struck me is that I have used 2x9speed for ages with some pretty low gearing 22/32 with 11-34 and yes I use the low gears. The Knolly had 2 x 10 speed with either 22 or 24 granny and 36 front ring, with a 10 speed 11-36. With the exception of a couple of really steep bits I was able to stay in the front 36 ring. Likely could have rode more in mid ring if I had dropper post as without a dropper on the bike I set the seatpost at one height and left it for the ride. Could have been a little lower in some spots and higher for the climbs. The new bike will be 1 x 10 to start with 34 front and 11-36 on the back. I will be picking up a narrow wide ring perhaps 32 but likely 30. I have some gear on order for a 2 x 10 with a bash, but might not need it. Who knows perhaps I can ride 1 x 10.

My new bike is scheduled to be in next week, hopefully it lives up to the first ride I had on the Knolly. I will be getting a Trance SX so it should be interesting to compare.

I drank the 27.5 cool aid and will be back for more, it tastes great.
 
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