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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I've been on a bit of a hiatus from biking seriously the last few years, mainly due to other hobbies, projects and sports, and recently started getting back into it. I've been riding on and off since 1992, have raced XC and DH, worked in shops, and have been on MTBR forums on and off since 1999.

Last time I was paying attention around 2010 or so, back then 650b was a bit of a joke with poor parts/tire availablity, and 29er's were sort of starting to pick up some traction in the industry. Now, it's like I woke up in an alternate universe - every XC bike is 29", and 27.5" being pushed hard in the trail riding market. 26" is still clearly the only reasonable choice for DH/DJ.

I've seen LOTS of fads come and go, lots of poorly engineered products, and changes mainly for the sake of it being different and making the customer spend $$$ join the new standard.

Personally, I still ride 8-speed and have no intention of changing, so you can see where I'm coming from.....but it's on a 7" travel bike (fsr) with disc brakes and air suspension.

Anyway, does anybody know how 27.5" wheel are playing with the general public buying bikes in the say, $500 to $3000 range? How are sales? Are people buying into the marketing hype that a 1/2" tire radius increase is a noticeable difference? Or do they just not care?
 

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Maybe it's because I'm on this forum too much, but it seemed to me that 27.5 was where things were going. In buying a bike that I want to have for many years to come(I'm coming from a 17 year old ProFlex), prospective part availability issues factored into my decision not to pursue a 26er. I'm guessing this is largely due to marketing that I have this perception that things are heavily leaning in that direction. I only say that because in the few shops I've been too, people are surprised that I'm riding 27.5 and it seems a bit of a novelty to them. All I know is I love my bike. It'll be interesting to hear other people's take on it.
 

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At first I think alot (most) companies where thinking 27.5 will not make it. Then 2014 came and one of the major manufacturers went all in on the 27.5. And that would be Giant. There factory team all ride 27.5 and have been doing very well on the endure circuit. Next thing yea know alot more companies have joined the 27.5 wagon. I think it's here to stay and possibly be the goto bike.
 

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Well, I've bought into it. My wife and I had our 26" bikes stolen a few months ago. We hadn't been shopping for a MTB in a decade. We were both doing fine on our "vintage" Specialized and Marin bikes and never really thought much of getting new bikes. When we went shopping for new bikes we felt that most dealers were trying to shove the 29ers down our throats. Most likely because that is pretty much what everybody had in inventory. I am 5'8" and my wife is 5'6". We both felt like the 29ers were monstrous and unwieldy. My wife fell in love with a 650b ( Kona Cinder Cone) over any 26ers. I got a good deal on a 29er so decided to actually just buy it and try it for a while. One bike shop convinced me that it would take a few weeks for me to really appreciate it and that judging it after a test ride just wasn't going to be adequate. Well even though it felt a bit big initially, it feels perfect now, although I think a 29er fs would be a bit big for me. My wife has also grown to like the 29er, and I sort of like her 650b sometimes. I just don't quite know why either one of us would go back to a 26er. For our type of riding, weekend warrior, intermediate XC stuff, the 650b seems to be a nice choice, particularly if we go FS.

I wouldn't necessarily go out and buy a 650b if I had a nice 26er but for somebody who needs a new bike, I think the 650b offers a good choice for smaller framed people.
 

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Nino Schurter won the UCI world championship in 2012 on a Scott 650b and the worlds
in 2013 along with a silver medal in London. So the 650b is here to stay as a xc race bike. Currently most Americans are of the bigger is better and are sticking with the 29ers at xc races. Give it a few years and the 650b will be the norm IMO. Having spent time on all 3 wheel sizes, the 650b is the most fun followed by 29er wheels.
 

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I bought a new bike last fall. I purchased a 27.5 for my trail riding. I felt the winds changing away from 26ers from what I was gathering on the net. For me, 29er was too big, but one bike shop was really pushing them. He even laughed at me when I asked about a 27.5 (the SOLO, or 5010 now). He said it was just a fad and they wouldn't exist in 5 years and that everyone will be on a 29er. Since then, Trek, Giant, and Specialized joined in the 27.5 market very heavily along with the boutique brands. I told the owner of his shop that their young salesman is out of touch and behind the trend in the market.

I left that shop and spent 5K on a 27.5.
 

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Just got a Trek Slash 9... it's awesome and the wheel size seems to offer superior performance vs a 26" in all ways and does not feel unwieldy like a 29er.

I mostly notice it rolls over rough terrain a little better and my bike maintains speed through flat, rough sections of trails better. Overall I carry more speed and I'm definitely faster than on my older Trek Remedy 26". It climbs like an xc bike too...

Also, 26" DH race bikes will be a thing of the past soon for many major bike companies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do find it interesting that 27.5" = 698.5mm, which is pretty much the nominal outer diameter of 700c (700mm) road bike tire. Maybe there is something to that being a optimal size for a bicycle?
 

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Hype???

...maybe, but maybe not. I, like you am a long time rider (27 years) and adamantly defended my 26" bikes against the ballyhoo that came in with 29'ers a decade ago. The 26" bike I had absolutely ripped and did everything I asked of it. My riding style is somewhere between a bowling ball and a bear with a bad attitude. I am a bigger guy (but not tall at 5'9" and about 2 bucks with gear) and I like to play getting my wheels off terra firma. EVERY 29'er I rode/demo'ed since 2000 handled as if I was up on a bar stool after being over served.

It is only now that I have made the move to a 27.5 bike. I demoed a number of them over the last six months riding them back to back with my current rig. The difference was enough of an improvement for me to make the jump. They have the better momentum and roll over capabilities of bigger wheels without the geometry snafus that have plagued 29'ers. That said, 29'ers do have a place beneath those that mostly are concerned about getting uphill quickly and keeping their wheels on the ground. There are outliers like the Speshy Enduro 29'er, the WFO, the Banshee Prime and some "trail" hard tails (Kona Honzo, etc), but most fall squarely in the XC pile. Only you can decide if the improvement is enough for you to go for it.
:thumbsup: :devil:
 

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I do find it interesting that 27.5" = 698.5mm, which is pretty much the nominal outer diameter of 700c (700mm) road bike tire. Maybe there is something to that being a optimal size for a bicycle?
Coincidence my first venture into the 29r world was running 700 cycle cross rims and 35c tires on my 26" hard tail mtb's. Then found the 2.1 650's fit with about the same clearance and off I went with them several years ago. Have settled in with 100mm travel xc fs and hard tails.
 

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Noobie McNooberson
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When I started riding mt bikes about a year ago I purchased a 29er thinking I could get used to it. Coming from a bmx bike back ground, not racing but fair share of jumping, I quickly realized that the 29er was a monster compared to what I was used too. I tried for a year roughly to make it work, but never felt comfortable on it. NEVER left the ground and was leery of down hill sections. The other day a friend of mine told me about 650bs and I took a chance and bought an entry level bike. Raleigh Tokul 1, have ridden it twice and can already tell that this is gonna be my bike for sometime. Feels much better, lower center of gravity and just an overall much more playful bike. This all being said without any experience on a 26er, so take it for whats its worth. IMO 650b>29er all day long.
 

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I made the switch about 9 months ago. People ask me all the time if I can really feel the difference and I tell them yes and no. I feel the bike climbs pretty close to a 26er in that I'm not all of a sudden smashing my climbs but descending is where 650b is better. Again I'm not smashing my times, but I am faster and it rolls better. I don't think it's God's greatest gift but I do like 650b more. I'm converted. I also think suspension and geometry play a bigger role than wheel size.
 

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I converted my 26in Mojo SL to 27.5 about 2 months ago. I like it better, just plain faster on flat and DH, still the same agility with 26in.
the BB is a bit higher, but my cornering skill is already sucks anyway, so it doesn't effect me.

I demoed Ibis Ripley (29er), wow so much faster, a bit less flickable than 26in, but still very good.

IMO, general public will accept whatever wheelsize available in LBS.
 

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Seems like the real original question is what will the bike companies be producing in the future. He noticed (like I have) over the years that standards change and sticking with one standard will mean you will loose options to upgrade as that standard is phased out (25.4 handlebars, cantilever brakes, 1 1/8 steerer tubes....). It is not about what is best for any one rider, but often propelled by need to have sales continue. For now, wheel sizes of 29 and 27.5 seem to be the future. From there, I'd say test ride and figure out what feels better to you. Check the various manufacturers (Santa Cruz, Trek, Specialized....) for their local demo days for a free trial on local trails. Don't simply listen to what you are told to like by a person selling what bikes they have in inventory.

Not to say a big deal on an existing 26" bike would be bad, but if the purchase is one you are going to live with for a while and may need to update or replace parts, then better money is spent on what will be in vogue for as long as possible.
 

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General public = bikes are for hippies and kids, Chili's is fine dining, Brawndo is what plants crave.

I think you mean what does the average casual mountain biker think of 27.5. My guess is that since most don't buy a new bike every year, only a few are aware of them. Many are just becoming aware of (or bought their 1st) 29er.

Give it 5 or 10 years and we'll have some idea. 27.5 is super popular with my customers and on MTBR but we are not normal.

-Walt
 
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