With some companies dropping 26" mtb's, or at least severely minimizing the number of 26" mtb's in their lineup. It's as if 29'ers have been increasing in popularity, and 26" has been decliing, and now with 650B, I have a feeling that 26" bikes will further decline in numbers and 650B will gradually fill the gaps. I have a feeling that companies that are not offering 650B in 2013 will inevitabley offer them as 26" mtb's decline in numbers.
I don't think 26" mtb's will disappear, but instead of having all 26" for everything as was the case over ten years ago, or having an equal number of 26" and 29'ers, as it was during recent years, I have a feeling there will be companies without 26" xc and all mountian bikes, some companies with some 26" all mountain, others with some 26" all mountian and maybe one xc 26" (although I think the 26" xc bike may eventually disappear except for specific size needs).
Eventually I think xc and all mountain bikes will be split between 650B and 29'er. 650B will be AM and XC and 29'er more for XC. I think the acceptance of 650B will be stronger over the next few years as the 26" mtb declines and people want an alternative to a 29'er.
I also think there will be a market for xc riders, as opposed to strictly xc racing. I think there is going to be a realization that there are people who want a bike that is inbetween a xc bike and an all mountain bike, or at least, one that handles that way. People will like a xc mtb that is fast because of wheels larger than 26"...but also like the lightweight, flickable handling of a bike with wheels smaller than 29".
Three things going on here:
1) 26" mtb's decling and disappearing from some bike likeups
2) Many companies not offering any 650B (yet)
3) 650B have started out almost exclusively in the 120 mm + All Mountain category
This may seem obvious to some, but the point I am making is that while people question the usefulness of 650B, whether its enough improvement over 26" now, over the next few years, the decline of the 26" mtb will be a catalyst for the further rise in 650B popularity and acceptance. It's as if the last bit of decline and/or specialization of 26" mtb's will give the final push for 650B to slide into place beside 29'er as a mainstream wheel size.
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