Results 1 to 18 of 18
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    719

    650b option for XC riding

    Hey folks,

    I'm starting to look around for a full suspension bike for my wife. I personally converted to 29ers several years ago, and for my own riding I'm convinced that they are perfect for me. For reference, my bike of choice is a Specialized Epic - I love it for our east coast riding where we have lots of slow speed rock gardens where too much travel just gets too... squishy to keep the bike under control.

    My wife is a reasonably good technical rider on her current 26" FS bike (a Yeti Kokopelli), but she isn't a particularly strong rider. Plus, we don't get to ride together much since we have two small kids - somebody has to watch them while the other one rides.... I've seen her go over the handlebars on things which I roll over pretty easily, and while I understand to some extent there is a technique issue here, I also know from experience that going over the handlebars becomes less of a problem with larger wheels.

    Despite my love for 29ers, I'm not convinced that they are the best option for my wife. The larger wheels are going to take more energy to pedal (in theory) and I'm not entirely sure that at 5' 5" a 29er frame is really going to fit her well. The 650b option seems like it could be a really good option/compromise. Except that the 650b market seems to be targeting long-travel all mountain bikes. I can understand why the market is heading that way, but are there any manufacturers making 4" travel 650b bikes? Again, for the riding style in my neck of the woods, I think the extra travel would hurt rather than help things. If we could demo some of the bikes, I might change my mind, but demo opportunities are pretty rare around me.

    The other thing I should say is that I am not at all interested in doing a conversion from a 26" bike to a 650b. I have the mechanical skills to do it, but I would rather have a frame that is built around the 650b wheel size - especially for my wife who will not be at all interested in on-going tinkering to make lots of adjustments in the name of making a conversion bike work better.

    Thanks for any help/suggestions!

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nyrdrms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    160
    Quote:The other thing I should say is that I am not at all interested in doing a conversion from a 26" bike to a 650b. I have the mechanical skills to do it, but I would rather have a frame that is built around the 650b wheel size - especially for my wife who will not be at all interested in on-going tinkering to make lots of adjustments in the name of making a conversion bike work better.
    You're not going to find much in a 4" travel frame. I love my SC Blur XC carbon. I have raced the following bikes: Epic, Ellsworth Truth, Titus Racer X, Top Fuel, and now my Blur (650B). Yeah I know it is a so called conversion. I have said before on this forum that if I were to design a 650B 4" travel frame I would be hard pressed to make any changes. I have as much mud clearance as a 29er. My bottom bracket height is dead on 13". Headtube is around 70 degrees. All my current parts swapped with no issues. THE only adjustment I had to make was to shim the rear shock with a plastic washer (10minutes of time and 50cents). Even if a true 650B frame came out, I have no reason to switch. It's all about geometery and the SC Blur is perfect with 650B. I pondered this change myself for about 6months. I finally bought the frame and got rid of my top fuel 9.9. NO regrets. Beware, I'm not the only one that is going to tell you this.

  3. #3
    banned
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    40
    I love my conversions.... I ride mostly XC and don't need/use more then 4" travel. SC Blur is getting good reviews for conversions go. Scott Spark (this is what I am riding now) is amazing with 650B wheels love it. Cannondale Scalpel is getting some good talk... There are plenty of good conversion frames out there. If nothing else just change the front wheel (that should help not going over the handlebars)
    Front wheel conversion is about the simplest thing to do....

    Good luck...

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    719
    You're not going to find much in a 4" travel frame. I love my SC Blur XC carbon. I have raced the following bikes: Epic, Ellsworth Truth, Titus Racer X, Top Fuel, and now my Blur (650B). Yeah I know it is a so called conversion. I have said before on this forum that if I were to design a 650B 4" travel frame I would be hard pressed to make any changes. I have as much mud clearance as a 29er. My bottom bracket height is dead on 13". Headtube is around 70 degrees. All my current parts swapped with no issues. THE only adjustment I had to make was to shim the rear shock with a plastic washer (10minutes of time and 50cents). Even if a true 650B frame came out, I have no reason to switch. It's all about geometery and the SC Blur is perfect with 650B. I pondered this change myself for about 6months. I finally bought the frame and got rid of my top fuel 9.9. NO regrets. Beware, I'm not the only one that is going to tell you this.[/QUOTE]

    Fair enough - I guess maybe I'll have to reconsider my position a little bit then. Which fork are you running that gives you this geometry? Also, how does a 70 degree HT angle on a 650b compare to a 70 degree HT angle on a 29er - is there anyway to compare?

    I rode a 2001 Ellsworth Truth for 3 years which in hindsight was a hideously twitchy bike - it had a 71.5 HT angle. I know there is more to a bike's handling than the HTA alone, but I definitely want to make sure that I do not put my wife on a bike that I wouldn't ride.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: madsedan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    1,456
    Don;t get too hung up on longer travel, I was in the same boat as you, wanted nothing more than 4" and ended up with a 140mm Nickel and its faster and more fun to ride than I could have imagined. If you get a good fork and frame combo and build it light there are very little to NO downsides to a 5" bike with 650b wheels.
    Hardrock 29er, Niner EMD9, Cannondale F29, Camber Expert, 650b Nickel all gone.
    2014 Giant Anthem 27.5 here.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    67
    I would look into converting a SC Superlight. They work and it is 4 inches of travel, and cheaper than the blur.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SteveF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,405
    KHS might offer a bike that would work for you. The Rocky Mountain Altitude is supposed to be pretty agile for its travel, and has good standover, and an adjustable geometry. Jamis is another option and often available at a discount. Jamis also offers a shorter travel frame the name of which I can not now recall that is "650b approved." Ventana is going to introduce a 4" travel 650b frame. And I think the Turner Burner is going to be a versatile bike, suitable for cross country if set up with a 140mm fork and light parts...there are several European brands offering more cross country models but I don't know how easy they'd be to get.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nyrdrms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    160
    I use a fox 100mm 26" fork. I like the quick steering (due to BMX background) which is one of my hang ups for the 29er. With that said, my Blur handles switchbacks like a 26" and rolls way better. I ran a 650B up front for a year on my top fuel until I purchased the Blur. Adding the 650B in the back made way more difference for me than I expected. They are plenty of good opinions on here about the 650B and what travel to use, etc. All determined by how they ride and what they use the bike for. I think you have to really look at how your wife rides and what the bike will be used for. Good luck on what ever direction you take.

  9. #9
    NedwannaB
    Reputation: JMac47's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    8,435

    Chiming in w/o personal experience

    Quote Originally Posted by TurnerConvert View Post
    Hey folks,

    I'm starting to look around for a full suspension bike for my wife. I personally converted to 29ers several years ago, and for my own riding I'm convinced that they are perfect for me. For reference, my bike of choice is a Specialized Epic - I love it for our east coast riding where we have lots of slow speed rock gardens where too much travel just gets too... squishy to keep the bike under control.

    My wife is a reasonably good technical rider on her current 26" FS bike (a Yeti Kokopelli), but she isn't a particularly strong rider. Plus, we don't get to ride together much since we have two small kids - somebody has to watch them while the other one rides.... I've seen her go over the handlebars on things which I roll over pretty easily, and while I understand to some extent there is a technique issue here, I also know from experience that going over the handlebars becomes less of a problem with larger wheels.

    Despite my love for 29ers, I'm not convinced that they are the best option for my wife. The larger wheels are going to take more energy to pedal (in theory) and I'm not entirely sure that at 5' 5" a 29er frame is really going to fit her well. The 650b option seems like it could be a really good option/compromise. Except that the 650b market seems to be targeting long-travel all mountain bikes. I can understand why the market is heading that way, but are there any manufacturers making 4" travel 650b bikes? Again, for the riding style in my neck of the woods, I think the extra travel would hurt rather than help things. If we could demo some of the bikes, I might change my mind, but demo opportunities are pretty rare around me.

    The other thing I should say is that I am not at all interested in doing a conversion from a 26" bike to a 650b. I have the mechanical skills to do it, but I would rather have a frame that is built around the 650b wheel size - especially for my wife who will not be at all interested in on-going tinkering to make lots of adjustments in the name of making a conversion bike work better.

    Thanks for any help/suggestions!
    Of the bikes I would recommend anyway. I have 26" HT and 140mm fs conversions and Ventana 650B specific trail bikes. I'm ~5'-6.5" so can relate on the wheel size issue, tho I do ride a 29r HT aswell.

    If it's the lightest super racey bike that you're after then it would probably go to a Cannondale Scalpel. There are some super nice builds in the forum. If not looking for that, then either the Epic, SC Superlite or a late model SC XCc Blur would fit the ticket. My choice if I wasn't tied up with bikes already would be the carbon Blur. It's pretty much a slam dunk for either a straight up 100mm forked XC race/all day ride rig or throw a 120mm fork (frame geo works for both) on for a little more aggressive XC riding. There are a few nice builds of these in the forum as well. Hurricane Jeff and FNFAL have them to name a couple. I think the SC website has some frames in their clearence link (site is under a change so you might have to scroll around to get to the home page) as well I think I saw Colorado Cyclist listing some around $1800.

    The aluminum Epic has some paticular years that will convert, the carbon I believe only one year model the '10 comes to mind but not possitive. The alum SL converts rather seamlessly with most people shiming the shock a few mm for bottom out issues.
    Wait,who did he tell you that?....

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    12
    Have you considered the soon-to-be-relased 4" Ventana? I believe they are calling it a V120 for now. If you call them, they will explain the bike to you. Good luck in your search.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SteveF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,405

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: michael9218's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    160
    Another option that I'll just throw out there is to put a 650b front wheel on her bike. Depending on the fork, you can decrease the head tube angle for a more relaxed bike and better rollover and endo control. You mention that you had an Ellsworth Truth that was twitchy. I converted my Truth to a 650b front wheel and really like the way the bike handles. My new bike is a carbon ht with a rigid 29 front end and a 650b out back. It's a blast to ride on smooth single track...and weighs a svelte 17.7 lbs! I guess my point is, we have 3 wheel sizes now to use to tune our bikes for our tastes and riding conditions. You don't have to limit yourself to what is off the shelf.

  13. #13
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,926

    More info

    You know, someone's height isn't, by itself, a good way to tell if they'll fit on 29, or 650, or 26, or 24" wheels. I've done 29ers that fit very well and work perfectly (yes, FS ones) for people who are like 5'2". I've also had to put people who are 5'8" on 650b or even 26" - it just depends on body shape and geometry needs, and height isn't really the determining factor.

    If your wife is worried about going OTB and generally keeps the wheels on the ground, 29 might very well be what she needs. Yes, it'll be an extra pound of weight or whatever, but even if she's only 100#, that's still less than 1% of her+her bike, so don't worry about the "extra effort" needed to make the bike go. Get her on some demos and see what she likes - I have built bikes for a lot of women who are in a similar situation (ie want something that inspires confidence and will make them excited to ride more and get better) and 95% of the time that ends up being a short-travel 29er.

    Here's one I did for a lady who is about the same height as your wife:
    Waltworks Bicycles: The last one...
    Waltworks Bicycles: Celeste....purple?

    That is a 100mm travel setup, 80mm (yes, you can actually ride stuff with 80mm of travel) can be good if standover or bar height are problems.

    Note that I'm not saying 650b won't work. It might be perfect. But as you've noticed, your options for an off-the-shelf 650b XC bike are limited.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    719

    Thanks for all the info

    You folks have given me plenty to think about. Since I'm not in any particular hurry I think I'll start reading up on conversions a little bit. Walt - you may be getting a call down the road sometime too; a custom 29er might be just the ticket.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    132
    Since you love Epics so much, I thought I'd chime in, too. I bought a '10 Epic on CL for a great price and converted it to 650b by just buying new wheels and putting them on--no shock shimming needed. And the ride is better in every way. The BB height on the Epics were too low as a 26" bike, but now it's perfect, for me, that is.
    I think Blur & Epic should be on your short list, but the custom 29er might work, too.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    My garage is a revolving door of bikes, wheelsets, & frames
    www.mtbdeals.com

  16. #16
    MattSavage
    Reputation: mattsavage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    2,431
    This company, Honsen Bikes, is building a carbon 650b FS frame, 4" of travel. Yeah, it's a Chinese non-branded frame, but looks pretty promising. I'd get one today but they don't have an XL yet.

    It retails for $640 plus shipping, oh and no shock, so you can choose you're own. Shenzhen Honsen Sports Equipment Co.,Ltd Could be worth checking out, here's the geometry.

    Medium: https://docs.google.com/file/d/1ebXN..._hErLPeiL/edit

    Small:https://docs.google.com/file/d/1gtcG...qWsbaQArL/edit
    "I wrote a hit play! What have you ever done?!"

    Have Ashtray, Will Travel....

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    19
    I'm riding a 2012 Jamis Dakar 650B and it has a claimed 130mm travel. I think it rides great as a XC bike. New Scott on the way for more travel!

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    2,157
    Out of the box I'd say the KHS 650B 120mm, look into that new 4" Ventana or possibly the new Trek Lush 29'r for woman. Standover could be an issue with the KHS as well as many conversion possibilities. If that Trek Lush 29'er had been available a year ago I would probably had my GF who is a mtn. bike newbie get that vs the Specialized Safire 26" bike. Her Safire will probably get a 650B front wheel and it looks like a smaller 650 rear may possibly work also. The front is the biggie though.

    SIXFIFTY 3500 | KHS Bicycles

    Lush 29 SL - Women's collection - Trek Bicycle
    2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 650b

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •