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  1. #1
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    Best performing light, short travel XC, FS, 26" - 650b conversions

    I'm beginning to look for my next mountain bike. I'm wondering if I can happily get away with going low budget. I love bikes, but I am 52 and have young kids, so even what I would consider a low budget of $2,000 on a personal toy is hard to justify. I like light, flickable, epic bikes, I am not going to be hucking my old bones off big drops, but would like short plush travel to ease my pain. While a new Anthem Advanced looks to be the ticket, to get the weight down, I am bumped into the $3k -$4k category.

    Decades ago, I worked in bike shops, and I have built 100's, if not 1,000's of wheels. So I am wondering about the feasibility of picking up a gently used 26er and rebuilding the wheels to 650b (and going tubeless). Can I do sub 25#'s for under $1,500? even better for under $1,000? Which models are the proven performers?

  2. #2
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    Santa Cruz Superlight? You could easily get that under 25 lbs for under $2k.

  3. #3
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    I've done a couple of conversions and like them better than the purpose built frames. The 16.7" chainstays and short wheelbases make them fun bikes to ride. the Superlight frames for sale on the SC website are the best deals going right now. I have one and am surprised well that suspension works(I was a linkage bike snob for a while.) $600 shipped to your door buys you a lot of bike. Mine fits a 2.25 RaRa without rubbing. With your experience and an eagle eye on ebay and holiday sales, you should have no problem keeping within your budget.

    If you are willing to spend a little more, BDH bikes on ebay are selling the 2012 Rocky Mtn Element Team RSL's for cheap. It's a 4 lb carbon world cup racer but double the price of the Superlight frame. I would still have mine if I had bought the right sized frame. I sold mine used for more than what BDH is selling them for new. The V3.3 Superlight is a little bit stiffer than the Element.

  4. #4
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    hello guys. I have a 2013 cannondale trail 7 that I would like to convert to 27.5. According to cdale's website, the chainstay length is 16.7 inches. Is this doable? Thank you.

  5. #5
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    Check focus fsl 3.0 on jensonusa.
    Its a full suspension carbon frame, rock shock sid rlt fork,
    X9 and xo compnents, for 1999.oo
    Great bike. I'm thinking about converting it to 650b

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    If you like to tinker, check out converting a cannondale rush. The bike is such a surprise.

    First off, they are super common, so picking up a used on in good shape is easy. They also have a carbon version, if you prefer, for lighter weight and more stifferness.

    Second, they absolutely nailed the geometry. 69* HA, 16.6" stays, a 12.5" BB (before conversion), long top tubes, and a 1.5" headtube. Once converted, you're still at about a 13" BB.

    Third, they are crazy easy to convert. A rear wheel fits in with no modifications (besides apparently a bolt-on brace on later models) and the stock lefty fits a 650b wheel with no modifications (just barely). Mine fits 2.3in tires (both Kenda Neves and Pacenti neos) but doesn't fit 2.35 gigundous Schwalbe hand dampfs.

    Fourf, they have low standover that you're looking for. You'll need a long seatpost to get appropriate leg extension, but they are low bikes. I'm 5'11" and run a medium (23.5" ett) with a 90mm stem. You can also tailor your fit, and run a large (24.5" ett) with a short stem and tapered steerer, if you don't like leftys and buy into the short stem long tube theory.

    fifft, the suspension is simple and it works. If you compare the turner flux and the rush, the anti-squat profiles are identical. Yes, identical! All of DWs magic condensed into one pivot...kinda fancy. The only problem is the shock rate is horrible, and you will likely need a custom tuned and ultra-small can shock to get the most out of your ride.

    so, for $600 off the local craigslist, plus $200 in wheels, you'll get a sub-30lb 650b bike that has modern geometry and will last the test of time. Just spare some cash for a shock tune and long post and you'll be a happy boy.

  7. #7
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    Seems to me, Rush is more Trail than XC, especially @ ~30#. I'm with smmokan pick up a SC Superlight frame if you can to get a well proven XC conversion.
    Wait,who did he tell you that?....

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    Seems to me, Rush is more Trail than XC, especially @ ~30#. I'm with smmokan pick up a SC Superlight frame if you can to get a well proven XC conversion.
    Sorry, I'm with Sandwich, my Carbon Rush is 25lbs with Ultra-120 Lefty and AC 650 rims. And when I get Push to work some magic, I'm sure it will be even more awesome than it is now!!!

    Good enough for Tinker, good enough for me!!!

    Best performing light, short travel XC, FS, 26" -  650b conversions-845265d1305469154-horst-vs-dw-link-vs-vpp-vs-maestro-vs-single-pivot-vs-img_4305w.jpg
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

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  9. #9
    NedwannaB
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaGoat View Post
    Sorry, I'm with Sandwich, my Carbon Rush is 25lbs with Ultra-120 Lefty and AC 650 rims. And when I get Push to work some magic, I'm sure it will be even more awesome than it is now!!!

    Good enough for Tinker, good enough for me!!!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Apples-oranges. No doubt your bike is a nice setup. But look at the OP's weight an budget comments bottom of the post. Not talking carbon.
    Wait,who did he tell you that?....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    Seems to me, Rush is more Trail than XC, especially @ ~30#. I'm with smmokan pick up a SC Superlight frame if you can to get a well proven XC conversion.
    Wait, so out of all that you got a 30lb trail bike? I'm saying that for less than the cost of the super light frame via the sc bikes outlet, you can get a complete bike UNDER 30 lbs.

    Mine is equipped with a 130mm lefty, a 450mm post, dh bars, and heavy m535 pedals, and I'm still at 28lbs, and that's with an alloy frame. It would be really easy to drop down to 25 or so with smart component choices. The difference between the super light and rush is basically nill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    Apples-oranges. No doubt your bike is a nice setup. But look at the OP's weight an budget comments bottom of the post. Not talking carbon.
    I just missed out on a carbon rush with crossmax wheels and xtr for 850.

  12. #12
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    I have a converted Blur XCc, which is a completely awesome bike, but pricey. My wife has a Superlight and for the money, is a great bike, and it can be converted to 27.5.
    Don't just think that since a bike has, which is mentioned here, 16.7" chain stays, that 27.5 will fit. Check on this forum, there is a great database for frames and forks that can be converted. If a bike your wondering about is not listed, go into a shop(a friendly one, that will let you do it) and check for yourself. In the old days, it was hard just to find a 27.5 wheel to use to see if they'll fit.

  13. #13
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    I went through the last couple years of the sticky thread on conversions, but it is a long thread. I went to the guys blog, and it is unclear to me whether the list is up to date, and it is not divided into categories. 15ish plus years away from the scene things have changed quite a bit; back in the day, Norco sold cheap knock off accessories, my SID had 58mm of travel, and there are many different brands and models out there. So it is difficult for me to discern which models are XC FS, versus all mountain, trail, or hard tail,... I have gleaned the following feasible candidates as fit for XC duty: Blur XCc (not al), some Epic (some al, some carbon), Scapel, Rush, and the Santa Cruz Superlight.

  14. #14
    High Alpine Adventure
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich View Post
    The difference between the super light and rush is basically nill.
    Not really nil, because with a Rush you get a 1.5" headtube, and you and I know that with a Lefty on there... plenty stiff up front!!!
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaGoat View Post
    Not really nil, because with a Rush you get a 1.5" headtube, and you and I know that with a Lefty on there... plenty stiff up front!!!
    It still is sporting a 69 degree HA, not what I would want in a XC rig. Perhaps with a 51mm offset ?

  16. #16
    NedwannaB
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich View Post
    I just missed out on a carbon rush with crossmax wheels and xtr for 850.
    That would have been a nice find!

    Remember we're all just Interwebz bantering on here. I wasn't dissing your Rush, or kuddoing my Superlite.
    Wait,who did he tell you that?....

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    That would have been a nice find!

    Remember we're all just Interwebz bantering on here. I wasn't dissing your Rush, or kuddoing my Superlite.
    Definitely. The super light is really pretty similar to the rush, so of course it should be a great option. Mi just know that the rush was much more common, so grabbing one for cheap should be easy. Cheap and light and 650b ready = a good suggestion for OP.

  18. #18
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    You could also get a brand spanking new Ibis Mojo SL Special Blend with SLX and excellent X-Fusion suspension for $2300 and build some 650b wheels for it.... I'm kinda blowing the budget, but full carbon DW-Link, 140mm front, 130 rear w/ a travel limit shim in the shock.... it's an awesome ride, and new is nice. If you're interested, check the ibis forum....somebody posted links recently to these deals.
    We're close in age, and this bike has extended my riding tremedously...it's light and quick with superior pedaling performance....and OH so plush. Only downside is lack of mud clearance in the rear.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Smedley View Post
    It still is sporting a 69 degree HA, not what I would want in a XC rig. Perhaps with a 51mm offset ?
    Because you feel like 69 is too slack for an XC bike? Not a challenge, just a question. Everybody's trails and styles are different.
    I came up in the old school of MTB design, riding Bridgestones and other steep HA bikes, but today I would not ride a 26 or 650b bike with HA any steeper than 69 for any application. 69 degree HA, with a 51mm offset fork, would make for SERIOUSLY short trail, and not a very confident steering feel, IMO.... on a 29er, sure... but at 69 deg the common Rock Shox and X-Fusion 42mm offset make for very quick neutral steering, and 26" forks with enough clearance and 39-40mm offset like Fox has work well too and give a little more stability and confidence when the speeds are higher or there's sand or deep loose-over-hardpack, all thanks to the additional trail produced by the shorter offset.
    Just my opinion of course, but 51 offset on anything other than 29ers is pretty far from the norm.

  20. #20
    NedwannaB
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    Quote Originally Posted by doismellbacon View Post
    You could also get a brand spanking new Ibis Mojo SL Special Blend with SLX and excellent X-Fusion suspension for $2300 and build some 650b wheels for it.... I'm kinda blowing the budget, but full carbon DW-Link, 140mm front, 130 rear w/ a travel limit shim in the shock.... it's an awesome ride, and new is nice. If you're interested, check the ibis forum....somebody posted links recently to these deals.
    We're close in age, and this bike has extended my riding tremedously...it's light and quick with superior pedaling performance....and OH so plush. Only downside is lack of mud clearance in the rear.
    An SL with 650 rr? I'd love to set one of those up but thought it was too tight. Any pix?

    Thanks in advance.
    Wait,who did he tell you that?....

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by doismellbacon View Post
    Because you feel like 69 is too slack for an XC bike? Not a challenge, just a question. Everybody's trails and styles are different.
    I came up in the old school of MTB design, riding Bridgestones and other steep HA bikes, but today I would not ride a 26 or 650b bike with HA any steeper than 69 for any application. 69 degree HA, with a 51mm offset fork, would make for SERIOUSLY short trail, and not a very confident steering feel, IMO.... on a 29er, sure... but at 69 deg the common Rock Shox and X-Fusion 42mm offset make for very quick neutral steering, and 26" forks with enough clearance and 39-40mm offset like Fox has work well too and give a little more stability and confidence when the speeds are higher or there's sand or deep loose-over-hardpack, all thanks to the additional trail produced by the shorter offset.
    Just my opinion of course, but 51 offset on anything other than 29ers is pretty far from the norm.
    The headangle, rake and trail are only part of the equation, and you are right, "Everybody's trails and styles are different".

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flip D View Post
    the Superlight frames for sale on the SC website are the best deals going right now. I have one and am surprised well that suspension works (I was a linkage bike snob for a while.) $600 shipped to your door buys you a lot of bike. Mine fits a 2.25 RaRa without rubbing.
    The Superlight frames are getting bought up; although the gorgeous green frames are gone in medium, but they still have the medium white frame in both the 1 1/8" and tapered.
    Briefly, advantages, disadvantages of one over the other? Tapered can still take a 1 1/8" fork, correct?
    Will it be easier/cheaper to find a fork with 1 1/8" to use for a 650B conversion?
    I may pull the trigger on one of these tomorrow, although I don' really care for the blue decals on the white frame.

  23. #23
    NedwannaB
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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    they still have the medium white frame in both the 1 1/8" and tapered.
    Briefly, advantages, disadvantages of one over the other? Tapered can still take a 1 1/8" fork, correct?
    Will it be easier/cheaper to find a fork with 1 1/8" to use for a 650B conversion?
    I may pull the trigger on one of these tomorrow, although I don' really care for the blue decals on the white frame.
    You'll have to get split headset cup set for running a straight 1.125" steer fork on the 3.3 version, no biggee. I'd get one (3.3) as you'll find enough tapered forks for sale out there. I got the 3.2 since I already had straight steer fork and headset. I know where a tapered 15mm fork may still be available if interested.
    Wait,who did he tell you that?....

  24. #24
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    I would take the tapered headtube model because it allows you to use a tapered fork and have different headset options. It kinda future proofs the frame a little since the industry seems to be moving away from straight 1 1/8 forks. I have the tapered model and using an old '07 100mm Reba 29er 1 1/8 fork right now because I don't like any of the current 120mm 27.5 fork options. I'm waiting on the new 27.5 Manitou forks to come out but who knows when that will be.

  25. #25
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    Best performing light, short travel XC, FS, 26" - 650b conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    An SL with 650 rr? I'd love to set one of those up but thought it was too tight. Any pix?

    Thanks in advance.

    I think it is too tight if you ride in a lot of mud or you're a heavy aggressive rider in rough terrain (ie, somebody who actually really does need meaty rubber), but for the OP's stated aim its a viable option. I've ridden mine this way for a couple years with Neo Moto 2.1, Racing Ralph Snake Skin 2.25 (decent clearance), and Maxxis CrossMark 2.1 (good clearance) on a Flow rim, and now with a Mavic Crossroc Roam 2.2 (best of the bunch for rough and rocky conditions) on a Derby 40mm rim...clearance is really tight on this last one, but it's worth it if you're in a dry place like I am.
    Here's that tire side by side on a Flow vs a Derby. It's a fairly aggressive tire designed for Enduro racing. Although its not fashionably oversized, It is 59mm wide at the tread and 58 at the casing on this monster rim....58/54mm on a flow.
    This tire is the tightest clearance of everything I've mentioned, but the multiple layers of 3m tape make it look a little closer than it is.
    Last edited by doismellbacon; 12-01-2013 at 10:45 AM. Reason: correcting fat thumb iPhone syndrome

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