I was fortunate enough to spend about 30 minutes each on the Remedy 650b and 29er today at a factory demo.
Flowy woods trails, rolling hills with some rocks and roots. Not overly technical. Both bikes would probably be considered "too big" for the terrain.
Me: 195, 6'3" , mid pack sport class.
For tighter, twistier, downhill parts of the trail the 650B was more fun due to more nimble handling. Front end felt very planted and precise. It just carved the turns so nicely. I felt like I was riding quicker, but probably was not actually moving any faster than on the 29er. More fun doing little jumps off rocks. Flew in the air a little better. Stand up and throw the bike around. Had fun choosing lines.
The 29er was easier to ride, more point and shoot. Sit down and pedal. I could be lazier with line choice. Also a bit faster on the gravel roads. I felt higher off the ground and a little more upright which made ducking around trees a more awkward. Once the momentum got going you could almost be lazy. BUT, if you lost the momentum, it took just a little longer to recover.
The 650B was probably a little quicker in the tight stuff, but the 29er was faster everywhere else, meaning the 650b wasn't fast in as many places, so it was slower overall in the terrain I was riding.
Gut feeling afterwards was that the 650b would be more fun riding solo just for fun. It was more playful. But if I was on a group ride with some fast guys pushing the pace, the 29er would be a better choice.
Could other terrain yield a different conclusion? Sure.
Another guy about my size claims his lap times were identical on the two bikes (and also the Fuel ex 29), but that he had more fun on the 650B....
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