Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 34
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    205

    29 v 650B: my trials and conclusion.

    Conclusion: If you don't know what flickability is, stay with a long travel 29er. 650B is not for you (or me). Here is my story:

    I ride a Tallboy Carbon. I love it. Best trail bike I have ever ridden. But as I have been adding more all mountain riding to my routine, I was looking for something that would give me more confidence on steep, rocky terrain. I felt the front end of my Tallboy was too tall. The same benefits that allow a 29" wheel to roll over the rough stuff when the trail is level can become a bit of a liability when pitch steepens and you can't get back far enough.

    So with that as background I went looking for a 650B. I spent an hour on an Intense Carbine. I really did not like it. Not only was it slower going up (and this bike was tricked out to the nines), I didn't feel any difference on the steeps, and the bike, for me, was slower on the big rocks than my two-niner. I tried a Tracer, and that was ever worse because it was five pounds heavier.

    I was very disappointed because based on everything I read a 650B would be perfect for my all mountain needs. After riding the two Intense bikes I tried an Ibis with a 650 B conversion. Not only was I scared riding that bike because there was less than 2 mm of rearwheel clearance, it just didn't feel right to me. So a day spent riding 650B led me to the following conclusion: 650B may be great, but it is not for me or my riding style. Many people love it, but I think many people love the fact that it is new. Definitely ride before you try applies here.

    Not happy with my test results, I tried two longer travel 29ers. The Intense Spider 29 which has 25 mm more travel than my Tallboy, and a Specialized SJ EVO which as 35 mm more travel than my Tallboy.

    WOW!!! What a difference. These two long travel 29ers eat up steep, rocky terrain. They have a really slack head angles that I didn't appreciate until it was explained to me: the slack head angle pushes out the front wheel. This allows for a lower front end on the bike as there is now room for the front wheel's travel without jacking up the head tube. Quite the opposite of my Tallboy.

    So my conclusion is this: I was dead set on getting a 650b until I actually went and rode one. These bikes are great for many people, but the hype has reached absurd levels. If you don't flick your bike around and jump everything, the superior roll over of the 29 inch wheels makes more sense if you can get a bike that won't pitch you over the bars. The SJ and Spider do just that. The Spesh has slightly longer chain stays than the Intense, but both climbed just as well. The Intense definitely got more oggling as it is a simply gorgeous bike. The Spesh is kind of ugly, but it rides as well as the Spider. I would be happy with either of these bikes. I am going to try the RIP RDO before making a final decision.

    I believe there are others trying to determine if 650B is for them. It may be. But I think a long travel 29er is a better solution for many riders, especially me.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Eville140's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    235

    Re: 29 v 650B: my trials and conclusion.

    Just for reference, what is your height and weight?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk 2

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    205
    Quote Originally Posted by Eville140 View Post
    Just for reference, what is your height and weight?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk 2
    5'9", 170.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    1,505
    Quote Originally Posted by onobed View Post
    5'9", 170.
    Why not try the Tallboy LTc since you love your Tallboy so much? I made the switch and am very happy with it. I'd also be interested to hear your comparison of all of the bikes.

  5. #5
    FM
    FM is offline
    luxatio erecta
    Reputation: FM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    8,768
    Interesting read.
    My .02c... having ridden a lot of steeps on 26'ers and 29'ers... wheelsize has very little to do with it. The pro's of big wheels (rolling over chunks and cracks) are negated by the bum-buzzing you get on really steep rollers. regardless of wheelsize, keepin your weight centered and low (not too far back) is key.

    As you noticed, head angle does make a huge difference. On really steep descents, slacker is better. A slacker bike is always going to be better than a steep bike, regardless of wheelsize... but of course, 69d on a 29'er feels a lot slacker than 69 on a 26'er.

    I haven't ridden a tallboy LTC, but I sure love my banshee prime, which is 2 degrees slacker and 29". It's great on steeps!

  6. #6
    MTB B'dos
    Reputation: LyNx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    17,225
    Yeah, since you have the TB already why not give the TB LT a try. Also, don't limit to just those few you tested unless you just can't get to test any others, as there's loads more bikes in this field. My Banshee Prime has given me so much confidence on just such terrain that it can be dangerous because I am so confident and I'm so relaxed sometimes I just don't pay enough attention, but then remember I'd better
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
    MTB Barbados
    My MTB vids

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jncarpenter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    6,738
    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    Interesting read.
    My .02c... having ridden a lot of steeps on 26'ers and 29'ers... wheelsize has very little to do with it. The pro's of big wheels (rolling over chunks and cracks) are negated by the bum-buzzing you get on really steep rollers. regardless of wheelsize, keepin your weight centered and low (not too far back) is key.

    As you noticed, head angle does make a huge difference. On really steep descents, slacker is better. A slacker bike is always going to be better than a steep bike, regardless of wheelsize... but of course, 69d on a 29'er feels a lot slacker than 69 on a 26'er.

    I haven't ridden a tallboy LTC, but I sure love my banshee prime, which is 2 degrees slacker and 29". It's great on steeps!
    I concur...mostly
    I have entertained thoughts of a 650b Rune...but the Prime just feels so right! I have never buzz'd my bum (despite riding a few near vert rollers), but I am 6' tall on a med. Prime.

    Hopefully, I'll get the chance to flog the wife's upcoming 650b/27.5" bike for another data point


  8. #8
    usually cranky
    Reputation: b-kul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    9,927
    hmmm, kinda reinforces my thinking as of late.

  9. #9
    Keep on Rockin...
    Reputation: Miker J's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    2,935
    Great post OP.


    This season I'm up for a new bike and I'm torn between a 29er and a 275. Been a 29er diehard for probably 8 or more years, but I put a 275 on the back end of one of my longer travel FS 29ers last year and love it.

    I do believe in the 275 but they do not roll and pedal like a 29er. The limiting factor in mountain bike performance is the motor and any tech feature that helps that weakest link has the advantage. The 275 will be better than a 26 for most riding no doubt, but I think the trails one rides will dictate whether the 275 or 29 are better.

    For feature-filled, groomed, stunt-ladden trails the more nimble bike is going to win. Look at the guys who wont give up the 26 - they are guys riding that kind of stuff. For bumpy, non-groomed, natural-featured, rugged, chunky trails the scales will tip in favor of the 29er. Traditionally I've lived in the chunky northeast and where I ride is very remote. There is plenty of tech but it is natural featured stuff that is very rough. Between segments of tech trail there are often long smooth climbs and stretches of logging road. So, having a bike that maximizes both pedaling efficiency, and is capable on the chunky stuff is ideal. Big wheels can do that. You'll often hear riders say things like, "my long travel 29er climbs like a xc bike, and descends like my AM bike". This is true. My 5" FS 29er climbs like my old Blur, but descends like my old Bullit.

    All that being said, when you do have the trails to warrant a longer travel 275, my guess is that would make for a great ride.

    Funny, but my long term plan was to probably end up with an Intense Carbine and a SC Tallboy LT.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    29
    Thanks for the post. I just can't decide what to get myself. Nice to hear different points of view. My initial thought was a 27.5 Scott genius and now I am onto the giant trance 29er. Current bike is a trance 26. I go back and forth then guys try To steer ya. I hear so much about the tallboy I am going to have to give on a try. Insightfull thread.

    Miker J I also live and ride in the northeast. Your post really hits home.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    205
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldgt View Post
    Thanks for the post. I just can't decide what to get myself. Nice to hear different points of view. My initial thought was a 27.5 Scott genius and now I am onto the giant trance 29er. Current bike is a trance 26. I go back and forth then guys try To steer ya. I hear so much about the tallboy I am going to have to give on a try. Insightfull thread.

    Miker J I also live and ride in the northeast. Your post really hits home.

    I thought about the Genius. But, truth be told, the three reviews I have read - Pink Bike, MBA, Bike Radar - say the same thing: not sure what the bike is. It has loads of travel but the suspension is not very useful. Plus, the Scott's are pricey. It seemed the perfect bike: 150mm of travel on 650b wheels. However, none of the professional reviewers are sure that Scott has it nailed at this time. I would love to ride one, but based on what I have read I am not going to rush out and get one.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    588
    Thanks for the honest feedback. I'm sure if you were able to ride several other 650b's, you may have found one that suits your needs, but good to hear different perspectives. I agree that many people are praising this wheel size simply because its the latest and "greatest." I've personally not ridden a 27.5/650b yet...but I'm waiting for the trance x to be released in this wheel size. I loved that bike with 26 inch wheels, but didn't feel right with the 29inch wheels. I think it will be a real contender, if it ever comes out. Until then, the 29ers are the best match for my local terrain and riding style.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    153
    Tallboy LTc for me. No going back even if Santa Cruz comes out with a 650b. Even @ 5'5" with 28" inseam, the medium is fantastic.

    Check out the boss, Cedric Gracia, in an earlier post on 29er thread I put. He won his first Enduro race (on an LTc) after several months of rehab due to his near death crash at Val di Sol (i think).

    Of course he is the Boss but he uses his LTc for Enduro style with style...

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    205
    Quote Originally Posted by hillharman View Post
    Why not try the Tallboy LTc since you love your Tallboy so much? I made the switch and am very happy with it. I'd also be interested to hear your comparison of all of the bikes.
    Ok - so here are my opinions on the Intense and the Specialized. I rode the Intense Spider on an 6 mile loop with about 800 feet of climbing. It is a standard loop I ride regularly (rode regularly when I lived in SoCal). I have a lot of times on that loop. The day I test rode the Intense I rode that loop 6 times. The Spider was my bike of choice on the fourth loop. With the Spider I produced my second fastest time ever on that loop. Here is what I thought:
    a. Gorgeous bike. It looks quality through and through, the CNC machining is top notch, the graphics are stylish. The dropouts are tough.
    b. Climbs really well - steep seat tube angle and short stays help here.
    c. Loved it going down hill. The bb is higher than a tall boy, but the 68 degree headangle really calms the front end down. Plus, I hit rocks all the time on the TB. I would imagine the half inch difference between the too would help save my cranks.
    d. On the flats you are set up in a great position: longish top tube, front end is not too tall.

    The only think I didn't like was the adjustable travel. I think it's gimicky: most people don't even adjust the settings on a propedal shock. Who is going to adjust the travel on a full suspesion? Anyway, really like it. I wish I remember the setting on the fork.

    Okay, the SJ I rode was EVO the model. Here is what I liked:
    a. Bike does not feel tall. Has a higher BB than a TallboyC but feels like it rides lower.
    b. Long wheel base, slack head angle allowed me to ride really fast down steep rocky terrain - as fast as folks on 6" travel 26ers. Very confidence inspiring. I have never felt more comfortable hitting big drops at high speed.
    c. The bike was set up with TALAS front fork. Never rode one before. It was terrific. On the uphills I dialed it down all the way and was able to climb everything - the chainstays are longer than the Tallboy and Spider, but I did not notice.
    d. It was the first time I ever rode a bike with any sort of chain retention device. It worked - I never dropped a chain and there was noticeablely less chain slap than on the Spider. (I have an XTR Saint on my Tallboy and that is pretty quiet as well. The Spider had a XT with no clutch)

    On really fast flowly single track I felt the long wheelbase or the slack head angle was causing me to hit the brakes and take speed off that I otherwise would not have had to if I were on my Tallboy.
    The graphics on this bike are awful - felt like I was on a Walmart Special.
    Command Post: Single Worst piece of equipment ever produced and Specialized should never have released this product.

    If I had to get one bike, I would get the Spider. If I can keep my TB, I would get the Spesh. I really like my TB and I do a fair amount of XC racing and endurance events, so I am going to keep testing until I find the right long travel 29er.

  15. #15
    Oh, I've GOT bike money
    Reputation: JACKL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    375
    This is the way to do it. Ride different bikes and find out what works for you (and that might be quite different than what works for the next guy).

  16. #16
    MTB B'dos
    Reputation: LyNx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    17,225
    That right there most definitely tells me a TB LTC would suit you to the T. Carbon would keep the weight down and stiff, you'd get the more relaxed angles you like, perfect endurance race machine that'll do you just fine for some XC racing as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by onobed
    If I had to get one bike, I would get the Spider. If I can keep my TB, I would get the Spesh. I really like my TB and I do a fair amount of XC racing and endurance events, so I am going to keep testing until I find the right long travel 29er.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
    MTB Barbados
    My MTB vids

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    1,505
    Quote Originally Posted by onobed View Post
    Ok - so here are my opinions on the Intense and the Specialized. I rode the Intense Spider on an 6 mile loop with about 800 feet of climbing. It is a standard loop I ride regularly (rode regularly when I lived in SoCal). I have a lot of times on that loop. The day I test rode the Intense I rode that loop 6 times. The Spider was my bike of choice on the fourth loop. With the Spider I produced my second fastest time ever on that loop. Here is what I thought:
    a. Gorgeous bike. It looks quality through and through, the CNC machining is top notch, the graphics are stylish. The dropouts are tough.
    b. Climbs really well - steep seat tube angle and short stays help here.
    c. Loved it going down hill. The bb is higher than a tall boy, but the 68 degree headangle really calms the front end down. Plus, I hit rocks all the time on the TB. I would imagine the half inch difference between the too would help save my cranks.
    d. On the flats you are set up in a great position: longish top tube, front end is not too tall.

    The only think I didn't like was the adjustable travel. I think it's gimicky: most people don't even adjust the settings on a propedal shock. Who is going to adjust the travel on a full suspesion? Anyway, really like it. I wish I remember the setting on the fork.

    Okay, the SJ I rode was EVO the model. Here is what I liked:
    a. Bike does not feel tall. Has a higher BB than a TallboyC but feels like it rides lower.
    b. Long wheel base, slack head angle allowed me to ride really fast down steep rocky terrain - as fast as folks on 6" travel 26ers. Very confidence inspiring. I have never felt more comfortable hitting big drops at high speed.
    c. The bike was set up with TALAS front fork. Never rode one before. It was terrific. On the uphills I dialed it down all the way and was able to climb everything - the chainstays are longer than the Tallboy and Spider, but I did not notice.
    d. It was the first time I ever rode a bike with any sort of chain retention device. It worked - I never dropped a chain and there was noticeablely less chain slap than on the Spider. (I have an XTR Saint on my Tallboy and that is pretty quiet as well. The Spider had a XT with no clutch)

    On really fast flowly single track I felt the long wheelbase or the slack head angle was causing me to hit the brakes and take speed off that I otherwise would not have had to if I were on my Tallboy.
    The graphics on this bike are awful - felt like I was on a Walmart Special.
    Command Post: Single Worst piece of equipment ever produced and Specialized should never have released this product.

    If I had to get one bike, I would get the Spider. If I can keep my TB, I would get the Spesh. I really like my TB and I do a fair amount of XC racing and endurance events, so I am going to keep testing until I find the right long travel 29er.
    Like Lynx said, definitely try the LTc. It's very much an ultra capable super XC bike. You hardly feel it on the climbs, and it keeps a lot of the Tallboys nimble quickness while slackening the angles a bit and adding a lot more cushion. It's also got a lot of "pop" if you know what I mean.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    178
    Quote Originally Posted by onobed View Post
    I thought about the Genius. But, truth be told, the three reviews I have read - Pink Bike, MBA, Bike Radar - say the same thing: not sure what the bike is. It has loads of travel but the suspension is not very useful. Plus, the Scott's are pricey. It seemed the perfect bike: 150mm of travel on 650b wheels. However, none of the professional reviewers are sure that Scott has it nailed at this time. I would love to ride one, but based on what I have read I am not going to rush out and get one.
    I tested a Genius 720 last year and I'd agree with those three reviewers. I wasn't sad to give it back at all. Definitely not a case of "must get one now" :P I liked my old Spec Enduro SL (with Fox suspension) much better, it was much more confidence inspiring downhill and seemed to pedal better.

    To be honest if I hadn't known the Scott had 650b wheels I would have said I was riding a 26" wheeled bike. I didn't see any "best of both worlds" effect in terms of rolling resistance as the marketing kool aid seems to be trying to say. (edit: Not convinced this is a bad thing, but I think this does reinforce my conclusion that there are far more important things than wheel size in making a bike handle.)

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: carabao's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    205
    How are you liking your Honzo. Having never ridden a dual sus., I'm curious how it compares to your prime. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    Interesting read.
    My .02c... having ridden a lot of steeps on 26'ers and 29'ers... wheelsize has very little to do with it. The pro's of big wheels (rolling over chunks and cracks) are negated by the bum-buzzing you get on really steep rollers. regardless of wheelsize, keepin your weight centered and low (not too far back) is key.

    As you noticed, head angle does make a huge difference. On really steep descents, slacker is better. A slacker bike is always going to be better than a steep bike, regardless of wheelsize... but of course, 69d on a 29'er feels a lot slacker than 69 on a 26'er.

    I haven't ridden a tallboy LTC, but I sure love my banshee prime, which is 2 degrees slacker and 29". It's great on steeps!

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    60
    My background: Im a Flow like Water down the trail rider
    My conclusion: 29er suits me the best

    I actually rode front suspension 650B for a couple seasons before I bought my current rigid 29er. And I have to say 29er is what I should have always ridden since I was a kid. 650B definitely bridged the gap there for a while, I always imagined 29ers as too tall overgrown hybrids. My Jones Steelspaceframe is nothing like that, it just feels like my first MTB 26 rigid, only bigger in all the right places. My 650B ride was a converted Voodoo Wanga that cleared 650B, but it always felt a little tall in the BB height.

    Given that I feel as if 650B is better for quick acceleration and easier to catch big air. But I now value and appreciate the bigger wheels faster momentum and just the easier flow over everything.

    To wrap it up 29er works best for ME, 650B also has its benefits, and so does 26", BMX ,and so on. It really depends on the person and the terrain.

  21. #21
    Bikes!
    Reputation: Just J's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    3,631
    Great post and mostly it concurs with my findings that I posted a few weeks back on Instagram having borrowed a Tracer 275 for a few days, you can take a look at that here:

    Photo by j5bws • Instagram
    2014 Yeti SB95c
    2014 Trek Stache 8
    2014 Intense Tracer 275
    2013 Trek CrossRip Elite
    2000 Intense Tracer

  22. #22
    gravity fighter
    Reputation: Mikecito's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    494
    Great info in this thread. I'm on a Trance 26 and Scott Scale 29 and have been looking for the next best of both worlds (but slacker) bike. 650b seems like the answer on paper, but at 6'2" and being more of a trail rider, I think 29 still makes more sense. I've been eyeing the Honzo and Mason...

  23. #23
    Thumper
    Reputation: WickedLite's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    377
    Honest opinions by people who have done it is great feedback for people who haven't.

    I have done 650b Voodoo D-Jab built lite and sweet and I loved it. She could do anything from climb to descend and wiggle through tight stuff and roll over anything a rider comes across. One issue I found was on the open flats and wide downs my 29er friends were inching away from me.

    I rode a 29er and didn't like it. It felt too high and really too heavy to react quick with the front. I really was backing the 650b after this. We kept going out on easy open rides and I realized I had to build a 29er. I had no issues anywhere keeping up after that and I found my Voodoo Canzo with a 80mm fork could handle tight stuff and still rock on the straights and downs.

    When I ride anything but 29er, my eyes play tricks on me looking over the front so I have since sold my 650b and 26ers. My super lite 29er handles anything a 26er or 650b can do around here and more. I still think 650b and 26ers have their place and suit other riders.

    For steep declines, I recommend a drop post.

    I'm 5'10", 140lb, extreme xc rider.

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    880
    Great info people , thanks! I have been thinking about turning to a 650b for quite some time now...

  25. #25
    FM
    FM is offline
    luxatio erecta
    Reputation: FM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    8,768
    Quote Originally Posted by carabao View Post
    How are you liking your Honzo. Having never ridden a dual sus., I'm curious how it compares to your prime. Thanks.
    Hey Carabao-
    Both are super capable bikes- both make some compromises on XC riding for better descending ability.
    The Honzo is better for twisty trails, with the short stays and wheelbase it corners great. Since the Honzo is lighter than the Prime and more efficient, it will be my bike of choice for more XC riding. The shortness also makes it easy to manual, wheelie & jump.
    The Prime- the bike magazine review summed it up pretty well, this bike is like Godzilla! It's longer, so slightly slower on twisty trails...but it eats up everything. It is like longboard or powder skis, it wants to just get up to speed & plow through stuff. The suspension is great both on fast rough trail and eating up big hits. It has a slack, low & long DH-bike feel that begs for speed and steep gnarly descents.

    I buy bikes for how they descend trail, and these are both great descenders. In that sense they are similar.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

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