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  1. #1
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    650b--What's the truth?

    There are many of us looking at the 650b market but still havenít been able to test ride one. Iím in the market for a new All-mountain bike and trying to decide between a Giant Reign or a Rocky Mountain Altitude 750. I can get a MUCH better price on a Reign due to bike shop relationship. Iím posting this here and not the 29er or 650b forum, for obvious reasons. For those of you that have ridden 26er, 650b and 29ers, which of the following statements would you say is more accurate:

    1. 650b bikes roll better than 26ers and are more agile and fun than 29ers

    or

    2. 650b bikes donít roll as well as 29ers and arenít as agile & fun as 26ers

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    That depends on what's more important to you. If you really enjoy throwing the bike around and maximizing the fun on a downhill, you can't beat the 26er. If you would rather bomb down stuff and don't mind losing just a bit of the playfulness, then the 650b is awesome. If you just want to cover ground and don't play around too much, then get a 29er. Personally, if I could only have one bike I'd stick with my 26er. My second bike is a 650b, which is a great 2nd bike. 29ers aren't for me, although my road bike is close...

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    I was reading about the 650b and would love to test ride one as well. But would highly recommend the Giant Reign. A couple buddies own some and they are great bikes for all mountain riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmertan View Post
    There are many of us looking at the 650b market but still havenít been able to test ride one. Iím in the market for a new All-mountain bike and trying to decide between a Giant Reign or a Rocky Mountain Altitude 750. I can get a MUCH better price on a Reign due to bike shop relationship. Iím posting this here and not the 29er or 650b forum, for obvious reasons. For those of you that have ridden 26er, 650b and 29ers, which of the following statements would you say is more accurate:

    1. 650b bikes roll better than 26ers and are more agile and fun than 29ers

    or

    2. 650b bikes donít roll as well as 29ers and arenít as agile & fun as 26ers
    Dude, both statements are probably true. It is a middle size so you don't have to compromise too much on either end. It rolls better than a 26er but not as well as a 29. It is more playful than a 29 but not as agile as a 26. That combines both of your statements. Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
    I like 650b but I still prefer a 26er. I think it is a great choice if you really can't decide between 26 and 29.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobraj View Post
    I was reading about the 650b and would love to test ride one as well. But would highly recommend the Giant Reign. A couple buddies own some and they are great bikes for all mountain riding.
    I rode my buddies reign just yesterday and sure I was impressed. Definitely recommended...

  6. #6
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    The reason ~everyone who tries 650b is stoked on them is because the 26" wheel is great.
    The reason is because the 29" wheel is pretty darn good.
    The reason 650b is also good is because it is barely different from, and situated in between, two good wheel sizes. There is no magic here. No Goldilocks perfect in between. No optimization. Because "compromise" and "best of both worlds" are not synonymous.

    The truth is that while the cycling industry and riding consumer public have seemed to jump at 29" and 27.5" -- rims, tires, forks, frames, and completes -- some things did not change, and people should pay attention to them.

    Standard hub over-locknut distances did not change. A 26", 650b, or 29", with few exceptions, are going to have a front hub that is 100 mm (QR, 15QR) or 110 mm (20 thru) wide. Rear hubs are going to be (DH bikes 150/157 aside) 135 mm or 142 mm, and note that 142 usually has the same exact distance between the hub flanges as 135. Same hub shell. Only the end caps are wider. If you have built of just studied wheels, then you know that the wider the hub gets, the stronger a wheel you can build. We have wheels w/ bigger diameters, but the industry chose not to make the wheels any wider.

    It's a simple fact that the bigger (diameter) a wheel is, the weaker it is for a given weight or construction style. The bigger a wheel is, the heavier it is at a given strength. Tire too. You can't get something (roll-over, angle of impact, whatever) for nothing. Wheel strength should matter to AM riders. But if you don't weigh a lot, or ride really smooth, then you can get away w/ less. Use experience to gauge.

    Another important consequence of changing wheel sizes is on suspension design, especially in the rear. Bigger diameter tire, longer chain- and seatstays. That isn't automatically bad, but it's something to think about. There have always been shorter or longer stayed designs in the 26ers, and if you like long, then you could probably find a 650b design that wedged that baby in with no change from what you like. But some of the shorter distances just aren't going to be available in the bigger wheels.

    It's about knowing what you want from the complete bike, not from the wheels in some hypothetical vacuum.
    26 is good. 29 is good. 650b is good. Whatever. It's about the individual rider, especially his or her weight and style. Don't buy the hype. Good luck!

  7. #7
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    650b--What's the truth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snfoilhat View Post
    The reason ~everyone who tries 650b is stoked on them is because the 26" wheel is great.
    The reason is because the 29" wheel is pretty darn good.
    The reason 650b is also good is because it is barely different from, and situated in between, two good wheel sizes. There is no magic here. No Goldilocks perfect in between. No optimization. Because "compromise" and "best of both worlds" are not synonymous.

    The truth is that while the cycling industry and riding consumer public have seemed to jump at 29" and 27.5" -- rims, tires, forks, frames, and completes -- some things did not change, and people should pay attention to them.

    Standard hub over-locknut distances did not change. A 26", 650b, or 29", with few exceptions, are going to have a front hub that is 100 mm (QR, 15QR) or 110 mm (20 thru) wide. Rear hubs are going to be (DH bikes 150/157 aside) 135 mm or 142 mm, and note that 142 usually has the same exact distance between the hub flanges as 135. Same hub shell. Only the end caps are wider. If you have built of just studied wheels, then you know that the wider the hub gets, the stronger a wheel you can build. We have wheels w/ bigger diameters, but the industry chose not to make the wheels any wider.

    It's a simple fact that the bigger (diameter) a wheel is, the weaker it is for a given weight or construction style. The bigger a wheel is, the heavier it is at a given strength. Tire too. You can't get something (roll-over, angle of impact, whatever) for nothing. Wheel strength should matter to AM riders. But if you don't weigh a lot, or ride really smooth, then you can get away w/ less. Use experience to gauge.

    Another important consequence of changing wheel sizes is on suspension design, especially in the rear. Bigger diameter tire, longer chain- and seatstays. That isn't automatically bad, but it's something to think about. There have always been shorter or longer stayed designs in the 26ers, and if you like long, then you could probably find a 650b design that wedged that baby in with no change from what you like. But some of the shorter distances just aren't going to be available in the bigger wheels.

    It's about knowing what you want from the complete bike, not from the wheels in some hypothetical vacuum.
    26 is good. 29 is good. 650b is good. Whatever. It's about the individual rider, especially his or her weight and style. Don't buy the hype. Good luck!
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    650b--What's the truth?

    Quote Originally Posted by farmertan View Post
    There are many of us looking at the 650b market but still havenít been able to test ride one. Iím in the market for a new All-mountain bike and trying to decide between a Giant Reign or a Rocky Mountain Altitude 750. I can get a MUCH better price on a Reign due to bike shop relationship. Iím posting this here and not the 29er or 650b forum, for obvious reasons. For those of you that have ridden 26er, 650b and 29ers, which of the following statements would you say is more accurate:

    1.650b bikes roll better than 26ers and are more agile and fun than 29ers

    or

    2.650b bikes donít roll as well as 29ers and arenít as agile & fun as 26ers
    The truth?
    It is still just a bike, and you need to test ride to see if it suits your riding style.

    There is more difference between an XC 26er and FR 26er than between three similar design trail bikes with 26", 650B, and 29" wheels.

    I like all three wheels sizes and have bikes that suit me. Have ridden 26" and 29" bikes you could not give me.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    That depends on what's more important to you. If you really enjoy throwing the bike around and maximizing the fun on a downhill, you can't beat the 26er. If you would rather bomb down stuff and don't mind losing just a bit of the playfulness, then the 650b is awesome. If you just want to cover ground and don't play around too much, then get a 29er. Personally, if I could only have one bike I'd stick with my 26er. My second bike is a 650b, which is a great 2nd bike. 29ers aren't for me, although my road bike is close...
    I have 2 29ers (a single speed and a FS) so the All mountain bike is a pure play bike. I want it to be as fun as possible on the descents so I'm really leaning toward the Reign. So your post is in line with the way I'm thinking.

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    7Someone posted compelling pinkbike article in the above or below thread named .....is 26er dead....and article compring the 3 wheel sizes. It really came down to personal preferance. The writer actually prefered the 26, then 29er, and 27.5 the least. He flipped the logic upside down, stating instead of it being the perfect mix of both, rather it didnt do what 29's do best, and it didnt do what 26 does best. The 29 just mows over everything, and the 26 is nimble and playful. 27.5 is kinda caught in the middle. Hmmmmmm? Compelling rational. Maybe for some its the perfext balance. ? Im thinking im more like the writer, for fun and carving 26. For all day sustained pedaling(keeping up with my xc buddies) to just motor the trail, its 29.

  11. #11
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    650b in front 26" in back. That's what I like. Short chainstays and flickability out back and a little more stability and resistance to catching on bumps and holes in front but not such a drastic difference that it feels like a bigger wheel (ala 29er). I know MTBers are resistant to different size wheels on a bike but it just works better. That's why motos do it. In this case you can even carry a single 26" tube that fits both wheels. I just don't feel enough benefit to a larger rear wheel to justify the extra weight and chainstay.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by akiracornell View Post
    7Someone posted compelling pinkbike article in the above or below thread named .....is 26er dead....and article compring the 3 wheel sizes. It really came down to personal preferance. The writer actually prefered the 26, then 29er, and 27.5 the least. He flipped the logic upside down, stating instead of it being the perfect mix of both, rather it didnt do what 29's do best, and it didnt do what 26 does best. The 29 just mows over everything, and the 26 is nimble and playful. 27.5 is kinda caught in the middle. Hmmmmmm? Compelling rational. Maybe for some its the perfext balance. ? Im thinking im more like the writer, for fun and carving 26. For all day sustained pedaling(keeping up with my xc buddies) to just motor the trail, its 29.


    There are two extremes of opinion in the press, to take with a grain of salt until you decide for yourself: Worst of both worlds, as in pinkbike article; and best of both worlds, as summed up by Nino Schurter's coach, Thomas Frischknecht a year ago:

    "We had some tests here in South Africa in December when we had the 26, the 27.5, and the 29er all built up exactly the same with the same wheels and everything," Frischknecht told Cyclingnews just prior to the start of the race. "We tested them in a group of three pretty intensely over fourteen days and we came to the conclusion that in a lot of ways, the 27.5 feels like 26 in tight stuff in tight, technical, and slower stuff but it rides more like a 29er on faster singletrail and just basically gives you almost the same safe feel, almost like you get on a 29-inch wheel. Our conclusion after those tests was that it's not a compromise Ė it combines the best of both worlds and we're totally convinced this is the way to go
    Nino Schurter wins World Cup #1 on 650b wheels | Cycling News

    It really DOES come down to personal preference. You can read what other people say, but bottom line, you've simply gotta ride and decide for yourself. Whether you hate them or love them, you will have company.
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    Last year I had a 2011 S-Works Enduro and a Kona Satori. The Enduro was the best 26" bike I've ever ridden, the Kona was the best 29" bike I've ridden. This year I'm on a 650b Ventana Zeus. I have about 400 miles on it so far and don't miss the kona or the enduro. Sure, there are certain parts of a ride where the 26" is a little better and there are spots where the 29" is a little better, but unfortunately I have yet to figure out how to bring two bikes on a ride. The 650b just flat works, it's most like riding a 26" bike, just corners faster and rolls a little better. 29ers are definitely faster but not quite as much fun to ride and keeping wheels together is a PITA for me. With that being said, if Specialized releases a 160mm travel s-works enduro 29er with carbon wheels, my statement may change, 29ers still have some room to improve. I've never had a bike in the AM category that can't be ridden extremely fast, wheel size doesn't really matter, it's the rider.

  14. #14
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    As a tall person (6'5") riding 29ers is like trying to drive a limousine on the Rubicon trail. The wheel base on my HT 29er is as long as my downhill bike. I imagine a 650b to be very similar. I really don't see the point to it either. Also A larger wheel diameter does not compensate for suspension travel. Ultimately, as long as i can buy 26" 160mm+ travel bikes i dont care. The larger wheel sizes make the bikes look less cool too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwt View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	ImageUploadedByTapatalk1360804156.106235.jpg 
Views:	517 
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ID:	771591


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    why build a wider hub and uppend an entire industry. when you can just add a spoke or two?

  16. #16
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    I'm going with statement #1.

    650b feels more like 26" than 29", and in fact is closer in size to 26". I've ridden all three and will admit that I don't care for 29'ers. That is, not if you're interesting in having the most fun. If you want to do the Tour Divide, the 29'er is your best bet. But if you want to ride singletrack, the smaller wheel sizes are much more fun. I don't feel much difference between 26" and 650b, but due to the undeniable physics involved, I would opt for 650b for the small advantages it has to offer. That said, if you can get a killer deal on the 26" bike, I'd be hard pressed to say you should spend the additional coin.

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    I view such questions as being equaled by the Flavor Of The Week Club ... Eat what YOU like, and ignore that nasty tasting stuff others are trying to shove down your throat.

    A good test ride is the only way to determine what you like, and what gives you a nasty tasting ride experience.

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    Truth is you really need to ride one to know if it is for you,being a die hard 26er I like the characteristics of this wheel size for the type of riding I mostly do,tech,jumps,doubles,high speed berms.have owned 29ers and still have a hard tail and enjoy it for straight out CC.and having demoed a Ventana zeus for a week am now converting my Intense Carbine and Ibis Mojo.I took it through it's paces and found no loss of the 26er attributes I admire and in some of the more gnarly rock gardens we have here have found the 650b size to roll through with less effort,less fatigue and more control.knowing that skills play a huge factor and prefer to improve them less then having a bike that acts like a cheat sheet for skills,that being said it stands to my reasoning that in some situations a little help can be a boon without sacrificing the joys and effort of years of development.

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    I've spent a lot of time on 27.5 and really tried to like it, but it wasn't for me. It does't have the pop of the 26, nor can you toss it as well as a 26. Just as well, you can't deny that there would be some increased roll over ability of the 27.5, but I don't ever recall saying to myself that I wish a specific trail was smoother and to be honest the difference wasn't that significant. Climbing, I didn't notice anything wheel size specific to say that there is an advantage or disadvantage of either. In the end my conclusion was if I rode a lot of smooth to marginally rutty singletrack the 27.5 would be great. Would it be better than a 29er? Probably not, but those tall wheels aren't for everyone. If you ride a lot of technical trails at moderate to high speeds, which allow for using rocks, lips, and trail features as ramps, or need to make quick directional changes, the 26 can't be beat.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snfoilhat View Post
    The reason ~everyone who tries 650b is stoked on them is because the 26" wheel is great.
    The reason is because the 29" wheel is pretty darn good.
    The reason 650b is also good is because it is barely different from, and situated in between, two good wheel sizes. There is no magic here. No Goldilocks perfect in between. No optimization. Because "compromise" and "best of both worlds" are not synonymous.

    The truth is that while the cycling industry and riding consumer public have seemed to jump at 29" and 27.5" -- rims, tires, forks, frames, and completes -- some things did not change, and people should pay attention to them.

    Standard hub over-locknut distances did not change. A 26", 650b, or 29", with few exceptions, are going to have a front hub that is 100 mm (QR, 15QR) or 110 mm (20 thru) wide. Rear hubs are going to be (DH bikes 150/157 aside) 135 mm or 142 mm, and note that 142 usually has the same exact distance between the hub flanges as 135. Same hub shell. Only the end caps are wider. If you have built of just studied wheels, then you know that the wider the hub gets, the stronger a wheel you can build. We have wheels w/ bigger diameters, but the industry chose not to make the wheels any wider.

    It's a simple fact that the bigger (diameter) a wheel is, the weaker it is for a given weight or construction style. The bigger a wheel is, the heavier it is at a given strength. Tire too. You can't get something (roll-over, angle of impact, whatever) for nothing. Wheel strength should matter to AM riders. But if you don't weigh a lot, or ride really smooth, then you can get away w/ less. Use experience to gauge.

    Another important consequence of changing wheel sizes is on suspension design, especially in the rear. Bigger diameter tire, longer chain- and seatstays. That isn't automatically bad, but it's something to think about. There have always been shorter or longer stayed designs in the 26ers, and if you like long, then you could probably find a 650b design that wedged that baby in with no change from what you like. But some of the shorter distances just aren't going to be available in the bigger wheels.

    It's about knowing what you want from the complete bike, not from the wheels in some hypothetical vacuum.
    26 is good. 29 is good. 650b is good. Whatever. It's about the individual rider, especially his or her weight and style. Don't buy the hype. Good luck!
    Well, thanks for clearing that up! Yep, clear as mud there. ;o)
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  21. #21
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    650b--What's the truth?

    I love this quote from Walt of Waltworks bikes:

    For XC: Ride the biggest wheels you can fit on without making geometry sacrifices. If you have to pick between wheel size and suspension travel, pick the big wheels (4" 29er beats 5" 650).
    For AM/FR: Ride the biggest wheels you can fit on. If you have to pick between wheels/suspension, pick suspension (6" 650b beats 5" 29er).
    For DH: Ride 26" wheels because right now there's not much for 650 and nothing for 29 (and for 29, there probably never will be).
    My $.02 supplement: for XC and trail riding, if you are stuck between choosing 27.5"and 29" using Walt's advice, pick the one which is lighter.






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    Quote Originally Posted by PhaseSpace168 View Post
    As a tall person (6'5") riding 29ers is like trying to drive a limousine on the Rubicon trail. The wheel base on my HT 29er is as long as my downhill bike. I imagine a 650b to be very similar. I really don't see the point to it either. Also A larger wheel diameter does not compensate for suspension travel. Ultimately, as long as i can buy 26" 160mm+ travel bikes i dont care. The larger wheel sizes make the bikes look less cool too.
    Your mention of the wheelbase made me curious because my last three bikes seemed to have a very similar feel to them, so had to check it out. All the bikes were mediums and I suppose the results come down to the CS getting progressively longer with whell size and the HA getting progressively steeper with wheel size. All of these bikes have longish top tubes, slack head tubes and fairly steep seat angles, because that's what I like. Now if you look at a bike with a slack seat angle and steep head tube angle such as the Blur LT in comparison..... The XL blur LT is shorter wheelbase than all of these mediums.
    M Enduro 45.4"
    M Kona Satori 45.3"
    M Ventana Zeus 45.5"
    XL Santa Cruz Blur LT 44.8"

  23. #23
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    I can see why people are wanting to get a 27.5 specific bike so they can run 27.5 big ger wheels and 2.3 tires in 27.5. I have always wondered how much of a difference is it between a converted bike with a 2.1 tire and 26" bike with a super tall 2.4 like the advantage or the trailking (ruberqueen)? I posted that in the 27.5 fan boy forum and got a bunch of its lighter XC answers. For some reason 27.5 is a like a epinephrine shot to the bike industry. Look at this new wave and new standard, go buy new forks, and frames and wheels and tires. I demoed one and I took the pinkbike side of things can do everything "ok". Jack of all trades master of none. I will stick with my 26" AM bike and a 29" XC hardtail.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitechredneck View Post
    I can see why people are wanting to get a 27.5 specific bike so they can run 27.5 big ger wheels and 2.3 tires in 27.5. I have always wondered how much of a difference is it between a converted bike with a 2.1 tire and 26" bike with a super tall 2.4
    I compared a set of 2.5" DHF Minions on 26" Easton Haven rims to my new 2.2" WTB Wolverines on 650B Stans Arch EX rims, and there was a significant difference- a lot more than you'd think.

    My quick thoughts: I used to own a Trek HiFi Pro 29er and a Santa Cruz NomadC 26" bike, and I always thought I wanted two bikes to ride depending on the trail. However, I quickly realized that I'd rather have a single bike that I can get dialed in and ride ALL the time. So I bought a Blur LT2 frame and built it up with 650B wheels this winter.

    I'm happy. It doesn't climb and roll as well as the HiFi, and it doesn't descend as well as the Nomad- but it takes the good traits of each and combines them into one bike. I hated the HiFi on the fun downhills, and I hated taking my NomadC on 25+ mile rides... but now I have a bike that performs great on both of those. Like hitechredneck said, it's the "Jack of all trades" wheel size, which is exactly what I wanted based on my riding style and location.

    By the way OP- the two statements you posted are exactly the same, one is just stated in a negative way.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitechredneck View Post
    I can see why people are wanting to get a 27.5 specific bike so they can run 27.5 big ger wheels and 2.3 tires in 27.5. I have always wondered how much of a difference is it between a converted bike with a 2.1 tire and 26" bike with a super tall 2.4 like the advantage or the trailking (ruberqueen)? I posted that in the 27.5 fan boy forum and got a bunch of its lighter XC answers. For some reason 27.5 is a like a epinephrine shot to the bike industry. Look at this new wave and new standard, go buy new forks, and frames and wheels and tires. I demoed one and I took the pinkbike side of things can do everything "ok". Jack of all trades master of none. I will stick with my 26" AM bike and a 29" XC hardtail.
    Its about 1/2"-3/4" between my Schwalbe HD 2.35 and the 26" Rubber queen 2.4". Very close, but the rubber queens are roughly 300gram heavier for the pair. I ran them on my endo, one of my favorite tires, but a little heavy and slow for where I ride.
    You are absolutely right about the cost difference, it only makes a little bit of sense if you're looking at getting a new bike anyway. Training and dedication to becoming a better rider are going to give you better results than wheel size. The wheel size argument cracks me up! The 27.5 wheel size is fun to tinker with, but what makes the most difference is the days I spend riding all winter while the other guys drink hot coco, watch TV and eat donuts, that's what makes the most difference when the clock stops! lol Why is there no debate on the time ratio one should spend talking about bikes compared to getting out and riding, that's a much more relevant question???? Haha

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