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  1. #1
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    Buy 26" now or wait until 650b

    Had my first ride of a 650b equipped trailbike (RM altitude) today and can't really say it was life changing. In fact I think I will stay on 26" as long as I can. The discerning part was the sales rep told me that they aren't going to stock any bikes in 26" from now unless its a entry level, less than $1000 type bike. In fact they can't get rid of their 26" old stock even at almost 50% off. What really annoys me about this is if 650b is so great why has it taken until now? Surely the likes of the top DH and XC race teams would have no issue in making a bigger wheel over the years. It seems absurd to have the likes of the Honda Race Team in the 00's with all of their blackbox technology and rumoured $50,000+ race bikes not to have simply said, hey if we make the wheels 1.5" bigger we can shave 3 seconds off this track, screw this gearbox crap. Hell why don't we try 3" bigger that might result in 6 secs!! Thats if we believe all this media and industry hype......... Unfortunately my argument will be irrelevant as it looks like every AM/enduro bike will be 650b from now...................
    Last edited by ndog1980; 04-21-2013 at 12:51 PM.

  2. #2
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    Yeah well the split is all greed and selfishness. People who have already bought into 650B are desperate to believe that they have done the right thing, same as the 29er preachers are/were. Those having recent 26 inch will be just as desperate to believe that it's all a fad and their current equipment is here to stay. The companies are rubbing their hands waiting for the ca$h.

    There's nothing new about 650B they've been on tandems, wheelchairs and Japanese domestic bicycles for years.

    I've never tried 650B, not for any other reason than I've never had the opportunity, although having ridden street motorcycles some with 17 inch and others with 18 inch wheels, honestly I couldn't tell the difference unless I read it on the tire sidewall.

    I don't think every Enduro bike will be 650B from now, more like '650B compatibility' is the new thing.

  3. #3
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    I think the sales rep was being overly dramatic.

    Regarding "why now"? Who knows. Why did it take so long for 29" wheels to get introduced and catch on. The sport is still pretty new.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  4. #4
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    dude, there are tens of thousands of 26" tires and forks siting in warehouses that still need to be sold. I highly doubt that 26" frames will not be around. The 26" hardtail has become a relic but if you want a slack AM type frame there are still numerous options.

    I suspect that 650B will be "the BIG thing" for a little while mainly because most bike companies' R&D teams have been or will be focusing on releasing their own versions of the "new" wheel size. How many companies can drop more than just a couple of totally-new or completely redesigned bikes on the market in a single year (other than the Big guys)? Once their initial splash into this pool has subsided, they'll be on to developing the next "big thing".

    Be patient if you're waiting for the next best 26" frame. Or, like you said, get what you can now at a steep discount. As for where I am located, not many shops have a 650b on the showroom floor.

  5. #5
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    650 b will be gone soon. The current usa enduro champ is going to run 29" wheels this year. UCI is about to regulate wheel size. Wont be long before the rush to produce 650b becomes the rush to sell off the old 650b stock.

    So when you ask 26" now or wait for 650b, your forgeting 29er.

  6. #6
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    What do you mean wait? 650b is here, ride it if you want. If you like one wheel size better than the other, the choice is easy. If you don't like the idea, but haven't tried it (lew242), try to refrain from telling me how desperate I am to justify my choice. 650b is fun! 26 is fun! Comparing a mountain bike to a street bike is about as bad a comparison as I can imagine. I don't care about shaving seconds. It is about fun and adventure.

  7. #7
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    Whether or not 650b would ever take off has been a question for quite a while. Jamis has been making fully equipped 650b trail bikes since 2009. At that time though, 29er was taking off an no one was looking at 650b.

    Everything you guys are saying is a repeat of the 29er discussion. Now that 650b has taken off, it is here to stay. Will 650b be a bit of an over blown "fad" for a few years? of course. Will it completely replace 26? Hell no.

    Ultimately the market will decide. Decisions are made based on sales numbers and customer requests. If you want 26, keep buying it and they will keep making it. If a company drops a really good 26 6-inch bike (for example) from its line up, flood them with email requests.
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  8. #8
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    The 650b may be coming about but it will not kill the 26 any more than the 29er did. Simply put it's all about marketing.

    Like others pointed out, when the 29er hit the the world there was a huge push behind it in order to get the world motivated. If you just quietly launch a new product it takes a long time to catch on and in business, time is money. Sure you could reach the same number of annual sales without using marketing but what may normally take a company 2 years could take a decade and in this economy, that is just foolish. In time you are going to see it settle into a rhythm but from an over all stand point, 26 will not go anywhere. It is by far the most popular sized adult bike and used the world over.

    What I do think you will see is exactly what jtnord said- a loss of selection from the 26 line up. They will be more evenly spread among the 3 sizes or possibly as 26/650b compatible. If a company designs a frame with both those sizes in mind it would allow a customer to easily swap from one to another. If I was an engineer and building, that would be the direction that i would head in first. From a marketing stand point, it is a easy sell because you can please 2 crowds with one product which means more sales.

    I have yet to ride a 650b but my local shop does have some of the Norco's and I have been meaning to get down there and give it a whirl.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ndog1980 View Post
    The discerning part was the sales rep told me that they aren't going to stock any bikes in 26" from now unless its a entry level, less than $1000 type bike. In fact they can't get rid of their 26" old stock even at almost 50% off.
    .. and this is why lbs are loosing against online store. They are selling toward beginners. Those who has more experience and been around for a while can't find what they are looking for in their lbs. They can't get rid of 26" bike because they're putting too much hype on new things like 650b and 29er. If someone walks in to their store and looking for some bike, they're probably going to push 650 or 29 because its a cool thing and everyone rides it.

    if you can't find a 26" bike, you got the whole web to search for one. 20" wheeled bike is still out there, after having 26" 27" 29" 32" 700c. wait another year and all the hype will die down just like 29er, fat bike, tubeless tire and it will just be another choice!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    I think the sales rep was being overly dramatic.
    Or perhaps he's got a short sighted store manager. I know a couple of shops that burned themselves by going all in on 29ers, then finding that actually, just because 29ers were selling now, it didn't mean that 26ers suddenly weren't.

    Also, a bike at a 50% discount, you'd be mad not to, wheel size be damned!

  11. #11
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    I just bought all new 26" for the season. A stumpy evo which is regarded as a great bike by the "industry" . Guess what? I had to buy second hand to find the fork I wanted for it, a marzocchi 44 rc3 ti, as I could not find a new one online. I would say the fork selection for 26" has already dropped off.

    I would be curious to here feedback from more people that have ridden 650b coming of 26"? I for one KNOW 29er will never replace my 26" bike for trail riding and I'm 6'2".

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by big JC View Post
    I just bought all new 26" for the season. A stumpy evo which is regarded as a great bike by the "industry" . Guess what? I had to buy second hand to find the fork I wanted for it, a marzocchi 44 rc3 ti, as I could not find a new one online. I would say the fork selection for 26" has already dropped off..
    No, you just tried to buy a discontinued fork.

    Fox, Rockshox and X Fusion have expanded there 26in range the last coupl of years. Zocchi are in the midst of a big shake up, which is why they're d-conning so many models.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fix the Spade View Post
    No, you just tried to buy a discontinued fork.

    Fox, Rockshox and X Fusion have expanded there 26in range the last coupl of years. Zocchi are in the midst of a big shake up, which is why they're d-conning so many models.
    Huh? The only new 150 mil fork for 2013 is the fox float. Marzocchi does have a new for 2013 44 series fork but it only comes 29er. The vast majority of new forks are 29er. Just click on universal cycles mtb suspension fork page there is every make & model right there. No, I stand by the idea the fork options for "trail" bikes is waning .

  14. #14
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    The big brands are still coming out with high end 26ers every year. New tires in 26, new 26 specific components still pop up regularly.

    ... and, people are increasingly switching back to 26ers from 29ers. Sure 650b is picking up, but 26ers are still crushing them in sales.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ndog1980 View Post
    Had my first ride of a 650b equipped trailbike (RM altitude) today and can't really say it was life changing. In fact I think I will stay on 26" as long as I can. The discerning part was the sales rep told me that they aren't going to stock any bikes in 26" from now unless its a entry level, less than $1000 type bike. In fact they can't get rid of their 26" old stock even at almost 50% off. What really annoys me about this is if 650b is so great why has it taken until now? Surely the likes of the top DH and XC race teams would have no issue in making a bigger wheel over the years. It seems absurd to have the likes of the Honda Race Team in the 90's with all of their blackbox technology and rumoured $50,000+ race bikes not to have simply said, hey if we make the wheels 1.5" bigger we can shave 3 seconds off this track, screw this gearbox crap. Hell why don't we try 3" bigger that might result in 6 secs!! Thats if we believe all this media and industry hype......... Unfortunately my argument will be irrelevant as it looks like every AM/enduro bike will be 650b from now...................
    The sales rep is trying to drum up sales through FUD--fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    And right now, there's a lot of uncertainty, especially considering wheel size in the industry. All three of my bikes: DH, DJ and AM are all 26". And if I was buying a bike right now, it would probably still be a 26" wheeled bike. While there are more 29ers and that's 90%+ of the XC bikes out there, it's not something I feel comfortable on. The 650B is a 50/50 split for me for the bikes I test rode, but right now, I have the bikes I like. Even my DH bike, which is "old" by today's standards, I can still get the parts I need.

    And with the amount of tires available for 26" bikes and not everyone is going to change bikes just because of the latest wheel size craze, stick with what you love. Who knows? Maybe 24" wheels will make a comeback in 5 years. Anything to drum up new business in this industry, especailly reinventing the wheel.

  16. #16
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    Wink

    Big bike companies are making you think you need to get a 650B or a 29er and will slowly dwindle the supply of 26” bikes… then in 3 years from now They will present startling new evidence to confirm that it was all a huge mistake and the 26er is the new “In thing” and you just have to get one at any cost!!
    "foot to pedal, wheel to dirt, there is no substitute for the act of riding "

  17. #17
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    I still don't understand what "All Mountain" is!!!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by big JC View Post
    Huh? The only new 150 mil fork for 2013 is the fox float. Marzocchi does have a new for 2013 44 series fork but it only comes 29er. The vast majority of new forks are 29er. Just click on universal cycles mtb suspension fork page there is every make & model right there. No, I stand by the idea the fork options for "trail" bikes is waning .
    Right.

    In the last couple of years, the 34, Slant, TS8 and now Pike have all been announced with 26/150mm options. Suntour are also offering a 150mm 26er Epicon now.
    That's five new 26in/150mm forks in two years, on top of the 32, Revelation, Sektor, XMM, EXM and Loop.
    Minus the 44 getting removed (a replacement is coming next year, seriously) and your choice has still widened by four options over what it was two years ago. Four of those five new forks have been announced/become available in the last twelve months.


    Universal aren't the fountain of all components, you're reading far too much from them not having the wide range you were expecting. The current increase in 29er/650 forks isn't coming at the expense of 26in parts, which is great for us.

    If they don't have what you want, I suggest looking somewhere else, there are more options available now (for all wheel sizes) than have been in pretty much forever.

  19. #19
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    In this case the sales rep was a good friend so he wasn't pedalling the company line just telling me the facts. Their sales for mid to high end bikes was around 60-70% 29er's, mostly XC stuff, but all the new trail and AM bikes they were getting in were going to be 650b. In my example, I'm thinking the likes of a Giant Reign, do I wait for them to bring out a 650b version making the 26" cheap as?(no proof of such just speculation). For me 650b offers no advantage apart from making 26" gear cheap

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    ... reinventing the wheel.
    What an appropriate cliche!

    I watched Santa Cruz's video for the Bronson, which was also recently reviewed by MTBR. It seemed that even Santa Cruz's engineers and marketing guys were like 'meh' about the 650b versus the 26er - not much different. But they also indicated it seems the way things are going.

    Some new MTB innovations catch on very well (FS, disk brakes, dropper seat posts) for good reason. Some flail and fail (Dual Control, Rapid Rise, ...) - even though I happen to love those technologies. Others have a mixed market response (tubeless). We'll see where the 650b goes long term.

    I can probably wait another year or two for the 650b market trend to become clear before I really need to get another bike. I'll probably go with whatever ends up happening in the market since it seems similar enough to the 26er. I mostly just want good options for components and capabilities.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  21. #21
    LCW
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    OP - go with your gut. If you really want a 26" bike and it gives you all you are needing, get it. It's easy to get sucked in the latest "trends". 650b may turn out more than just a trend and become pretty mainstream. But once the novelty wears off - as others have mentioned - it will simply be another "choice". From what I'm reading, there's not that much a difference between 26 and 27.5/650b. Maybe more psychological? Maybe there's some merit. But it doesn't seem to be overwhelmingly so.

    Not that it's a great example, but look at what wheel size won the Sea Otter dual slalom.
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  22. #22
    dwt
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    Buy 26" now or wait until 650b

    Quote Originally Posted by LCW View Post

    From what I'm reading, there's not that much a difference between 26 and 27.5/650b.
    Reading has to do with other people's opinions, which are all over the map. Only you can decide what works for you and what doesn't. Whatever other people say or think, the 650b wheel is bigger than 26", though obviously not as dramatically bigger than 29". When you are talking about trail, AM, FR, and DH amounts of suspension, you are talking about bikes that roll better than 26" but with very similar geometry and exactly the same suspension. 29'ers are a different animal than both. So, the majority opinion right now is that 650b is the sweet spot in the middle: "best of both worlds." "Worst of both worlds" is a minority opinion. Demo one or two, see what you think, and post up your ride report.




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    Last edited by dwt; 04-21-2013 at 06:47 PM.
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  23. #23
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    650/275 feels like 26" most of the time. It's hard to tell a difference until you get into some chunder. I've spent the last four years on 650, spent 50 days riding bike parks on 26" last year and switched my 650 bike back to 26". It was fine until I went riding where we have rocks on rocks on rocks. I hated it. I switched the 26 back to 650. It was a big difference. I also rode a 29r that I had never ridden before in a 100-miler. It was great because there wasn't much tight, steep stuff (despite 14,000' of climbing). The 29r was great down there but it just didn't turn in the 3 spots I needed it to.

    If you like to go fast through rough stuff and you like 26", you won't notice much of a difference on 650/275 unless you realize that you can go faster and carry more speed with less hang-up when things get slow and crawly.

    26 to 29 is a BIG difference, to the bad in my book. I jump, pump, turn and HATE getting off my bike. 650/275 is an advantage for me at least. It's not a fad, it's a choice. You should try it but don't expect to be blown away. You *MIGHT* be, but it's just a little bit better than both 26 and 29, which is exactly what I was waiting for...

    Until I saw that Enduro 29r...

    I'm ordering a new Tracer275 this week. It'll be 7" up front for park riding and 6" up front for endurance racing.

    Don't say this is marketing. There is almost zero marketing out there about 650. This has been driven by short people who can't ride 29r (Craig was the not-tall designer at Jamis to start 650 over there) and dh-oriented riders who think 29rs manual like crap and have flexy wheels.

    These are all valid concerns and solid business reasons to get 650/275 bikes to market. Drop the cynicism. The bike industry can barely make bikes let alone drive our variety of desires.

    Ride your bike...

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  24. #24
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    There's always something new. Plenty of choices, lots of great bikes.

    Pick it on geo, on colors, on reviews or whatever you fancy. Great time to buy a bike. Don't wait because you could be waiting for a long time for the "best" bike.

    Try if you can. Never did and my bikes always gotten better.

    And go ride...

  25. #25
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    The bike industry is full of people rubbing their greedy little hands together over the past decade. I don't think 26ers will die, at least I hope not. I have not had the chance to ride a 650b bike, but I doubt it will be life changing. When I rode a 29er, I was so let down it wasn't funny. I got back on my 26 bike and my smile came back and I haven't looked back. As others have said, I like to pump, jump, and pop off everything I can, and I ride too many tight switchbacks to warrant a 29er. I'll check out a 650b, but unless it rocks my world, or I cannot get 26er parts, I will be staying on 26 inches. Plus, when the industry relaunches 26ers in 7 years as the "newest thing", I will be laughing at everyone dropping their other wheel sizes to come back.

    I don't dislike 29ers, they have proven themselves in physics and races. 650b just seems like a compromise between two proven wheel sizes.

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