Friday, November 2, 2007
650b MTB Concept Bike In Progress
As you may have heard some builders are unveiling 650b (27.5" tires) MTB prototype/concept bikes at this year's Interbike.
Here is ours–currently codenamed the "B-Side". It is a steel single speed hardtail. We chose a single-speed format, because we think SS folks are a little more stoked to try something different. This was built locally and will be used for testing as well as showing at Interbike. We plan to have it displayed at premier distributor BTI's booth. No production frames are planned yet. It really depends on public response.
The opportunity to explore the new platform was too easy to pass up. Tires, rims, suspension forks are being made available as we publish this. Pacenti's Neo-Moto 2.3's tires and Velocity's Blunt rims both look like winners. White Brothers forks are a proven design. Certain 26" suspension forks like Mavericks already work. If you can't find 650b tubes, 26" tubes will suffice. If we decided to pump out 50 frames, we know there will be parts to build them with.
While we acknowledge most big wheel enthusiasts are too still in love with their 29ers to consider a third wheel size, from a frame designer's standpoint 650b is territory definitely worth exploring. When designing the Juice 29er frame we did notice we had to make certain 'compromises' to get things like standover height and bar height to come out reasonable. Builders will continue to have to deal with design issues as customers demand more travel. Though the 650b size is roughly in the middle between 26" and 29", we found we could use proven 26" wheel geometries, which is sweet. Chainstay length is very close to 26" wheel bikes.
The 650b platform also promises stronger, lighter wheels, and other theoretical advantages over the 29er platform, but we won't open our mouth too much here until after we get in some rides on our B-Side.