650B full suspension bike? New 650B tires?

For those not paying attention, 650B is a tire size between the two standards out there now; 26 and 29″. Quick history-650B is a French wheel size,often used on older touring and camping bikes. It never completely disappeared, with contingents in France and the US continuing to use and talk about the wheel size (see Rivendell, here, and many small builders).

Kirk Pacenti is the man behind the mountain bike application that is causing a buzz in the industry. He sees this as a great in between size for applications where 26″ is too small and 29″ is too big. There are
a few companies with 650B bike plans for 2009, but almost all are hardtails. The only exception I know of is the Ventana El Bastardo, shown at NAHBS this year. Personally I think the best application for this wheel size is full suspension, 5″ and over. So with help from quite a few companies we now have all the parts needed to build ourselves an full suspension bike to see if that theory holds water.

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Some highlights of the build:

Frame- Santa Cruz Heckler
Shock-Rock Shox Pearl 3.3 travel limited by Rock Shox
Fork- White Brothers Fluid 135 650B specific with 20mm axle. Currently using a Fox Float 130 RLC 2006, shortened to 120 travel to prevent crown-tire contact. White Brothers fork should be here soon.
Tires-Pacenti Neo-Motos
Rims-Velocity Blunt
Hubs-Hope Pro II with 9MM QR and 20mm thru-axle

Also in the news, we just received pre-production samples of a new race/hardpack tire from Pacenti, the Quasi-moto. Manufactured by Panaracer the Quasi uses the same casing as the bigger Neo-moto(2.3 versus 2.0). Combined with No-Tubes lightweight 650B rim, 650B now as a viable XC race set-up.

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