Brain Fart: Let’s Talk About the Wheels

I started working on a this a few days ago, spent a good bit of time with a write up on my Interbike experience. I finally gave on that last night, way too much info for one post , plus I got a bit overwhelmed once I started sorting through photos, notes and business cards. I’ll just pick one thing that stood out to me at the show and save the larger report for later.

The subject I keep returning to is wheels, as in wheel size, as in 26″, 650B(27.5″) and 29″. At Dirt Demo I rode bikes with all three sizes and came away surprised by what I found. I defiantly went in biased towards 29ers as I’ve been riding them almost exclusively for 2 years. By the end of day 2 I had to rethink my preconceived notions about wheels size.

More than anything else I realize that suspension and geometry have more to do with how much I enjoyed a bike. I rode 26″ bikes that were an absolute blast to ride and 29″ bikes that never really clicked with me. The only 650B bike I rode felt very similar to the Pacenti we tested last issue, like a bike. I rode it without thinking much about the wheels. It was a nice neutral ground between the snappiness and playfulness of 26″ and the terrain smoothing and rollablity of 29″.

I have enough personal interest in 650B to put together a wheel set for some experimentation here at Dirt Rag HQ. Kirk Pacenti, the man behind the 650B mountain tire looks at this wheel size as a middle ground that should come into its own on bikes with 5+ inches of travel. The one tire available now, the 2.3 Neo-Moto, is a great non-condition specific tread and should help to more things along a bit more quickly than the 29″ wheel in its infancy, which in my opimion was held back a bit my the Nanoraptor, which is a fine tire, but a bit more limited in its ablity to handle looser terrain.

There seems to already be some 650B naysayers out there, most seem to have a definite bias toward 29″ bikes. I’m not sure what to say to them, as it seems ironic that the people who are the most against this wheelsize where on the receiving end of similar behavior a short time ago themselves. There is plenty to go around folks, 650B won’t kill off 29″ bikes, much the same as 26″ aren’t going to be killed by 29″.

I’m pretty stoked to be involved in bikes right now, and you should be too, regardless of your wheelsize choice. For those interested in 650B I’ll give some updates as to my future findings here. In the meantime ride whatcha got and enjoy.

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