By Justin Steiner
If there’s one thing Interbike 2012 has shown us, it’s that 650b is here to stay. Ironically, on the plane flight home from Interbike, a fellow asked me if 29ers were here to stay. With much disbelief this dude was shocked to hear yet another wheel size is in the works and certainly looks poised to stay the course.
In addition to the 34mm-chassis, 160mm-travel offering from Fox and the 32mm-chassis SID, Reba and Revelation forks, varying in travel from 120-150mm, from RockShox, we spied three other manufacturers showing support for the tweener wheel size.
We saw X-Fusion’s 2013 lineup earlier this year and you can read our ride impressions here.
In terms of 650b forks, X-Fusion will be offering two models for 2013; the Velvet with 32mm stanchions and the Slant with 34mm stanchions.
The burlier Slant, will be offered in a 160mm version, adjustable internally to 150mm and 140mm, or a 120mm option that can be internally swapped to 100mm. These forks are said to weigh 4.2 lbs and 4 lbs respectively. Both versions will be offered in tapered or straight steerer versions with 15mm thru axles. Unlike the demos pictured here, all X-Fusion forks will include the Gold Slick Ano stanchion coating for 2013. Look for the Slant to retail for $625 to $800 depending on model and damper selected.
With 32mm stanchions the Velvet chassis, is targeting the XC and Trail end of the spectrum by offering a 130mm-travel fork that can be internally adjusted down to 120mm, 100mm, or even 80mm. Both a tapered and straight steerer versions will be offered, and buyers will have their choice of 9mm QR or 15mm thru axle dropouts. The Velvet will weigh in at 3.8 lbs. Price range will be similar: $625-$800.
Another interesting bit in the X-Fusion booth is this 160mm-travel, 4.2 lbs., inverted fork. As of now, it is simply a design exercise; X-Fusion has no plans to bring it to production as of yet. According to X-Fusion, they’ve employed some new technology to keep the lowers from twisting. We’ll have to wait and see on this one.
SR Suntour is also fully embracing the 27.5/650b wheel size with two models; the Axon Werx and the Epicon. In fact, both of these models will be available in 26-inch, 650b and 29-inch options. Axon Werx 26-inch and 650b forks will be internally adjustable between 100mm and 120mm of travel while the 29er fork offers 80mm to 100mm adjustability. Epicon forks will vary between 100mm, 120mm and 140mm depending on wheel size.
The Axon Werx, pictured above, and Epicon share the same stanchions, crown, and steerer tube. The difference is the Epicon has magnesium lowers while the Axon Werx employs carbon fiber and magnesium lowers to save about 65g. Axon Werx forks offer a remote lockout with adjustable rebound and compression damping. Expect the Axon Werx forks to retail in the $1,000 price range while Epicon forks will retail from $400 to $700 depending on damping and travel adjust options.
In non-650b related news, SR Suntour was showing prototypes of a 37mm-stanchioned dual crown called the Rux RC2. The RC2 damper will, as the name suggests, offer rebound as well as high- and low-speed compression damping. As you can see from the photos, the Rux will utilize a tool-free axle system.
Retail price has not yet been announced. I’m certainly stoked to see some competition in the dual crown market.
Last year Forumla showed us the “33” fork with 33mm stanchions. This year they brought out the 35mm stanchions of the, wait for it…, “35”. Though many final production details need to be worked out, the basic parameters have been established. A 650b model will offer internally adjustable travel between 120mm and 160mm while the 29” version will offer 100mm to 140mm of travel. Get this: there are no current plans to offer a 26” version.