Friday, October 11

The Great Debate of Our Times

What I planned to write about today can't be, so...

Let's talk about 650b/27.5, which from this point on will be randomly referred to as either/or in order to add to the confusion as much as possible.  I've already covered the conspiracy theory angle on this new wheel size over a year ago, so let's get past that.  Let's assume there is some merit and go from there.

Why would I consider reducing my wheel diameter, especially when almost everything I read out there basically says that 29" wheels are still ideal for hardtails... superespecially for single speeds?

You may not know this, but I am a little man, rivaling a stack of perhaps four apples.  5' 6" and some change to be (not) precise, yet I have no issues with fit on a 29" bike.  That would be because despite what people with lasers and computers might say, I like little to no drop from my saddle to my bars.  The lower front end of a 650b does nothing for me, it only makes it harder for me to find one (stock natch) in my size without using a shit ton of hideous headset spacers.

So what are the pros that I see?


I am not a weight weenie per se.  I run heavy reliable tires, a wide, durable front rim, Shimano pedals and brakes, a bit of a portly saddle...  Let's just say that I have friends with geared crabon squish equipped hardtails that weigh as much as my lightest SS.  That said, I know that extra weight works against me.  It's a simple matter of weight ratios.

I would be the five ounce bird, my bike the one pound coconut.  BTW: The first time I tried to watch The Holy Grail, I did not make it past that particular scene.

Smaller wheels are lighter?  How much (according to Giant's propaganda machine)?

Does that claim hold water?

After spending way too much time with a calculator, using direct comparisons (when possible) of products I use (Industry Nine Torch wheels, Ardent 2.4 front, Ikon 2.2 rear) I get slightly different numbers.

27.5 being 3% heavier than 26"

29" wheels being 8% heavier than 26"

Those numbers are rounded, but being that we are talking about wheels, I guess that makes sense.

My numbers are not as impressive as their numbers.  Whatever.  It's all about the extra weight being rotational and its distance from the center of  the wheel.

Is that math based on their already determined weight differences which don't quite align with mine?  One could assume... or not.  Either way, more mass further out means more effort this small body has too put out to get them moving.

This angle of attack thing...

Degrees... 4° shallower, 6° shallower...

Bigger is better.  When do you hit the point of diminishing returns?  Who knows?  We're picking wheel sizes from the leftovers of other genres in cycling... beach cruisers, road bikes, and randonneurs (guys who like to ride all over Europe with leather satchels strapped to their bikes).  How do we know when we've taken the best wheel size and made it ours?  Dunno.

The angle of attack is certainly one aspect that concerns me.  Since I like to race rigid and love technical races the mostest... this downsize works against me.  Enough to notice?  ?

Contact patch?

I don't know much about that.  I wasn't complaining about traction on my 26" bike.  Dunno if that (disputable) three extra centimeters makes a difference.  The 27.5 only gives up one centimeter to its big brother.  Whatever.

Inertia.  Smaller wheels, less of it.  I can see where this can hurt me as well.  I have less potential energy, being of my lilliputian stature, so keeping the wheels rolling is important.  Giant didn't address that in their infographs.  Luckily, Norco covered that in their informative (but terrible) video.

Of course, 650b loses some to the 29" wheel.  Suxors.  Was hoping there was something magical that would stump the scientists... like the flight of the bumble bee.

But who needs science anyways when you have guys working in the Marketing and Propaganda Department.

There you can see that 650b is "Noticeably Better" but not quite "Mega Awesome" when it comes to rolling resistance.  I failed to do a screen grab of the chart that showed 650b as being "Super Donkey Awesome" at being more marketable than both the 26" and 29" wheels combined. 

Bar graphs don't lie.  People do.

That's enough for now. I've got shit to do.

Remember, I wouldn't even be close to being on the fence had I not had a pleasant experience on the Moots Rogue YBB 27.5.

I DID notice snappier acceleration and I WASN'T annoyed with the smaller wheels.  I wanted to hate it.

I didn't.

Thus my dilemma.


John Parker said...

If "we" had started out with 650b the move to 29" would have been a much harder sell (yes I have ridden all three sizes) and I don’t that 26" would have even needed to be considered as an option to overcome the shortcomings of the 650b size. All of that said I really think the 29” wheel has a lot of merit and should still be choice of you forward considering where what and how you ride (rigid ss). The problem is your rode a great bike in a great area and so just because it did not suck dose makes you think that new and different is better when odds are it’s the new and different factor that’s what peaking your interest.

Anonymous said...


Eric Gadlage said...

Basically what you are saying is if you would change out the heavy 2.4 with it's lighter 2.25 brother, you would have the same difference?

Speaking of, when does the 27.5 ardent or ikon come out??

Big E said...

I'm wondering how much of the squishy bits on the Moots is effecting this dilemma? I would ride a bike set up exactly how you like before I pulled the trigger on the 650B.

dicky said...


I think they're out there... I think.

Grumpy Old Man said...

The heck with the tire deal. I was curious if you liked Monty Python or not? I use it as a people barometer, based on their reaction to it.?

dicky said...

I've been trying to live The Life of Brian since I was nineteen.

Anonymous said...

I only read your blog because you ride 29ers.

BUCK said...

Smaller wheels will make you and your veranda lok larger. Just sayin'.

Gary said...

29 in the front, 27.5 in the rear.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess your new frame sponsor wants to push the 27.5 size and the deal; already now your trying to EASE us all into your "choice"........zoom, zoom!


dicky said...

I'm considering dunking some cash flow into this thing. Ain't no "frame sponsor" lined up or nothing.

boom, boom!