Tuesday, October 29
Well, that didn't pan out.
What it did well, it did oh so well. Before I get into how it handled, I should mention that throwing a Niner crabon frok with 45mm of offset on a bike with a 70°+ head tube angle AND a 650b wheel will give you a very tight trail figure. I'm aware of that. I didn't do the math, and since this trial period ended in fail, I won't.
This bike railed the corners like a champ. I can see just why the little wheels are Enduro™ approved as I found it so much easier to utilize my new found Enduro™ cornering technique. Was it the smaller wheels, the lower trail figure, the bottom bracket being higher in relation to the axles than on a 29'er, or the fact that I was on the official wheel size of the Enduro™ Bike League? Dunno.
Acceleration. Off the hook. After Scott George would gap me on the descents, the bike was easy to accelerate up the next climb and chase him back down. Noticeable difference. Hard to deny that. Maybe it's because Scott let himself go... I was afraid to ask.
Any other good stuff?
The bike fit on my Raxter hitch rack better than a 29'er, in as much as the bike sat lower/narrower behind the Fit of Rage keeping it out of the wind, thus saving me some gas money.
The 650b tube looked nice and tidy under the saddle... much more svelte than its 29" counterpart.
I'm sure a lot of people thought that the smaller wheel on a rigid single speed would be bad, but it's only slightly smaller, right Giant? The experience felt like riding my old 26" rigid single speed, except back then I had a 1,000+ gram 2.5 tire with UST sidewalls that I could run at silly low pressures (and I was seven years younger). Granted, I only ran a 2.25 Ardent on Saturday instead of this:
1. I refuse to believe that .15 is gonna matter all that much.
2. I have a new tire that will be easier to unload than an "only used once" tire.
I got the crap beat out of me on the rigid 650b. I've been around Dark Mountain a million times. I know the lines, the speeds I can handle... it's a trail I'm familiar with as any. The smaller wheels got kicked around, knocked about, and slowed down going down all the braking bumped, root infested, lumpy descents. No doubt about it... slower.
Blisters on my hands. Haven't had those in years and never after a sub five hour race... on machine built trails. My palms still felt like hamburger yesterday, my back still has a knot in it, my elbows hurt, and my thumb feels like I was pounding in roofing nails with it all day. No beuno.
The decision is final. No 650b on my next frame. Not front/rear... not just the rear. None.
That said, I can see where the wheels would shine (within where I'm possibly qualified to speak from my experiences). Tight XC races, the kind that are held in your local park (east coast, dunno about west), tight, twisty sumsabitches. Front suspension and a couple hours of brake/turn/accelerate type courses? Bad ass. I might actually pick it over a 29'er.
But I don't race those silly events... unless I do.
West coast... those trails that "flow." That thing we don't have much of over here on the right hand side of the country. That would be sweet (and was).
The whole full suspension trail bike 650b thing? I'm hardly qualified to comment. I hate full suspension right now, so that's gonna probably skew my opinion into a hateful spew regardless of any stupid "facts" or "science."
The good news in all of this?
A lot of custom builders got scratched off the list. Not too many are willing to take on a titanium frame with chainstays in the 420mm neighborhood. It's in the top three build parameters for my next frame, so my options are now greatly limited. If you've ever eaten out at a Mexican restaurant with me, you know the fewer options I have, the better it is for everyone.
Posted by dicky at 7:51 AM