26 vs 650b vs 29 wheels

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  • 26 vs 650b vs 29 wheels
  • Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    I’m baffled by the conservatism over wheel size and the desire for there to be some sort of evidential basis for change when the the existing standard was entirely arbitrary. When every other component of the MTB package has changed and changed again- how is a rim/tyre size, that never had a reason to be bolted to an off-road bicycle other than they both happened to already be available, treated with so much fear and suspicion? Its almost as if the rim was the definition of the whole sport.

    maccruiskeen, good post.

    sydney
    Member

    Just wondered maccruiskeen if you don’t know why 26 was adopted how do you know it was arbitrary ?

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    maccruiskeen – Member
    I’m baffled by the conservatism over wheel size and the desire for there to be some sort of evidential basis for change when the the existing standard was entirely arbitrary.

    So it’s perfectly acceptable to inconvenience an installed user base of millions by picking an arbitrary wheel size without evidence as to any real benefit?

    I think the ability to set new rim sizes shows that the sport has reached a maturity.

    Really, I see it as evidence of cynicism and greed – especially when the new wheel size happens to be one that offers little or no benefit over the old one.
    And it’s not just a sport.

    So to me it seems to mark a point where bicycles can get more interesting. Is that not good?

    Well, it seems to me that this new wheel size is an excuse to stop any pretence at real innovation. It’s a placebo – mere marketing, the triumph of style over substance.
    Real innovation would be a mainstream non cycling brand producing a quality bicycle and selling it for 25 percent less than the competition.
    Or developing a tubeless system that works properly without the need to carry a pump and a tube.
    Or proper, workable portable security.

    Increasing wheelsize by an insignificant amount and claiming it as a genuine innovation, or as something ‘interesting’, whilst increasing the price and threatening to remove any alternative is frankly appalling.
    As is any attempt to justify it.

    bellefied
    Member

    Rusty Spanner – Member

    And, as ever, could I ask that contributors please declare any industry involvement?

    Ta.

    I’m not in the bike industry – I just think that there are loads of manufacturers out there; specialized, trek, giant, cannondale, GT, cube, felt, merida, orange, cotic, etc. If only one of them keeps offering a 26″ bike, and there is a demand for those bikes then the others will step back in.

    And, as ever, could I ask that contributors please declare their love of paranoia?

    Ta.

    falkirk-mark
    Member

    My tuppence worth, bikes have went probably as far as they can now (only small tweaks) forks good,brakes, gears and rear shocks good. So how do the big companies sell more bikes they tell you 26 is wrong , they do not reinvent the wheel they reinvent the wheel size, 26 has been here long enough that there will be parts for long and weary, 29 or 650b one is gonna be the new betamax.

    matther01
    Member

    Wonder when will the EU step in and fine all bike companies for “wheel fixing”…as it is all a conspiracy isnt it? 😉

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    maccruiskeen – Member

    I’m baffled by the conservatism over wheel size

    OK, let me explain, I think you’ve missed the point. Unhappiness over the 650b fiasco isn’t due to people thinking “26 inch is the best”. It’s simply due to people believing that the difference you get with the small change in size, is not worth the high cost of the change. If we were to choose a new wheel size from scratch then perhaps 26 inch wouldn’t be the one you’d arrive at, but that’s irrelevant. 650b doesn’t just have to be demonstrably better than 26 (which it isn’t IMO), it has to be massively better to justify replacing forks and frames, rendering old parts obsolete, etc. And I don’t think anybody believes that’s the case.

    Also it’s made it embarassingly obvious that changes in bike design aren’t performance-driven… You have Santa Cruz admitting that the difference is too small to make a difference and that it’s entirely sales driven, Giant falling over themselves to tell you that their 29ers which were the Next Big Thing actually suck…

    So in short- nobody objects to 650b in itself, they object to industry bullshit at customer’s expense.

    mrmo
    Member

    Anyone who has been riding a few years will have likely acquired a selection of tyres, maybe some spare wheels.

    If you buy a new bike you could make the choice of buying a 29er and accepting that the spares were only fit for ebay, or you bought a 26. What it seems is the industry has decided that you won’t have this choice. Your spare tyres are pointless, spare wheels ditto. For those who want race wheels, or spare tyres, your not only talking about buying a new bike but new parts as well.

    I might not be convinced by 29ers but can see they might offer some benefits to some riders, but going from 26″-650b! The fact that you can swap the wheels between some frames sums up the scale of change!

    With MTB sales on the decline, at least ime, how many shops are going to be carrying spares for three standards? And if you have a think about how many hub standards there are now in circulation have a think about how many wheels you have to have to have a spare for any bike you might meet.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    bellefied – Member
    And, as ever, could I ask that contributors please declare their love of paranoia?

    Ta.

    As Northwind says, a couple of industry execs have already been caught slagging off 650b before remarkably having a change of heart and offering bikes for sale.

    I think it’s fair to get an idea if your views are influenced by your desire to sell the only bikes the manufacturers are now willing to supply you with.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    I think the ability to set new rim sizes shows that the sport has reached a maturity.

    ‘Choose’ rather than ‘set’ maybe. And the pace of 650 use or change is a different matter, I can see why people don’t like that. But getting to the stage where wheels may be the last part of a bike to be scrutinized does suggest we’re getting close to an optimum all-round MTB. Whatever wheel size that may be )

    a couple of industry execs have already been caught slagging off 650b before remarkably having a change of heart and offering bikes for sale.

    I’m no exec but I’m in the bike trade and I did slate 29ers at one point, as did many. Then put more time into riding them and saw they could work well, 1st impressions weren’t well informed / were flawed, etc. Easier to be more open minded next time.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    Double post, sorry.

    Here’s a picture of a kitten in some quality knitwear:

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    But not THIS wheel size, for all the reasons detailed above.

    My comments re those in the industry were not aimed at you, btw.
    I notice you have been very careful regarding airing your views as to 650b so far. 🙂

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Rusty Spanner – Member

    As Northwind says, a couple of industry execs have already been caught slagging off 650b before remarkably having a change of heart and offering bikes for sale.

    Not quite what I said- Santa Cruz are surprisingly open about it, they admit it makes bugger all difference even now they have 650b bikes to sell, and are totally honest that the demand for 650b wheels comes almost entirely from people who’ve never ridden a 650b bike.

    Which is better, I suppose, but does mean we can’t even pretend it’s performance led, or based on informed decisions. As ever, it’s not about the bike.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    Northwind, apologies – no wish to put words into your mouth.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Nah, no worries Rusty, it’s a good point anyway

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    Isn’t it?

    A manufacturer tells the public that they will charge them more for a new product with no tangible benefits and the public fall over themselves in their rush to throw money away.

    There’s nowt so queer as folk.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    The question of why this particular change in standards is any more annoying than all the previous changes is an interesting one. The switch from 20mm QR to 15mm QR, for example, required new forks and wheels for some people too. I guess the difference is that nobody really thought it made any difference. Maybe the resistance to 650b comes from a fear that it might actually be better.

    Take my situation. I have always had a soft spot for the Five. I know, but I have. I am now in a position where I could buy one. I see that I can get a brand new 2013 26″ frame in any colour I like for the same price that people were wanting for a second hand frame only a few months back. In fact the same price that some optimistic soul wanted for his frame on the Classifieds only today.

    So, what’s stopping me? It isn’t really a fear over availability of parts. I can still get all the parts I need to keep my 20 year old Rockhopper going. Could it be that I’m worried the 2014 650b model might actually be better? Or at least that enough people will believe it’s better to render my 26″ version worthless.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    roverpig – Member

    I guess the difference is that nobody really thought it made any difference. Maybe the resistance to 650b comes from a fear that it might actually be better.

    Lots of people get annoyed over fork standards. But it’s a change with much less impact- you have to think about it only when you change forks or wheels, and only the latter is an additional concern (since you’re changing forks anyway). And many wheels are convertible. So all in all, it’s not really comparable.

    But yes, it’s still annoying that 15mm won the standards war, it’s the worst of all outcomes, we’ve still got 3 “standards” where 2 could cover all the same ground, and the dominant standard is the worst. There’s no customer-based argument for 15mm to exist at all, all down to industry machinations.

    Euro
    Member

    Maybe it’s just Santa Cruzez 650 effort that’s crap? 😆

    I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. So the new bike is/isn’t marginally better and you have to pay for it with money? Nothing new there. Next bike you buy might have to be 650 but so what? It’ll still be a blast to ride. But my expensive forks and wheels wont fit onto it? Don’t bother, just buy a complete bike. But what about the expensive forks and wheels? Sell them or keep them for another bike (most of us have more than one anyway – sell the roadie to make space). But i can’t afford to buy a complete bike. So you’re just getting a new frame? Yeah it’s made from x, weighs nothing and costs xxxx! What? You could buy a whole bike for that 😀

    You don’t need the fanciest bike get where you want to go. In fact you don’t even need to change. I think i read somewhere that we are allowed to keep the ones we have.

    mrmo
    Member

    The switch from 20mm QR to 15mm QR, for example, required new forks and wheels for some people too

    Or maybe most people are still on 9mm QR? so a minor change for a few is of no interest to most… and the minor point that a lot of hubs could actually work for all standards with a few minor changes.

    Or maybe this is being seen as a change for the sake of change, how many BB standards are there, how many disc mounts, how many headsets, how many different rear shocks, bushings, front forks, etc. Now try and get spares in a rush.

    You could almost go so far as to say there are NO STANDARDS! each manufacturer is building whatever they like.

    I can walk into most bike shops and get something to work on my road bike, The mountain bike…

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Not really aware of 15mm winning a war. 20mm is still there on dh and beefier kit. Qr still out there if you really want it.

    I have had 20mm forks which have more flex than my current 34s with 15mm. It fits into the category of stiff enough and so far ahead of Qr it’s a no brainer.

    JCL
    Member

    No not really but this time around your looking at an attempt to make current bikes obsolete and replace them with an incrementally small change that means new wheels/forks/frames with such a negligible (if any) advantage over 26″ – not seen much that is outside the margin of error factor really.

    Spot on. 650b was never a performance related product introduction. It was driven by companies who missed the 29″ boat and needed a reason to shift more product. The way the public have lapped it up does make me wonder if we’ll see more pure marketing derived products that will make forks/frames obsolete.

    A new brake caliper mount standard?

    Steve77
    Member

    Once we’re all on 650b in 3-5 years time we’ll start to hear how 26″ with carbon rims is the next big thing. It’ll be faster accelerating, easier to jump, more nimble, flickable, whipable, and ‘trailstyle’ will be the new slopestyle. We’ll all need new frames again and there’ll probably be a new bolt through rear axle standard or something to make sure only new frames will do. Big wheels will be derided as for xc racing only. Either that or we’ll be getting 25″ and the promise we’ll all be able to learn infinite manuals in 20 minutes

    timbo678
    Member

    Up front – I have a 650b which was bought because of the bike not the wheel size, it was nearly a deal breaker because I was worried it may die out in a few years and I couldn’t get parts – decided the bike was worth the risk.

    I’m glad I did as it is very good, now if I had the choice between the two (exc 29) I would stick with 650b because it does feel better for me. I’m not really a cynical chap but of course, if they find something that is marginally faster (even if only by 0.00001%) then it will be promoted and companies will go for it. Of all the new improvements on my new bike over the old one (08 spesh enduro to cube stereo) the best thing is the weight saving of all the carbon, next best is the better suspension (not hard), after that I would say it’s probably the wheel size. The tapered head tube isn’t a big notice (caveat: the E150 forks were ridiculously stiff) but the least noticeable is the X12 rear axle but that’s being snapped up around the place.

    I’m afraid it’s the world we live in, road bikes have less to improve because the terrain is much more uniform – though look at debates over sportives & now disc brakes. It’s not just MTBing.

    It’s not the new Betamax because it is slightly faster and therefore the big bike companies will go for it as that is more their goal, once they go for it the others have to follow suit.

    Please note I say faster not ‘better’ or ‘more fun’, that is in the eye of the beholder. So smaller companies may prefer nimble & agile over outright rolling speed & therefore will feel bullied into it. I think that’s your issue – the pursuit of speed as everyone’s goal on their MTB.

    Now on a personal note, I like speed on an XC route and a DH route but I also like jumping & big drops so 650b fits very nicely for me as a balance. I wouldn’t go 29er as my only bike because I like doing dodgy landings off big drops but if I could afford two I would have a big DH bike in currently 26 but either that or 650 would be fine & then a 29er for XC.

    What I really dislike is the self righteous attitude that argues anything other than 26 is rubbish, chill out man and look at the positives of all the differences from 20” up to 29″, innovation is very cool!

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    First, there is no such thing as better with a mountain bike. The terrain is so varied as are the reasons that people ride. Bikes can be different but pretty much any sensible design will be good in some areas and not so good in others. So, moving from 26 to 650b can’t produce a better bike, just a different one. For some the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages, but for others they won’t, which is fine as long as there is a choice.

    Second, the 26″ 140mm trail bike was pretty well sorted. It had been tweaked and refined over the years to the point where it was hard to see how it could be improved. We keep hearing that one of the advantages of 650b over 29ers is that you don’t have to change the geometry. So, is this just a way of selling us the same bike, but making it look like something new?

    slackalice
    Member

    I’ll go +1 for Maccruiskeen too and add my not-so-diplomatic contribution:

    Do those of you who are consistently negative in your attitudes towards 650B have any idea how big the bike industry is? That the production volumes of suspension forks from the likes of Fox, Rock Shox, DT, Marzocchi etc are staggeringly huge and these manufacturers will be committed to supporting their existing product lines for the same number of years as they currently do and more for service items. You guys really need to get out more and stop developing irrational fears that you are being personally persecuted. Seriously, that path leads to all kinds of delusional self-importance and paranoia. The world is a big place and mountain biking is wayyyyyy bigger than this forum!

    As has been mentioned earlier, how many parts could be transferred from a top end 2003 bike to a top end 2013 bike? Possibly stem, bars, grips, pedals and disc brakes and shifters if you wanted to stay with 10year old technology. None of those bits are affected by wheel size.

    Recognise your inner child, reassure it that everything is ok and then move on and embrace change, for your own sakes.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    slackalice – Member

    As has been mentioned earlier, how many parts could be transferred from a top end 2003 bike to a top end 2013 bike?

    Absolutely meaningless comparison. Parts bought today won’t fit the majority of new frames bought next year so why talk about 10 years?

    (though tbh, most parts from a 2003 bike would fit a 2013 bike)

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    I’m perfectly happy to embrace change, when it yeilds benefits.

    Suspension, discs, carbon – it’s all good and I’m delighted to have them.

    However, 650b is the very embodiment of Snake Oil – pointless toss sold to gullible idiots by shysters who, I’m sad to say, will very probably get away with it.

    When the CEO of Santa Cruz admits that there is no benefit whatsoever to this new wheelsize, you’re going to have to do a lot better than ‘stop being paranoid’.

    Oh, and on that matter, no one has ever claimed that they are being persecuted personally.
    It’s a nice line though, I’m sure it made you smile.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    Just out of interest, do you have a reference to this famous quote from Santa Cruz? I remember a video where some sweary guy ended by saying something like “if you can’t tell the difference, why do you care”, but that’s not the same as saying there is no difference or that he couldn’t tell the difference, more just a response to people who claimed they couldn’t. But maybe there is some other source or I’m remembering that video incorrectly.

    Premier Icon mattjg
    Subscriber

    ^^ doesn’t make me inclined to buy a Santa Cruz … (but I doubt they’re missing my business).

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    Have a read of this:

    What’s Driving the 650B Explosion?

    Some choice quotes by industry people. 🙂

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    Thanks.

    I’m still no closer to deciding whether I should take advantage of the deals on a 26″ Five frame or hold out for the 650b version. Maybe I’ll just toss a coin 🙂

    Entonox
    Member

    I’d like to see those wheel photos on the first page with the axles arranged to be all on the same plane.

    Premier Icon mattjg
    Subscriber

    Maybe I’ll just toss a coin

    2p vs 20p vs 50p ?

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    I’ll take the round one 🙂

    Premier Icon Normal Man
    Subscriber

    But which size?

    The classic, flickable 1p? The free rolling 2p or that inbetween newbie the £1 ? 😉

    loddrik
    Member

    Dear lord, please please make it stop!!

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    The classic, flickable 1p? The free rolling 2p or that inbetween newbie the £1 ?

    Definitely not the fat one !

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    SANTA CRUZ (Mike Ferrentino, whose comments were presumably vetted by suspension engineer Joe Graney, who is on the record as not looking forward to 650B): First, i do not entirely agree with (the premise that the industry is driving this). I think consumers are a big part of this interest bubble right now. According to francis at MTBR, “650b” is the second most popular search term on their site at the moment, and the 650b forum traffic is showing huge growth. It is valid to argue that the industry is at fault for even beginning to entertain the idea of 650b wheels, but consumers are clamoring right now for what they perceive to be the next better mousetrap. Another thing to consider – IF this takes off, does anyone realize how much crow the industry is going to have to eat listening to grant petersen saying “I told you so?”

    650B wheel size comparison with 26 inch and 29er mountain bike tires installed
    Comparison from another angle. See below for tire models.

    I think on the consumer side there is a desire for some sort of better mousetrap/magic bullet – a wheel size between 26? and 29? that will combine all the positive attributes of both into one bike that will do everything. That desire is a bit naive, but people go down that road all the time.

    At the industry level, you’ve got the fading popularity of 26? wheels on hardtails and short travel xc applications butting headfirst into the very real packaging issues surrounding use of 29? wheels for long travel, high abuse riding. I think within the industry, for some companies at least, there’s also a pretty heavy fear of being left behind if the ‘tweener wheel takes off, and somehow becomes the miracle wheel that everyone defaults to. You know, some sort of amplified 1992 syndrome – fear of being left with a giant pile of 1? and 1.25? threaded headsets, right around the time that 1 1/8? threadless steerers became the industry default. Okay, maybe not.

    timbo678
    Member

    Dearest Rusty Spanner, thank you for your comments, I am neither gullible nor an idiot, but thank you for letting me know. May I enquire as to what you ride? I presume a horse given your dislike of innovation of all margins?

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