Are all 650b bikes sluggish compared to 26” ?

  • This topic has 54 replies, 41 voices, and was last updated 4 years ago by  mtbel.
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  • Are all 650b bikes sluggish compared to 26” ?
  • I test rode my first 650b bike over the weekend, a Santa Cruz Bronson and I just couldn’t get on with it. I’m 5’11” and borrowed a large which felt too small, I made a few adjustments to the saddle position and dropped the height of the stem which improved it but I still felt cramped, especially when climbing. The stem was 70mm so not stupidly short either.
    The suspension was fantastic though. Really seemed to work well in all situations. Most noticeably when standing up climbing. The way it stiffened up made it feel like a hardtail.
    But what I really didn’t enjoy was how slow it was to accelerate and change direction. I felt absolutely knackered on anything uphill, on terrain where I normally wouldn’t. The whole bike just felt really heavy and hard work. I am currently a chameleon with 821 rims and magic mary / hans dampf tyres and I don’t notice the drag on those at all. The Bronson was running stans rims and hans dampf front and nobby nick on the rear (which I have on my trance and don’t feel draggy).
    I rode with my friend who has a 26” nomad and he was flying away from me uphill whereas normally we are a similar fitness level. We kept swapping between bikes on one particularly long climb and I was pulling away from him with the same amount of effort as I had been putting in on the Bronson. The worst part was when riding swooping trails, It felt like the bike needed a lot of effort to get moving again when going uphill although traction and suspension was amazing but it seemed to need a lot more effort than im used to keep it moving. I also found that you had to wrestle the bike into corners more than I’m used to. Almost like there was a delay between steering and anything happening.

    I really wanted to love the Bronson, It seemed like the perfect bike on paper. Coming from a 125mm Giant trance I thought I wanted more bike but not as much as a nomad. But after riding my friends nomad I think I want one. The Bronson just wasn’t any fun and ruined the ride for me.

    I suppose what I’m trying to find out is what of the above is a general trait of 650b vs a bike specific trait.
    I have a few more bikes I want to test especially the new nomad which I have been told pedals up better than the current Bronson.

    lastly if all 650b bikes are sluggish can this partly be remedied by using carbon rims to remove some of the rotating mass. I weigh about 13st so cant go for ultra light aluminium.

    Cheers

    Andy

    P-Jay
    Member

    I don’t think so, My mate has got a Bronson and it rolls much, much faster than my G-Spot, mine’s better over rougher, steeper ground, but 99% of the time the Bronson is just faster.

    Test-road a Bronson (and a SOLO) a while back and came to pretty much the same conclusion.

    Utterly indomitable bikes, both of them. But both slightly sluggish and leaden feeling too, the Bronson being the worst (even with Enve carbon wheels).

    I still have a hankering for the Solo, but only when S/H prices come down and I actually live nearer the sort of proper mountain terrain that bike demands.

    As for the Bronson, if I were in the Alps each summer it would be great, but for most UK riding I think it’s pretty much overkill.

    Premier Icon tomaso
    Subscriber

    Get a ride on a BMX and know the true speed of acceleration. Bigger wheels just take a little longer to get up to speed.

    mega
    Member

    carbon wheels are not generally massively lighter but they are (apparently) massively stiffer.

    The bronson probably felt sluggish compared to your 125mm bike just because it’s longer travel bike. I’d recommend trying a 5010 – I bought one and absolutely love it. It’s better going DH than my 160mm bike is uphill – if that makes sense.

    when I went from 26 to 27.5 I noticed naff all difference in terms of wheel size. Maybe a bit better rolling but for all intents and purposes it felt like a 26″ bike.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    my process 153 is anything but sluggish, santa cruz have a short reach maybe thats it,?
    mine is much longer up front than previous bikes and and has a tiny stem and very wide bars which i think quickens the handling

    smatkins1
    Member

    Without sounding too negative and dismissive… perhaps it’s worth trying more than one 650b bike.

    Also this bit made me chuckle:

    I am currently a chameleon

    coogan
    Member

    I don’t think so, had a Pivot Mach 6 for about 8 months now and it feels far from sluggish. Certainly if I base it on Strava results it’s way quicker than my last bike. That aside, climbs superbly and rattles back down much quicker. Some of that could be down to being lighter/stiffer than my old 5 Spot, but that bike shifts. I’ve never really had a problem with 650 wheel sizes, or maybe cos it’s just an awesome bike.

    wrecker
    Member

    I am currently a chameleon

    Who said that???

    Premier Icon julians
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    I’ve recently swapped from a 26″ Ibis mojo hd to a 650b orbea rallon. Suspension travel wise they’re largely the same. The orbea is about 1lb lighter than the Ibis . The wheels on the Ibis weighed about 1700g, whereas the wheels on the orbea weigh 1900g. Tyres are a bit heavier on the orbea as well but not by much.

    What I first noticed is that the larger wheels noticably affected the overall gearing, which could be something that you are noticing as well, ie is the gearing like for like in your comparison?

    After I corrected the gearing on the orbea to bring it more or less into line with the Ibis, I still noticed that the orbea feels a bit slower/harder to accelerate, but once rolling at speed it takes more to slow it back down. It wasnt so pronounced that its a problem for me , but its a definite trait.

    This fits with what a lot of people say about 29ers, but I havent heard much mention these traits of 650b.

    For me its not really a problem, its just different, you lose a bit of acceleration, but gain a bit of ‘steamroller ability’.

    I am currently a chameleon

    Who said that???

    He did:

    As I mentioned there are a few other bikes I want to try but arranging a demo on some is near on impossible and I’m stuck at work at the moment pondering the weekends riding.

    I definitely agree that for most of my riding a Bronson is technically over kill but I only ride for fun and I just want fun bike. Where I ride I regularly use my anthem but always have more fun on any of my other bikes.
    My chameleon has 160mm forks and rides amazingly. I am learning so much from riding that bike and have never had a bike feel some at home on. My friend with the nomad also has a chameleon and has always maintained that the nomad feels like a chameleon with rear suspension.

    Good point about the bar width. The bike had 710mm wide and I missed my 780mm’s Weirdly as I only had 680mm on my anthem and I don’t find those too narrow.

    b r
    Member

    There was a post on here about Bronsons, and it seemed folk weren’t that happy with them.

    Then speaking with a riding buddy who has one and he’s just swapped it for a new Nomad – basically didn’t like how it rode, and he’s a quick lad too.

    Another good point about the gearing.

    All my bikes currently run 1×10
    Chameleon = 34f – 34r
    Trance = 32f – 34r
    Anthem = 36f – 34r
    Stiffee – 34f – 34r

    The Bronson had a 2×10 and I don’t think I got out of the granny. I was certainly glad it was there.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    Probably the gearing.

    what of the above is a general trait of 650b vs a bike specific trait.

    Since a 650B only adds about 4.5% of size/material over a 26″ wheel I think any sluggishness may be down to other things. Scale up a 450g rim and 750g tyre from 26″ to 650B and you gain ~50g, 100g in total. I’d struggle to spot that on a road bike. Even for heavier rims and tyres it’s only 60-70g per wheel.

    Good point about the bar width. The bike had 710mm wide and I missed my 780mm’s Weirdly as I only had 680mm on my anthem and I don’t find those too narrow…

    …The Bronson had a 2×10 and I don’t think I got out of the granny. I was certainly glad it was there.

    I think there’s a correlation between slackness and bar width – the 711mm bars on my Soul feel the right width on our trails as do the 750mm bars on my (1-2 degree slacker) Spitfire. When the Spitfire had 711mm bars they felt too narrow.

    The chain ring size has a big effect on how a full-sus bike will pedal – the smaller it is, the less it will bob downwards on the pedal stroke but go too small and it’ll try to stand up higher as you pedal. The Bronson is better suited to a 32t or similar than a double where the small ring will stand up too much and the large will bob more.

    Premier Icon schmiken
    Subscriber

    My 650 is quick to accelerate, but it is a hardtail. Probably more a geometry and suspension thing than wheel size. Try riding some different ones.

    I fancy trying the new giant trance sx and a reign. I’m struggling to find anywhere in the Midlands that have a demo nomad in large. There are demo days but they are fully booked or I cant make the date.

    deadkenny
    Member

    andysredmini – Member
    The Bronson had a 2×10 and I don’t think I got out of the granny. I was certainly glad it was there.

    2×10 can be a bit odd. Unlike a 3x where a granny is really a granny just for serious climbs, a 2x I found neither small or big cog was perfect and I’d be constantly shifting between the two when in the middle ground, and with shifting hassles I’d sit in the smaller a fair bit.

    Much happier with 1×10. But then I’m on old school 26 wheels. Acceleration though on my old Nomad and my c456 is so nice and that for me gets me up to speed and momentum does the rest.

    Deadkenny +1.

    If you think 650b bikes are sluggish, don’t bother with 29ers…

    Premier Icon Trekster
    Subscriber

    Got an RM Altitude(650) just before Xmas and don`t recognize any of your issues. Replacing an old Kona Dawg it is so much easier to crank up hills, flicks through the trees a treat and is a lot faster than my abilities on the descents 😆
    I also have a Blue Pig, it is sluggish compared to the RM and has been lying unused since Dec!!
    Check the RM web site for demo days.

    Premier Icon bedfordrd
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    I think you could be right about the gearing – My (stolen) Norco Range in 650B originaly came with SRAM crankset – 36/22 rings at the front, standard 11-36 cassette. That felt fine for the 650B wheels.

    The replacement Reign came with Shimano Deore crankset – 38/24 rings – felt overgeared – was way too hard to get moving, and hated the constant swapping between granny/big chainring.

    Went 1×10 with a 42+16t OneUp, and 30t n/w at the front (did the same on the Norco) – much better!

    Premier Icon mattbee
    Subscriber

    Having changed from a 26″ wheeled Transition Bandit to a 650b one, wo only frame, forks & wheels changing I have actually found the opposite.
    The 650b one is just as quick up the climbs, while being a bit more stable feeling and therefore more comfortable at speed on the downs.
    It’s all marginal differences mind you, not the night and day change some seem to experience.

    kudos100
    Member

    Try riding a few decent 650b bikes. The Bronson is for overweight trail mincers with little skill.

    I tested a current Santa Cruz and expected to be amazed. I wasn’t and felt far heavier then it was. No part of the bike made me feel anything other then meh.

    Horses for courses and all that, you just might not get on with Santa Cruz.

    Sancho
    Member

    I used to have a Process 153DL and found it sluggish, was always out the back on the flat and uphill, it was brilliant downhill where it was like a mini dh bike, but no good for all round use in Yorkshire, swapped it for a Spicy and the spicy was brilliant, was suddenly back in the group on climbs and on the flat and no loss on the descents, i am currently looking at the Tranny Patrol but will want it to be light if it is to be a good all-rounder

    whatnobeer
    Member

    The replacement Reign came with Shimano Deore crankset – 38/24 rings – felt overgeared – was way too hard to get moving, and hated the constant swapping between granny/big chainring.

    This gearing is what’s currently on my Sight. Not a fan at all. A little big at the top and a little small at the bottom. Plus the front mech doesn’t seem to be able to keep the chain on the big ring when hammering downhill. A swap to a 1 x 10, possibly with a 40T expander is on the cards in the very near future.

    As for all 650b bikes being sluggish, I’d say not. You’ve gone from a short travel xc/trail bike to a fairly big and strong enduro bike. It’s going to feel a lot different. Even if you went out and rode a 650b trance (or an Anthem Sx) it would feel different due to new geo, more travel as well as the wheel size.

    Premier Icon jsync
    Subscriber

    Being an overweight trail mincer with little skill I have a Bronson. I don’t find it slow or hard to get going, in fact it is quite spritely and fun. I think this may be more of a size issue as I tried a Heckler that was a size too small and that nearly killed me. Just to balance out the opinion on the 5010, I couldn’t get on with it.

    I used to have a Process 153DL and found it sluggish, was always out the back on the flat and uphill, it was brilliant downhill where it was like a mini dh bike, but no good for all round use in Yorkshire, swapped it for a Spicy and the spicy was brilliant, was suddenly back in the group on climbs and on the flat and no loss on the descents, i am currently looking at the Tranny Patrol but will want it to be light if it is to be a good all-rounder

    The Process bikes all have awesome geometry and are built nice and stiff but they’re not designed to be efficient pedallers – they have almost no anti-squat (153DL about 5% at sag) so they rely on the damping in the shock to stop bobbing. The Spicy has 75% anti-squat at sag so it’ll pedal far better.

    chrishc777
    Member

    The physics suggest that they are, the marketing suggests they are awesomer..

    kudos100
    Member

    Being an overweight trail mincer with little skill I have a Bronson.

    I wasn’t being serious. Somehow the Bronson seems to have a bit of a dodgy rep, yet you see loads of them about.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    The Process bikes all have awesome geometry and are built nice and stiff but they’re not designed to be efficient pedallers – they have almost no anti-squat (153DL about 5% at sag) so they rely on the damping in the shock to stop bobbing. The Spicy has 75% anti-squat at sag so it’ll pedal far bett

    I have no idea what antisquat is!, but getting an avalanche shock tune for my 153 did make a big difference, saying that carbon wheels probably made a bigger one 🙂

    Premier Icon onewheelgood
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    My regular bike for the last 6 years has been an Anthem – 26″ obviously. Last summer I bought an XTC advanced 27.5. It felt so sluggish in comparison I thought I’d made a terrible mistake. Then I weighed the wheels and found where the problem lay. Investing in lighter wheels has made a fantastic difference.
    Having said all that, I think that in my case it’s the ‘in comparison’ bit above that is important. The stupid light wheels on the Anthem were the most noticeable upgrade I’ve ever made, so anything even vaguely heavy was always going to feel bad in relation to them.

    mikewsmith
    Member

    I popped 650b wheels in my 26″ bike (probably as close to a back to back test) the feel wasn’t that much different certainly nothing major in the acceleration stakes. You shpuld probably try a few more bikes
    As it happens threw a leg over a large Bronson (I’m 5’9) and it felt a bit too long for me, must be that height isn’t the only factor in bike sizing. The Bronson is also longer than the SC’s of old.

    There are a lot of locals who went from Blur LT to Bronson and are very happy with them so I guess people do like them.

    Re. anti-squat:

    Does that help?

    😉

    Not really, compared a Pivot Mach 5.7 this review says that the [*]Pivot Mach 6[/*] is just as fast and not sluggish at aloebigger.

    26 Hardtail to a 650b full suss. I’m a little slower on smooth uphills but everything else including the flat I feel faster on the 650b.

    globalti
    Member

    Never tried 650b but when I test-rode a 29″ wheeled bike I couldn’t believe they have become so popular; the steering and acceleration were so sluggish, it felt like riding through thick mud. I can only assume they just get ridden down hills.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    I thought the bronson was a bit of a lump, it worked alright but it just kind of rode heavy, same way some bikes feel lighter than they are. Mind you it wasn’t a light bike despite the mentally expensive build. The remedy 650b I rode was the most playful reactive full suss I’ve ridden in ages though.

    I reckon the differences between 650b and 26 inch wheels/size etc are basically too small to cause a spectacular difference though. Noticable aye but no bigger than 2 different tyres. If you’d ridden 2 different-feeling 26 bikes you’d think nothing of it I suppose.

    Rockplough
    Member

    Isn’t it interesting how differently we can interpret bikes? I used to have a wolf ridge. It was a heavy lump (15.5kg) but hid it well. Was just a bit of a slog on flatter more pedally stuff. Then I rode a T-129 which blew me away, handled sharp, rolled fast etc. It was noticeably flexy compared to the Marin but not in a bad way. Around the same time I also rode a 650b Trek Remedy which was completely unmemorable, wooden and dead-feeling even compared to the old Marin.

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