Anyone who follows the news and trends of Mountain Biking will know that the big thing for 2012 has been the 29er. It has been popular in the US for a while and it finally became mainstream over here as people realise the benefits are not just marketing B.S! For 2013 it seems like the big thing might be 650b, (or 27.5 – which is not factually correct but then 29″ isn’t correct either) another wheel size! It is said to be the perfect halfway house, having the benefits of the 29er without the drawbacks. In September I was lucky to be part of a technical testing feature for MBUK where we gathered all 3 size wheels together and I did the riding to see what was fastest uphill and down. It was an idea I pitched to the editors months ago but took ages to make it happen. With lots of help from some of my sponsors such as No Tubes, Schwalbe, Felt and Cyclops we devised a test that differs to any other done before as it included Cyclops Powertap power meters.
|Pic: © Jon James|
The full article is in the shops now, so I won’t go into the details of the results, but it was a shock even to me. People say that there isn’t room in the bike world for 3 wheel sizes and it will cause too much confusion and this could well be the case so it will be interesting to see what happens in the long run. Hopefully the testing it well received, but as with everything its impossible to please everyone.
Those who follow my blogs will see that I was riding my Felt Edict full suspension bikes in preparation for the “Scott 24hr” held in Canberra. I was struggling a little on the bike after riding the Felt Nine all year, so made a few changes. After the results I saw during the testing I tested the bike using a 650b front wheel. It did mean I also had to change the fork to a 26″ Fox F32 which just about fits with the bigger wheels (Rock Shox SID’s do not clear the crown with 650b front wheel).
The difference was immediately noticeable, the bigger front wheel raised the BB slightly and slackened the head angle which made me far more confident on the downhills. After several weeks of testing I decided it worked well and ran the same combination in Australia, with great success.
It was a bit hectic getting all the parts in time, but everything came together with a special thanks to Gareth from Cycle-tec in Builth for building two wheels up at the last minute.
I am convinced by the benefit of larger wheels, be it 650b or 29er. I’m not sure what 2013 holds, but I would certainly like to be on bikes with the larger wheel sizes. For racing, it just makes sense as quite simply they are faster!