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650b's vs 29er's for shortarses

Ricos's picture

By Ricos - Posted on 29 December 2012

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

I am a little bloke and looking to move to a 5" travel DS bike and have been looking around and researching and have had a few LBS say that I should look at a 650b's instead of 29er's due to my miniature stature any thoughts or are there others of my ilk riding these bikes that may info to give. By the way I am planning on mainly trail rides with larger drop offs with this bike as I have a good hardtail for xc. any help appreciated

[Mod. moved to MTB Gear]

Zoom's picture

There's another new size called 26 inch. You could try that.

Ricos's picture

got that in the HT just wondering if it is worth the move to the clown wheel or stay with the fun and flickable as there are a lot of the bike companies going to the big wheel.

Brian's picture

How tall are you?

kitttheknightrider's picture

Ricco all I can suggest is you do your best to find a 5" DS 650b to throw your leg over and try. I have a 650b HT that replaced a 26" HT and I have to say it is an absolute blast to ride. I have never ridden a 29er and have no interest in doing so, a decision based solely on the comments of the majority of my mates that mostly have 29ers.

I can tell you first hand that the 'tweener wheel is as lively as the 26er on similar bikes on similar trails. It certainly rolls better, again exact comparison between tire makes and widths, without loosing the feeling of being on dirt as opposed to the "smoothing" effect so many riders of 29ers report. It'll still happily step out sideways when my rear hits a baby head yet has given me more confidence on loose surfaces. The problem you will find is finding an LBS that has a test model for you to demo.

All that said, it's my understanding that there are manufacturers out there that have nailed the geo for 29ers for guys and girls of shorter stature but I don't know if that is true of the 5" travel market. You should probably do your best to test ride one as well.

I have thrown the b wheels on my enduro, swapped out the bb mount to reduce the bb height back down to where it should be and gone for a short spin to see what it is like. It has brought that bike alive, although I am happy to admit that will also be largely because of the reduced rotating mass, my b wheels with tubeless rara's are considerably lighter the stock wheels and rubber that came on the enduro.

There are plenty of 26" bikes that will convert to 650b, just check the MTBR forum pages for that, and most Fox forks will take b wheels without the need to add spacers / bumpers but that needs to be checked on an individual basis. Obviously crowns contacting rubber at full compression could end very badly.

Good luck with your search and if you can't find one to test then my advice would be to be patient, the 5" travel b market will explode in the next 12 months.

Ricos's picture

i am about 5'4"

dangersean's picture

I wouldn't worry too much regarding your height and 29ers mate.

My wife who is 5'3 now has 2 x 29ers (1 HT Singlespeed & 1 DS geared) and after over 5 years of riding MTB absolutely loves them and will never go back to 26' bikes.

Throw your leg over a few bikes and see if it feels ok. Companies like specialized and giant have made a real effort to get 29er geometry dialled.

I think 650B looks very promising but is still a few years off until companies have geometry designed to suit the wheel size properly. But I certainly cannot wait until they do and tip my hat to those prepared to give the new (old) wheelsize a go to get the big companies interested.

Vinno's picture

A well known Aussie Mountain Bike magazine editor recently bought himself a Pivot 5.7 Carbon with 26 inch wheels and thinks it is the best trail bike around. 26 inch wheels are lighter and stronger especially for jumping, yes there are strong 29er wheels too but for ease of pedaling on a 5 inch bike I would be sticking with a 26er at your height. Maybe a Pivot is out of your price range but a new 26er is as high tech as any other wheel size.

I agree with what the others are saying with regards to 650B as being a bit thin on the ground yet although I have heard they handle like a 26er without the wheel weight penalty of a 29er.

That said there Giant do a 29er Trance so why not test ride one and see what you think. Remember to try it on your trail of choice otherwise you won't get a real idea of what it's like.

pharmaboy's picture

Not so sure about 650b - biggest disadvantage is the lack of tyre choice - with a 26", you can have whatever your heart desires, and whatever suits the terrain of the day.

If you break a spoke, a 26" is going to be easier to replace as well - if your brand and model of choice comes ina 650b, then fair enough, but I'd be choosing brand and model/design before I got attached to a wheel size.

Little-Ditty's picture

If you are going to race on it, go 27.5" or 29". If this is just for general trail riding, go 26". More manouverable, more tyre choice, easier to get quick parts on the spot if your bike breaks while you are out of town, cheaper. So many advantages. Smiling And lighter!!

ido09s's picture

I dont know why people say short people dont suit 29ers..... if Emily Batty can ride one, surely anyone can ride one lol

As for parts, spokes would be the only issue between all wheel sizes. Hangers would be the same throughout all wheel sizes and anyone with half a brain would have these parts on hand if they were going to ride somewhere remote.

Weight, every bike can be built light so i fail to see how you think weight can come into it. Spend the dollars and it will happen.

As has already been suggested, throw your leg over a few and test ride them. Asking a forum for personal opinions is like asking your local mechanic to diagnose a noise over the phone, its just not going to happen and your going to find a difference of opinions

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