THE END OF THE ROAD FOR 650B
When Gary Fisher launched the first mass-production 29er in the early 2000s, few if any would have put money on the claim that 29ers would one day roll out of a World Cup Downhill start gate – and go on to win.
The Santa Cruz Syndicate riders ( led by SA’s Greg Minnaar) almost broke the internet on 30 April this year, when the team unveiled Santa Cruz’s V10 29er at the weatheraffected Lourdes round of the 2017 Downåhill World Cup.
Santa Cruz announced recently that the V10 29er that the Syndicate are racing this season will be available to buy in 2018. Trek has also signalled that their Session 29 carbon frameset will be available on order in South Africa.
With 29er DH bikes knocking a flurry of nails into 650b’s coffin, both Giant and Scott have added nails of their own: Giant’s iconic Anthem 29er is back, and Nino Schurter is destroying the competition on his Spark 29er. Only a few months ago, both brands were still singing the praises of 650b, claiming 26” to be the ultimate wheel size.
So 29” – once regarded as a slow and cumbersome ‘ wagon wheel’ – is proving to be the fastest wheel-size in all competitive mountain bike disciplines. Inevitably, we’re forced to ask: has the 650b been relegated to the annals of history?
Bicycling’s answer is a resounding ‘Yes’ – it’s only a matter of time before the 26” goes the way of the dodo.