July 3, 2012

650b – where’s the love?

So I’ve been chatting with a potential customer about a 650b full suspension bike recently, and 650b is very much in the news lately with Nino Schurter absolutely killing people on his Scott 650b (and yes, yes, I know as well as you do that it’s the rider an not the bike) – but I’m confused a bit, for a couple of reasons.

1. Boulder is pretty much the epicenter of bike geekery and me-firsterism, so there were Gates belt drives popping off their cogs and 5′ tall people on 29ers here like 10 years ago. If it’s trendy, I’ll see rich Freds at the trailheads with it strapped to the roof of their Eddie Bauer Outback. I haven’t seen a single 650b in Boulder. Ever. Not one, unless you count a frame that a friend of mine built a few years ago, and the FS bike I built for my friend Martin. No Jamis’s, no Haros (both have multiple dealers in Boulder), no custom stuff. And I would have seen them, because I’m the kind of person who could see a swimsuit model on a Pacific and only notice the cable routing.

2. I *never* get asked to build them. In the 5 years or so that 650b has existed, I think I’ve built half a dozen. And most of those were back in the very early days of the wheelsize – the current guy I’m doing some design work for is the first in a couple of years, probably.

3. Fox is making a 650b fork this year – but it is 160mm travel, which is something I have NEVER been asked for in 650b. I don’t even know of any production bikes that you’d use such a fork on. Maybe they figure the market is for freeride/trail bikes?

So my question is – is anyone buying the bikes? I am someone mostly known for 29ers, so perhaps people don’t think to ask me about 650b (for the record, I am a big fan), or perhaps Boulder is too deeply invested in 29ers right now for the Freds to get 650b. But it’s downright weird to me. When 29ers came out, they started popping up everywhere, not so (at least here) with 650b.

I hope I’m wrong, because I think that having a size between 29 and 26 is a really good thing for a lot of people – but man, I have a hard time believing anyone is buying these things based on what I’ve seen here.