If you’ve been on any mountain bike related website you’ll have noticed that 650b or 27.5 is the biggest buzz word taking the industry by storm. You will probably have heard that the slightly bigger wheel size compared to 26 will improve rolling, while the slightly smaller wheel compared to 29 will improve maneuverability. It’s the best of both worlds right?
I don’t fully buy into the argument that 650b will be “better”. Coming from a 20 inch background. A bike’s greatest limiting factor is the rider itself. You make do with what you have, and you learn to overcome. The things you can’t do are called challenges and solved through practice, and to me, that’s the fun part. It’s very rare [read never] that I say to myself “these wheels just don’t cut it anymore, if only they were 1.5 inches bigger”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t really mind 650b, a bike is a bike. But I personally don’t like the approach the industry is taking to practically force the obsolescence of 26 inch wheels. You can feed me all the marketing gimmicks you want, but is a new wheel size really going to make my rides that much more enjoyable?
In a best case scenario, 650b will consolidate all the options into one nice package. Leaving some 29er and 26 options for racers. It’ll allow stores to carry a better selection of tires choices, instead of carrying different 2-3 diameters of the same tire.
In a worse case scenario, it’ll just end up adding another size to chose from. Stores will have to offer a more limited selection to ensure they have every size in stock. Bike buyers will be faced with a paradox of choice.
However, in the end there’s only one thing I know for sure, no matter what size wheel bike I’m on, I will be having fun riding it.