29rs and 650b at Duthie

duthie mtb

The Duthie boardwalk is such a grand entrance, like riding up to a mountain bike cathedral

Being introduced to Step it Up at Duthie by Steve Bourke was cool, a bit terrifying at times and meant focusing on not f’ing up and ending the ride with the smallest time gap possible. Most of it came back to me on the MTB and noted that the scene was the same, just the bikes are better, wheels bigger, suspension taller. Could make the argument that Shimano Deore XT with thumb shifters worked better or at least as good. Brakes are drastically better – I know this because I was pulling the rear one the entire time.

If you don’t know Bourke, he’s a former nationally ranked BMX racer – 5th – and mountain biker. We may have raced WIMs (Washington, Idaho MTB Series) as Elites together, back in the day, but couldn’t remember. Best thing was the dude didn’t give a shit about the blog I publish or that I was media. He was just gonna show me the trail and how they throw down these days. Each trail we rode, I only saw him and Scott Matual from Raleigh for about 12 seconds. I focused on keeping the gaps close, so they didn’t start Marco Polo’ing my name during the Evergreen MTB Festival.

As mentioned on Twitter, Raleigh set me up with their new Talus hardtail. A bike that performs like all high-end bikes do these days: very well. I’ll race short track on it in a few weeks and want to spend more time at max effort before a longer post. It did attract much attention from other mountain bikers who wanted to know what I thought of this or that part.

raleight talus

Handles like a high-end bike should: very well

Also delay the full review, cause I rode this Jamis 650b…. 650b

Them Little big wheels barely fit inside the iPhone camera frame

On 650b, I’ll put it this way

If tech were ran by stoners, like the bike industry is, what they’d do is convince the consumer Bluetooth was the latest, smartest tech. Then mid product cycle, just as people we’re upgrading, they’d introduce a different version of it that did they same thing, but with different sizing. See with the bike, there is no industry association pushing an agreed-upon spec to increase market share with better product. Instead, they manufacturers are all just slicing up thinner slices of the pie and killing each other’s marketing with different spec.

Continuing the tech analogy, those that have invested heavily in 29r should start the FUD campaigns now before 650b takes hold. Cause the ride is better. I’ve been hearing talk, some buzz, and Mark V mentioning 650b in dirt; as opposed to being evangelized by randonneurs like Jan Heine. Also just announced that ENVE is making 650b wheel sets.

In an analogy to cars, 26 is like an SUV, 29 a monster truck, and 650b is the crossover. Yes, old is new, like everything with the bike, but the handling is distinctively and near instantly “yeah, that’s better.”

As the sensations and muscle memory of riding MTB came back to me at Duthie, I still found the 29r a bit unwieldy and had to let the wheel track where it wanted. I compare it to sitting on top of two large gyroscopes and tapping them in the general direction you want to go; instead of precisely doing what you want.

booyah raleigh

Raleigh’s look pops as well on the camera as the trail

The Jamis 650B didn’t feel like that. At all.


If anything undoes tweener wheels, it’ll be a name for the standard.

650B: weird, because mountain bikes and tires are measured in (fractions of) inches.

27”: already taken, 650C as “road 26 inch” has always been evil.

27.5”: mixing decimals with fractions is a non-starter.

27 1/2”: the most correct, and painfully verbose.

Agreed completely and think there’s room for all three sizes, but how to best communicate that to the market is tough and even just like small, medium, large v. 26, 29, and then what? 650b? One is for x, another for y, and then z. Format wars are no different in any market, but putting one size against another is just confusing. Cameras have micro-four thirds…

Also, I’m a very particular rider and picking up nuances that others may not. The characteristics I felt were not derogatory to 29rs or a bike, just a nuance of how they roll. Like comparing a V6 to a turbo. Neither is arguable better—they do it differently.

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