Custom builders Seven Cycles are predicting the rise of the 650b wheel, saying that Nino Schurter’s recent World Cup victory has proven its worth and the only thing now holding it back is the lack of compatible forks, rims and tires.
"When Nino Schurter won the recent World Cup opener in Pietermaritzburg on a bike with 650b wheels, it sent a ripple through the mountain bike fraternity,” they said today via press release. "Anyone viewing 650b as a novelty wheel up to that point suddenly had to take this new/old wheel standard very seriously."
The company say 650b wheels – which are roughly 27.5in in diameter when you add a tire – strike a balance between the handling of a 26in wheel and the obstacle clearance and angle of attack of a 29in wheel. They reckon that as 650b parts become more readily available – which is something many major component makers are rumoured to be currently working on – the middle wheel size will begin to proliferate.
Seven say they've had the chance to experiment with 650b and learn about its benefits first-hand, not only from building bikes for customers but also for their own staff, many of whom now use 650b rigs as their everyday trail bikes, in both geared and singlespeed form. They say these bikes give a very pure trail experience and offer a lot of stripped down, old-school fun.
“I started out racing mountain bikes, so having fun on the trail is a core value here at Seven and we're always exploring the possibilities of technologies new and old,” said founder Rob Vandermark. “650b is actually an old standard and one we've had in our design palette for a long time. It's very cool to see it emerging in the market and bringing riders a new trail experience.”
Many brands in the industry are exploring 650b for 2013 and beyond, and Schurter’s World Cup win – and continued use of the wheel size – will surely pour gas on the fiery topic of wheel size for mountain bikes.