650b is the latest topic of discussion raging through the bike industry with news that many manufacturers are dropping their 26″ wheel lines in favor of the slightly larger diameter. Whether or not you have your eyes set on the in betweener size for your next trail bike or not, they’re going to be out there and on the trail. Like most of you, we still remain on the undecided list, simply because we have yet to rip a turn on a bike with the larger wheels. However, having spent a decent amount of time on the larger 29″ wheels, (and plenty of taller, higher volume DH/ tires) it’s obvious that a bigger chunk of rubber interfacing with the ground means better traction and higher speeds on loose, off camber corners. The big question for me personally is how does it turn, handle in the air, and jib on the fun stuff?
Here in NorCal, our trails for the most part lack fun bike park-like features, so our usual trail rides often focus on ripping turns, pedaling hard and doing our best to lay down the hammer. For a typical Saturday trail ride, 650b/ 27.5″ wheels make a lot of sense. This weekend we were hanging out with our local pedaler (sp) and importer of German engineered bikes and parts, the Radsport Gallerie. They had just received their first batch of 650b wheels and were installing them on a medium Liteville 301 trail bike. It was the perfect opportunity to grab a 26er for an photographic comparison on how much bigger the wheels actually are.
The interesting thing was that they didn’t really look all that different. The bike in front in the image above is a small, while the one in back in a medium. The medium features the larger 650b wheels.
The interesting thing of note is that the angle and distortion from my camera lens played just as much of a factor as the perspective in how much bigger the wheels appear. I imagine the choice of tire will be just as much of a factor when it comes to comparing wheel sizes with early adopters on the trail. Regardless, I’m looking forward to trying out a Liteville demo sometime in a 650 variation to see what the fuss is all about. I hear the Liteville is a pretty sweet ride too.
Liteville is a German brand owned by longtime components manufacturer Syntace. I can’t say Syntace has been that high on the list for desired bike parts in the past, but that might just be changing. I’ve been on the look out for some slim pedals and at 15.4mm tall, the NumberNine Titan pedal looks like a pretty sweet contender. Unfortunately at $299 list price, it will likely remain out of reach for the typical rider.
It is a great looking pedal though. (me want) Syntace, you have officially gotten our attention. Check out more on the NumberNine Titan here.
Coming in a bit more on the affordable side from Syntace is their Megaforce 2 stem. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much, and I even found it a bit boring compared to Renthal and Thomson Stems in the same category. Looks can be deceiving though; this stem is like that plain girl in high school with the nerdy glasses and thrift store outfit that is actually a swan underneath it all. In this case, the head of the stem is actually wider than stack height, and therefore presumably stiffer. Designed with the intention of being paired with wider bars found on bikes being used for Enduro and Downhill applications, this basic looking stem has it going on underneath the covers. It also has a nice looking finish and a bit of machining that becomes apparent when you get up close and personal. All that and it weighs less than the other contenders. The Megaforce 2 has a trail weight but is DH rated and can handle 800mm wide bars with no problem. Which is good, because Syntace offers 800mm wide bars for you giants out there.
I’m seriously thinking about picking one up. Not a lot of companies make a 60mm stem, or directly address the needs of riders that prefer a wider grip, and it be the ticket for my Blur TRc. As a bonus, if you’re local to the Bay Area and your local shop doesn’t stock it, you can swing through Oakland and pick it up in person.
Check it out: Syntace Megaforce 2 stem
Besides the uber-gucchi pedals and the stem, Syntace has some nice bar offerings worth checking out.