|The Haro Sonix 650B from 2010|
I am going to tell you right up front that none of those things make much sense and are all marketing nonsense. That isn't at all why you will see these 650B full suspension bikes hitting the market now.
A couple other things will be mentioned as well concerning the "why now?" question. You will hear that it is due to the fact that Rock Shox and Fox, (yes, Fox has been confirmed as a company making a shock for 650B now, in case you have not heard), are finally making a 650B specific fork. You will also hear that new tires are coming that will make this a viable platform now.
Again, all a bunch of hooey when it comes to the reasons why this is being presented to you now as a reason for 650B full suspension bikes.
I could take the time, (and I have before), to break down why none of the above is why this is coming now. But I don't have that much space today. The point is, the "real reasons" why this is coming now are completely different than what you are going to hear about the most. Well, if you really want to be technical, the whole idea for 650 FS longer travel rigs has been around since 2010 anyway. That's as in "real bikes you could buy" been around since 2010. This is an important facet concerning this platform that should not be forgotten.
|Jamis SixFifty B2: Circa 2009|
It would seem that there was no ground swell for this idea from the rider side. Sure- there are fans for these bikes and they are very vocal. However; that never seemed to be a very fast growing number of folks, and the companies that jumped in early didn't do well with 650B. Then you have the whole conversion thing with current FS bikes that just happen to fit 650B wheels. Seems like it isn't that different than 26"ers after all, perhaps.
Now let's revisit that opening statement: .."the upcoming push by manufacturers to sell mountain bikers full suspension 650B mountain bikes." This is important, because riders are not knocking down doors of custom builders getting 650B bikes made in hard tail or suspension. Riders are not really looking for bigger wheels at all for their longer travel, big hit bikes. The 29"er seems to be barely scratching the surface in this area, as an example.
No, what is going on here is that manufacturers, who got left behind when 29"ers were coming up, want to create a new buzz product with an appeal that the big wheels have without the complexities of making a 29 inch wheel work in a longer travel application. The question is, will the "weekend Joe and Jill" buy into the hype? Will "core" riders buy into this idea?
One thing is for certain- this is not a rider driven wheel platform. There is very little evidence for that. In this, it is not at all like 29"ers. No, this will be manufacturer/brand/marketing driven. Riders will vote with their dollars and the outcome will be shown in a few years, most likely. Will 650B live on to see an important part in long travel mountain biking? I don't know. All I can say is, does anyone remember "69ers" ?