LAS VEGAS, Nev.—Along with a hearty helping of carbon fiber trail bikes and super light 29ers, this year’s greatest-thing-since-sliced-bread at Interbike, North America’s largest trade show, was the 650B trail bike (although the industry can't seem to agree what to call it: 650 or 27.5). Billed as the happy medium for trail riders seeking to accommodate longer travel, the 27.5-inch wheel appears to finally have some staying power here in the States.
We rode a nice variety of rigs - from hartdatil 29er's to 160mm trail rigs to the latest in 650B on the cheesegrater trails in Bootleg Canyon, where the rock is sharp and the temps are high. There's some sick bikes awaiting you for 2013. Here’s just a taste of what we rode:
Rocky Mountain enters the 650B fray with its Altitude, with the Fox 34 Float CTD fork and Fox Float CTD for 150mm of travel. All of Rocky Mountain’s Altitude models have nine possible geometry and suspension rate configurations, adjusted via two nested shock mounts. Rotating these pieces manipulates the position of the rear shock to change the head angle (66.6-68.3 degrees), seat angle (73.6-75.3 degrees), and bottom bracket drop (-10mm to +10mm) of the bike. The 750 Altitude ships with a Shimano XT/SLX 2x10 drivetrain and RaceFace Evolve Crankset; Avid Elixir 50 XM Brakes (180mm rotors); 725mm RaceFace Evolve handlebar; Wheeltech Straight Pull wheel set and Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5 inch x 2.35 tires; and 142-mm thru axle on the rear. - T. Ortega
Made in Southern California, the Tracer 275 was designed by president Jeff Steber as a “natural progression” of the company’s popular Tracer 2. Intense is pitching the Tracer 275 as its “trail/all mountain/enduro” offering with 5.5-6 inches of adjustable travel (via the upper shock bolt), 17-inch chainstays, a 13.3-inch bottom bracket, cable routing for RockShox’s Reverb Stealth dropper post, the G1 replaceable dropout system and a modified geometry 67-degree head angle. - T. Ortega
The 25.5 lb., 150 mm Genius 700 was one of the most sought after bikes at Dirt Demo and for good reason: like Scott claims, it’s the ultimate trail bike for shredding tight, rugged terrain (something Bootleg Canyon has plenty of).
Scott Sports raised a few eyebrows this summer when they eliminated 26-inch bikes from their trial bike offerings, going instead with 650B or 29er options in the Genius lineup.
This Genius 700 SL features new frame geometry optimized for 650B wheels, a Fox 34 Talas 650B 120mm-150mm fork, Sram XX/XO drivetrain, and XO brakes. The Scott/DT Swiss rear shock offers a dual air spring to attain two unique spring curves. Either a single air chamber or a combination of the two chambers allows for two unique geometry and travel modes with three riding positions (Lock-Trail-Descend) actuated using a the TwinLoc remote lever that controls both the fork and rear shock. - B. Riepe
The alloy version of this Dave Weagle designed Split Pivot trail ripper has been a favorite among test riders. The 145mm chassis offers a great balance between agility save-your-butt capabilities over big drops. Shedding a little weight and adding some flare for 2013, Devinci introduced this carbon version at Dirt Demo. For $4,600 this RX model comes ready to shred with a new Fox CTD 34 RL and a RockShox Reverb dropper post. The Dixon is a tough and versatile trail bike at any price and the split pivot design coupled with the new Fox CTD shock was riot on Bootleg’s gnarly trails. Devinci continues to expand its US dealerships, so availability won’t be the issue it may have been in the past. - B. Riepe
The Instinct is a bit of a sleeper. Rocky Mountain bills it as a XC 29er but with 130mm of travel, a dropper post, ISCG05 tabs and adjustable geometry from a 67.7 degree to a 69.3 degree head tube angle, it’s clear this bike’s daddy was weaned on the pure, mossy, dark loam of British Columbia. With 437mm chainstays and a 1087mm wheelbase this bike was an absolute ripper on everything from rolling whoops to scary fast technical trials. It was surprisingly agile and was tough to put away. Equipped with Fox’s CTD front and rear (with remote trigger for both) the suspension performed awesome and was guaranteed to always be in the optimal mode. - B. Riepe
In 2007 Felt’s engineers introduced Equilink suspension – their own patented take on a short dual link design utilizing the unique Eqiulink bar: a dog bone shaped bar joining upper and lower links. This connection between upper and lower links is said to separate the opposing drivetrain and suspension action providing an equalized ride. It’s a great platform for a long travel trail bike. On the Compulsion 1, the Equilink can be adjusted from 150mm to 160mm of travel.
Felt’s Compulsion series, with a full carbon fiber frame, offers big changes for 2013. The weight of every model was reduced, and the 2013 bikes have a slacker 67.5-degree head angle compared to the 2012 models, making for improved handling in aggressive, technical terrain.
With a 160mm Rock Shox Lyric Solo Air fork, Monarch R shock, 142 x 12mm thru axle, and Crank Brothers Kronolog post, the 2013 spec shows that Felt is serious about making the Compulsion 1 a very capable trail or enduro bike. We hope to spend more time on this rig in 2013. – B. Riepe
Based on its lightweight Edict 26-inch cross-country machine, this year Felt introduced a dual-suspension, lightweight 29er. While I appreciate all the goodness the larger wheel size brings to the world of cross-country pedaling, I've missed the ability to throw the bigger bikes around on the trail. The Edict Nine might just be the snappiest 29er I've ridden. It was light and manageable through the tight twists of Bootleg.
The frame is constructed of UHC Performance carbon fiber. If features 100 mm of travel and Felt Active Stay Technology (FAST) suspension. On the rear is the Fox Float CTD BV and up front is the 32 Float 29 CTD FIT with trail adjust and adjustable rebound. Shimano Deore XT Rapid Fire shifters, Deore XT front derailleur, Deore XT rear derailleur and XT crankset make up the 2x10 drivetrain, and the bike is rounded out with Deore XT brakes with Icetech and Stryker TCS cross-country wheels with Kenda 24-7 tubeless rubber. –T. Ortega
Leave it to the insanely detail oriented mind of Pivot’s Chris Cocalis to put out one of the nicest carbon hardtail 29ers out there. Sure, the new Pivot LES (get it) is light, stiff, and agile like all the other light, stiff, and agile hardtail carbon 29ers out there. But the trick to making a truly stand-out carbon 29er is in the finer details and that’s where the LES will blow your carbon-hardtail-jaded mind.
12mm x 142mm carbon dropouts, full internal shift cable routing with an access port under the BB, direct mount front derailleur, and press fit 92mm bottom bracket show that Pivot put a lot of thought into the frame. But the detail I liked most was Pivot’s optional indexed Swinger System adjustable singlespeed dropouts. These could be the best singlespeed dropouts I’ve seen to date. They are compact and easily adjusted and offer a very solid looking interface.
LES’s geometry is dialed, its natural handling felt comfortable right out of the starting block, and the sub 2.5 pound frame gives a nicely balanced ride with just enough compliance. With seven available build kits with SRAM or Shimano groups and Fox F29 CTD forks, Pivot offers an LES for every preference and budget. - B. Riepe
There is nothing quite like riding a titanium mountain bike. The Moots Divide — made in Steamboat Springs, Colo. — lives up to the company's reputation for clean, efficient-pedaling and cush bikes.
Moots designed its Divide based on the popular tech spec (including a 44-mm head tube, PF 30 bottom bracket, 30.9 seatpost, 100-mm fork and formed titanium seat stays) of its RSL family of mountain bikes but now has partnered with the design firm The Sotto Group to engineer its own single-pivot Fusion Link suspension design that incorporates the Fox RP23 Kashima coat shock. The "Fusion Swing Links" are formed out of carbon fiber and serve as the connections between seat stays, frame and shock. To complete the package, Moots designed the bike with a 100 mm fork.
The company also offers the 29-inch-wheel MX Divide built around the same suspension platform.