The big 'S' have just released official word confirming what many expected, or anticipated. For 2014 the Stumpjumper EVO will be available in the in-betweener wheel size; 650b (27.5). The mid wheel models replace the smaller 26 inch versions from previous years but fans of the 29er EVO don't need to fret as the big wheeled models will still be available too. This move from Specialized is a bit of an about face as they have previously suggested they wouldn't go to 650b. But let's not dwell on that fact and just be pleased that what is a very good bike is now available in a very good wheel size.
Official words from Specialized on their move to 650b below.
OUR POSITION – BIGGER IS BETTER. EXCEPT WHEN IT’S NOT. We believe in big wheels. When they are built properly for the rider and the experience; riders should ride the biggest wheel they can. 29ers are fast, stable, and fun to ride but not all 29ers are created equal. We have developed our Specialized style to minimize the negatives of a larger wheel by focusing on light weight, capability, and fun factor. From recreational hardtails to World-Cup-winning XC race machines to All-Mountain bikes and equipment for men and women—the Specialized 29er advantage is proven.
However, we know not every rider wants to ride a 29er; we will continue to serve the rider with a smaller wheel size. We are happy to introduce our first 650b bike, of course with experience and wheel size specific geometry, the Stumpjumper FSR EVO 650b.
WHY 650b NOW? 650b has the advantage over 26” in traction, stability, and roll-over. Additionally, our priority is serving the riders, who have clearly asked for this type of bike. We are not slowing down one pedal stroke on 29-inch innovation, as we believe in 29ers. Nevertheless, there are two clear scenarios when a smaller wheel, that is potentially lighter & quicker accelerating, may make sense for some riders.
1. Playful: When the rider wants to change directions slightly quicker. The smaller wheels on the 650b bike may feel a little more nimble. Don’t forget our modern 29er geometry still retains shorter rear ends than most companies’ 650b offerings. 2. Size: When bike sizing or intimidation from taller wheels is an issue. We can make a 650b with more standover clearance on certain models. There are also some riders, particularly newer riders, who might be intimidated by the look of the 29-inch wheel.
Because of these reasons, we say, “BIGGER IS BETTER. EXCEPT WHEN IT’S NOT.”
WILL SPECIALIZED HAVE 3 WHEEL SIZES? 26” wheels will play a much smaller role in the future. They won’t go away altogether, but expect to see more 650b bikes and equipment. We call them 650b because that is what they are. The name 27.5” is misleading, as they are not in the middle of 29” and 26”.
Our tyre team has already introduced 650b tyres, while the Roval team is also working to provide the best wheels to the rider. As our position has been from the beginning, we will deliver the best bikes and equipment lines that will help the rider. This rad new 650b bike will be available in shops at the end of April, 2014.