Since our Beasley 650B hardtails have been so well received, it was pretty much a no-brainer to start developing a full-suspension bike that would specifically accommodate 650B wheels. It was also a no-brainer to base this new bike on our proprietary Virtual Link System that we use on our popular Sonix and Xeon full-suspension bikes. With 120mm of rear wheel travel, it made the most sense to add a 650B wheel-equipped bike into the Sonix series given the fact that there seems to be more demand for cross country trail bikes in the 4” to 5” travel range.
If you hit the fast forward button, a few months later we finally have our first batch of rideable prototypes of the Sonix 650B we’ll be introducing into our 2010 line. When we get prototypes in, it feels a lot like Christmas…we tear open the boxes and look at the treasures held within with wide-eyed wonderment. After we’ve had our fill of just looking at the frames, we build them up and hit the trails to begin testing…that’s the fun part!
This wasn’t my first rodeo aboard a 650B full-suspension bike. About a year and a half ago, we put a set of Velocity Blunt 650B wheels on a stock Xeon equipped with a Fox Talas fork and found that they fit…it was a close fit, but a fit nonetheless. I actually did a side-by-side test that compared the 650B-equipped Xeon to a standard 26” wheel Xeon and wrote about it on my blog. What I found in that test was 650B wheels did everything that was promised they would do…and that was they would give you many of the same benefits a 29” wheel will give you without that “big bike” feeling.
The Sonix 650B is proving to offer that same level of performance I experienced in the Xeon test. It combines everything I really like about my 29er with the nimble handling characteristics of a 26” wheel. You might be asking, “Well, why not build a 29” wheel full-suspension bike?”. 29” wheel full suspension bikes handle sort of like a freight train…they rock on the descents but on tight switchbacks and on climbs, they feel as sluggish as a wet sponge. If you’ve ridden one, you know what I’m talking about.
The beauty of the Sonix 650B is the fact that it’s nimble and quick. It negotiates the tight stuff with ease and precision. In fact, I don’t even notice I’m on a bike with bigger wheels. Where the bigger wheels become evident and are a huge asset is on the climbs. It feels like the bike has endless traction. In fact, our MTB product manager, Patrick Crosby, commented that “having a 650B wheel and Virtual Link pedaling efficiency is like adding four wheel drive to your bike!”.
The larger 650B wheel size also rolls over trail obstacles like a monster truck rolls over a row of cars at the county fairgrounds. It’s pretty amazing to just sail through technical rocky sections that would usually bounce me around on my 26” wheel bikes. Pat said could really feel how the larger diameter wheel would just coast over roots and rocks that would normally swallow a standard wheel.
Another nice feature of the Sonix 650B is how easily the wheels spin up to speed. On a 29er, as much as I love them, it does take a little more effort to get the wheels rolling and up to speed. The Sonix 650B wheels spun up with little more effort than a 26” wheel.
I’m really looking forward to getting these bikes into production and into dealer’s stores, but that’s several months away. Realistically, we won’t see these in our warehouses until late summer or early fall. Good things come to those who wait…