Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dear 650B, It's Not You, It's Me (rerun)

A bit slow on the blogging front (until my new bike arrives next week), so I thought I'd dig something up out of my archives. As I was riding my Stumpjumper FSR:

around Alum Creek today, I thought about how well this bike does... everything. It downhills like a son of a gun, of course, but it scoots right back up the hill, too. Turns with a flick of the wrist. Easy to pick the front end up, or swing the back end around. What are the advantages of 29ers, again? That's a bit painful to say, as I've been mostly riding variations of a rigid 29er single speed for the last many years, but the FSR just makes everything so easy and fun, it's hard to find any faults in it. I guess it doesn't have the clean, lean lines of a steel single speed. That's something right there. Maybe my old knees are starting to tire of single speeding...

Anyway, if I backslide and end up buying that 26er Gunnar Rockhound I wanted 10 years ago, or a Surly Troll to put 650B wheels on, I'll make it easy for my reader(s) out there to call me out as a hypocrite, since just last fall I wrote this on


Dear 650B,

I really thought we might have had something together. You were the new hot little number in town, and I'm always on the prowl for my next relationship. My old 29er was starting to feel a little stale, maybe our relationship was just growing too stable and comfortable, and I needed some excitement.

When you showed up as an orange steel Voodoo Bizango, I thought you might be The One. Your smaller wheels looked just right on that frame, so proportionally perfect, and you knew I had a thing for Voodoos, didn't you? But the riding wasn't as good as the looking, and we agreed to just blame the possibly too short fork for your nervous ways. An ad on the Craigslist personals, and you were gone just like that.

You left me on my own, on the rebound despite the complete lack of rebound in your rigid fork, and you knew it wouldn't be long before I picked up a cheap fling at the swap meet. Sure, the Troll might have been a little small for me, but she looked to swing so many ways, I thought that relationship might last. Yeah, those 650B slipped right in there, and things were better than they were with the 26ers. We rolled together better, and you still had the moves when things got slow, but something still wasn't quite right between us. Maybe that Surly was just big boned, but she wasn't quite as refined as my old Soma Juice. I need a little give in our relationship, a little flexibility when things are rough on the pedals. And you, Troll, just didn't have it.

All right, I admit that little singletrack fling on the Sogn was just a one night stand. It was a nice change of pace, like dating that pierced English major back in college, but we both knew you liked things smooth better than rough and dirty.

I still couldn't get you off my mind. All the cool guys were seeing you. Everyone was talking about you. You knew it, too, playing hard to get. You want my wheels? Build 'em yourself, buddy, and I hope you like $65 tires when you can find them! Did that stop me? No, for I was still like a lovesick little middle schooler, following your exploits here and there. And then I ran into you again, at the demo tents, flirtatious in your purple paint and "Jamis Dragon" tattoo. I admit, I checked you out up front; with that long, 5" travel fork, I couldn't help but stare. C'mon, you said, you know the real thing is going to ride better than any conversion. We tried my pedals on for size, and just like that we were off, a little speed dating down the trail.

Things were a bit rough in the grass, but that's always the way it is, isn't it? And we couldn't quite get together in the corners, but I just chalked that up to the rain last night. I should've know something was wrong when we started to hit some ups and downs--that big front of yours didn't help keep us on the straight and narrow, flopping around over each crest. But I kept trying to justify you on the good points--the way you could flick around tight, slow speed corners. That's your attraction, isn't it?

When I got back to the demo tent, I was feeling pretty good about this bike with the dragon tattoo. I talked to the guy about frame options--because, you know, I always like to start things my own way. Than it was back to the old Soma. No finely indexed gearing, just one painful gear. No 5" of front end enhancement, just a hard riding fork with lots of little warts on it. Still, those slender and tubes and big wheels have their own appeal... Over the grass, hmm, this isn't really so rough after all. Through the wet curves, only the grip seemed so much better, even on our worn out race knobbies. Up the hills, straight and true. Yeah, things were a tick slower in the slowest corners, but everywhere else, the stability and strength of our relationship came through loud and clear. People say 650B moves faster. I say any bike moves only as fast as I turn those pedals. I guess that's what I bring to this relationship.

I'm sorry, 29er, you know I stray, I can never be a one bike kind of guy, but I had to give the new girl in town a whirl. And that Moonlander I demo'd? I truly am sorry for that. Fat bikes just aren't my thing, but it takes all kinds, I guess...

650B, I don't think you'll miss me. I hear you're going to be big around these parts next year.

But not big enough for me.



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