Advocates to meet in Oakland for California Summit

SACRAMENTO, CA (BRAIN) — Advocates are prepping for next month’s California Bike Summit, which will be held in Oakland Nov. 7-10.  The summit will be a gathering of industry and bike advocacy leaders in transit, urban planning, health, design and technology and will include presentations on infrastructure design, understanding advocacy, finding funding sources for biking infrastructure and programs, increasing youth participation and engaging the media.  The summit’s theme is “Mainstreaming the Bike” and speakers include Brian Kelly, California State Secretary of Transportation and John Burke, CEO of Trek, among others.

Giant Canada supports Sprockids program

NORTH VANCOUVER, BC (BRAIN) — Giant Bicycle Canada is supporting Sprockids, a youth mountain biking skills and leadership training program. Doug Detwiller started Sprockids over two decades ago as a club of 50 elementary school children in Gibsons, British Columbia. Since then the program has gained international recognition and involved thousands of young lives in 19 countries.  “We are thrilled by the opportunity to partner with Doug and his Sprockids program

H&M Making Clothing For Bikers

Woo! Does this mean we are entering the mainstream? I hope so, more bike clothing options the better.

H&M Making Clothing For Bikers

Woo! Does this mean we are entering the mainstream? I hope so, more bike clothing options the better.

Turin Bicycles to open Chicago shop, launch bike brand

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN) — Denver’s Turin Bicycles returns to its roots in more ways than one as it readies a new retail location in Chicago that will sell its own brand of bicycles as well as products and accessories from Asia and Europe that currently do not have U.S. distribution. Turin started out in the Chicagoland area in 1965, and during the ’70s partners Alan Fine and Lee Katz would bring in containers of bikes from overseas to sell under the shop’s own brand

Guide to 650b wheels

The ‘inbetweener’ 650b?mountain bike wheel size has been the talk of the industry for a while now and was the hot trend at this year’s Sea Otter Classic. But just what are the advantages, and is it a fad or the future? We delve a little deeper into the issue.

What is a 650b wheel?

A 650b wheel is one that’s approximately 27.5 inches in diameter, when measured?from tyre edge to tyre edge. This compares to 26in for a standard mountain bike wheel and 29in for so-called “29er” wheels.?

Bear in mind that because tyre sizes vary, this is only a rough measurement. A high-profile tyre fitted to a 26in wheel will usually be 27in or more in diameter. In fact, fitting high-profile tyres to 26in wheels will give you a good idea of how 650b wheels with normal tyres will feel.

What are the advantages of 650b wheels?

650b wheels offer most of the quick acceleration feel and nimbleness of 26in wheels, but with a nod towards the smoother-rolling feel, extra stability and enhanced traction of 29in wheels. They’re also more suitable for smaller riders than 29ers. “650b is a good ‘best of both worlds’ bike,” says Steve Wingham of KHS, one of the first brands to pin their colours to the middle wheel size. “Especially for the sub 5ft 9in gang who often have a bit of ‘big brothers’ bike’ feel on a 29er.”

Frames designed for 27.5in wheels?can be built using well-proven 26in wheel geometry and usually end up looking neater?than the often gangly looking 29ers, with slightly better clearances. 650b wheels are lighter and stronger than comparable 29er hoops, and the same is true for forks.?Many bike companies are on board with the new wheel size, with the likes of KHS, Jamis and Seven already offering 650b bikes and new models in development from Intense, Norco?and Scott.

Kirk Pacenti ( has been promoting 650b wheels for years. “On a hardtail it’s a bit of a wash,” he says. “But 650b is a rational choice for almost all full-suspension designs. When taken as a whole, a 650b full-suspension bike is a lighter, stiffer, more compact and agile machine that, in my opinion, is a better handling bike over a wider variety of terrain than a 29er is.”

The middle wheel size could prove particularly popular at the ‘gravity’ end of the riding spectrum, where the 26in wheel still rules supreme. As?BikeRadar?forum guru and?What Mountain Bike?columnist Supersonic says: “The lack of long-travel 29ers has been largely to do with the physical constraints of what you can cram into the frame.” It’s much easier to squeeze 27.5in wheels?and six-inches-plus of suspension travel into a compact, ‘chuckable’ frame than 29in wheels.

The khs team rode 650b bikes in the dual slalom race at this year's sea otter classic:

KHS reckon the ‘inbetween’ wheel size is the future for gravity racing?they used 27.5in wheels?at the Sea Otter Classic dual slalom and are working on a 650b downhill bike

How about the disadvantages?

A new wheel size means new wheels, tyres, forks and frames. Choice of these components?is limited at the moment, although lots of manufacturers are adding 650b options to their ranges for 2013.?FOX,?RockShox?and Magura will have 650b-ready forks available before 2013, and?X-Fusion and White Brothers forks already accommodate 27.5in wheels.

DT Swiss, Reynolds, Stan’s and SRAM are among many wheel manufacturers offering or developing 650b rims,?and major tyre makers including Kenda have created moulds for 650b tyres, responding to requests from the industry and joining smaller manufacturers like Pacenti. This was an issue when 29ers started out as well, but within a year or so there were loads of great tyres, rims and forks to suit the bigger size.

Early 650b bikes will be expensive due to the limited parts choice and simple economies of scale, but prices should drop over time. The bigger wheels, and the longer frames needed to accommodate them, mean 650b bikes will also be heavier than equivalent 26in-wheeled bikes, though there won’t be as big a weight difference as with 29ers.

Critics also argue that the 650b wheel is a jack of all trades but master of none?– it doesn’t smooth out trail undulations as well as a 29er wheel or provide as much traction, yet it’s slower to accelerate than a 26in wheel and increases wheelbase length, which negatively affects slow-speed agility.

“We’ve only just reached the point where there’s enough supporting suspension fork, wheel and tyre product to service different 29er rider preferences,” says BikeRadar test stalwart Guy Kesteven. “Adding another half-arsed inbetweener wheel size seems at best confusing and at worst like a cynical attempt to create another wheel size related sales spike. I may be proved wrong, but right now the Emperor’s new wheel size looks pretty naked to me.”

We've been running 650b rims on a pacenti hardtail for a while now: we've been running 650b rims on a pacenti hardtail for a while now

We’ve been running 650b rims on a Pacenti hardtail for a while now but it’s only now that the major mainstream bike manufacturers are getting involved

If 650b wheels have advantages, why have mountain bikes traditionally used 26in?

Regular mountain bike wheel size arrived at 26in as much by accident as by design. Many of the old steel-wheeled clunkers that gave birth to the original mountain bikes had 26in wheels, so early aluminium rims were simply made to replace them, although the long wheelbases and big tyre clearances of frames back then could easily have accommodated bigger wheels and tyres.

650b rims and tyres were readily available, as were the old 27in road rims, which effectively standardised into the 700c road rims of today. It’s those 700c road rims that have had their rim beds widened to take fatter 29er mountain bike tyres. By the time the early mountain bike bandwagon got properly rolling, 26in rims and tyre choices were becoming more plentiful than 650b or 27in. Inevitably most frames were being designed around 26in wheels too, so the habit stuck.?

Well, it stuck among most of the mainstream builders. A few custom builders were still meddling with big wheels on mountain bikes and it wasn’t long before Gary Fisher got people talking again by launching a range of 29ers. A few others followed and within a year or two the fork, rim and tyre manufacturers started creating more choices for the slowly growing base of big wheel fans.

Now that 29ers have earned a place in the mainstream, 650b has returned to the spotlight. It makes sense that wheels measuring half way between the established 26in and 29in standards?should be considered.

This picture shows the difference in size of rigid forks designed for, from left to right, 26in, 27.5in and 29in wheels:

This picture shows the difference in size of rigid forks designed for, from left to right, 26in, 27.5in (650b) and 29in wheels. While 29in wheels need a whole new fork chassis, some 26in forks can be adapted to fit 27.5in wheels by simply adding about?0.75in more room under the?arch

So, will we all be riding 650b bikes in a couple of years?

With 29er?wheels taking some 10 years to?achieve anything like genuine?acceptance, we don’t expect 650b to?take over the world overnight. Nor?do we expect 650b to supersede the?other wheel sizes in time, rather to?complement them and give bike?designers the freedom to deploy the?best size for the task, just as they?already do with frame materials,?suspension travel, transmission?technologies and so on. What?is certain is that 650b is coming.?And sooner rather than later.

This feature is based on articles originally published?in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

110% Juggler Knickers review

110% make compressive athletic garments which have integrated pockets to hold proprietary cooling/heating pads for injury treatment and recovery. The 3/4-length Juggler Knicker is their largest piece, with seven ice pockets.

The company’s founders are rooted in triathlon and cycling, but 110% have had initial success in the mainstream sports of football and baseball, where trainers have a long history of employing heating and icing techniques in treating athletes and their muscles.

The Juggler Knickers are well built and their fabric is thicker and noticeably more compressive than any other compression wear we’ve used. As for the ice sheets, they’re ingenious. They’re made of a reusable, non-toxic absorptive material that’s filled with water by the user and frozen.

They then offer roughly 45 minutes of cooling, or they can also be microwaved for heat therapy use. This is possibility the easiest, most convenient way to ice or heat your muscles available. The only downside is the price – the knickers cost a rather steep US$150.

110% proprietary ice sheets filled and frozen (left) new (right):

110%’s proprietary ice sheets filled and frozen (left) and new (right)

Practical use

Day to day, or post training ride to post training ride, we appreciated the 110% knickers’ highly compressive feel, and the support they offered to tired or sore muscle groups seemed to help us recover more quickly. There’s really only one gripe that we’d levy at them: they’re knickers, so they left our calves and shins feeling, well, neglected. We’d have given them a five-star rating if they packed the same features into a pair of full-length tights.

While we used the knickers as a compressive piece weekly over the course of a two-month test period, we didn’t use the ice/hot sheets all that much – that is, until we deeply bruised one of our quadriceps on a mountain bike ride. The crash left us barely able to walk. Immediately after the ride, we eased ourselves into the 110% knickers and found some relief.

The compression fabric is thicker and more compressive than other tights we've used:

The compression fabric is thicker and more compressive than other tights we’ve used

Icing our wounds

Even with the ice packs inserted, 110%’s knickers are unobtrusive enough to wear under normal clothing. The ice packs – six of which are supplied with the knickers – are very thin (roughly 1/3in) and flex well enough to conform to muscles and move with you when walking, sitting or laying down.

The cooling effect lasts for about 45 minutes and there’s no leakage from the packs once they warm up. They also freeze quite quickly – within an hour or so, which is much faster than water alone or any other gel-type cooling pad we’ve used  – and they’re relatively inexpensive, at $15 for six sheets.

The proprietary ice sheets slide right into the knickers’ pockets :

The proprietary ice sheets slide right into the knickers’ pockets          

The 110% gear comes packaged in insulated Mylar bags that double as ‘coolers’ for the packs and compression pieces, and are said to keep the ice sheets frozen for up to six hours, so that you can take them to an event for use afterwards.

Options and other gear

In addition to the Juggler Knickers we tested, 110% make shorts, knee, calf, elbow and full-arm sleeves; in theory you could add the calf sleeves to the knickers we tested for full leg compression, but that scenario is less convenient than our wish-for tights and pretty pricey, as the calf sleeves cost $75.