Anyone who thought that 27.5 (or 650B) was just a passing fad must surely reconsider after this Interbike. Virtually every single manufacturer is showing at least a few bikes in the mid-size wheel category. And some, like Giant, have gone all in with a full line of 27.5s. There are still plenty of interesting new 29ers rolling around at Outdoor Demo. 26ers, on the other hand, are a disappearing breed. Here's a cross-section of new 27.5s.
Santa Cruz is on a 27.5 tear. First came the 150mm Bronson, in April, an immediate hit that was followed by the single-pivot aluminum version, the Heckler. Then there was the 125mm 5010 (say "solo") and the analogous Bantam. And at Interbike, the company showed versions of all four in its women's-specific brand, Juliana, including the 125mm trail-oriented Juno.
We loved the SB-66 Carbon, Yeti's enduro-oriented 26er. And we were so fond of the SB-95 Carbon, the five-inch 29 version, that we gave it an Editor's Choice award. So there's nothing to make us think that the SB-75, which packs five inches of travel into a 27.5-inch wheel package and uses the same Switch Technology suspension, won't be just as good.
Jamis Dakar AMT
The Dakar AMT is a long-standing fixture in the Jamis line, but like so many bikes this year, the 26-inch version has been revamped to 27.5. The aluminum frame is built around a 150mm Rockshox Pike fork (another popular entry for 2014), the new XO1 one by eleven drivetrain, and will retail for $4,900. The Comp version will get lower spec for $3,000.
Marin Mount Vision C-XM Pro
The NorCal bike manufacturer has completely rebranded in an effort to get back to its race-inspired, enthusiast roots. The fully revised Mount Vision is a 140mm, 27.5-inch trail bike built around a new, linear suspension design that forgoes a bit of the small-compliance to save weight. At a claimed 25.5 pounds, it should be an incredibly capable trail ride.
Lapierre Spicy 527
The French bike manufacturer enters the U.S. after the expiration of Specialized's patent on the Horst Link. The Spicy is a serious enduro and park bike with 160mm of travel up front and 150 in the rear. It also features EI (Electronic Intelligence), which uses a battery-powered accelerometer and sensor system to adjust the suspension to conditions.
Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770
On the shorter end of 27.5, the 120mm Thunderbolt is a full-fledged trail bike, with short stays, a short cockpit, and a playful personality that wants to jump over and hop down everything. It will be aluminum only for 2014 and will come in four specs, and a carbon version is likely to follow in 2015.
Next Up: The Best Fat Bikes of Next Year