OK, so it's been almost 6 months since my last post. Who knows, it may be 6 months until I post again...I suppose only time will tell. :)
About 6 months ago, I wrote about a test I did with 2 of our Xeon bikes...one equipped with 650B wheels and the other equipped with stock 26" wheels. At that time, our line of 650B bikes were little more than lines on paper. Over the past several months, it's been really rewarding to see our 650B bikes evolve from an idea into flesh and blood...err, I guess rubber and steel would be more accurate. Albeit a small line consisting of just two bikes, I'm proud to say that our Beasley 650B bikes are now a reality and should be available this summer. We had hoped they would come to market a bit sooner, but longer-than-expected factory leadtimes just won't make that possible.
Now that our sample bikes have been photographed for our Spring catalog and have been presented to our sales force at our Spring Launch sales meeting, I finally had the chance to take one out and get it dirty. Product Manager Pat called an early "dibs" on the 1 x 9 which was just fine by me...I really wanted to ride the SS. After pedaling it around in the parking lot, I could tell the 32/17 gearing was going to be a little tall for my outta shape ass. I have admittedly chosen riding my motorcycle or going for a hike over a bike ride on more than a few occasions lately...plus the weather hasn't been all that great over the past several weeks. Excuses...excuses....
Anyhow, I headed out to a local trail system I knew would be singlespeed friendly, the Santa Rosa Plateau up in the Murrieta/Wildomar area. No gut busting climbs...no super gnarly descents...just nice rolling singletrack that flows through a beautiful series of meadows. Perfect for a maiden voyage aboard the fully-rigid steel Beasley SS.
I really didn't know what to expect...whether this bike would feel more like a 29er or a 26" wheel mountain bike. I was hoping that it would live up to what most people say about 650B MTB's...that you get many of the same benefits of big wheels without the big 29" wheel geometry. I'm pleased to say that the little Beasley SS lived up to those expectations. Don't get me wrong...I love my 29ers. But for a "little" person like me (at 5'7"), a 29er is a lot of bike. The Beasley didn't feel like such a big bike...it felt very nimble and quick, yet very stable. Just like a 29er, it climbed with what felt like infinite traction, cornered with stability, and rolled over trail obstacles with ease.
The fork is my favorite part of this bike...it's beautifully made and it's as stiff as hell. But much like the rigid forks on my 29ers, I really wasn't ever left wishing for a suspension fork. Riding rigid really forces you to become a smoother rider. It forces you to pick better lines, relax your arms more, keep your momentum up, and just flow with the trail like water. Only on the gnarliest of descents do I miss having suspension.
The fact that the Beasley is steel also lends to the fun factor...steel truly is real. It yields a ride unlike any other material. It's lively, yet stiff enough so you "feel" the trail. I definitely feel more "one" with my steel bikes, that's for sure. Steel frames also just look great...since you can make frames out of smaller diameter tubes, steel frames look sleek and svelte.
I won't bore you with too many more words, but in a nutshell, this bike rocks. I had a blast on it. Other than the gearing being a little much for me, I don't know that I'd change a thing on it. It steers great...not too fast, not too slow. The On-One Mary bars are perfect for rigid singlespeeds...very easy on the wrists. And unlike some 29ers, I've got plenty of standover thanks to the graceful bend in the top-tube (it's there for a reason).
I sure hope everyone else likes our new Beasley bikes as much as I do. That's sort of our goal...to create bikes that are just darn fun to ride.
I'll leave you with a few pictures I took on the ride today. Enjoy!