Our Gal Kim wanted a new mountain bike to replace her dated, pretty heavy 26″ bike with mechanical disks and a reasonably clunky fork. She did, however, have a really nice set of Crank Brothers Cobalt wheels that she loved mightily. As a result of those wheels, it took a little bit of talk to convince her that she should perhaps try a more modern wheel size. At 5’5″ Kim is about the perfect size lady to benefit from a 650b — she’s petite, but wants more roll-over than one can expect from a 26″ bike. At the same time, she doesn’t need the weight and inertia of a 29er. After a few discussions we decided on a custom 650b Nemesis.
Why a Nemesis? It’s a nice, light, zippy frame that comes with a super-neat fork, the X-Fusion Velvet, with 100mm of travel. We went with a custom bike because Kim wanted cooler-than-stock wheels and a Shimano drivetrain; the dual-thumb SRAM just did not appeal. Since we didn’t want a terribly expensive bike we decided on SLX, the performance of which I find very close to XT at a much nicer price. Deore is pretty darn good, but I think SLX is better. And we did the whole thing: drivetrain and brakes. Nice.
Wheels are Velocity Blunt SL with DT Swiss Competition spokes and Velocity rims. I’ve been riding similar wheels for a while now and have nothing but good things to say about them. Tires Ritchey Shield, which are very light and really great for fast, dry conditions. If Kim finds herself riding in looser terrain, we may reevaluate tires. The whole system is tubeless and went together very nicely.
Other bits include a Thomson seat post, a WTB saddle, a Ritchey stem and an Easton bar.
Pics of the finished product after a break-in ride or two:
The usual partly-focused picture with a finger dangerously close to the lens. Still, it’s a good-looking bike. The frame is tough. The colors are good. Purple wall.
Is there anyone who doesn’t think that the latest generation of Shimano brakes doesn’t just kick butt? They’re great. You might glaze some pads over time, but the system itself is very solid. Here we have a pic of the rear caliper and pads complete with heat sinks. Also a Velocity hub.
X-Fusion Velvet fork with a 15mm through-axle. The skewer is a nice Syntace piece with a tapered bore similar to White Brothers. It is a bit odd to have the business end of the axle on the right-hand side of the bike.
Nice wheels. Blunt SL rims, 28 spokes, Velocity hubs. Very nice performance at a reasonable price. Tubeless? Yes. Very much so.
I nearly posted this without asking the obvious question: does she like it? Indeed she does.