Update: MEZZO 650B Test Ride

Update: Our newest hardtail will be called MEZZO 650B. Mezzo means 'middle' in Latin and the name is fitting since the 650B wheel size (27.5") sits in the middle of popular 26" and 29" wheel sizes. The website has been updated to include more information about this unique frame. Click link below:


------------------Test Ride Report-------------------

Today Rob and I headed out for a quick loop on Rocky Ridge, a local trail with a nice mixture of climbing and descending. Since the ride is short with a rocky descent, I thought it would be a good (albeit brief) testing ground for the new 650B prototype. Weather was cool with overcast skies; the trails were tacky with some muddy sections.

So how was it? The ride was enjoyable even though climbing was hindered by excessive mud buildup on the Pacenti Neo Motos. On the main climb, the 650 wheels felt similar to 26" wheels and my out of shape butt managed to make it all the way to the top without too much drama. I need to mention that the geometry of this new frame is identical to similar 26" frames I've designed in the past. Chainstays remained tight and both head and seat angles are a little slack like all my trail hardtails. Here are the specs:

Fork Length: 19.055" [484mm]
Fork Rake: 1.732" [44mm]
Head Angle: 70 deg
Seat Angle: 72.5 deg
Top Tube (eff): 24" [610mm]
Chainstay: 16.9" [429mm]
BB Height: 12.375" [314mm]

Once downhill sections started, most of the mud flew off and traction was more predictable. The larger diameter wheels rolled over rocky sections with ease and I felt immediately confident on the bike. Since I've ridden many incarnations of my aluminum frames, this baby felt stable and well-balanced the minute I hopped on the WTB Laser V saddle.

Rob seemed to have fun too until a little slip on the descent caused him to spill. After dusting off, we were back on our way through some serious mud sections. Rob's steel frame (finished in 'Larry Bird' green and pictured below) shed the cake-like mud very well and his post-ride cleanup won't be nearly as involved as mine!

Why is this bike nicknamed Dirty Harry? Because this 650's first ride was a dirty one that started at 650 Harry Road! I'm looking forward to taking this bike over to UC Santa Cruz and Wilder Ranch for a more extended ride as soon as I can...stay tuned for more updates.


Happy Kirk Day

Just finished assembling this polished prototype 650B frame while listening to Kirk Hammett 's guitar in true Metallica form. Another Kirk - Kirk Pacenti - was kind enough to send over a pair of his Neo Moto tires to try out. These meaty tires are 2.3s and have serious side knobs for added stability. The fork is a custom White Bros made specifically for the 650B wheel size and there's plenty of clearance under the arch. Build kit is mostly new Shimano XT and the Hope brakes and Easton carbon components were scavenged from my steel hardtail. Wheels are Velocity Blunt rims, Hope Pro II hubs laced 3X with Wheelsmith double-butted spokes. It's a durable and relatively light wheelset that should hold up nicely. As shown it weighs in at 24.5lbs.

I opted for full-housing from the top tube's rear cable stop to the rear derailleur; this should help keep shifting smooth in wet/muddy conditions found on local trails this time of year.

Even with 2.3s there is enough clearance provided by the machined yoke.

The new XT front derailleur has nice clearance from the rear tire also...no more Dremel reworks to the forged derailleur body like we've done for 29ers in the past.


650B Update

Yesterday I picked up the prototype 650B frame from Mario's Metal Polishing in Santa Cruz and it shines like the Star of David. Looking forward to building up this beauty after Christmas..stay tuned for more pics and the first ride report.


Christine Vardaros Sustains Concussion

Pro 'cross racer Christine Vardaros suffered a concussion and we're all hoping for a speedy recovery. If all goes well, she will be at the starting line the day after Christmas at the next world cup race. Click here for the press release. Good luck Christine!


The Liz Hatch Interview

Liz Hatch was recently interviewed by 'The Sporting Life Society' and the best line is below:

Ol' Sport: What's your favorite bike that you've ridden or raced?

Liz Hatch: ...my current bike, my Ahrens prototype road bike. It's pretty hard to beat a custom frame.

The entire interview can be found here.