As one of, if not the pioneer in the resurgence of 650b wheeled mountain bikes since their disappearing act in the early days of mountain biking, Kirk Pacenti has been an advocate of the middle sized wheel since 2004. After failing to get any major tire brands on board, he set out to make his own 650b rubber. While the wheel size was initially a hard sell, as you know 650b has arrived in the industry in a big way. Since then Kirk has expanded his offerings from PacentiCycleDesign.com to include 650b tires, wheels, and a number of frame building materials for bikes of all sized wheels.
Check out his original 650b rig he made himself, after the break!
As one of Kirk’s local shops, River City Bicycles in Chattanooga, TN gets the privilege of seeing what Kirk is working on from time to time. Thanks to RCB’s owner, Ronald Driver who shared the pictures with us, we can check out the bike that started a revolution. First shown at NAHBS in 2007, Pacenti set up a raffle to give away the bike in order to raise funds to make more 650b tires (the tires on the bike at the time were hand sewn from 29er tires). But at $100 a ticket, no one entered the raffle so Kirk held onto the bike.
Built as a 19″ Titanium frame, the bike has a 72° HTA/STA, a 24″ top tube, and 17.25″ chain stays. Kirk says he would have liked shorter stays, but since they didn’t have a wheel or tire available to double check the clearances, they gave themselves some extra room. According to Kirk, “The 72° HTA sounds strange by today’s standards, and I probably would not build a frame like that for a customer, but I have been riding this exact same geometry for 20 years. It works for me, and I like hardtails with razor sharp handling. My other bikes have much slacker HTA’s, and they are probably better ‘all round’ bikes, but this one is a lot of fun.”
The bike was first built with the first ever crop of 650b parts – a White Bros. Magic fork, and Cane Creek wheels that you couldn’t buy. Over the years, the components have been updated with a Manitou Minute fork, prototype Pacenti handlebar, prototype 1x chainring with 9 speed XT group, and Hayes El Camino brakes. Some parts, like the headset, seat post, and saddle are original to the bike.
Things have come a long way for 650b since the bike was first shown in 2007.
Of course the bike now rolls on Pacenti tires and wheels. A Pacenti CL25 wheelset is wrapped in Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3″ tires.
Thanks to both Ronald and Kirk for helping with the story!