Any new standard goes through its growing pains, the phase where no one’s really sure whether it will catch on or not. 650b was certainly no different, and perhaps, has been met with more debate and confusion than most. Well, it would appear the debate is over. 650b is for real.
French tire manufacturer Hutchinson has long been a pioneer of new technologies and for 2013 they are throwing their hat in the 650b ring in a big way, bringing three of their biggest tires to the 650b platform, the Cougar, the Cobra and the Toro. The versatility of the 650b platform is displayed by the range and size tires Hutchinson is making - a 2.4 Cougar, they recommend for downhill and free ride, all the way to a 2.1 Cobra they aim at the XC race crowd. In between are 2.2 Cobras and a 2.35 Toro for all-mountain riding and a Cobra 2.25 and Cougar 2.20 for the trail and marathon riders. The entire range, made in France at Hutchinson’s factory south of Paris, utilizes some of their best technology, like Hardskin for the DH and All-mountain tires and Air Light for the XC-Race tires. Like their 26” and 29” stable mates the entire range is either Tubeless Ready, meaning sealant is required, or Tubeless native where no sealant is required.
To help riders get the most out of their tires Hutchinson has created extensive pairing suggestions. For the XC racer looking for a bit more traction they suggest the Cougar 2.2 up front, complimented by a Cobra 2.1 in back, for the aggressive all mountain rider they recommend a Cougar 2.4 up front and a Cobra 2.25 in back.
When a company of Hutchinson’s reputation and credentials believes 650b is for real, we are willing to bet the new standard is here to stay. Look for these tires fall of 2012 and for pricing to be in the same range as their 29” offerings.