Here are a few shots of Sean and the Rawland builds yesterday. They really turned out well.
The handling of these bikes is spot on, regardless of wheel or tire size, and the ride feel is very nice. I'll hold off on my opinions on the 650b wheels until I ride my own a bunch, but basically, they ride like a bike should. Along with the quick handling, the fork is very supple, and smooths out bumps rather well. Rotor size should probably be kept to 160, as the fork legs are pretty close. 180's could fit, but might be a bit much for the smaller diameter blades.
Old school enthusiasts will love the look of these bikes. From the classic semi-horizontal top tube, to the gorgeous fork crown and curved blades, this bike really stands out. Details like the full barrel rack mounts, pump peg, taller head tube, and Ritchey hooded dropouts also take things up a notch.
Over all, the bikes are really impressing me with the quality for the price, included features, overall aesthetics, and fit. For the record, my ML sized frame, (22.6" or 57.5cm ETT,) has no toe overlap with 29er tires, 175mm cranks, and size 13 feet! Oh, and the flats of my drops are level with the saddle with 60mm of spacers and a -7 deg stem!
The camera crapped out after these, so no shot of mine yet. Soon though, I swear! I have switched the tires to a Bontrager XR front, with a Maxxis Crossmark in the rear. I like these tires the best for gravel around here, and it's all good. The clearance is perfect, even with light mud room, and the bike is very well mannered.
Mark, it's good, really good!