Banshee Rune 650B Review

Feb 18, 2013
by Mike Levy  

WORDS Mike Levy
PHOTOS Ian Hylands

The Rune isn't a new name in Banshee's lineup, but the 2013 version has seen enough updates and changes that it is essentially an entirely new platform. The bike's KS Link suspension design - the original Rune used Banshee's VF4B system - offers 160mm of travel, bumped up from the previous iteration's 150mm, and geometry revisions include a slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket height that better match how aggressive riders are using modern all-mountain bikes. Earning turns has not been put by the wayside, though, with a steeper seat angle that should work well with the seated climbing position a bike like the Rune responds best to. Factor in the Rune's ability to run either a 26'' or 650B wheelset, and this B.C.-inspired bike begins to look like a sturdy multi-purpose machine. A Rune frame can be had for $1999 USD with a Fox Float CTD shock, or $2199.99 USD with the Cane Creek DBair shock that our Rune was tested with.

Banshee Rune Details

• Intended use: all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 160mm/6.3''
• Aluminum frame
• Tapered head tube
• KS Link rear suspension
• Interchangeable dropouts: 26" w/ 135mm,
12x142mm, 12x150mm or 650B w/ 12x142mm
• Three-position geometry
• ISCG-05 chain guide tabs
• Dropper post cable routing
• Internally ribbed seat and chain stays
• Shock options: FOX Float CTD custom, Cane Creek DBair (tested )
• Weight: 31.8lb (as tested ), 6.5lb (frame, claimed )
• Colors: blue, black anodized and raw
• MSRP: $2199.99 USD ( frame only, w/ DBair shock as tested )

Banshee Rune
  The Rune is available with either a FOX Float CTD or the mightily impressive Cane Creek DBair that our test bike came spec'd with. The FOX shock's CTD feature will make more sense for those who will benefit from the ride firming CTD lever, and the DBair's range of adjustability will appease riders who like to dial-in their ideal suspension settings.

Banshee Rune. Photo by Ian Hylands
  Interchangeable dropouts not only allow either 26'' or 650B wheels to be fitted, but also offer three different geometry positions for each that range from relatively slack to really slack.

Banshee has gone to great lengths to create a versatile yet sturdy package with the Rune, and it shows in the final product. According to Banshee's Keith Scott, the bike "has the performance to make exploring new terrain easy and enjoyable, and allows the rider to explore the limits of their ability, and to help them progress in confidence and ability." That adaptability is highlighted by the bike's capacity to accept both 26'' wheels and the 650B wheels that we ran it with for the duration of our time on it, simply by swapping out the bolt-on rear dropouts that alter the axle position relative to the frame. This route, while not the lightest given the aluminum and steel hardware required to make it possible, allowed Keith to incorporate a three position geometry adjustment via altering the height of the dropouts on the rear triangle. Riders can make half degree jumps between 65°, 65.5°, and 66° head angle settings, with the bottom bracket height and seat angle changing accordingly (all with a 545mm axle to crown fork which most 160mm forks measure close to). Those numbers, which are certainly partial to trails that slope downwards in a rowdy way, are the same regardless of if the Rune is fitted with the 650B or the 26'' wheel dropouts.

Banshee knows full well that the Rune will be built up as anything from a sturdy all-mountain machine to a nimble park bike and everything in between, and that the many rear axle sizes are often the bane of any rider who is looking to assemble a frame from scratch, especially if they already have a favorite wheelset they want to carry over. Dropouts to fit 135 QR, 12 x 142mm, and even 12 x 150mm rear axles are available for the Rune with this in mind. A de rigueur tapered head tube at the opposite end of the frame can be fitted with any fork between 150 and 180mm of travel, or an angle adjusting headset if you are looking for steeper or even slacker geometry.

Banshee Rune
  The Rune's 160mm of travel is controlled by two short links that may appear similar to their older VF4B design, but there are some important differences between it and the bike's new KS Link system.

KS Link Suspension Explained
The 160mm travel Rune employs Banshee's KS Link suspension design, which is the third suspension iteration in Banshee's eleven year history. While their original linkage-driven single pivot layout may be long forgotten, their dual link VF4B design is still utilized on Banshee's highly rated Legend downhill bike. So why does the new Rune use the KS Link system instead of the VF4B, and how is it different?

Keith Scott, the man who pens each and every Banshee, and from where the KS Link takes its name, has always placed chassis rigidity high on his list of priorities. To that end, the KS Link design consists of two short forged links, shorter than those required of the VF4B system. These shorter links limit the opportunity for flex between the front and rear triangles, which also means that there should be less stress on each pivot bearing, and therefore less trouble in the long run. Further helping matters is how Keith has captured three of the four link pivots within the frame, sandwiching them between both the main triangle and the twin uprights of the rear end.

While both the KS Link and VF4B are short link, four-bar designs, one major difference between the two is how the shock is activated. Take a close look at the VF4B system on the Legend and note that the shock is actually being driven by the lower link. Compare this to the Rune's shock (as well as Banshee's Prime that also uses the KS Link) that is attached directly to the rear triangle. Banshee says that the benefit to the latter is less bushing rotation at the shock, thereby lessening friction in the design and improving small bump compliance. We have to admit that we're wondering just how much that actually factors in given that FOX's new low-friction bushing and mounting hardware has proven to go a long way to accomplish the exact same goal, and Cane Creek DBair rear shock offers near coil-like sensitivity at top of its stroke. It is safe to say that we are expecting a back end of the Rune to be very active.

Release Date 2013
Travel 6''
Rear Shock Cane Creek DBair
Fork X-Fusion Vengeance HLR Air
Cassette SRAM PG-1070 10spd 11-36
Crankarms Race Face Atlas
Chainguide MRP G3
Bottom Bracket Race Face
Rear Derailleur SRAM X9 medium cage
Chain SRAM 10spd
Shifter Pods SRAM X0 10spd
Handlebar Chromag
Stem Chromag Ranger
Grips Chromag
Brakes Avid X0 Trail
Hubs Stan's 3.1 DH
Rim Stan's Flow EX 650B
Tires Maxxis Ardent
Seat Chromag Moon
Seatpost RockShox Reverb

Banshee Rune. Photo by Ian Hylands

Riding the Rune

If one was to only judge the Rune by its talking points - 160mm of travel and a shock with no pedal-assist lever, a run of the mill 31.8lb fighting weight, and a fork that lacks any sort of complicated lockout or travel adjust feature - they would probably come to the conclusion that the big Banshee is likely a handful on all but the most mellow of ascending grades. That sort of reasoning would be understandable, and we have to confess that we were guilty of the same. Then we rode the bike. Compared to machines with similar travel, the Rune offers an efficient ride that, we have to admit, surprised us. The bike's weight is certainly noticeable as the grade increases, but the crisp feel of the KS Link suspension transfers power with very little grumbling. That fact went a long way to making a grinder of a climb a bit more bearable, just for the mental advantage alone. The snappy feel, along with the single 32 tooth chain ring, definitely had us chugging up climbs quicker than we thought we would. Of course, our speed slowed relative to how steep the hill became, which then exposed the bike's tendency to wander back and forth like the town drunk if some serious body English wasn't applied to the front of the bike. Stay on top of things, literally, and you'll be rewarded with a bike that manages to out-climb your expectations.

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  Yes, its slack head angle requires attention, but the Rune's efficient pedalling meant that we didn't mind grinding out a long climb.

Taking a step back before we bury the Rune in praise, it needs to be said that although the bike's impressive pedalling abilities go a long way to making the Rune an excellent climber, it is still a relatively portly and slack bike that requires a strong set of legs and lungs to get to the top of any serious mountain. Our test bike's single 32 tooth chain ring forced us to ramp up the power and attack steep trail rather than sit and let it come to us, an approach that favors the firm pedalling Rune Chassis (although not the very active Vengeance fork). And potential Rune owners should note that the bike's 65.5° head angle (in the middle setting ) means that the steering requires constant attention while climbing any sort of technical singletrack, but that is a trait that nearly all other bikes in the Rune's class share, and also one that we can see the average knee pad wearing, flat pedal using Rune rider to be accepting of.

Is the Rune another case of a bike that can't be judged by its numbers? In a way, yes, mainly because of the KS Link design's first-rate ability to get the power down in a snappy manner. Swapping out the otherwise superb X-Fusion Vengeance HLR Coil for the travel-adjustable Vengeance HLR DLA would go a long way to creating a more manageable package for riders who climb singletrack rather than gravel access roads, and the addition of a front derailleur would also have the same effect for the average weekend rider who prefer to take the weight penalty in trade for the Rune's descending prowess.

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  The Rune is sturdy machine that thrives when on rough ground but that doesn't seem to hamper the ride on tamer trails, with fun being the name of the game wherever and whenever.

Banshee has put a lot of effort into creating a burly bike that doesn't shy away from anything on the mountain, a tactic that often produces a machine that feels more akin to a lightweight downhill bike than anything you'd want to spend five straight hours on. The Rune surprised us in this regard by not feeling overly ponderous on trails that required some serious traversing, doing well to hide both its weight and relatively slack angles while outperforming nearly every competitor in the same category on the downs. There is no getting around the 65.5° head angle - you have to be firm with the bike at slow speeds to avoid understeering - but it just didn't feel as lumbering as other bikes with similar angles, a trait we're putting down to the bike's great pedalling abilities.

As expected, the Rune really shines as the speeds pick up and the trail offers some real challenges. Sure, it's forgiving enough to allow you to pinball your way through the worst of it, more so than most other 160mm travel bikes, but it also lets you slice your way through technical sections without feeling as if you are fighting the bike. While some bikes in this same travel bracket are many pounds lighter and a degree or two steeper, often resulting in a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde personality while giving up ground when it comes time to enjoy the rewards of your hard work, we have to say that we felt more at home with the Rune's clear cut temperament. It doesn't sacrifice any boldness on the descents for ability on the climbs, but still manages to hold its own when faced with less challenging trails or a solid climb.

Fitted with the DBair, the Rune feels almost like a downhill bike in the rough.
While a downhill bike will always feel relatively forgiving, and a true cross-country bike will consistently offer an unforgiving and sporty ride, a mid-travel machine like the 160mm Rune is a bit more up in the air when it comes to ride quality. There are certainly a few out there that favor efficiency over outright downhill performance, but the very large majority aim to strike a middle ground between the two, which makes complete sense given most of the bikes' intentions. Then there is the Rune, which, judging by its geometry, sturdy looking frame, and outstanding Cane Creek DBair shock, certainly appears to lean towards pointing it down serious terrain rather than up any serious climb. This much became fact for us within the first ride on the Rune, with it quickly making itself known as being ready for anything and everything. The rear end is supremely supple, more so than any other air-sprung bike of the same travel that we can recall riding, which is a result of the active nature of the DBair shock and Banshee's switch to using sealed bearings at each pivot (the previous iteration of the Rune employed bushings instead). It felt as if the rear wheel wanted to move out of the way of the smallest root or rock, no matter how minor the impact, but at the same time the bike was able to stamp out a large, high-speed compression like a bike with at least another inch of travel.

The incredibly tuneable DBair shock allowed us to dial in the exact feel we were looking for in each element of the shock's damping, with us making small adjustments to both the recommended low-speed compression and rebound ranges while leaving the high-speed dials at their factory settings. Our changes included adding a touch more compression damping in order to give the Rune a bit more life when it when it was faster (or more fun) to go airborne, as well as more rebound control that improved stability. Our only change of two extra clicks to both the low-speed compression and rebound circuits show that Banshee and Cane Creek certainly did their homework when it came to dialing in the recommended base settings for the bike.

In the tough world of aggressive mid-travel bikes, Specialized's latest Enduro was the only machine we've ridden that comes close to approaching a downhill bike in terrain leveling abilities, but Banshee's 2013 Rune proved to be its equal - an impressive feat. The Rune didn't waffle when pushed hard, and makes most other mid-travel bikes feel a touch spindly anytime commitment on serious ground was required. A lot of the bike's abilities are surely down to the stunning performance of the DBair shock, but much credit must also be given to the solid Rune frame that never feels taxed, as well as geometry that only feels better and better as your speed increases. The Rune's qualities add up to a bike that, while likely not our first choice if we spent all of our time on polished trails, would be at the top of our list for proper, toothy trails.

The 650B Factor
We've been testing a number of 29'' and 650B-wheeled bikes recently, as well as some 'old fashioned' 26''-wheeled rigs, and it has been interesting to compare the different sized wheels back-to-back on our familiar testing loops that we've been lapping for over fifteen years. One thing is clear as day to us: the differences between 29'' wheels and 26'' wheels is much, much more distinct than what is noticeable between 26'' and 650B. This isn't unexpected, though, as the latter size is actually not an exact mid-point between 26'' and 29'' but rather much closer to the smaller diameter wheel. So, what effect do the 650B wheels have on the Banshee Rune? Truth be told, we would be hard pressed to tell the difference in capabilities during a blind test as to if the bike actually performed better than a 26'' equipped version. But here's the thing: physics, along with a decade of 29ers, have proven that the larger diameter wheels' higher angle of attack do roll better over rough trail. That means that, given equal tires and tire pressure, 650B wheels carry more speed and can offer more traction over 26'' wheels in certain scenarios simply because of their larger diameter. We didn't pick up on this fact while testing the Rune, but it is there regardless of how subtle it is in the real world.
bigquotesNo one is stipulating that your next bike absolutely has to have 650B wheels on it, and 26'' bikes and components will continue to be available for a very long time, so I don't see the sense in an anti-650B rant. The choices are there and we are all free to choose what makes the most sense for us. - Mike Levy
Given the very slight yet very real advantage stated above, why would one bother with 650B at all? The honest truth is that the 'tweener wheels offer a ride so close to 26'' wheels that the very large majority of riders on the very large majority of 650B bikes won't be able to tell the difference, yet they will be gaining a slight advantage in some instances. Take into consideration that 650B-wheeled bikes are, in every practical sense, as maneuverable and "lively" as 26'' wheels, and the fog of hostility should begin to lift. To be completely frank about it all, we don't want 650B to usurp 26'' wheels anytime soon but given that they are as playful as 26'' wheels (the biggest on-trail downfall of a 29er, besides their unwillingness to squeeze onto bikes with more than 150mm of travel ) yet offer more traction and better rolling abilities, we can feel our resistance crumbling with every new 650B bike that we review, Rune included.
Other Ride Notes

• There are no water bottle cage mounts to be found on the Rune, which is shame because we enjoy being on the trail without a pack for short rides. There just isn't enough room within the front triangle, and a down tube-mounted cage doesn't make sense on a bike like the Rune.

• Our Rune's 650B compatible X-Fusion Vengeance HLR Coil fork impressed us, but this wasn't a surprise given our previous time on their Vengeance offerings. Supremely supple without any gimmicky stanchion coating, and with effective adjustments, the Vengeance is a great alternative to the major players. The fork's stock spring does feel a touch under-sprung, though, and we can see many riders dropping in a stiffer coil.

• We found Chromag's Moon saddle to be acceptable, but the flat-ish profile will not agree with everyone's behind. If you prefer a more rounded profile, be sure to give the Moon a try before pulling the trigger.

• Maxxis' 650B Ardent tires seemed to perform better than their 26'' size, although this could be due to the profile of the Stan's Flow rims that match the Ardent nicely. They still wouldn't be our first choice, with a bit of a vague feeling popping up too often.

• We've always had great luck with Stan's Flow rims, and the bike's 650B Flow EX hoops matched those expectations. Relatively light, they can be built up into a smart wheelset that can stand up to some serious abuse without weighing a ton. The wheels were assembled around Stan's 3.30 HD hubset which spun with less resistance than any other sealed bearing-type hubs that we can recall. Our single complaint comes down to the front hub's tendency to allow its 20mm axle caps to fall out a bit too easily - tighter fitting O-rings would help.
Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesWhile many other companies are busy trying to shave grams from their all-mountain platforms, Banshee has managed to produce an incredibly sturdy and capable 160mm travel bike that offers enough versatility to keep any tinkerer happy. Interestingly, the pedalling performance of the Rune's KS Link suspension design is worth many points in our book, with this fact saving the Rune from being labeled as a one-dimensional bike best suited for only the burliest of pedal accessible trails. Regardless of how you find your way to the top, the Rune offers a staggering amount of sure-footedness on the way back down. - Mike Levy


  • + 19
 Me too??? I have heard Mike Levy will give an extended Riding-Report, but nothing showed up. Please bring it on the Front-Page. I´m happy on a V2 Spitfire and Banshee and these new Bikes derserve more attention!
  • + 2
 totally agree, the Spitfire V2 looks like the better bike. Want.
  • + 1
 I want to say that I´m going to go with 650B-Wheels on the Spitfire. Plus I´ve added a -1 Deg Angleset to get it close to the Rune´s Geometry. I was hardly torn between the Rune and Spitfire, but decided to go with the less traveled, slightly longer and lower Spitty, as this is just the right Bike for my Type of Riding and where the Rune could be Overdose and "too much" Bike. Overall these new Banshees are amazing Bikes, with ahead Geometry and a superb working KS-Link-Suspension!
  • + 1
 Exactly what I thought, that the rune would be 'too much' bike for my type of riding, especially as it will be replacing the hardtail i'm currently using for AM duties. Absolutely love the Spitfire, now to decide between the Fox and Cane Creek - what did you go for? I've got a lot of climbing and almost figured I could go for the fox for general xc duties and buy an aftermarket coil shock for bikepark days
  • + 1
 @ graeme187:
Right now I have the Manitou Evolver ISX-4 (feel free to watch in my Gallery). I have ordered the CCDB-Air, which wasn´t available in December, but is coming end of February. Fork is a BOS Deville, which gives enough Clearance for 2.25/2.35-650B Tires, although being not a 650B-specific Fork.
The story behind is that I don´t want all that Travel/Platform-Adjustment-Stuff anymore = less Maintainance, less Friction due to less Seals, less unnecessary Adjustments. Simply one or two Setups that work in all Conditions, that´s at least my Aim.

For the Climbs I still stick with a Double Chain Ring in Front. I´m not in the Boat for 1x XX right now. Climbing while staying seated on the Spitfire, or KS-Link in general, gives great Acceleration without bobbing, even on steeper technical Climbs.
  • + 2
 Beautiful bike - just looked at your gallery - are they 140 or 160mm forks?
  • + 3
 160mm bro ^
  • + 1
 Thank you graeme187! Yep, it´s the 160 mm Deville, but without TRL.
  • + 1
 Nostyle it looks awesome,i dont know much about Banshees,is that their Enduro bike and how much were the forks ? Bike parts are so much cheaper in Germany
  • + 1
 Thank you! Some Terms are maybe different from Europe to USA. European Enduro seems to be the same as All-Mountain in USA/Can. A Trail-Bike is what Europeans would call an Allmountain-Bike (AM) :-D
So the Rune is what Europeans call an Enduro-Bike, while the Spitfire is an AM-Bike.
I never ever would say Bike-Parts are cheaper in Germany! I purchased the Deville (2012-Modell) for 875 Euros, which was luckily "cheap". 2013er Deville is 970 Euros and more, even in Online-Stores right now !! A Fox 34er 650B Talas is around 1200.- that´s crazy expensive here I think ...
  • + 1
 Boss forks are expensive everywhere !
Bike parts - de is a lot cheaper for Sram and Shimano stuff compared to the UK,
the same as YT inds ,Canyon,Cube etc spec their bikes a lot higher for a lot less.
To me AM is Enduro (apart from the timing) is mountain biking ,but apparently you have to keep repackaging it to stop it stagnating !!!
  • + 1
 Pigman65, I agree with you - call it AM, Enduro, Freeride (some Years ago) or whatever you like - to me it is still Mountainbiking. I ride up, I ride down and everything between. I don´t know for the UK, but german MTB-Magazines are very "Creative" in finding new Terms for new Bike-Categories. You know - Freeride Light, Long-Travel-Enduro and Bullshit like that ... depends on the Travel of the Bikes they are testing and reviewing, hahaha ...
Well, can´t tell for SRAM or Shimano but yes, YT or Canyon do have great offerings. This is due to the Fact that they are Direct-Sales-Companies. No Distribution or LBS inbetween, so less Margin for the Customers to pay. Plus I´m thinking of Low-Cost Frameproduction and higher Unit-Numbers of Parts compared to Companies like Banshee, for example.
  • + 10
 2nd riding picture down, GOOD FACE MAAATEE!
  • + 2
 Saw the face haha, but I also make faces when I'm ripping too!

Also high jacking top comment to say: Wouldn't it be cool to see PB review this bike again in 26" mode? Perfect bike to test because you just swap the wheels out. I'm sure after dialing in the bike into 27.5" mode, a guy could ride the same trails in 26", and see what there is to notice. I think maybe the 650b Industrial complex should get together and have a university study the differences. With banshee primes and spitfires!
  • + 2
 He may have spotted a trail sausage.
  • + 6
 "No one is stipulating that your next bike absolutely has to have 650B wheels on it, and 26'' bikes and components will continue to be available for a very long time, so I don't see the sense in an anti-650B rant. The choices are there and we are all free to choose what makes the most sense for us. - Mike Levy"

But didn`t you and Pb just do that for the past 1 year? Stipulating that 29er are it, 29ers backfired big time and now its 650b and that somehow this is not going as well as planned either? So its interchangeable 26/650ies and soon nobody will ever talk about bigger wheels. I call this frivolous marketized obsolesence. Not good - consumers are not milkcows. Today they are your most important co-developers. Companys that listen instead of jumping on the marketing bandwagon will prevail - all other will bite the dust, including marketing associates that are conceptionally in a dead end and engineeringly challenged.
  • + 4
 First I think Banshee is one of the very few Companies that don´t really have something like "Marketing".
Second is that the V2 Runes and Spitfires seemed to be mainly designed around the trusty 26 Wheel, with the Opportunity for going 650B if you want. Banshee doesn´t claim the Runes or Spitfires to be specifically designed for 650B, like most of the other Brands do. Compare the Geometries of the Rune and Spitfire to those 650B-Specifics and you will surely be surprised in some Points! At least I was ... ;-)
  • + 13
 wakaba. 29ers didn't backfire though. For not tech trails - or - for places where there is opportunity to get momentum then 29ers can be fun. For North Van and most of Sea to Sky technical trails (Squamish to Pemberton) and for a lot of the Alps trails 29ers make very little sense I agree. But you have to admit that there are many places in the world where they do. Look at California and Colorado riding for example. More people there than bunch of Canucks and Swiss.
  • + 9

thank you for making sense here...

I live and ride in NW London, England. My trails are long dragging fire road climbs, fast woodsy single tracks and sometimes surprisingly technical descents with switchbacks and slippery, off-camber tree roots

29'er is perfect for my environment and I am way faster than on 26" bikes I've spent decades riding (since 1986).

I've also spent enough time riding the NS trails in Vancouver, as well as other environments around the Globe to know that 29'er is not for everyone, and I've had huge run riding 26" wheels in those environments

happy trails!

Rob Cole
  • + 4
 Thanks Rob - I was hoping some knowledgeable Brits could chime in. I've never ridden there but from the pictures I've seen your trails are surprisingly technical but with enough fast open bits to make it worthwhile to get a 29er. I daresay North East and much of the Eastern US is like that too but again, all of that is just from pictures.
  • + 2
 I agree with the sentiment but did laugh out loud when I realized he was quoting himself in the third person in his own article.
  • + 1
 I dare say that in Finland a 29er would make a lot more sense then 26er and this is from a noob point of view as i have ridden a proper full suspension 26" for about a year. I tried 29" and on that testrun i saw the help that it would make in technical squirmy single trails.. we have parks and stuff but from a freeriding angle it would be more suitable in most Finnish conditions and trails Smile

Happy trail as i have 2-3months before i can find some under the snow Big Grin
  • + 1
 Wakaba, have you seen this video? 29ers seem to be a bit better then I think we give them credit. Though being a better rider then most of us helps Andrew as well.
  • + 2
 >29ers backfired big time

What evidence do you have of this? None? Oh, what a shocker. I've never seen a group of people who think the big bad corporations are out to get them more than I have here.
  • + 2
 29ers backfired big time? Dude, you're trippin...while sales nationwide its about 50/50 29er vs 26, in the shop I work its about 90/10 29er vs 26. Its all about the terrain and trails where you live and what rides best on those trails.
  • + 2
 Hmm, my Tallboy LT just slayed it on some Sedona tech all day - guess I didn't realize they are teh suck for technical riding. Have fun bickering about which wheelsize you hate more, I'm going back to get more trail.
  • + 1
 If your new to mountain biking your often pushed into a 29er, just to have a look at the major players to see where he range is headed. I went to five shops when looking to purchase a new bike and 4 out of the five pushed the 29er. It was almost like a mantra with these guys.
  • + 2
 29er 650b or 26 inch each size has it's advantages and disadvantages. Personally I like my 29er for cross country and I like my 26er for DH. each are entirely different machines one a hardtail 120mm and one a 180 mm FR-DH rig each do their own thing and do it well. As far as 650b bikes I can defiantly see how they are going to be a compromise between 29 and 26 and take good attributes from each but i can't really talk from experience i haven't had a chance to try one yet. but i'm willing to give it a unbiased try. And to say that 29ers backfired you are apparently living in the early 2000's, have you ever even rode a newer 29er with up to date technology they are way better for the average everyday rider. ask any shop guy what size he/she sells the most of and i'd be willing to bet that they are going to say 80-90 percent of their mountain sales are going to be 29er. And that at least 90 percent are happy with the wheel size they were sold. There are the occasional customers that do like the feel of the 26er more but you can't blame the salesperson or the manufacturer for that, its purely opinion at that point.
  • + 2
 why are we still debating this. vote with your dollar.
  • + 3

thanks for your input

here's the interesting thing about 29'ers..

but for a supply problem with 29" tires (late 1970's/ early 1980's), the "Mountain Bike" was always going to be mass produced with 29", but they simply could not get the Nokian 29" tires in high enough stock levels to take the risk of committing to the bigger wheel!

was easier to get a high volume supply of 26" beach cruiser tires so that's what they went with...simply a business decision to protect their investment by actually having a product (bike) to sell to the market

was never an issue of performance or any other factor (they rode both and preferred 29") simply what was available in the early days that determined what we became to think of as "mountain bike" with 26" wheels.
  • + 1
 Gary Fisher & Charlie Kelly and Tom Ritchey wanted 700C or 650B, Nokian was the only manufacturer for either rim format to do a 2" wide off-road tread tire at the time abd aside from a handful of custom bikes (Tom Ritchey brought one of them to interbike this past fall) there wasn't enough of the tires in california in the late 70s to go forward with them. The first production run of mountain bikes numbered something like 140 units... so 280 tires were needed, all in the same size. Not an easy task when the entire USA shipment of Nokian 650B or 700C off-road tires for a year was something like 50 units.
  • + 1
 Dear Rob, does this Story not belong to the 650B Tires? As far as I know the very first "Klunkers" have had 650B Wheels, but then there was a switch to the more available 26" Beach-Cruiser-Tires you mentioned. Am I wrong?
  • + 1
 The first klunkers had whatever tires the bikes that were converted from could support, along with whatever gears and so one that could be grafted on. Charlie Kelly posts on mtbr and you could ask him what tires he remembers doing the original repack DH races with.
  • + 7
 It's interesting that we were just discussing bikes in which one may adjust the ride, and here is a 26"/650B interchangeable bike. Nice!
  • + 3
 Anyone knows the frame size that was tested? And the rider's height?
  • + 4
 "... I don't see the sense in an anti-650B rant"
Pinkbike journalists so often get ranted at because your readers know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. There is a tradeoff with change in wheelsize, but while the advantages of the larger wheelsize are frequently noted, the journalists never note the drawbacks. Even in this article, it's stated: "they will be gaining a slight advantage in some instances [with the larger wheels]", closely followed by "... 650B-wheeled bikes are, in every practical sense, as maneuverable and "lively" as 26'' wheels". You are once again saying that 650B wheels are better with no drawbacks. This is why people rant at you and feel like these bigger wheels are being shoved down our throats.
  • + 1
 Actually my impression is that they know their readers aren't the sharpest nails in the bag and will ignore physics and logic at every turn unless their hero racers/riders use the products also. They've just realized it faster with 650B releated reviews than 29er related ones, because they already went thru it with the larger wheels, and are now writing their reviews with random comments about the latest ANTI-something hysteria included ahead of time. When in a few months time you see BIG names on 650B bikes winning at enduro and DH races, and maybe a few doing some of the redbull freeride events, the masses will collectively remove their hands from their asses and stop whining about every new review and go find something else to bitch about.
  • + 4
 "One thing is clear as day to us: the differences between 29'' wheels and 26'' wheels is much, much more distinct than what is noticeable between 26'' and 650B. "

Honest statement

"So, what effect do the 650B wheels have on the Banshee Rune? Truth be told, we would be hard pressed to tell the difference in capabilities during a blind test as to if the bike actually performed better than a 26'' equipped version. But here's the thing: physics, along with a decade of 29ers, have proven that the larger diameter wheels' higher angle of attack do roll better over rough trail. That means that, given equal tires and tire pressure, 650B wheels carry more speed and can offer more traction over 26'' wheels in certain scenarios simply because of their larger diameter. We didn't pick up on this fact while testing the Rune, but it is there regardless of how subtle it is in the real world."

And another honest statement. Thanks for the take on that Mr Levy
  • + 2
 This is exactly what I noticed on my Mojo SL when I switched from 26" to 650b. here is less stalling out sensation over roots and rocks. I Use a racing ralph (650b)with the same traction I had on the nobby nick (26".)
  • + 1
 @willie1 its the longer tire contact patch giving more traction that's helping there. Same reason you see 29er riders using tires with tread patterns that would spin out like crazy in a 26er format, climbing up steep shit and descending at speed and leaning corners without fear of their tires breaking loose. In 26", the RaRa is very much a XC racer type tire and essentially useless for real all-around trail riding, where the Nobby Nic is quite good for that, but step up in diameter and the RaRa proves its effectiveness enough to be used as a trail-tire and the new larger Nobby's end up making great AM tires.
  • + 4
 Really good review I can honestly say I have never been a Banshee fan but I am in the market for a new 27.5"(650b) frame and this will definitely be on my list to demo. I really wish the Yeti SB66 was 27.5" compatible. One thing is for sure I'm really starting to like the line blurring qualities of the 27.5" once you learn what it likes you can turn some seriously fast times with it!
  • + 0
 as long as it never rains... look at the mud clearance with the 650b fitted, that is just plain silly.
  • + 1
 @ graeme187 - I am guessing the pictures make it look worse than it actually is. If you look at the specs the 27.5" dropouts are 10mm longer than the 26". Depending on what size tire you run the 26" is probably just as close.
  • + 3
 @ graeme187:
If you get the Chance to look for Rune or Spitfire in real Life you will recognize that there is plenty of Mud-Clearance. So much that you can run a 2.25 650B-Tire even in the 26-Dropouts with no Problem! ;-)
  • + 1
 I think he means the clearance on the forks it
  • + 1
 Ah ok, sorry! Did not thought about this!
  • + 1
 The new norcos are just hitting america and I have one on order so stoked
  • - 5
flag dthomp325 (Feb 18, 2013 at 8:00) (Below Threshold)
 The SB66 may be a nice bike, but Yeti has left a bad taste in my mouth for selling single pivots years after it was clear that newer designs are far superior. I can understand why they wanted their own suspension design, but they could have at least temporarily licensed a better design. Making sub-standard products because you're too cheap to license a patent is not going to win over customers.
  • + 1
 Except Yeti HAS licensed patents before... Mert Lawhill's 4-bar design was used by Yeti for several years. That patent has in fact long since expired and anyone can use it now.
  • + 1
 @ ash-smales - If he is talking about the fork it looks to be designed with good side clearance. In my experience that has been more of a issue than top of tire to crown. If you look at my picture you can see were the mud would build up and the sides of the tire and then the sides of the crown would shove the mud into the for stanchions and around the seals(you can see the mud ring around the tire). I never had to scrape the top of the tire or crown only the sides as it built up until it would quit rolling. I had just scrapped the mud off of the tire and fork when I took that pic
  • + 1
 @ largemountain - SKB or RKB? I'm hoping to demo the RKB soon!
  • + 2
 @ dthomp325 - There are many people/companies who like the handling or feel of a single pivot and are willing to live with one trait to get another. Every suspension design has its short comings in the end its always going to be a compromise. Not much out there is really new or that much better Just as 4-bar design was a rethink on what car racers had and still use, Suzuki RM motocross bikes used eccentric linkage design in 1986 however Yeti is employing it in a way that makes more sense.
  • + 1
 Not sure what the issue is with the fork -- normally you just buy the frame for this bike and build it up with your favorites -- for me it was a PIKE 27.5 fork -- no clearance problems.
  • + 3
 Been riding the 26' version for a few months now while testing for Vital, and have to agree with pretty much all of this. It's a DH'ers perfect trail bike. I've got mine under 30lb without any crazy light components and the only real compromise going up is a bit extra weight and the slack angles, which probably won't bother most of the riders attracted to this bike anyway. Probably descends better than any DH race bike I had prior to about 2003.
  • + 3
 I need to see this. My spitfire is an insanely light build and I am just under 30lb. Carbon everything and XX1 to boot. Don't see how you can get sub 30 on the Rune w/o spending some serious coin.
  • - 12
flag dthomp325 (Feb 18, 2013 at 7:53) (Below Threshold)
 It needs a front derailluer option to be a decent trail bike.
  • + 5
 It has a front derailleur option, the testers just chose to run a guide.
  • + 3
 @Dlogb13 start with the PB build of 31.8. Then take off the dropper post, replace the coil fork with a much lighter Talas 36, lighter 2.5/2.35 single ply minions, and Spank's new 1650g Oozy EVO wheelset and getting mine under 30 isn't too hard to imagine.
  • + 1
 I have a spitfire built at 27lbs, and the rune I used to have (last generation) was 29.5lbs in trail trim, and 33.5lbs with a Dorado and light DH wheels on it. Sub 30lbs is quite easy unless using DH wheels/tires.
  • + 3
 @dthomp325 I guess you are either trying to wind people up or you need to get on the turbo or trails more and get some muscles in those legs Smile
  • + 2
 @betsie A weekend all-mountain ride for me is around 25-40 miles with 3-6k of climbing (that's 150-250 ft / mile average including the downhills). I am not strong enough to push a 32 for that long. Hell, even on my XC bike I do some climbs that a 32 is too tall for. The steepest climb I have ever cleaned was in a 24/34 on my XC bike. I have failed the same climb on a 29/34. But, it sounds like the bike can be setup with a front d., so all is good.
  • + 1
 I had no issues with the Gargamel climb in Whistler on a 36/32 as that is a pretty simple climb.
I rode many of the Whistler XC climbs last year and 36/32 was my smallest gear.
I used 33/32 until 2 weeks ago and have just changed to 32 up front to match using a Straightline silent guide 32T.
No issues with the length of the climbs, even from 2kft up to 10kft in Spain and the climb to the top of 6" only there, which is 14km long.
I do love a good long, technical, steep burning climb, what is over the other side tends to be worth it.
  • + 1
 btw about the Chain guide. the mrp G3 dose not work for this frame because of the angel and chainline. buy a e thirteen those do work. just believe and don't waste your money on the mrp.
  • + 3

Really glad to see the 2nd generation Rune getting some proper love with its ball bearing pivots, Cane Creek D.B. Air shock and K.S. suspension (glad you went with that suggestion, you deserve the props for all your hard work!)

also great to see Banshee Bikes back in the UK with Ison Distribution under the Banshee Bikes name.

UK Riders? talk to your local dealer about getting one of these beauties (hint: pretty much every bike shop in the UK deals with I.D.)
  • + 1
 Rob! Cheers for the Ison Distribution plug. I build up my Rune at the weekend and rode it on sunday for the first time. Such an amazing bike. Arguably the best bike I've ever ridden. Descends like a demon. Pat
  • + 2
 I was checking the last generation Rune out, but decided on a Giant Reign instead, because the Reign's build quality seemed a lot better. The quality of the linkages and pivots on this model looks vastly better than the last generation. Throw in progressive geometry and a ton of adjustment options, and this seems like a great bike.
  • + 2
 Anyone looking to ride the new Prime, Spitfire or Rune in the UK can do so this weekend (23rd Feb) at the Stif Demo Day up in Harrogate. We'll have one of each for people to test out!


Next weekend (March 3rd) at Cannock Chase with Leisure Lakes Bikes.

Ison Distribution
UK Banshee importer
  • + 2

What is your comment "not an exact mid-point between 26'' and 29'' but rather much closer to the smaller diameter wheel" based on???

I have measured the outside diameter of MANY 26", 27.5" and 29in tires in the 2.2-2.4" range and in general 27.5" AM tires are +15.0mm larger radially and 29ers are +30.0mm larger radially which is EXACTLY in between.

  • + 3
 Here are some stats for you...

Tire outer diameter (all maxxis 2.4 same model mounted on same cross section 23mm internal rim width).

26" - 691mm
650B - 716mm
29" - 754mm

650B-26"= 25mm
29"-650B= 38mm

Mike is right, 650B is closer to 26" than 29"... it is not 27.5"... but effecitively comparible to 27.19"... not that you would notice any difference.
  • - 13
flag deeeight Plus (Feb 18, 2013 at 11:13) (Below Threshold)
 @Builttoride... I'm not sure where you got your diameters but they're WRONG...

your 26er... 691mm, that's 27.2", the 650B.... is 28.19", and the 29er is 29.69"... In the REAL world where real riders have measured tires, the only 650B tire that has come out as 27.19" has been the Pacenti Quasi-Moto 2.0. Perhaps you should try reciting numbers from the REAL world, not the make believe world. And in the real world, 1" = 25.4mm exactly.
  • + 12
 I got them from Maxxis engineering team directly... 3D models with precise dimension.

The terms 26" and 29" do not refer to the outer diameter of the tire, they are to do with rim/tire interface diameters.
  • + 2
 Deeeight, considering Builttoride designed and Built the New Banshee KS link bikes I think he probably has the inside scoop from Maxxis on sizing....
  • + 2
 deeight is a crusty old troller, he knows a lot about bikes but that doesn't make him nice about it- funny that he called out the engineer and got pwned lol
  • - 5
flag deeeight Plus (Feb 19, 2013 at 13:52) (Below Threshold)
 Well he may have designed the space shuttle too, that doesn't alter the fact he's f*ckING wrong about the tire measurements. Think about it people... he's given numbers in mm that are impossible for the tires... maxxis can do whatever 3D modeling they want, but that's not how the tires are coming out of the molds and being actually inflated, and gee whiz...a tire company that lies about their dimensional claims... that never happens of course.

The term 26" referred historically to the nominal size of the balloon tires for beach cruiser type bikes that were first made for the 559mm bead diameter rims. 29er the same thing, except that it what the nominal inflated diameter of a tire made for a 622mm rim with a 2.1" width. The only thing he got right was the differences between 26er and 650B rims (25mm bead diameter difference) and 650B and 700C (albeit identified as 29" in his message) is 38mm, and IDEALLY the difference in tire diameters for the same brand/model/width of tires should vary by those diameter differences if they kept the tire molds the same other than changing the diameters of them, but in reality that rarely actually happens.

Now if the "ENGINEER" with all the pedigree of designing banshees and so forth, wasn't so stuck up and positive he had the right numbers, he might have used some common sense and done the math conversions before posting in the first place, and after being caught making such glaring REAL WORLD errors, he might have gone back and looked at his source again and maybe asked them how they were producing tires larger in diameter for a 2.4 claimed width, than ANY other manufacturer has ever done. For that matter, he might have realized that saying 650B is closer to 26" than 29" but it is not 27.5", when he's gone and given numbers that proved his own statement WRONG (28.188" diameter listed for 650B is a LOT bigger than 27.5" and much closer to 29" than it is to 26"), that his numbers were off....
  • + 2
 ^ are you quite finished?
  • + 2
 I'll let people decide for themselves...

However, if you read my post I did say 'effectively comparble to 27.19"' by which I meant 27.19" RIM bede diameter which was calculated by interpolation between relative tire diematers relation to the bede diameter.
  • + 3
 ^physics is fun guys! 26xPi, 27.5xPI, 29xPI. There seems to be a positive correlation with my appetite. Apple filling anyone? Iv just heard from some very prestigeous scientists that 29 is actually larger than 26. But the big thing is this. According to recent studies, there is evidence that supports a rising theory that 27.5 is actually found somewhere in the middle of 26 and 29. Were still not sure how this works in tbe real world but theres more to come on that soon. Im gonna go get some deserts. Smile
  • + 1
 this was a gem of a sub-thread! always dig your replies @deeeight
  • + 3
 How's that dropper post cable loop working out? Never seen it like that before, but I've gotta imagine it works if you chose to run it that way.
  • + 1
 I'm glad to see a review finally surface of a Rune that is not still in development. I have had this bike on my short list with the SB66, Covert and Range Killer B for some time, and these reviews are really quite helpful in the decision making process. Two down and two to go!
  • + 1
 No one is stipulating that your next bike absolutely has to have 650B wheels on it, and 26'' bikes and components will continue to be available for a very long time, so I don't see the sense in an anti-650B rant. The choices are there and we are all free to choose what makes the most sense for us. - Mike Levy

cue to 2016...26" bikes and components are not really around much anymore...
  • + 4
 "Extremely supple without any gimmicky stanchion coating" wonder which fork manufacturer you could be referring to?
  • + 1
 Drool - Raw is the new white. Really great looking bike. If I was after a doitaller now, this would go into top three, with Spec Enduro and Yeti SB66. SC better do something, Nomad is loosing the ground... Like improve those hideous paintjobs!
  • + 1
 Riding one for myself and put the Talas 32 w/ 150 mm due to budget reasons onto it. Don't ever make the mistake to think that a fork like this could keep up with the rear suspension. Can't wait to put a more capable fork to this beast.
  • + 1
 Solid review Mike! I recently demoed a Rune and I'm sad to say I didn't feel what you felt in the rear. TOTALLY due to the CCDBA settings... I wish I had the time to reset the shock to the default adjustments. All in all, Banshee has a hit with this one, and the Spitfire V2 as well!
  • + 2
 Excellent review! I've been riding one since October and this review pretty much matches my experience with it. It's an awesome bike!
  • + 2
 Impressive rear triangle. Guess it takes hammering without noticing. Would love to compare KS Link to VPP on trails..
  • + 0
 I think testing the bike without a granny gear makes the the review not complete. sounds like a good frame otherwise, but the last rune sucked really back for granny gear pedalling, how much better is this one?
  • + 1
 The antisquat has been significantly reduced from that of the V1, so it is a lot more pedal neutral in the granny ring.
  • + 1
 Agree! the antisquat is almost gonne ....
  • + 3
 Did this get buried? I don't remember seeing it on the front page....
  • + 3
 solid review, matches the expectations and early returns
  • + 1
 makes me feel better about ordering a frame. now if only the snow would melt.
  • + 2
 'deciding between M/L (I'm 180cm) how tall are you - Mike Levy?
  • + 1
 OK, I just found my next bike. I like the idea of having two sizes of wheelsets for one AM machine.
  • + 2
 I'm just waiting for the first proper 650B DH/FR bikes, anyone?!
  • + 1
 can't help but wonder how the Rune and the Knolly Chilcotin compare. Anyone have saddle time in both?
  • + 1
 how's the sizing of the frames? seems like a lot of seat post visible there.
  • + 2
 impressive! Definitely wouldnt mind adding this bike to my stable!
  • + 1
 I'm shocked. This frame is just beauty (and the beast).
Is there any posibility to mount front derailleur?
  • + 3
  • + 2
 Or the SRAM 3 or something like that but the easy answer is yes.
  • + 1
 sram spec 3 bottom pull.
  • + 1
 The direct mount bottom pull front derailleurs fit ...
  • + 1
 Good Bike i wish i had one in my garage
  • + 1
 Though that Banshee is pretty damn rad!
  • + 1
 would love to see it on the start page...!
  • + 1
 When I first looked I thought it said 'ZTR FLOWER' on the rims. :L
  • + 1
 SICK bike, though it could be better with some shimano componentry.
  • + 1
 what a bike... just dreaming having one...
  • + 1
 ordered mine.
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