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  1. #1
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    What do I need to know about a 650b conversion? Or is this crazy talk?

    Now that my Miele is almost done (pics to come!) I need a new project and I want a faster bike for myself. I've been riding my Raleigh Superbe everywhere and although it's lovely to ride, it would be nice to be able to go a little bit faster. It's a bit of a slug, especially going uphill!

    I'd like to try a road bike (having never really ridden one much) and would prefer a diamond frame, except I have extremely short legs and need a 48cm (tried a 50cm and it was too big - just). I know I have the option of a mixte or a step through, but I just love the way a nice diamond frame with lots of chrome looks.

    So I had a brainwave today and was wondering if a 650b conversion of a smaller (say 51 cm) bike is the way to go. How much can I realistically expect to lose, standover wise? a 50 cm frame touches...soft tissue but not bone.

    And obviously there are other considerations - but what are they? clearance between the frame and tire, width wise I presume.

    But budget is limited, so I'd love to have some guideline measurements for how much clearance. Also, how much is this going to cost, approximately? I see the need for different brakes, rims, spokes, hubs. Anything else?

    Or should I forget it and either wait it out for the right tiny frame or suck it up and get some sort of mixte or step through?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I'd say wait for the right frame. I know nothing about 650 conversions, though. If nothing else, I would think it would be easier to just buy a wheel-set than to buy new parts and have one built, unless you can build your own wheels. And I wouldn't think you'd need new hubs if you use a donor wheel-set, which might be a good way to go there. New hubs are pricey for something nice. Unless you just want some OK quality hubs(nothing wrong with that. That's all I have.), in which case I'm sure someone on the forum can help you out for cheap and/or shipping.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. You might be right. I'm impatient, LOL. I can't build wheels (only just learning the basics), so it might be too expensive and too ambitious.

    Is a mixte going to feel (and go) much faster than my 3 speeds?

  4. #4
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    I haven't really spent much time on a Mixte, but I know there are some with road bike geometries and drop bars, so I'd think they'd ride like a road bike. It would depend on where you live, but I know in this college town, small bikes pop up on CL at least every couple months.

  5. #5
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    What are you going to do with the Miele?
    Have you been going to garage sales around the city looking for a new project?
    My latest is a road bike, first one since my Benotto.
    I think it is one size to big but rides nice.http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-my-Bianchi...
    Can't wait to see the pics of the miele.
    Bob

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    You might get a little bit of an improvement in standover height from a 650 conversion, and it sounds as if you want only a little. You'll drop standover height by 19mm (about 3/4") from the the wheel switch, but you'll probably give some of that back since many 650b tires are taller (in cross section) than the typical 700c road tire. Don't forget to check tire prices when you are figuring expenses. Waiting for a good mixte might be a more reliable course to take.
    Good luck, either way.

  7. #7
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    This is a decent introductory primer on 650B conversions: http://www.cxrace.com/blog/blogger/650B%20Ed/

  8. #8
    Senior Member bumpalong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rookgirl View Post
    Thanks. You might be right. I'm impatient, LOL. I can't build wheels (only just learning the basics), so it might be too expensive and too ambitious.

    Is a mixte going to feel (and go) much faster than my 3 speeds?
    A lightweight mixte with a racing or sport touring geometry and lightweight components (particularly a quality modern wheelset) will be a world of difference from your Superbe. Given your size a diamond frame will not only be hard to find but diamond frames of that size start running into design challenges as they are almost outside the range of what is appropriate when built up with 700c wheels. I don't think you'll be losing anything much by going with the mixte - a slight gain in weight perhaps, but not too much.

  9. #9
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    There's always the Terry style option. That would depend on your budget, though. I did find a Pristine terry style Miyata 512 last summer for $50, so they're out there for good deals, but a lot harder to find than a good deal on a regular, larger bike. If you have a budget of at least ~$300 I'd bet you can find a nice terry style without too much difficulty. I think there's a site just for terry bikes.

  10. #10
    vintage motor kroozer's Avatar
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    +1 on Terry. Georgena Terry makes frames especially for shorter riders. Many road bikes have a 700c rear and a 26" front wheel, to keep the frame geometry fairly normal on a small frame. I've seen a couple on Ebay recently for under $200, they looked pretty nice.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobman90 View Post
    What are you going to do with the Miele?
    Have you been going to garage sales around the city looking for a new project?
    My latest is a road bike, first one since my Benotto.
    I think it is one size to big but rides nice.http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-my-Bianchi...
    Can't wait to see the pics of the miele.
    Bob
    The Miele is for my husband (who thinks it might be too small for him! fingers crossed).

    My budget is low until the end of summer (when I start work again), so it really needs to be bargain basement! Maybe a mixte is in my future with a new wheelset, at least until my dream diamond frame comes up!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kroozer View Post
    +1 on Terry. Georgena Terry makes frames especially for shorter riders. Many road bikes have a 700c rear and a 26" front wheel, to keep the frame geometry fairly normal on a small frame. I've seen a couple on Ebay recently for under $200, they looked pretty nice.
    Oooh, thanks for that. I hadn't thought about a Terry. Maybe once my finances are in better shape! Does she work out of Rochester NY (where I did my grad school!) or am I wrong about that?

  13. #13
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    a couple things I've picked over the years (mostly by reading posts on Bikeforums.net:

    Mixte frames: Generally, over the years, they occupy the lower end of the bike builder's catalog... meaning most frames are heavier steel. If you are looking for a fast bike, they may have that disadvantage. (on the other hand, a well designed mixte is way cool). Personally, I find the update mixtes with flat or flared back riser bars have an aesthetic appeal over drop bar mixte but just my 2 cents. Soma makes a new mixte frame set for $450 dollars in a number of sizes.

    650B is totally cool... but I have a couple and I just dig them. Certainly a wide/tall 650B tire (40MM +) will negate somewhat the drop in standover...But the Maxy Fasty is a nice tire, slick, 32MM, and high pressure - good for fast road riding.

    650B does have wider tires so measuring up a frame candidate is key. Get your metric measuring tape out and keep it in your pocket along with a print out of the following:
    http://650b.webs.com/conversions.htm
    I keep this stuff in my pockets and if I happen upon a C-List ad or a bike at a yard sale, I can measure up!

    Considerations: Going from a 27" wheel to 650B is a looooong reach for the brakes. 700C tires are better, so a bike with 700C originally is easier on the brake reconfig.

    For that matter, Trek has made some really nice WSD (women specific design) racers for some time. My wife (4'10" on a good day) has a Trek 1500 (45CM?) with 650C tires. She loves it. It's not a new bike, so perhaps there are a few used ones out there for easy money.

    Scrounging for 650B: This is the way I do my builds for 650B. I wait and wait and wait until a nice late 80's/early 90's steel road frame in my size comes up. Then I wait for a good used set of wheels. Then I scrounge bits from the volunteer shop I work at, but I'll have to buy long reach brakes. This process has taken (for my recent build) more than a year. I do this to maximize my $ savings. If I wanted to get it done fast, (buy a custom wheelset, new bits and pieces, and a higher priced used frame) I reckon I'd spend at leaset $600+ bucks - near as much as, say, a used Trek WSD 1000 or 1500. On the other hand, when I get my 650B bike set up, it's fun as hell, unique, and my pride and joy.

  14. #14
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurdd50 View Post

    Mixte frames: Generally, over the years, they occupy the lower end of the bike builder's catalog... meaning most frames are heavier steel. If you are looking for a fast bike, they may have that disadvantage. (on the other hand, a well designed mixte is way cool). Personally, I find the update mixtes with flat or flared back riser bars have an aesthetic appeal over drop bar mixte but just my 2 cents. Soma makes a new mixte frame set for $450 dollars in a number of sizes.

    650B is totally cool... but I have a couple and I just dig them. Certainly a wide/tall 650B tire (40MM +) will negate somewhat the drop in standover...But the Maxy Fasty is a nice tire, slick, 32MM, and high pressure - good for fast road riding.
    Put the two together, and you get my wife's new bike, a Soma 650B mixte built around 42mm Hetres and Shimano Nexus 8 IGH:

    Riding the Catskills blog

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  15. #15
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    Mmmm...nice bike!

  16. #16
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
    Put the two together, and you get my wife's new bike, a Soma 650B mixte built around 42mm Hetres and Shimano Nexus 8 IGH:

    Like I said... yummy!
    the double tube mixtes and albatross or northroad (or porteur!) bars look killer. That one is a head turner.

  17. #17
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    I've been dreaming of Porteur bars on a mixte - do you think it really has to be a French mixte to do this? Would using, say, an English or Japanese bike be mixing metaphors?

  18. #18
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rookgirl View Post
    I've been dreaming of Porteur bars on a mixte - do you think it really has to be a French mixte to do this? Would using, say, an English or Japanese bike be mixing metaphors?
    I think porteur bars look fantastic on any mixte, regardless of origin. I would have put porteur bars on my wife's Soma, but I already had the Albatross bars in the parts bin and was trying to minimize costs. But if I didn't already have the A-bars, I would have gone with porteur bars, no doubt!
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  19. #19
    Senior Member leftthread's Avatar
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    Dirk's 650b Waterford project.
    And it's orange!

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__Afdiekwwq...20ford+004.JPG

  20. #20
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
    I think porteur bars look fantastic on any mixte, regardless of origin. I would have put porteur bars on my wife's Soma, but I already had the Albatross bars in the parts bin and was trying to minimize costs. But if I didn't already have the A-bars, I would have gone with porteur bars, no doubt!
    They're not directly comparable to me, though. I'll bet she's digging the Albatross bars. They're huge, but so comfy. I'm thinking of using the Nitto Dove on my mom's build.
    Bikes on Flickr
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  21. #21
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    not a mixte but Velo Orange Porteurs on my Takara 650B conversion
    Very comfortable handlebar

  22. #22
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    That looks so cool. I love bikes with fenders, hence the 650b bug. And the porteurs look great too!

    Off to stir my strawberry jam now!
    Last edited by rookgirl; 06-21-11 at 07:05 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    The biggest reason to convert a stock frame to 650b is to create more clearance for bigger tires. Your standover doesn't get affected much because of the bigger tires. A "700c"wheel is 622mm while 650b is 584.That's only a difference of 19mm in radius, if you substitute 40mm tires for 28 you regain 12mm. The only technical thing to worry about is the break reach. Mine is here:

    http://simplecycle-marc.blogspot.com...and-mixte.html

    Marc
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  24. #24
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonelJLloyd View Post
    They're not directly comparable to me, though. I'll bet she's digging the Albatross bars. They're huge, but so comfy. I'm thinking of using the Nitto Dove on my mom's build.
    You're right, Justin, it is comparing apple and oranges, but flipped porteur bars (like I have on my Jeunet) offer a somewhat similar (but not the same) hand position as the Albatross bars, but with less rise and less of a back sweep. And they're narrower. And yep, she's diggin' the A-bars, and the whole bike for that matter!
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  25. #25
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurdd50 View Post
    not a mixte but Velo Orange Porteurs on my Takara 650B conversion
    Very comfortable handlebar
    I saw your conversion on Ecovelo awhile back. Nicely done! The porteur bars work so nicely with that build.
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    1971 Mercian Olympic | 1972 Jeunet 630 | 1982 Jack Taylor Tour of Britain | 1984 Shogun 1500 650B | 2013 Rawland Stag | 2014 Jeff Lyon L'Avecaise

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