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Old 09-24-11, 07:35 PM   #1
-holiday76
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Raleigh Portage build, first ride, 650b first impressions

Some weeks ago fender1 snagged this Raleigh Portage frameset that happened to be my size. I convinced him I should own it and he gave me a very good price on it. It had been repainted and came as seen here, with its original sealed bearing hubs laced to 26" MTB rims.



I started gathering parts for it. A little later ColonelLoyd informed me of a set of 650b wheels off of a Rivendel someone was selling on his local CL for a good price. He was nice enough to pick them up for me and ship 'em too. Most of the rest of the parts I had, though Nlerner sent me some suntour bar ends. This forum is the best eh? Well some of you anyway...

Well, this past week I got her built up, and today I took her for a nice 25-30 miler. This is my first experience with 650b by the way.

So, here's the bike:



Here's the build list:
-Tange headset
-45cm nitto b115's
-sr 77mm stem
-tektro levers
-green newbaums cotton tape
-sr post
-brooks pro, big copper rivets
-deore canti's
-older blackburn front rack that will be getting swapped out of a better fitting Vo or Nitto soon
-650b velocity rims laced to deore hubs. the front will be switched to a switchable VO dyno very soon. 9 sp shimano 13-34 cassette
- suntour xt rear mech
- suntour lepree front mech
- TA cyclotouriste running 48/32 rings, 170mm arms.
-38mm Panaracer Col de Vie's
-nos black bluemels

ride impressions:
in short, it is freaking awesome! Why? Because it is fast, stable, comfortable, and floats over crappy road conditions, which we have a lot here.

Fast because it keeps up just fine with people riding 23mm tire road bikes. Easily cruising at the same speed I cruise on riding my racier bikes. Say 16-18 mph in flats for example.



Stable because it's a touring bike with super long chain stays with fat tires( with low rolling resistance - bought and shipped for less than the price of one Hetre, low road noise too) and predictable steering.



Comfortable because you can run the tires at low pressure for that cushy ride, even over dirt roads and heavily damaged roads like this:



or textured bridges like this:



It climbs very well and doesnt feel sluggish even with lower pressure tires. The frame does have some flex, but I don't feel that has a negative effect.

How about toe clearance? Yeah, we got that, even with fenders, and size 14 feet!



the gearing is awesome, you spend most of the time in the large chain ring. You have a low gear of 24 inches (which gets used around here) and a high of 96. The 9 speeds to pick from in the rear allow me to always match the cadence I'm looking for. The TA crank allows me to have full range of the cassette from either the large or small ring.

the cockpit is super comfy too with the wider nittos, the wide hoods and levers on the tektros, and the "naked" cotton bar tape with a little extra. The extra is some padding I made under the tape by cutting up an old tube and taping it to the bars before I wrapped them. I got the idea for the inner tube from fender1. I rode today with no gloves as I usually do, no numbness at all.

So, clearly I love this thing. Out of the box, right after the build, the only changes I'm making are ditching the front rack for a better fitting one (this one sits too high and doesn't allow my bag a very graceful interface)




and I have to make some minor adjustments to the front mech to get it dialed in. The TA cranks don't leave a lot of room for outter adjustment without having the cage hit the inside of the drive side crank arm. You have to use a mech with a flat outter cage too.

the fenders need a little bit of work to get a better chain line as well.

and the seat post binder bolt was bottom out before it tightened enough so I threw a temp replacement in until I get the right one.

So overall I'm very happy. This bike suites me very well for 90% of the riding that I do. If I were to scale down my collection, this one will always be in it. In fact it would be a strong contender for THE BIKE if I could only own one. Take that De Rosa Atantis!!
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Old 09-24-11, 07:39 PM   #2
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Did i mention there is room for both coffee AND water now?
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Old 09-24-11, 08:56 PM   #3
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This is the bike to have if you're having only one. I guess that's the opposite of a Schaefer, if you're old enough to know what I'm talking about.
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Old 09-24-11, 09:30 PM   #4
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Very nice!

Cheers,
Chris
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Old 09-24-11, 09:40 PM   #5
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That's awesome, Holiday! It came out great. That's probably the best Portage build I've seen, and certainly the nicest color (I never cared for the stock green).

One question about the 9-speed with TA double setup: how much clearance do you have between the chain and the crank arm when in the largest chainring/smallest cog combo? On my TA double, with 8-speed cassette and 130mm rear spacing, the chain comes to about a mm from the crank arm in that gear combo.
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Old 09-25-11, 01:53 AM   #6
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Ive had a good look at the photos, and I like everything about that bike. Absolutely bloody marvellous. Enjoy
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Old 09-25-11, 05:19 AM   #7
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Looks great! I am really glad that the frame worked out for you! Aren't wide range doubles great around here?
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Old 09-25-11, 05:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
That's awesome, Holiday! It came out great. That's probably the best Portage build I've seen, and certainly the nicest color (I never cared for the stock green).

One question about the 9-speed with TA double setup: how much clearance do you have between the chain and the crank arm when in the largest chainring/smallest cog combo? On my TA double, with 8-speed cassette and 130mm rear spacing, the chain comes to about a mm from the crank arm in that gear combo.
Anton, not sure what the exact measurement is but holiday & I cold set this frame to 132mm so it probably has a bit more clearance.

Last edited by fender1; 09-25-11 at 05:41 AM.
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Old 09-25-11, 05:56 AM   #9
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You've got the 650B bug now, dude! Nice looking bike there, and a smart configuration.

You really do have to ride these 650B wheeled bikes to fully appreciate what they're about. When you realize that you're not giving up much in the way of speed and acceleration and yet the bikes can go comfortably over poor road surfaces it's easy to get hooked.

Col de la Vie tires are okay, but there are better 650B tires available these days. You can certainly fit any of the bigger road tires in that frame. Grand Bois Hetes or Pacenti Pari Motos would feel faster.

Now that you have a good set of 650B wheels you could try them in one of your 700C bikes. If they fit, get some Tektro R-556/559 dual pivot brakes and try a 650B conversion. *That's* where it gets really interesting!
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Old 09-25-11, 07:54 AM   #10
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thanks for the compliments guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
That's awesome, Holiday! It came out great. That's probably the best Portage build I've seen, and certainly the nicest color (I never cared for the stock green).

One question about the 9-speed with TA double setup: how much clearance do you have between the chain and the crank arm when in the largest chainring/smallest cog combo? On my TA double, with 8-speed cassette and 130mm rear spacing, the chain comes to about a mm from the crank arm in that gear combo.

not any as it turns out. What I thought was rub on the inner cage was that, but it was also rubbing on the crank arm in the 8th and 9th (smallest and second smallest) cogs.

in this pic i'm in the 8th cog:



so I think first I'm going to jump up a few millimeters in length in the bb spindle. Currently it's a 115, but they say 115-118 works with the TA, so I'm going to try a 118 and see if it moves the crank out enough to get around the rubbing. If that doesnt work in both cogs i'll swap out to an 8 speed cassette. Between those two thing I'm pretty confident I can rectify this.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:05 AM   #11
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Wowser-yowser, Holiday! That is a fantastic build. -Beautiful AND practical, for just about any condition.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:18 AM   #12
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That looks sweet. Now I feel the pull to try one.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:02 AM   #13
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Brian, FWIW I am running a 124mm bb (122mm w/ 2mm spacer) on my bike w/ a similar gearing set up. The rear spacing on mine is 135mm. Maybe something like 122mm? I have no issues w/ clearance front or rear. The front is close but a little trimming makes it work fine.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:21 AM   #14
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Congrats on the build, got a beautiful rig there.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:31 AM   #15
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Very very nice. Looks like the kind of bike you could ride forever.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:32 AM   #16
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Honest question here...

So I have my Fuji Touring Series V...obviously long wheelbase/chainstays, 27" wheels with nice big 27 x 1 1/4" tires.

Were I to build up a 650B conversion would I feel a lot of difference between that and the TS V?

Anyone ridden this sort of conversion AND a full blown touring bike to compare?

EDIT: And if I were to do this I think I might go modern and do a single chainring with a wide range 9-10 speed rear.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:57 AM   #17
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i can say one thing, I don't know how much the difference in wheel size makes the difference, but to really get the cushy feel of a higher volume tire I think you need to go 36 mm at an absolute minimum. If you could fit a 700x36 or preferably a little bigger on a bike made for 27" wheels i'd think you'd have a fairly similar feel. My Lotus is a 27" wheeled touring bike with canti's, but the biggest I can fit in a 700c while having room for fenders is a actual 32, and that just doesnt approach the same feel as these 38's.

42mm hetres are in my future btw, as I do have the room for them on this bike.

fender1, can i borrow your TA puller or drop by one day this week to swap out this spindle?
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Old 09-25-11, 10:08 AM   #18
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Another real good project. Nice work, Holiday76. I see that you're using 170mm crank arms. even with shorter arms, are do you have any ground clearance issues?
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Old 09-25-11, 10:46 AM   #19
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you could also do a 7speed cassette with the 4.5mm spacer on the outside.
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Old 09-25-11, 10:51 AM   #20
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Does anyone else miss the mid-80s Raleigh UsA line (which was run by Huffy)? They really put out some decent-to-excellent bikes.
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Old 09-25-11, 10:54 AM   #21
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So now that you have tried and liked a 650b bike, where do you see 700c fitting in? Can you think of any circumstance that you would prefer 700c... other than maybe than finding things at an LBS.

Can you compare it to a rigid mountain bike with slick tires?
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Old 09-25-11, 11:01 AM   #22
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Another real good project. Nice work, Holiday76. I see that you're using 170mm crank arms. even with shorter arms, are do you have any ground clearance issues?
thanks! no issues so far, though I didnt specifically try to test that.
Just in case its not clear, this bike was designed for 650b wheels, this is not a conversion. in fact it came with 175mm cranks as well.
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Old 09-25-11, 11:07 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkeller234 View Post
So now that you have tried and liked a 650b bike, where do you see 700c fitting in? Can you think of any circumstance that you would prefer 700c... other than maybe than finding things at an LBS.

Can you compare it to a rigid mountain bike with slick tires?
good questions. I want to run this bike with a front rack only, and use it for every day riding, as well as rando events eventually. my 700c touring bike will be just that, for touring or at least large loads. front and rear racks, etc.

i ould still keep a skinnier tired 700c bike around for when i'm doing club type rides on good roads. there are still rides i do that i dont really need the bigger tires of the 650b bike. i'm not saying the 650b couldnt handle those conditions or keep up, but its just overkill and heavier than it woud need to be in those situations.

the reality for me though is that most of my riding these days is not touring, not fast rides with roadies, and not mtb riding. It's 25-100 mile 14-16mph rides for several hours over often crappy roads. I will do a century on this 650b bike though to see how its suited to that. I suspect it will be great.
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Old 09-25-11, 11:09 AM   #24
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Quote:
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Can you compare it to a rigid mountain bike with slick tires?
yeah, it doesnt compare. This bike is lighter, more responsive, and has a much shorter top tube. mtb slick tires bikes are ok, but for me they dont have the fit that this bike has, or the speed, and there is a decent weight difference. its probably less about the 26" click tires vs the 650b tires and more about the frame characteristics.
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Old 09-25-11, 11:36 AM   #25
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My 650b bike has become my favorite, and the 3rd frame I built was a 650b commuter for my wife that I'm waiting to come back from paint. I just laced up the wheels this morning.

Nice build. I think I'm going to put CdlV's on my wife's bike bike, mine has Fatty Rumpkins which I also like but they are pretty fat.

As a point of interest, I designed both frame to work with both 700x28's and 650b's with just a brake caliper and wheel change.

Pete
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