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  1. #1
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Why is no one pushing 650B or tubeless on commuters?

    This post arose from trying to work out a commuter bike build on paper. It would have had 650B slick tires in a 26" disk frame - since 38's on 650B are about the same diameter as 50's on 26", and there's no brake reach issue with disks. All the 650B disk wheels I'm finding are tubeless. So I thought maybe it would be fun to try tubeless, but I can't find tubeless-ready slicks. Why not?

    So a few years ago when I set out to be a bike nerd, 650B was a twee affectation by Rivendell and Compass and a few others. They stressed its convenient size to mount big tires and fenders, while maintaining a conventional road bike geometry. They apologized for the lack of tire choices, and tried to provide premium options. At the same time, tubeless tires for mountain bikes came about. The supposed advantages are light weight, better ride via low pressure, higher reliability. As a result of this we have plenty of options to try tubeless conversions on a commuter bike. Stan's No-Tubes kits are available for 26" mountain and 29er and cyclocross, which probably covers most things that are not high pressure road tires; and if you want to you can do the "ghetto" conversion for even cheaper. Since then, purpose-made road and mountain tubeless tires have become popular.

    But there's still no design-specific commuter tubeless rim/tire that I can find. There's no big tubeless-specific slick to put on those 650B tubeless wheel sets, or 26" or 29er for that matter. There's no big road tubeless tires to run at lower pressure. All the 650B slicks are clinchers.

    Wouldn't we of all people want the supposed advantages of these things? Whether or not they really are advantages, wouldn't the marketers be aiming for the mass market?

  2. #2
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Tubeless is more about the rims than tires. There are a growing number of people running Compass/Grand Bois tires tubeless. Check the comments section: Introducing the Full Line of Compass Tires | Off The Beaten Path

    I really like 37-590 (650A) or 42-559 tires for commuting, for what that's worth. Haven't had a pinch flat since 2009 (and that was before I knew to pump up road bike tires regularly), so the rolling resistance would have to improve a lot to sell me on tubeless.
    Last edited by ThermionicScott; 08-27-14 at 12:17 PM.
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  3. #3
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    650B's are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. At least for road. Maybe if you a way short, say 5ft. I'm looking for 35 mm x 700c tubeless, no dice. They make road tubeless in 28 mm and cross tires, but I don't need knobs. I would think the bike commuter markets would be perfect for tubeless, in 700c.

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    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    I would be worried about getting a flat on the side of a highway too far to walk home.

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    I know 2 people that have 650 wheels....They are both short.....Makes sense for that,to help with toe overlap.

    I see no reason for tubeless on the street.....Belted tires are pretty good these days.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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    It's a big country and its easy to forget just how insignificant a market commuter cyclists are for a multinational, big player, tire company. Portland, OR leads the country in commuter cyclists per capita and the entire Portland Metro Area's commuters all in one place might fill up the visitors bleachers of a AAA Pacific League stadium. There is no real evidence that commuters want bigger doughnuts. Commuter oriented tires are available in the two most common rim diameters and that's the way it will remain until there is a good reason to change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    I would be worried about getting a flat on the side of a highway too far to walk home.

    - Andy
    If you get a flat with tubeless tires you can just put a tube in. How is the risk or problem any greater than with a tube tire?

    My friend claims you can sometimes save it by quickly unloading it and moving it around before it goes all the way flat. i guess it moves the sealant around and can stop the leak. You can then pump and go again.

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    I have trouble seeing the advantage of 650B for commuting unless you are very short or have some sort of fit issue you are trying to deal with for tire/fender clearance. I would just assume stick with 700C for commuting. I do see the advantage for mountain biking.

  9. #9
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    So a few years ago when I set out to be a bike nerd, 650B was a twee affectation by Rivendell and Compass and a few others.
    It still is.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    I would be worried about getting a flat on the side of a highway too far to walk home.

    - Andy
    The idea of tubeless is NO flats. They have the mt tubeless systems very good. Commuters not so much.

  11. #11
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    Tubeless is more about the rims than tires.
    I'm not sure that's so. The tubeless rim difference is kind of subtle (pdf link). Stan's road tubeless conversions can go on conventional rims. Still, the biggest tubeless road tire I've found so far is a Hutchinson Sector at 28mm, and it's a racing tire for the much-dreaded cobblestones. For Stan's tubeless conversions for conventional tires and rims, and for the mountain bike stuff, they recommend going no higher than 40 psi. Is this going to high enough for a 28mm Jan Heine Special under a normal schlub, hitting a pothole? And there's no conversion kit for 650B in a narrow rim. They are all MTB size. I'm sure you could get one of them to work.

  12. #12
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Bike commuters are pragmatic, late adopters, not looking for small improvements that have no perceived benefit, and generally not big spenders. No real advantage to 650B vs 26"/700C, so not surprising commuters are not that much interested in 650B.

  13. #13
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    No one is pushing 650B or tubeless on commuters because most commuters don't care for or want 650B or tubeless.
    My Bikes: 2009 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata 610 | 1970 Hercules | 198? Miele ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    If you get a flat with tubeless tires you can just put a tube in. How is the risk or problem any greater than with a tube tire?

    ...
    So you pay the extra for tubeless and have to carry a spare tube anyway, and fix a flat the same way?

    What's the point? In general large, tough commuter-targeted tires don't flat much more than tubeless does.

    Tubeless is a solution in search of a problem, especially in the commuter bike market.

    Just like 650b.

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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    So you pay the extra for tubeless and have to carry a spare tube anyway, and fix a flat the same way?

    What's the point? In general large, tough commuter-targeted tires don't flat much more than tubeless does.

    Tubeless is a solution in search of a problem, especially in the commuter bike market.

    Just like 650b.
    Agree for commuter market. For Mountain biking I still think they have advantages, largely ability to run much lower pressure safely (no pinch flats).

  16. #16
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    I'm not sure that's so. The tubeless rim difference is kind of subtle (pdf link). Stan's road tubeless conversions can go on conventional rims. Still, the biggest tubeless road tire I've found so far is a Hutchinson Sector at 28mm, and it's a racing tire for the much-dreaded cobblestones. For Stan's tubeless conversions for conventional tires and rims, and for the mountain bike stuff, they recommend going no higher than 40 psi. Is this going to high enough for a 28mm Jan Heine Special under a normal schlub, hitting a pothole? And there's no conversion kit for 650B in a narrow rim. They are all MTB size. I'm sure you could get one of them to work.
    I meant that more in the context of preparing rims for tubeless use, if they're not tubeless-ready from the factory. The comments thread I linked listed several 650B rims that work for tubeless, and that was with regular Compass/Grand Bois tires.

    High-pressure 700x28 tires weren't a part of this discussion until just now. Can't help you there.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    650B and tubeless is just another fad, which offers no real advantages over regular wheels..It's good for people who like to make commuting and cycling more complicated.

  18. #18
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    650B's are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
    This. Standard(559) 26" is a smaller wheel than a 650B,so there's already a solution for shorter riders that's well established.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    The idea of tubeless is NO flats. They have the mt tubeless systems very good. Commuters not so much.
    No,it's to run very low pressures. Never had an issue with comfort or traction running 40+psi in my tubed tires. No way I'd want to bomb Mass Ave at speed with only 20psi.

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    I occasionally use a travel bike with 650B tires with tubes for commuting. I am going to try 650B tubeless on the new custom commuter build. I really liked the ride of the 42mm Hetres. I don't think I want to push 650B, I'd rather ride.

  20. #20
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    650B and tubeless is just another fad, which offers no real advantages over regular wheels..It's good for people who like to make commuting and cycling more complicated.
    I'd argue that what's available is largely defined by fads (cruisers, wheelie bikes, bike boom, BMX, mountain bikes, freestyle, triathlon, hybrids, Lance Armstrong, fixies). We are talking here specifically about fads pushing out from mountain bikes (27.5", disk brakes, tubeless). It all gets thrown at the wall, and some of it sticks. Tire sizes are not set in stone. 650B is pretty close to Schwinn S6 found on zillions of bikes in the Varsity family. Schwinn S7 for cruisers was supplanted by 26". 700c supplanted the nearly identical sized and perfectly ok 27" wheel only in the late 80's. It hasn't been that long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    Agree for commuter market. For Mountain biking I still think they have advantages, largely ability to run much lower pressure safely (no pinch flats).
    Agreed. I run tubeless religiously on my mountain bike, due to pinch flats.... but how often does one pinch flat while commuting??

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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    It still is.
    Tri folk like 650b too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Farmer View Post
    Agreed. I run tubeless religiously on my mountain bike, due to pinch flats.... but how often does one pinch flat while commuting??
    It's happened a few times. Happened last week, both tires. Bombed through a new pothole at ~22mph. Had just inflated the tires, too.

    Got them all the time before I figured I should check tire pressures at least every couple days, but that's on me.

  23. #23
    Senior Member blakcloud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sullalto View Post
    Tri folk like 650b too.
    I thought Tri folk liked 650c and not 650b and they are not the same size.

  24. #24
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    700c supplanted the nearly identical sized and perfectly ok 27" wheel only in the late 80's. It hasn't been that long.
    It's worth noting (and I'm not just picking on you Darth ), that 700C is a much older standard than 27", so I'm okay with the 27" standard going away again. And bikes designed for 27" wheels can fit bigger 700C tires and/or fenders, so it's a win all around.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    Bike commuters are pragmatic, late adopters, not looking for small improvements that have no perceived benefit, and generally not big spenders. No real advantage to 650B vs 26"/700C, so not surprising commuters are not that much interested in 650B.
    Yep. My commuter (putting it together right now) is an 80's Peugeot ATB. 26" wheels. I can get 1.5" slicks. Change the tires and I can take it up to the national forest for some trail riding. One bike, do it all, tractor, call it what you will. It does what I ask.

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