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Why 650b

Old 03-24-16, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Paramount1973
Actually, it looks like the market is moving away from 650b rim brake wheels. VO is down to one rim offering in 650b and has introduced two rims in 26 size to go with their new frames. Velocity has two choices but they are about $70 to $100 a rim. It doesn't look like Sun offers the CR18 in 650b any more. Complete 650b rim brake wheelsets are going to set you back about $400. Harris doesn't have any of their $280 Velocity wheelsets in stock and haven't for months. The tire selection is better but I think you are seeing the effect of 27.5 mountain bikers that want to run slicks on their bikes for commuting. I can find more 27" rim offerings than I can 650b rim brake versions.
Yes, I see now, I haven't needed any rims for over a year. I know about the VO Diagonales, what was the other offering? SOMA has the Weymouth, Compass has the Gran Bois, Synergy has several offerings: A23, A23 offset, Atlas, and Dyad. Pacenti has narrowed his offerings, but still stocks 650b.

So, perhaps there were too many offerings in 650b to meet the volume requirement.
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Old 03-24-16, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by RandomEncounter
Aside from the reasons above, 650B can be used for smaller bikes. Georgena Terry has two good videos on building smaller bikes and why 650B can be a better choice. The second video is the one that gets into wheel size.

Part 1
Part 2

She specializes in bikes for women, but I think a lot of the design choices work for shorter people in general.
She does not mention 650b wheels. She talks about 650, as if that means anything, but she does not seem to think the difference between 650a, 650b, and 650c matters. If you do the math, it is evident that she's talking about 650x25.5c and 700x21c tires, which is by itself a little deceptive (does anyone really ride 21 mm tires?) but whatever.

The front wheel she advocates is a 24", also without much specificity. I believe she means a 24 x 1, which has a rim of 520 mm (Sheldon Brown lists about five different 24" wheel sizes).

If you want a smaller wheel, 650c is a good solution; 650b is not. The whole point of 650b is that you maintain the same wheel size with a fatter tire. If you want a smaller wheel with fatter tires, 26" (559) makes sense.


Originally Posted by ironwood
I just reread this thread, and all the reasons for 650B are good, but I see that the OP asks why long distance riders use 650B, and I think one reason is the influence of Bicycle Quarterly and Jan Heine. His journal and blog have helped popularize randonneuring and 650B bikes in general. there is a lot of interesting material in his magazine, but personally I don't see the attraction of sleep deprivation or riding for 24hours straight. Maybe there is more on the longdistance forum.
I don't think you'll find that much in the long distance forum; I think the majority of randonneurs are still riding 700c. Otherwise you are quite right; but I would not confuse the sport of randonneuring and its rather bizarre rules (which often lead to sleep deprived rides of 24+ hours) with the attraction of bikes that are comfortable for long distance riding.
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Old 03-24-16, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
Yes, I see now, I haven't needed any rims for over a year. I know about the VO Diagonales, what was the other offering? SOMA has the Weymouth, Compass has the Gran Bois, Synergy has several offerings: A23, A23 offset, Atlas, and Dyad. Pacenti has narrowed his offerings, but still stocks 650b.

So, perhaps there were too many offerings in 650b to meet the volume requirement.
The problem for me is that the selection of rims and wheelsets available has removed 650b as something I want to experiment with due to sticker shock. I'm not likely to dump $400 into a wheelset to convert one of my C&V frames to a 650b bike. Or start at $150-$200 for a set of rims. I have two frames that appear to be good options, but..
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Old 03-24-16, 04:18 PM
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YAB. Make the frames shorter and stiffer and then make people buy the smaller wheels, cushier tires and sell them diapers to wear so their bottom won't get sore.
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Old 03-24-16, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by trailangel
YAB. Make the frames shorter and stiffer and then make people buy the smaller wheels, cushier tires and sell them diapers to wear so their bottom won't get sore.
YAB? I'm an old fart hanging out here in the C&V site, so perhaps you can help out with that TLA?
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Old 03-24-16, 07:09 PM
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Someone stated earlier in this thread that 650B's had the same overall diameter as a narrower 700c. If so, then how does running 650B help with toe overlap or overall frame size???
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Old 03-24-16, 07:17 PM
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I thought the biggest thing was excessive toe overlap? Even at that, every bike I own including my Surly CC (54cm frame) with the exception of my one MTB and a Raleigh Sports has some toe overlap. Minor toe overlap has never bothered me and I am mostly unaware of it while riding. It is simply the consequence of sporty (as opposed to relaxed) frames with 700C wheels in bike at or under 56CM C/T or C/C (approx) and top tubes around 22cm plus or minus. I believe toe overlap to be NORMAL on such frames and essentially unavoidable, especially if you have big feet! When clipped in I automatically tip my toes down a little when starting out or maneuvering at very low speed.

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Old 03-24-16, 07:20 PM
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Where'd the OP go? Did they get their question answered?
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Old 03-25-16, 03:39 AM
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I see the idea behind the 650b, but not the why. Why didn't tire manufacturers make a nice supple 700c tire in a larger size for those middle sized and larger bikes. Why didn't Renee Herse make Jan Heine bike in 700c instead of 650b it would not have been that much weight that he would give up.
The argument for 29rs come to mind, the larger diameter tire would roll over small bumps easier, but you give up spin up speed.
I think that a bike built with a 45mm 700c wheel and tire in mind that would support fenders and a good rack/lighting system could have been built instead of the 650b x 42.


Were the tire manufacturers not making a large size 700c because track and road racers were using skinny tires and the only larger plush size tires were found on smaller wheeled Mom & Pop grocery getters.

This thing is a thing of beauty, making it in 700c would have only taken a few extra mm of fork and maybe chainstay.



Here is another Herse of Jan Heine and it looks like 700c
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Old 03-25-16, 04:23 AM
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They are both 650B. He wanted them built for 650B.
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Old 03-25-16, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bwilli88
I see the idea behind the 650b, but not the why. Why didn't tire manufacturers make a nice supple 700c tire in a larger size for those middle sized and larger bikes. Why didn't Renee Herse make Jan Heine bike in 700c instead of 650b it would not have been that much weight that he would give up.
The argument for 29rs come to mind, the larger diameter tire would roll over small bumps easier, but you give up spin up speed.
I think that a bike built with a 45mm 700c wheel and tire in mind that would support fenders and a good rack/lighting system could have been built instead of the 650b x 42.]
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the essence of your question seems to be "since bigger wheels are better, why would anyone want smaller ones?" This question comes up a lot in the folding bikes forum.

The answer is simply that bigger wheels are not better. There is such a thing as too small, when it comes to bicycle wheels, but too small is much smaller than 26". When you design a bike around 16" wheels, the difference between high trail and low trail, and the tolerances around head angle and offset and things like that, become very small; so it is difficult to design a bike with 16" wheels that handles really well. In my opinion the late Alex Moulton, in designing the classic F-frame bikes of the early 60's, didn't get it quite right (but I'm not pretending I could do better). When you move up to 20" all these problems go away, and it is very easy to make a bike with 20" wheels that handles just fine. Over the last six or eight years I've ridden well over 10,000 miles on folding bikes with 20" wheels and have absolutely no complaint. For riding on paths and roads, whether dirt, gravel, cobblestone, asphalt, whatever, 20" wheels have no disadvantage over larger ones. For real off-roading, larger wheels are admittedly better, but now we're getting into mountain bike territory.

So, returning to the question, why 650b? I think the people reject much smaller wheels because they look funny. We expect bikes to have a certain look, which involves certain proportions between frame and wheel size. People who love beautiful bicycles l seem pretty attached to that aesthetic; the photo of Jan Heine's chrome bike exemplifies this pretty well. We expect our bikes to look something like that. This is an aesthetic choice.

Now, I think a good question is: why 650b rather than 650a? 650a is a common size that has never gone out of fashion; I would have chosen that. I think Heine chose 650b because he is fascinated with French bicycles. An anglophile would have gone with 650a.

More recently, Heine has started to think even fatter tires would be nice, and has started to advocate for 26" rims with 56 mm tires; this gives the same overall diameter as a 650x42b or 700x23c wheel, but handles gravel a bit better.

But, you may argue, the industry is moving toward bigger wheels (29er) and disk brakes; doesn't that mean they're better? Of course it does! If all the old bikes get recycled and everyone buys new ones, that's much better. Better for the industry. For the rider, not so much.
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Old 03-25-16, 05:33 AM
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YAB means yes.
OK.. back on track.
You cannot ride 650b wheels without fenders, a front rack with a leather bag, and a long sleeved blue shirt.
Just forgetaboutit
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Old 03-25-16, 05:35 AM
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I forgot... you need one of those generator front hubs too.....
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Old 03-25-16, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel
YAB means yes.
OK.. back on track.
You cannot ride 650b wheels without fenders, a front rack with a leather bag, and a long sleeved blue shirt.
Just forgetaboutit
Metal fenders and a waxed cotton bag with leather trim. Please!
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Old 03-25-16, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller
Someone stated earlier in this thread that 650B's had the same overall diameter as a narrower 700c. If so, then how does running 650B help with toe overlap or overall frame size???
Well, the overall diameter is slightly smaller, so it helps with that a bit. A lot of people with 650b also have low trail bikes. That typically adds 10-15mm to the gap between toe and tire.
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Old 03-25-16, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm
When you move up to 20" all these problems go away, and it is very easy to make a bike with 20" wheels that handles just fine. Over the last six or eight years I've ridden well over 10,000 miles on folding bikes with 20" wheels and have absolutely no complaint. For riding on paths and roads, whether dirt, gravel, cobblestone, asphalt, whatever, 20" wheels have no disadvantage over larger ones. For real off-roading, larger wheels are admittedly better, but now we're getting into mountain bike territory.
Bike Friday? I've found the same, with the exception that wheel flop is a real issue when you're stopped on your bike and trying to use your phone or read a map.

Originally Posted by rhm
I think Heine chose 650b because he is fascinated with French bicycles.
I think the Grant Peterson had something to do with that.
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Old 03-25-16, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by trailangel
YAB means yes.
OK.. back on track.
You cannot ride 650b wheels without fenders, a front rack with a leather bag, and a long sleeved blue shirt.
Just forgetaboutit
Try to keep up with that gang. I think it's the long sleeved blue shirt.
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Old 03-25-16, 08:12 PM
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I understand some of the recent resurgence of the 650b and why Jan and Grant are interested in it. I was wondering if anyone knows the history of the choice 50, 60 or so years ago.
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Old 03-25-16, 11:25 PM
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There were some articles in the paper edition of BQ about the history of tire sizes. 650B became the Frnch standard size for everyday bicycles, and 650A the BRitish standard for everyday Bikes. The two sizes have only a 6mm difference in diameter. Both sizes seemed to fit bicycles the average citizen would ride. Remember, people were a little shorter eighty or ninety years ago.
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Old 03-26-16, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie
Well, the overall diameter is slightly smaller, so it helps with that a bit. A lot of people with 650b also have low trail bikes. That typically adds 10-15mm to the gap between toe and tire.
Thanks.
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Old 03-26-16, 05:44 AM
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[MENTION=190941]jimmuller[/MENTION] - that was a good question regarding toe overlap & overall wheel size. I know, for example, Surly did their Straggler in 650b for up to size 52, then larger got 700c. I'm no frame builder and don't know too much about geometry but figured there was a reason.

I first learned about 650b on this forum & Jan Heine articles and understood that it was a former French standard. I guess everything that was old is new again.

From a marketing standpoint there are only so many ways to go and it appears that things get reinvented and or "improved" upon.

I like my 650b X 42 Compass extra light tires. They look chubby but are comfy and roll for days.

By the way....Good Morning everyone.
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Old 03-26-16, 11:13 AM
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Another interesting thing about the 650B revival is that it didn't happen because the big manufacturers dreamed it up, but individuals in France, like la Confrerie des 650B , and small businesses like Rivendell encouraged it. It was bottom up rather than top down.
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Old 03-26-16, 08:34 PM
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A lot of good points here, but I do want to provide a different perspective on point #5 regarding 650b conversions. I know there are a lot of variables involved, but I've never been able to fit 650bx38mm tires into any frames I had that were maxed out at 700x25mm. My rough rule of thumb is that I'll fit no more than about 8mm wider rubber going from 700c to 650b. rando_couche's "built for 700x25c" might be less restrictive than what I'm talking about, which is the absolute widest tire that will fit w/o rubbing. If 30mm rubs, 25mm gives you 2.5mm max clearance at the tight spot. That's about as tight as I'll go.

I've tried conversions on maybe 10-12 700c frames. The ones tight with 700x25mm fit 650bx32mm with about the same clearance, and wouldn't fit 650bx38mm. Tight at 700x30mm would clear 650bx38mm about the same, wouldn't fit 650bx42mm. I just did a 650b conversion on a Mercian Vincitore fixed road frame. 700x35mm was tight at the chainstays, 650bx42mm is about the same. I couldn't go any wider. So 7-8mm wider is the best I've managed with 650b conversions.

YMMV...



Originally Posted by rando_couche
I've ridden narrow 700c, wide 700c, 650x38b, and various widths of 26" (559). My gofast bike is 700x23c. My everyday/rain/commute/rando bike is 650x38c.If I had to chose one, it'd be 650b. Why?
  1. ...
  2. (5) You can (usually) fit 650x38bís AND FENDERS on a bike built for 700x25cís. I live in Oregon. It rains here. I use fenders.

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Old 03-26-16, 08:46 PM
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One of my favorite bikes to ride is my 1993 bridgestone XO-2. It has road geometry and 26 inch wheels. I use 26 x 1.5 paselas. The bike has a very solid ride over all types of surfaces and in all kinds of weather conditions. Plus the wheels are pretty light.
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Old 03-26-16, 09:03 PM
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You're asking some historical questions that, I suppose, have answers, though I'm not sure who's qualified to answer.

I'll skip over that and instead mention that Jan has concluded from his testing that there are optimum gyroscopic stability ranges for bicycle wheels, resulting in optimum tire widths for different sized wheels. Basically a 700x30mm wheel/tire combo has about the same optimum gyroscopic stability as a 650bx38mm wheel/tire. Said differently, tire widths wider than 30mm handle nicer on 650b wheels than on 700c wheels. And once you get past 650bx42mm or so, 26" wheels are better. So I suspect he'd say that if you wanted to ride 38-42mm tires, they'd handle best on 650b wheels, which is why the French used them on their rando bikes.

Now there's optimum, and there's the real world, and even Jan specs/sells 700x35, 700x38 and 650bx48 tires. But he is favoring 26" wheels for the Enduro Allroad bikes.

I don't know how 29ers fit this gyroscopic stability scheme, since those tires go pretty darn wide. But Jan's talking about non-suspended bikes ridden on asphalt and gravel roads/trails, not suspended bikes on ATB trails.

Originally Posted by bwilli88
I see the idea behind the 650b, but not the why. Why didn't tire manufacturers make a nice supple 700c tire in a larger size for those middle sized and larger bikes. Why didn't Renee Herse make Jan Heine bike in 700c instead of 650b it would not have been that much weight that he would give up.
The argument for 29rs come to mind, the larger diameter tire would roll over small bumps easier, but you give up spin up speed.
I think that a bike built with a 45mm 700c wheel and tire in mind that would support fenders and a good rack/lighting system could have been built instead of the 650b x 42.

Were the tire manufacturers not making a large size 700c because track and road racers were using skinny tires and the only larger plush size tires were found on smaller wheeled Mom & Pop grocery getters.
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