Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

What's the advantages / disadvantages of road bikes with 650 wheels?

General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

What's the advantages / disadvantages of road bikes with 650 wheels?

Old 03-29-11, 01:11 PM
  #1  
jello
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
What's the advantages / disadvantages of road bikes with 650 wheels?

I see it ridden mostly by triathletes. I don't see any road racers on it.
jello is offline  
Old 03-29-11, 01:50 PM
  #2  
itsthewoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 392

Bikes: Trek SU100, Surly Cross Check

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
650c isn't as common as 700c or 26". Also, smaller wheels means that potholes, curbs, etc. will affect your ride more. However, it also means less rotating mass, i.e. faster acceleration.
itsthewoo is offline  
Old 03-29-11, 02:41 PM
  #3  
dcrowell
Fat Guy Rolling
 
dcrowell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Louisville Kentucky
Posts: 2,434

Bikes: Bacchetta Agio, 80s Raleigh Record single-speed, Surly Big Dummy

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A friend of mine has one. It's a smaller frame size, and the smaller wheels help avoid toe-overlap. You'll generally have wider tires for a smoother ride.
dcrowell is offline  
Old 03-29-11, 02:41 PM
  #4  
desertdork
just pokin' along
 
desertdork's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: the desert
Posts: 1,095
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
650c is sometimes seen on x-small road frames to reduce toe overlap.

650c was once popular for TT/triathlon for "improved aerodynamics" until someone noticed that the resulting longer headtube somewhat negated that advantage.

650b is a different size (584mm vs 571mm for 650a). Tires for 650b wheels are fat by road standards. The idea is that the rider can use a very wide tire with a resulting overall diameter that is very close to that of a 700x23 tire. While there is a variety of wide 700c/29er tires available, installing x-wide tires on 700c rims will increase standover height and gearing. 650b is primarily found on custom and small production frames for the rando crowd, but it's possible to convert many 700c frames to 650b when lower standover, lower bottom bracket and wider tires are desired,
desertdork is offline  
Old 03-29-11, 02:52 PM
  #5  
Sixty Fiver
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,266

Bikes: See my sig...

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
650b was a popular French size and rarely seen here and was usually fitted to city and randonneuring bikes because of the improved ride quality and handling they offered over the narrower 700C and being that they have a smaller diameter and wider rim section are stronger and more resistant to damage..

The letter codes used to have more meaning with an A denoting a wider rim, B was mid sized, and C was the narrowest and used on racing bicycles.

Now the 700C describes any 622 mm rim while the 650 A,B, and C designation are still rather accurate in denoting width.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Old 03-29-11, 02:53 PM
  #6  
puppypilgrim
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 792

Bikes: Brodie Force w/ Xtracycle, Dahon Helios, Merida Folding, Pacific Carryme, Softride Classic

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
650c used to be fashionable by tri-athletes. It is still in use today by builders who make small frames for short people. I ride a 650c bike myself. The advantages of a 650c wheel and tire is that the combined weight savings makes a difference in the speed of acceleration and to a lesser extent hill climbing. In both these scenarios, rider output (wattage) trumps any weight savings of a 650 over a 700 combination. One can build a traditional diamond frame bike without a sloping top tube or compact geometry using 650c wheels for people with short inseams.

The disadvantage of 650c is the lack of choice in wheels and tires in the new and used market.

I use Kenda Kaliente tires in 650c and am EXTREMELY happy with their wet, dry and commuting traits. The price point is a big plus. I don't feel I am getting less performance even though they price quite a bit cheaper than others. The tire is also light at around 185 grams.
puppypilgrim is offline  
Old 03-29-11, 02:59 PM
  #7  
Sixty Fiver
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,266

Bikes: See my sig...

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You can but Continental Gatorskins in a 650c... my little sister rides a 45 cm Centurion that was built around 650c wheels and the bike is a rocket.

It is still fairly uncommon as people who ride bikes with these smaller wheels are also in the minority and companies that produce bicycles and accessories tend to market towards the largest pool of customers.

Same thing happens at the other end... if you are exceptionally tall you may have immense difficulty buying a bike off the rack.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Old 03-29-11, 05:10 PM
  #8  
knobster
.
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Posts: 3,981

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix Comp, Soma ES

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by puppypilgrim View Post
The disadvantage of 650c is the lack of choice in wheels and tires in the new and used market.
Not to mention if you do group rides or organized rides, nobody is going to be able to help you with a spare tube. Unlikely to see other riders on anything other than 700c. All my wifes bikes are 650c. She carries two spare tubes. Just in case.
__________________
Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.
knobster is offline  
Old 03-30-11, 07:59 AM
  #9  
Looigi
Senior Member
 
Looigi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,951
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by knobster View Post
She carries two spare tubes. Just in case.
As a backup to my spare tube I found Park or Slime Scabs stick-on patches work well enough to complete a ride or week-long trip. They do eventually let go so I replace the tube or replace the stick-ons with traditional glue-on patches at the first convenient opportunity.
Looigi is offline  
Old 03-30-11, 08:46 AM
  #10  
knobster
.
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Posts: 3,981

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix Comp, Soma ES

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
As a backup to my spare tube I found Park or Slime Scabs stick-on patches work well enough to complete a ride or week-long trip. They do eventually let go so I replace the tube or replace the stick-ons with traditional glue-on patches at the first convenient opportunity.
Yeah, I do something similar. But you can't tell her anything...
__________________
Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.
knobster is offline  
Old 03-30-11, 04:41 PM
  #11  
Lightingguy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 636
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
One of the other reasons 650 was used on Tri bikes was to get the 78 degree seat tube angle favored by the frame designer for proper body location when used by a triathlete. In order to maintain a front to rear balance with the steep ST, the center of the R wheel needs to be closer to the b-bracket. This is easier to achieve with a smaller wheel. They then needed a shallow head tube to allow for stable steering.

Quintana Roo had a whole site devoted to their theories. Most tri bike manufacturers have since gone to 700 for all but the smallest frames as they recognize that 1) 78 degrees wasn't a carved-in-stone idea and that many pro triathletes raced just fine on more relaxed angles and 2) The availability of 650 made it a PITA for most riders.

Steve B.
Lightingguy is offline  
Old 03-30-11, 07:41 PM
  #12  
cyclist2000
Senior Member
 
cyclist2000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Up
Posts: 3,818

Bikes: Masi, Giant TCR, Eisentraut, Jamis Aurora Elite, Zullo (trainer bike), Cannondale, 84 Stumpjumper, 2 Waterfords, Tern D8, Bianchi, Gunner Roadie, looking for a Ti frame and Brompton M6R

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 148 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
I have one

Eisentraut

and I'm over 6' tall.

I think that it's just a fun bike to ride. I carry an extra tube and a patch kit. Tires aren't too bad but I just ride the cheapies.
cyclist2000 is offline  
Old 03-30-11, 09:20 PM
  #13  
BlazingPedals
Senior Member
 
BlazingPedals's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Middle of da Mitten
Posts: 10,920

Bikes: Trek 7500, RANS V-Rex, Optima Baron, Velokraft NoCom, M-5 Carbon Highracer, homebuilt recumbent

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 898 Post(s)
Liked 16 Times in 13 Posts
disadvantages:
1. fewer tire choices, generally higher prices for the ones you can find.
2. ditto for replacement wheelsets. You're not going to find them on sale at Nashbar.
3. need a larger chainring to normalize gearing

Many recumbent highracers use 650C to keep the seat from being too high.
BlazingPedals is offline  
Old 05-24-13, 08:13 PM
  #14  
Heatherbikes
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 270
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Tubes: any size tubes will fit, 700cc or 26 inch mountain and anything in between. So that argument is weak, although always a good idea to have a spare. I had thought 650c disappeared years ago, nobody has mentioned it to me in my search for a better fitting bicycle. It was totally ridiculous that they were being put on tall person bikes, hence the laughable reputation and scorn. I had a 650c bicycle for a short time in the late 90's and it may have been like a child's road bike, but being child sized, makes sense. I was able to ride on the drops given the frame design and narrow handlebars. I'm all into 650b and converting my too tall bike frames into 650b bikes which will involve $$&$. The most narrow tire is 32mm which is fine for the bike's planned applications, but as the tires get bigger the wheel circumference grows make it the same as 700cc again making using smaller rims pointless. To convert a frame to 650c would require some serious long reach brakes, don't think it's doable. If I was interested in modern aluminium or carbon fibre women specific bicycles I could get a 650c road or cyclocross bike. Or have a steel built with appropriate tiny wheels. I like that they are light.
Heatherbikes is offline  
Old 05-25-13, 06:09 AM
  #15  
cplager
The Recumbent Quant
 
cplager's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Fairfield, CT
Posts: 3,078

Bikes: 2012 Cruzbike Sofrider, 2013 Cruzigami Mantis, 2016 Folding CruziTandem

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
disadvantages:
1. fewer tire choices, generally higher prices for the ones you can find.
2. ditto for replacement wheelsets. You're not going to find them on sale at Nashbar.
3. need a larger chainring to normalize gearing

Many recumbent highracers use 650C to keep the seat from being too high.
The "smaller wheels faster acceleration" is basically hogwash (some 700c wheels are going to be lighter than 650 wheels and it's a very small effect anyway). The disadvantages listed above are real, but they are what they are and hardly insurmountable.

To the OP, if you fit better on a bike with 650 wheels than one of 700c wheels, that's a good reason to go 650. Otherwise, it isn't that large of a difference.
cplager is offline  
Old 05-25-13, 07:16 AM
  #16  
krobinson103
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Incheon, South Korea
Posts: 2,836

Bikes: Nothing amazing... cheap old 21 speed mtb

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My current cheap commuter is running 650b. Its actually really fun to ride. I like the feeling as compared to 26 or 29.
krobinson103 is offline  
Old 05-25-13, 08:06 AM
  #17  
lungimsam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 771
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I don't know if the OP is talking 650 a, b, or c. But if it is b, then the benefits are awesome. More clearance for fenders, and wider tires for safer handling over rough roads and cushier ride. My 700 x 25/23c tires get caught in road cracks, and down I go. But the 650b tires at 50-70 psi roll right over that stuff like it ain't even there.
Also, I can ride on gravel and trails with those 650b tires. So I have a road bike that can go almost anywhere.
The downside is less tire selection. But you can get awesome puncture resistant tires in 650b, and also go fast tires. So there is a selection throughout the spectrum.

Last edited by lungimsam; 05-25-13 at 08:16 AM.
lungimsam is offline  
Old 05-28-13, 11:51 AM
  #18  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,613

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 183 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6756 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 164 Times in 140 Posts
Was an Aero gain concept. just because the wheel was smaller.. less frontal area.

Terry made her bikes with a smaller wheel to have the bike fit better to Women
often with longlegs shorter torso proportions. usual the builders made the seat tube more steep
causing other fit/feel issues.. & toes still touching the front wheels.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 05-28-13, 02:49 PM
  #19  
Garfield Cat
Senior Member
 
Garfield Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 6,829

Bikes: Cervelo Prodigy

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 338 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
This may be a bit off because the quote is from a mountain bike perspective. But considering the engineer (Gerard Vrooman) who is writing this, I would give it some credibility:

21: Large vs. small wheels
< > 29-inch or 26-inch, which is better? A larger wheel goes over obstacles better, that’s simple physics:

It has less trouble lifting the bike over an obstacle, because the wider curve of the wheel means it hits the obstacle sooner, and so it has more time to lift the wheel and therefore the bike over it.

A larger wheel also has a better angle when it hits the obstacle, meaning that the momentum of the bike+rider pushes it more easily over the obstacle.

A larger wheel is a little heavier, but that difference is small compared to the weight of the bike and rider combined. Until now, 29er frames were also considerably heavier than their 26-inch counterparts, but that's history with the arrival of the O-1.0 & O-1.1.

An often-heard objection to 29er bikes is that the handling would be sluggish. That is true if you simply copy the 26-inch steering geometry (or modify it without knowing what you're doing), but we know that if you test the O-1.0 or O-1.1 frame, you'll love the handling.
Garfield Cat is offline  
Old 05-29-13, 04:11 PM
  #20  
Garfield Cat
Senior Member
 
Garfield Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 6,829

Bikes: Cervelo Prodigy

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 338 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Here's another authority on 650 versus 700

http://www.cervelo.com/en/engineerin...cyclists-.html
Garfield Cat is offline  
Old 05-29-13, 04:46 PM
  #21  
Sixty Fiver
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,266

Bikes: See my sig...

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My 12 year old daughter testing a 45cm Norco with a 650c front wheel... we sold this to a very small woman who was thrilled out of her boots.



Test riding her 650c equipped 45cm Centurion... she is now 13 and stands 4 foot 6 and the Centurion is now a very good fit... this was my little sister's bike and my daughter already has longer legs.

Sixty Fiver is offline  
Old 05-29-13, 05:20 PM
  #22  
sreten
Banned.
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Brighton UK
Posts: 1,662

Bikes: 20" Folder, Road Bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hi,

TBH most of the advantages of 650C wheels (mainly size related)
can be gained with MTB sized wheels with a far wider tyre choice.

622mm to 571mm is very significant, 571mm to 559mm IMO really isn't.

I reckon 650C is used on some road bikes just to avoid using MTB size.

650B, 584mm (6mm less than 650A), is likely to become the only
variant of of 650 sizes remaining, inbetween 622mm and 559mm.

rgds, sreten.

Last edited by sreten; 05-29-13 at 05:24 PM.
sreten is offline  
Old 05-29-13, 05:24 PM
  #23  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,613

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 183 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6756 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 164 Times in 140 Posts
The Premium priced 650 B tires are said to ride really nice ..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 05-29-13, 05:33 PM
  #24  
Sixty Fiver
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,266

Bikes: See my sig...

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
An issue with running smaller wheels is that it reduces the gearing... the same drive on a smaller wheeled bicycle yields a lower gear and this could be problematic for competitive riding so to that end, larger chain wheels may be required.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Old 05-29-13, 05:34 PM
  #25  
sreten
Banned.
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Brighton UK
Posts: 1,662

Bikes: 20" Folder, Road Bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
The Premium priced 650 B tires are said to ride really nice ..
Hi,

No doubt, as 650B is the size most go for between 622mm and 559mm.

650C tyre choice is very limited, expensive and skinny :

http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/tyres-650...71%29-dept198/

The 54mm grocery tyre is a real oddball in that company.

and 650B not much better, generally wider and cheaper :

http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/tyres-26-...b-dept348_pg1/

For completeness 650A :

http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/tyres-26-...9-dept199_pg1/

rgds, sreten.

Last edited by sreten; 05-29-13 at 05:44 PM.
sreten is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.