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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 02-24-17, 01:12 PM   #1
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Off-the-peg 650b production road bike to experiment with ?

I'm been frankensteining my race-type road bike into a rando bike, but given that it only takes 23mm tires (some 25mm, depending on tire), I want to move to a dedicated rando bike in the future after I've ridden some more. Did 200s and 300km, signed up for a 400km in April.

After some inquiries, it is clear that a good rando bike is not cheap and is often built to order. You need to know your bike fit and preferences (gearing, shifter type, brake type i.e. disc or rim, wheel size) before ordering such a bike.

I've touched on this before on a prior thread (sorry if that bugs anyone), but can anyone suggest an off-the-peg production 650b road bike that is relatively inexpensive and - more importantly - quickly available (months, not years) that I can buy to experiment with things like 650b wheels, stem or bar end shifters, gearing etc? It doesn't need to be super light or great quality.

The guys at St. Touissant are not responding to my emails about their Velo Routier (if anyone knows them personally, ask them for me if they are still in business), and the only other inexpensive 650b production road bike I see is the Masi Randonneur which has somewhat conventional gearing, brifters, and is on the heavy side.

Thanks.
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Old 02-24-17, 01:19 PM   #2
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Soma Grand Randonneur frame ~ $500:

Grand Randonneur Frame Set (v.2) | SOMA Fabrications
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Old 02-24-17, 01:34 PM   #3
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So you want available, light and inexpensive? Ha, me too!

Do you want low-trail? Tires bigger than 42mm?

If you don't care about low-trail/disc brakes just look at pretty much any endurance road disc, gravel road disc or disc cyclocross bike. Add your 650b wheels and you're set. Bikes that come stock with 650b wheels are usually pretty expensive and don't have appreciably different geometry than a design themed specifically for 650b.

I started my 650b journey on a 700c performance house brand disc-braked cross bike that was $450 used. Currently on my third conversion and after adding a front rack have been very happy with it for my riding. Haven't had time for anything over a 200k but it's been great so far.
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Old 02-24-17, 03:57 PM   #4
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OTOH, I've ridden 400s, etc. just fine on 23s, though on a carbon bike. I still ride 23s by preference on my singles. The 4000s II I'm running now aren't as comfy as the Vredestein Tricomps I used to run, though they are harder to flat. Tire construction does make a difference in comfort, not just size. It's different if long stretches of a brevet are on gravel.
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Old 02-24-17, 04:03 PM   #5
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You might be able to convert your current racing bike to 650b. If not, there are plenty of older bikes that can be converted. The price is tough to beat when it comes to a quality used bike. Here are some guidelines:

650B Conversion Guidlines
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Old 02-28-17, 10:49 PM   #6
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I second the Soma Grand Randonneur. I have one and love it. Not the lightest, not the greatest steel, and some kind of odd geometry (it's kind of long and low, if that makes sense), but all things considered it really has been a great bike and I really do enjoy riding it.
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Old 02-28-17, 11:07 PM   #7
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I second the Soma Grand Randonneur. I have one and love it. Not the lightest, not the greatest steel, and some kind of odd geometry (it's kind of long and low, if that makes sense), but all things considered it really has been a great bike and I really do enjoy riding it.
Tange prestige main triangle is nothing to sneeze at; that's good stuff.
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Old 02-28-17, 11:37 PM   #8
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Tange prestige main triangle is nothing to sneeze at; that's good stuff.
The bike is great, but it doesn't ride as nice as some other steel bikes I've ridden. If you're familiar with Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly, he often describes certain bikes as having the ability to "plane". For me, the Soma GR does not "plane" like others have, but it is certainly still a very good riding bike and do not regret my purchase at all. I've actually heard that the Tange Prestige used by Soma is not the same as it was years ago (90s??), though I'm certainly no expert and can't verify such claims.

But, really it doesn't matter (and sorry for the long post, I did not mean to hijack...). The bike is great for what I've used it for, which includes spirited group rides, bike camping, gravel roads, some sketchy single track that I really shouldn't have been riding without a mountain bike, and long distances (206 miles was my longest ride on it). I definitely recommend this as an entry into 650b and low trail geometry. I've come to prefer the geometry and tire size for the majority of the riding that I do. I will never win a sprint on it and it is definitely a heavier bike to haul up the hills, but for a twisty descent, I will take this bike over my modern carbon fiber bike any day.
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Old 03-01-17, 12:49 PM   #9
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MAP Cycles.. Custom level stuff.. Seen one, dont own one..

its a VBQ subscriber afficianado's bike.




...
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Old 03-02-17, 03:18 PM   #10
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There is a small list here: Thoughts on modern mass produced 650B randonneurs - Australian Cycling Forums - Bicycles Network Australia
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Old 03-03-17, 07:59 AM   #11
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A Soma Grand Rando is a great 'gateway drug'. I've been riding mine happily for about 2 years now, and see no reason to upgrade anytime soon. Several others in my club also have them, either as budget randos, or currently set up as city commuters after having stepped up to full-custom for their main randonneur.

You could also wait for the new Velo Orange Polyvalent (v4?).

Beyond that and the Velo Routier, not really sure what is readily available.

Have you ever flipped through Raleigh or Bianchi international catalogs? Not sure if any are 650b but there are a lot of classic road / randonneurs that come stock with fenders, racks, etc. Some even with downtube shifting and non-aero levers!
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Old 03-03-17, 10:23 AM   #12
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Despite the people I know who tried low-trail 650B and went back, I've read enough of Heine's propaganda to be curious about them. Not curious enough to sink $500-1,000 into a bike, though. Are there any production models around than might be found in a bike shop for a (long-ish) test ride?
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Old 03-03-17, 10:55 AM   #13
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Surly Straggler 650b, but it's not that light of a frame. I'm not sure if it's lighter or heavier than the Soma GR.
They're two different bikes in many ways.

650b road bikes are coming with the "new" "Road Plus" concept, being promoted by WTB with their 650 x 47 Horizon tire.
Disc brakes make offering different tire sizes a lot easier than before.

Personally, I love my 650b-converted-bike. I used a Rivendell Road and can now fit 650 x 38 tires under full fenders. I used Paul Racer centerpulls for their long reach and great fender clearance. It's medium trail, but I have thought about getting a low trail fork made for it.
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Old 03-03-17, 04:29 PM   #14
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Despite the people I know who tried low-trail 650B and went back, I've read enough of Heine's propaganda to be curious about them. Not curious enough to sink $500-1,000 into a bike, though. Are there any production models around than might be found in a bike shop for a (long-ish) test ride?


I was able to find a small shop in Ballard (near Seattle) called Free Range Cycles that actually had a GR and a Touissant built up, and available for test rides. They are out there....
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Old 03-03-17, 05:13 PM   #15
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Have you checked out the Rawland Ravn frameset for $950 USD? It's a low trail bike with a capacity for 650b x 42mm tires + fenders. Hopefully your size is 56, 58 or 60 cm frames currently in stock -- the 54cm are out of stock. He usually sells all the bikes in stock before ordering a new batch which can take many months.

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Old 03-03-17, 05:44 PM   #16
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I researched for like 2 years and came close to getting either a Soma Grand Randonnuer or a Velo Orange Pass Hunter. In fact, a friend of mine ended up getting a Soma Double Cross and it's really nice. I came really close on a pass hunter...

I ended up going nuts and getting a Waterford, because I have some weird body proportions, and I really wanted a lugged steel frame... just because I wanted a lugged steel frame. But I think there are lots of good choices.
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Old 03-05-17, 01:46 AM   #17
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I fitted 650b wheels to the Litespeed I used to road race for riding randonnees. With the smaller wheel size, I was able to fit 32mm tyres between the chainstays. Apart from the wheels, I also needed some long reach Tektro 556 brakes - they worked perfectly well with the Ultegra STI levers.
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Old 11-28-17, 12:45 AM   #18
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I've been looking at the Ravn, and also at the new Polyvalent, which should be coming out in a month or two.

Any thoughts on which might be better for a long (400k+) brevet? The Poly is prettier (the Ravn looks...quite functional), but teh Ravn seems like it might be sturdier.

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Have you checked out the Rawland Ravn frameset for $950 USD? It's a low trail bike with a capacity for 650b x 42mm tires + fenders. Hopefully your size is 56, 58 or 60 cm frames currently in stock -- the 54cm are out of stock. He usually sells all the bikes in stock before ordering a new batch which can take many months.
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Old 11-28-17, 01:01 AM   #19
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well, since this got bumped, the Masi randonneur looks interesting https://masibikes.com/products/speci...neur-650b-2018
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Old 11-28-17, 01:10 AM   #20
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I want to build one for myself, as well. I'm probably going to do 26" wheels but I could be persuaded to 650b.

My requirements are disc brakes, low trail, eyelets for front rack, and I'm going to actually pay attention to how much it weighs this time. I am on the fence as to Ti or steel and if so, how custom to go to get exactly what I want.

I've been riding my Surly thus far but it's really heavy. I'm hoping to take something like ten pounds off, which would not be weight wienie in the least.

If the Soma GR fits you, that's what you should do.
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Old 11-28-17, 01:42 AM   #21
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If you go steel, have you looked at the NFE? My local mechanic uses his for everything.I've heard Elephan has pretty fair custom rates, and if you're working with that basic design and don't need a totally new fork/etc., it might not be so bad.

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I want to build one for myself, as well. I'm probably going to do 26" wheels but I could be persuaded to 650b.

My requirements are disc brakes, low trail, eyelets for front rack, and I'm going to actually pay attention to how much it weighs this time. I am on the fence as to Ti or steel and if so, how custom to go to get exactly what I want.

I've been riding my Surly thus far but it's really heavy. I'm hoping to take something like ten pounds off, which would not be weight wienie in the least.

If the Soma GR fits you, that's what you should do.
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Old 11-28-17, 01:46 AM   #22
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If you go steel, have you looked at the NFE? My local mechanic uses his for everything.I've heard Elephan has pretty fair custom rates, and if you're working with that basic design and don't need a totally new fork/etc., it might not be so bad.
It's the only production bike I've found that has all of the features I want, but it seems heavy. I can't tell if that's because the others are lying or because the nfe is heavy. I know my surly needs a serious diet.
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Old 11-28-17, 08:21 AM   #23
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Any thoughts on which might be better for a long (400k+) brevet? The Poly is prettier (the Ravn looks...quite functional), but teh Ravn seems like it might be sturdier.
The 650b marketplace is becoming pretty split between road/allroad focused bikes made for fast riding/randonneuring and monstercross style bikes that are ostensibly designed for the same thing + "gravel" but have much larger clearances and generally do not ride as well on the road. IMO the latter are generally not good for anything and are the camels of the current allroad trend.

The Endpoint Hunter Gatherer & the Ravn are great examples of this - tire clearance like a mountain bike but thin(ner)wall tubing like a classic french randonneuse designed for "everything."

Look at the SEO link for the Ravn: Rawland Ravn All Road Plus Rando Adventure Bikepacking Gravel

Crust Lightning Bolt would be another option for road/light gravel focused 650b: https://crustbikes.com/products/lightning-bolt-2/
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Old 11-28-17, 11:44 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by cormacf View Post
I've been looking at the Ravn, and also at the new Polyvalent, which should be coming out in a month or two.

Any thoughts on which might be better for a long (400k+) brevet? The Poly is prettier (the Ravn looks...quite functional), but teh Ravn seems like it might be sturdier.
Any of those two bikes should work well for a long distance brevet. It will come down to your choice of geometry, looks, etc.
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Old 11-28-17, 11:49 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
I want to build one for myself, as well. I'm probably going to do 26" wheels but I could be persuaded to 650b.

My requirements are disc brakes, low trail, eyelets for front rack, and I'm going to actually pay attention to how much it weighs this time. I am on the fence as to Ti or steel and if so, how custom to go to get exactly what I want.

I've been riding my Surly thus far but it's really heavy. I'm hoping to take something like ten pounds off, which would not be weight wienie in the least.
How much does your Surly Disc Trucker currently weigh?
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