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Are 650b tires good for long distance road riding?

Old 09-11-19, 03:30 AM
  #26  
joewein
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I went from 30 mm wide 451 (20" x 1 3/8") on my Bike Friday to 650B x 42 mm. Going from 65 psi on the narrower tires to 42 psi on the wider ones was a pretty significant gain in ride comfort.

In the first year I didn't actually see much evidence of a difference in speed so I concluded it was about the engine after all. I did feel fresher when I arrived at the brevet goal though. In the next two seasons my brevet times improved significantly though I'm not getting any younger and had actually put on weight.If anything, that big front bag for the porteur rack encourages also me to bring more stuff.

I feel much safer on the wider tires. Ultimately, maintaining my "Century a Month" status (at 85+ months now) is all about avoiding injury. Gravel that would have worried me on the narrower tires I don't even think about and awful roads that would have been scary before I will still ride with confidence.

On the narrower tires I used to think 2,000 km (about 3 months) between punctures was pretty good. On the BSP and BSP EL I've averaged 14 months and counting so far (3x in 43+ months). My longest puncture free stretch on the BSP lasted for 22 months.

I'm sold on 650B. Given that the vast majority of my riding is on roads I probably wouldn't benefit much from going from 42 mm to 54 mm. I don't know how much comfort I'd give up if I went to 38 mm, but given that my Elephant NFE has enough clearance for 42 mm with fenders, there's no real reason for going for anything more narrow but with slightly higher pressure.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:35 AM
  #27  
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I've been riding 650b x 42 for 2 years now on my rando bike. The 650b's deal fairly well with the terrible road surfaces around here, which was the main factor for going that direction.

Main issue you might want to consider: tire availability when on your transcontinental endeavors. I don't know how much one can count on finding replacements in the middle of potentially nowhere.

I did take the bike on a gravel 'race' and PBP this summer. Bike was great in both cases.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:37 AM
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I was wondering if the bike shops on PBP had 650b tires, but I didn't check. It would have been really easy to check at Mortagne, but I didn't think about it.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:58 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I was wondering if the bike shops on PBP had 650b tires, but I didn't check. It would have been really easy to check at Mortagne, but I didn't think about it.
As long as they're not just a "racing" shop they might have some of these: https://www.norauto.fr/p/pneu-velo-6...n-2190180.html
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Old 09-11-19, 02:54 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I was wondering if the bike shops on PBP had 650b tires, but I didn't check. It would have been really easy to check at Mortagne, but I didn't think about it.
It is my understanding (from Sheldon) that 650b was commonly used by the French for utility bikes.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/tires/584.html

And I have heard over the years that when touring in formerly French colonies for example in SE Asia, that 650b were the easiest tire size to buy.

How that translates to today for good quality tires with low rolling resistance for sale in France I would have no idea.
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Old 09-11-19, 04:21 PM
  #31  
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I read in someone's ride report they had a hard time finding a 650b tube but I am not sure whose report that was so I can't go and double-check the details. I saw a few old bikes around where I was staying that were 650b porteurs and the like. I imagine it's like 26x1-3/8 is in the Anglosphere, probably still around but mostly just utility tires for old bikes. Tubes should be easier now with 27.5" mtb tires being a thing, even though tubeless is pretty popular they must still sell the odd tube?
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Old 09-11-19, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
I read in someone's ride report they had a hard time finding a 650b tube but I am not sure whose report that was so I can't go and double-check the details.
I'm not surprised. They didn't even have any 700c tubes with 80mm valve stems at the mechanic at the starting point in Rambouillet, and I mainly saw 700c tubes on display at the tent.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:46 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
I read in someone's ride report they had a hard time finding a 650b tube
Tubes are relatively easy since -- unlike the fixed length bead of a tire -- they stretch. Therefore a given type of tube will work for quite a number of different tire sizes.

For my 650B x 42 tires I use Schwalbe SV 12 tubes (as recommended by Jan Heine). The box is marked as 26" but the small print lists the following tires:
  • 47-559 -- 26 x 1.75
  • 47-571 -- 26 x 1 3/4 -- 650x45C
  • 35-584 -- 27.5 x 1.35 -- 650x35B
  • 47-584 -- 27.5 x 1.75 -- 650x45B
  • 32-590 -- 26 x 1 1/4 -- 650x32A
  • 37-590 -- 26 x 1 3/8 -- 650x35A
  • 44-590 -- 26 x 1 3/8 -- 650x42A
  • 32-597 -- 26 x 1 1/4
Personally I have successfully used them with 650x42B (584) and with 650 x 35A (590). So basically if the bike shop serves 26" MTBs, 27.5" MTB, 650A or 650B, that same tube will work.

I suspect, at a pinch even a 29er or cyclocross tube (622 mm) will get you home, as you can also use a 700C / 622 mm tube in a 20" folding or recumbent bike tire by folding the excess length back on itself, if nothing else is available. You just need to be careful not to pinch it under the bead when installing.

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Old 09-11-19, 11:55 PM
  #34  
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Back when I used 650A/26"x1-3/8" tires on my brevet bike, it was able to share tubes with my 26"x1.75" bike, which was convenient. I'm glad I didn't need any extra 650A tubes in France!
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Old 09-12-19, 06:53 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by joewein View Post
Tubes are relatively easy since -- unlike the fixed length bead of a tire -- they stretch. Therefore a given type of tube will work for quite a number of different tire sizes.

For my 650B x 42 tires I use Schwalbe SV 12 tubes (as recommended by Jan Heine). The box is marked as 26" but the small print lists the following tires:
  • 47-559 -- 26 x 1.75
  • 47-571 -- 26 x 1 3/4 -- 650x45C
  • 35-584 -- 27.5 x 1.35 -- 650x35B
  • 47-584 -- 27.5 x 1.75 -- 650x45B
  • 32-590 -- 26 x 1 1/4 -- 650x32A
  • 37-590 -- 26 x 1 3/8 -- 650x35A
  • 44-590 -- 26 x 1 3/8 -- 650x42A
  • 32-597 -- 26 x 1 1/4
Personally I have successfully used them with 650x42B (584) and with 650 x 35A (590). So basically if the bike shop serves 26" MTBs, 27.5" MTB, 650A or 650B, that same tube will work.

I suspect, at a pinch even a 29er or cyclocross tube (622 mm) will get you home, as you can also use a 700C / 622 mm tube in a 20" folding or recumbent bike tire by folding the excess length back on itself, if nothing else is available. You just need to be careful not to pinch it under the bead when installing.
I don't know the details about where they were trying to get a tube but I suspect it was at the mechanic's stations at PBP and they probably only a couple 700c options... most folks I've helped at the co-op balk at putting a 18-23mm tube in a 28mm tire until I reassure them tubes can stretch a bit.
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Old 09-12-19, 12:43 PM
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I'm pretty sure you can get a 700c tube to work in a 650b if that's the only option. Of course, there is the guy that filled his tire with small sticks because he was out of tubes. Or so he thought, turned out he had another tube hidden away in one of his bags.
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Old 09-12-19, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I'm pretty sure you can get a 700c tube to work in a 650b if that's the only option. Of course, there is the guy that filled his tire with small sticks because he was out of tubes. Or so he thought, turned out he had another tube hidden away in one of his bags.
I feel like that's what a lot of 650B folks had to do before it caught on again. The Sheldon Brown/Harris web store still says "Finally! 650B specific tubes!"
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Old 09-12-19, 04:50 PM
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I use 26" on mine. LBS didn't have 650b. Then again, one of them has flatted just sitting in the shop
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