Friday, March 9, 2012

650b conversions...

Seems, the way it's being reported, that 650b is set to take over the world (or a small slice of it) this next year. I think the segment that's being targeted is a good one. Not 100% sure what that segment is called these days. It seems that with every 20mm increase in suspension travel, there's a new name for that type of bike. I digress.

The bike industry is looking at longer travel bikes and figuring that 26" wheels are dead, 29" wheels are too big to fit into long travel suspension designs. Ah, let's create, not only a new niche, but let's fit it with a "new" wheel size. Always looking for that edge, the bike industry is. Looking for the next new thing. That's also a good thing. The industry is being driven by innovation. That's where the money is. The money is not in maintaining the status quo of 1980's bicycle technology.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, 650b conversions. With 650b more on the radar of bike geeks, there are more and more who seem to want to convert their 26" wheeled mountain bike to 650b. Breathe new life into the old girl, so to speak. This can be good or bad. Good if you have a frame that has clearance for larger diameter wheels. Bad because the larger wheels will raise the bottom bracket (which could be good if you ride in a super rocky/rooted area) and makes you feel like you are high up in the air.

Maybe not everyone will feel like you are perched up on a sky cycle. If you are of average height, it might not be so bad. At 6'3", I already have the feeling I'm pedaling with my head in the clouds sometimes. I converted a 26" wheeled bike to 650b a while back. On my first ride, I almost fell over when I came to a stop. I went to touch my toe to the ground, but the ground wasn't there. Just that increase in height with the larger wheel caused me to have to relearn my way around the bike and where the ground was. I did feel like I was sitting up much higher. It wasn't crazy bad and I did get used to it. Maybe you will too. I eventually sold that frame and built up a frame that was designed around a dedicated 650b wheel. I like how it rides a lot. I also like how my 26" wheel bikes ride and I like how my 29" wheeled bike rides. I just like riding bikes. I would probably draw the line at a mountain bike with wheels smaller than 26", however.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. I just wanted to create a fifth post so I could have one post for each day of this week. I don't think I've ever written five in a row. And I think I'm going to build up some 650b wheels in the coming week for folks who want to try converting their bikes to 650b. I've got a bunch of Velocity Blunt and Synergy rims in stock and a stack of Shimano XT 6-bolt rotor hubs that will make nice wheels. I've also got 650b tires from Kenda and Pacenti.

retrotec 007
Here's a 650b conversion I did on a Retrotec a while back.

Here's the frame I converted to 650b several years ago.

This is the Rawland Sogn I rode for a while before selling to a friend. I really liked this bike and the ability to go between 650b x 2.3 and 700 x 45. Super versatile and comfortable. And it rode great.

(What's playing: Tom Waits Heigh Ho)


bubba said...

I like 650B on the road a lot. I need to take my Rawland off-road quite a bit more this year.

Did you have a 650B frame in the works?

blackmountaincycles said...

I had a couple of 650b mountain bike frames made a few years ago. Not in the works at the moment.