Thursday, October 20, 2005

650 Wheels (or) "Good day from Down Under"

[What's a 650 tire? Much less a 650A and a 650B? Well, don't forget, as you may have, that this blog was started because of 650 wheels. For a refresher course, see Sheldon Brown's discussion.]


Good day from Down Under.

Just thought I would drop you a line and let you know that I finally have a 650B in the stable. My wife calls this bike the "chocolate croissant" since it is so small and chocolate colored. I guess it is a bit a scene, I am 5'10" and weigh well into the 200lb zone, and I ride this little 48cm tourer!! I bought it at a local auction for $65AUD, so I am not complaining. It is a Fuji Olympic, lugged Cro-Mo frame, the only major changes are a new set of very wide(450mm) Nitto bars, the long Nitto stem, Campag seatpost with a Brooks saddle perched on top. When I saw this bike at the auction outfitted with full coverage fenders, I knew I would take it home. I have seriously abused this bike, as I use it to pull a trailer loaded with 100lbs+ of tools on a regular basis.

While it is a small ride, I have this bike to thank for learning about the 650 series wheels. I had never heard of a 650A or B until I had to replace the tires on this bike. I fell in love with the 650A which is a 590x35, but was anxious to learn about the 650B, which promised to be everything the 'A was and more'.

Well, to make a long story short, I finally got my shipment of Panaracer Col De La Vie Randonnee 650B tires in from Japan last Thursday (13 Oct) after a 4 month shipping fiasco. So I grabbed a set of 36H rims from my Velocity stock, laced them the hi-flange Sansui hubs that came with the bike with Sapim Laser spokes. While I was at it, I polished the hubs and serviced the bearings. So last night I finally got the wheels back on the bike and re-adjusted the canti's for the 3mm difference in the brake track. I was ready to take the next step.... ride a 650B!!

I grabbed the bike early this morning and headed to the beach. It was unbelievable, the change was dramatic, like the bike was riding on a cushion, weightless and flying!! OK, OK, I will be real, there is a definite improvement in the ride. The tires soak a huge amount of road noise and irregularities. I thought there was a big improvement going from a 700x28 to a 590x35, well the improvement from the 650A to the 650B was even greater. I believe I can tell slight increase in rolling resistance, very slight, maybe I was just a bit tired this morning. At any rate, I am sold, I am a 650B convert. I like this wheel size so well, that I am putting the wheels in motion today to have a full custom 650B built for me, with all the trimmings.

Here is the "Chocolate Croissant" -

So here you have it, the 650B club, "Members Only - New Members Welcome"

Bluebird's sister is next to get a new set of 650B wheels. She is very excited.

Thank you,

P. Lynn Miller
Sydney, Australia


Anonymous said...

Hi there, I think there is a mistake in your post. For what I know 650A tyres are 37-590. Ride on. Cesar.

PCM said...

Thanks Cesar, but a man doubts the Chainlink Authority at his own risk!

Some rims, or course, are wider and narrower for thinner and thicker tires. I don't think the width really gives a rim its sense of identity. Diameter seems to be the more important number.

Between P. Lynn Miller and Sheldon Brown (and you), we know that 650A is definitely 590mm diameter. Sheldon says the 650A is for narrow tires about 30mm. Lynn slapped on a medium 35mm. A fatty 37mm is probably a bit wide, not that it really matters. But 650A is also the common size for old English 3 speeds. And those tires are listed at 1 3/8... or 35mm.

Strange that I find all this fascinating.