The Wonders & Woes of a 650b Conversion

John had very good intentions when taking his wives Bianchi Europa steel bike and converting it into a 650b wheeled machine.  From 700c and uncomfortable to easier to use brakes, and more volume in the tires.

The process of swapping out parts wasn’t too difficult, but when John test rode the refreshed Bianchi down the driveway he found some complications.  The front tire was rubbing the carbon fork, the seat was a pain in the ass (no, it really was) and the brake levers had too much reach for smaller hands.

Read on at John’s blog to see what his remedy was.

The 650B conversion is probably the Bianchi’s final state of being, and it appears to be serving my wife very well. In her case, I think the wheel swap probably did help make the bike more comfortable and approachable. But if you haven’t converted a bike to 650B before, I’d suggest starting out by thinking about the goals of the project and making sure your bases are covered. In my case, the goal was comfort and usability. The wheelset helped, sure. But so did the saddle, handlebar position and the compact brake levers, and I think a pedal swap will seal the deal. In this case at least, it was the full experience that made the difference.

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No Responses to “The Wonders & Woes of a 650b Conversion”

  1. umarth Says:

    As is probably known, I’m a 650b newb. I bought a wheelset to tinker, without having a frame for them. I slapped them on my Surly KM with Fatty Rumpkins. The BB is way too low, but is only problematic when riding fixed. I’ll be putting them on my really old Rockhopper as soon as I get some FMF brakes, but I doubt I’ll room for knobbies at any point. Point is, they are totally worth it. The wheel size is perfect for commuting and after a loaded 130 mile day to my parent’s place, it is pretty obvious that they are perfect for touring as well.

    Keep posting conversions. I think they are pretty fascinating.

  2. Franklyn Says:

    I bought a Serotta CRT for my fiancee as her brevet bike and converted to 650b. CRT stands for colorado rapid tour, but it’s hardly a touring bike as it barely accepts 700cx25 w/ fenders. We went to 650b and now I can get to 35mm tires if she wants to. She is running GB Cypres 32mm right now and love the tires (not any slower than when she rides her sporty Torelli Corsa Strada with 700x25c tires). The BB height is low. The BB drop for the CRT is 80mm, which makes for 247mm or so BB height with 650x32b tires on, a little hairy. We used 165mm Sugino cranks (with 110mm BB) and so far she hasn’t stricken the pedals once. Using 35mm can raise the BB height maybe a hair more.

    She loves the bike, which is what’s important

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