Category Archives: Bicycles

What’s that fat tire bike? My 650B Convert

Okay, I’ll get this out of the way.

Here are some details on the bike I am currently riding around town (the one seen on my header pic). The 650B wheel size has a bit of history going back to the Porteurs of Paris in the 50’s and 60’s – work bikes hauling stacks of newspapers and such around town. A slightly smaller wheel size with lower pressure (50PSI) and wider girth for a nice cushy ride. It’s smaller than 700C (typical Road bike/hybrid) but larger than the 26″ mountain type wheel. Plus the tire offerings are far more agreeable than 26″ knobbies.

herse_porteur1960

Rene Herse Porteur from 1960

Of late tweakers have been converting old 80’s steel frame roadies (japanese bikes of this period are perfect) because they work. With the smaller wheel, you can clear the chain stays and fork for the fat (PHAT!) tires — 38-44MM! There are a few web pages dedicated to this bike type like 650B Wheeled Bicycles.

Takara Drive Side

Takara Drive Side

I was lucky to fall into a set of 650B rims, mounted to serviceable hubs, with some okay Kenda tires – for $40! New builds are usually 150-200 bucks or more. I then scored a good Takara Medalist frame for not much more. To manage the longer reach to the smaller wheels, I bought some long reach Tektro R556 caliper brakes, a new chain, and I was off. I added some Planet Bike Cascadia fenders, old bar-end shifters, a Nitto Technomics (tall!) stem I had in my bin, an old Blackburn rack, a water bottle cage, one of my reserve Brooks B-17 saddles, and some drop bars. I didn’t care for the drop bars, so I mounted some Velo-Orange porteur-like upright bars for a more… upright ride (and they were a bargain to boot!). Most of the bits were just kicking around the shop.

porteur

Velo-Orange Porteur Handle Bars

Currently I’m using a Brooks B68 sprung saddle, but it’s just a bit too bouncy and squeaky, so I’m going back to the 17. The Carradice Pendle bag adds a bit of class, eh? got it used too at Bike forums

carradicependle

Carradice Pendle Bag and Brooks b.17 saddle

Overall, it’s a comfy bike, not as fast as my 700C bike, but speed is over-rated. It takes the buzz out of the road bumps, is a bit grippy-er around corners and plows through leaves nicely. It feels very civilized. I like being more upright as the years go by – being able to see more is a comfort.

Now all I need to do is tune up my snow bike and I’ll be ready for winter. Onward Biking soldiers!

Would love to hear about other riders who have done 650B conversion and have the bikes in an everyday rotation.

UPDATE: I’ve replaced the Kenda tires with some Panaracer Col de La Vie’s. Very nice and a nice price! I’ve also pulled my Cetma porteur rack out of retirement and mounted it out front (stabilizes the bike a bit). She’s a steady roller.

UPDATE:  Well, I decided I’m more of a pannier guy, so the Carradice came off. Also, the CETMA Rack, as cool as it is, is more suited for messengering, so I’m presenting it to Dylan, the one true crazy messenger I know (plying the
Chicago Loop!). I’ll find some other smallish front rack to hold the odd lunch or bottle of beer.

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It comes like a wheel, a turning of steel, a rotary feeling

The world is changing and the world stands still.  Mostly time just rambles by way too fast and the child grows up too quickly and the hair falls out and the nose hair needs clipping and the car stops working and knee doesn’t hurt it is just a ‘challenge’ and the groceries are heavier and Friday means  Saturday is next and  Sunday and Monday.

Do we draw a straight line and follow it or do we scribe a crooked path, get lost, and throw away the watch? How about the car? What’s with the car anyway?  Sure. Freedom.  How about no car? Hey, is this one of those Car-Free things? Is that what this BLOG is all about?  (BLOG?) Some guy preaching to us – get rid of your cars, your lawnmowers, your computers, your TV’s, your ATV’s, your ATM’s, DMV, your micro-wave and your edible food-like substances? Hell no.  I love my Dr. Who and the occasional sporting event and 30 Rock (and some other shows that I won’t admit to).  It’ll be funny if this blog is still alive in a few years when those are extinct.

I do like my push mower and my bicycles. And my guitar upon which I can play songs in the Key of D like it’s no one’s business. And my mark makers. And my wife and all the kids (names will be left out to protect the innocent and the not-so). And beer. Beer is good. Really good beer. Not super expensive beer, you know, 7-8 bucks will get you some really good shit that hangs in your mouth for an hour or so. And pumpkins. Pumpkins are great. And avocados. And bread and chocolate. Gail Ambrosius. Yum. Cabbage. Cabbage I could leave behind but I promise to eat it whenever a significant other makes it.

Here’s a picture of a bicycle that I ride.

Takara Medalist 650B commuter

This is the bike that I ride to work because I sold my car to a graduate student and I like it (uh huh)

I ride in the day and when it is dark. I will try to get some pictures of that ride. That’s what this will be about. It will be about days, and riding, and drawing a line across a town and a state and across a life and the things that intersect (gads, this is getting so spiritual, eh? Zing… the hook goes in the mouth and reel ’em in!) Maybe I’ll promote your blog. I think my sister has a blog. That’s what I will do, I will find her blog and put a link here. We are building a village here!  Now bring all of your unwanted things (wooden and paper please) to the village center and we will have a huge bonfire!