As most of you know 650B is a wheel and tire size that is slightly smaller than now standard 700c. 650B tires are typically larger and inflated to a lower pressure than 700c tires. But the overall outside diameter of a typical 650b tire is only a little smaller, since its a larger tire. 650b tire were popular in France and other European countries because they offered a more comfortable ride with rolling resistance virtually as low as that of a 700c tire. But as 700c tires dominated racing, they became the standard on all bikes.
Recently there has been a revival in 650b bikes. Many cyclist are rediscovering the plush ride of 650b. In fact for devotees, this size, between 26" mountain bike and 700c, is the golden mean. They go on endlessly about magic ride of wider lower pressure tires.
In France the movement has been led by the Confrérie des 650. It's worth looking through their site, which is partially available in English. The 650b Wheeled Bicycle site also has good info. Rivendell Bikes, here in the states, is notable for offering several 650b production bikes.
Here at Velo Orange we have three 650b bikes in the works, the Cyclo Touriste (a 650 verion of the Randonneuse) is available now, a mens-style city bike (which is now being built), and a mixte version of the city bike. We're also considering the possibility of a mixte version of the Cyclo Touriste.
So we are starting to stock some 650b tires and rims. Here's what we have so far:
- We have a few 39mm (marked 44mm) Michelin World Tour tires and will be getting more.
- There is a nice stock of inexpensive Kenda tires that are perfect for city bikes.
- The Panaracer Col de la Vie 38mm tire we now stock is a very nice tire.
- We'll have the new style of Grand Bios tire soon
- For rims we have now the French Rigida Sphinx rim in 36h. We'll be getting more models soon.
The photo is of the (still unpolished) prototype front rack for our 650b city bike. It's about the right size for a shopping bag, brief case, or a few books. We might also sell these separately. Do you like the curved front?