10 January, 2007


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.
I'll post photos and get them into the store 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?


Anonymous said...

That rack looks great!

Will you offer the city bike as a single speed?

What about a single-speed version of the randonneur? I was flipping through the photos you linked to of Bob Rogen's bikes, including this sweet Della Santa. I got inspired. I would love something this simple, functional, humble, but made with the detail put into the VO frames.

Anonymous said...

"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."

So if I'm correctly reading in between the lines (combo of 650 and 700 but larger diameter), the 27x1-1/4" is the ultimate wheel IF you have a correctly sized frame/brake equipment. Two bikes in one. Now I know why they quit making them :-0

Okulus said...

Why not try the Velocity Synergy rims as well? Their rear wheel rim assymetrical profile gives you the undished option. Finish-wise, they're great, and they come in 32h.

I just built a set on some ebay NOS XTR hubs and am very pleased by the result.

Anonymous said...


The curved front rack is lovely.

Already the very proud owner of a VO rear rack, I've been waiting patiently for news the Constructeur Front Rack is in stock.

Is this prototype rack the final version of the Constructeur, or a new rack altogether?

Dad said...

I would kind of like to try this 650c thing, with really huge fat tires. Then I think you really would have two bikes in one. For some reason I was thinking they were much smaller in diameter than the 700's, and would look silly with the larger size frame I take.

Nice rack! That'd work fine with 700 wheels too, right?

Velo Orange said...

Andy, We can easily make a single speed version of either bike. The city bike is available with internal geares, so a ss is simple.

The rack is a brand new model that was originally going to be just for the city bike, but we're thinking of selling it separately as well.

David, this rack will also fit 700c bikes. You said 650c in your post; that's another size. There is also 650a, a size used mostly in Japan. I think 650b bikes look okay on frames up to 60-62cm, bigger than that and the wheels look a little odd.

We may carry Synergy rims in the future. And CR18s if I can get them.

Anonymous said...

I generally ride a 60cm frame and did complete a 650B "conversion". I thought the wheels looked too small on this bike. On smaller frames I think they make a lot of sense - but they weren't right for me - I prefer 700c in both aesthetics and performance.

Anonymous said...


Just speaking for me of course, but I think the rack would work perfectly on my single speed which is my commuter shopper - in other words, my city bike.

I have to think there are others out there like me. The racks should sell well if you decide to sell them on their own.

Gino Zahnd said...

This rack looks different (shorter front to back?) in this photo compared to the constructeur rack, but Chris would know a lot better than I do.

Dad said...

Thanks guys. Okay, no 650b wheels for me then. Nothing wrong with 700c ones as far as I can tell.

I'm having a wide tubular chromed cro-mo front rack made up for my city bike. I took a picture of an old porteur rack and said, "please make one of those". And they're doin' it. But the VO curved one's neat!

Anonymous said...

"There is also 650a, a size used mostly in Japan."

650A (a.k.a. ISO590 or 26 x 1 3/8) was the most common tire size on British three speed style bikes and is found world wide. Bikes that use 650A tires are common enough in America that tires in that size are stocked at Walmarts and Ace Hardware stores in rural fly-over country in the USA. All major bicycle tire companies make 650A size tires. 650A is also a common tire size on wheelchairs.

Velo Orange said...

The rack is about the same length as the constructeur rack, but about twice as wide. I guess we'll sell them separately.

Annon, Yes, 650a is also a "utility bike" size. But the only place it's used on the sort of bike we discuss here is in Japan. There are many great tires made in 650a, but none of the top of the line models are sold here. We could easily import 650a tires and rims; of course we would be the only source for them.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at some nice, supple, high pressure 650A tires the other day at my LBS - much nicer than World Tours and Kendas.

Anonymous said...


Cound me in for one of those rack. Lovely.


Anonymous said...

I do like the curved front, but it seems like it needs another cross-piece, lengthwise.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the curved front is pleasing.

Anonymous said...


How about make some (half perhaps) with Lumotec light mount with them?