So what are 650B wheels and are they really more fun to ride? We took to the gravel roads of Wales to find out.
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Our mates over at Zipp have just lent us these rather cool bikes to check out their new 303 Firecrest wheels which are available in a smaller size. 650b. If you’re a road rider, you probably haven’t ever had to think about wheel sizes much, if at all. Road bikes have what are called 700c wheels, and that’s pretty much that.
But increasingly, there is an alternative. This smaller alternative, called 650b. They are an interesting proposition, they potentially help to improve the design of smaller bikes, but then there is also a new crop of bikes that use this size to give way more versatility, but maintain agility and speed by pairing Smaller rims with bigger tyres. The promise is that they can make drop bar bikes more fun.
We can’t wait to give them a proper go. On road, off road, uphill and down. What’s all the fuss about?
Well let’s back up a bit before we start talking about fun, you can be excused for not knowing what on earth we’re talking about. So what is it?
A 650b wheel has a diameter of 584mm. A 700c wheel has a diameter of 622mm. And yes, the names are confusing, we’ll unearth that mystery a little later on.
The concept for improving smaller bikes is a simple one, you don’t have to make sacrifices to the geometry in order to squeeze bigger wheels under the rider, but what’s with the fun thing?
Well it too is a simple idea. Smaller diameter rims allow you to fit bigger tyres while still keeping the overall diameter the same size as a road wheel. This gives the same geometry and handling characteristics as a normal road bike, but the added tyre width means that you are not restricted to the road. Not at all in fact.
Or at least that’s the theory. Until Zipp lent us a pair of their new 650b 303 Firecrest tubeless disc wheels we’d never had the opportunity to try. They are tubeless compatible, disc specific and they have the super aero Firecrest shape.
As you can tell by the fact that we’re squeaky clean, we still haven’t tried them so to put that right we’ve planned another epic GCN gravel ride!!!!!!!! We’re going to tick something off the bucket list. Riding up there.
Music: Bottom's Up FULL - David Björk
Maple Syrup 1 - Martin Gauffin
Go To Hell Scarlett Woman (Instrumental Version) - Suffer City (1)
Once I Was A Cat - Suffer City (1)
Suffer City Blues (Instrumental Version) - Suffer City (1)
High Heels Walkabout 3 - Magnus Ringblom
Made By Man 2 - Anders Bothén
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Smaller Wheels, More Fun? 650b Vs 700c