Thursday, February 2, 2012

650b 4 Me

Plan A:  When I first built up the 1981 61cm Centurion Super LeMans I did so with 700c wheels shod with 35mm Panaracer T-Servs.  It seemed like a such a good idea I even laced the rims to a pair of NOS Shimano 600ax hubs I obtained from a local used bike shop.  The bike went together rather well with an eclectic array of new,NOS and just plain old parts I had in the inventory.  From the really cool old Shimano Crane rear derailleur to the mustache bars and the Brooks Conquest saddle......I even managed to throw my old Eclipse panniers into the mix as well...

After all of that it was time to give it a nice test ride down to Seal Beach.  Well, the combination of the 700c wheels, the fat tires and the very tall 61cm frame made for a rather sketchy ride for this not so tall 5' 11' rider.  At one point in the ride when I went to dismount I almost fell to the pavement.  Upon returning home I hung the bike back in the rafters and started on plan B:...

Plan B:  When I ordered the brakes for the build I decided on the Tektro 556s figuring the longer reach would give me some flexibility If I decided to go the 650b route.  After taking a few measurements and crossing my fingers....I decided to build up a pair of 650b wheels.  I found some really nice NOS Shimano 105s with 126mm rears at Loose Screws, the Synergy rims and albatross bars from Rivendell with some spokes from Web Cyclery in Bend OR.  A few days later I had a pair really cool wheels and was eager to rebuild the Centurion into a nice ride for the weekly happy hour ride to Shorline Village in Long Beach.

With the albatross bars, fenders and all of the other accoutrements it sure looked good - but what about the ride?  From a sketchy tipsy ride the Centurion was transformed into a stable, nimble and comfortable pleasure.  Even with the somewhat stout Schwalbe Marathons, the bike rides like a dream.  The bike is definitely my #1 pick for local riding....  650b may not be for everyone or every bike, but it sure made a great bike for this rider.

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