650c and the Future of Wheel Sizes
Why smaller wheels ? The key reasons are :
1 ) They allow for lower aligning of the handlebars – frequently necessary for shorter athletes ( about 5 ’ 4 ” /163cm and light ) to achieve a proper motorcycle paroxysm without other special parts or modifications.
2 ) Wheels that are sized proportionately for a motorcycle contribute to good handling.
3 ) Smaller wheels reduce or remove overlap between your toes and the back-end of the front tire. ( This becomes obvious during acute turns. )
4 ) smaller wheels have less surface area to catch side winds, leading to easier handling on blowy days – particularly for lightweight athletes.
5 ) small wheels are lighter and easier to pack.
That sounds like a lot of good farce, doesn ’ thyroxine it ? indeed, while we don ’ triiodothyronine want excessively many wheel size options ( which can hamper dealers ’ ability to stock and service our bikes due to greater inventory ), I think it ’ s a reasonable proposition to have two wheel sizes for road-based motorbike. The universe of batch bicycle has taken this and run with it, offering four unlike sizes for different disciplines – 24in., 26in., 27.5in., ( a.k.a 650b ) and 29in. ( a.k.a. 700c ) .
In contrast, road bicycle and triathlon have lento but surely eliminated 650c, leaving 700c as the alone size for performance bikes. The big switch started around the year 2000, when triathletes looked to male professional fourth dimension trial cyclists as the template for a desirable bicycle apparatus. For a number of reasons – chiefly economic and simplification of equipment for chaotic team trucks – they use 700c wheels about entirely. They ’ re the fastest people on earth, so we triathletes mimicked them. Over prison term, 650c fell out of fashion, and even gained a false reputation among some industry circles as being somehow bad or “ slowly ” – a simple-minded criticism based on no actual data or logic.
About 5 years ago, bicycle and ensnare manufacturers still offered 650c in the smallest size of triathlon bikes. You could even occasionally find 650c road bikes, such as the smallest size of the excellent Cervelo RS. While most bombastic wheel manufacturers had discontinued 650c wheels by about 2010, Zipp invested in a 650c version of their 404 carbon clincher, and Hed offered many choices – the Ardennes, Jet 6, Jet 9, Jet Disc, H3, and H3 Deep. These were great products and it seemed like 650c would stick around to serve shorter athletes. however, if you ask me, its application could serve a wide-eyed audience ( and good to see for myself, I built up a 650c project bike several years ago ).
But the final few years have seen promote consolidation of product lines, and 650c is about nonexistent today. If you survey companies such as Trek, Felt, Specialized, and Cervelo, you ’ ll find that all of the newly triathlon bikes have 700c wheels. Zipp customer service confirmed for me this workweek that they have completely discontinued the 650c 404 carbon clincher. Hed discontinued the 650c option for ALL wheels except the aluminum Ardennes. The alone 650c carbon bicycle offer I can find today is from Premier Tactical ( pictured below ). If anyone is aware of other options, please let us know in the comments below .
I ’ ve had more than one professional bicycle fit express to me that this is a huge disappointment, particularly considering how mountain bikes have embraced a variety show of bicycle sizes.
Thankfully ( and curiously adequate ), handlebar manufacturers have stepped in to reduce the number of problems caused by boastfully wheels on small bikes ( token # 1 in my list at the top of this article ). With the justly combination of bicycle geometry, a low-angled stem, and identical low aerobar pad aligning, it ’ s possible for many short athletes to achieve an acceptable handlebar position and motorcycle fit. This doesn ’ metric ton address the other issues such as toe lap or crosswind handle, but it appears that these issues are not a high priority for enough people to drive the market.
Where does this leave us ? Unless something drastic changes, I think it ’ sulfur safe to say that 650c is basically dead, outside of the secondhand market and a identical humble handful of recess products. Rather than fight it, I think it ’ s time we accept it and move on.
650-What? A New Hope?
All of the above however, a funny thing has happened. There has been a recent reintroduction of 650b to cycling. More specifically, 650b wheels are showing up on batch bikes, gravel bikes, and road plus bikes ( road ’ s semi-off-road cousin ). Don ’ metric ton ask me why 650b is considered approve while 650c is not. The two sizes are so close that I ’ ll bet cipher could tell a difference in a double-blind report ( yet they ’ ra different enough that their tires aren ’ triiodothyronine interchangeable ).
Reading: 650c and the Future of Wheel Sizes
so I ’ megabyte going to make a prediction today. If 650- anything has a future in triathlon, I think it ’ randomness 650b. More than that, it will be 650b wheels and bikes equipped with disk brakes. You heard it here first !
Well, you kind of hear it here first. Canyon has already announced 650b-and-disc-equipped road bikes for women. They barely haven ’ metric ton made it to triathlon yet. While disk brakes aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate in any direction necessity to make smaller wheels viable, consumers are being pushed to discs and I don ’ t see any significant frame mold investments happening without them .
My hope is that within 5 years there will be at least a few triathlon frames with 650b wheels. Whether this happens will depend on demand from consumers, fitters, and retailers. Oh, and the frame manufacturers have to listen to that need, excessively. In the end ( and assuming my prediction is true ), the merely real consequence is that the marketplace will have had a 5-7 year period during which short riders had no choice in bicycle size outside of custom-made motorcycle frames and secondhand wheels. And of run, there are bound to be retailers that suffer reasonably during the switch, as old stock must be eliminated to make room for the raw stuff. This exercise international relations and security network ’ t new for the bicycle business, however, so retailers will know the drill.
I ’ d like to hear from you, whether you ’ re a retailer, fit, or casual consumer. Do you miss 650c ? Would you consider 650b if it comes to triathlon ? Or do you feel that 700c is the best choice for everyone ?