Velo Vitality

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Something I love about bikes is the abundance of choice, from materials (steel vs carbon etc) to gearing and brake options. However, if you want to experience road+, there is little off-the-shelf choice. Fear not because the popularity of disc brakes and wider clearance frames allows for 650b wheel conversions without any complications. 


My Charge officially runs up to 700c x 42mm tyres. I have just swapped out the wheels for 650b x 48mm. This simple conversion achieves the following - 
  • Wider contact patch for grip and cornering. Supple, lightweight tyres keep bike rolling fast and smooth
  • Increased volume in tyres give you that 'magic carpet' effect
  • Stronger, lighter wheels feel responsive and sharp
  • Lower tyre pressure reduces chances of punctures
  • High speed confidence

The last point is one of the best things I have noticed about road+, and one of the least talked about, confidence. Maybe I get more nervous at 40mph than most riders, but either way hitting pot holes and uneven road surfaces on high speed descents can be unnerving. With 25mm tyres running 100psi, you can really bounce if you hit a hole. Not with the supple wide 48mm tyres. I was gliding over everything the countryside roads could throw at me, never once losing confidence or control. This is a unique characteristic of road+.

My conversion kit list

  • Kinlin TL23 650b Rims (good internal width for 48mm tyres)
  • Shimano XT Disc Hubs 
  • Sunrace 10sp 11-42t Cassette
  • Compass Switchback Hill Tyres - Standard Casing (650 x 48mm)

I have been running tyres at 35psi. You can run them lower or harder, I would suggest playing with the psi, to get where you feel comfortable. I experimented lower, but found the high speed cornering slightly unsettling, 35psi is my happy place. 

One last thing to point out is that I have been running 650b x 42mm on a different bike for around 3 years and there is a significant difference between 42mm and 48mm tyres. 





Compass Switchback Hill

650b x 48mm

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Written by Jonathan Holmes — October 02, 2017

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