650B… is this going anywhere?

I’ve never felt good about selling new 650B bikes to people. Wool knicker retro romanticists aside, does anyone out there think that this platform is going to survive?

If you already have a 650B bike, maybe you’re not going to replace those rims too soon. Maybe a set of tires will be enough for several years. But the supplies of tires and rims seem pretty tenuous to me. A shift in the fickle industry trends or a major economic downturn could cause those items to disappear.

I can name 20-30 manufacturers of 700C rims, and only two of those make 650B. And at this moment I can barely get rims from either. IF either of those companies needed to cut costs and streamline production, do you think they’re gonna cut 700C? No, they won’t. Would they cut 20×1.5”, 20×1-1/8”, 26”, or 24”? No, not before 650B.

Have you looked for a decent freewheel lately? Fifteen or twenty years ago, those were standard on every bike. Now most distributor catalogs only list a couple Shimano wide-range freewheels (nothing in a 7sp racing cluster) and maybe 2 Chinese-made freewheels (and they suck). Millions and millions of bikes used freewheels, and now pfffft!!! Gone. I just don’t see 650B gaining the momentum to join and endure within the cycling mainstream.

Anyways, I think a lot of the appeal of 650B is just being different from the cycling mainstream, but I don’t think that 650B offers anything that couldn’t be served by 700C or possibly 26” for shorter riders. The wealth of choices in those sizes is immense, and it just seems foolish for a consumer to throw away those options and future security of replacements in the pursuit of small returns.

I could be wrong.

But I’m not going to be wrong about 650B mtb bikes. We need an in-between size for 26” and 29er? Whatever.

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