Monday, September 24, 2007

Ritchey Breakaway conversion to 650B wheel size: a perfect traveling rough stuff bike!

Ritchey Breakaway conversion to 650B wheel size:
a perfect traveling rough stuff bike!

By Chris Kostman

I love my Ritchey Break-Away road bike because it's awesome to ride and because it breaks in half and flies for free! What could be cooler than that? Well, that same bike with an enhanced ability to explore the back-country. By swapping out the brakes for some Tektros with longer reach and then swapping out the wheels to 650B diameter (584mm as compared to the 622 of 700c; note I am NOT talking about the far more common 650C size - 572mm - used by triathletes and bikes for small riders), I am able to run 32mm wide Grand Bois Cypres tyres and, voila!, the bike rides better now off-road and on!

Here are a few pix from yesterday's ride up the rough but paved Pine Creek climb from Pine Valley to Mt. Laguna, followed by a nice stretch of trail - with good dirt sections plus some rocks and soft stuff, too - on the Noble Canyon trail.
Equally awesome is the fact that the bike rides better on the road now, too! As I passed over a gnarly cattle guard early in the ride, I was amazed when I only heard it, but didn't feel it! These Cypres tyres are like I remember sew-ups in the 1980s, only better. I run them at 75psi in back and 72psi in front. How to make a conversion like this? I got the wheels from Rivendell, the brakes from Velo-Orange, and the tyres from Bicycle Quarterly. Links at right.

(Click here for a full slideshow about my Break-Away, showing how it disassembles and packs in a relatively small suitcase to fly easily and for free.)


Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog. This conversion interests me as I am a breakaway owner as well. It seems fairly straight forward (brakes and wheels). My concern is the fork clearance. Did you have to swap out the Ritchey fork or was the difference in wheel diameter enough to compensate for the wider (32mm) tire? Thanks.

Chris Kostman said...

The stock Ritchey fork would just barely clear the 30mm wide 650B front tyre. I later put in a more modern Ritchey fork and it had more clearance, enough for a 32mm tyre. You will want to check clearances carefully since measurements and clearances vary over time as production standards and fork sources change.