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Bringing 650b Back

Sean Coffey, Ritchey’s head of Global Marketing, was quick to answer when asked what the main draw was of their 2013 NAHBS booth:  the P-650b fillet brazed frame by Tom Ritchey.

“There are several things about this bike that make it exciting,” explains Coffey.  “First, it has the classic P-Team paint job, courtesy of local to Ritchey painter D&D Cycles.  Second, it showcases a few of our new components for model year 2013, like our 650b Vantage II Alloy wheels paired with the 650b Z-Max Evolution tires, and the WCS full carbon 650b fork.”

Photo: Sophie Ballo

Photo: Sophie Ballo

When asked about the inspiration to bring a 650b into the Ritchey line, a bit of history unfolded that reflects the company’s heritage in the mountain biking scene.  “The 650b was actually one of the first off- road bikes that Tom ever built.  Back in the 1970s, a gentleman named John Finlay Scott approached Tom asking him to build a ‘Woodsie’ bike.  What resulted had 650b wheels, a flat bar, and extra gearing; it was a precursor to the Mountain Bike.”  Later when Ritchey partnered with Gary Fisher, their choice of 26” was born out of the Clunker bike trend in Marin and the availability of 26 inch rims and tires than any advantage to the 26” wheel size.

“Tom has always felt that 650b is the right wheel size for most riders, but the market wasn’t ready,” Coffey continued.  “That belief coupled with our Scott-Swisspower Team, who tried out some 650b products prior to the London Olympics with very positive results, prompted us to officially bring the 650b back into our line of bikes.”  A TIG-welded version of the bike is currently available to purchase as a frame in many local bike shops.

Another bike on display is Tom Ritchey’s Double Switchback Breakaway Tandem bike, which is also handmade by Ritchey and has been ridden over 20,000 miles by Tom and his wife Martha all over the world.  Currently seen in its 650b Mountain Bike form, it is also compatible with 700c wheels (hence the “double switchback”).  A TIG-welded production version will also be available in Spring of 2013.