For the last few years, one of the exciting developments in real-world bicycles has been the resurgence of the 650B tire size and bikes. Framebuilder Peter Weigle (here's his Flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49353569@N00/ ) builds and rides gorgeous 650B bikes. When he pedals one, he is the embodiment of classy riding.
I have just started two project bikes, and at least one and maybe both will become 650B.
The definite: In July, I found a clean 1969 Raleigh Sports that was just too cheap to pass up.
As I rode it, I noticed that it was pretty clean, but besides neglect, the bike had suffered some abuse over the years. It was going to be a lot tougher than I thought to have a mount for Peter Jourdain's London to Cambridge Fall Ramble. It looked like I would probably want to disassemble the bike down to the frame and build it up again, rather than just tune it.
So I changed course, and I'm going to turn this into a 650B.
I met a couple of people from Velo Orange Imports at Cirque du Cyclisme 2010 http://cirqueducyclisme.com/ . They are genial people with a lot of the same ideas about bicycle that I have, and they were beginning to import new parts for classic and classic-looking bikes. When I started to shop for parts for the Raleigh, I found everything I needed in their store http://store.velo-orange.com/ :
* Stainless steel fenders
* 650B rims, tires, tubes and rim strips
* Modern dual pivot brake calipers with the required long reach and wide clearance
* JIS cartridge bottom bracket that requires no bottom bracket threads and will fit my Raleigh frame
I also have in stock a few other toys to trick out the Raleigh and be able to put all of the original parts into storage:
* Front hub donated by Dale Brown of Classic Rendezvous http://www.classicrendezvous.com/ and Cycles de Oro http://cyclesdeoro.com/ .
* A spare 36-hole Sturmey Archer AW 3-speed hub.
* A pair of alloy crank arms with the ubiquitous 130 mm bolt circle
I still will be adding pictures to this blog within the next day or two, and will post progress reports regularly.