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Fat tyres for smoothing rough roads and going off-road

The return of 650b, an old French wheel standard, is being driven both by the increasingly poor state of our roads and also a growing desire to get of the roads completely and head into the countryside on off-road tracks.

The smaller wheels allow a bigger tyre to be used which provides a lot more cushioning, meaning a smoother ride on rough roads, and lower pressures for off-road grip.

In this video we've rounded up six road plus and gravel bikes that are designed around 650b wheels and tyres, to give you an idea of the different ways bike manufacturers are embracing this trend. 

- Tech Q&A: Finding the right 650b adventure/gravel bike?

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

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shufflingb [47 posts] 2 months ago
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Running 650b's on the new addition to the stable, an Ibis Hakka MX.

The cush is pleasant, but I think the key thing is the extra mud clearance. Compared to the 33mm's on 700c equipped GT Grade that I had been riding for several years it almost never clogs up with mud * even when fitted with chunky 2.0" mud tyres.

How well? Well, recently rode a big chunk of the Ridgeway off-road in April. I got many things wrong with the ride, but the bike's ability to cope with gloop wasn't one of them, the photo's from that ride, if interested muddy details over here.

With it finally drying out (he said tempting fate), I've switched back to summer tyres (Thunderburts) this week and I've rediscovered how zippy the bike is.

Overall, seems like best of both worlds and consider myself pretty much convinced that for all-road/gravel/adventure biking where mud is a major factor, such as in the UK, 650b is the way to go.

 

* There was one section of particularly claggy Buckinghamshire clay in a ploughed field that did defeat it after a "Google navigation error", but to be fair I was struggling to lift my feet out of it to walk on it  7