Ring for the Porteur (Part 1)

Porters. You may know the word as a category of dark beer, as a railroad sleeping car attendant or as someone hired to schlep baggage. Let’s French-iphy that a wee bit and apply the definition to bicycles. Frenchiphying it is the easy part: just a “u” after the “e”. Porteur. There. Très bien!

But what does this have to do with bikes? Well, take a gander at this peloton:

It’s a furpiece different than, say this peloton, ya?

You’ll notice that the bikes feature distinctly different handlebars (swept back bars in the B&W photo, drop bars in the color photo) and heavily laden front platform racks in the B&W photo. These bars are referred to as porteur bars and these racks as porteur racks.

Let’s say you want to be like these stouthearted giants and schlep–I mean really schelp–loads and loads of stuff up front where you can see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, then the porteur rack is the way to go.

Coming soon:
This post will be updated with a table of porteur racks including platform size, pannier-ability, material, price, weight and attachment point. Oh boy!
Part 2 (which proves to be more challenging given my limited headspace) will cover commonly available handlebar options.

Photo credit:
1) The super sweet porteur race picture hails across the Internet at, from my reading, the definitive classic porteur alamanc, Blackbird, where site author and historian, Joel Metz has assembled a treat for the porteur obsessed reader to pour over. Specifically, this photo comes from a page dedicated to the 1947 Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux
2) Our second photo is from the 1987 Paris-Roubaix race that I found hosted on Pinterest. Clearly, there’s a better source, but I thought it was a nice shot of the “Hell of the North” back when cycling pros still rode steel frames with quill stems. Specifically, the caption read, “Rudy Dhaenens leads Sean Kelly in the 1987 Paris-Roubaix” but our photographer and original source for this gem is unknown to me.


The State of 650B Rim Brake Compatible Rims

What are the rim brake compatible (non-disc) 650B rims these days? Below is a table of options. Most are made by Velocity (including the below offerings from Pacenti and Soma). I hope this is useful for all of the dozens (literally dozens) of readers!

Make Model Inner Width Outer Width Depth Weight ERD Availability Drilling(s) Price Notes
Ambrosio Keba AKA ‘Confrerie’ 530 550 limited 36 4,600 yen double eyeleted, polished
Araya TX-310F 17 23.2 14.7 520 36 33.33 € double walled, eyeleted
Grand Bois 650B rim 17 23 466 568 32, 36 $ 98.00 silver
HED Belgium Plus 23 25 24 462 28, 32 $ 150.00 tubeless-ready
Pacenti Brevet 19 23 15.0 430 574 28, 32, 36 $ 98.00 silver
Pacenti PL23 18 23 15.5 454 573 OOP 28, 32, 36 $ 90.00 black, silver
Pacenti SL23 20.3 24.5 26 420 550 OOP 28, 32, 36 $ 104.00 black, silver
Soma Weymouth 19 24.4 16.1 540 565.8 32, 36 $ 59.99 polished
Sun CR18 18 22.5 15 505 574 limited 32 $ 33.00 silver
SunXCD Randonneur 17 22 19.2 coming soon 32, 36 silver
Velo Orange Diagonale 25 550 570 32, 36 $ 69.00 double walled, polished Al with steel eyelets
Velocity A23 18 23 19.5 425 562 stated / 568 measured 32, 36 $ 90.99 black, silver, polished, tubeless ready
Velocity A23 O/C 18 23 19.5 435 560 stated / 568 measured 32, 36 $ 96.99 black, silver, polished
Velocity Atlas 19.8 25.4 18 590 569 32, 36 $ 87.99 silver, polished
Velocity Cliffhanger 25 30 20 625 558 32, 36, 40 $ 90.99 black, polished, reflective
Velocity Dyad 18.6 24 22 495 560 32, 36 $ 78.99 black, silver
Velocity Synergy 23 18 490 567 limited 28, 32, 36 $ 64.95
Velocity Synergy O/C 23 18 490 567 limited 28, 32, 36 $ 64.95
Velocity Twin Hollow 22 14 480 576 limited 36 $ 41.99 silver
Weinmann ZAC-19 564 unknown

Measurements above are given in millimeters and grams. Pricing may vary, prices given above are base prices from the Interwebs. Some of the polished Velocity rims are $30 more.

If I’ve missed anything or if you can fill in the gaps above, please leave a comment and I’ll incorporate it into the table.

650B Conversion Tire Clearance Repository

What bike(s) have you converted to 650B? What tires fit?

Make Model Year (or era)/ serial number/ distinguishing feature(s)/ color Frame Size Largest 650B tire that fit (stock) Try anything that didn’t fit? Brakes used to convert Other comments Contributor
Centurion Turbo 1983 58cm Col de la Vie 38mm fenders Tektro R559 Rory!
Katakura Silk Full chrome, ca. 1984 61cm CTC 38mm with fenders none Tektro R559 Easiest conversion I’ve ever done…this bike fit the tires/wheels almost as though it were designed to do so. Fork was medium trail though. Azorch
Nishiki Comp II 1986 56cm 42mm Tektro R559 Bruce
Torelli from Cinelli Corsa factory 1983-4 57cm 38mm Too tight to safely run 42s Tektro R559 Bruce
Trek 420 1989 58cm 42mm fenders Tektro R559 (maxed out in back) Here is a slightly older one that fits Hetres & fenders: http://brazenbicycles.com/Trek-650b-Town-and-Country

Also this looks like a 1986 400: http://brazenbicycles.com/Trek-400-650b-Sport-Touring


Have you converted a bike? Comment below with the following and I will update the table:

  1. Make
  2. Model
  3. Year (or era)/serial number/distinguishing feature(s)/color
  4. Frame size
  5. Largest 650B tire that fit
  6. Any 650B tire(s) that you tried that didn’t fit
  7. Brakes used in conversion
  8. Other comments


Tire Size and Air Volume


Wheel Tire Volume Increase over 700x23C Example Tires
700C 23mm 3.5 L 0% The old standard
700C 19mm 2.4 L -33% Oh, dear!
700C 21mm 2.9 L -17% Eek!
700C 26mm 4.5 L 29% Grand Bois Cerf Blue (222g, 184g), Compass Cayuse Pass (248g)
700C 27mm 4.9 L 39% Challenge Parigi-Roubaix (285g)
700C 28mm 5.3 L 50% Compass Chinook Pass (229g)
700C 30mm 6.1 L 74% Challenge Strada Bianca (355g)
700C 32mm 6.9 L 99% Compass Stampede Pass (291g, 254g)
700C 33.333mm 7.6 L 117% Jack Brown (435g, 295g)
700C 35mm 8.4 L 140% Compass Bon Jon Pass (355g, 303g)
700C 38mm 10 L 185% Compass Barlow Pass (390g, 359g), Soma C Line (400g)
700C 42mm 12.3 L 252% Soma Supple Vitesse (380g, 340g)
700C 44mm 13.6 L 289% Compass Snoqualmie Pass (378g, 329g)
700C 50mm 17.8 L 411% Schwalbe Marathon (1.0T)
700C 55mm 21.9 L 527% Schwalbe Marathon (1.125T)
650B 32mm 6.6 L 88% Hutchinson Confriere (320g), Grand Bois Cypress (285g, 261g)
650B 38mm 9.4 L 170% Compass Loup Loup Pass (354g, 333g), Panaracer Pari Moto (340g, 300g)
650B 42mm 11.6 L 233% Compass Baby Shoe Pass (390g, 362g), Grand Bois Hetre (412g)
650B 48mm 15.5 L 343% Compass Switchback Pass (478g, 413g)
26″ 32mm 6.3 L 81% Compass Elk Pass (178g)
26″ 38mm 9.1 L 159% Compass McClure Pass (366g)
26″ 44mm 12.4 L 254% Compass Naches Pass (350g, 300g), Compass Slumgullion Pass (447g)
26″ 50mm 16.3 L 366% Schwalbe Big Ben (1.5T)
26″ 54mm 19.2 L 450% Compass Rat Trap Pass (454g, 418g)
26″ 55mm 20.0 L 473% Schwalbe Big Ben (2.0T)

Air volume was calculated in MS Excel with the following formula (this example is for 650B/584ISO with 38mm tires):

This will give results in cubic millimeters. Volumes above have been convert to liters (dividing by 1 million), rounded to the nearest tenth.

Some variances may be introduced from rounding, unit conversions, and other factors.

This is all white coat, clean room, armchair nerdery stuff only. Real life measurements of tires can vary based on many factors including miles, rims, tubes, production batch, etc.

Tire weights are manufacturer published weights, except for Schwalbe which were 100% fabricated for my own amusement.