Traitor’s 650bmx Sep 3, 2009

Traitor’s 650bmx

I’m sure everyone has their own opinion on the matter, so feel free to share in the comments. Again, I want to emphasize, these are my opinions and are by no means meant to be taken as “written in stone”.

The 650c and 650b wheelset debate in fixed gear freestyle is long-winded and isn’t dying out anytime soon. Some people think a 650b wheelset will last longer and be stronger than a 700c wheelset. They also argue that this is “where all this is going”. What’s usually the funniest part about the argument is the people who are usually in support of the 650b wheelset on a fixed gear freestyle bike, aren’t usually the ones who are going big enough to merit such a switch.

Personally, I’ve had great luck with 700c wheels. I’m 220 lbs, do big gaps / drops and generally thrash my bike. My argument is with bigger tires (at least a 35c) and 36h hubs laced 4x is strong enough. True, I have destroyed wheels in days, but the things I did to break them would easily break a 650b or 650c wheel too. For what it’s worth, I used to destroy mountain bike wheels back when I was riding frequently.

Another component in the equation is spoke length. A 650b rim that’s close to 35mm deep is hard to, if not impossible to come by. When you look at a Chukker or a Deep V’s spoke length compared to a 650b rim, which is usually a box section and not as deep, the spokes are very close to being the same. I’ve yet to calculate them, but the 650b wheels I’ve seen and ridden are low-profile box sections and the spokes are within a millimeter or so of my 700c spokes.

People also say a smaller wheelset will make the frame smaller and thus, easier to “throw” around. What they seem to be forgetting is with fixed gears, your saddle height needs to be the same as a road bike or track bike. Since you’re constantly pedaling all the time, your knees will be shot if your saddle is too low. Also, it’ll make it harder to achieve a comfortable cadence or cover distances for commuting or spot hunting. Sure, you could make the frame compact and have a lot of seatpost, but the bottom line is, your saddle’s not going to be able to be slammed if you intend on riding your bike around.

Bottom line, personally, I don’t see myself switching to 650b. Companies can make all the bikes they want, but since I’m riding a large frame, I think a 650b wheelset will just be plain ugly. I love the way my Bruiser rides and looks. It loves to be thrown around and beaten up. It’s the large model and I think the 700c fits quit well. Now for a small bike, it would make total sense. We had a hard time keeping the steep HTA on the small geometry Bruiser. Going with a 650b or 650c wheelset would have made it easier to maintain the geometry throughout all the sizes.

With regards to Traitor‘s bike. It looks fun, I’d love to go fixed mountain biking on it, or single track riding. But it doesn’t look like a bike made for fixed freestyle. The rear end is super long, heat tube angle is slack. I’d imagine it’d ride like one of the old Redline Monocog or some other late-80’s mountain bike. If you think you’d enjoy riding it, contact them and order one of their bikes. As I said, it looks like a comfy bike. Would be a great commuter too. I will commend them on the attempt at introducing a new fixed gear freestyle model to the mix, I just think it needs a little more work and PR&D.

Again, I’m sure everyone has their own opinion on the matter, so feel free to share in the comments. I want to emphasize, these are my opinions and are by no means meant to be taken as “written in stone”.

  • t-bone

    650s and Aluminum you damn turncoat!

  • Haterade

    I mean, yes and no. All things being fairly equal the smaller you go with wheels the easier it is to do tricks, that’s just the reality, but the incremental drop down to 650b just doesn’t do much. If anything I’d maybe look for people to use 650b rims on existing frames to get bigger tire volume with a similar overall wheel diameter — Panaracer now makes a 2″ 650b tire, and if you look at BMX or trials that’s the tire diameter they’re running. Granted at 650b or 700c you already inherently have more volume and 20″ or 26″, but for any kind of real freestyle riding (I’m not counting all this silly roll-out/wheelie variation crap that makes me want to strap people down Clockwork Orange style and make them watch BMX flatland) there are advantages to a wider tire regardless of wheel diameter. 2″ tires on a 700c wheel is a lot of weight, I don’t know how many of you have ever had the pleasure of horsing around a 29er with 1500 grams of tires but let’s just say “I could do awesome 360’s on this!” is not the first thought that passes through your head.

    So yeah, I think if this sport really goes anywhere and the tricks and air get as big as they are in other types of freestyle biking people may want more tire width, which might lead them to a 650b wheel on frames basically like what’s out there now.

    Re: seat height, I’m surprised more people don’t slam their seats for tricks and then raise them to ride, back when BMX bikes had real seatposts a lot of us would do this for riding to spots that were farther away.

    I do like the traitor disc brake through the fork setup for brakes and barspins, makes the bike a little more practical in the city.

    Re: the monocog, I wish you could still buy the 26″ version, not even bikesdirect sells a cheap 26″ SS MTB any more.

  • drew


  • prolly

    Tony, I knew you were gonna post that pic!

    I changed my bike when I stopped just doing barspins and backwards circles.

    Haterade, thanks for the comment man!

  • ZLOG

    Great persuasive essay John, I don’t think you have to worry about anyone switching to 650b. IMHO I do not think those Traitor are all that great. They definitely do not have enough pull in the market to sway everyone to ride 650b. The only Traitor bikes that I have seen and liked are the ones that were painted crazy and were on display at OPEN bicycle (correct?).

    It might be good to point out that 650c and 650b are a completely different size(571mm vs 584mm) as I was unaware when I first read about the Traitor bike. That being said, can someone please make more tiny 650c bikes. I’m tired of small ladies riding with huge ass wheels.

  • prolly


    Correct. 650b is commonly used on touring and rando bikes.

    I know a few companies make a 650c wheelset bike for the smaller sizes, like a 47cm. Fuji, Affinity, Iro, etc.

  • sean

    i think its great that companies are trying new things. really. i think that using a fairly obscure size wheel is going to make it challenging for anyone that decides to give it a try though. finding wheels that and tires are a bitch. you have to order in bulk if you want to be able to ride consistently without worrying about blowing a tube or skidding through a tire. id say that would be my biggest worry and the first thing that would keep me from riding one.

    the few traitors ive seen in person, however, i like. they look clean.

  • daood

    i would like to see smaller bikes come in 26″, not 650c. the size is only like 30mm different in the ERD (rim diameter) so it’s not going to affect geometry in a negative way, plus our shorter friends will have more tire options.. until someone finally makes 650×28 tyres.

    it’s tough watching our japanese friends split themselves in two riding 50cm frames with dual 700s, and 2mm of seatpost showing.. not like it’s holding them back though.

    here in seattle, some shorter kids have found the onexone brand’s 29er single speed frame to work for them.. at least that’s what they appear t be riding. sloping top tubes may be unpopular, but they make a lot of sense, especially since most companies are making 4 sizes max.

  • daood

    oops, i meant on one’s il pompino i think..

  • Kevin

    I think this bike is an awesome idea. I hope they do it right once it hits production. I’m always super excited to see new ideas coming out.

    Velocity has been really great with listening to what people want, so maybe they’d be willing to do Chuckers in 650b. That’d be great for people wanting the whole smaller front, since there are already larger volume tires out there for the rims, unlike 650c. Plus that rim would be awesome for the MTB dudes.

  • Aren

    is that the bronze chukker you’re rolling on the back? dope

  • dontcoast

    hmm…i’d much rather they went with 26″ if theyre gonna go down that road. because rims will still break, and how many 650b’s are available compared to 26″? 650b’s seem like a marketing gimmick, like i really need to worry about yet another incompatible tire size…

    hope this goes the way of 26x 1 3/8

    but hey their frame is aesthetically pretty nice in my book, even though they didnt really try with the geo.

  • zach

    The best part about the traitor bike is the front disk brake which I think should catch on. It is a great alternative than no brakes for barspins. Its safe and looks really clean. gotta love brakes