Ritchey Shows New Shield 35c Cyclocross Tire, 1977 Original 650B Mountain Bike

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The new Ritchey WCS Shield cyclocross tire comes in at a true 700×35 size, for those of you (most of you) who aren’t concerned with such trivialities as UCI rules and regulations. Also available in a Comp version. Prices and weights are 374g / $60 and 500g / $30 respectively.

The WCS has a dual compound with a folding bead. The Comp is single compound with a wire bead. Shipping now. We’re got a set in for review, too.

Also on display was his first 650B bike, built before the first 26″ clunkers that ushered in the mountain bike phenomenon. Click through for pics…

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Comments

DhBrO - 09/19/12 - 7:48pm

That tire is almost like cheating the local non-sanctioned series. Sick

Rainer - 09/20/12 - 4:52am

Interesting to see the new frame being labelled “P-650b” at Interbike versus “P-275″ at Eurobike. Confusion ensues…

satisFACTORYrider - 09/20/12 - 8:08am

After watching “where the trail ends” I think I’ll keep my 26 for awhile cuz it ain’t wheels that are holding me back!

Jonathan - 09/20/12 - 10:07am

What a great piece of history to see, even if only by photo. Good on Tom for saving the bike all these years.

What about the story that the Russian army bought up the 650b supply at a crucial time? Is there truth to that story?

James Mason - 09/21/12 - 6:16pm

What the industry needs is proliferation of wheel sizes. It’s not enough that my shifters from last year won’t go with this year’s freehub cogs. Let’s change the wheel sizes as well. You know what else would be cool? If we had about eight different types of valve stems for tubes, instead of just two. So every bike shop could stock eight different types of pumps. And give each valve a weird name that the customers wouldn’t be able to remember. Let’s make the bike industry really crazy!

Graham Wallace - 10/06/12 - 3:21pm

I am confused by the 1977 date attributed to this 650b Ritchey mountain bike The account below was written by Charlie Kelly and is published on his website and tells a different story of how Tom Ritchey started making mountain bikes. It states that the first Ritchey made mountain bike frames were made in “Spring 1979″ not 1977.
http://www.sonic.net/~ckelly/Seekay/mtbikes_company.htm

“Gary talked to his friend Tom Ritchey about getting a custom off-roader. Tom was then only 21 years old but was already the most prolific frambuilder in the country. Tom could put together a frame in an afternoon, compared to Joe Breeze, a frame building hobbyist by comparison, who would take months on a production run of ten bikes. Since Tom worked with brazed lugless frames and was not limited by available lug sets, he could put together a bike with any angles or tubing sizes, and he had already seen Joe’s bikes and had talked to Joe about what Joe had learned from building them. Gary added his own ideas to the mix when he ordered his bike, and in the spring of 1979, Gary took delivery of his Ritchey off-road frame, one of a production run of three. Another frame went to a Fairfax rider named James MacWay, and Tom kept the third”.

All the other histories I have looked at say that these first Ritchey mountain bikes were fitted with 26 inch wheels. Not 650b as stated on the exhibition caption. And according to the letter below, English off-road cycling pioneer did not start exporting 650b Nokia Hakkapeliitta tires to Gary fisher until late 1980.
http://clelandcycles.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/letterfromckandgf001.jpg

BB - 09/07/13 - 12:45am

As someone that was part of the early Norcal mountainbike scene I can confirm that many of us were playing with 650b Hakkepelitta’s early on before the Cycle Pro Snakebelly made 26″ the size of choice. IIRC Gary Fisher showed up at the 81 Cross Natz on a Ritchey 650b bike and Jim Merz was also making bikes in this format at the time. Over at Fulton Street Cyclery they were selling Jack Taylor Rough Stuff bikes also using 650b. I hung on to mine until 87 before finally punting it.

Graham Wallace - 10/17/14 - 7:42pm

It has been two years since it was first announced that Tom Ritchey made this 650b mountain bike in 1977. However, there is still no evidence whatsoever to corroborate the claim. Non of the other Marin mountain bike pioneers have said that they recall such a bike and Pioneer Charlie Kelly has said “If there was a 650B version of our bikes prior to 1979, I’m pretty sure I would have heard about it.
“http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=226245&start=20

It has also been noted that most of the parts fitted to the bike date from the 1980s and that the frame/fork details match Tom’s 1980s bikes and not his first 26″ wheeled bikes made in 1979.

No one is disputing that Tom Ritchey made some of the first ever 650b mountain bikes in the early 1980s, in fact this is well documented. But the 1977 date is important as October 1977 is the date of Joe Breeze’s Breezer number 1, widely accepted to have been the first mountain bike with a custom built frame.

It is quite likely that the confusion could be caused by Tom making an English style ‘Roughstuff’ touring bike in 1977, as a few other US frame-builders definitely made such 650b wheeled bikes between 1965 and 1979 including at least one made for professor John Finley Scott. American bike shops also imported a few Jack Taylor ‘Roughstuff’ bikes from England. But unlike the bike pictured, these bikes had narrow tires and drop handlebars and are not usually considered to be a type of mountain bike.

But for a pioneering mountain bike frame-builder like Ritchey to claim that a 650b ‘Roughstuff’ bike they made in 1977 was one of the first mountain bikes, would also infer that the mountain bike concept came from Britain.

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