As one of a few resident Brits at LTP Towers, I’m definitely keeping up appearances with a few ‘quirky’ builds. My new ruffty tuffty 650b tourer is equipped to take me and perhaps a bit of luggage long distances in relative comfort, regardless of terrain.
Albert Steward, one of the parts buyers at LTP Sports, has taken to bikepacking and touring lately, to compliment his frequent mountain bike escapades. He built this custom 650b touring bike to be forgiving and efficient for long rides on rough roads while loaded down with camping gear.
The custom frame is Cro-moly steel, and designed to have a particularly long top tube. British-designed/Taiwan-made, it has big tire clearances and a very smooth ride quality. Sporting multiple braze-on’s and triple water bottle bosses on both fork legs and downtube, it will happily take a Salsa Anything cage…or 4!
Albert describes the build as a weird mix of new and old school. On the new-school front it’s stopped by TRP’s excellent Hy/Rd mechanically operated self-container hydraulic disc brake calipers operated by TRP’s equally impressive RRL brake levers. These use Jagwire’s new Road Pro Brake cable kit in the ‘Stealth Black’ colour – black with black Jagwire logos as opposed to silver for that murdered-out look.
I was very careful with my choice of cables and housing for this bike. Jagwire’s excellent KEB-SL compression-less outer is without doubt the single best upgrade you can give a mechanical actuated disc brake (learn more here).
Also on the new-school front (or the deja-vu front to the French that were the first to use this wheel size over 50 years ago) are the WTB Horizon 650b ‘Road Plus’ tire in 47x650b size. As you will recall from our blog on Plus-Sized Road, shrinking the rim provides more room for a larger volume tire. With about the same overall diameter as a 700x32c setup, road-plus tires boast greater air volume, and thus greater comfort. Best of all, there’s minimal weight gain for the overall package – what you gain in the tire you lose in the rim/spoke lengths.
With the lower pressure on hand too they’re also much easier to setup tubeless – on the Alex Rims Draw 2.1P rims and with a trusty Stans sealant/tape/valve combo they went up without a fuss. What’s not to like?
On the old-school front is the drivetrain, which is unashamedly low tech! The 9spd drivetrain allows the combination of drop-bars, bar-end shifters, and low-range mountain bike gearing. Albert runs Sunrace’s excellent SLR96 bar-end shifters.
For handlebars, Albert runs the SalsaCowbell 3 in 46cm width. With the 12 deg outward flare this helps give a super wide position in the drops, for greater stability during long gravel descents.
Other parts include a generator hub setup with B&M lights front and rear, a sealed cartridge bearing First Components headset, some rather fetching Serfas camo bartape and some Axiom fenders (modified for even longer coverage with Canadian Tire rubber step mats). Albert had the custom head tube badge made as a final touch for the bike, a nod to the lyrical stylings of Wu Tang, who also have an affinity for gravel.
If you like the look of this build, and are considering something similar, here are a few parts suggestions. All of these parts can be ordered through your local LTP Sports dealer: