650B Redo: “The Frame”

By the end of this summer my “go to” bike was my converted 650B Avalanche. I really like the overall ride and handling of the 650B platform. Don’t get me wrong I still gave the 29er and my old 26er some more rides, but something about the 650B just felt better. It was nimble, accelerated, but I could still go “over” stuff much easier than the 26er. Problem was the frame I used to convert to 650B had a couple of issues. First, the early Zaskar/Avalanche geometry had a couple of issues. It was meant for a 60mm front fork and 26” wheels. So with an 80mm fork and bigger wheels the stand over height became a bit high for me. Also the bottom bracket was raised up a bit more than it should be. Last problem was the wheelset I picked up was very heavy. They worked well to prove out the wheel size, but I would like something a bit lighter…….so what am I doing?

Ebay, my great weakness. Every morning I have a search setup to send me new listing of certain bike frames and parts. Couple of months ago a 2000 Team Zaskar popped up in small. This is a rare size and these frames are super light. Even in aluminum the small frame weighs in at 1320 grams. Most Carbon frames are barely lighter than this. Next interesting thing about these frames are the geometry GT picked for them. They are specifically setup for cross country racing not really going downhill. That suites the riding in the midwest a bit better than the slackers built for the coasts. Anyway, that means it has a low BB, low standover and was setup for 80mm of travel. Once you add some 650B wheels the BB height is still low and the standover height is perfect for someone with a 29” inseam. Now I just have to purchase it.

Well I am a cheap bastard, let’s just get this straight. So when the initial price was $400 I ignored it and kept looking. Week after week the frame was unsold and it kept getting cheaper and cheaper. So each week when it was relisted I looked at it with my cup of coffee, debated it and went about my business. Finally the auction was listed below $300 and I shot him an even lower offer assuming it would be refused. Couple hours later I had a Team Zaskar frame being shipped to me. I won’t say what I finally got it for, but I would just say I didn’t pay enough for it. 😉

How do the 650Bs fit on the new frame? Note quite as well as the older frame, but still fit well. The 2.1 on the back has about 10mm clearance so it should do fine. I don’t intend to run this bike in the mud. Up front I am switching out to my Fox Float 100 and going to shorten it to 80mm. Again it is a bit tighter than the X-Fusion (which is going on my other project) but has plenty of room for the bigger 2.2 up front. Initial fit and ride seem good so I am committed to this for next year as my only hardtail.

Anyway, I am going to take my Team Avalanche and put it on the wall for now. All of my lightweight go fast parts are going on the new Team Zaskar. My goal is a 22lb 650B trail ripper. Problem is the 650B wheelset I have is over 2100g. Just too heavy to get down to that weight. After thinking over to buy or build I am going to build a set of light wheels. Next update will be on what I chose to go with. Anyone want to buy a nice set of lightly used Vuelta 650b wheels?

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