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Maker AR 650b

The Maker AR is our most versatile wheelset and spans everything from #aeroiseverything road bikes through to adventure ready gravel bikes.

We’ve added a 650b rim in 35mm depth to the existing 35mm, 50mm and 60mm options in 700c size to further increase the versatility. 
I’m a fanboy of Geoff Kabush (probably because he babysat me as a kid – true story) and was interested when he won the Iceman mountain bike race on his Open gravel bike so earlier this year Gavin built up a pair of the new 650b rims for my Open which I’ve been riding and experimenting with.  650b tyres are available in a wide range of options with everything from slicks to full mountain bike knobbies available but to try the wheels out I went for the same 2.1″ wide 650b Maxxis Aspen tyres that Kabush used.

650b with some wide rubber certainly makes for a cushy ride.  The extra tyre height translates into more suspension which is welcome on bumpy singletrack or washboard roads.  The wider, knobbier tyres with less pressure also means massive amount of cornering grip, however it’s easier to have more tyre grip than the geometry of a gravel bike can handle.  Traction while climbing is insane:  The combination of a light bike (my Open is 7.9kg) with a road position, a super grippy rear tyre, and easy gears allows me to climb unbelievably steep sections of track.  The extra tyre size also translates into more rolling resistance which makes riding on the road more of a drag (literally.)
Honestly I’m perplexed about this particular 650b wheel and tyre combo.  For me it’s just too slow on the road and the extra offroad grip is generally wasted by having gravel-bike geometry and a lack of suspension like an XC bike would have.  If I was heading off to do a 160km ride over chopped up gravel roads then I’d take the 650b wheels with the extra cushion.  For bikepacking or multi-day stuff they’d be perfect but most of my gravel bike riding is taking the long way to work, riding the easier mountain bike trails around the city, and riding reasonably well maintained gravel (how is it possible that some gravel roads are smoother than the council-maintained paved ones?!?)

David Benson has been pressuring me to try the Continental Speed King which is super fast and I’ve got some 45mm wide WTB Byway 650b tyres here which I need to air up and try.  Both tyres have a solid center which should be faster and I’m interested to see if I miss the lack of grip. 

The cool thing about a gravel bike is how quickly it’s personality can be changed with wheels and tyres.  Dropping in the 700c Maker AR with a light pair of tyres makes for a quick commuter and road bike, and switching to the 650b wheels improves the bikes versatility.
 
700c or 650b?  Probably a decision as difficult as steel or carbon.
The new 650b rim is 23mm wide (internal) and 35mm deep and will build up as light as 1390 grams when matched to a light hub like our Dial.

Like the 700c version it has a tubeless-ready hooked bead.  This means you can safely run a modern tubeless tyre as well as reverting to innertubes if needed.  Hookless beads can’t do this.

We stock them in 24, 28 and 32 hole so we can build them up for a wide range of uses – everything from go-fast gravel bike wheels to dynamo / Rohloff adventure builds.

We’ve actually been selling the rims for some time but they haven’t been listed on our website so we’ve fixed that.  The Maker AR Adventure page and Builder are now updated to list and show the full range of options.
Our Builder lets you personalise your Maker AR wheelset with hubs, colours, and axle types.  We will then build your dream wheels.
The Builder also lists XDR freehub bodies for the new Sram AXS groupset but more on that in a later newsletter.

Until then if you have any questions or comments please drop me a line!
-Tristan
tristan@wheelworks.co.nz
04 387 3592 (NZ)
0064 4 387 3592 (Intl)
My Open UP with 650b Maker AR wheels and 2.1″ Maxxis Aspen tyres
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