LeMond Zurich 650b Conversion

I had the pleasure of adding a new chapter to a customers long-lived road bike.  He has owned this 1999 LeMond Zurich since new.  His interest was starting to head towards the rougher less traveled roads above Santa Barbara, and he wanted to get a bit more comfort out of the bike.  We exchanged a few emails, met, I was able to take the needed measurements, discussed options, orders were placed, and today it all cam together.

This is where we started, 700x23mm:

The wheel set came from Anthony at Long Leaf, the new Velocity A23 rims laced to White Industry hubs.  The clearance at the chain stays is pretty tight, and the widest, at 32mm, 650b tire that will fit is the Grand Bois Cypres.  Tektro 559 brake calipers provided the extra reach, with KoolStop salmon pads to replace the stock.  New cables and bar tape, finished out the build.  The original drive train has been going strong and we decided to save any work there for another day.  I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story:

As far as 650b conversions go, this one went perfectly.  Detailed planing led to a smooth execution.  Everything bolted right up the way you would hope.  IMO the bike looks more balanced with the fatter tires.  The only tight spot is at the chain stays, as expected.  There is about 3mm on each side of the tire.  That said, I was unable to get it to rub on the test ride, and I weigh about 40lbs more than the owner.  The bottom bracket drop can sometimes be a problem with conversions.  The Zurich has a drop around 65mm, with a finished height of 264mm to the center of BB after conversion.  There is no real danger of pedal strike than with conventional road bike set ups.

This bike has already been on more local adventures than most, but I am pretty sure this new chapter is going to be a long and good one.  Thanks M.K. for the chance to build this up.

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14 Responses to LeMond Zurich 650b Conversion

  1. Beautiful. Great job on the conversion….man, that thing looks hot.


  2. This kind of conversion should be happening all over the world, a hundred a day. Great job. The bike is way better, way more useful now. Cool!

    • Rob says:

      He went from a toe in the water to knees deep with riding bliss on the test ride. I have a strong feeling he will be your customer or mine again in less than a year.

      • Mark Schneider says:

        I have a few bikes for conversion, I’m hoping to run some Mafac Raid centerpulls. Any helpful suggestion’s I’ll be converting old treks from the 80s.

  3. David says:

    Hi I have a 2000 Lemond Zurich that I would like to convert as well. I wanted to buy a cheap 650b wheelset to try it out and came across a cheap Weinmann Zac19 with 135mm rear spacing. Would this work even though the Zurich has 130mm rear?
    Also is there a cheaper option for tires? Would the Panaracer Nifty Swifty 32.8mm tires fit? Thanks

    • Rob says:

      The Nifty Swifty is the best cheap option IMO, unless you gave room for a 37mm col de la vie.

      You could put a 135 in there, but it may be a bit of work. The steel used on the LeMond bikes will be hard to cold set and I would look into finding a 130mm spaced wheel.

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  5. woundedkneejp says:

    Hey there, I have a Lemond Buenos Aires(91-93) frame that’s I’m looking to convert to 650b. I do not have the fork, do you know the rake/axle to crown typical of these frames? The Zurich seems very similar to the Buenos Aires.

  6. john says:

    This is awesome – I’ve been trying to find the fattest tire I can fit for my Lomond Zurich and this is great info. Out of curiosity, did you HAVE to change the wheel set? Are those tires tubeless, is that why? Thanks

    • john says:

      PS – running ROLF wheel set

      • Rob says:

        the wheelset change was to a smaller diameter rim, 700c to 650b. by shrinking the rim, but still having a brake that could reach, it allowed the wider tire to fit. Good luck with your project, it sounds like a fun one

  7. Alex says:

    Hello, this is helpful since i have98′ lemond zurich i’d like to convert to 650b setup.
    Question about rims though, is it possible to use any 650b with 23mm width rims other than velocity? Shops around where i live do not have or special order which will take more than a month or so, but their is one for sale online at compass cycle( grand bois 650b with 23mm) which i could get within 2 weeks.
    Thanks and beautiful work

    • Rob says:

      any 23mm 650b rim would yield similar results if the frame and fork are the same. Measure carefully as production variation can make these sorts of conversions a little tricky at times

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