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Waterford 650B Conversion Finished

Posted on | May 10, 2009 | 11 Comments

Waterford 650B conversionThe Waterford‘s conversion is finally finished and looking very pretty. The small frame looks much better proportioned with the 650B wheels and with the new Terraferma fork, GB Cypress 650x32B tires and a trail of 46 the bike’s handling and ride are perfect.

Despite the Brooks sprung saddle (807g !), larger tires and Berthoud stainless steel fenders the bike weighs in at a fairly svelte 23 lbs. Much of that is thanks to the old lightweight components, many of which are 40+ years old:

  • Philippe Touriste bar 216g
  • MAFAC 2000 front brakes (braze on mount) with koolstop thin dual compund brake pads 120g
  • MAFAC 2000 rear brake (center mount) -with mounting bolt + Koolstop dual compound bake pads 170g
  • TA rack 125g
  • Stronglight A9 Headset 82g

You would be hard pressed to find lighter components among today’s top end kit. The bar-end shifters are Campagnolo 10spd with the plastic housing painted to match the frame. Shifting is handled by a Campy Chorus 10 spd rear derailleur and Record front derailleur. Brake levers are Soma Urban Cross. Water bottle cage, bottom bracket, MKS pedals and brass bell are from Velo Orange and the Velocity Synergy rims were built up with Campagnolo Chorus hubs by Peter White.

TA rack and MAFAC brakes
The TA rack (above) is, in my opinion, the most beautiful rack ever made. I used some pivot bolts and delrin washers from old MAFAC brake parts to secure the fenders to the fork crown and the Sheldon fender nut in the rear. Since we were making a new fork the front brakes are mounted to MAFAC studs but to save the expense of paint we used center  mounted rear brakes.
MAFAC brake and Sheldon fender nut

Crankset with chainguard
The Suntour Cyclone crankset has a Cyclocross World Wetzikon chainring guard stripped and polished on the outside ring and an old French tripilizer in the inside position. The leather grips were made by first wrapping the bar with Cinelli gel cork tape and then wrapping that with leather that was stitched with contrasting waxed thread. Craft stores sell scrap leather for around $3.00 a lb. A lot of the leather scraps come from seating for luxury cars and it makes for a very nice grip.

It took a lot longer then I anticipated but it was worth the time and effort. Thanks to Mike Terraferma, who made the fork and Dirk Smeets, who did the final build. The info and feedback I got from the 650B list and Jan Heine’s online writings and publication Bicycle Quarterly provided the knowledge needed to get the build and geometry right.


11 Responses to “Waterford 650B Conversion Finished”

  1. Steve Chan
    May 10th, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

    Beautiful – I’ve been contemplating a very similar 650b conversion – having a custom low trail fender made with mafac bosses, and just using the normal center bolt for the rear.

    The only question is – what old frame should I do the conversion on? Which model Waterford is this? And what’s the widest 650b tire do you think you can get in there?


  2. ruedatropical
    May 10th, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

    We didn’t really choose the frame for this purpose. My wife’s had it since 1998 or 99. It’s probably not the most suitable of Waterford’s frames for this application because of the fast back stays which don’t have a lot of clearance. However a 32b tire is more then plush enough for my wife’s height and weight. I’d probably need a 42 at my height and weight to get the same effect.

    A 40mm fender just fit without having to cut or crimp it. One of the touring models would have longer chainstays and more clearance for fenders and bigger tires.

  3. Alix Howard
    May 10th, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

    Lovely. Inspiring.

  4. Sean
    May 11th, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

    Amazing build. Super classy. One of our authors posted it on our blog. Feel free to drop by and check it out!


  5. Lee
    May 27th, 2009 @ 9:30 am

    A lovely build. Would appreciate your comments on the photographic work and particularly the background you used. I’m just getting into bike photography and would appreciate some pointers!


  6. J.R.
    June 2nd, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

    How did you route your brake cables? I’m building up a similar bike; bought cross brake levers and discovered that they pull “backwards” — so, with a traditional orientation they pull the cable so it seems to have to go in the wrong direction.

  7. J.R.
    June 2nd, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

    ah-ha — figured out how these brakes work — in any case, nice bike — doing something similar with a Woodrup

  8. erik
    June 16th, 2009 @ 1:56 am

    Do you know the color of this bike? Very beautiful!!

  9. ruedatropical
    June 16th, 2009 @ 2:04 am

    Imron #L0088-Blue Metallic

  10. ken
    January 16th, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

    Very nice. When I first looked at it, I thought it was a custom bike not a conversion.

  11. Hahn Rossman
    October 18th, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    That bike looks great! The wheel guides on the brakes are in a strange position? Is that deliberate, or did the mechanic reasssemble them out of phase?

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