Hutchinson 650B x 32 mm Tires

Hutchinson 650B x 32 mm Tires

Compass Bicycles now carries the Hutchinson “Confrérie des 650” tire. The Confrérie des 650 was created by French riders who loved their 650B bikes. They were concerned that the wheel size might become extinct, leaving them without rims and tires for their bikes. So they formed the Confrérie and began working with manufacturers to offer 650B tires.
Since its inception, the Confrérie has focused on 32 mm-wide tires, because most French 650B bikes of the 1960s-80s used this size, for example, this lovely 1965 René Herse that recently sold on eBay. The first tire the Confrérie created was the Michelin Megamium. This was a utilitarian tire, but it was enough to keep many bikes on the road. In recent years, the increasing popularity of 650B tires in North America and Japan has brought many new and excellent 650B tires to the market, and there is no longer any risk of the wheel size becoming extinct. However, the Confrérie was wary of depending on others for their supplies. So when Michelin decided to stop making the 650B Megamium, the Confrérie worked with Hutchinson to make a replacement.
The result is the new Hutchinson 650B x 32 mm tire. Unlike the relatively narrow Megamium, it measures a true 32 mm wide. Hutchinson used their top-of-the-line racing casing for this tire, so it rolls very smoothly and absorbs shock very well. It is hard to estimate puncture resistance, but it appears to be fine in that respect. As a modern tire, the Hutchinson is black with reflective silver sidewalls. Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste – I prefer the more classic appearance of other 650B tires. It’s hard to dislike the light weight of the Hutchinson: At 267 g, it is the lightest 650B tire available today.
I feel that the Hutchinson is an excellent tire that adds significantly to the appeal of the 650B wheel size. To make it available in North America, Compass Bicycles now carries it in our tire program. More information is here.

Update 09/27/2021: The Hutchinson tire is no longer available.

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Comments (11)

  • Harald

    I haven’t joined the 584 mm club yet, but these look nice. Just one remark: here you claim they weigh 267 g, whereas in the shop the claimed weight is an even more impressive 259g.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:54 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We weigh all components we test on our precision scale. For tires, we weigh two samples. Then we report the average weight. Our two samples of the Hutchinson 650B tires were very close in weight.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm
  • Kris R

    Jan, reading the latest BQ and then this article, I’m curious if you rode the L’Avecaise witht these tires. In the article, you wrote of putting the Pari Moto on for a ride. You wrote that the Pari Moto tires made the bike ride like a “sports car” while the Hetre compared to an “off road racer.” These tires are only 40g lighter although they are 6mm narrower, so I’m wondering if they would have the same liveliness of the Pari Moto. Any thoughts on comparing the Pari Moto and the Confrerie des 650?

    July 9, 2012 at 8:59 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The L’Avecaise’s geometry is optimized for wider tires, so we didn’t ride it with the Hutchinson 32 mm tires. The Hutchinsons have much thicker tread than the Pari-Motos, which are true event tires and will last at most 2000 km.
      Furthermore, if you wanted a racing bike for medium-width 32 mm tires, there would be no need to go to 650B wheels. For optimum handling, you’d want 700C wheels – the Calfee we tested last year is a great example of a racing bike for medium-width tires. (We tested it with 32 mm tires.)

      July 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm
  • Scott Snelling

    This might be a fun tire for converting a 700c roadbike with tight clearances to 650b.

    July 9, 2012 at 9:05 am
  • Paul Richard

    I noticed that ’65 Herse. Amazing. Last week, there was a 1947 Singer, fully-chromed, that sold for less. See it here:
    They would have made a nice pair! Same size too.

    July 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm
  • Hal

    Based on Paul Richard’s ebay link above, I’m surprised to see a tripple set up with a Rene Herse front changer! How well does this dreailleur trim itself when shifting thru the rear cogs?

    July 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Triple chainrings were common on Herse bikes from 1950 onwards. The Herse front derailleur doesn’t have any springs. It floats, held in place only by (light) friction. So when you shift on the rear, the chain rubs, but this pushes the derailleur until the chain no longer rubs. It’s fully automatic, and it also means that when you shift, you only need to move the derailleur until the chain begins to engage on the larger ring (upshift) or until it begins to drop onto the smaller ring (downshifts). The shift is completed automatically, and the derailleur self-aligns.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:44 am
  • Paul Ahart

    Jan, Thanks for posting the link to the absolutely gorgeous René Herse bike that sold on Ebay.
    Beyond most peoples’ means, it’s hopeful that the lucky buyer will ride and enjoy it, and not just put in on display.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm
  • David McGowan

    Please forgive a comment that fits imperfectly at best with your post on the Hutchinson.
    In thinking about your work on tires I have been wondering about diminishing returns to width and how to think about them. It seems intuitive to me that the benefits of width (whether in terms of traction, absorption of shocks or vibration, or whatever variable you might specify) should not be constant but should diminish past a certain point or points. Put slightly differently, it seems intuitive that the incremental benefit of changing from, say, 23 mm or 25mm to 28mm may be greater than the benefit of changing from 38mm to 42mm.
    I don’t recall seeing this point discussed in your papers and I am interested in your thinking about the topic, if you wouldn’t mind sharing some thoughts. This may be an unfair request to place in a comment, given what I imagine are a number of complexities (the rate of decline might differ for different aspects of performance for example, or might depend on the weight of a rider or frame characteristics), but holding constant as many of those as possible the topic seems interesting.
    In part I ask because you did something along this line with the Calfee, which as I recall came with 28mm tires, which you then replaced with 32mm tires. Your review of the Calfee has me seriously considering that bike, so I have a particular interest in that difference.
    Many thanks for any thoughts you might have.

    July 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      You are right, there are diminishing returns. The difference between 23 and 27 mm is huge. The difference between 38 mm and 42 mm is noticeable, but not so large any longer.
      To me, the main question is where the performance trend reverses. We know that 25 mm is significantly faster than 23 mm at normal speeds and on normal roads. We also can surmise that infinite tire width is going to be infinitely heavy and infinitely unaerodynamic, so somewhere along that continuum, performance stops increasing with width. I suspect there will be a plateau, and then performance will decrease with increasing width.
      If my 42 mm tire isn’t slower than a 32 mm tire, I will pick the 42 any time, because it is more comfortable, safer and offers better handling. However, if we found that a 35 mm tire is significantly faster than a 42 mm, then I might consider the 35. We are working on this, and hope to have a report soon.

      July 12, 2012 at 5:51 am

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