Ritchey P-650b steel 275 mountain bike frame hard tail review807

Don’t call it a comeback. While the 650b wheel seems to be finally here to stay, Tom Ritchey was designing his first 27.5″ bike in 1977. As what Tom himself called his “first effort into thinking about mountain bikes,” Tom designed a bike for the late John Finley-Scott based on the English Woodsy. Built to explore the farm roads and trails in England, Woodsy bikes used 650b wheels which Tom thought would be a great fit for mountain bikes.

We know what happens next. Mountain bike manufacturers settle on 26″, then years later adopt 29″, and then re-introduce the middleweight 650b. Today, Ritchey offers 3 P-hardtails – one in each wheel size. As sibling to the P-29, the P-650b brings Ritchey’s heat treated, triple butted, Ritchey Logic II tubing to the middle sized wheels for a light weight, efficient trail bike with its own unique Tri-color fade.

Details plus weights after the break…

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Like the other frames in the Ritchey line up, the P-650b has been designed by Tom who fine tuned the geometry and tubing choices to keep that “Ritchey feel.” Part of keeping that feel and shaving grams means the use of a 1 1/8″ straight integrated head tube which shaves about 40 grams compared to a tapered tube. Frames require the use of a 41.8mm Campy style integrated headset like the Ritchey Logic Zero WCS drop in.

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The Logic II tubing brings a bit of classically refined steel ride characteristic to what are now modern sized wheels. In fact, the wheels are about the only modern standard on the bike with features like a standard 68mm English threadded BB, 28.6mm front derailleur clamp size, and external cable routing.

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Ritchey P-650b steel 275 mountain bike frame hard tail review811

Every bit of the frame has been tuned for the least weight and best ride characteristics. Running a standard 27.2mm seat post, the frame features a built in seat post clamp. Forged 135mm QR socket dropouts sit behind a new chainstay mounted post mount disc mount that is designed for 160mm rotors. Since the frame is steel, a non-replaceable derailleur hanger is employed.

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Designed for use with 100mm travel forks, it’s clear the frame is likely intended for rigid forks like the WCS Carbon fork from Ritchey. While there are a few out there, high end 27.5″ suspension forks with a 1 1/8″ steerer seem to be hard to come by. Fortunately, the WCS carbon fork is quite good with a one piece monocoque construction including the dropouts, 160mm post mount disc tabs, and steerer (compression plug included). Suspension corrected for 100mm forks, vital measurements include a 42mm rake and 459mm axle to crown.

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On the scale the fork registered an even 600g uncut, while the frame measured 4.7 lb (2,140g). That means the fork comes in under claimed weight of 615g, but the frame is a bit over the 4.47 lbs claimed for a 17″ frame.

Ritchey P-650b frames are sold in 15, 17, 19, and 21″ frames for $1,100. The fork adds an additional $499.95.


Stay tuned this week for the rest of the build details and first impressions!


  1. Dr. Sartorious on

    Simply beautiful.

    It’s awesome living not more than 20 miles from Ritchey’s stomping grounds, seeing him ride his bike sans helmet, with that handlebar mustache and Trans-Am-with-the-big-firebird-on-the-hood-era feathered hair blowing in the wind, going on a ride up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

  2. Andrew on

    Through the paint and frame design Ritchey’s managed to keep on making classically beautiful bikes. I’m interested to see where this build goes!

    On a bit of a questioning note, could you explain two things to a mountain bike student? “Designed for use with 100mm travel forks, it’s clear the frame is likely intended for rigid forks like the WCS Carbon fork from Ritchey.” How is it clear that it’s intended for rigid if it’s designed around suspension correction? As well, how can that fork be considered monocoque when it’s pretty obviously at least three pieces? (two blades and a crown/steer tube, if that’s one construction)

  3. Dave on

    Quality straight steerer suspension forks are getting harder and harder to source. Would a 44mm head tube be so bad?

  4. Yoseph on

    I think the red, white and blue paint is quite cheesy, honestly. Everything about it is quite pretty, but that paint is ugly! I’ll pass…

  5. skip on

    I have a p team (26″). love that bike. Geometry is AWESOME. But build quility is shamefully subpar for an $1100 FRAME.
    will somebody PLEASE fix d*mn rear brake cable guides?! if the mount points the disc hose to the bottom of the frame why run the rest of the cable along the top? wtf? details not totally thought out.

  6. aaron on

    @skip-that’s what is called china/taiwan build quality.

    that head tube size, especially on a mtb frame, will deter many that would have been interested.

    “tuned for the least weight” – 4.7lb steel 17″ is heavy

  7. Psi Squared on

    It’s pretty cool that this has already degenerated into ignorant comments about “china/taiwan build quality.” It would suck if people actually had to think before commenting.

  8. Tom on

    Build quality is what has me hesitant to buy a Ritchey frame after some stuff I’ve read. You get a bit of the c**ktease at NAHBS when Tom fillet brazes a nice version of whichever frame he is releasing, and then you go to buy it, and its the China version, which isn’t even joined the same way (TIG instead of fillets), and the price seems a bit out of line. Personally I’d rather fork out more cash (something on in and around the cost of a Cielo) to get an actual fillet brazed frame made in the USA. Would be cool to see Ritchey partner up with some builders to make it happen.

  9. K11 on

    @psi squared. here’s what i “think”, once a price point is at $1100, is 4.7lbs steel in a 17″, and made in china or taiwan, this is a joke. @aaron and @tom, there is validity to their points of view, after i “thought” about it.

  10. Psi Squared on

    Note that’s an opinion of yours K11, not a factual statement about quality. There is a difference.

  11. Robbo on

    Let us know how you go with the rear brake mounting, too. My Large was a complete PITA to set up; ended up having to enlarge the mounting holes on the caliper to get the pads to sit flush against the rotor.

    Wish I’d thought to ream/clean the seat tube, too – a nice big burr scored the crap out of my carbon post the first time I lowered it.

    All is forgiven when I ride it, though – it’s a cracker.

  12. K11 on

    @psi, never said it was a fact or golden rule, it was a comment that was clearly to be understood as my thoughts/opinion/agreeing with others. didn’t really think i had to but a disclaimer saying that it was just my opinion… but for some, maybe i should.

  13. Everyone on

    I absolutely love my P-650b! The only annoyance I had was that finding a good 100mm fork with a straight steerer that can fit 650b wheels was a bit tricky. I’ll be following this with interest to see how you build this bike up.

  14. Gummee on

    I have a P650B. Love it.

    I started riding in the 80s on a 28# (rigid) steel hardtail. Here I am all these years later on a 27# steel hardtail. This time, I have suspension and LOTS of gears! Talk about coming full circle!

    The only people that seem to want to make a decent fork for the bike is White Bros. I have a Loop on my bike.

    AFA the rear brake: I went with XTs. You can rotate the banjo bolt upwards. Solves mounting problems on this frame. Stop VERY well too. Bonus!

    I can’t comment on ‘build quality’ but my welds seem just fine thankyouverymuch.


  15. Ajax on

    If that 1st comment is true, shame on Tom Ritchey. For a man in a position of influence, like he has, he doesn’t need to be promoting unsafe riding. Always wear you helmet! SHAME TOM RITCHEY! SHAME!

  16. Ajax on

    One other thing. Tom Ritchey riding around Cali not wearing a helmet isn’t cool… It’s stupid! And dangerous too! And that he is promoting that is really bad. People like the 1st commenter see Tom Ritchey doing that and think that is the coolest thing ever. Just look at his comment! And then, they go out without a helmet and get hit by a car and die. Yeah, thanks Ritchey.

  17. Kark on

    I’ve run 26″ fox floats with 650b. Tire clearance is good up to and including a Neo-moto. Magura also offer the ts8r that has just enough clearance for a 2.35 nobby nic.

    Xfusion also have a few dedicated offerings. as do RockShox and BOS and..

    Basically if you’re having a hard time finding 650b forks you’re not looking very hard.

  18. Ajax on

    Kark, read his comment again. He said that 650b forks that aren’t hugely suspension corrected are hard to find. And why would a manufacturer make a bike that doesn’t use rigid (non-suspension) corrected fork, only to design the frame to accept a suspension-corrected fork? I’ll tell you why. Because there aren’t a lot of 650b forks out there.

    Now, back to shaming Tom Ritchey for promoting helmet-less riding. Ever wonder why Ritchey doesn’t branch into the helmet market? Now, you know why.

  19. notmikeb on

    To all the “Tom Ritchey not wearing a helmet” haters – Who do you think is basing their decision to wear a helmet or not solely on the fact that Tom Ritchey isn’t riding without one while cruising around a probably largely traffic free mountain road? This is America. You are free to make whatever safety choices for yourself you’d like to make.

    And I don’t think Tom Ritchey is attempting to promote helmet-less riding. I think he’s just having fun riding his bike…….

  20. notmikeb on

    correction – “Tom Ritchey isn’t riding without one…” should have read “IS riding without one” or “Isn’t riding WITH one”. I’ve double negatived myself into nonsense…

  21. laffeaux on

    I have a P-650b fillet brazed by Tom and it rides great. A couple of things from other posts… the rear post mounts work great for newer style calipers that have banjo bolts that can be rotated. They do not work so well with older style non-rotating calipers which are found on mechanical discs. Also, the red/white/blue paint has been used on Ritchey bikes since’89 or ’90. You may not like the scheme, but this is a throwback to the Ritchey Team colors that has been used for 25 years. Ritchey fans will like it. 🙂

    Also, I’m running an X-Fusion Velvet on my bike. The fork works great!

  22. Paul on

    A lot of people won’t get the red, white, and blue color scheme, but it was the Ritchey Race team colors. Honestly, I would ride this bike if it were painted electric puke! I have the P-29er and it is the best bike I have ever owned. As far as the shotty work and welds. Not on my bike! I love it! May not be for everyone, but you ride it, you won’t want to give it back.


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