Last year, I was looking for a bike that would be capable of going to new places that weren’t the usual roads that I was getting bored of riding. Being XXS, finding a bike in my size is normally close to impossible so I was looking into options. I happened to find a frame on sale that was the only one left in the perfect size for me! It was a Kona Rove ST, 100% steel and ready for anything 😀
After buying the frame, I now had to make the rest of the bike. The frame was suited for either 700c or 650b wheels, and since I wanted different from my other (standard road) bike, I chose 650b. For various reasons, I didn’t want to go down the route of buying stock wheels so my bike mechanic and I decided to make my first wheels!
We then decided on a 1x setup with cable disc brakes for simplicity, and since it was still going to be a bike that was used on the road we chose a 40 tooth chainring up front and an 11-42 cassette on the back. This would give an easier gear than the climbing gear on my road bike, and still enable me to go fast enough on the road.
After a successful week of building the bike, I went out to test it and I must say I was very happy with it. Of course! This bike was built and not bought. I helped build it from pieces and I am quite proud of myself. I have learnt a lot about bike and wheel building. The wheel building was the challenging part especially the spokes and where they should be.
Now it was time to head out and ride! My first experience on leaving the house with the new 650 x 47 Byways was amazement that the ride was so comfortable. Being small and light, I’ve always felt like I was being beaten up riding on skinny tyres. These were riding on clouds! Best of all, I didn’t feel like I was having to work harder than on my road bike, which I’ve experienced before with bigger tyres.
The next test was to use them in the conditions I’d never dared go before on my road bike - gravel and dirt! In retrospect, I was using slightly too high pressure as I’ve since learned that these tyres perform better off road with a lower pressure, but even with a pressure more suited for road riding the tyres felt comfortable, planted and inspired confidence. Cornering on gravel where I’d normally be worried the tyres would slip, I felt there was good traction and managed to stay upright! I felt the Byways were definitely the right choice for my first ‘all road’ tyres, and they were great for riding everywhere during the summer. These are my go to tyres for most riding on the 650’s in good weather.
Words & Pictures By WTB Gravelier, Cindy Siukonen
Follow more of Cindy's adventures on her Instagram: @little_cyclist