Nordest Albarda in 650B mode.
Nordest Albarda in 650B mode.

Nordest Albarda 2021 Update

When I built my Nordest Albarda in the fall of 2019, I didn’t spend the money to get all new parts for it. I took the SRAM Red eTap HRD groupset off my Ritte and used the Nox Composites wheels that had been on my red Volagi Viaje, which I had sold. A year later, the bike finally got its own drivetrain components. When I switched to 650B RoadPlus with my third Volagi Viaje, I was immediately sold on the slightly smaller but wider wheels. The Viaje felt way better with 650B wheels. If I weren’t climbing and descending as much, I’d be perfectly happy rolling around on 700C, but in the mountainous Jura, 650B just feels better.

The slacker geometry of the Nordest Albarda gives the bike more directional stability. To put it into a turn requires therefore a more forceful steering input. This, I think, can be changed somewhat by reducing the diameter of the wheels. At least that's what happened with the Volagi, which is very agile, to begin with. In fact, with 650B wheels, that bike tends to oversteer. The Albarda should therefore improve in steerability. It was therefore long on my wishlist to equip the bike with a fast set of 650B wheels. Right at the beginning of the year, I set things in motion by ordering a pair of Light Bicycle WR35 gravel rims. These are 25mm internal, 32mm external hooked carbon rims with a nice 35mm deep aero profile. At the same time, I ordered a pair of Chris King R45D thru-axle Centerlock hubs from my trusted wheel builder, 47° Nord. The hubs arrived at the end of March; the rims arrived in April. Black Sapim CX-Ray spokes and red DT Swiss nipples, 24 per wheel, complete the wheels.

  1. Original setup:
    • Nox Citico wheels with Chris King R45D hubs
    • René Herse 700C x 38 Barlow Pass tires (40mm actual measurement)
  2. New setup:
    • 47° Nord wheels with Chris King R45D hubs and Light Bicycle WR35 carbon rims
    • René Herse 650B x 48 Switchback Hill tires
  3. Alternative setup:
    • Nox Citico 700C wheels with Chris King R45D hubs
    • René Herse 700C x 44 Snoqualmie Pass tires

All tubeless of course. Weights of any of the above? A fraction of my body weight. Stay tuned for a follow-up once I've put a few miles on the new wheels.