Bike sales in the United States increased by 61% in 2020 compared to 2019. Currently, bikes are considered the third most popular vehicle by the people here. At the same time, the fatality rate of cyclists because of accidents increased by 8.9% in 2020. This leads us to think, 650b vs 700c bicycle wheels, which wheel will be best for our commuter bike, as a wheel plays an important role in safe bike riding.
In this article, I will discuss the significant differences between the two wheels and their suitability for commuter bikes. Although both wheels are quite popular and widely used, many are hesitant to decide. And, this detailed understanding of both wheels can make your commuter biking safer, more efficient, and more comfortable.
What Does The 650b Bicycle Wheels Mean?
650b usually refers to 27.5″ bike wheels. Here, 650 is the approximate diameter of the wheel, and ‘b’ is the width of the tire.
The 650b number comes from the old French tire size. These types of wheels have somewhat wide tyres you can ride with less pressure and they provide more traction on the road. Thus the 650b tires are ideal for riding on broken roads, downhill, etc.
What Does The 700c Bicycle Wheels Mean?
Usually, 700c wheels refer to a 29-inch wheel. The diameter of these types of wheels is about 622 mm. However, this measurement can vary significantly based on the type of tire and tread pattern. And 700c’s are narrow tires compared to a 650b tire. We often see these tires on road bikes or racing bikes. There was a time when 700c wheels were used on touring bikes, but not as noticeable anymore.
Differences Between 650b And 700c Wheels
Apart from measurements, there are several differences in the use and performance of both wheels. I’ll present the significant differences between the 650b and 700c wheels through a chart below.
|Usually narrower than 650b.
|Provides better traction than 700c tires.
|Provides relatively less traction than 650b.
|Smaller diameters and shorter spokes make these wheels more durable and structurally stronger.
|Comparatively bigger diameters and longer spokes make these wheels less durable.
|Shorter wheel, less stable.
|Longer wheels make the bike more stable.
|Rollover capability is less due to less circumference of the wheels.
|A larger circumference ensures better rollover capability. Thus it can roll over bumps, roots, branches, and other obstacles more easily.
|650b wheels are more maneuverable, making the steering more responsive and faster.
|700c wheels are less maneuverable than 700c wheels.
|Usable at a lower air pressure, making riding softer, smoother, and more comfortable.
|Less comfortable than 650b tires.
|Parts of these tires are less available even though having growing popularity.
|Spare parts of a 700c wheel are easier to find.
|After stopping the pedal, lose momentum faster due to more rolling resistance. This makes the tire less efficient.
|Due to less rolling resistance, these tires are more efficient.
|Quick acceleration is possible as these tires are lighter and more aerodynamic.
|Quick acceleration is comparatively more difficult than 650b.
650b VS 700c Bicycle Wheels: Which One Is The Best For Commuter Bikes?
Both 650b and 700c bicycle wheels are common and popular. But when you choose wheels for a commuter bike, then surely 700c will be the best option for you. Because the 700c wheels have almost all the features a commuter bike wheel should have. Well, I’ll explain these features below.
● Comfortable Riding Experience
When you want to ride 20-25 kilometers a day, comfortable riding should be your priority. Also, you don’t like very slow riding. A wide tire with a 700c wheel gives you a smooth and comfortable riding experience. Plus, they will allow you to move faster, which will save you time.
● Less Rolling Resistance
A low rolling resistance wheel is more suitable for commuting bikes. When you come across an obstacle or a bump, the wheels will keep the rate of loss of speed much lower even in those obstacles. In this case, 700c wheels are more efficient and used on commuter bikes because of their low rolling resistance.
You don’t expect commuter bikes to lose speed quickly after you stop pedaling. The 700c wheels have a larger circumference, so they can easily roll over branches, bumps, potholes, or other obstacles. And, this feature of wheels makes them more efficient and better for commuter bikes.
● Parts Availability
Spare parts of a wheel are more important for commuter bikes, as they are used regularly and heavily. And, any biker can easily find spare parts for a 700c wheel, which can be a bit difficult for a 650b wheel. That’s why cyclists prefer 700c wheels for their commuter bikes.
● Stable Riding
Using a larger wheel helps reduce vibration more than a smaller wheel. That’s why bigger wheels will provide you with a more stable riding experience. As the 700c wheels are larger than 650B wheels and provide you with a safer and more stable ride.
Then, Which Is The Best Bicycle Wheels: 650b Or 700c?
From a neutral point of view, both the 650b and 700c bicycle wheels are the best because of their characteristics. Keep in mind that to get the best output, you must select the right wheel according to your needs.
- If you want to use it on a commuter bike, then a 700c wheel would be best for you. Also, 700c wheels are definitely more suitable for road bikes, or other bikes that require more speed.
Because these wheels have low rolling resistance, good rolling over ability, and large circumference will make your riding faster and more stable.
- Besides, 650b wheels may be better for your mountain bike, gravel bike, or touring bike as the wide tyres of these wheels will give you a more comfortable riding experience.
Because of being more durable, the cost of using them is also very low. These wheels provide more traction on the road and are much more maneuverable. So if you like comfortable riding at relatively slow speeds, then 650b is best for you.
650b or 700c: Which Wheels Are Expensive?
Between 650b and 700c, it is not possible to say in one word which wheel is more expensive. The price of both wheels fluctuates a lot among different brands, accessories, and materials.
I have visited various online stores such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. For example, a Shimano 650B wheel can cost anywhere from $61 to $370. Similarly, a Shimano 700C wheel can cost anywhere from $60 to $300.
- But the thing to note here is that 650b tires are much more durable. That is why you have to replace these wheels after many days. Considering that they will cost you relatively less.
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- On the other hand, accessories for 700c wheels are available everywhere. If you need spare parts for wheel servicing, you can collect them and repair the wheel, which is a bit of a problem with 650B wheels. In this respect, a 700c wheel is more convenient than a 650b wheeler; as they will not become unsuitable for use in one go.
Are 650b And 700c Wheels Interchangeable?
Yes, 650b and 700c wheels are interchangeable on most gravel bikes. But you can’t just swap these wheels on a road bike or mountain bike.
Most road bikes usually use 700c wheels, some older bikes can see 650b wheels. But these are not interchangeable. Though the common sizes of the MTB wheels are 700c or 29er, 650b, & 700c wheels are not interchangeable on these bikes either.
Still many people feel comfortable doing everyday tasks like going to the office or shopping on a bike. It is because they are environment-friendly, beneficial to health, and cost-saving. But using the wrong tires on a bike can make it dangerous as well as make riding more difficult.
In short, both 650b and 700c bicycle wheels can’t be the best for commuter bikes. Generally, experts recommend 700c wheels with commuter bikes. But your needs and type of road will play a significant role in choosing the tire here.