650b Wheels vs. 700C Wheels

The question of 650b or 700C wheels has been around for a while.  But if you’re making the choice for yourself we’ve got you covered!  We’re answering all your questions so that you can make the right choice for you.  Plus we’re covering why we’ve featured 650b in our new Adventure and Urban bike ranges.


650b vs 700C bicycle wheels infographic

What are 650b wheels?

‘What are 650b wheels? How are they different?” we hear you ask… Well what makes 650b wheels different is their size.  With a rim measurement of only 27.5 inches they’re slightly smaller than their traditional 700C wheel counterparts.  650b wheels have been around for a long time however during 2017 they have experienced a resurgence in popularity.  This resurgence is largely down to the rise in popularity of so called Gravel or Adventure bikes which are a cross between an urban bike built for the road and a light off-roader.

What are 700C wheels?

700C wheels are the traditional wheel size for most Urban and Gravel bikes.  The name 700C comes from the French method of wheel measurement and denotes the size of the wheel and tyre.  The wheel rim of a 700C wheel measures 29 inches in diameter.

What are 650b tyres?

Generally a 650b wheel is fitted to a bike to allow for the addition of high profile tyres such as the new Clément X’Plor and Strada USH tyres featured on our Mustang Electric and new Strada range respectively.  These also often have an increased width.  For example, our new Strada range now features 42mm tyres where the average 700C tyre width is only 30mm.

Raleigh Strada Bike Range with 650b Wheels

Why should I use 650b wheels?

As they are slightly smaller than their 700C counterparts, 650b wheels are not only nimbler and easier to manoeuvre but also offer faster acceleration.  You’ll need to do more pedal revolutions to travel the same distance, however, as the wheels are smaller pedalling will be easier.

As 650b wheels can support a wider width tyre we’ve been able to fit multi-terrain tyres on our Urban bikes. They feature hard centre tread for speedy tarmac riding and a rougher edge shoulder to improve off-road traction.  So now rather than needing one bike for the commute and one for the weekend you can go one size fits all.

The high volume tyres can run at lower pressures allowing them to depress on uneven ground meaning you’ll feel fewer bumps when riding off-road.  Running your tyre at a lower pressure will also improve the grip of your tyres by increasing its contact area with the ground.  All of these factors lead to a more comfortable riding experience when taking your urban bike off the beaten track.

Will 650b wheels fit a 700C frame?

The overall circumference dimensions of a 700C wheel and a 650b wheel with high volume tyres are very similar.  However, we would always recommend that you use the type of wheel that your bike has been designed for.  You may be able to fit 650b wheels to a standard 700C bike however the bike’s geometry may be impacted.  Our Raleigh 650b range has specially tailored geometry which will ensure that your riding position is optimised and your posture is correct.

Are 650b and 27.5″ the same?

Though 650b and 27.5″ wheels are the same size their use is quite different.  The 27.5″ naming convention is borne out of mountain biking.  So the wheels and tyres you’ll find using this terminology are usually geared for this purpose.

Which Raleigh Bikes have 650b wheels?

650b wheels aren’t the best fit for all bikes, but we’ve focused on adding them to the types of bikes that will benefit from this addition.  We’ve added 650b wheels to our New Mustang Comp Electric and our full Strada city bike range including our Strada Trail Sports and our new Strada Electric bikes.


Strada Elite Electric Grey Raleigh Bike