650b vs 700C

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 explain the difference between the two and why we chose the 650b wheels for some of our Hybrid bikes.

Different size

"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 from 2017 they have experienced a resurgence in popularity.

Bicycle wheels image

A wider width tyre

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 Hybrid 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 bike off the beaten track.

Bike tyre diagram showing the difference in width between 650b tyres and 700c tyres

Shorter spoke triangle

The spoke triangle of a 650b wheel is more stable due to the shortened length of the spokes, making it more durable for light off-roading.

Diagram of a 650b wheel and 700c wheel

FAQ about 650b and 700c 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. Our full Strada range have 650b wheels.

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

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.