A Guide on 700c Bicycle Wheels: The Perfect Size for Your E-Bike?

June 01, 2024

A Guide on 700c Bicycle Wheels - The Perfect Size for Your E-Bike?

If you're passionate about cycling, you've likely come across 700c bicycles. This versatile and popular wheel size is a favorite among cyclists for its exceptional performance and adaptability. Whether you're an avid road cyclist, a commuternavigating urban streets, or an adventurer exploring gravel paths, the 700c bicycle offers the perfect balance of speed, stability, and comfort. 

Key Takeaways

  • 700c wheels are highly versatile and popular for e-bikes, offering a balance of speed, stability, and comfort suitable for road cycling, commuting, and gravel paths.
  • They are known for their efficiency, maintaining high cruising speeds with minimal effort on smooth surfaces, and have a wide range of compatible tire options to tailor the ride to specific terrains.
  • Proper tire pressure, regular maintenance, and matching your 700c setup to your riding style maximize your e-bike's capabilities.
  • While 700c wheels are ideal for many scenarios, other wheel sizes like 26-inch, 27.5-inch, and 29-inch might be better suited for rough terrains, technical trails, or compact storage requirements, highlighting the importance of choosing the right wheel size based on specific needs and riding styles.

This article gives a closer look into the unique features of 700c bicycles and their benefits so you can determine if this wheel size is the ideal choice for your cycling needs.

What are 700c Wheels?

700c wheels are a common wheel size used primarily in road bicycles, but they are also found in some hybrid, gravel, and cyclocross bikes. The "700" refers to the nominal diameter of the wheel in millimeters, while the "c" originally denoted a particular tire width classification in an old French system.  In the past, French sizing included letters (a, b, c) that roughly indicated tire width. However, this is no longer standardized, so the "c" doesn't hold the same significance today.

700c Wheels

While the name might seem a bit cryptic, 700c has a long history. This standard originated in France and, over time, became the go-to for road bikes thanks to its efficiency and smooth rolling characteristics.

Now, don't be limited by the "700c" label. 700c wheels are versatile, accommodating a wide range of tire widths, from narrow racing tires to wider, comfortable tires for commuting or light trails. This allows you to customize your e-bike's performance to match your riding style and terrain.

Additionally, 700c wheels are similar in diameter to 29-inch wheels found on mountain bikes. With the right tire, you could potentially use 29" wheels on an e-bike designed for 700c, but always check the manufacturer's specifications.

Types of E-Bikes Compatible with 700c Wheels

Types of E-Bikes Compatible with 700c Wheels

700c wheels offer a fantastic blend of speed, efficiency, and comfort, making them a popular choice for various e-bikes. Here are some of the most common types you'll find sporting 700c wheels:

  1. E-Road bikes: Designed for speed and agility on paved roads, e-road bikes prioritize a lightweight build and aerodynamic efficiency. If you enjoy long road rides and want a boost from the electric motor, these bikes are a great fit. 700c wheels, often with narrower tires, help maintain that classic road bike feel.
  2. E-Gravel bikes: Bringing e-assist to the world of dirt and gravel roads, e-gravel bikes let you explore further and tackle tougher terrain. They typically use 700c wheels with wider tires, offering versatility for both paved and unpaved routes.
  3. E-Hybrid bikes: These bikes are built for comfort and versatility. They blend features from road and mountain bikes, making them perfect for commuting, urban riding, and light trails. 700c wheels are standard and often paired with wider tires for a smoother ride.
  4. E-Touring bikes: Designed for long-distance journeys, e-touring bikes prioritize comfort, stability, and the ability to carry gear. They usually use 700c wheels, sometimes with wider tires for durability and stability under heavy loads.

While these e-bike categories often come with 700c wheels, the specific tire width and tread pattern can be tailored to your intended terrain and riding style. Some e-bikes might have slightly modified frame geometry to accommodate 700c wheels and maximize comfort and performance for their specific purpose.

700c vs. Other Wheel Sizes in E-Bikes

Choosing the right wheel size is crucial when optimizing your e-bike's performance and ride quality. Among the various options, 700c wheels stand out for their versatility and widespread use. However, other wheel sizes, such as 26-inch, 27.5-inch, and 29-inch, also offer unique advantages depending on your riding needs and terrain. 

Here’s how 700c wheels stack up against other popular options:

vs. 650b Wheels

When it comes to rolling efficiency, 700c wheels maintain momentum better on smooth surfaces, making them ideal for efficient road riding. 650b wheels, with a slightly smaller diameter, may require a little more effort to maintain speed. These wheels also offer greater agility for navigating tight corners and technical terrain. In contrast, 700c wheels strike a balance between maneuverability and stability.

Additionally, 650b wheels typically allow for wider tires, which can improve comfort on rough roads and trails. 700c bikes often prioritize narrower tires for speed but can still offer a comfortable ride with the right tire choice.

vs. 26-inch Wheels

700c wheels roll more smoothly and efficiently on pavement, making long rides easier compared to 26-inch wheels, which are less efficient on roads but excel on rough off-road terrain. 700c wheels also have slightly better clearance for rolling over small obstacles. However, 26-inch wheels are more maneuverable for navigating technical sections. Although 26-inch wheels were once popular, their use in e-bikes has declined. There is now a much wider selection of components and tires for 700c wheels.

vs. 29-inch Wheels

700c and 29-inch wheels have a very similar overall diameter when tires are considered. The main difference lies in tire width and frame design. 29-inch wheels, designed for mountain bikes, typically use wider tires for conquering rough trails and obstacles, while 700c, common on road bikes, shines on pavement but offers versatility for gravel and light trails. Taller riders might find bikes with 29-inch wheels a bit more comfortable due to slightly modified frame geometry.

Here’s a more in-depth comparison between the wheel sizes mentioned above:

700c Bicycle Wheels vs Other Wheel Sizes 

Why Choose 700c Wheels on E-Bikes?

When selecting the ideal wheel size for your e-bike, the decision can significantly impact your riding experience. Among the various options, 700c wheels have gained popularity for their exceptional balance of efficiency, comfort, and versatility. Understanding these benefits will help you make an informed choice tailored to your needs.

Efficiency

700c wheels have lower rolling resistance compared to smaller wheel sizes. This means less energy is lost to friction, allowing you to travel further with less effort. 700c tires can also save a significant percentage of energy compared to smaller wheels on smooth surfaces, boosting both your e-bike's range and your stamina for longer rides. 

Additionally, the larger diameter of 700c wheels helps them maintain momentum more easily, further contributing to their efficiency advantage.

Comfort

While 700c wheels are sometimes associated with narrow road tires, they can absolutely be paired with wider, more comfortable tires. This unlocks their potential for tackling gravel roads, light trails, and rough pavement. Wider tires offer better cushioning and shock absorption, reducing fatigue on varied terrain. Additionally, their larger air volume helps smooth out imperfections in the road, delivering a more forgiving and enjoyable ride overall.

Stability

Thanks to a larger diameter, 700c wheels create a greater gyroscopic effect. This translates to enhanced stability, especially at higher speeds. Whether you're cruising on an open road or handling fast descents, 700c wheels provide a reassuring sense of control. This stability also helps maintain your line when encountering small bumps or imperfections in the road, improving your overall safety and confidence on the e-bike.

Speed

The larger diameter and efficient nature of 700c wheels contribute to higher cruising speeds with sustained effort. This is ideal for e-bike commuters or those planning long rides where covering significant distances is the goal. Their smooth-rolling characteristics also contribute to achieving higher top speeds, especially on paved surfaces. 

While frame design is crucial, 700c wheels slightly improve aerodynamics compared to smaller wheels, especially with aero-optimized rims. They also encounter road bumps at a shallower angle, reducing energy loss and maintaining forward momentum more efficiently.

Tire Availability

The vast popularity of 700c wheels offers an unparalleled selection of tire options. From slick tires for pure road efficiency to rugged treads for off-road adventures, there's a 700c tire for every e-biker's needs. You'll never be limited in finding the perfect tires to match your riding style and terrain. This wide selection also includes varying price points and features, ensuring you can find performance and value that fits your budget without sacrificing compatibility with your wheels.

Things to Consider When Choosing 700c Wheels for E-Bikes

When considering 700c wheels, several factors come into play to ensure they meet your riding needs. Here are some key points to consider:

Weight vs. Durability -Prioritize acceleration and climbing efficiency, which is especially important for e-road bikes or performance-oriented riding. Opt for heavier-duty rims and potentially more spokes. This offers peace of mind when carrying gear, tackling tough terrain, or if you simply value long-term robustness.

Rim Material -Aluminum is the most common and affordable material, offering a good blend of strength and weight. Aluminum rims also come in various grades and quality levels. On the other hand, carbonfiber is lighter and potentially stiffer, offering performance gains for serious riders. It is more expensive and can be more susceptible to damage in the case of major impacts.

Rim Width and Tire Choice -Wider rims support wider tires, which can improve stability, comfort, and traction, especially off-road. However, very wide rims with super wide tires may reduce pedaling efficiency. Pair your rims with tires designed for your e-bike's purpose (road, gravel, etc.) and ensure the tire width is compatible with the rim.

Here's a table illustrating the ideal tire width ranges for various internal rim widths:

Tire Width Ranges for Bicycle Rims

E-Bike Type -The specific type of e-bike you ride plays a crucial role in what kind of 700c wheels are the best fit. For road e-bikes, lightweight and aerodynamic 700c wheels are key. Look for narrower rims designed to pair with road-specific tires. 

For commuter e-bikes, focus on durability and puncture resistance in your 700c wheels. Opt for sturdy rims and tires that can handle the rigors of daily commutes and potentially rough city streets. Wider tires may offer additional comfort, especially if your routes include cobblestones or broken pavement.

An e-mountain bike requires the most robust 700c wheels built to withstand the added stresses of an electric motor and aggressive off-road riding. Look for strong rims (often with more spokes), wide tire compatibility, and hubs designed for the specific e-bike drivetrain system.

Tubeless vs. Clincher vs. Tubular Tires -Your tire choice significantly impacts your ride experience, and each type comes with pros and cons to consider in conjunction with your e-bike's 700c wheels. 

Feature

Clincher

Tubeless

Tubular

Inner Tube

Yes

No

Sewn-in

Installation

Easiest

More complex

Complex

Repair

Easy

More complex

Complex

Puncture Resistance

Lower

Higher

Lower

Comfort & Grip

Lower pressure possible

Lower pressure possible

Highest

Rolling Efficiency

Good

Best

Good

Weight

Heavier

Lighter

Lightest

Compatibility (700c wheels)

Most

Requires specific type

Not all

Best Use

General riding

Performance, puncture resistance

High-performance road

 

Hubs- Hubs are the central part of your wheels, housing the bearings for smooth rotation. When choosing 700c wheels for your e-bike, consider axle strength, spacing, and drivetrain compatibility. Select hubs with stronger axles to handle the extra torque from the e-bike motor. Ensure the hub spacing matches your e-bike's frame, as some require wider spacing. Also, make sure the hub is compatible with your drivetrain cassette for smooth gear shifting.

Spokes/Lacing - Spokes, the thin rods connecting the rim to the hub, are crucial for a wheel's strength and power transfer. E-bikes often use more spokes than traditional bikes for added strength and durability to handle the motor's forces. The material (usually stainless steel) and the lacing pattern (how spokes connect the rim and hub) affect the wheel's stiffness and responsiveness under load.

While spokes and lacing patterns can be technical, it's important to know these factors are considered when building wheels designed for the demands of e-bikes.

Budget - This plays a significant role in choosing 700c wheelsets. Fortunately, there's a wide range of options available, from entry-level wheels to premium performance-oriented sets. Be realistic about your needs and how much riding you'll do. Investing in higher-quality components can improve longevity and save money long-term compared to frequent replacements. 

However, if you're new to e-biking, don't feel pressured to break the bank; finding reliable wheels within your price range will let you enjoy the ride without sacrificing safety or performance.

When 700c Wheels Might NOT Be Ideal

700c bicycle

While 700c wheels have many advantages for e-bikes, they aren't always the best choice. For rough terrain with large obstacles, technical trails, and frequent drops, wider mountain bike tires (on 27.5" or 29" wheels) offer better rollover capability and cushioning. These wheels absorb impacts better, maintain traction, improve control, and reduce rider fatigue on challenging trails—something 700c wheels may struggle with, even with wider tires.

For tight storage or transport, smaller wheels are preferable. Folding e-bikes often use smaller wheels for a more compact fold. Although some 700c e-bikes can fold, they remain larger overall.

Smaller wheels also offer better agility for tight turns, navigating obstacles, or performing technical maneuvers. This is why BMX bikes and some specialty e-bikes use smaller wheels for quicker steering. However, e-bike frame geometry and other factors also impact handling.

Optimizing Performance with 700c Wheels on E-Bikes

While 700c wheels offer inherent advantages for e-bikes, maximizing their performance depends on several crucial factors. Selecting the right tires plays a significant role, but other considerations can truly fine-tune your e-bike's ride experience. 

Proper tire pressure is a key factor in maximizing the performance of your 700c-equipped e-bike. Since tire pressure influences rolling resistance, comfort, and traction, finding the optimal balance directly impacts how efficiently your e-bike rides and how well it handles various terrains.

Always start with the tire manufacturer's recommended pressure range printed on the tire sidewall. Experiment within this safe range to find the "sweet spot" that blends efficiency and comfort for your e-bike and riding style. Invest in a reliable pressure gauge to ensure precise adjustments. Remember, even small changes in tire pressure can make a noticeable difference in your e-bike's ride performance and feel.

Maintenance Tips for 700c Wheels

700c ebike wheel

Keeping your 700c wheels in good condition translates directly to a smoother, more efficient, and safer ride on your e-bike. Here are some key maintenance areas to focus on:

  • Even spokes and a properly trued wheel (meaning it spins without wobbles) are crucial for strength and optimal power transfer. Regularly check spoke tension by lightly squeezing pairs of spokes together – they should feel similarly tight. If you notice loose spokes or a wobbly wheel, having it professionally trued is essential.
  • Clean, well-lubricated hubs spin smoothly and reduce wear on bearings. While the specific process depends on your hub type, it generally involves disassembling the hub, cleaning out old grease, and applying fresh lubricant. Consult your e-bike's manual or hub manufacturer's instructions.
  • Regularly inspect your rims for dents, cracks, or excessive wear, particularly around the braking surface (if you have rim brakes). Check brake pads for wear and replace them when they reach their minimum thickness to ensure effective stopping power.

Conclusion

700c wheels offer compelling advantages for e-bike riders, making them a popular choice for various e-bike types. Their balance of efficiency, comfort potential, and versatility suit the needs of many riders. Whether you're seeking speed on paved roads, confidence-inspiring stability for gravel exploration, or a comfortable commute, 700c wheels, when paired with the right components and tires, can greatly enhance your e-bike experience.

However, it's crucial to remember that the "best" wheel size is entirely dependent on your individual priorities, riding style, and preferred terrain. While 700c wheels may be ideal for many, exploring alternative options may reveal a perfect fit for your specific needs. Thorough research, considering the factors discussed in this guide, and, whenever possible, testing different e-bikes with various wheel sizes will empower you to make the most informed decision and start enjoying the freedom of e-biking!

FAQs: 700c Bicycle

How do 700c wheels compare to other wheel sizes?

700c wheels shine in their rolling efficiency on paved surfaces, requiring less effort to maintain speed compared to smaller wheel sizes. For navigating tight spaces and technical terrain, smaller wheels (e.g., 650b, 26") offer slightly better maneuverability. Larger wheels, like 29", generally offer better obstacle clearance, rolling over bumps, and obstacles more easily than 700c wheels.

Can 700c wheels be fitted on any e-bike?

No, e-bikes are designed around specific wheel sizes. Always confirm the manufacturer's specifications for the designed wheel size. Even if a 700c wheel might technically squeeze into the frame, it might not provide enough clearance for the tire, especially wider options. Crucially, components like brakes and hubs might not be compatible if the e-bike was not built for 700c wheels.

How fast is a 700c bike?

The speed of a 700c bike (or any bike) is influenced by many factors, including rider power, fitness, terrain, gearing, aerodynamics, and tire choice. The rolling efficiency of 700c wheels is a definite advantage when it comes to maintaining higher speeds with sustained effort, particularly on smooth surfaces. E-bikes further elevate this potential, with the motor providing significant speed boosts, often reaching assisted speeds of 20mph or higher. 

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