For bicycle wheels, you have two main options. This guide lists the advantages and disadvantages of 700c and 26-inch bicycle wheels to help you decide which size to match your next touring bike or commuter bike.
Over the years, a number of different bicycle wheel sizes have been developed around the world. In some cases, the size is exactly the same but a different name is used. This is usually done for marketing purposes. A few common bicycle wheel sizes include:
700c, and 28 inch bicycle wheels all have the same rim diameter of ISO 622 mm. 700c is the standard wheel size for modern road bikes. 29er is basically a marketing term for wide 700c wheels that are made for off-road riding. 28 inch is a size that is still used in some parts of the world though it is kind of a vintage rim measurement. Tires and tubes that are labeled 28 inch fit on 700c or 29er rims as long as the rim is a compatible width.
26 inch (ISO 559 mm) wheels are the standard size for older mountain bikes as well as many expedition touring bikes and fat bikes. These wheels measure 559 mm in diameter. These wheels are about 1-2 inches smaller in diameter than a 700c wheel depending on the type of tires that are installed.
27 inch (ISO 630 mm) are often found on old road bikes. This size is not the same as 700c or 29er. 27 inch wheels are slightly larger than 700c at 630 mm as opposed to 622 mm. This means tires are not cross-compatible with any other wheel sizes.
1. 26-inch wheels are stronger-because 26-inch wheels have a smaller diameter and they use shorter spokes, they are structurally stronger than 700c or 29er wheels
2. 26-inch wheel parts are cheaper
3. Larger tire clearance
4. Higher maneuverability-smaller wheels make steering faster and more responsive.
5. 26-inch wheels are lighter-because they are smaller, 26-inch wheels use less material than 700c. This reduces the total weight of the bicycle.
6. Fewer broken spokes-because the spokes are shorter, they are stronger and harder to break.
7. 26-inch wheels accelerate faster—because of their smaller diameter and lighter weight, 26-inch wheels spin faster.
8. 26-inch bicycles can be made smaller-this will come in handy if you need to box the bicycle and place it on a bus, train or plane.
9. 26-inch wheels are more suitable for short riders
1. Due to the smaller diameter of the wheels, it is more difficult for them to roll over potholes and bumps on the road
2. 26-inch wheels can’t maintain speed either-because they are smaller and lighter, they don’t have enough inertia to keep the bike rolling.
3. Riding is not smooth-every time you encounter bumps or potholes, when the wheels are small, you will feel uncomfortable.
4. 26-inch wheels are not suitable for tall riders
1. 700c wheels can better maintain speed-larger wheels have more mass, which means they have more inertia.
2. 700c wheels roll better-because the wheels have a larger diameter, they are easier to roll over potholes, branches, rocks, and other obstacles on the road.
3. There are more tire options-because 700c is very popular now, all bicycle tire manufacturers offer multiple options for this size.
4. 700c is more suitable for taller riders
5. You can use 700c wheels to drive farther in less time-this is possible because you can maintain a higher average speed.
1. 700c wheels are weaker-because 700c wheels have a larger diameter and use longer spokes, they are structurally weaker than 26-inch wheels.
2. Overlapping toes can be a problem-on some frames, the toes may rub against the wheels when turning. This problem mainly affects bicycles with smaller frames.
3. 700c wheels are heavier-because they are bigger, they use more material, which increases the weight of the bike.
4. More broken spokes-because the spokes are longer, they are weaker and easier to bend or break.
5. 700c wheels accelerate slower-because the wheels are heavier and require more energy to roll.
6. Reduced mobility-larger wheels do not turn fast. The steering response is slower. The 700c wheels also make the bike larger and therefore more difficult to maneuver.
7. 700c is not suitable for shorter riders
In the end, this decision is really a personal preference. As we have seen, these two sizes have their own advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, if you already own a single-wheel size bicycle, it is not worthwhile to modify or buy another bicycle in order to change the wheel size.