Most new bike buyers wonder whether a 26-inch wheel is the same as a 700c wheel. The answer is, well, a little more complicated, and it might help to know the differences between these two common wheel sizes.
“26-inch wheels” are also known as “26×1-3/8 inch”, or “700c”. They are measured from where they meet at their pointy end to where they meet at their flatter end.
A standard 500mm 26-inch wheel, for example, has a diameter of 520mm. A standard 700c wheel has a diameter of 622mm. Both have an outside rim width of about 1-3/8 inches (or 34mm).
Can You Put 700c Tires on 26-inch Rims?
The other question that follows closely to the one we just answered above is, can you put 700c tires on 26-inch rims? The short answer is yes, you can. But, it’s not recommended.
The longer answer is that 700c rims have more material around the inside of the rim – on the interior wall that contacts the tire – than 26-inch rims do.
The thicker sidewall and extra material help to spread out the pressure a bit better than it would with a 26-inch rim. Also, tires are marked by their casing width (which is also their diameter), so if you put a 700×23 (for example) tire on a 26-inch wheel, it will be wider than normal.
The differences between 26-inch and 700c wheels are basically negligible, except in one respect: If you take the outside rim widths (called “tread”) of two different tires – one with a 26-inch rim and one with a 700c rim – and divide them by their diameters (which is done to find their gear ratio), the result will be slightly different. This is because, as we said above, there is more material on the inside wall of a 700c rim than there is on the inside wall of 26-inch rim.
What is a 700c Wheel in Inches?
The tire width on a 700c wheel is 22 inches. This is the standard for most mountain bike tires. Mountain bikes also make use of 26-inch wheels and rims.
*(please note that these sizes are the British system (Rim Diameter in inches and Tyre width in inches) and could be slightly different in other countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, etc.)
A 700c wheel is 622mm in diameter. The thickness of the rim wall is about 12mm. For a 26-inch wheel, this would be a wall thickness of 34mm, which is not even close to half of the space encased by a 700c rim.
What does all this mean?
Basically, if you have 26×1-3/8 inch rims on your bike and you put 700c tires on them, there will be gaps between the tire beads and the inside of your rims. With 26-inch tires, more than half of the bead diameter of any given tire (the casing) fits into that 11-13mm inside space.
Do Hybrid Bikes Use The Same 700c Wheels?
Hybrid bikes with a 700c wheel use a 26″ wheel with 700c rims and tires. They are commonly used as city bikes. Many of them are equipped with coaster brakes, and some have electric assist for hill climbing.
These bikes are lighter and faster than most mountain bikes, but also have a higher center of gravity and suffer from lower-than-MTB handling characteristics.
Will a 26-inch Tire Fit On a 700c Rim?
This entirely depends on the tire. It’s possible to find 26-inch tires that will fit on 700c rims, but a 700c tire will not fit on a 26-inch rim without stretching the sidewalls of the tire just enough to make it fit, especially if you use a tire with especially thick sidewalls.
Going into more detail, there are slight differences between rims where the inside diameter of the wall is larger than an inch (such as 700c) and rims that have an inside diameter of at least an inch (such as 26-inch). The difference is small enough that it might cause problems, but not serious enough for anyone to worry about.
What Is The Difference Between a 26 Inch and a 700c Wheel?
This brings us around back to the same answer; they are the same diameter, but a 26-inch tire will fit onto a 700c rim but not the other way around because of the difference in rim thickness.
However, it is possible to find 26-inch tires that will fit on 700c rims if you stretch them just enough to get them over the wider part of the rim.
How Do You Tell The Diameter of Your Mountain Bike’s Rim
You can look at your bike’s frame for an accurate measurement.
If you are in doubt as to what tire size or rim diameter fits your bicycle best, get a gauge! Several types are available. A good place to start is with a simple metric tire width gauge like the Park Tool TW-1. It’s not expensive (about $10), it fits both Schrader and Presta valves, and it will measure in millimeters.
With your tires in place, measure each of them from where they touch their treads to the point where they do not touch anymore. Add these measurements together and you will get an accurate measurement of your bike wheel size. In the case of a “fat bike” or fat tire bike or rim, add two inches to this measurement and you have your tire width (or rim thickness) in inches.
Do Recumbent Bikes Also Have Similar Tire Measurements?
Some bikers also wonder whether they can get a 700c recumbent bicycle tire size. The answer is that it depends on the tire. 700c recumbent bicycle tires are usually the same size as their 26-inch counterparts.
What Is The Difference Between a 700 and a 700c Tire?
As far as MTB rims go, there isn’t a lot of difference in sizing between 26-inch rims and 700c rims. No matter what rim diameter you ride, tire width is determined by its casing diameter.
The “width” of a 26-inch tire may be 1 3/8 inches wide (26×1-3/8), but the casing width is actually 1 5/8 inches wide, which would work on any rim whose paint stripe was at least an inch or two wide.
Does The Rim Diameter Affect Gears?
Another common question new bikers ask is whether the rim diameter affects the gear and if so, what should be the effective gear ratio for a 700c wheel? To answer this question, we need to understand what an effective gear ratio is.
The effective gear ratio is the gear ratio that you will feel pulling you forward when you ride your bike. It depends on two main factors: your wheel diameter and the cog size on your rear hub. The higher the wheel diameter, the larger the cog size can be on your rear hub without impacting how hard it feels to pedal, and vice versa.
For example, say you are riding 26″ wheels with a 19-tooth cog up front and an 11-tooth cog in the back (19/11). If you put 700c wheels with a 20-tooth cog up front and a 12-tooth cog in the back (20/12), this will feel like a lower effective gear because of the increased wheel diameter.
A 700c Wheel With Broken Spokes
This is a very common issue for people who ride 26-inch fat bikes with wider tires and seemingly larger wheels. It can be caused by the spokes bottoming out, a broken spoke or rim tube, or a puncture in the sidewall or tire.
The broken spoke happens because of a problem with the wheel size, ie, if you ride 26-inch wheels on your bike and you put 700c tires on it, you will probably have some problems.
To avoid this issue, use ovalized hubs with Standard or 135mm rear axles. This prevents the wheel from turning when a spoke breaks.
What is the Actual ISO Diameter for a 700c?
The actual ISO diameter used on 700c bicycles is 650 mm. For every 1 mm decrease in wheel diameter, the tire has to have an additional 0.05% of its circumference rim-wear (about 20%), so a 700c wheel is almost always made with a 66 mm diameter rim and bicycle tire and using the 700c size.
Some common sizes (ISO size) for wheels and rim size for a road bike and an MTB:
The standard for mountain bike wheels is 24″ (600 mm), with BMX bikes using 20″ (520 mm). If a bicycle has a wheel size of 20 and another of 24, it is an “in-between” wheel size. The “in-between” sizes which are sold in many bike shops are 22″, 26″, and 28″.
The standard for off-road bikes is 26″ (650 mm), with mountain bikes using this tire width at the same rim diameter as above.
Road racing bicycles are usually made to fit a 700C tire on a 700C wheel.
Now that you’ve learned about the difference between 700c and 26-inch bicycle wheel sizes, let’s close this article with some good news. It’s now a lot easier than ever before to get the exact wheels for a bicycle that you need.
As of late 2020, there were over 250 different brands and styles of 26-inch modern road bike tires on Amazon alone! That’s more than twice as many as there were just a year before that, giving you countless options to meet your personal riding needs.