December 15, 2017

Wheels 650 or 700?

Q: “What is the difference between 650 and 700 wheels besides size? Does one have an advantage over the other?”

A:Great question.

They each have advantages and disadvantages depending on rider size, bike frame size, and what a particular course is like. So the answer is both yes and no.

The most common wheel is the 700. They have a larger circumference and less rolling resistance. This means they will decelerate slower than a smaller wheel would, which is beneficial in races like triathlons where you mostly maintain a constant speed. If you were to stop pedaling, a larger wheel would roll faster and longer than a smaller wheel, which translates into saved energy when you are trying to maintain a high speed.

The smaller 650 wheels accelerate and climb better due to their lower mass and size, but have a harder time maintaining high speeds. You basically have to work harder to hold a certain speed with 650’s than you do with 700’s.

You will find 650’s mostly on smaller framed bikes. One of the reasons for this is to eliminate toe overlap with the wheels. When frames get smaller, your toes get closer to the wheel. If you have a small bike frame with large wheels, there is a chance the front wheel could hit your toes while turning, especially if you have large feet.

Up until recently, it was more difficult to find replacement parts for the 650’s. The age of the Internet has changed this and you can pretty much any part you need for any size wheel.

So it really comes down to what fits your body and your bike. If you are less than five feet tall, you might want to think about getting some 650’s. If you are a taller rider, you should probably stick with the 700’s. If you are somewhere in the middle, the best thing to do would be to go into your local bike shop see what they think based on the size and shape of your body and your bike. There is really no be all, end all answer. In the end, it comes down to your preference and feel.

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