Wheel Size for Gravel Biking: 650b vs. 700c - Choose Your Adventure!

Hey there, fellow gravel enthusiasts! Ready to embark on an epic gravel journey?
Well, you're in for a treat because today we're diving into the mesmerizing world of gravel wheel sizes! Whether you're cruising down challenging trails or seeking speed on smoother terrains, the battle between the nimble 650b (27.5") and the efficient 700c (29") is on. So, let's gear up and find the ultimate gravel wheels for your off-road escapades!

I'll advance my conclusion here, without setting a precedent. Instead of following the industry norms or relying solely on the engineer inside me and the numbers, I chose to go with what felt better. Trusting my instincts, I made a decision that aligned with my personal experience and preferences 


Join the adventure as we unveil the wonders of 650b wheels! These spirited siblings of mountain biking bring unmatched agility and responsiveness to your gravel experience. Conquer each challenging terrain with enhanced traction and grip. Maneuver with ease through technical trails and relish the playful nature of gravel riding. It's like having the ultimate superpower for exploring rough terrains!


Now let's shift gears to the 700c wheels - the tried and tested choice of gravel riders. Experience the joy of cruising over smoother hardpack and tarmac with unwavering speed. If gravel racing is your jam, then the 700c wheels will elevate your game like never before. Get ready to unleash the racer within you!*

Image from https://grove.bike/

Image from https://grove.bike/


Alright, let's get a little technical - but don't worry, we'll break it down for you.

Imagine rolling a larger wheel next to a smaller one. The bigger wheel covers more ground with each revolution, right? So, when you ride a 700c wheel, it naturally rolls over obstacles and bumps more easily compared to a smaller 650b wheel.

It's like riding a magic carpet that glides over everything in its path!


Think of it this way - imagine cruising on a bumpy trail with your crew. Your buddy on a 700c-wheeled gravel bike effortlessly rolls over rocks and roots, while you, on your trusty 650b-wheeled bike, feel each bump more pronounced. It's like he's floating on air, and you're having a wilder ride. Both are fun, but the bigger wheels offer that extra smoothness, especially on long rides! Plus, larger wheels maintain speed more easily, making it a breeze to keep up with the pack. So, if you love the thrill of cruising faster, 700c wheels are your ticket to gravel paradise!.

Sounds good right?, but real life is not that easy. This would be true for rigid tires+wheels which is not the case. At Reneherse (I strongly recommend reading their Journal) they tested it and the conclusion was: "On ‘road’ surfaces ranging from very smooth to very rough, the three common wheel sizes (700C, 650B, 26″) offer the same performance. For road or gravel riding, a 10% difference in wheel size is too small to affect the bike’s speed in meaningful ways"


Can I switch wheel sizes on my gravel bike?

Absolutely! Many gravel frames can handle both 650b and 700c wheels. It's like having two bikes in one!

What's the best wheel size for a mountain bike feel?

If you crave the wild, adventurous feel of mountain biking, go for the nimble 650b wheels. They'll bring out the trail ninja in you!

Which wheel size is best for gravel racing?

For the speed demons out there, the efficient 700c wheels are your winning choice. Race like the wind and leave others in your dust!

My Cannondale Slate on the beach

Carles Carrera

Co-Founder, Product&Marketing

Carles' passion for Enduro MTB ignited the creation of AMS. Nowadays, you're more likely to find him speeding along scenic gravel paths, enjoying the thrill of his gravel bike.