650b vs 700c

We design all of our bikes with purpose. One feature you’ll find on many of our bikes is the ability to run 700c or 650b wheels. We incorporated dual wheel size capability because we think each size offers unique advantages for different types of riding.

The What

At the most basic level, 700c wheels have a larger diameter (622mm) than 650b wheels (584mm). 700c has long reigned as the default wheel size on the majority of road, gravel and cyclocross bikes. 650b has recently seen a resurgence in popularity from its heyday on 20th-Century French bicycles.

With that said, you may be wondering about the characteristics of the two sizes, and which one suits your riding style.

The Why

The 700c wheel and tire combo offers less rolling resistance, gathers more momentum and has better rollover capability than 650b wheels with higher-volume tires. For some, these may be the go-to size for riding on pavement for commuting, training rides or racing on hero gravel.

The smaller diameter of 650b wheels allows you to run higher-volume tires within the same frame. Because higher-volume tires are taller than the tires you could run on a 700c wheel, the wheel and tire diameter end up being similar to a 700c wheel and road tire setup. This means that handling characteristics and geometry are minimally affected by the wheel change, yet you gain the benefits of a higher-volume tire.

So why smaller wheels and higher-volume tires? Higher-volume tires create a larger contact patch, which allows for more grip when cornering, accelerating and braking. Bump absorption is also improved, which cuts fatigue on long rides or rough terrain.

An added bonus for shorter cyclists: 650b wheels are more proportional to small frames, and can reduce toe overlap and top tube height for better standover clearance.

Many riders choose 700c wheels for riding on pavement or racing on gravel surfaces. To soak up the bumps on rougher roads and unpaved surfaces, 650b wheels and large tires might be a good choice—especially if you ride a smaller frame.

The How

Fortunately, on frames designed for it, riders can easily swap between 650b and 700c wheels as riding goals and conditions change. Our dual wheel size-capable bikes are designed to ride properly with either wheel size so that you’re never limited in where you ride. With two wheelsets, you effectively gain another bike that can handle very different riding conditions without affecting the bike’s geometry.

Salsa 650b OR 700c Offerings

Currently, three of our all-road bike platforms offer 650b/700c interchangeability. Our hope is that this lets you find, or build up, the bike that best fulfills your needs.

This post filed under topics: Gravel Harrison Maddox Salsa Crew Tech Ultra Racing Warbird Warroad

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Harrison Maddox

Harrison Maddox

I’m a jack-of-all, master-of-none sort when it comes to the outdoors. Riding, climbing, paddling, skiing or hiking—everything has its own appeal. All that matters are the effort and the solitude. I’m not competitive but I enjoy a good challenge, and I’ll say “yes” to anything that puts me in over my head or involves type 2 fun, as that’s where life’s spicier moments seem to live.


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