The EVELO Blog

Understanding Wheel Sizes on Electric Bikes

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In this 3 Minute Electric Bike Video Series installment, Bill talks about bike wheel sizes, tires and what is the best choice for you.

First, you should know that tire sizing is a hotly debated subject even in the cycling community, so you might see several groups giving information on this; if you do some research on the internet. Don’t worry we can simplify it for you!

Basically these numbers are in reference to the outside diameter of the tire. There is the tire and then there is the rim. These numbers are in reference to the outside diameter of the tire itself. That can vary depending on the thickness of the tire you put on; it could be slightly larger. So the actual measurement of a particular bike may vary from the spec on the particular rim.

The Difference Between 26” wheels and 700c wheels

Twenty-six inch wheels are used most commonly on mountain bikes and they tend to be fatter. They have a little more cushion to them naturally, there is more air volume to disperse as you go over bumps. On the other hand, 700c tires tend to be more narrower. And in recent years there has been a new tire – “29-er tires” come out; they are larger in diameter than mountain bikes. Here’s their secret; they are 700c rims that are laced with the spokes to a mountain bike hub, so the 29-er is a 700c with a big fat tire on it.

The Best Choice for You

When you are looking for an electric bike, you might be asking yourself, “Okay, so what tire size should I be looking for?”

Generally, a 700c tire is going to be a narrower tire, it’s going to provide less cushioning, lower rolling resistance so to be more efficient. The ride, because there is less cushioning, will be a little bit harsher.

A 26” tire tends to be wider, it’s fatter; like I said before there is more air volume so when you do hit an obstruction, the air in the tire actually absorbs some of that and makes for a little more comfortable ride. They are more suited for a mix terrain, so if you are going to be on-road and off-road, a 26” rim is probably what you are looking for.

Twenty-nine inch rims are pretty rare in the electric bike world. If you were looking at one of those you probably looking for a more serious off road electric bike.

That’s all for this installment on tires! See you next time!

5 responses to “Understanding Wheel Sizes on Electric Bikes

  1. Having a tire and wheel of both sizes would really make this instructional video much clearer. You hand gestures are not that helpful in conveying the points that you are trying to get across. That said, thanks for taking the time to educate!

  2. I just wanted to add that my wife’s Fuji Monterey step-through came with 700-50s! I like to run 700-40 or 42s on my bikes. Not exactly narrow.

  3. HI BILL MY HOME IS @ 6,600 FT ALTITUDE, MY ROUTE HOME FROM TOWN IS ALL UP HILL SLIGHTLY OVER 2 MILES AND QUITE STEEP. I HAVE 93 YEAR OLD LEGS i. e. low power plus low endurance, DO YOU THINK THE BATTERY IS LIKELY TO OVER HEAT? I WILL OF COURSE PROVIDE SOME ASSISTANCE.
    YOU MAY HAVE MY HEITH INCORRECT. IAM 5 FT 9 INCHES AND WEAR 31 INCH INSEAM.
    THANKS … JOE

  4. Why doers this exist? Why did someone bother with this? Why??

    The vast majority of E-bikes are city-oriented, smaller sized bikes, NOT mountain bikes -_-

    Can’t you give information that is useful for the majority of E-bike users, instead of just a relative handful?

    I’m scanning the internet in desperate search of the information I need, but thus far all sources I encounter that actually know anything about bike topics, talk exclusively about either normal bikes (non-E), or full size bikes (mountain-bikes) -_-
    Thanks a lot for all your mostly useless knowledge shared -_-

    1. Hi Ziv,

      Bill from Evelo here– you might be surprised to know that most bikes actually use full size wheels…Oh sure, there are quite a few out there that are folders and so forth, some using 20″ wheels, for example. In fact, if you look at other comments here, those folks referenced 700c wheels. “Fat Bikes” (ones that use 26/700c/29 wheels with 4″ tires) are increasingly popular.

      I hope this helps! If you are looking for something specific, there is a world of information and choices out there– I’m sure you can find a bike that fits your needs!

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