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    Bike wheel size chart: what wheel size bike do I need?

    Robert Ferri
    Robert Ferri
    May 8, 2024 9 min
    Bike wheel size chart: what wheel size bike do I need?

    A bike wheel size chart is a helpful tool for determining the appropriate wheel size for your bike. Bikes come in many different shapes and sizes and are packed with many different components. One of the most important are the wheels. What many cyclists do not know is that wheels come in many different sizes, and there are sometimes options to choose from.

    In this article, we will discuss different wheel sizes and tell you which is best suited to you and your riding style. You will be surprised at how much difference a wheel size makes to feel and performance.

    Bike wheel size chart: what wheel size bike do I need?
    The wheel size depends on your own height, but not only that!

    How to measure bike wheel size

    Measuring a bike wheel in inches

    Before we start, measuring a bike wheel is a good skill to learn. There are a few different ways to do it, but the easiest is to measure from one side of the wheel to the center axle and double it for diameter. This is how to measure a bike wheel in inches.

    How to measure the the rim width

    Bike wheel size chart: what wheel size bike do I need?
    The bike rim

    If you want to measure the rim width, take a tape measure or vernier caliper and measure the width from the outside to the outside. This is the external rim width. For internal, measure from the inside of the channel inside the rim.

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    If you are considering buying or selling a bike, you can also check out our guides on "Where to buy a bike? or where to sell a bike?

    Using bike wheel size charts to find your perfect fit

    Now for the exciting part, the bike wheel size chart. Let’s start discussing rim sizes and how they can benefit you. To make this easier, the best way to break it down is to divide it into children and adults. 

    Bike wheel size chart for children

    Age

    Size

    Wheel size

    2 - 4

    2ft 8” - 3ft 3”

    12”

    4 - 6

    3ft 2” - 4ft 3”

    14” - 16”

    6 - 9

    4ft 1” - 4ft 6”

    18” - 20”

    9 - 12 

    4ft 5” - 5ft

    24”

    12+

    5ft +

    26” +

    These are our recommended sizes for children's bikes on the bike wheel size chart. However, this should be taken with a pinch of salt as children all grow at different rates and often fall into the size above or below. By the way, we also have a guide on bike helmet size chart for children.

    Bike wheel size chart for adults

    Next, we have adults, and it does not work just like it does with children. It all depends on the type of bike, the discipline, and the users themselves. It all makes a difference, and to understand further, here is what you need to know about adult bike wheel size.

    Bike wheel size
    It all depends on the type of bike, the discipline

    Bike wheel size: general overview

    For most bikes, the standard is 700 for average-sized individuals and 650 for smaller individuals. This applies to city bikes and hybrid bikes.

    Aspect

    700c Wheel Size

    650c Wheel Size

    Suitable for

    Most adult riders

    Shorter individuals or those requiring smaller frames

    Availability

    Widely available

    Less common

    Suitability for Adults

    Suitable for most adult riders

    More suitable for shorter individuals or smaller frames

    Tire Options

    Wide range of tire options available

    Limited tire options

    Wheel Replacements

    Easy to find replacements

    Less common replacements

    Let's delve into more detail according to the type of bikes used.

    Road bike wheel size

    Road bike wheel size
    99% of riders use 700c wheels

    Road bike wheel size

    Size

    700c 

    5ft +

    650c

    5ft or below

    If you are looking at road bike wheel size, then there are only really two to consider. 700c and 650c. 700c is the modern standard and what 99% of riders will use. 650c is an available size and is generally used for people who may be shorter or very small road bikes. If you can avoid 650c, it goes a long way due to limited tire sizes and wheel replacements. 

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    Thinking of buying a road bike? Check out our articles about the best road bikes under 2.000 dollars.

    Gravel bike wheel size

    Gravel bike wheel size
    Gravel bike wheel size is a little more unique

    Gravel bike wheel size

    Riding style

    700c 

    Road / Gravel

    650b

    Gravel / Trails

    In general, gravel bike wheel size is a little more unique. 700c wheels are better on the road and have smaller-width tires. Gravel bikes with 650b wheels will have larger-width tires and are typically more equipped for off-road terrain. You might consider smaller wheels when you want to do a lot of off-road bikepacking for example. We also have a guide to help you choose a bike for bikepacking.

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    We also have a comprehensive article on what a gravel bike is and how to choose a gravel bike.

    A little more size complexity: mountain bike wheel size

    Mountain bike wheels sit between 26” and 29”. They are ideal as they offer the extra control of a smaller wheel, but they also have good acceleration and the ability to take a wider tire on many bikes. The drawback comes in top speed more than anywhere else. 

    Mountain Bike Wheel Size

    Discipline

    26”

    Downhill

    27.5”

    Enduro, trail, and all mountain

    29”

    XC, trail, and all mountain

    There are three main tire sizes for mountain biking on the bike wheel size chart. 26”, 27.5”, and 29”. These sizes are typically used for different disciplines, but the rider's personal preference and height also play a role. You will even see mixed tire sizes on some bikes. Let’s explore these popular sizes further.

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    Planning on buying a mountain bike? Have a look at our buying guides: how to choose a mountain bike.

    Downhill bike wheel size

    Downhill bike wheel size
    26” can be used on some modern downhill bikes

    The 26” is a classic wheel size, but it's not as popular as it used to be. It is used on some modern downhill bikes, but it's very rarely seen on standard mountain bikes, such as XC and trail bikes. By the way, we also have a selection of the best mountain bikes for beginners.

    Cross country bike wheel size

    The 29” is used on XC (cross country) bikes and many trail bikes. It’s excellent because it has the ability to roll over obstacles easily. It has an excellent top speed, but acceleration is slightly decreased compared to a smaller wheel, the tire width is limited on some bikes and they are harder to control at slower speeds. 

    The wheel size also depends on the frame size

    mountain bike wheel size
    Many brands change the wheel size on a mountain bike depending on the frame size

    Another characteristic of many bike brands is that they change the wheel size on a mountain bike depending on the frame size. This is to improve the user's ability to stand over the bike, make the bike fit the user better, and ensure the wheel is in the right proportion with the rider.

    You will see some mountain bikes that are extra small, small, and medium with 27.5” wheels and tires, and the large and extra large will have 29” wheels. These can often be swapped at request.

    A lot of modern bikes can fit both sizes. Disc brakes make it really simple and easy to do, and it’s not rare for riders to have two wheelsets: one for less technical courses paired with smaller-width tires and another for very technical courses paired with larger-width tires.

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    Make sure to check out all the different bikes with wheel sizes on our shop. We have a huge range of bikes with so much to offer.

    Wheel size variation in other bike types

    Type of Bike

    Typical Wheel Size

    Folding Bikes

    16 inches to 20 inches

    Tandem Bikes

    26 inches or 700c

    Recumbent Bikes

    20 inches to 700c

    Cargo Bikes

    20 inches to 26 inches

    Small wheels for folding bikes

    Small wheels for folding bikes
    Standard wheel sizes vary from the typical 16-inch to 20-inch range

    For folding bikes with mini tires, the standard wheel sizes vary from the typical 16-inch to 20-inch range. These smaller wheel sizes are designed to optimize portability and compactness while still providing adequate performance for urban commuting or recreational riding.

    Larger wheels on tandem bikes

    Larger wheels on tandem bikes
    Tandem bikes typically have larger wheel sizes compared to standard bikes

    Tandem bikes typically have larger wheel sizes compared to standard bikes, often using 26-inch or 700c wheels. The exact wheel size can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific design of the tandem bike. They are designed to carry two or more riders, which means they need to support a heavier combined weight compared to standard bikes. Larger wheel sizes help distribute the weight more effectively, providing stability and better handling for the increased load. Additionally, larger wheels can offer better momentum and efficiency, which are beneficial when riding with multiple people.

    A variety of size for the recumbent bike

    Recumbent bikes can have a variety of wheel sizes, typically ranging from 20 inches to 700c. The specific wheel size often depends on the design and intended use of the recumbent bike. Smaller wheel sizes may be used for compactness and maneuverability, while larger wheel sizes offer smoother riding and higher speeds.

    Cargo bike wheel size

    Cargo bikes typically have wheel sizes ranging from 20 inches to 26 inches. These larger wheels help support the additional weight and cargo capacity of the bike while providing stability and maneuverability.

    What wheel size bike do I need?

    Consider your riding style

    When it comes to picking the correct bike wheel size for you, it is important to take everything into account. Think about the discipline and style you are going to be riding, and if you have the option of different wheel sizes, go for the right one for your size. Refer to bike wheel size chart beforehand.

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    We have a huge selection of gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes ready for purchase on our shop.

    Do not overthink it

    It is very easy to overthink the decision when it comes to what size bike wheel do I need. Most bikes will come with wheels of the right size for what you want to do. If you are buying an XC mountain bike, it will more than likely have 29” wheels as they are best suited. 

    If you are buying a small trail bike, the brand will more than likely have dropped the wheel size or adapted the bike design to work for your size and the wheels equipped. A lot of it will come down to what you enjoy riding, too. Even tall riders often prefer smaller wheels, and some shorter riders prefer larger wheels. 

    Don’t forget when searching for a new bike on buycycle you can see all the specifications you need to find the perfect wheel size bike for you!

    What wheel size bike do I need?
    So, wat wheel size bike do you need?