Most things about bicycles are simple. They have two wheels. A set of handlebars. A chain with a couple of sprocket, plus gears and derailleurs.
On the surface, that level of simplicity extends to the tires and tire sizes as well. But cycling aficionados know there’s more to it than the numbers that give you basic info about the tires.
So let’s take a closer look at those basic numbers, then at some of the details.
A common question we get about tire sizes is: what does 700x35C mean?
The 700 part refers to the diameter of the tire expressed in millimeters, and it comes out to exactly 27.559 inches. The number 35 gives you the width of the tire. The “C” dates back to an old French system that was used to classify wheels, the basis of which is what’s called their Bead Seat Diameter, the bead being the edge of the tire that sits right on the wheel.
Let’s now take a look at everything you need to know about 700 by 35C tires, starting with the basics and working up to some of the true gear-head specialty info you need in order to have a true and complete understanding of the subject.
What Does 700 x 35C Mean?
So let’s start at the beginning.The basic info provided by the numbers 700 x 35C is simple. The 700 part refers to the diameter of the tire expressed in millimeters, and it comes out to exactly 27.559 inches.
The number 35 gives you gives you the width of the tire if you were looking at it from in front of the bike, and its also expressed in millimeters. Converted to inches, it comes out to be exactly 1.378.
The “C” part is a little more complicated. It dates back to an old French system that was used to classify wheels, the basis of which is what’s called their Bead Seat Diameter, the bead being the edge of the tire that sits right on the wheel.
How To Find The Right Tire Size For You?
Now let’s take it to the next level. Assume you’re in a cycling store, and whoever is at the counter is busy with a customer. How do you find what’s right for you if you’re looking around the store and you need your specific size?
Once again, the initial answer is simple. Step back so you can see the tire as an “O,” scan the side of the tire, then look at the sidewall. That’s the smooth part, without any of the grooves and knobs that provide tire grip.
Upon closer examination, you’ll see some numbers and words stamped or emblazoned onto the rubber. If you’re in the right section—think fairly thin tires suited for a high-end bicycle—you should see 700 x 35C.
Presto, you’ve found your tire.
here are a couple of other numbers on the tire that need to be mentioned, however. The first is about inner tubes—not the sexiest subject, for sure, but they’re definitely important.
The number on the inner tube you’ll need isn’t quite as simple as the overall tire measurement. It comes as an extra number after 700 x 35C. It may look something like 700 x 35-42.
What that means is that you’re being given a range of numbers for a given inner tube. The number 35 obviously falls into that range, so you’ll be good to go, provided you pick up a quality pump that can handle both Presta and Schrader valves.
These are important to know about as well. Schrader valves are the kind found on most bike tires. They have a wide valve and a separate stem cap, similar to those found on car tires.
Presta valves, on the other hand, are narrower, and they usually have a a small nut extending upward that allows you to seal and open them.
They typically turn up on performance-oriented road bikes, and if you buy a tire with a Presta valve you’ll need to purchase an adapter for your pump since most pumps are built to handle Schrader valves.
The other thing you need to be aware of when it comes to inner tubes is that you’ll need to know how to change one if you do get a flat. Fortunately this is fairly easy to do with a replacement tube and a good set of tire levers. There are also plenty of cheap, quality tire-repair kits and many Youtube videos that will show you how to make the swap.
If you’re mechanical, the process will likely be easy. If not, you may want to play around with an extra tube just to make sure you can do it, because its not something you want to screw up out on the road if you’re riding in, say, a sudden thunder storm.
One last number before we look at another aspect of 700 x 35C tires. It’s called the ISO number, which stands for the International Standardization Organization. In this case it may look something like 35-622, with the 622 mm representing the inner tire diameter. This number is only important if it’s the only one you see, though, so if you’ve already found the 700 x 35C designation you can ignore it.
If you’re unsure about any of this, make sure to ask follow-up questions if you are at a store or look it up if you’re shopping online. If you select the wrong size you’ll have all kinds of problems with slipping rubber and punctures, and they’ll be difficult if not impossible to fix if they happen while you’re out on a ride.
Tire Tread and Performance for your 700 x 35C Tires
Once you’ve verified the size, its’ time to evaluate the various performance aspects of your 700 x 35C tire.
The first thing to look at is the tread. If it’s fairly minimal, the tire is built for speed. The grooves and surface variation will provide some amount of protection against punctures and flats, but the basic idea is that the less material there is between the bake and the road, the faster you’ll be able to go.
If you see knobs on the tire, it’s built with a different purpose in mind. Those knobs provide grip, so you’re probably either looking at a hybrid tire that’s built for both on- and off-road use.
You won’t be able to tackle extremely rough terrain, but you will have flexibility and more choices when it comes to where you ride and under what conditions.
If the knobs are thicker with more depth, then you’re looking at a tire built to handle most rougher terrain, and it may in fact be a mountain bike tire.
After that you want to look at the brand. As is the case with any commodity consumer product, there are plenty of choices, and the good news is that tire technology has come a long way in the last decade or two.
Beginning cyclists might be looking to save a buck on their tires, which is perfectly fine as long as you get a good tire and you don’t get a cheap knockoff brand.
As a general rule, though, brands are divided into several categories. “Slicks” refers to the aforementioned tires without much tread—they’ll work on paved surfaces and fine gravel, but the trade off you’ll be making is about traction. They won’t give you much grip, and they won’t handle rough terrain or rain all that well, either. But they will fulfill your need for speed, especially during downhill stretches.
Tires with small knobs are basically designed for rough gravel terrain. These tires will give you a fairly even ride on smooth surfaces like pavement, and they also give you enough grip to handle rough terrain.
Another possible choice is a hybrid tire. This kind of 700 x 35C tire blends the smoothness of a slick tire with some of the grip provided by those with small knobs. They’re built to provide good traction with the knobs, especially on turns, but the center portion of the tread is raised to give you that smooth, seamless ride on pavement.
To make the best choice, you need to know what kind of riding you’re going to do. You’ll have to answer some subjective questions, so here are a few of the choices you’ll need to consider.
Are you a commuter who may do some racing or fast weekend riding on the side? Do you like to get out in grave or dirt and test your handling skills in the process? Or are you a combination person who wants to do some or all of the above?
Once you’ve answered that question, there are plenty of brands to choose from. Some of the major ones include Panaracer, Swhwalbe, Hutchinson, Challenge, and WTB.
Another performance issue you’ll need to make is about the possibility of going with a tubeless tire. Tires with inner tubes are known as “clinchers,” because of the way they pinch into the wheel, but their tubeless counterparts provide much greater resistance to punctures.You can also use a flat sealant with your 700 x 35C tubeless tire, and this combination will make the possibility of getting a flat almost non-existent. Tubeless tires can also run effectively even when the air pressure is low, and this can give you extra traction as well.
There are trade offs with tubeless tires, though. The biggest is installing them, which can be difficult. Even if you’re experienced with tire levers, getting a tubeless tire to sit correctly on your tire rim can be a time- consuming challenge. You may even need an air compressor or a high-volume floor pump to make sure this happens properly, and that represents an extra investment. These kinds of tires can be especially frustrating if you’re not mechanical, so be sure to take that into consideration as well.
The good news about the trade offs involved in tubeless tires is that some tire companies are actively working to help by tweaking their tire wall technology. Vittoria is one such company, but there are others involved in the chase to make the installation process for tubeless tires as seamless as possible.
Tire Life and Replacement Considerations for 700 x 35C Tires
The final performance area we’ll look at for 700 x 35C tires is the expected life of the tire. You should expect the tire to last 1000 to 3000 miles, but a high-performance tire may get somewhat less, depending on the manufacturer, the price and how specialized the tire is.
When it comes to indicators you should look for, this is an important safety consideration. You should examine your tires regularly for signs of cracking, bulges, tears, embedded objects, and uneven wear to ensure a safe ride. The most common sign that you need to replace your 700 x 35C tire is if you get a streak of flats. This can be due to simple wear, but keep in mind that storing a tire causes it to age as well.
Long periods of storage can cause a tire to crack and harden, and this in turn makes you more vulnerable to flats when you do take the bike out of extended storage and go for a ride.
Another reason to replace tires is a change in your riding habits. A longer commute might be one reason to go with a different 700 x 35C, or you may want to transition to a small knob tire if you’re going to be riding on rougher gravel or in the woods.
For many riders, the biggest reason to replace an aging tire is peace of mind. Keep in mind that your rear tire will likely age faster than the front, some people elect to rotate the back to the front when this wear starts to show, but the risk is that you lose traction and braking power.
The safer way to deal with tire wear is simply to replace your 700 x 35C tires when you start to lose traction or notice that your ride isn’t as smooth as usual.You may lose a little money in the short run, but the time and money you’ll gain by preventing a flat is more than worth it for most.
The good news about tire pricing is that, like their consumer counterparts, high-end performance tires have become a commodity item.
The low end of the tire market starts at around $25, and there are plenty of choices at that price point—so may that it may not make sense to even try saving money at this level.
If you’re looking at performance bikes with a 700 x 35C tire, though, the tire prices will go up accordingly. Presumably you’re an accomplished aficionado if you’re in this part of the market, but there are still tradeoffs you may have to consider to get the most of your 700 x 35C tires.