Here’s the quick answer:
In simple terms, a 700x35c tire is roughly 27 1/2 inches by 1 3/8 inches (or 1.38 inches).
Unfortunately, things aren’t necessarily quite so simple when it comes to bike tires. My recommendation? If your current bike tires state that they’re “700x35c” then you should only replace them with bike tires of the same size i.e. “700x35c”. Replace them with tires measured in inches and you’ll likely run into problems now, or some way down the road (when you’re far away from a handy bike repair shop).
Why? Well, there are a number of reasons for this. We’ll take a look at these and I’ll also give you a couple of good options for 700x35c tires and inner tubes, if you’ve been struggling to track these down.
What does 700x35c actually mean?
700x35c is the dimension of your bicycle tire, as measured using the ‘French system’.
Breaking this down, 700 is the nominal diameter of the bike tire in millimeters. The next number, 35, is the nominal width of the tire (again, this is measured in millimeters). The last c refers to the French width code of the tire (i.e. the part you’d see of the tire when looking at your bike whilst standing behind or in front of it).
To keep things simple, we can ignore the “c” bit as these days it’s usually obsolete. However, it used to be a key component of the French system of classifying tires which designated widths from narrowest (“a”), up to the widest (which was “d”). So, a “c” tire was one that was almost the biggest width available for 700 tires.
What’s the issue with swapping from 700x35c to inches?
The problem is that the figures used for bike tire sizes are ‘nominal’.
This is a fancy way of saying that the numbers don’t necessarily correspond to the reality of those black rubber circles at either end of your bike. There can be many reasons for this. Sometimes there are inaccuracies in the manufacturing process. Sometimes it can be a case of tire companies trying to reduce the weight of their product by shaving off a bit of thickness of rubber from the diameter or width (or both at the same time).
Either way, it means that a tire that is ‘roughly close enough’ is likely to be not close enough at all and will give you headaches in the future.
As is so often the case, you need to get the right product for the right job.
Let’s take a look at what that is.
What size bicycle tire do I need?
You’ll probably see loads of tire sizes available when you look online. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, tires that are only ‘close enough’ to your actual tire size most likely won’t fit your wheel rims correctly. This will often lead to issues such as punctures. You may need to choose between (i) which brand to buy and (ii) how much ‘tread’ or grip you want the tires to have. For bikes that will just be used on the road, I’m normally a fan of smoother tires. These will be much faster-rolling and give you less vibration as you ride along. However, if conditions are likely to be slippery, it’s a good idea to swap to more knobbly tires for extra grip.
Pirelli make a range of excellent bike tires and the one shown in the picture above is a great example. This is the perfect size for your tires, and has low rolling-resistance combined with high puncture-protection. An excellent combo.
Take a close look at the tread on these tires and you’ll see that they’ve got an open pattern along the sides and a strip of nearly solid black rubber down the middle. This means that the tires are perfect for a mixture of surfaces. The rubber strip down the center means that the bike will go smoothly along roads (without any vibration like you’d get with knobbly mountain bike tires) and the tread on the sides will give good grip and allow you to cycle confidently when you’re going round corners, especially if you’re on a looser surface, such as gravel.
Fantastic choice for bikes with 700x35c tires.
What bike inner tubes should I buy?
Inner tubes vary depending on how much air you fill them with, so you’ll find them labeled with the diameter and a width range, for example, “700×35-43”.
For this example, an inner tube with that sizing would work with tires of 700×35 up to 700×43.
This tube from REI is a great option. Thorn-resistant and perfect for your 700x35c tires.
How do I replace bike tire and inner tube?
If you’re prepared and carrying the right tools, then getting a flat might be a bit irritating but won’t ruin your bike ride. Always make sure that, when you go out for a bike ride, you take a spare inner tube (or a couple), a small repair kit, two plastic tire levers and something to inflate the new inner tube with. This can either be a CO2 tire inflator or hand pump. It should then only be an easy 30-minute task to get you back on your bike and away.
There are five steps to fixing a puncture:
- Remove the bike wheel
- Remove the tube
- Find the cause of the flat
- Repair or replace the tube
- Reinstall the bike wheel
For an easy how-to guide, have a quick watch of this video.