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Here’s the simple answer:
There is no difference.
700×23 and 700x23c are just the sizing for the bike tire. That ‘c’ is a reference to the historical ‘French system’ of tire classification.
Read on for more detail and a recommendation for my favorite 700×23 bike tire and inner tube combo for this size.
What do the tire numbers and letters mean?
So, let’s take a look at this in a bit more (but not too much) detail.
The first number, ‘700’, is the nominal (or approximate) tire diameter in metric millimeters.
The ‘x’ is a multiplication sign.
‘23’ refers to the bike tire’s width (also in millimeters).
Now we come to that ‘c’.
This is basically a code that was used to categorize tires in the olden days in France. Tires were divided up according to their widths from ‘a’ the narrowest, to ‘d’ the widest.
Nowadays, you can safely ignore the ‘c’.
What tire size should I get for my bike?
That’s the simple bit! Buy a tire that says either ‘700×23’ OR ‘700x23c’.
You’ll find a wide range of different tires and sizes available but tires that are ‘close enough’ unfortunately are unlikely to be actually close enough. Yes, you might be able to get away with it. But you’re more likely to have punctures and other problems. Do you really want to run that risk?
There are a couple choices to make however in terms of what brand to get and how knobbly the tires are. For road bikes (and bikes to be ridden on the paved surfaces) I normally go with smooth tires with hardly any grip. They’ll be much faster and transfer much less vibration through saddle and handlebars. If it’s slippy, icy and wintery though, then it’s a better idea to pick tires that have more rubber grip and knobbles.
I’m a big fan of tires from Continental and have always been really happy with the performance and quality. They’re quick, very smooth, and (so far!) I haven’t got a puncture yet. If you’d like a recommendation, then I’d pick these tires.
Puncture-resistant, fast and light. Highly recommended.
That’s the tires sorted, now what about tubes?
Thankfully these are just as easy as choosing tires!
Pick a tube with a diameter that corresponds with the one printed on your tire i.e. ‘700’ and a width range that includes our ‘23’.
Tube widths vary according to the quantity of air you blow into them (like a kid’s party balloon). So you see them sold with a fixed diameter and a range of widths, such as “700×23-25” (which would be suitable for tires between 700x23c and 700x25c).
It’s easier than it sounds. Try this excellent tube, from Q-Tubes, that has a Presta valve and is perfect for your bike.
Quick explanation of Presta valves. Car tire valves, known as Schrader, are different (they’re shorter and wider). If your air pump is designed for Schrader valves you’ll need to pick up an adaptor like this. This means that your pump can be used with both types of valve. There’s no avoiding this, sadly, as the two valves are different shapes. See how easy the adaptors are to fit and use from the pictures on Amazon.
That’s the tires and tubes sorted. How do you fit them on your wheels?
A bit of kit, some knowledge and a little prep, and tires and tubes are easy to fit.
Whenever you go out cycling take one or two tubes, a small bike repair kit, tire levers, and an air pump. The process should then take only around 30-45 mins to carry out.
There are five simple steps to fixing a flat:
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.
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