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27" to 700c

Old 08-02-21, 11:18 AM
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27" to 700c

Hello all, I'm contemplating on updating the existing 27" wheels on my bikes to 700c and wanted to get some experiences from those that have done this. I'm not concerned on fitment but on what brand wheels are preferred, whether to build a ​​​set, used or new. I'm looking on eBay and trying to figure out whether some of these are good deals or not and can't seem to find the info I'm looking for.
Thank you
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Old 08-02-21, 11:33 AM
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Why are you ditching the 27" wheels? You can get good tires for them. If the rims are questionable, then 700C is the way to go. If the rims are good, then why change them? Is there something else that you are after?

For me, I usually get an older bike and I prefer to keep the original hubs or period correct hubs. I not that finicky about period correctness, but the period correct stuff is what I am used to. Anyway. These usually have galvanized spokes and 27 inch rims. I will buy new spokes and new rims and relace the wheel. I like building wheels so for me, this is my way to go.
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Old 08-02-21, 11:49 AM
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I always built my own using vintage hubs, Sapim Race spokes and Sun m13ii rims. I just use the upside-down bicycle frame to true them up.

The biggest issue for me has been brake reach, especially in the rear.
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Old 08-02-21, 11:51 AM
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I’ve converted at least one bike from 27” to 700C…. I built the wheels up myself (follow Sheldon and be patient and it’s not bad at all, especially if you are using new rims and spokes).

Your main concern will be brake reach - can you adjust your pads to properly contact the slightly smaller rims. If you have 4mm or more of adjustment (pad to move further down the brake arm)you should be ok.

I like 27” wheels and they do look right on a lot of bikes of that era (I went back to 27” on my Peugeot and put 700C on my Trek) - having said that I can’t tell much difference between the two sizes that is solely due to size (most of my 27” wheels are chrome steel vs aluminium).
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Old 08-02-21, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
Why are you ditching the 27" wheels? You can get good tires for them. If the rims are questionable, then 700C is the way to go. If the rims are good, then why change them? Is there something else that you are after?
I'm having a hard time finding tire options aside from the Kenda k35. I also have one set that has a dent in the rear wheel and my thoughts were A. Work the dent out B. Replace or build new wheelsI do want to try my hand at wheel building however no idea where to start as far which components are good, what to get, etc..
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Old 08-02-21, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I always built my own using vintage hubs, Sapim Race spokes and Sun m13ii rims. I just use the upside-down bicycle frame to true them up.

The biggest issue for me has been brake reach, especially in the rear.
Cool, will look into those items. I did buy a cheapy truing stand from Amazon and have been messing around with that. I quickly learned what 40 bucks gets you. Thanks
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Old 08-02-21, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900 View Post
I’ve converted at least one bike from 27” to 700C…. I built the wheels up myself (follow Sheldon and be patient and it’s not bad at all, especially if you are using new rims and spokes).
I like 27” wheels and they do look right on a lot of bikes of that era (I went back to 27” on my Peugeot and put 700C on my Trek) - having said that I can’t tell much difference between the two sizes that is solely due to size (most of my 27” wheels are chrome steel vs aluminium).
The new wheels will likely go on the Miyata with cantilever brakes which I should be able to adjust enough to make em work. I agree with 27" wheels looking the part. The Schwinn I rehabbed for my wife has steel wheels so freeing up a set of aluminium 27" for that is another reason.
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Old 08-02-21, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by viperocco View Post
I'm having a hard time finding tire options aside from the Kenda k35. I also have one set that has a dent in the rear wheel and my thoughts were A. Work the dent out B. Replace or build new wheelsI do want to try my hand at wheel building however no idea where to start as far which components are good, what to get, etc..
You apparently haven't looked at this sticky thread at the top of the page: The ultimate 27" tire reference thread!. I suggest that you start at the last page in the thread and work backwards since some of the early recommendations may no longer be available.
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Old 08-02-21, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by onyerleft View Post
I too question the wisdom of converting to 700c, when 27" is more period correct. Just my two scuddi.
It is a valid point
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Old 08-02-21, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by davester View Post
You apparently haven't looked at this sticky thread at the top of the page: The ultimate 27" tire reference thread!. I suggest that you start at the last page in the thread and work backwards since some of the early recommendations may no longer be available.
I've gone through the sticky and have the last set of panaracer pasela I could find on eBay on the way. There are schwalbe marathons for sale too but for $50 a piece is a hard sell.
I'll do as you suggested by starting at the end and seeing if I come across anything I previously missed. Thanks

Last edited by viperocco; 08-02-21 at 12:58 PM. Reason: Too many haves
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Old 08-02-21, 01:07 PM
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So just a thought: I was getting worried based on a number of threads about the availability of 27” tires; reinforced by the lack of online availability. I checked my (really good and vintage friendly) LBS and he said “nah, I can still get lots of brands”. So a dearth online may not equate to “unavailable”, and it’s always better to shop local if you can….
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Old 08-02-21, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by viperocco View Post
I've gone through the sticky and have the last set of panaracer pasela I could find on eBay on the way. There are schwalbe marathons for sale too but for $50 a piece is a hard sell.
I'll do as you suggested by starting at the end and seeing if I come across anything I previously missed. Thanks
Yea, good tires are pricy or unavailable. Anything, but the K35's. Those are for flipper bikes. I put them on my Schwinn Continental and they work fine, however, it left me wondering if I should have spent more money.

I have old Schwinn Super Record tires on my LeTour that even though they must be about 35 years old are still better than K35. I have to look for new tires too.
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Old 08-02-21, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900 View Post
So just a thought: I was getting worried based on a number of threads about the availability of 27” tires; reinforced by the lack of online availability. I checked my (really good and vintage friendly) LBS and he said “nah, I can still get lots of brands”. So a dearth online may not equate to “unavailable”, and it’s always better to shop local if you can….
Will certainly double check as to what my lbs can get. That's where I got the Kenda k35s from for a relatively low price; I think they were and$16 but that was all they had in stock.
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Old 08-02-21, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
Yea, good tires are pricy or unavailable. Anything, but the K35's. Those are for flipper bikes. I put them on my Schwinn Continental and they work fine, however, it left me wondering if I should have spent more money.

I have old Schwinn Super Record tires on my LeTour that even though they must be about 35 years old are still better than K35. I have to look for new tires too.
This raises another question; at what point would and old tire be unusable? I tossed a set (can't recall brand) because the bead was dry and cracking however would they have been good if it weren't for that? Does simply being old make then unusable? Thanks
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Old 08-02-21, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by viperocco View Post
I've gone through the sticky and have the last set of panaracer pasela I could find on eBay on the way. There are schwalbe marathons for sale too but for $50 a piece is a hard sell.
I'll do as you suggested by starting at the end and seeing if I come across anything I previously missed. Thanks
I recently built a bike with 27" Vittoria Zaffiro tires. They're cheap and weren't unpleasant to ride.

I'm going to go counter to many of the comments above and say that I don't see the value of keeping 27" wheels just to remain period correct. For the most part, I see 27" wheels as an indication that a bike was a step or two down the hierarchy. A lot of these bikes are great riders, but they're not museum pieces. I think bikes like that can be built any way you want to ride them. And while there are a number of decent 27" tires available, you can get significantly better 700c tires. So, if you're happy with your bikes as they are, there's no reason to switch to 700c wheels just to do it, but if you have some other reason to replace the wheels, I think 700c are the way to go.

As for brands, I build my own wheels from parts chosen for what I want from the build. It's not as cheap as off the shelf wheels, but I don't often see off the shelf wheels that suit what I want. For the classic box section shiny rim look, either H Plus Son TB14s or Sun CR18s are good choices. If you're open to a black rim (which looks good on some bikes, not so much on others), I like DT Swiss R460s. For hubs, if you are open to cold setting and a jump to 8-speed or higher, Shimano hubs are the way to go. You can't beat the combination of quality and cost.
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Old 08-02-21, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
For the most part, I see 27" wheels as an indication that a bike was a step or two down the hierarchy.
I don't think that's true. 700c weren't widely available in the US until the mid- 1980s. For that reason, pretty much all of the high end touring bikes came with 27" wheels, the logic being that you could easily get replacements in East Nowheresville, Missouri. Since the situation has now switched completely, I do agree that if I had a need to rebuild bent or broken 27" wheels then I would switch to 700c if the brake reach issue was easily resolvable.
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Old 08-02-21, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by davester View Post
I don't think that's true. 700c weren't widely available in the US until the mid- 1980s. For that reason, pretty much all of the high end touring bikes came with 27" wheels, the logic being that you could easily get replacements in East Nowheresville, Missouri. Since the situation has now switched completely, I do agree that if I had a need to rebuild bent or broken 27" wheels then I would switch to 700c if the brake reach issue was easily resolvable.
That is my observation as well. I remember Schwinn Paramounts coming with 27-in wheels, as well as all manner of custom touring bikes. 700C clinchers, as I recall, were initially more about offering a lower-hassle alternative to those who had bikes equipped with tubulars. I grew weary of bike shop folks saying, "they're just as good as tubulars!" when they really aren't the same at all, but I digress. 27 x 1 1/4 was THE Anglophone clincher performance tire until the 80s, when 700C became the norm, first as a sign that you were buying a "nicer" bike, then across the board.

All that said, Panaracer Paselas are very nice tires. I do understand that there are nicer tires in 700C than in 27-in, but they're also more money than I want to spend on bike tires at this point in my life. I got the urge to buy pricey tires out of my system when I quit riding tubulars!
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Old 08-02-21, 06:49 PM
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I had to convert my UO-8 from 27 to 700C in front because of the short offset of my non-OEM fork.

I am currently rebuilding the Carlton from 27" chrome steel (ugh!) to 700C aluminum.


My UO-8 with barcon cables routed between the rack and the cylindrical Bellwether front bag.
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Old 08-02-21, 07:06 PM
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I wouldn't bother with building a new pair of 27" wheels if a set of long reach Tektros or such will work for brakes. If you want to build new 700 wheels the aforementioned TB14 and the Pacenti Brevet both look the part. If you want used, people are giving away Mavic Open Pro/Ultegra wheels. These were very popular 20 something years ago and are a nice looking, no drama wheelset.
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Old 08-02-21, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by onyerleft View Post
I too question the wisdom of converting to 700c, when 27" is more period correct. Just my two scuddi.
700C aka 28" is the older of the two wheel standards, for what that's worth.
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Old 08-02-21, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I'm going to go counter to many of the comments above and say that I don't see the value of keeping 27" wheels just to remain period correct. For the most part, I see 27" wheels as an indication that a bike was a step or two down the hierarchy. A lot of these bikes are great riders, but they're not museum pieces. I think bikes like that can be built any way you want to ride them. And while there are a number of decent 27" tires available, you can get significantly better 700c tires. So, if you're happy with your bikes as they are, there's no reason to switch to 700c wheels just to do it, but if you have some other reason to replace the wheels, I think 700c are the way to go.
Good point. To be clear, while I do appreciate the originality aspect to them, the bikes I am referring to are low to mid range models so not much value loss imho. Don't really come across any "museum pieces" in my area or I am not looking in the right price range. Most bikes I am seeing, that are worth anything, have huge frames so I try to grab them for the components.


Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
As for brands, I build my own wheels from parts chosen for what I want from the build. It's not as cheap as off the shelf wheels, but I don't often see off the shelf wheels that suit what I want. For the classic box section shiny rim look, either H Plus Son TB14s or Sun CR18s are good choices. If you're open to a black rim (which looks good on some bikes, not so much on others), I like DT Swiss R460s. For hubs, if you are open to cold setting and a jump to 8-speed or higher, Shimano hubs are the way to go. You can't beat the combination of quality and cost.

Thanks, will look into these. I am inclined to build my wheelset mostly to gain the experience but also trying to research some of the used ones on the market is turning into a headache as well. Also being unable to inspect them closely is another negative
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Old 08-02-21, 07:56 PM
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Changing rim diameter affects braking leverage to a quite-noticeable degree I've found. If you have Canti's, then the leverage improves when changing to 700c, the opposite of what happens if using caliper brakes.

And "pad-dive" is another issue when using 700c rims on a bike made for 27" rims and having canti brakes. It's less of a problem though if the new 700c rims are wider than the original 27" rims, so just don't go the other way (from wide rims to narrower rims) when switching from 27" to 700c on a canti-equipped bike.
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Old 08-02-21, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
That is my observation as well. I remember Schwinn Paramounts coming with 27-in wheels, as well as all manner of custom touring bikes. 700C clinchers, as I recall, were initially more about offering a lower-hassle alternative to those who had bikes equipped with tubulars. I grew weary of bike shop folks saying, "they're just as good as tubulars!" when they really aren't the same at all, but I digress. 27 x 1 1/4 was THE Anglophone clincher performance tire until the 80s, when 700C became the norm, first as a sign that you were buying a "nicer" bike, then across the board.
Everything in my area (and price range) have 27" wheels but am always on the lookout for something inexpensive with a 700c wheelset.

Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
All that said, Panaracer Paselas are very nice tires. I do understand that there are nicer tires in 700C than in 27-in, but they're also more money than I want to spend on bike tires at this point in my life.
I hope so, other members have said good things as well. That purchase was a result of eBay and insomnia
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Old 08-02-21, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I wouldn't bother with building a new pair of 27" wheels if a set of long reach Tektros or such will work for brakes. If you want to build new 700 wheels the aforementioned TB14 and the Pacenti Brevet both look the part. If you want used, people are giving away Mavic Open Pro/Ultegra wheels. These were very popular 20 something years ago and are a nice looking, no drama wheelset.
Thanks, will keep an eye out for those Mavics.
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Old 08-02-21, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
I had to convert my UO-8 from 27 to 700C in front because of the short offset of my non-OEM fork.

I am currently rebuilding the Carlton from 27" chrome steel (ugh!) to 700C aluminum.


My UO-8 with barcon cables routed between the rack and the cylindrical Bellwether front bag.
Nice!
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