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27-inch Wheels?

Old 10-26-16, 01:45 PM
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27-inch Wheels?

So, as I noted in the Classic & Vintage sub-forum, I'm in the middle of restoring my dad's 1972 Raleigh Supercourse. It came with 27" x 1 1/4" wheels. Where do these fit into the whole scheme of things? Did these coexist, back then, with 700s? As an adjunct question, I notice that 650B tires are popular now as well. Why use 650s instead of the 27-inch standard (because you can buy 27-inch tires in wider formats as well)?

Thank you, again.
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Old 10-26-16, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Scarbo
Where do these fit into the whole scheme of things?
It was a popular clincher size on US and British road bikes from the 60s through the 80s. 630mm bead diameter; slightly bigger than the 622mm on 700c.

Did these coexist, back then, with 700s?
There was some overlap. 700c clinchers started becoming a thing in the US by the late 70s.

I've seen theories that 700c clinchers were introduced to the market to sell high-pressure tires. Many 27" rims didn't have hooks to secure the bead, and using a tire at high pressure on a rim without a hook could be dangerous. 700c looks almost identical to 27", but the difference is large enough that tires aren't interchangeable (although tubes certainly are).

As an adjunct question, I notice that 650B tires are popular now as well. Why use 650s instead of the 27-inch standard (because you can buy 27-inch tires in wider formats as well)?
650b uses a much smaller bead diameter, just 584mm. With 650b, it's possible to use a very wide tire while still having an inflated wheel diameter comparable to a narrow 700c.

Compared with wide 27", this makes for reduced mass (mostly rotating mass) and ability to fit frames that can't use a wheel larger than 700c.

Wide 700c tires also exist; and when they get REALLY big, we call them 29ers. (Same for 650b and 27.5".)

More relevantly today: 27" is now a legacy support market, more or less. There are a few alright tires that you can get in the size, but nothing amazing. If you want to enjoy high-end current-gen clinchers, 650b and especially 700c have a much better selection.

Last edited by HTupolev; 10-26-16 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 10-26-16, 02:08 PM
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Thank you, sir. Great info!

I ordered a pair of Panaracer Pasela tires in 27 x 1 1/4 for the bike. I'll see how I like them and make changes if I feel the need.
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Old 10-26-16, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Scarbo
I ordered a pair of Panaracer Pasela tires in 27 x 1 1/4 for the bike. I'll see how I like them and make changes if I feel the need.
That is what I have on every 27" bike I take care of that can fit them, they seem to be a good all around tire. Not as "lively" as the Continential UltraSport II 1-1/8 I have on another bike, though.
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Old 10-26-16, 03:20 PM
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I've used Panaracer Pasela tires on several bikes. They are very air pressure touchy. Too low and they ride sluggish. Experiment with pressure and you will find they ride very smooth and easy when you get it right.
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Old 10-26-16, 04:32 PM
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You can still get a pretty good selection of 27" tires in a variety of widths from 1+1/8" to over 2". Most are 1+1/4" and in several well known brands. Niagara Cycle my favorite source has 2 pages of tires Tires & Tubes - Tires - 27" - Page 1 - Niagara Cycle.
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Old 10-26-16, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
It was a popular clincher size on US and British road bikes from the 60s through the 80s. 630mm bead diameter; slightly bigger than the 622mm on 700c.


There was some overlap. 700c clinchers started becoming a thing in the US by the late 70s.

I've seen theories that 700c clinchers were introduced to the market to sell high-pressure tires. Many 27" rims didn't have hooks to secure the bead, and using a tire at high pressure on a rim without a hook could be dangerous. 700c looks almost identical to 27", but the difference is large enough that tires aren't interchangeable (although tubes certainly are).
While what you say is mostly true, there are a few places to quibble. I would not say that 700C became a "thing" until the late 80s. There may have been some around in the 70s but, for the most part, they were rare. By about 1988, 700C equipped bikes were mostly standard with a few hold outs.

I would also question the theory about high pressure tires. I had a few bikes with 27" wheels on them in the mid to late 80s and high pressure tires were certainly available for that size. I see a lot of old bikes with old 27" tires on them at my local co-op and many of them have as high a pressure rating as modern tires. Bikes from the 70s might have lower pressure ratings but not a decade later.

I would say that the switch to 700C was driven by the manufacturers. They didn't want to make 700C for the rest of the world and 27" for the US market.

Originally Posted by HTupolev
650b uses a much smaller bead diameter, just 584mm. With 650b, it's possible to use a very wide tire while still having an inflated wheel diameter comparable to a narrow 700c.

Compared with wide 27", this makes for reduced mass (mostly rotating mass) and ability to fit frames that can't use a wheel larger than 700c.
There's a couple of problems with the 584mm rims, however. First is the issue of brakes. Many of the bikes from the 1980s had the ability to easily change from a 630mm rim to 622mm rim by simply adjusting the brake pad height. But even that adjustment is rather limited. Going to a 584mm rim requires a much longer reach brake which will also result in a spongier brake because the arms of the brake are longer. If the bike is equipped with cantilever brakes, the ability to go to the 584mm rim is further limited because of the fixed brake boss point.

Also the reduced mass gain goes out the window when you start using wider tires.

Originally Posted by HTupolev
Wide 700c tires also exist; and when they get REALLY big, we call them 29ers. (Same for 650b and 27.5".)
...to the utter confusion of nearly everyone You would not believe the looks I get from people when I tell them that a "29er" is the same as a 700C or that you can use a "29er" wheel in the place of a 700C wheel. We really didn't need that extra confusion.

Originally Posted by HTupolev
More relevantly today: 27" is now a legacy support market, more or less. There are a few alright tires that you can get in the size, but nothing amazing. If you want to enjoy high-end current-gen clinchers, 650b and especially 700c have a much better selection.
One thing you missed which most people do is not just that the tire selection is poor. Replacement rims and wheels for a 27" wheel are rare as well. What replacements that are available are of poor quality.
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Old 10-26-16, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
One thing you missed which most people do is not just that the tire selection is poor. Replacement rims and wheels for a 27" wheel are rare as well. What replacements that are available are of poor quality.
Sure. If you're looking for an upgrade to wheels that would qualify as "good" today, then you're out of luck. Although, it's not like most 27" wheels from back in the day are amazing by today's standards either. If you're looking for a replacement, most of the time you can do just fine, at least if you adjust the hub (if it's adjustable) and the spoke tension when the wheel arrives. It's a similar situation to the tires.

Last edited by HTupolev; 10-26-16 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 10-26-16, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Scarbo
Thank you, sir. Great info!

I ordered a pair of Panaracer Pasela tires in 27 x 1 1/4 for the bike. I'll see how I like them and make changes if I feel the need.
Those are fantastic tires, I have a set of Pasela TG tires on my touring bike and they're wearing like iron yet have good traction and the cost was right. They're are a couple of really nice tires on the market, they're not racing tires but no one races a bike with 27" tires anyways so who cares! Conti makes Gator Hardshell for someone looking for a tough puncture resistant tire for commuting, and Schwalbe makes the Marathon HS420 in that size for someone wanting a heavy duty touring tire.
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Old 10-26-16, 08:09 PM
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Thanks, everybody, for your input. I'm learning a lot here.

These wheels still seem to be in fairly good condition. I'm going to true them up tomorrow. So, is the availability/quality of new 27-inch wheelsets really that poor? I have not looked into this. I can see the problems associated with trying to go to a different wheelsize, though.

Indeed, this bike will not be for speed at all--so the Pasela tires will be completely suitable. This will be my town & errand bike. I love it because it has a special legacy and so I am trying to keep it in as much of its original state as I can.
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Old 10-26-16, 08:29 PM
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Not many new 27" wheels available. But, what's still out there is better quality than what was installed on most bikes 35 years ago. And, it's inexpensive too. These are good value wheels at a very low price:

https://www.amazon.com/Wheel-Master-...cycle+wheelset

Don't give up on the 27" stuff yet. It's still readily available.
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Old 10-26-16, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
I've seen theories that 700c clinchers were introduced to the market to sell high-pressure tires.
Mostly, it was so you could have a set of clincher wheels and tubular wheels and switch between them without having to muck about with your brake pads.
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Old 10-26-16, 09:06 PM
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Another thing I just noticed about these wheels is that they have these large flanges. Can anybody please tell me what effect these have on the way the wheels behave, or riding characteristics?
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Old 10-26-16, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Scarbo
Another thing I just noticed about these wheels is that they have these large flanges. Can anybody please tell me what effect these have on the way the wheels behave, or riding characteristics?
Dunno about any benefits, but they look sweet and get compliments, I prefer them!
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Old 10-26-16, 11:32 PM
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I'll agree, most of the good tire manufacturers still have one or more models available in a 27" size. I don't think they'll be going away anytime soon.
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Old 10-27-16, 12:46 AM
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I am not the oldest person here, and I may not be remembering 100% correct--but anyway.
All the combination road/MTB sizes out now weren't always around.

When 27-inch road bikes were the only clincher road bikes sold (up to the 1970's) there was no fat tires for them. The only bikes were road bikes, and the tires were all right around 1.25 inches wide inflated. The bikes didn't have room for fat tires even if they had existed.

And likewise with 650b--for decades there was no fat or off-road style tires for them, they were road use bikes. The only tires were relatively narrow, and the only bikes that used those wheels didn't have room for fat tires.

When 700c became popular in the US during the late-1970's and early-1980's, most of the tires and wheels were a bit narrower than the 27" wheels were: maybe around 1 inch wide for the 700c's--at the fattest. The more expensive 700c bikes came with tiny rims and tires, around 3/4" wide.... These were sold as "racing" bikes, since the wheels were lighter and accelerated faster.

The "29-inch MTB" variety of tires and off-road bikes is very recent--maybe 5 years ago?... As is the "27.5 MTB" variety: that started maybe three years ago.
My own theory about these is that tire companies saw a benefit to develop off-road tires on the same sizes that they already made on-road tires, since some manufacturing equipment can be used for both varieties of tires--if the two tires share the same bead diameters.

That is what they were already doing with 16" (childrens' bikes), 20" (406mm, BMX and freestyle) and 26" (559 MTB) bicycle tires--you could already get on-road and off-road tires in all three of those sizes. And now they're doing it with 650b and 700c as well.

650c is one they haven't messed with yet, but then again it is really 571mm, which is right between 559 and 584. It may never come back.

They should probably do more with the 507mm size, since it is right in the middle between the 26"/559 size and the 20x1-3/8" / 451mm size and is good for youth bikes. There's some ~25mm rims for it and some off-road tires, but no good narrow rims or tires for it.
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Old 10-27-16, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug5150
I am not the oldest person here, and I may not be remembering 100% correct--but anyway.
All the combination road/MTB sizes out now weren't always around.

When 27-inch road bikes were the only clincher road bikes sold (up to the 1970's) there was no fat tires for them. The only bikes were road bikes, and the tires were all right around 1.25 inches wide inflated. The bikes didn't have room for fat tires even if they had existed.

That depends on how you define "fat". I think you are getting confused on the imperial to metric conversion here. A 1 1/4" imperial tire is equivalent to a 32mm metric tire. I think most people would accept that as a pretty wide tire for a road tire. 1 1/4" was fairly standard on recreational bikes up through the 1980s while 1 1/8" (28mm) was considered "sporty" and even a "race" tire through that same period. 1" tires were considered very narrow and were only used on race bikes which is kind of funny considering that we are going back to that width, i.e. 25mm, now.
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Old 10-27-16, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
Sure. If you're looking for an upgrade to wheels that would qualify as "good" today, then you're out of luck. Although, it's not like most 27" wheels from back in the day are amazing by today's standards either. If you're looking for a replacement, most of the time you can do just fine, at least if you adjust the hub (if it's adjustable) and the spoke tension when the wheel arrives. It's a similar situation to the tires.
I'm thinking more along the lines of replacement of worn out rims. You might be able to find a used 27" wheel at a co-op but they are becoming increasingly rare at mine. Combined with the dearth of 27" tires, it would be a good idea to consider an "upgrade" to a 700C wheel if the wheel needs to be replaced.
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Old 10-27-16, 08:31 AM
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Regarding hub flange diameter, a larger flange has higher torsional stiffness and can accept more spokes. Theoretically you can get a wheel that transmits power better if you have a large flange.

A few decades ago, when my legs were fearsome in their strength (and my mass was also pretty large - I played defensive end in college), I got a custom-made Paramount. I got Campy low flange hubs. They've been comfortable and durable, and I never noticed any flex when I graunched down on the pedals. I do think that the low flange gives you a bit less stiff of a ride.

But the 72 Super Course (it's properly two words, at least in the 1972 catalog) has high flange rims in a quick-release hub. So, if you want stock, you get high flange.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure you'd notice the difference between high and low flange. Is there a problem with the hubs that you need to replace them?
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Old 10-27-16, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz
Regarding hub flange diameter, a larger flange has higher torsional stiffness and can accept more spokes. Theoretically you can get a wheel that transmits power better if you have a large flange.

A few decades ago, when my legs were fearsome in their strength (and my mass was also pretty large - I played defensive end in college), I got a custom-made Paramount. I got Campy low flange hubs. They've been comfortable and durable, and I never noticed any flex when I graunched down on the pedals. I do think that the low flange gives you a bit less stiff of a ride.

But the 72 Super Course (it's properly two words, at least in the 1972 catalog) has high flange rims in a quick-release hub. So, if you want stock, you get high flange.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure you'd notice the difference between high and low flange. Is there a problem with the hubs that you need to replace them?
Not at all. The wheels and hubs appear to be in surprisingly good shape for the age of the bike.

Thanks for the information. And, like Jevnvk, I also think the big flanges look pretty cool!
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Old 10-27-16, 10:17 AM
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I recall 27 x 1 3/4 inch tires were the widest I recall, and the skinniest was 27 x 1.
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Old 10-27-16, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata
I recall 27 x 1 3/4 inch tires were the widest I recall, and the skinniest was 27 x 1.
FWIW, Avocet and Wolber made 27" x 7/8" tires.
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Old 10-27-16, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata
I recall 27 x 1 3/4 inch tires were the widest I recall, and the skinniest was 27 x 1.
I don't recall 27x1 3/4" tires but I do recall 27 x 1 3/8" (equivalent to 35mm in 700C), especially in the early 80s. 1.5" and 1.75" tires were widely available in the late 1980s but only for 26" (559mm) mountain bikes rims.

Originally Posted by JohnDThompson
FWIW, Avocet and Wolber made 27" x 7/8" tires.
I recall having a 3/4" (19mm) tire from Specialized but I reasonable certain that those weren't made until the mid 1980s as were the Avocet and Wolbers.
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Old 10-27-16, 03:08 PM
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FWIW, the 700c style of tires has been around for more than 80 years. Most continental European road bikes have used them since before the war.
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Old 10-27-16, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AlexCyclistRoch
FWIW, the 700c style of tires has been around for more than 80 years. Most continental European road bikes have used them since before the war.
We're really speaking about what was common in the US at the time of the 1970's into the 1980's.

The only 27" bikes I remember seeing in local shops was the standard drop-bar road bike, with tires 1.25" wide.

There may have been other styles in Europe or elsewhere, but it was difficult to even find out about them (before the internet) and extremely expensive to mail-order them.

I don't know quite how 650b got back into the US again.... I guess it was the Heine push coupled with the tire companies' desire to make off-road tires on the 584mm BSD.

Jan Heine seems to be the main advocate because he liked the size better, and I know he thinks it's absolutely fantastically completely totally perfectly awesome!! but it's just a little bit different size than the 26" / 559 wheels and tires that were already available and cheap... And now he likes HUUUUGE balloon tires on his "road" bikes, so the wheels probably end up about the same diameter as c700's would anyway....
[edit]
If he wanted a overall wheel size that was between 26" w/30mm road tires and c700 w/30mm road tires, then it seems like he'd be better off just running 559 wheels with Big Apples or whatever on there.

Then again it is entirely possible I don't know what I'm talking about.

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