Updated on August 18, 2022
One of the simplest methods to boost your bike’s performance is by switching to a better set of road bike wheels.
With a light and firm (but not too stiff) wheel, your bike will feel like it is gliding up the mountain and you will be able to easily maintain your speed on the flats.
With a little elbow grease (or waterproof) here and there, high-quality hub keep things running smoothly for years and, most important, keep the aspects out.
The lightest possible tyres
Finding the correct wheelset to buy isn’t always simple, what with so many choices in carbon or alloy rims of various depths, clincher, tubeless, and tubular tyre adaptability, disc or rim brake, and quick release or thru-axle options.
If you’re in the market for new road bike wheels, we’ve put together a list of our favourites.
A road or gravel bike’s performance can be drastically improved by switching to a wheelset that hits these targets with greater accuracy.
Improved ride comfort, faster average speeds, or just a lower weight can all increase acceleration and deceleration, respectively.
It’s no secret that disc brakes and tubeless tyres have had an impact on the industry, with designs pushing the limits of what was prior feasible on road cycles.
Wider rims provide better support for wide road and gravel tyres and enhance aerodynamics by smoothing the contact patch.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed while shopping for new wheels because there are so many different manufacturers to choose from.
You don’t have to worry about putting dozens of tyres through their paces each year because our experts do it for you.
700c wheelsets are normally used for road and gravel, but 650b wheels are also available. To make things easier, we’ve broken them down into disc brake and rim brake alternatives.
We’ve also included a couple top-rated, less expensive wheels that come dangerously close to proving Mr. Bontrager wrong with this list.
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Here’s a step-by-step approach to improving the performance of your road bike without blowing your budget.
A new set of wheels is one of the best ways to spruce up your bike. Even a cheap pair can improve your bike’s acceleration and ride quality, while also reducing weight, because they are often the last part to be installed on many factory bikes.
You can obtain a noticeable performance boost for under £500, making it an excellent starting point for an upgrade.
There are a variety of attributes to consider when you’ve selected the braking system for your bike. Is it better to have a shallower rim for quicker acceleration or a deeper one for better aerodynamics on the flats?
Additional features like tubeless compatibility or a wider rim that works better with larger tyres may also be desired. Before making a purchase, do your homework on the various features and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Due to our extensive research, we’re able to provide you with an easy-to-navigate list of the best rim and disc brakes bikes under £500, so you don’t have to.
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Best Lightest Tyres for Bikes
With a long history in the cycling industry, Sussex-based business Hunt has earned a reputation for delivering outstanding value for the money in its wheelset collection – you get a lot for your money.
The 1496g weight of the Hunt Race Aero Wide wheels is an excellent example; despite the rim being 31mm deep and 24mm wide on the outside, they are remarkably light.
Because they are 31mm in diameter, they may aid in aerodynamics by being deeper than the usual aluminium wheel.
It’s possible that the 24mm wide rim will work well with wider tyres because of the 19mm internal width, according to Hunt.
Because the Race Aero Wide rims are tubeless-ready, we recommend using 28mm tubeless tyres on them to get the most out of their performance.
Hunt’s tubeless set-up option adds even more value to the bundle; for a tiny additional fee, the company will install tubeless tyres and sealant. We think this is well worth it. With a list price of just £379, these wheels are well inside our £500 budget, so you can do it, too.
Aside from the rims, the vehicle is well-equipped throughout. EZO bearings are used in the hubs, and the spokes are butted, bladed Pillar numerals.
We think this wheelset is one of the best out there, and these new features make it even better.
Currently, ProBikeKit is selling the item for $268.00. Chain Reaction Cycles (£385) and Sigma Sports (£270.00)
You may look past Mavic’s entry-level Aksium wheels to the famous Ksyrium line if you have £500 to spend.
A recent revamp has given the Ksyrium S wheels an overall rise in weight and rim width, but its overall construction quality guarantees that the wheelset is as near to a match up wheelset as you are likely to come across.
Maxtal, an alloy developed by the French company Mavic, is said to be lighter and stronger than 6061 aluminium.
To ensure a robust and smooth junction in what is in effect a continuous rim, Mavic employs ‘SUP welding’ technology.
The bearings inside the hubs are double sealed for longer life, and the hubs themselves are made entirely of machined aluminium.
Mavic’s UST tubeless system has been a major improvement to the wheels.
As far as we can go, this is the closest we can go to a tubeless standard. Mavic makes both the UST rims and tyres, so the system works perfectly — tyres often seat with a conventional track pump. Tolerances are extremely tight.
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As a component manufacturer owned by Trek, Bontrager’s Paradigm Comp TLR wheels warrant consideration as an upgrade for any bike, not just a Trek.
It should come as no surprise that the Paradigm Comp wheels are designed with tubeless riding in mind, given the term ‘TLR.’
In order to make the rims tubeless compatible, Bontrager includes an ingenious rim strip, a plastic cover that clamps over the rim bed. This saves time and effort over using tape.
Bontrager’s Paradigm Comp TLRs feature’stacked lacing,’ a spoke bracing technique that the company claims improves the wheel’s stiffness.
The rim’s diameter (25mm outside, 19.5mm inner) is broader than typical, allowing the wheels to handle wider tyres.
Aerodynamic efficiency doesn’t rank high because the rim is so shallow, but that does mean they are extremely light, weighing just 1585g.
All the hallmarks of a functional wheelset may be found in this set of wheels.
The smooth, steady curve of their medium-width rims is ideal for high-volume tyres like 25-28c models, and running them tubed reduces the risk of pinch flats.
Sapim D-Light butted spokes assist keep the weight down, as do the 20/24 spokes on the front and back.
The Cero branded quick-releases weigh only 110g each set and are pre-installed with tubeless rim tape.
High-quality sealed bearings and an aluminium freehub body are included despite the fact that they are quite inexpensive.
Hunt is now selling the item for $499.
Traditionally, aluminium wheels have been seen as less aerodynamic than carbon wheels, but Hunt has proved otherwise with its 34 Aero Wide wheels.
In a wind lab, Hunt believes the 34 Aero Wide wheels have proven to be the world’s quickest aluminium set, even when compared to carbon rim designs.
In part, this is due to the rim’s bulging design, which begins at a width of 24mm at the bead hook before narrowing to a width of 26mm at the widest point. According to Hunt, this improves tyre-rim airflow.
The 34 Aero Wide wheels weigh a whopping 1548g, despite their aerodynamic advantages. Because 6069-T6 aluminium is stronger than normal alloys used in rims, Hunt claims this is the reason.
Low-friction bearings are placed in Hunt’s machined Sprint hub, which is another example of the company’s exceptional value for money. This pair of wheelsets is probably the best deal you’ll find for around £500 if you’re looking to increase your speed quickly.
Merlin Cycles is currently selling the bike for £324.00. Chain Reaction Bikes (£385.00) and Wiggle (£385.00) also carry the bike.
It is the disc-brake-compatible version of Mavic’s iconic Ksyrium rim-brake wheels that the Ksyrium S Disc wheels from the French manufacturer are based on.
The rims have the same strength-boosting ‘SUP’ welding performed to them as the rims of the wheelset’s rim-brake forebear, according to Mavic, to ensure that this wheelset lives up to its name.
Lighter and stiffer than traditional rims, this alloy promises to be. The Ksyrium Disc S weighs 1670g, making it a lightweight option at this pricing point.
‘Optimised bearing location’ is claimed by Mavic to increase the stiffness of the wheel, which is supported by straight-pull, bladed, and double-butted spokes that are laced to hubs.
The rear hub features the company’s Instant Drive 360 freewheel system, which has a matched 40 engagement locations.
The Ksyrium Disc wheels, like its rim-brake counterparts, utilise Mavic’s UST tubeless standard, which ensures that tubeless tyres may be easily set up and operate well with these wheels.
A set of road wheels: what to look for
Some considerations should be made while looking for a new set of wheels, from aerodynamic deep-section carbon wheels to lightweight climbers to bombproof alloy wheels that can withstand pothole after pothole and stay as true as the day you purchased them.
The distance between the rims
Rim width is one of the first things you’ll see discussed in a review or a news piece about a wheelset, regardless of their intended function.
You may run lower tyre pressures and have a more comfortable ride with wide rims, which let the wheel slice through the air.
Internal rim width affects how the tyre is stretched across the rim and allows you to run a wider tyre since the rim can support the casing, whereas external rim width has the opposite effect.
The external width of a vehicle is more strongly linked to aerodynamics than to the vehicle’s internal dimensions.
Another unpleasant impact of wider wheels and tyres is that some newer rims cannot be used with older frames.
Advertizing the depth of the rim
The depth of the rim comes next. When comparing a deep-section rim to a low-profile box-section rim, the more aerodynamic it is.
Deep-section wheels, on the other hand, necessitate the use of more material and, as a result, are heavier.
There are a number of advantages to a low or shallow rim, depending on where you reside. If, on the other hand, the roads in your area are pan-flat, you might want something deeper.
In addition to being affected by crosswinds, deeper rims have more material for the air to suck into.
Although wheel manufacturers are getting more creative with their rim profiles, moving from the traditional ‘V’ profile to more narrow-nosed ‘toroidal’ shapes, Zipp’s biomimicry Hyperfoil design is an example of this.
What tyres are on the vehicle?
If you want to run clincher, tubular, or tubeless tyres on your wheels, you’ll need the right rims. We won’t delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each type of tyre system, although tubulars are often lighter than clinchers due to the lack of a tyre bead.
Compatibility with the brakes
Last but not least, your bike’s frame will dictate your brakes. Many brands now have various end caps, allowing a single hub to accommodate quick-release skewers and 12mm or 15mm thru-axles, because many wheels are now available in disc and rim brake types.
Purchasing used road bike rims
There are a lot of second-hand wheels on the market, and they might be a good deal. When purchasing secondhand, much like a bicycle, it is critical to know the history of the wheels.
The first thing you should do is see if the wheel is straight (true). Check to see if it has buckled by giving it a spin. To avoid an egg-shaped wheel, make sure there is no “hop” in the rim height.
When using rim brake wheels, look for wear on the brake surface, which should be flat and free of concavity.
Inspect the entire rim for cracks, particularly around the spokes, and look for any signs of chipping.
Straight and free of scratches and gouges are the most important things to look for on the spokes.
You should feel nearly equal stress on all the spokes on the right when you squeeze them two at a time.
Do the same with your left hand, and you should have a similar sensation.
Inconsistency is an indication of a bent rim being held in place by the tension of the spokes themselves.
Holding on to the hub axles will allow you to turn the wheels.
Drag or notching on the spinning of the bearings should be avoided. As you move it forward, see if the freehub rotates but doesn’t latch onto anything.
Make sure your freehub is compatible with your gears as well (as outlined above).
Hey, all I am Joe Marino I love to ride bikes and teach others how to ride them. Most of my articles are about which bike is best for others. I am passionate about cycling and it shows, whether I am writing about a $25 bicycle from any random website or a $5000 Santa Cruz.
I have always been the guy who gets calls from friends while at work asking which bike they should buy. I have written about the best city bike for commuting, the best folding bike for use on public transit, and even what to keep in mind when shopping for kids’ bikes.
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