With copious amounts of information available both in bicycle stores and online, it can be difficult to know exactly what to look for when purchasing new wheels for your road bike. However, upgrading your wheelset can dramatically improve not only your bike itself but the quality of your ride as well, resulting in faster riding times, improved braking ability and general all-around performance.
There are a number of different elements to consider when purchasing your new wheelset – here are a few of the main things to consider before you commit to a purchase:
The most important thing to consider when purchasing a new wheelset is the material used to construct the wheel. Generally, steel wheels are not recommended. Alloy wheels are far more efficient and lightweight, resulting in an overall increase in your acceleration and stopping time.
While Alloy is a great choice, carbon is also a material to consider. Wheels made from carbon offer a more sturdy and dynamic wheel, superior in strength to both steel and alloy. Unfortunately, carbon wheels can become dangerous in rainy weather and tend to be far more expensive than alloy wheels. They also can become dangerously hot if you’re doing a lot of downhill riding.
Your weight may affect the quality of your ride; the weight of your wheelset can be an asset or a detriment. A low-weight wheel will ultimately lower the weight of your entire bike, increasing your overall acceleration and decreasing your wind resistance.
It is important that you ensure the wheel you select is lightweight, however, it is imperative that you ensure the wheel can support your own body weight. If you are too heavy for your wheelset, your average speed will drastically decrease and you could damage your bike.
Stainless steel spokes are the only way to go when purchasing your new wheelset. Not only will they not rust, they can improve your wheel strength. Generally, a bladed (crisscross) style is the most effective use of bicycle spokes, particularly if you’re looking for a strong, sturdy wheel that will last. A higher spoke count can also improve wheel strength. It is also important to ensure that your spokes come eyeleted as this will prevent your rims from cracking from rough roads and will reinforce the overall strength of your rim.
The rim of your wheel is where your tire will be mounted, therefore, you should ensure you’re getting the best rim you can afford. Most bicycle wheels are made with alloy rims. Again, this will decrease the weight of your wheel while offering greater shock absorption.
The days of skinny, thin rims and tires are no longer, with many cyclists opting for a thicker/wider rim on their wheelset. Contrary to popular belief, wider tires will create a much more comfortable ride, offering much less rolling resistance than their skinny counterparts. Ensure your wheelset is double walled- this will limit dents from forming if you ride on rough terrain or over potholes. A double-walled rim will also mean there is less chance of your wheel buckling.
Hubs and Axle Attachments:
Your hub should include sealed bearings. Open bearings are far less durable and are prone to wear, often causing irreparable grooves in the bearing race of the hub. Sealed bearings will also mean your wheels can turn more efficiently.
You should also buy a wheelset that utilizes a quick release axle. A quick release axle allows for easy insertion and removal of your wheels, using a lever and a thin skewer that slides through the axle that runs into the frame ends on either side of the wheel.
To ensure you are purchasing the best possible wheel for your bike, and your riding capabilities, it is crucial that you do your research and due diligence to sure you are not purchasing an unsuitable wheelset.
Popular brands such as Shimano, Vuelta, and Aeromax all produce top range wheelsets and the best part? They’re all available for under $300!
Shimano WH-RS11 Aluminum Clincher Wheelset
The Shimano WH-RS11 is the most economical wheelset for entry level riders or riders on a budget. Featuring high profile aluminum rims, this wheelset utilizes steel blade, straight-pull spokes (20 on the rear wheel, 16 on the front) to maximize rigidity and improve your overall pedaling power.
The rims on this wheelset are also offset by 3mm, allowing for high lateral rigidity while the sealed angular contact bearings in the hub give greater support and durability in your hubs. Contact sealing prevents water, mud and dirt from building up in the rims, ensuring rotational smoothness and high performance in all cycling conditions.
This wheelset is compatible with 8,9,10 and 11- speed cassettes and is available from Amazon. Check the latest price here.
This hand built wheelset boasts a 30mm alloy rim with CNC sides weighing in at just 2058g. The aerodynamic, stainless steel C45 spokes are finished with brass nipples and sit laced on the wheelset, decreasing your wind resistance and improving your speed.
The Vuelta series also includes sealed bearing hubs which, as previously stated, will improve turning efficiency in your wheels and will dramatically increase the life of your hubs. Furthermore, alloy quick release axles make for quick wheel release and insertion of your wheels, making tire replacement a breeze.
The Vuelta Zerolite wheelset is compatible with most Shimano 8,9 and 10-speed cassettes. These durable and sturdy wheels are available on Amazon. (Check current price)
Aeromax Alloy Wheelset Road Bike Comp 700c Wheelset
Best used for casual cycling, commuting and training, the Aeromax wheelset is comparable to wheelsets available in a much higher price range. Every wheelset is stress tested at least three times before sale, including tension tests on every spoke using a DT Swiss Gauge. Much like the other wheelsets, the Aeromax boasts sealed ball bearing hubs that are hand built for each wheel.
Double walled for maximum durability and strength, this wheelset is manufactured using sturdy alloy with a sleek satin finish. The spokes are also stainless steel with Aeromax’s patented spoke pattern. The overall weight of this wheelset comes to 2210g, making them slightly bulkier than most wheelsets. While this may slightly decrease your speed, these sturdy wheels will withstand even the roughest roads and city conditions.
The Aeromax Alloy wheelset is compatible with 7,8,9 and 10-speed cassettes and is an incredibly affordable price, and available on Amazon.
You do not need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to get a high-quality wheelset. Thanks to brands such as Shimano, Vuelta and Aeromax, anyone looking to improve their ride can find reasonably priced wheelsets that offer incredible quality and results.