Wheel Buyer's Guide

5th August 2016 in General by Daniel Kogan

Whether you are looking for a bombproof wheelset for the work commute or a super light climbing option for your alpine adventures, our handy guide explains what to look out for when choosing your next set of wheels.

Choose your type of use:

COMMUTER AND WINTER

Whether it’s a quick nip into town, a monstrous ride into work or a sub-zero winter training ride, a wheelset that can handle the potholes, weather and repetitive braking is a must. Reliability is key, as the last thing you need is to be stranded an hour away from work or home with a broken spoke.

Things to look out for:

Enough spokes: So if you should break one you can still ride on the wheel.

Aluminium braking surface or disc brakes: Works in all weather and provides assured braking, especially important when riding in traffic.

Wide rim: A wider rim allows you to fit wide commuter or touring tyres.

Mavic Aksium Elite 28 Wheelset

Mavic is renowned for producing durable and hard wearing wheels and their Aksium range fits this criteria. The lightweight S6000 aluminium rim is paired with strong straight pull bladed spokes to offer a fast and reliable ride.

Bontrager Affinity Elite TLR Disc Wheels

Tubeless ready, this is a fantastic option if you are looking for a versatile wheel that can run tubeless tyres. Being disc brake compatible offers greater braking performance, a good choice for those riding through harsh winters or have commutes with a lot of stopping at traffic lights.

Mavic Ksyrium Pro AllRoad Wheelset

The Mavic Ksyrium Pro AllRoad wheelset is ready for whatever the commute throws at you. Ideal also to be used for cyclocross, spending a little more gives you Maxtal ISM 4D rims, which as well as being light and strong, offer exceptional aerodynamic efficiency, perfect for taking on those Strava segments on the way to the office.

ROAD - CLIMBING

Tackling a mountainous gran fondo or a hilly sportive? A lightweight and responsive wheel can be the difference between dancing up the climbs or crawling up them. What goes up must come down, so a wheel that offers excellent braking is key.

Things to look out for:

Weight: Yes it needs to be light but do not compromise weight for reliability, at the end of the day there is no point in riding a super lightweight wheel if it folds at the sight of a rough section of road.

Shallow rims: Generally the shallower rim is preferred as aerodynamics have little effect when climbing and this is a good area where weight can be saved.

Brake track: Carbon brake surfaces should be approached with caution. On especially hot or wet descents this surface often causes issues with braking. A lightweight aluminium or even an Exalith track offers predictable stopping power however hot you come into those hairpins.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 C24 Tubeless Compatible Wheelset

Light on both your pocket and out on the road, the premium level Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 C24 Tubeless Compatible Wheelset tips the scales at an impressive 1500 grams, comes with an ever reliable wide flange hub and uses a tubeless ready rim, which is offset to provide a stable and responsive ride.

HED Ardennes Black Standard Clincher Wheelset

As the name suggests the HED Ardennes Black Standard Clincher Wheelset is designed for when the road rears skywards. HED are experts when it comes to producing race-ready wheels and the Sonic hubs only add to this wheelset’s high performance credentials. The 25-millimetre deep rim features the Turbine Braking Surface which claims to offer a 25% shorter stopping distance in the dry and up to 70% in the wet, perfect for those technical descents.

Mavic R-Sys SLR WTS Clincher Wheelset

A climber’s dream, the Mavic R-Sys SLR WTS Clincher Wheelset is ready whatever the gradient, at a featherweight 1295 grams, this wheelset features Mavic’s market leading Exalith 2 brake track, which offers predictable braking whatever the weather. A mixture of Zircal and carbon fibre Tracomp spokes offer the perfect balance between strength and weight, while the ISM 4D rims are a low profile and low drag offering.

ROAD - AERO

When speed is of the essence an aero wheelset is a must. The trend is to go for deeper rims to cut through the air and create the least drag possible. Aero wheelsets are ideal for fast criteriums or flat sportives.

Things to look out for:

Rim depth: Deeper is better, right? Yes, to a point. The deeper the rim in theory the more aerodynamic the wheel. Going too deep, especially as a lighter rider, can prove detrimental though in the wind as stability and control can be compromised by gusts. Opting for a rim depth that offers aerodynamic benefits without being a handful is key.

Wide rim: Up until recently, a narrow and deep rim was the preferred choice but as companies spend more time in the wind tunnel, studies have found wider can sometimes be faster. As well as faster a wider rim can also improve handling.

Spokes: Bladed or fewer spokes are the ideal choice, as this ensures the wheel slices rather than drags through the wind.

Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbone 25 Wheelset

Mavic has a long and illustrious history when it comes to producing aerodynamic wheels and their Cosmic range has picked up many accolades both in the press and on the race circuit. Offering a 52 millimetre rim depth, the Cosmic Pro Carbone 25 Wheelset is made from a mixture of Maxtal and 12K carbon fibre to keep weight down, with an ISM rim, designed to keep drag to a minimum.

Edco Optima Albis Wheelset

Swiss precision guaranteed, the Edco Optima Albis Wheelset features a SuperG fast engaging hub and a 50 millimetre carbon fibre u-shaped rim. A 25.5-millimetre wide rim ensures this wheel corners like it’s on rails and is responsive out on the road.

Lightweight Meilenstein Clincher Wheelset

The Ferrari of the wheel world, Lightweight’s Meilenstein is super light, aerodynamic and fast. Weighing a mere 1100 grams a set, the 16 front and 20 rear carbon spokes are optimised to cut through the wind with ease, while the multilayer design makes it one of the stiffest wheels on the market.

ROAD - ALL ROUND

Looking for a wheel that is just as capable on the flat as it is on the hills? A wheel that can be used for long training rides as well as racing? For most an all round wheel is the best choice.

Things to look out for:

Rim depth: Looking for a wheel that is just as capable on the flat as it is on the hills? A wheel that can be used for long training rides as well as racing? For most an all round wheel is the best choice.

Brake track: An all round wheel needs to be able to cope with different weather and road conditions, gradients and cycling disciplines. Having a reliable brake track ensures you will ride with confidence and most importantly stop when you need to.

Freehub: A fast engaging freehub means you will never miss a sprint or acceleration. With some hubs now engaging as precisely as every 10 degrees, you can rely on your wheels to propel you out of even the fastest of corners.

Mavic Ksyrium Pro SL 25 Wheelset

Mavic’s Ksyrium Pro SL 25 Wheelset is the perfect upgrade for those looking to lighten up their bike. The Straight pull bladed spokes cut through the wind with ease while the CNC machined braking surface means you should avoid those nervous edge of the saddle moments.

Roval CLX 40 Carbon Clincher Wheels

The choice for world champions and Olympic medalists. The Roval CLX 40 Carbon Clincher Wheel is favoured for its deep section, lightweight carbon fibre rim. The DT Swiss Revolution spokes are strong and keep weight down, making this a sensational choice for racing, sportives and everything in between.

ENVE 3.4 SES Clincher Wheelset with ENVE Carbon Hubs

ENVE are experts when it comes to producing high quality wheels for a range of disciplines. The SES 3.4 Clincher Wheelset with an ENVE Carbon Hub pays testament to the American company’s extensive development process. The 3.4 is a mid section carbon fibre wheel with ultra lightweight hubs and ENVE's reliable quick release skewers. This combination results in a sub 1400 gram wheelset.

TIME TRIAL/TRIATHLON

When every second counts a fast set of wheels for your triathlon or time trial bike can make all the difference. Wheel choice is very much dependent on the course, so if it’s a hilly 40 kilometres opting for a shallow, lightweight climbing wheel would be a good option. On flat and fast courses opting for a deep section front and a disc rear wheel is proven to be the most aerodynamic combination.

Things to look out for:

Disc wheel: Thought should be taken when opting for a disc wheel. Things to consider are the nature of the terrain, whether it’s hilly or flat and also how windy it is. For exceptionally windy courses care should be taken when using a disc as sudden gusts of wind can affect handling. Used correctly a disc wheel could save anything up to several minutes in an Ironman bike section.

Weight: Saving grams out on the road means picking up speed and maintaining it is easier. A good balance between weight and stability should be found, as a super lightweight front wheel could cause havoc in a crosswind when you are riding on the aerobars.

HED Jet 6 Plus Standard Clincher Wheelset

No need to compromise on speed with the HED Jet 6 Plus Standard Clincher Wheelset. With a 60 millimetre deep section rim and a fast engaging carbon FR Sonic freehub this is a strong race ready option.

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Clincher Wheels

The choice of the Trek Segafredo Professional Cycling Team, Bontrager have invested in wind tunnel testing to make the Aura both fast and stable at speed. The TLR rims allow for quick transition from traditional tubed tyres to tubeless systems and the bladed spokes add to this wheels low drag credentials.

Zipp Super-9 Disc Rear Wheel

Wheels do not get much faster than this. The American company have designed this wheel in a virtual wind tunnel using Computational Fluid Dynamics Software. The dimpled carbon fibre surface allows wind to seamlessly pass over the wheel without impacting on aerodynamic efficiency. Pair with a deep section Zipp 808 or 404 for the ultimate triathlon or time trial setup.

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