These Road Bike Wheels Guarantee a Smoother, More Enjoyable Ride
Few things affect your riding performance more than the wheels and tires on your bike. Whether you’re looking for a replacement for a bent rim or bad hub or want to completely replace your wheelset for maximum performance, here are our favorite picks for fully built road wheels.
Best Road Bike Wheels
What to Consider
When looking for new wheels as opposed to just a rim or hub for your bike, there are a few important considerations to make before committing. While you can easily spend thousands on high-end road wheels, you can also get great road bike wheels that will seriously improve your ride for just a few hundred dollars.
Here you generally have two choices: aluminum or carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is lighter and more expensive and offers a stiffer ride. Aluminum absorbs more shock but also goes out of true faster. If you’re riding rough roads or gravel, aluminum may be a better choice.
The type of brakes your bike has will also impact your rim and wheel choice. Most modern high-end bikes use disc brakes now, but if your bike has rim brakes, you’ll need a rim that can handle the pressure of being squeezed to stop.
There are three main types of tires used in road bikes: clincher, tubeless, and hookless. The wheel you buy needs to accommodate the types of tires you plan to use. Clincher tires have a bead that hooks into a rim and you need to use inner tubes to keep the tire inflated. Tubeless tires may still have a bead that hooks into the rim, but more companies are building hookless rims. Though hookless and tubeless rims both seal air between the rim and tire, the two are not necessarily compatible.
Make sure your wheel is compatible with your component group, whether it’s SRAM, Shimano, or Campagnolo. Most are compatible with each, but ordering the right wheel, with the right freehub, gears, and disc rotor at the onset is important.
Rim Width and Depth
If you’re riding on rough surfaces, you’ll want a wider rim. If you’re looking for more aero advantages, you’ll want a deeper rim. Deeper V-shaped rims are more prone to being buffered by cross-winds; some companies are manufacturing more U-shaped aero-rims to reduce the impacts of cross-winds on your riding.
The majority of road bikes use 700c rims and tires. Some gravel bikes use 650b (27.5-inch) rims and tires.
How We Selected
Over the years, we’ve ridden just about every type of rim from various component groups. We’ve landed on these picks based on our experience, as well as taking into consideration reviews from professional testers and customers alike.
Bicycling; Courtesy Princeton CarbonWorks