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New wheels can make your bike feel faster, lighter and snappier — here how to choose
  • One of the most popular upgrades, better wheels (and tyres) can dramatically improve your bike’s ride.

  • Stock wheels are often heavy and of mediocre quality — upgrading can reduce weight and improve reliability.

  • If you want to go faster, choose wheels with deep-section rims; aerodynamics is far more important than weight.

  • You’ve a choice of clinchers, tubulars or tubeless, with matching tyres; each system has pros and cons.

  • Wheels benefit from the human touch; the best handbuilt wheels are still superior to wheels built entirely by machine.

Upgrading the wheels is one of the first changes many people make to their bikes. Why are wheels so important and how do you choose a better set of hoops?

It's one of the bike industry's guilty secrets: the wheels on even quite pricy road bikes are often a bit ordinary. That means upgrading your wheels can make a big difference to the feel and performance of your bike.

There are several reasons why you might want better wheels. If you're doing a lot of commuting on bad roads (the potholed streets of just about any UK major city for example) you might want a set of beefy wheels for weekday riding, and to switch to something lighter or more aerodynamic for the weekend.

Or you might have decided to keep the run-of-the-mill wheels your bike came with for training and to fit better-performance wheels for sunny days and important events.

>> Read more: All wheel reviews on road.cc

Wheel construction

The basics of wheel construction haven't changed in decades because, quite simply, they work extraordinarily well. A bike wheel can carry hundreds of times its own weight; pretty remarkable structural efficiency.

Your basic tension-spoked wheel consists of a hub that houses bearings so the whole thing can turn easily, a rim for the tyre to sit on and steel spokes under tension that hold it all together.

The tension in the spokes is the vital factor. When you load a wheel, the tension goes down in the spokes between the hub and the ground. As long as it never hits zero, the wheel can support you and your bike.

Nevertheless, wheels have evolved in the last couple of decades, and now usually have fewer spokes and deeper rims, both changes that improve aerodynamics. The spokes themselves may be flattened to better cut through the air too.

Perhaps the biggest change is the use of carbon fiber for rims. That's made possible deep, highly aerodynamic rims with minimal weight penalty. Carbon wheels are still more expensive than wheels with aluminium rims, but prices have been steadily decreasing for the last few years.

Tubulars, clinchers and tubeless

In terms of how tyres mount, there are three types of wheel rim. Rims for tubular tyres — which have the inner tube sewn into the carcass — have a shallow dip where the tyre is glued on. These are the lightest rims, and tubular fans say their soft floaty ride is unparalleled. However, for the vast majority of people the faff of gluing, and the difficulty of fixing a punctured tubular makes them too much hassle.

Clincher or wire-on rims have raised sidewalls with a hook where the tyre bead engages, and the tyre has a separate inner tube. In other words, this is the standard bike rim and tyre we all know and love. Fixing a flat is a simple matter of changing the tube and swapping tyres just requires tyre levers and a pump.

Tubeless tyres are a special case of clinchers. Tyre and rim are manufactured to precise tolerances to enable an airtight seal. The rim has no holes and the tyre is coated internally with rubber so there's no need for an inner tube. Some manufacturers forego the rubber coating and base their tubeless systems around use of sealant. That has the advantage of making them more resistant to penetration punctures, in addition to their natural resistance to pinch punctures.

Weight vs Aerodynamics

If performance is your aim, there's strong evidence that you should put more priority on aerodynamics than weight. Way back in 2001 bike engineer Kraig Willett analysed the forces on wheels and concluded:

"When evaluating wheel performance, wheel aerodynamics are the most important, distantly followed by wheel mass. Wheel inertia effects in all cases are so small that they are arguably insignificant."

That goes against the long-standing conventional wisdom that wheel weight is vitally important to performance because wheels have to be spun up to speed as well as moved along the road.

But you don't do much accelerating when you ride a bike, and even when you do the speed changes involved are relatively gradual. That means you spend most of your time, and therefore effort, simply shoving the air out of the way, and you should choose wheels accordingly.

Pro teams have drawn similar conclusions, which is why you now see far more deep-section wheels in the peloton than you did even ten years ago. Aero wheels are free speed in a breakaway or sprint.

The big disadvantage of deep-section wheels is the effect of crosswinds, which can blow you off track. Some wheels are less affected than others. Zipp's Firecrest shape is widely considered to be among the least problematic thanks to its bulged sidewalls.

Rim width

Just as tyres have become a bit wider in recent years, with the previously ubiquitous 23mm size giving away to 25, 26 and even 28mm tyres, so rims have spread out too. All other things being equal, a wider rim makes for a stiffer, stronger wheel and also makes the tyre effectively a bit fatter.

Wider rims are also claimed to be more aerodynamic because air flows more smoothly between tyre and rim if they are about the same size. Wheel maker Mavic has taken this to its logical conclusion with its CX01 Blades, plastic fairings that fill the groove between its Yksion CXR tyre and Cosmic CXR wheel. The UCI won't let pros use them, but that doesn't affect triathletes and UK time trial riders.

Can we build it?


Wheelbuilding (CC BY-NC-ND Cory Grunkemeyer:Flickr)

If you want your wheels to be durable, then how they were built is just as important as the components that went into them. For wheels to be durable, the tension needs to be high and even. If it's not high then spokes can come loose as you ride because the tension can drop to zero under load. If the tension is not even then the wheel is unlikely to stay round and true, even if it's that way out of the box.

A step in the wheel-building process called 'stress-relieving' also improves wheel longevity by preventing fatigue failure at the spoke heads. If your relatively new wheels start breaking spokes it's a good bet they weren't stress-relieved properly when they were built.

Most wheels these days are built by machines. It's possible to set up wheel building machines to get all of these things right, or very nearly right, but sometimes factories take short-cuts, especially when the objective is to build inexpensive wheels. The less time each wheel spends in the machine, the more wheels the factory can build.


Spokes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Jon Bowen:Flickr)

That's why machine-built wheels have a poor reputation, but if a wheel builder doesn't know what he or she is doing, humans can build poor wheels too. The most efficient way of mass-producing high-quality wheels seems to be to let machines quickly do the spadework and then finish them by hand, as Joe Graney found when Santa Cruz decided to build its own wheels.

Alternatively, you can get top-quality wheels that have been built by hand from start to finish, either off-the-peg or custom built. Barnoldswick parts-meisters Hope have been making well-regarded wheels for years, including road wheels, while Hunt Bike Wheels is a new entrant in the field. You'll find wheels built by several others in the selection below.

If you want something truly special, a wheelbuilder who really knows their stuff can help you choose exactly the right combination of hubs, rims and spokes for your needs. The doyen of this approach in the UK is probably Liverpool's Pete Matthews whose resume includes building wheels for Tour de France King of the Mountains Robert Millar, legendary rouleur Sean Yates and comedian Alexei Sayle. Many good bike shops have a similar if less storied figure lurking in the workshop, quietly crafting wheels that last until the rim sidewalls wear out.

Names to look for

The major wheel brands nevertheless produce good wheels, by and large. Riders report thousands of happy miles on wheels by Mavic, Bontrager, Shimano, Reynolds, Zipp, DT Swiss and many others. Here are some of our favourite wheels from the last couple of years.

Halo Evaura Uni 6D — £348.98

Halo Evaura Uni 6D 700C wheelset.jpg

Halo Evaura Uni 6D 700C wheelset.jpg

Halo seems very proud of its new Evaura Universal 6D 700C wheelset, and quite rightly. These are well-made wheels that can be adapted for a variety of cycles and purposes. The ride quality is excellent, the weight modest and – despite the dishing needed to make it disc-brake compatible – it proved impossible to provoke them into twisting or flexing.

The idea behind this wheelset is to make it as adaptable as possible to the new rash of wheel and braking standards that is spreading across the industry. While most conventional road frames take a 130mm rear axle, disc brake-equipped bikes are commonly adopting the 135mm found on mountain bikes. (Mountain bike rear axles are themselves now getting longer, but that's another story...)

Read our review of the Halo Evaura Uni 6D wheels
Find a Halo dealer

Fast Forward F3R Full Carbon Clincher Wheels — £1,000-£1,100

Fast Foward F3R Full Carbon Clincher Wheelset.jpg

Fast Foward F3R Full Carbon Clincher Wheelset.jpg

Fast Forward F3R Full Carbon Clincher wheels are a lightweight option that provide excellent acceleration and a high level of stiffness, although the lack of aero credentials might put off some who aren't pure climbers.

Fast Forward bills the Full Carbon Clincher as a wheelset that's particularly suited to climbing. The carbon rims are 30mm deep and 22.4mm wide with quite a rounded profile and a blunt inner edge – far more U-shaped than V-shaped.

Read our review of the Fast Forward F3R Full Carbon Clincher wheels
Find a Fast Forward dealer

Knight Composites 65 wheels — from £1,648

Knight 65 Wheelset.jpg

Knight 65 Wheelset.jpg

The Knight 65 Carbon Fibre clinchers offer very good stiffness, but their real skill is in cutting through the air at high speeds and feeling stable with it.

These wheels – Knight's own rims laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs – have a whole lot going for them. Okay, at 65mm deep they're never going to be particularly light, our pair coming in at 1,680g (including rim strips and skewers), but that's not unusual. For comparison, Zipp's 404s are a claimed 1,505g (you also need to factor in the weight of the rim strips and skewers) and Bontrager's 70mm-deep Aeolus 7s are a claimed 1,610g.

It's when you fire the Knight 65s up to speed that things get impressive. As tester Mat Brett put it: "I have a few routes that I ride regularly as personal time trials for reviewing bikes and kit – rolling rather than hilly – and I've used these wheels to help achieve consistently fast times over several weeks and in a wide variety of conditions. I measure power every ride and my view is that these wheels are offering impressive speeds for the wattage I'm putting out. It's unscientific and highly anecdotal, so take it or leave it, but this is my experience."

Read our review of the Knight Composites 65 DT Swiss 240 wheels
Find a Knight Composites dealer

Prime Pro Road Wheels — £314.99

Prime Pro Road Wheels.jpg

Prime Pro Road Wheels.jpg

We've not reviewed Prime's lightest aluminium-rimmed wheels, but we were very impressed with the now-unavailable Race Road Alloy Clincher wheels, so we expect these to be as good. Being lighter, however, they might not be as well suited to heavier riders.

Read our review of the Prime Race Road Alloy Wheels

DT Swiss RRC 65 Dicut clinchers — £1,999.98

DT Swiss RRC 65 Dicut C  - 1.jpg

DT Swiss RRC 65 Dicut C - 1.jpg

They might be a lot of money but these DT Swiss RRC 65 Dicut clincher wheels are fast and stable, and they offer a good braking performance too.

These wheels are at their best when slicing along at high speed. They maintain pace beautifully with an appreciably lower resistance than shallow section rims. The RRC 65s also accelerate well, especially considering their 65mm rim depth. Weighing 745g (front) and 885g (rear) – excluding skewers; combined weight is 1,630g (DT's official total weight is 45g lower) – they spin up to speed with little fuss. For comparison, Zipp's 58mm deep 404 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers have claimed weights of 725g and 895g (1,620g total).

Some people might consider 65mm a little deep for general road use but we rode with these wheels on both a road bike and more occasionally on a TT bike for six weeks and they were superb. We really rate these wheels highly, and not just for racing against the clock.

Read our review of the DT Swiss RRC 65 Dicut clinchers 
Find a DT Swiss dealer

Vision Team 35 — £269.99

Vision Team 35 Wheelset .jpg

Vision Team 35 Wheelset .jpg

Vision's Team 35s are competent and durable entry-level race wheels, with the added bonus of being very comfortable for a set of semi-deep-section alloy clinchers. The black anodised finish gives them a cool stealth look too.

The Team 35s are a revamped version of Vision's long-standing T35 model, and with a recommended retail price of £229.95 they sit right at that level of a first serious performance upgrade for a lot of bikes.

At first glance they seem a bit porky at 1,820g, especially considering the quoted weight is some 100g less than that, but the good thing is they never feel sluggish out on the road. You notice it a little if things get really steep or you ask for some rapid acceleration from a standing start, so if you're searching for a climber's set of wheels, look elsewhere.

Otherwise, the Team 35s are hard to knock. Considering the depth of the alloy rim, you'd expect them to feel harsh, but they don't.

Read our review of the Vision Team 35 wheels
Find a Vision dealer

Swiss Side Hadron 625 — around £1,200

Swiss Side Hadron 625 wheelset.jpg

Swiss Side Hadron 625 wheelset.jpg

"Hur hur hur your wheels are called Hard... oh no, wait, it's Hadron." To Swiss ears, the name may well conjure up the crowning peak of European scientific endeavour, but it's perilously close to something that provided regular amusement to the Sunday morning crew back at home. That's as may be, but the Swiss Side Hadron 625s are stonkingly good wheels, offering arguably the best performance in this price bracket on the market today.

They use a hybrid aluminium-carbon rim to give aluminium-rim brake performance and class-leading aerodynamic performance, at a price way below the big players like Zipp and Enve. And by god they sound good.

Read our review of the Swiss Side Hadron 625 wheels

Superstar Components Pave 28 wheels — £239.99

The least expensive wheels we've ever given four and a half stars, the Superstar Pace 28s demonstrate that custom handbuilt wheels can be competitive on weight and reliability with any factory wheels. They have wide rims in the modern style and are built on reliable Icon hubs. They're comparable to substantially more expensive wheels from other manufacturers; light enough to race on while still managing to be as tough as old boots, and look how shiny they are.

Read our review of the Superstar Components Pave 28 wheels

Hunt 4Season Aero V2 — £349.00

Hunt 4Season Aero V2 wheels

Hunt 4Season Aero V2 wheels

Hunt's entry-level road clinchers look like an excellent choice. They succeed the now-discontinued 4Season Dura Road wheels which we liked a lot, and like those wheels, these look to be a good first upgrade over heavy stock wheels, or as a good quality winter or all-round option, they're right on the money.

The 4Season Aero V2 wheels have the same hubs. We had no issues with the 4-pawl freehub, nor with the sealed EZO bearings. Everything ran smoothly in spite of being subjected to some biblical conditions. The supplied skewers are an external cam, with a nylon insert instead of the brass one you get on the more expensive Hunt wheels, but they do the job without any fuss.

Read our review of the Hunt 4Season Dura Road
Find a Hunt dealer

Pro-Lite Bortola A21 wheels — £389.98

The 1,540g weight of these wide, tubeless-ready wheels is impressive for an aluminium wheelset even if that is about 65g over the claimed weight. With the Bortolas Pro-Lite haven't sacrificed strength or durability to achieve it, it's more of a by-product of well chosen, proven components.

On the road, they're smooth and comfortable, but light enough to reward a little out of the saddle dig on a steep section while climbing.

Overall the Bortolas are perfect all rounder wheels that only really lose out in terms of aerodynamics due to that shallow rim.

Read our review of the Pro-Lite Bortola A21 wheels

Pro-Lite Revo A21W — £399.99

Pro-Lite Revo A21 Disc Clincher Wheelset.jpg

Pro-Lite Revo A21 Disc Clincher Wheelset.jpg

Road disc and gravel wheels are getting better, lighter and cheaper, and right at the forefront of that trend are the Pro-Lite Revo A21s. At 1,650g, with a Centerlock option, thru-axle compatibility and a wide track rim, they're a bargain, and pretty future-proof too.

Pro-Lite builds all its wheels by hand and the Revos arrived nice and true, with even spoke tension. The spokes are bladed and triple butted, and Pro-Lite uses a brass washer at the spoke head to better distribute the forces there.

The Revos use a 21mm deep rim (hence the name), which is 23.8mm wide externally and 19mm internally. That makes it ideal for 28-32mm tyres, although 25mm rubber and bigger chamber tyres will be fine too.

Read our review of the Pro-Lite Revo A21W
Find a Pro-Lite dealer

Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team — £457.95

Stans NoTubes ZTR Grail Disc Wheelset.jpg

Stans NoTubes ZTR Grail Disc Wheelset.jpg

We've been hugely impressed with these wheels. With 25mm slicks at high pressures they're fast on the road, and bombproof when riding with knobbly tyres at low pressures off-road. They're a decent weight, the hubs are easily interchangeable to different axle standards, and the company's Bead Socket Technology (BST) means getting a tubeless tyre inflated is a cinch.

The Grail rims are wide: 24mm on the outside, 21mm on the inside. The rims are also quite deep, 24.5mm, making them the company's deepest – and therefore more aero – rim to date. They're constructed from aluminium and weigh a claimed 460g apiece. The BST rim profile features a shallow seating area so the tyre bead locates right up against the side of the rim. Getting a Schwalbe One tubeless tyre to inflate was ridiculously easy – a slosh of sealant inside and a track pump to inflate the tyre.

If you want a disc- and tubeless-ready wheelset with a wide rim profile to make the most of the growing number of wide tubeless tyres, the Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team wheels combine a competitive price, decent weight and impressive performance. Add in the easy tubeless compatibility and axle versatility, and they're seriously worth considering.

Read our review of the Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team
Find a Stan's NoTubes dealer

Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels — £469

The original factory wheels, Mavic Ksyriums have come a long way since their first appearance in 1996, and remain extremely popular upgrade wheels. In their latest incarnation they boast a claimed weight of 1550g and have slightly wider rims than before, following the current trend. Mavic claims the resulting fatter tyre shape is worth a 13% reduction in rolling resistance or you can drop the tyre pressure 20psi for a comfier ride at the same rolling resistance. Your £420 also gets you a pair of 25mm Mavic Yksion Pro tyres.

Find a Mavic dealer

Edco Optima Roches (22mm) Tubeless Ready Wheels — £599.99

Traditional looks meets modern width in these wheels from Swiss-based Edco, which have 22mm wide rims and are ready for Tubeless tyres like those offered by Hutchinson, Bontrager or Schwalbe.

There are a lot of clever touches to these wheels like the MultiSys freewheel body, designed to accept both Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo cassettes so you don't need new wheels if you ever change gearing allegiance.

These wheels ride well, are a sensible 1571g and come with a whopping eight-year guarantee.

Read our review of the Edco Optima Roches (22mm) Tubeless Ready Wheels
Find an Edco dealer

Spada Stiletto wheels — £699

With the Stiletto wheels, Spada's emphasis is on minimum weight, but not at the cost of strength or stiffness. Stilettos are surprisingly good all rounders — we tested them on a winter training bike on a variety of fairly rough roads and they didn't flinch — but we'd probably still reserve them for riding fast, smooth roads in decent weather.

Spada markets the Stilettos as its 'regular use' wheel option, and they're certainly tough enough We'd still put them part way between regular use and 'special rides only' simply because they'll suffer if you don't treat them well. Aluminium spoke nipples need keeping clean, an aluminium cassette body soon starts burring on the splined edges under regular duress and ceramic bearings aren't exactly cheap to replace.

Nevertheless these are lovely, light wheels that make a bike feel a bit more sprightly under acceleration, thanks to their low weight.

Read our review of the Spada Stiletto wheels
Find a Spada dealer

Swiss Side Hadron 485 — around £1,200

Swissside Hadron 485 wheelset

Swissside Hadron 485 wheelset

Hadron wheels (named after that big circular tunnel near Geneva, of course) are available in rim depths of 48.5mm, 62.5mm and 80mm (front)/85mm (rear). All share the same fundamental construction, with aluminium rims and carbon fairings. Swiss Side says it's done an enormous amount of work to perfect the aerodynamic design of these rims, focusing on aerodynamic drag and also minimising the sensitivity to side-winds.

they've performed well in a wide variety of riding. We won't pretend that we can accurately determine the difference compared with other quality aero wheels of a similar depth, but they certainly feel like they're in the same ball-park, holding speed really well and making a rather satisfying hum in the process.

Read our review of the Swiss Side Hadron 485
Find a Swiss Side dealer

Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon DB — £849.99

Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon DB wheelset.jpg

Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon DB wheelset.jpg

The Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon DB wheels could well redefine the modern bicycle wheel. They're bang on trend for a broad range of today's disc brake-equipped bikes and promise the trinity of light, fast and strong.

First, they're the right material: carbon fibre, with a 3k core and unidirectional surface. And while Fulcrum doesn't tout them as tubeless ready, they are, with only the valve hole in the bed of the 40mm-deep aero section rims.

The broad carbon rims are laced with 18 spokes in the front and 21 in the rear – a number low enough to keep the weight down, but high enough to make the wheels feel bombproof.

Paradoxically, they ride like function-specific race-day wheels, all revved up and raring to rip up the road, and so, naturally, you expect them to be fragile and delicate, with a need to be guarded from harm and children's sticky fingers. In reality, they're street tough and ready for couple of pints and a scrap.

Read our review of the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon DB
Find a Fulcrum dealer

Profile Design 38/TwentyFour Clincher wheels — around £1,150

The shallowest of three rim options in Profile Design's Twenty Four carbon fibre wheel range offers very good performance for the money.

The wide rims make for extra cushion from whatever wheels you fit, and the shape provides good aerodynamics and stability; they would be ideal as an everyday wheelset or for UK sportives and road races.

Braking has been the Achilles' heel of carbon rims in the past, but with Profile's own brake blocks the braking performance is highly impressive with consistent and progressive stopping.

Read our review of the Profile Design 38/TwentyFour Clincher wheels
Find a Profile Design dealer

Spin K2 Carbone XLR38 25mm Fat Boy Clincher wheels — £990.00

The closest equivalent to these wheels in the current Spin range is the DM8 Custom Shop Pro ThirtyEight Super Fly Boy. They're still 38mm deep, but now wider to give better support and shape to 25-28mm tyres.

The XLR38s offered bags of speed with a fat rim profile reminiscent of a Zipp or Enve but at a fraction of the price. We expect theSuper Fly Boys to be just as good, making them an ideal upgrade for anyone looking to invest in their first deep section carbon wheels.

Spin offers a choice of rim depths, laced to its own SPN Precision hubs. With the 38mm rims, they weigh 1500g per pair. That's a very competitive weight, certainly for the price. You won't get much lighter unless you're prepared to spend quite a lot more money. Braking with the supplied QuickStop Black Shadow brake blocks was excellent.

Read our review of the Spin K2 Carbone XLR38 25mm Fat Boy Clincher wheels

Reynolds Aero 58 clincher wheels — £1,784.99

The ultimate in aero wheel performance comes with the combination of a deep rim, a wide tyre bed and a shape that's not affected badly by sidewinds. The Reynolds Aero 58s fit the bill.

On the road, the Aero 58s are discernibly fast and easily give you a 2km/h speed increase over a high profile wheel such as a Mavic Ksyrium. Reynolds claim best-in-class stability is sidewinds and out testing bore this out. Consistent, high cross winds proved no problem whatsoever, it was only in really gusty conditions, such as when passing a gap in a hedgerow, that the 58s could be unsettled.

Braking performance in the dry is very good, not so great in the wet, but no worse than most carbon rims, and while the 1601g weight isn't feathery, it's pretty good for such deep wheels.

Fast, quick-accelerating and superbly stable in crosswinds, the Aero 58s are our benchmark in carbon clincher performance.

Read our review of the Reynolds Aero 58 clincher wheels
Find a Reynolds dealer

Lightweight Meilenstein tubular — £3,549.00

Lightweight Meilenstein wheelset

Lightweight Meilenstein wheelset

Yes, they're very expensive, but the Lightweight Meilenstein carbon tubulars are superlight and equally stiff, resulting in an exceptional performance out on the road.

As the name suggests, Lightweight makes very light wheels. Our Meilensteins, with 47.5mm-deep and 20mm-wide rims, hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 480g for the front (Lightweight claims 475g) and 640g rear (Lightweight claims 625g). That's a total of just 1,120g. The skewers add 44g.

You might expect that because they weigh so little the Meilensteins will flex about all over the place as soon as you jack up the power. That would seem logical, but the biggest surprise in their performance is that they're very, very stiff.

From the first pedal stroke you can feel that these are light wheels and acceleration is little short of superb. Really, you'll be astonished.

Read our review of the Lightweight Meilenstein tubular
Find a Lightweight dealer

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

30 comments

Avatar
davel [1499 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Anyone got any experience with Parcours wheels? 220 Triathlon was impressed... and they seem insane value for money (genuine question: zero affiliation).

Avatar
pablo [188 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes

You can't buy the cosines (wiggle own brand) anymore wiggle seem to have dumped them.  They now stock prime (crc brand) And have increased prices.

Avatar
ChrisB200SX [440 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Al33 are worth looking at, as found on Kickstarter (Dutch company)
FLO wheels (US-based) http://www.flocycling.com/index.php

This guy also seems to get great reviews around the Triathlon world, he has quite a few options, here is one on sale:
http://shop.kinetic-two.co.uk/-300-off-intro-offer-2017-kinetic-one-k1-4...

I highly recommend Sapim aero spokes.

Avatar
Team EPO [102 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes
davel wrote:

Anyone got any experience with Parcours wheels? 220 Triathlon was impressed... and they seem insane value for money (genuine question: zero affiliation).

 

One set was reveiwed here on Road.cc

 

http://road.cc/content/review/208613-parcours-grimpeur-wheelset

 

I managed to get the Reynolds deep dish aeros for close to a £1k from Chainreaction and am running them tubeless and they are great.  Don't overlook Hunt Wheels also around the £1k mark and get good reviews

Avatar
Liam Cahill [81 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes

Team EPO wrote:

davel wrote:

Anyone got any experience with Parcours wheels? 220 Triathlon was impressed... and they seem insane value for money (genuine question: zero affiliation).

 

One set was reveiwed here on Road.cc

 

http://road.cc/content/review/208613-parcours-grimpeur-wheelset

 

I managed to get the Reynolds deep dish aeros for close to a £1k from Chainreaction and am running them tubeless and they are great.  Don't overlook Hunt Wheels also around the £1k mark and get good reviews

They are very good wheels. Basically a Chinese clincher with the security of a UK company testing them and supplying them.

Avatar
michophull [143 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Anyone got any experince of Shimano Ultegra wheels ? I'm thinking of getting a pair to replace the bog standard Bontragers on my Trek Madone 2.1.

Avatar
Zermattjohn [233 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
michophull wrote:

Anyone got any experince of Shimano Ultegra wheels ? I'm thinking of getting a pair to replace the bog standard Bontragers on my Trek Madone 2.1.

 

Yep - I had a set of these http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shimano-ultegra-6800-road-wheelset/rp.... Very impressed with the improvement on stock wheels for the money. Hubs needed a bit of attention after a few years, but I had them on my winter bike so they got all kinds of abuse in that time. Definitely recommended.

Similar are Campag Zonda, which are a little bit lighter and (I think) have a wider rim so better for 25-28mm tyres. I run 25mm on them and they are really smooth winter wheels.

Avatar
Woldsman [156 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
michophull wrote:

Anyone got any experince of Shimano Ultegra wheels ? I'm thinking of getting a pair to replace the bog standard Bontragers on my Trek Madone 2.1.

 

In my case I bought the 6800 wheelset to replace the stock Giant wheels that came with my bike. I have to say that the Ultegra hubs have always been a little noisy compared to the hubs on the Giant wheelset. 

 

I was squeamish about the low spoke count (I'm 12 1/2 stone) but the 6800s are still going strong. I intended to keep them for 'special', and pop the Giants back in for regular rides, but I've not bothered. 

 

I don't think the Ultegra wheels are a great deal lighter than the ones they replaced, but I'm happy with mine. I have 25mm Continental GP4000S ii tyres on them. Recommended and not ridiculously expensive in comparison to similar wheelsets. 

Avatar
steviewevie [41 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

I wish the reviews would say how noisy (or not) the freehubs are. I hate noisy freehubs, though I'm sure there are others who have the opposite view.

Avatar
Welsh boy [367 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Quote: "...spokes under tension that hold it all together."

"When you load a wheel, the tension goes down in the spokes between the hub and the ground. As long as it never hits zero, the wheel can support you and your bike."

You say that the wheel works becase spokes are under tension then you say that the spoke between the hub and the ground is holding you up.  That would put that spoke in compression.  Which is it?

I always thuoght thet the spokes at the top of the wheel held the hub (and so the bike) up, that is how a tiny thin spoke with a high tensile strength can support a rider and bike.

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davel [1499 posts] 5 months ago
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Liam Cahill wrote:
Team EPO wrote:
davel wrote:

Anyone got any experience with Parcours wheels? 220 Triathlon was impressed... and they seem insane value for money (genuine question: zero affiliation).

 

One set was reveiwed here on Road.cc

 

http://road.cc/content/review/208613-parcours-grimpeur-wheelset

 

I managed to get the Reynolds deep dish aeros for close to a £1k from Chainreaction and am running them tubeless and they are great.  Don't overlook Hunt Wheels also around the £1k mark and get good reviews

They are very good wheels. Basically a Chinese clincher with the security of a UK company testing them and supplying them.

Excellent - thanks folks.

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macrophotofly [260 posts] 5 months ago
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Welsh boy wrote:

Quote: "...spokes under tension that hold it all together."

"When you load a wheel, the tension goes down in the spokes between the hub and the ground. As long as it never hits zero, the wheel can support you and your bike."

You say that the wheel works becase spokes are under tension then you say that the spoke between the hub and the ground is holding you up.  That would put that spoke in compression.  Which is it?

I always thuoght thet the spokes at the top of the wheel held the hub (and so the bike) up, that is how a tiny thin spoke with a high tensile strength can support a rider and bike.

There are some far better explanations in the best selling books on wheel building, and i am trying to remember this off the top of my head without the books in front of me, but I believe you are correct. The forces (all in tension) are distributed across all the spokes - even the one at the bottom at that instant. If any of them have the tension drop to zero (or even close to it) then the wheel fails. There is a lowering of tension for the bottom spoke but it must never reduce so much that the rim feels more force acting on it from anything other than the spokes

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jollygoodvelo [1652 posts] 5 months ago
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Welsh boy wrote:

Quote: "...spokes under tension that hold it all together."

"When you load a wheel, the tension goes down in the spokes between the hub and the ground. As long as it never hits zero, the wheel can support you and your bike."

You say that the wheel works becase spokes are under tension then you say that the spoke between the hub and the ground is holding you up.  That would put that spoke in compression.  Which is it?

I always thuoght thet the spokes at the top of the wheel held the hub (and so the bike) up, that is how a tiny thin spoke with a high tensile strength can support a rider and bike.

In mid-air the spokes are all in even tension.  When you put the bike on the ground and therefore load on the hub, the tension *reduces* in the spokes between the hub and the ground, but doesn't disappear totally, and increases in the top-side spokes.

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bikeylikey [224 posts] 5 months ago
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jollygoodvelo wrote:
Welsh boy wrote:

Quote: "...spokes under tension that hold it all together."

"When you load a wheel, the tension goes down in the spokes between the hub and the ground. As long as it never hits zero, the wheel can support you and your bike."

You say that the wheel works becase spokes are under tension then you say that the spoke between the hub and the ground is holding you up.  That would put that spoke in compression.  Which is it?

I always thuoght thet the spokes at the top of the wheel held the hub (and so the bike) up, that is how a tiny thin spoke with a high tensile strength can support a rider and bike.

In mid-air the spokes are all in even tension.  When you put the bike on the ground and therefore load on the hub, the tension *reduces* in the spokes between the hub and the ground, but doesn't disappear totally, and increases in the top-side spokes.

That's pretty much correct I think, as someone who has built a lot of wheels. Except the small point that the tension of the spokes throughout the wheel when under load varies as a factor of the average tightness (tension) of the spokes. In other words, the four or so spokes currently at the top of the revolving wheel bear the most weight, reducing the further away they are from the top. The bottom four or so are under the least tension. So if all the spokes are relatively loose, there'll be relatively little tension on the bottom ones, and a lot on on the top ones. This is why a tightly built wheel will last longer and perform generally better. On a loose wheel the bottom spokes can flex with each revolution, and so will break far sooner than those on a tight wheel.

The review above is wrong. A bike 'hangs' from the rims through the upper spokes, it does not stand on the lower spokes. The wheel would collapse straight away if it were this way around.

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John Stevenson [290 posts] 4 months ago
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bikeylikey wrote:

The review above is wrong. A bike 'hangs' from the rims through the upper spokes, it does not stand on the lower spokes. The wheel would collapse straight away if it were this way around.

That the tension in the spokes between hub and ground goes down is easily confirmed with either a spoke tensiometer or by plucking the spoke and listening for the change in tone. Try it for yourself.

 

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DaSy [753 posts] 4 months ago
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bikeylikey wrote:

 A bike 'hangs' from the rims through the upper spokes, it does not stand on the lower spokes. The wheel would collapse straight away if it were this way around.

The other tell tale sign is that the spoke nipples just drop through the rim, so any attempt to load them in compression would just poke it through the rim and into the tyre! The exception being the like of the Mavic R-Sys which used nipples that screwed into the rim from outside and a Tracomp ring in the hub that the end of the spoke stood against allowing that wheel to have spokes in both traction and compression.

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John Stevenson [290 posts] 3 months ago
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DaSy wrote:

bikeylikey wrote:

 A bike 'hangs' from the rims through the upper spokes, it does not stand on the lower spokes. The wheel would collapse straight away if it were this way around.

The other tell tale sign is that the spoke nipples just drop through the rim, so any attempt to load them in compression would just poke it through the rim and into the tyre! 

This would be true if the spokes were not already under tension. But they are, and if you disregard that, the analysis fails.

I honestly don't understand why people have so much trouble with this. Load a wheel and the tension in the spokes between hub and ground goes down. For the spoke tension between the upper rim and the hub to increase, as some believe, there would have to be something pulling the rim up to resist the downward force of the spokes. There isn't, and that this doesn't happen can be readily demonstrated with a spoke tensiometer.

I can see I'm going to have to make a video.

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HowardR [132 posts] 3 months ago
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Bring back large flange hubs!

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IanEdward [117 posts] 3 months ago
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No praise or mention for modern cup and cone hubs a la Shimano or higher end Campag or Fulcrum?

I think cup and cone has had a bum rap from the days when you required three hands (or two hands and a vice) and three different spanners to adjust, now you typically just need two allen keys and your fingers. 

Compared to either no adjustment, or adjustment via a big hammer and a drift, this seems a big positive over cartridge systems.

Otherwise they seem like the perfect wheel bearing system, arguably (although perhaps not noticeably) smoother rolling, adjustable so you never have to put up with play or binding, and of course easy to service.

Shimano RS81 C35 or C50 for affordable/stiff/average weight and slightly aero for me!

 

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paulrattew [196 posts] 3 months ago
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John Stevenson wrote:
DaSy wrote:
bikeylikey wrote:

 A bike 'hangs' from the rims through the upper spokes, it does not stand on the lower spokes. The wheel would collapse straight away if it were this way around.

The other tell tale sign is that the spoke nipples just drop through the rim, so any attempt to load them in compression would just poke it through the rim and into the tyre!

This would be true if the spokes were not already under tension. But they are, and if you disregard that, the analysis fails.

I honestly don't understand why people have so much trouble with this. Load a wheel and the tension in the spokes between hub and ground goes down. For the spoke tension between the upper rim and the hub to increase, as some believe, there would have to be something pulling the rim up to resist the downward force of the spokes. There isn't, and that this doesn't happen can be readily demonstrated with a spoke tensiometer.

I can see I'm going to have to make a video.

 

Essentially, the hub hangs from all of the spokes simultaneously, no matter what their position relative to the ground. The tension pulling the rim towards the hub is what keeps everything strong, rather than the tension of the spokes pushing the rim from the hub (like on a wagon wheel... not the chocolate variety).

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WolfieSmith [1380 posts] 3 months ago
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steviewevie wrote:

I wish the reviews would say how noisy (or not) the freehubs are. I hate noisy freehubs, though I'm sure there are others who have the opposite view.

 

Terrible aren't they? I have a mate with Dura-ace and it sounds like he's reeling in a Marlin everytime he stops pedalling.

I have a pair of Royce hub handbuilt wheels from Pete Matthews (mentioned above). Royce make their own tool and when my rear hub gets 'clacky' as Royce calls it I can just relube it. It is then completely silent for 200 miles or so and then quiet for another 500. Not cheap but quality and a pair of wheels for life. 

I would recommend a decent builder like Pete. He builds racing and climbing wheels but if you are a little heavier and want bullet proof light weight 24's or 28's he is your man.

I had Campa Zondas for years. I still do and they are great but when you break a spoke it can take time to fix as you need special fixings and you have to faff with the magnet. I had two different models of Zonda and the spoke lengths are different which makes things more complicated... If my handbuilts need a new spoke Pete is local and I can be back on them next day. 

Here's my Royce hub 24's.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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harman_mogul [286 posts] 3 months ago
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Usual Shimano quality and value, with nice and easily-serviced hubs. Good braking especially if you change to SwissStop pads. This also extends the life of the rim, which is a good idea because you probably won't find it economical to have them re-rimmed. The rim is narrow by today's standards—recommended tyres are in the range 23–28 mm. It's probably a good idea to go tubeless because non-tubeless tyres are a mad tight fit and you will need to take steel tyre levers with you when you go out. I mean it!

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harman_mogul [286 posts] 3 months ago
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michophull wrote:

Anyone got any experince of Shimano Ultegra wheels ? I'm thinking of getting a pair to replace the bog standard Bontragers on my Trek Madone 2.1.

Usual Shimano quality and value, with nice and easily-serviced hubs. Good braking especially if you change to SwissStop pads. This also extends the life of the rim, which is a good idea because you probably won't find it economical to have them re-rimmed. The rim is narrow by today's standards—recommended tyres are in the range 23–28 mm. It's probably a good idea to go tubeless because non-tubeless tyres are a mad tight fit and you will need to take steel tyre levers with you when you go out. I mean it!

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frankierae [17 posts] 3 months ago
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"Zipp's Firecrest shape is widely considered to be..."

But not Enve, nor the new Cosmic, nor Swiss Side nor, the new Roval with their nigh on identical shapes

Scratching my head as to who pays Road.cc the most advertising money, and who's brand name should make an article.

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frankierae [17 posts] 3 months ago
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"That's why machine-built wheels have a poor reputation"

Really? According to whom? Not me. Not pretty much everyone I know from my club.

Could you please provide references for your facts?

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paulrattew [196 posts] 3 months ago
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frankierae wrote:

"Zipp's Firecrest shape is widely considered to be..."

But not Enve, nor the new Cosmic, nor Swiss Side nor, the new Roval with their nigh on identical shapes

Scratching my head as to who pays Road.cc the most advertising money, and who's brand name should make an article.

 

Given Zipp were the first mainstream brand to adopt that shape, and the other brands have just followed with effectively the same thing, I think its fair to reference Zipp over the other brands. 

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chrismday [50 posts] 3 months ago
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Unfortunately Mavic have downgraded the latest generation of Ksyrium Elites. The spokes are now painted steel and after about a year the paint bubbles up and the spokes rust. I suspect the rim alloy has also been downgraded because mine have corroded and pitted on the brake track. These wheels have had mostly dry weather use and I'm pretty meticulous about keeping kit clean. I have an older generation pair with the milled rims that are in much better condition having had much the same usage.

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Yorkiechan [42 posts] 1 month ago
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Can't believe you've included the Prime Pro wheels that you have not even reviewed yet and nothing from Campagnolo including the Zondas which are in the same price bracket and get ace reviews across the board.

 

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srchar [541 posts] 1 month ago
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Wheel article bingo:

- Describing a wheelset as "bombproof".

- Statement that miniscule weight saving results in gigantic speed improvement.

- Mention of a "holy trinity" of three random properties.

- Some nonsense about factory wheelsets being unreliable vs hand-builts.

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only1redders [107 posts] 4 weeks ago
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My experience (and it's purely my experience) with Stans Grails has been very bad. Not only were they not 'bombproof' (I had 2 rims blow out, which must have been from small potholes, because I never ran the bike up/down kerbs) but I also had huge problems fitting tyres (fitting conti 4 season 28mm tyres resulted in many broken levers and punctured inner tubes due to pinching on fitting them, as well as not managing to get a Schwalbe g-one to sit square, although this may be because of the aforementioned dinged rim).

 

Finding that changing tyres a lot more challenging and the rims a lot more susceptible to damage in the new world of wider/tubeless-compatible rims than I ever found before.

 

Just me? Answers on a postcard