Buying Guide

Bike wheels are, without a doubt, the best upgrade that you can make to your bike. However, picking the right one can be a bit tricky since you need to take your use of the wheel into consideration along with a host of other factors. This guide will help to point you in the right direction so you can choose the wheels that are best for you.

What are bike wheels?

Wheels are what connect your bike to the ground and are powered by you as you pedal. Choosing the right ones will make a world of difference to your experience during your next ride.

Wheels are made up of several major components:

Why are wheels a great upgrade?

Wheels are an excellent upgrade to your bike that will make a noticeable improvement in your bike’s performance. Choosing lighter wheels will improve acceleration and climbing during a race/ride. Heavier wheels can take a lot of punishment without warping while trekking up mountains. Tough wheels, used in stunts and jumps, are the perfect choice for BMX riding. 

How should I choose a bike wheel?

To choose the best bike wheel, you need to take your riding discipline and what you would like to accomplish into consideration. Lighter wheels can help with your acceleration. Aerodynamic wheels can help with your speed by reducing drag. Strong and light wheels can help you while on tough terrain on a mountain bike. Rider weight is also something you need to consider to make sure your wheels will be able to handle your weight over long distances. Read on for more information about wheels used for Road, Mountain, and BMX disciplines. 

 

Road Wheels

What to look for in a good road wheel?

Picking the best wheel requires balancing three main properties of a wheel: Strength, Weight, and Price. You want a wheel that is built to withstand the pressures of an intense ride on a brutal course, light weight and durable so that it doesn’t slow you down, and at a price that gives you value for money.

1. Discipline – Riding purpose

Bike wheels are often designed for a specific purpose in mind. Each road riding discipline has different requirements and demands of its wheels. Before you select a wheel you should determine if you will be using them for Road Racing, Triathlon, Time Trial, Track etc. 

2. Tyre Type

Tyres come in three major types: Tubular, clincher, and tubeless.

Clincher

The most popular choice, it provides the maximum convenience and can be ridden immediately after being installed. The tyre is kept on the rim by the pressure of the inner tube that pushes the bead of the tyre into a bead seat located on the rim. Clinchers have largely replaced Tubular tyres in amateur racing. 

Tubular

Mounted directly on the rim, these wheels are lighter than Clinchers because there is no need for a bead seat on the rim. The inner tube is fully enclosed and stitched into the casing which is then glued or taped to the rim. Tubular tyres are commonly used for Road Racing, Track, and Time Trial. These tyres are best left to the professionals because they are not easily repaired while out and about. 

Tubeless

Tubeless tyres are airtight clinchers that do not use inner tubes. Tubeless rims are also compatible with Clincher tyres which is why you will see wheels described as being Tubeless Ready. 

3. Brakes

There are two main types of wheel brakes: Rim Brakes and Disc Brakes. 

Rim Brakes

Disc Brakes

4. Section Depth

Rims come in three difference size ranges: Shallow, Mid, Deep. 

Shallow Section

With a depth of 25mm or less, this section size is frequently found on entry level wheels that make excellent all-round wheels for use in all types of riding. They provide great value for money with a good strength to weight ratio. 

Mid Section

With a depth of between 25mm and 40mm, this section size allows a rider to benefit from lighter weight and aerodynamic rims. They can be light enough for climbing and yet fast enough for high speed on flat roads. 

Deep Section

With a depth greater than 40mm, this section size are perfect for road riding on flat roads where aerodynamics are of utmost importance.

 5. Wheel Diameter and Rim Width

The typical size for road bikes is 700c. You'll then want to make sure that you pick a rim width that suits your frame and brakes.

 

Mountain Bike Wheels

What to look for in a good Mountain Bike wheel?

Picking the right Mountain Bike (or MTB) wheel comes down to the demands of the discipline that you will be using the wheel for. Each wheel is designed for a different purpose and there are a number of characteristics that you need to consider before make your choice.

1. Discipline – Riding purpose

There are quite a few Mountain Bike disciplines to consider.

2. Wheel diameter

There are three common diameters on Mountain Bike Wheels: 26”, 27.5”, and 29”.

3. Rim width

Narrow (23mm) and light weight rims are great for Cross Country while wider rims a preferable for disciples that involve big drops such as Enduro (28mm), Downhill and Freeride (36-40mm) etc.

4. Spokes and spoke patterns

Spokes play a pivotal role in the strength of a wheel. The number of spokes that a wheel has must balance the weight of the spokes with the strength that the additional spokes add to the wheel. The more spokes a wheel has, the stronger the wheel will be since it spreads the load across the wheel. But on the other hand, the more spokes a wheel has, the heavier the wheel will be which can slow the rider down. MTB wheels generally have about 32 spokes while light weight racing wheels will have 24-28 spokes. High impact disciplines such as Enduro, Downhill, and Freeride will have 36-48 spokes for surviving the drops.

 

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