When it comes to cycling, you'd have a wide variety of choices available for the type of bike and the components that go on it. In my opinion, investing in wheels optimized for the terrain you typically ride on is one of the best changes you can make to your bicycle to increase your cycling prowess. If you don't have the right wheels for your bike, you'll notice a significant improvement in handling and riding quality. A bicycle that's equipped with the right wheels will be;
Faster The right wheels will indicates the wind, temperature, fatigue, and other factors impact you equally, which results in your bike always being in the lead position.
Make riding easier Both bigger and smaller wheels have advantages. Wheels with bigger diameters help you clear more significant obstacles with less interruption. In contrast, smaller wheels accommodate fast and compact cyclists. Even though they might be less forgiving when dealing with uneven cobbles or roads riddled with potholes, they often do not provide a problem unless the roads are in exceptionally poor condition. It's basically really depends on your needs and goals.
More Reliable Cycling wheels, like the sport itself, come in various sizes, materials, features, and so on. A more reliable bike means that you're convinced in the performance of your gear, including your wheels. A little pro-tip here, if you're the type of rider who looks for minor incremental improvements, you should focus on finding the lightest rims rather than the lightest overall wheel. However, it's all coming back to your preference. We'll discuss this more later on.
Seat your tires better As are wheels, technology, and cycling improvements are constantly growing from time to time. A technology that help you to well-attached your tires is a U-Shaped Rim design. It provides excellent stability in crosswinds while offering better performance and speed. Besides, we all know that well-attached tires are essential, especially for clincher wheels.
Last longer and look better Everyone wants a reliable bikes and wheels that looks good. Therefore, choosing a right wheels will help you to minimalize unwanted damage, at the same time, it makes your bike look clean and prepped.
How do you find the right wheels?
Finding the right wheels can be tough to do as you have so many options on the market. Do you need aerodynamic wheels, wide internal wheels, disc brake wheels, and rim brake wheels? To help you break this confusion, we'll walk you through every step of finding the perfect wheels for your needs in this post.
What kind of riding are you doing?
The first thing you need to consider is the kind of riding you're doing. We'll discuss various riding styles, such as road, gravel, MTB, in a minute. Each of these riding styles requires a specific set of wheels and every wheelset you purchase will come with its own set of unique characteristics, such as rims that are broader or have more aerodynamic profiles.
Mountain Bike Wheels
You'll get the most out of your bike if you use it for mountain biking, which is what it was designed for. Wheels for modern mountain bikes typically come in one of two main sizes, either 27.5" or 29". Mountain bike wheels are more durable and withstand more significant impact than other wheels. They have a low aerodynamic profile and a high internal width to accommodate larger tires.
Gravel Bike Wheels
Gravel bike wheels are made for a mix of terrains. They need to be sturdy to handle off-road terrain, but they also need to be light and quick so that you can drive them on highways if you decide to. Gravel wheels come in two sizes, 650b, and 700c. These sizes are precisely the same as MTB 27.5" and 29"; the only difference is that the designations come from the French measuring system. They feature a low to medium aerodynamic profile and have a medium to large internal rim width, which allows for some different sizes of tires to be used with them.
Road Bike Wheels
Road bike wheels are designed for smooth pavement. Because of the emphasis on speed and agility, these wheels are supposed to be as lightweight as possible. A few smaller bikes use 650c wheels instead of the more common 700c. Aerodynamic profiles vary widely among them. Some have a small profile for climbing, while others have a large one for aerodynamics. They have a narrow internal rim width to accommodate narrower tires and enhance handling.
Breaking it down
The best way to understand wheels and choose the right wheel for you is to learn a little bit about wheels in general so that next time you come to buy a set of wheels, you know exactly what you're going to get. In the next section, we'll tell you what to look for when buying a wheelset and why.
Tubular wheels, Clincher wheels, or Tubeless Wheels
Not all wheels are made the same way, and not all tires fit on all wheels. Most wheels on the market come in three different styles to fit different types of tires.
In competitions like the Tour de France, tubular wheels are a common sight on rider bikes. They don't have inner tubes, and a tire is a monolithic unit glued directly to the wheel. Although getting a puncture in one of these can be a real pain, they are incredibly lightweight and quick to ride.
Clincher wheels are your typical day-to-day wheels. These run on regular tires and use the inner tubes that come with them. They're simple to work on, and if you get a puncture in one of them, it won't be challenging to patch it up. They are not the lightest setup, but they're great if you're looking for easy fixes when those problems occur.
Tubeless wheels are a lot like clinchers, and most modern-day mid-range clincher wheels come tubeless as standard. This means you can run special tubeless tires without inner tubes but a sealant inside instead which has the ability to self-repair while you are riding.
Carbon fiber and aluminum are the two materials used to make wheels today. Aluminum is stiff, strong, and cheap to make, but it's not the lightest material. Then there's carbon fiber, which is very strong, stiff, and light but costs more to make. In a perfect world, you would want to use carbon rims, not just because carbon is a better material but also because it is much more flexible and can be used to make deeper and more aerodynamic wheels.
Then, we have brakes. There are four types of brakes, disc, rim, coaster, and drum brakes. However, types of brakes that are most popular and commonly used on bikes are disc and rim, each with their own use and benefits. Disc brakes commonly seen on MTB wheels have incredible braking power, performs well in all kinds of weather and condition, has very high efficiency and also incredibly durable. They use a solid disc to grip onto to slow the wheel down. Rim brakes, although they can provide lighter wheels, use their own surface to slow the wheel down. Rim brakes are also affordable, easy to maintain and fix, and gives your bike less strain.
When talking about aerodynamic wheels, we're speaking about wheel rims and their size. Bike wheels do come with multiple profiles to suit different kinds of riding and can give you benefits that could be the difference between winning and losing a sprint.
A shallow profile wheel will typically be between 25mm - 40mm. If you are looking for comfort in your rides, this is absolutely the way to go. Shallow wheels are lighter than other aerodynamic profiles and have multiple uses. They are excellent for climbing and taking weight off the bike overall and can create a huge amount of acceleration. They are also very versatile, which means these wheels are perfect for you whether you are riding for a regular Monday commuting or a weekend outing.
Then you have your mid-range aerodynamic profile wheels, and these will have a depth between 40mm - 60mm. These are a great mix of being good at climbing, great on the flat lands, where aerodynamics are most influential, and in the wind. If speed is what you're into, medium profile should be a consideration as medium profile wheels can easily pierce through the wind.
Deep section wheels are anything above 60mm. You will find these to be heavier than shallow and mid wheels but will be incredibly fast on the flats because they have such a big profile. You will see time trial cyclists use these all the time.
Disc wheels have a full profile. They are only really seen on time trial bikes and sit on the rear wheels. They are very heavy but have an incredible ability to slice through the wind. They can be quite uncomfortable in a crosswind though.
Internal Rim Width
With a lot more wheels coming on the market in recent years, we are definitely seeing companies getting very creative. The internal rim width is the distance between each side of the rim where the tire sits on. This governs how the tires sit on the rim. For larger tires, you will need this to be bigger, and for smaller tires, you would want a small internal rim width.
Road Bike Wheels Rim Width
A typical road bike wheel will have a small diameter because it's designed to work with smaller road bike tires, typically from 23c to 28c. The internal rim diameter is normally between 17mm to 23mm.
Gravel Bike Wheels Rim Width
Gravel bike wheels are designed to be used with tires from 28c up to 50c. They need a much larger internal rim width to compensate for the larger tires. Commonly you will see sixes from 21mm to 26mm on gravel bike wheels.
Mountain Bike Wheels
Mountain bike wheels have the largest internal rim width. This is because the tires on mountain bikes are very large and need to be very wide for technical courses. They can be anywhere from 26mm all the way to 45mm on plus-size wheels.
What wheels are best for...?
So when it comes to different disciplines of cycling, what wheels are going to suit you the best? Well, after looking at its use and advantages, here's what we recommend for a few different cycling disciplines.
Time Trial: 60mm - 88mm Carbon Fiber, Road Wheels, Tubular
Hill Climb Events: 25mm - 40mm Carbon Fiber Road Wheels, Tubular
Bikepacking mixed terrain: 25mm - 60mm Carbon Fiber Gravel Wheels, Tubeless
Mountain Biking: 25mm Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Wheels, Tubeless
Gravel Bike Racing: 35mm Carbon Fiber, Gravel Wheels, Tubeless