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What is the right wheel rim depth for your cycling?

What is the right wheel rim depth for your cycling?

When it comes to riding bikes, the smallest changes in your equipment can dramatically affect your riding. Changing the stem can make it feel more agile and aggressive. Smaller tires can make you faster, and larger tires can increase comfort. One of the biggest changes you can make to a bike is to change the rim depth.

What is Rim Depth?

Rim depth is the size of the aerodynamic profile of the rim. You typically will have 25mm on the smallest rim depths, and this can range to being a full disc. The rim depth can completely change the way a bike rides.

Why does Rim Depth matter?

Rim depth can completely change the way a bike rides. It can make it lighter and better at acceleration, or it can make your bike much more aerodynamic and make it more efficient at higher speeds. Professional riders will have a selection of wheels and will change them depending on what race they are doing. It's an easy way to get a performance edge on your competition.

What bikes have different Rim Depths?

When it comes to different rim shapes, you are really only going to see deep aero wheels on bikes like a road bike, time trial bikes, track bikes, and some gravel bikes. Mountain bikes and hybrids typically only use a shallow rim, and they use this to keep the wheel weight down.

What size rim width should I be using?

Picking a rim depth can be challenging because you will use different depths depending on where you live and what kind of bike you're riding. The best way to explain the correct rim depth for you is to tell you what characteristics each size will give your bike.

Low Profile 25mm - 40mm

Low-profile wheels are excellent for many reasons and can hugely benefit your riding when it comes to hilly races and climbing. The smaller, less aerodynamic profiles make these wheels super light, bringing your overall bike weight down and taking a chunk of weight off your wheels, which move within the bike.

Using low-profile wheels, you will get great acceleration, and also, with the weight reduction, your bike is excellent at climbing and responsive. If you are racing a hilly course or plan to go into hill climb events, these wheels are perfect for it.

Medium Profile 40mm - 60mm

This profile is one of the most commonly used when it comes to modern road bikes. These are what you would class as amazing all round wheels. They offer great performance in a lot of different situations that you might put your bike through.

With a mid-profile, the wheel will stay fairly light, so when it comes to climbing and acceleration, it will have great ability.

With having a little bit of depth though, you also gain an aerodynamic advantage which comes into play when you cycle at higher speeds. We highly recommend this rim depth if you are looking for all round performance and do a lot of different rides from hilly to flat.

Deep Profile 60mm+

Deep profile rims are excellent when it comes to making your bike very aerodynamic. They are much heavier than the low and medium profiles and take longer to get up to speed, but when they are going, they are incredible at holding high speeds. A lot of people refer to this size as aero wheels.

Many cyclists living in places where it's flat will benefit from deep section carbon rims. These are a popular choice for riders who want to compete in time trails as deeper rims make it much easier to hold speed above 20mph, require less effort, and get less wind resistance. These are a tad uncomfortable when it comes to riding in strong winds, and we wouldn't recommend them if you have a strong crosswind.

Complete Disc Wheel

A complete disc wheel is when the wheel depth is so large that it goes all the way to the hub in the center. Wheels like this don't have spokes. You will typically find these on a time trail bike. They are very heavy as far as wheels go. They are very stiff and uncomfortable to ride on bumpy roads. Also, they take a while to get up to speed, but the aerodynamic performance of these wheels is incredible.

If you are into time trails and want a lot of extra speed for the flats, a disc wheel will do that for you. These wheels were made for aero tuck and a flat course. Typically you will only find these on the rear wheel of the bike, and they will be paired with a deep profile wheel on the front. As far as using them for climbing hills, they will really weigh the bike down and also make the work much harder.

Does the Internal Rim Width change with deeper wheels?

Internal rim width is the size of the wheel where the tires sit in. Imagine you are looking at a wheel from above. The distance between where the bead of the tire grips is your internal rim width. A lot of cyclists ask if the deeper the wheel does it make the internal rim width change.

The short answer is no. The internal rim width is actually sized for the tire. Although the width does change between wheel brands, typically on aero wheels, they will be made to suit small tires from 23c to 32c. The only exception is new aero gravel wheels. They will have an aerodynamic profile but a wide internal rim width for different tyre combinations.

Why are aero wheels made of?

Shallow aero wheels are typically made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Deep rims will typically always be made of carbon fiber. This is because if you made a deep rim in aluminum, it would be too heavy, and the performance would be terrible. Although carbon wheels are more expensive, they give a much better performance and are much stronger than aluminum, providing they have been made to a good standard.

What brake systems work with Deep Rims?

When you buy a deep wheel, you will want to ensure you get the correct wheels for your bike. If you have disc brakes, then you will need a disc brake compatible wheel. If you have rim brake bikes, then you will need the wheel to be rim brake compatible. They are not interchangeable, and you can really damage the wheels and yourself by using the incorrect set.

Will I still benefit from upgrading my wheel even if I’m not Pro?

Yes, of course. No matter if you are a beginner rider, an amateur, or even a professional you will benefit from upgrading your wheels from a standard set.

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