Selected Bicycle Wheels
Manufacturers build different bicycle wheels with different properties based on the bicycle riding style the cyclist is expected to do with the bike wheels. No one wheel will be strong, light, affordable, and good for any time of riding, even though I wish such a wheel existed!
In general, mountain bike wheels are going to be strong, but heavy. Road bike wheels will be quite a bit lighter, but not recommended for rugged trails. The sort of wheels used on commuter bikes may not be particularly strong or light, but they are more affordable and versatile. In my opinion, if you are looking to improve your existing bike, the single biggest improvement you could make would be the purchase of better bicycle wheels.
The Right Wheels for the Right Ride
Above I have noted some basic features of the wheels that one should have on a given style of bike. However, the wheels you choose will also be based on your needs. For instance, if you are interested in racing a mountain bike, you may not only be in strong wheels but also light wheels.
Someone interested in cyclo-cross racing will need road racing bicycle wheels – but ones durable enough to withstand the pounding abuse of cyclocross courses. Or perhaps you are just interested in getting out on your bike every other weekend and don’t require the absolute best (and most expensive) wheelset on the market.
Wheels for Commuter Bikes and Hybrids
The wheels on a hybrid or commuter bike seems to encompass the best of what road and mountain bicycle wheels have to offer. Because hybrid and commuter bikes are designed for versatile use, the wheels must match this quality. Therefore, the bicycle wheels are sturdier and heavier than regular road bike wheels, but still not as heavy as mountain bike wheels. Furthermore, they are wider, to provide increased stability.
The wheels used on hybrids and commuter bikes are also made to be pumped up to a higher pressure than mountain bike tires. This reduces rolling resistance and enables you to zoom about the city quite a bit faster than you would on a mountain bike.
Mountain Bikes Wheels
Because there are so many different styles of mountain biking sport, there are, accordingly, many types of mountain bike wheels.
As a general rule, mountain bike wheels should be tough, because mountain bikes weren’t designed to seek out the smoothest roads possible. Depending on the riding you expect to do, there are other qualities you should look for.
For cross country mountain bikes or single track riding, a good bicycle wheelset will not only be strong but also on the lighter ride. Cross-country treks tend to be longer, and light, agile wheels will serve you best. A great example of a strong, light, aerodynamic cross-country wheelset would be the Crossmax series offered by Mavic. Although these wheels tend to be expensive, you really couldn’t ask for anything more in a wheel.
All mountain and downhill biking demands more from the rider and more from the bike. Wheels for these bikes tend to be wider for more stability and have larger hubs for increased strength. For this type of riding, you want to have the toughest wheels you can afford. If your bike is to withstand a ride over boulders and logs or hard landings from drops of several meters or more – you want bicycle wheels you can depend on.
These wheels will be heavier than those found on cross-country bikes, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A heavier bike will be more stable when riding over large obstacles. It will also be more stable in the air. Believe me – after getting tossed all over the place on a lighter cross-country bike, I appreciated the increased stability a heavier all-mountain bike afforded me! Right now I am using Mavic’s Crossride Disc on my all-mountain bike. I enjoy the comfort of knowing my wheels are going to be able to take a day of pounding and not leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere!
Wheels for Road Bikes and Cross Bikes
Road bikes, in general, are built with one goal in mind – maximum speed. Nonetheless, there is quite a bit of variation in road bike wheels.
Did You Know?...
Deep dish carbon bicycle wheels are steadily gaining popularity among serious cyclists. Their steep prices are justified by their superior aerodynamic qualities.
To experience the full aerodynamic potential offered by deep dish wheels, ride with a strong tailwind or a headwind.
Most people will opt to purchase a road bike that will be able to handle admirably in all kinds of circumstances. For a general-purpose road bike, the cyclist should look for bicycle wheels that are not only light but also durable. If you have to sacrifice a little bit of weight for the sake of strength, I would recommend doing so. A sturdy wheel will not only serve you well on long flat roads and grueling climbs but also most types of road surfaces.
An inexpensive wheelset you may want to consider is the Mavic Aksium. These wheels may be on the heavier side, but will also require less repair if you find yourself occasionally riding on roughly paved surfaces
Wheels for Cyclo-Cross Bikes
The sport of cyclo-cross racing has gained in popularity, and along with this popularity the need for sturdy wheels has also increased. Cyclo-cross racers laugh in the faces of those who say a road bike can't be taken off-road. To withstand the demands of this sport, the cyclist should look for wheels that are both tough and light.
Mavic Ksyriums are the favorites of many cyclo-cross racers. Another wheel set you may want to look at is the Reynolds Alta. Both of these wheels are light enough to be road bike wheels, but more than strong enough to deal with the demands of the cyclo-cross race course.
Wheels for Road Racing Bicycle
Cyclists looking to race will want to consider the aerodynamic properties of the wheel, as well as the quality of ball bearings in the hub. By racing, I also mean a time trial and a triathlon bicycle. Better ball bearings will contribute to a faster, smoother ride, and a more aerodynamic wheel will help the cyclist maintain tempo at higher speeds.
Cyclists looking to take part in road races may want to consider a medium-profile wheel. These bicycle wheels have a deeper rim or dish - thus contributing to the bike's aerodynamic qualities. For this type of racing, I would highly recommend Campagnolo wheels - specifically the Campagnolo Shamal. Not only are these wheels quite light, but they also have superior ball bearings for a liquid-smooth ride. I currently ride these wheels and find them to be virtually bomb-proof!
For time trials and triathlons, many cyclists benefit from deep-dish wheels. These bicycle wheels are usually quite expensive and usually made of carbon. The aerodynamic qualities of deep dish wheels shine at higher speeds. If you are not averaging over 30 km/h on your rides or races, you may not experience the full advantage of a deep dish wheelset. However, if you are looking for a competitive edge, you can certainly check out the tried and tested wheels from such companies as Zipp and Reynolds.
Read here more about how to buy bicycle tires and tubes.
Tip: Inspect your bike first!
Before you rush off to the bike shop for some new bike wheels, you need to inspect it first to get an idea of what you have. Wheel size, hubs, rear wheel gear cassette, etc. will all be affected by the new upgrade and you should know whether what you have in mind is possible.
Bicycle Wheels Repair
There are usually two things that may go wrong with bicycle wheels - a spoke will break or the wheel will lose its symmetry.
- In the case of a broken spoke, you will know what this happens. Get thee to a bike shop!
- In the case of a wheel that loses its symmetry, or requires truing, you should first determine that the problem does not lie with the brakes.
If the brakes are correctly affixed to your bike, you may still notice that the rim of the wheel rubs the brake pad on its revolution. This will usually occur only in one part of the wheel's revolution.
Now, there are two different opinions I've heard on the matter of fixing bicycle wheels. The first is that fixing wheels is "very easy" and can be done at home. Ignore people who hold this opinion. The second opinion is that wheel repair involves some of the most complex repairs required on a bicycle. You should listen to these people!
If you notice that your wheel becomes "wobbly", or hits the brake pad at a certain point in the revolution, you would do well to bring your bicycle to someone well-versed in such matters - someone at a bike shop. For more complete information about the subject, you are invited to visit my page about bicycle wheel repair.
Where to Buy Bicycle Wheels?
If you are interested in buying bicycle wheels, you can buy them in one of these trusted online stores:
Sample bicycle wheels on eBay.com
More Bicycle Wheels on eBay
Last Word About Bicycle Wheels
If you like to know more about wheels for bicycles, you are invited to visit my page about bicycle wheel parts.