Just as road bikes are now increasingly being designated according to their use (road race, endurance, aero, adventure and so on), bicycle wheels too fit into similar categories.
Knowing what type of rider you are and what you want out of your wheel upgrade will simplify and narrow your choices.
An aerodynamic wheel will usually feature a deeper section rim, with a rim depth of around 30mm being the typical starting point.
Those aero designs have improved in recent years, deep-section models (see below) now provide a sensible balance between low weight, ride quality and improved performance against the wind. Aerodynamic rims are often made from carbon fibre in order to keep weight low. However, budget options are likely to be made of or feature aluminium, so will be heavy.
A rim of 50mm depth or more cuts through the wind with less turbulence. The additional depth can cause problems if riding in high cross winds and often adds presseure, which is why those mid-depth wheels， like 40mm and 45mm depth, have become a popular choice of time trials and fast sprint courses.
People who race on deep aerodynamic wheels will often own a set of training wheels for use outside of racing.
A wheel good for climbing is usually handmade with low weight. Such wheels generally feature a shallow-profile rim and a low spoke quantity.
Another benefit of such a wheel is seen in ride quality. The deeper a rim gets in its shape, the harsher the ride is. If your budget is not a problem, a super light climbing wheelset should weigh between 900g and 1,300g.
Training or ‘daily’ wheels must be durable enough for long-term usage, because rims wear out over time with braking.
A custom, handmade wheelset — where replacing spokes and rims are inexpensive— are a good choice . Skip those big brands, take price into consideration.
For this type of usage, expect a wheelset weight of 1,500–1,800g for something that is well priced.
Country road or gravel riding, which is fast growing now, brings big demands to good touring wheels. The wheels must be near over-built for the occasion and quickly serviceable. For this type of riding, a high spoke count (28-36) wheelset is often best.
Editor: Wendy from Vcycle
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