Racing Bicycle Wheels
No single part of equipment effects your performance on the bike as much as your wheels. A high quality racing wheelset is the most important upgrade you can make to your bicycle. While the sky is the limit as to what you can spend on a high performance wheelset, WesternBikeworks.com is dedicated to providing quality wheels at affordable prices.
Clincher or Tubular?
The first step in buying a wheelset is determining if you will ride tubulars or clinchers. Tubulars are the traditional favorites of racers. They utilize a tire with a tube sewn into the casing, this tire is then glued or taped to the rim. Tubulars offer great ride quality and the lowest possible weight.
Clinchers are the most common type of wheels, utilizing a tire that "hooks" into the rim and a tube. Recently, the manufacturers of clincher tires have dramatically closed the performance gap between clinchers and tubulars. Clinchers do incur a slight weight penalty due to the addition of the hooked section of rim. They typically weigh about 200 grams per pair more than equivalent quality tubulars.
Most performance wheelsets are available as clinchers or tubulars.
Carbon or Aluminum?
Aluminum wheels are still very competitive, providing light weight, durable construction and more realistic pricing than their carbon counterparts. The Easton DNU EA90 SLX Wheelset are a great example of a raceworthy aluminum wheelset. Easton has an excellent reputation for making durable, lightweight aluminum wheelsets that fit into most budget. Easton, Reynolds and Fulcrum also produce aluminum rimmed wheelsets for cyclists of all levels and budgets.
Tubeless MTB systems have been around for several years, but a similar technology for road bikes has taken a bit more time to develop. Shimano and Hutchinson were the first to commit to road tubeless. Their technology has been well received and we are seeing more manufacturers ride the tubless wave. Shimano Tubeless and 2-Way Fit wheels by Campagnolo and Fulcrum all accommodate tubeless technology.
Tubeless road wheelsets supposedly offer lower rolling resistance, increased puncture protection and a slight weight savings. The primary drawback is that only two tire manufacturers produce tubeless road tires, Hutchinson tubeless and Maxxis tubeless. Rumor has it that more manufacturers will be introducing tubeless tires, so stay tuned.
So what do we ride?
While many of us racers here at WesternBikeworks.com have several wheelsets laying around that get thrown on a bike from time to time, most of us rely on two primary wheelsets: a reliable training set and a pair of race wheels.
For training, reliability is key. It's best to stay on durable, reliable wheels that can keep rolling through rainy winter base miles and all through summer when the BIG rides happen. Either Easton EA50 or are ideal training wheelsets. Both can handle the worst roads you can ride over, and can be easily repaired if misfortune does come your way. As an extra bonus, both sets are plenty fast to serve as race wheels in crits and "Roubaix" style races over iffy pavement.
Riders with only one wheelset will enjoy mid-range wheels that may not be the lightest, but add durability. Shimano Dura-Ace and Zipp 101 can stand up to daily use, and won't hold you back on race day.
Race wheels are generally see action on race day only, and many times only in good conditions. Tubular wheels are still quite common for racing and the Reynolds 46 delivers the goods. Ultra-light (1000 grams/pair!!!), yet retaining a reasonably aerodynamic profile. The Mid-V will cut crosswinds and spin over the steepest climbs. Zipp 404 wheels are commonplace in races of all levels. Zipp carefully optimizes weight and aerodynamics, creating a very fast wheel in any type of race.
At WesternBikeworks.com we realize that not everyone is in the market for a $2,000 pair of race wheels. We are here to help you find a wheelset that suits your needs at the best price possible. Feel free to contact us at 1-800-651-4050 or email@example.com with any questions regarding your next wheelset.