The Best Road Bike Wheels for 2022

road bike wheels

Bicycling; Courtesy Princeton CarbonWorks

Few things affect your riding performance more than the wheels and tires on your bike. Whether you’re looking for a replacement for a bent rim or bad hub or want to completely replace your wheelset for maximum performance, here are our favorite picks for fully built road wheels.

Best Road Bike Wheels

    What to Consider

    When looking for new wheels as opposed to just a rim or hub for your bike, there are a few important considerations to make before committing. While you can easily spend thousands on high-end road wheels, you can also get great road bike wheels that will seriously improve your ride for just a few hundred dollars.

    Rim Material

    Here you generally have two choices: aluminum or carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is lighter and more expensive and offers a stiffer ride. Aluminum absorbs more shock but also goes out of true faster. If you’re riding rough roads or gravel, aluminum may be a better choice.

    Brakes

    The type of brakes your bike has will also impact your rim and wheel choice. Most modern high-end bikes use disc brakes now, but if your bike has rim brakes, you’ll need a rim that can handle the pressure of being squeezed to stop.

    Tire Type

    There are three main types of tires used in road bikes: clincher, tubeless, and hookless. The wheel you buy needs to accommodate the types of tires you plan to use. Clincher tires have a bead that hooks into a rim and you need to use inner tubes to keep the tire inflated. Tubeless tires may still have a bead that hooks into the rim, but more companies are building hookless rims. Though hookless and tubeless rims both seal air between the rim and tire, the two are not necessarily compatible.

    Component Compatibility

    Make sure your wheel is compatible with your component group, whether it’s SRAM, Shimano, or Campagnolo. Most are compatible with each, but ordering the right wheel, with the right freehub, gears, and disc rotor at the onset is important.

    Rim Width and Depth

    If you’re riding on rough surfaces, you’ll want a wider rim. If you’re looking for more aero advantages, you’ll want a deeper rim. Deeper V-shaped rims are more prone to being buffered by cross-winds; some companies are manufacturing more U-shaped aero-rims to reduce the impacts of cross-winds on your riding.

    Wheel Size

    The majority of road bikes use 700c rims and tires. Some gravel bikes use 650b (27.5-inch) rims and tires.

    How We Selected

    Over the years, we’ve ridden just about every type of rim from various component groups. We’ve landed on these picks based on our experience, as well as taking into consideration reviews from professional testers and customers alike.

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1

Best Carbon Wheels

303 Firecrest

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile on all surfaces
  • Great warranty
  • Limited to hookless tires
  • Made for tires 28mm and wider

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Carbon
  • Weight: Front: 613g; Rear: 739g (lightest 700c configuration)
  • Wheel Size: 700c, 650b
  • Tire Type: Hookless
  • Rim Depth: 40mm
  • Internal Rim Width: 25mm
  • Brake Compatibility: Disc
  • Hubs: ZR1 Disc Brake
  • Spoke Count: 24

Zipp’s 303 Firecrest wheels are available both in 700c and 650b sizes and are favorites of riders on the road, gravel, or those who prefer cyclocross. This wheel is incredibly light, designed with wind in mind, and is fast and nimble despite its aero features. While roughly $1,000 for a wheel isn’t cheap, the wealth of features makes this high-end wheel well worth its price point.

2

Best High-End

Wake 6560 Wheelset

  • Resistant to crosswinds
  • Multiple width options
  • Low sound levels for an aero wheel
  • Highly customizable
  • Expensive
  • No hookless version

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Carbon
  • Weight: Front: 675g; Rear: 870g
  • Wheel Size: 700C
  • Tire Type: Clincher, tubeless
  • Rim Depth: 65mm to 60mm
  • Internal Rim Width: 18.5mm (Corsa), 20.5mm (Strada)
  • Brake Compatibility: Disc
  • Hubs: White Industries
  • Spoke Count: Front: 16; Rear: 24

If you’re willing to spend more than most people’s monthly mortgage payment on a set of high-performance aero-style wheels, the Princeton Carbonworks Wake 6560 are well worth considering. The innovative, wavy shape of the rims varies between 60mm and 65 mm thick, which helps make them quick for an aero wheel but more resistant to crosswinds.

As listed, this set runs close to $2,800, but you can also customize these wheels to your exact needs, bringing their potential costs up to more than $4,000.

3

Best Value Carbon Road Wheels

Aeolus Pro 3V TLR

  • Tubeless compatible
  • Wide inner rim dimensions
  • Disc brake ready
  • 2-year replacement warranty/lifetime warranty
  • Still expensive
  • Not a lot of customization options

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Carbon
  • Weight: Front: 720g; Rear: 855g
  • Wheel Size: 700c
  • Tire Type: Clincher, tubeless
  • Rim Depth: 37mm
  • Internal Rim Width: 25mm
  • Brake Compatibility: Disc
  • Hubs: Shimano/SRAM
  • Spoke Count: 24

If you’re looking for carbon road bike wheels on a budget, the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR is an excellent choice for disc-brake bikes with Shimano or SRAM components. With a 25mm internal rim width, they can accommodate wider modern tires with lower pressure ratings, making for a more comfortable ride. A set will run you about $1,500, but they offer excellent value and will help you cruise past your fastest friends.

4

Best Durable Aluminum Wheels

Zonda C17 Wheelset 700 C

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Disc and rim brake versions available.
  • Not tubeless compatible
  • Stiffness can make rides harsh

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 1540g (set)
  • Wheel Size: 700c
  • Tire Type: Clincher
  • Rim Depth: Front: 24mm; Rear: 30mm
  • Rim Width: 22mm (external)
  • Brake Compatibility: Rim, disc
  • Hubs: Campagnolo, Shimano, SRAM
  • Spoke Count: Front: 16; Rear: 21

Campagnolo’s components are known for quality and style—and the Zonda is no different. This wheelset is significantly less expensive than its carbon counterparts and typically costs around $600. It’s compatible with all the major component groups and can be used with either disc or rim brakes.

5

Most Versatile

GRX WH-RX570 Disc Wheelset

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Available in multiple wheel sizes
  • Not flashy
  • Heavier than other options

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 1810g (700c set)
  • Wheel Size: 700c, 650b
  • Tire Type: Clincher, tubeless ready
  • Rim Depth: 22mm
  • Rim Width: 21mm (internal)
  • Brake Compatibility: Disc
  • Hubs: Shimano
  • Spoke Count: 24

An inexpensive aluminum wheelset, the GRX WH-RX570 is one of the best values for a dependable wheelset that can be used on either the road or on gravel. It’s not as flashy or as light as a carbon wheelset, but it’s also well under half the cost.

6

Best Classic Road Bike Wheels

Ultegra WH-RS500 Wheelset

  • Classic style
  • Inexpensive
  • Shimano/SRAM compatible
  • No disc brake compatibility
  • Not as fast as other options

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 1690g
  • Wheel Size: 700c
  • Tire Type: Clincher, tubeless ready
  • Rim Depth: 24mm
  • Rim Width: 15mm (internal)
  • Brake Compatibility: Rim
  • Hubs: Shimano
  • Spoke Count: Front: 16; Rear: 20

If you’re looking for a classic looking aluminum wheelset for your road bike, the Shimano Ultegra WH-RS500 is both inexpensive and time-tested. Designed for rim brakes, these Ultegra wheels are tubeless ready and ideal for training and narrow road bike tires.

7

Best Value in a High-End Wheel

Dura-Ace 9170 C40 Carbon Disc Brake Road Wheelset — Tubeless

  • Tubeless
  • Great value
  • UCI-approved

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1630g (set)
  • Wheel Size: 700c
  • Tire Type: Tubeless
  • Rim Depth: 37mm
  • Rim Width: 17mm (internal)
  • Brake Compatibility: Disc
  • Hubs: Shimano
  • Spoke Count: 24

These wheels from the largest component manufacturer offer a high-end rider experience and are ready for Shimano’s latest 12-speed hubs. Compared to other wheels at this level, the Dura-Ace 9170 C40 carbon offers an incredible value. They also represent Shimano’s first foray into full carbon rims.

8

Best Hookless Rims

65 Disc Wheelset — Tubeless

  • More affordable than other Enve options
  • Retains speed
  • Not the best in cross winds
  • Slow to speed up
  • Expensive

Key Specs

  • Rim Material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1640g (set)
  • Wheel Size: 700c
  • Tire Type: Tubeless ready
  • Rim Depth: 65mm
  • Rim Width: 21mm (internal)
  • Brake Compatibility: Disc
  • Hubs: Industry Nine
  • Spoke Count: 24

Enve’s 65 wheelset is a less expensive (comparatively) set of quality wheels intended for road, time trials, and triathletes. The deep dishes on the rims are quick to speed up for and keep speed well. At the same time, the carbon wheels are much cheaper than many of Enve’s other options, but they’ll still make your cycling buddies envious.

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