Wheel upgrades

I bought what is called these days an entry level road bike, a Specialized Allez (Elite), hung with Tiagra from new and latterly 105 parts when they needed replacement. Wheels were DT Swiss or something, but they didn't like winter and died, so were replaced FOC for Shimano R501. They are absolutely fine. Could I do better?

I can see that wheel prices go from £50 to £2500.

If I am looking at a wheel upgrade, what price point should I be aiming for? Obviously a front pothole seeker that's dearer than the rest of the bike is silly.
And what, exactly, are the advantages of this fantastic upgrade?
What are the pitfalls? There's no such thing as a free lunch, everything has its compromises.


  • What are you using it for? And what do you want?

    I assume it is a training bike? If it is then do you want to spend money on a nice-to-have or would you rather spend money on performance? Because a set of bling wheels for a training bike ain't it. 

    Robust wheels. Light wheels. Cheap wheels. Pick two. Possibly substiture speed for weight in the same sentence but there are some wheels off the curve in that respect.

    You say yourself "They are absolutely fine". Why do you think there's "better" then? image


  • Got the same bike, and put some kinetic k1's on it. Fab, just fab. Knocked mins off my40k bike time in oly's. Not too dear and tough as old boots.

  • You get what you pay for, and it's easy to spend money on rubbish....

    FYI I bought a ??500 set of wheels for ??250 (vision 30 mm depth) and used them for 4 years on my tri bike and road bike. they did IM races, winter training, sportive. Then the rear hub died and the front rim is thin

    Bought a set of ??1000 hed deep section wheels for ??500 from eBay

    I save those for summer training and racing. New bearings and still going strong. They feel fast, but they are expensive

    Bought a set of ??200 wheels for ??120,(shimano budget wheels) for winter training After I destroyed my crap commute wheels.

    3 months of winter training and they are wrecked.

    I've read cheap hand built wheels are the way to go For heavy winter training training.

    Just spent ??800 on a set of training/Race wheels for the tcr... Disk specific hubs, dynamo on the front. These will not wear out so are worth the money... I hope
  • You can't go far wrong with a set of Mavic Openpro and 105 hubs. Cup & cone so always adjustable, and spokes easily found in most shops. Trust me, when a few spokes have gone you want something repairable there and then.

    And then some light bling carbon jobbies for racing on.

  • Same question from me. The rear wheel on my Cannondale Synapse has a terminal issue, bike geekery sends me to sleep but the little coggy thing inside has welded on, so whilst replacing the wheel an upgrade makes sense. These aren't race wheels, need to be able to cope with the Surrey Hills and potholes, IM training distances. I'm not a more slip of a thing but do get blown around in the wind, and have a tendency to ride in too big a gear. Trying to cure this with being constantly yelled at but that's another story. I'm also a terrible cyclist so nothing tricksy which gets all frisky in the wind. Don't want to spend a fortune but as per OCK5 no point spending the money for them to pack up too soon.

  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭

    Decide your budget and then ask on a bike forum for something robust suitable for someone of your weight specifying you don't want a deep section rim or fat bladed spokes.

    The handbuilt vs factory wheel debate is one you'll get different opinions on - in practice I've never broken a spoke on a factory wheel but in theory handbuilts are more economical to repair - spokes, new rims etc.  If you learn how to service a cup and cone hub Ironcats suggestion isn't a bad one but you need to find a good wheelbuilder who can then also advise you on the most suitable rim for your needs.

  • So I have a Giant Defy Advanced 3 (carbon). I decided after owning it for a bit that I fancied some new wheels, and went for Shimano RS80 C50s (current model is RS81 C50).

    These are deep section wheels with an alloy braking surface and carbon faring. They don't make me accelerate much/any faster than the stock wheels, but they do keep speed a lot easier, and when you get up to around 30kph, they require much less effort to push on past. They also make an awesome vrooming sound when they're up to speed.

    I have never put the original wheels back on, and use these ones for training in all weathers/conditions around the roads of Surrey. They seem pretty solid and have lasted through a few triathlons (including Outlaw, Grafman, Hever and Chantilly Gaunlet (which had cobbles) multiple sprints and olympics.

  • GobiGobi ✭✭✭
    This really does come down to what are they for

    If you are just training then a simple low end set of Fulcrums will do. I use a pair on the training bike all year and they are solid but if you plan to race then it is a whole new ball game.

    I road race on a set of Zipp 202 (2200 retail when they came out) but the bike they are on only gets used on race days or for the test ride a few days before each race.

    If you plan to stick tri bars on and do triathlons then I would look for something like a Zipp 404 / Planet X 50(budget dependant)
  • The more information I receive, the more confused I become. Thanks all though.

  • I know there is a lot of debate about Planet X but for me they do everything right. A British manufacturer who keep costs down but quality up by not selling through third party distributers.

    I would recommend the Planet X 52mm Carbon Clincher set



    To back it up they also won the best wheels under £1000 in the bike rader review




  • It's worth keeping your eye on the PlanetX website. I got my RS80C50s from there for ~ £500. I think they get job lots in occasionally and discount very heavily.


    One question though, have you considered aerobars instead? In my experience, the thing which causes greatest air resistance is me. If you can present a lower profile, you will have to work much less hard, and you're likely to see bigger speed gains.

    They don't make a cool vrooming sound though. image

  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭

    Yeah but you wouldn't recommend 52mm clinchers for Kate as she is looking for training wheels that don't get blown around.    

    I think for you  Kate as you are female (I'm assuming) and a cyclist you are probably relatively  light even if you say you aren't a slip of a thing and not putting out thousands of watts in a sprint so most factory wheels are going to be strong enough for you.    

    If you look at the Fulcrum range they do CX options for cyclocross but basically they just have better sealed hubs which should be of benefit for all year round training.   The cheapest model can be had for about £125 in the sales and at that price you run them til the rim wears out in a few years of all weather riding and chuck them.   If you want lighter then go up the range (lower numbers down to fulcrum zero) and pay more for a bit less weight.  

  • I love my Mavic Cosmic SL clinchers, which I've had and raced on for the last year.  They're fast & look cool.  Surely the most important factors albeit not necessarily in that order.

    That said, I'm yearning for some wheels with Zipp written around them & might be tempted to part with my Cosmic SLs if I received a sensible offer.

  • The main reason for the upgrade is my back wheel needs replacing and it makes sense to go for an upgrade rather than go for more of the same. I have a friend who gets this stuff on the cheap checking out various options and report back. Tri bars will be back on the bike when I'm worrying less about not drowning in puddles if I go aero.

  • GobiGobi ✭✭✭
    Kate - I assume you need a race and training wheel then rather than another set.

    In that case I would really look at Fulcrum wheels

    Robbie - I have 202s for road racing 404s on the track bike(they were road wheels from 2008) 808s for crit racing and tts and a Zipp disc. Nothing like a little ZIPP in your life image
  • GraemeKGraemeK ✭✭✭
    Campagnolo Zondas have to be worth a punt. Mine have about 6000 miles on them now are yet to go out of true, my Ksyrium Elite S have after under 500 miles. The Campags are 233 pounds at wiggle with a Shimano or Campag freehub and aren't heavy at 1550g, I'd buy another pair, I wish I had rather than the Ksyriums on my Ridley.
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