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Back on the Bike - Road Wheels

"Wheels are probably the most popular parts on a Road bike that riders like to improve, as no other component can make a greater difference to the look and performance of your bicycle. On this page you will find our recommendations, which should help you in your choice of a wheel. The main categories are divided into wheels for rim or disc brakes. In addition, the filters allow you to narrow down the hits so you can find the right wheelset faster."

Basti, Purchasing

Which brake system professional riders in the peloton use is still mixed. While some teams have switched over completely to disc brakes, others are still sticking with the classic rim brake. The advantages and disadvantages to both systems will be clear when we see who wins the races.

In a closed field of riders, different braking systems may lead to some crashes or injuries. However, hobby cyclists don’t often ride in pelotons or at speeds like pro cyclists, which makes disc brakes, with their weather resistance and less mechanical wear, the better choice.

Advantages of disc brake wheels Disadvantages of disc brake wheels
Less rotating mass on the outside of the wheel Switching wheels is slightly more complicated
No mechanical wear and tear on the rim Brake adjustment is slightly more complicated
New rim design options Slightly increased weight
Improved brake force modulation in all conditions  
No tyre failure, inner tube ruptures due to brake surface overheating  

There is a trend in the market towards using wider tyres. Here is the explanation.

Recent tests have shown, that against common believe, wider tyres actually offer less rolling resistance under typical road surface conditions than more narrow tyres. In addition, wider tyres offer added comfort. The larger volume of wider tyres allows slightly lower air pressure which moulds the tyre better to the surface improving traction and power transfer.

Check the table below, to find out what tyre width your rim can handle. The information provided has been take from the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation (ETRTO).

Rim size / Tyre witdh (mm)

18 20 23 25 28 32 35 37 40
13c X X X X          
15c     X X X X      
17c       X X X X X X
19c         X X X X X
21c             X X X
Advantages of wider tyres Disadvantages of wider tyres
More comfortable ride due to less air pressure Increased weight makes acceleration harder
Less rolling resistance Less agile steering
Less punctures Less aerodynamic

Wheels have a lot of rotating mass. It takes more energy to accelerate the same amount of mass if it is located out on the rim as if it is located at the centre of the wheel (or on the frame). This is because the rotational inertia is higher.

Hence, it makes sense to trim weight off the wheels rather than the frame if you do a lot of braking and accelerating, for example in a crit race or when riding in the city with frequent stops at lights. Heavier tyres and rims also influence the steering due to the same reasons.

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