Few things can affect the performance of your bike they way wheels can. They represent a significant
amount of weight and since they are rotating, the impact of their weight is amplified; they cause
significant aerodynamic drag; and most significantly they are one of the few upgrades that you can
feel the impact of on your first ride.
The type of riding you plan on doing is the most
Type of Riding
important factor in choosing new wheels.
The type of riding you plan on doing is the most important factor in choosing new wheels. If you
intend to ride the wheels everyday (as opposed to using your current wheels for daily use) or use
them for road racing, then you are best to look at aluminum-rimmed wheels with high tension,
specially designed spokes such as Shimano's Dura Ace wheels. These wheels are focused on delivering
durability, stiffness and light weight for climbing and sprinting. While they have an aerodynamic
advantage due to their low spoke count they are not designed as aero wheels.
If you intend to use the wheels only for time trials or triathlons you can look at carbon-rimmed
aero wheels such as those from Zipp. These have a significant aerodynamic advantage thanks to their
tall aero-section rim shapes. Carbon fibre keeps the wheel weight to a minimum, in fact these are
usually the lightest wheels on the market.
Tubular vs. Clincher
The final consideration is tire type. Clincher tires are probably the type of tire you use now. The
tire and tube are separate and when you get a flat only the tube needs to be replaced. Tubular tires
have a tube sewn inside them and when you flat a new tire is needed. For this reason clinchers are
the choice for daily use. Tubulars have several advantages for time trial and triathlon use:
lighter weight, lower rolling resistance, and fewer flats (that are quicker to change). We recommend
tubulars for aero wheels.