Best "Cost-Conscious" Road Wheelset



scott930

New Member
Jun 14, 2013
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I know going with the low-price leader is never the best idea, but with a new baby, I'm just trying to get an upgrade over my stock wheels under $400 or so; this is for a Specialized Allez that I just use for touring and a few sprint/olympic duathlons each year. Purchasing a separate TT/tri bike next year, so I just wanted a little boost on my Specialized this year and for some climbing-heavy duathlons.

I found a few options out there, but not sure if I should be more focused on weight or rim depth. Definitely want to cut weight, and I know I won't get too much aero benefit under 50mm rim, but the options I've found of interest are:


  • Easton Aero Road wheelset, 1820 grams, 30mm rim ($290)
  • Vuelta Corsa SLR wheelset, 1467 grams, 22mm rim ($320)
  • 3T Accelero 40 Pro Wheelset, 1855 grams, 37mm rim ($400)


Thoughts on the value of any of these options? Thank you!
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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As someone who has been riding and racing a long time, started on custom built wheels in the 80's and 90's using rims like Mavic GP4's and GL330's (folks will attest they were some of the best), switched over to factory built wheels in the 10's (again some of the best with the Mavic Elites and Zipp101's) is now back to custom wheels.

Inevitably they are cheaper and in my experience very often ride better, like my current HED C2's built up on Campy Record hubs. At around $650 those are out of your budget but a very nice pair of wheels using the new "wider is better" rim paradigm (i.e. the new 23mm rims vs. the old skool 19mm rims) an extremely durable and AWESOME riding set of wheels could be built up on your budget using more economically minded hubs. Some examples of those wider rims are the HED C2's, but cheaper ones like the Velocity A23's can be had to make an equally awesome riding wheelset within your budget.

The wider rims roll faster (scientifically proven) than their narrow counterparts, are stiffer AND more comfortable (how the heck did they do that!?), and in my opinion handle better when using real world tire choices like 23 and 25mm.

As far as your choices I have heard nice things about the Eastons and Vuelta's.

Outfits like Colorado Cyclist and Excel Boulder Sports (many others too) make fine wheels and deliver if you don't have a quality LBS in your neck of the woods. I'm sure other folks will chyme in.


Edit: after that long winded recommendation I'm having trouble finding a combo as it relates to a build in your price range - apologies. You'd probably be closer to $450 with 105 or Ultegra hubs. For some reason thought the A23's were at a lower price point.

Edit2: But I digress - http://www.amazon.com/Wheel-Master-Velocity-A23-Set/dp/B005LY44X4/ref=sr_1_4?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1371215588&sr=1-4&keywords=velocity+a23
(I can't vouch for this particular build quality but apparently they can be had on the cheap)

All that said, it is very unlikely I will be going back to the 19mm traditional rim width anytime soon. It's possibly one of the best things to happen in the road bike world since the advent of the clipless pedal. YMMV.
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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Vuelta rims seem to get good reviews on Nashbar's website. I've not ridden them.

I'm pounding the hell out of the cheapest Mavics, the Aksiums. On sale for $199 and around $300 retail WITH Mavic tires/tubes, they are holding up well to crappy Ohio roads and abusive training rides. Not the lightest wheels on the planet, but they spin up fairly quickly and have a good road 'feel' to them. A year plus on them, I would buy again.

Agree with Dan. There is nothing to compare with a custom built/handbuilt wheel. My favorite builder in the production/shop category is Colorado Cyclist. I own several sets that their builders did up for me and they are simply the roundest, truest, most evenly tensioned, detailed builds outside of my own. Maintenance? Throw away your spoke wrench.

Mavic Open Pro's might run you $450-$650 depending on hub and spoke options though.

For slow, steep, slogging climbing type riding you should probably look harder at the weight. If you ride a lot of flat, open road or rolling hills that allow you to keep your speed up, the more aero the better. Note: $400 doesn't buy a whole lot of aero or light weight as I'm sure you've found out. Also, some manufacturers are pretty optimistic about their published weight figures.
 

maydog

Well-Known Member
Feb 5, 2010
1,333
174
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If you are looking for speed on the cheap, you are better off modifying your bike fit and or adding clip on aerobars. My daily rider has a Vuelta Corsa HD wheelset. On paper the wheels should be slow - heavy and 36 spokes; but I also have flipped the stem, added aerobars and modified my fit for a more aero position. Simply moving from the drops into the aero position, I get 1 maybe 2 more MPH on the flat for a given percieved effort. I have set many local KOMs between 2 and 10 miles in distance with this "slow" wheelset.

I have also ridden Aksiums, good value wheels and can usually be have far under MSRP.

My current Tri bike has Shimano RS 30s. They are probably most similar to a Mavic Cosmic but can be found a much cheaper prices.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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I agree on the wider wheels with everything except the 'scientifically proven' rolling resistance part. Yeah some manufacturers have claimed reduced rolling resistance with wider rims but independent tests have failed to demonstrate any such connection between rim width and rolling resistance for the same air pressure.

Folks like Al Morrison and Tom Anhalt and even Josh from Zipp have posted their test results with wider rims and even though they've shown good repeatability and good measurement precision for Crr with many different tires and tubes they don't see the claimed reductions in Crr when running wide clincher rims. Sure there's some theories about the shorter and wider contact patch being good in terms of reduced hysteresis losses but tests have failed to show such a reduction in Crr. The test results I've looked at show the wider rims to be Crr neutral for the same tires and tubes mounted compared to 19mm rims.

Still I'm with you, I love the ride, I love the cornering feel, and I love the ability to run lower pressure without worrying so much about pinch flats. All very nice features but until I see some independent tests demonstrating the reduced Crr for the same or lower air pressures I'd take such claims with a big grain of salt.

Some decent discussion on the subject here: http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=111506&sid=19d69ac2a00349a88a404a8ca6476311


If the OP wants to go the wide rim route on a limited budget I'd suggest the newer Neuvation alloy clinchers: http://www.neuvationcycling.com/product/neuvation-r28aw-wheel-set-1660.htm

-Dave




Originally Posted by danfoz .

As someone who has been riding and racing a long time, started on custom built wheels in the 80's and 90's using rims like Mavic GP4's and GL330's (folks will attest they were some of the best), switched over to factory built wheels in the 10's (again some of the best with the Mavic Elites and Zipp101's) is now back to custom wheels.

Inevitably they are cheaper and in my experience very often ride better, like my current HED C2's built up on Campy Record hubs. At around $650 those are out of your budget but a very nice pair of wheels using the new "wider is better" rim paradigm (i.e. the new 23mm rims vs. the old skool 19mm rims) an extremely durable and AWESOME riding set of wheels could be built up on your budget using more economically minded hubs. Some examples of those wider rims are the HED C2's, but cheaper ones like the Velocity A23's can be had to make an equally awesome riding wheelset within your budget.

The wider rims roll faster (scientifically proven) than their narrow counterparts, are stiffer AND more comfortable (how the heck did they do that!?), and in my opinion handle better when using real world tire choices like 23 and 25mm.

As far as your choices I have heard nice things about the Eastons and Vuelta's.

Outfits like Colorado Cyclist and Excel Boulder Sports (many others too) make fine wheels and deliver if you don't have a quality LBS in your neck of the woods. I'm sure other folks will chyme in.


Edit: after that long winded recommendation I'm having trouble finding a combo as it relates to a build in your price range - apologies. You'd probably be closer to $450 with 105 or Ultegra hubs. For some reason thought the A23's were at a lower price point.

Edit2: But I digress - http://www.amazon.com/Wheel-Master-Velocity-A23-Set/dp/B005LY44X4/ref=sr_1_4?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1371215588&sr=1-4&keywords=velocity+a23
(I can't vouch for this particular build quality but apparently they can be had on the cheap)

All that said, it is very unlikely I will be going back to the 19mm traditional rim width anytime soon. It's possibly one of the best things to happen in the road bike world since the advent of the clipless pedal. YMMV.
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by daveryanwyoming .

I agree on the wider wheels with everything except the 'scientifically proven' rolling resistance part. Yeah some manufacturers have claimed reduced rolling resistance with wider rims but independent tests have failed to demonstrate any such connection between rim width and rolling resistance for the same air pressure.
Thanks for the link. It's true that I may indeed be sometimes guilty of purporting claims as fact, but what impressed upon me the most was that it was Continental engineers remarking on HED's product. The ride quality does go to my head at times.

Edit: Some interesting points at the link. Two things that always made sense to me from a wider is faster standpoint (at least theoretically) would be the ability to run at lower pressure and the reduction of light bulb factor using wider tires. On actual roads, and not velodrome surfaces (or smooth rollers) where higher pressures may be technically faster I'm thinking the ability of the tire to deform over irregularities would be faster, like a downhill skier who actually does everything to avoid airborne moments (akin to a high pressure tire skittering over bumps), and which is why i understand latex inner tubes to experience lower crr as they are more able to readily deform. And reduction of the light-bulb effect of say a 25mm tire on a 19mm rim (which creates massive disturbance in airflow) compared against the more harmonious shape of a 25mm tire on a 23mm rim. Understandably we are talking quantum measurements here, but the cumulative effect of all these things together add up to something.

I.e I have seen aero tests, and I have seen crr tests but not in combination. Maybe the gestalt of it arrives us at more than the sum of the parts? Either way, subjectively it's Corvette like handling with Cadillac style comfort.
 

daveryanwyoming

Well-Known Member
Oct 3, 2006
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Originally Posted by danfoz ....I.e I have seen aero tests, and I have seen crr tests but not in combination. Maybe the gestalt of it arrives us at more than the sum of the parts? Either way, subjectively it's Corvette like handling with Cadillac style comfort.
It's been done a few times, but not often. A month or two ago Tom Anhalt published some interesting data that combined Crr results with Flo Wheel's published aero testing of their wheels with different tires. Here's Tom's blog, scroll down for the combined aero/crr stuff: http://bikeblather.blogspot.com.es/

Bottom line, on Flo wheels the GP4000s is a killer combo from a combined aero and Crr standpoint at least at higher speeds where aerodynamics dominate. The Vittoria Corsa CX tested a bit better in pure rolling resistance terms and the Conti Supersonics a bit better yet for Crr but when mounted on Flo wheels those lower Crr tires weren't that great aerodynamically especially at higher yaw angles. Trouble is, you can't extrapolate the aerodynamic part of those results to tire/rim combos other than those Flo tested and published data for. If other folks do aero tests on tires and rims in combination and realistically they should test all tire and rim combinations in the same tunnel ideally in the same session but at least with all the same conditions it would be very interesting at least for timed solo events.

Anyway, there is a bit of combined data out there but not a lot.

-Dave
 

alienator

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2004
12,596
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There's a lot of conflicting data out there and a lack of in depth, precise studies by neutral parties. In theory the same tire on wider rims should have a lower Crr than on narrow rims, but the fact that test results have been mixed tends to make think that the testing isn't very rigorous or that proper error analysis of the test setup and data isn't always or ever being done. Cycling sorely needs independent test results on a few things.