Bike wheels

wheels Fixes, Reviews & Guides

Embedded thumbnail for Mavic Ksyrium SLR 2015 Wheelset Review

Mavic Ksyrium SLR 2015 Wheelset Review

free hub body

For 2000 dollars, these wheels are just ok. You can find similar wheel sets out there for about a quarter of the price. The main attraction is that...

Part wheels carbon
Company: Mavic
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Removing Water From Inside A FLO Bicycle Wheel

Removing Water From Inside A FLO Bicycle Wheel

Sometimes riding on a very wet day can result in your bike wheel becoming water logged. The wheel has been designed to let small amounts of water out, but if there is a lot it can get into a...

Part wheels carbon
Tools tire lever
Company: FLO
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for First Ride Overview of Mavic Ksyrium Allroad Pro Wheelset

First Ride Overview of Mavic Ksyrium Allroad Pro Wheelset

With the Kysrium Pro Allroad Disc, Mavic has gone to a 19mm internal width, and is selling the wheelset complete with 30mm Yksion Elite Allroad tubeless-ready tires.

...

Part wheels
Company: Mavic
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Mavic Ksyrium Allroad Pro Wheelset Review

Mavic Ksyrium Allroad Pro Wheelset Review

The Mavic Ksyrium Pro Disc Wheelset it, for all intents and purposes, is the same as the Kysrium SLR. Bring that it's disc brake-specific (finally!), there are a few key differences.

...

Part wheels
Company: Mavic
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Shimano Ultegra WH-6800 Wheelset Review

Shimano Ultegra WH-6800 Wheelset Review

Shimano Ultegra WH-6800 Road Wheelset

Shimano 6800 Wheelset

Thanks to trickle-down, race-proven technology from Dura-Ace, the Shimano Ultegra WH-6800...

Company: Shimano
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for DIY: Fixing a Torn Sidewall on Mountain Bike Wheel

DIY: Fixing a Torn Sidewall on Mountain Bike Wheel

Welcome back to The Bearded Bike Tip, today's tip is a throwback to some video I took up in the Oachita National Forest in early March.

While out riding the Womble trail I tore the sidewall...

Part wheels
Tools tire lever
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How to Install a Wheel in Vertical Dropouts

How to Install a Wheel in Vertical Dropouts

How to Install a Rear Wheel in Vertical Dropouts:

You’ll need a wheel and quick release skewer. Start by removing the old wheel from your bike. It will come off easier if you move the chain...

Part wheels
Company: FLO
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for An Explanation of Attached and Detached Air to a Wheel

An Explanation of Attached and Detached Air to a Wheel

What does it mean when someone says that air is attached to a wheel?

First thing we’ll talk about is a yaw angle. If you think about a wheel on a bicycle, and the wind is coming directly at...

Part wheels
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Review: Reynols R six Wheelset

Review: Reynols R six Wheelset

When you need the ultimate in aerodynamic performance, the Reynolds R Six Clincher is a 66mm deep carbon fiber clincher wheel that helps you knife through the wind.

...

Part wheels carbon
Company: Reynolds
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for J-Bend vs Straight Bike Wheel Spokes

J-Bend vs Straight Bike Wheel Spokes

Straight pull spokes were invented to eliminate weak point at the bend in a traditional spoke and to make wheel building faster. A drawback is that not all shops will carry straight pull spokes....

Part wheels
Tools spoke wrench
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Review of Shimano's Dura Ace 7900 C50 Wheels

Review of Shimano's Dura Ace 7900 C50 Wheels

Shimano Dura-Ace Wheel Sets are focused on speed. New rim profiles yield substantial weight savings while maintaining the aerodynamic shapes. Dura-Ace Wheels are race tested at the highest levels...

Part wheels
Company: Shimano
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for An Update On The Great Copenhagen Vs. Flykly Electric Bike Wheel Debate: Where are they now?

An Update On The Great Copenhagen Vs. Flykly Electric Bike Wheel Debate: Where are they now?

Over a year ago, we made a blog post about two new electric bike wheels being...

Part wheels
Blog Tags: Electric Bikes
Type: Blog entry
Embedded thumbnail for Review of Zipp 202 Firecrest Clincher Carbon Wheelset

Review of Zipp 202 Firecrest Clincher Carbon Wheelset

Zipp 202 Firecrest Wheel

One of the lightest, best handling, stiffest climbing wheels on the market, the Zipp 202 Firecrest Front Wheel is all about aiming...

Part wheels carbon
Company: Zipp
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Mavic Cosmic Carbon Wheelset Review

Mavic Cosmic Carbon Wheelset Review

Mavic Cosmic Hub

Light, fast and stiff with famous Mavic durability, the Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C Wheelset is the world's first reliable carbon clincher and the...

Part wheels carbon
Company: Mavic
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Review: Shimano Dura Ace 7900 C50

Review: Shimano Dura Ace 7900 C50

Shimano Dura Ace 7900

Shimano Dura-Ace Wheel Sets are focused on speed. New rim profiles yield substantial weight savings while maintaining the aerodynamic...

Part wheels
Company: Shimano
Type: Review

Which Size Bicycle Wheel Is Better: 27.5 vs 29er

Well, there's a lot of choice these days when you want to look at what mountain bike to buy. Full suspension, hardtail. Aluminium, Carbon. How much travel? And of course wheel size.

...

Part wheels
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Review of Mavic Crossmax ST 29 in Wheelset

Review of Mavic Crossmax ST 29 in Wheelset

Mavic Crossmax ST 29er Review:

Mavic Crossmax ST 29 inch Wheel

This is designed for the rider that wants to push limits on the downhill, but isn’t ready...

Company: Mavic
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Review of Reynolds 29er Carbon Wheelset

Review of Reynolds 29er Carbon Wheelset

Reynolds 29er Carbon:

Reynolds 29er Carbon Wheelset

Reynolds use mr5 technology to construct the rim, essentially different layups optimized for the...

Part wheels carbon
Company: Reynolds
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Mavic Ksyrium 125 Clincher Wheel System

Mavic Ksyrium 125 Clincher Wheel System

Celebrate 125 years of Mavic excellence with the Ksyrium 125 Clincher Wheel System.

To commemorate their 125 anniversary, Mavic decided to build the Ksyrium 125 and it reads like a catalog...

Part wheels
Company: Mavic
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Review: Shimano WH-R501 Wheelset

Review: Shimano WH-R501 Wheelset

Thanks to trickle down technology from Shimano's pricier wheels and slightly revised hub design, the WH-R501 is a great value for the budget conscious rider looking for excellent quality without...

Company: Shimano
Type: Review

bike wheel

The invention of the wheel revolutionized the caveman's daily hunting and gathering commute. Suddenly cave people were back in their dwelling well before sunset, which left plenty of time for other activities like domesticating dogs, discovering fire, and throwing cave parties with the neighbors.

Caveman bike

Bicycle - a vehicle composed of two wheels held in a frame one behind the other, propelled by pedals and steered with handlebars attached to the front wheel.

bike wheel

Let's get things rolling.

Bike wheels ("wheelsets" in pairs) start with the hub. This is the axle and bearing in the middle of the wheel, to which spokes can be attached on what is called the hub shell. The axle runs through the hub and supports the frame dropouts. Extending from the hub in the center are the spokes evenly supporting the rim under tension, connected by spoke nipples. On the outside of the rim sits the rubber tire making contact with the riding surface. Adjustments in spoke tension have huge impacts on wheel geometry, durability, and overall riding performance 

Wheel anatomy

Wheels are a manufacturing art form of specialized aerodynamic components made from strong and lightweight materials. Different types of bikes utilize different wheel structures and sizes. 

Amazon.com has some low-budget options in the $50 range, but they will be mass-produced aluminum and will not be as lightweight or strong as the carbon fiber wheels. Wheelsets for both road bikes (700c) and mountain bikes (26in) will be priced evenly as the value increases. The most touted carbon fiber wheelsets are going online in excess of $5,000! If you are in an emergency or on a serious budget, aluminum wheels will do the job just fine, but if you're even thinking about getting serious with your cycling, we have some carbon fiber wheels around $250.

Dollar sign on a bicycle

Keep in mind that you can follow a step by step process to assemble your own wheel, from the hub to the spokes to the rim. It saves a guy a lot of hard-earned dollars, and there are plenty of great tutorials out there to walk you through it. Building a wheel saves a lot of money and can give a sense of pride that you build what you ride, ride what you build. However if you don't like the thought of putting your life in your own hands, that's ok too.

Wheelman

Repairing bent wheels (called truing) can be one of the most difficult tasks one can do on a bicycle. If the rim is bent, or it's noticed that it is coming close to touching a brake pad, your wheel probably needs to be trued. Bringing the rim back into balance takes attention to detail that's mostly learned from building wheels in the first place. Patience is key, so if you're ready to bring that wheel back from the dead, here are some tips:

truing stand

  • Get a truing stand - the wheel can sometimes be trued while the bike is flipped over, but it just simplifies working on the wheel. Truing stands help notice slight imperfections that would otherwise be overlooked still in the frame dropouts.

Take a deep breath and don't rush anything. If there is a small flaw in the rim, you can find it by shining a light on the rim. In the reflection you will be able to find where the smooth stops and the trouble starts. Before messing with any spokes, try to hit the rim lightly with a rubber hammer to flatten the bump. Remember that you are working with very light metals, and overcorrecting can give more headaches than you might be ready for. Be gentle.

bent wheel cross-section  Hit rim here

When corrections are made to a small part of the rim, it affects the geometry of the whole thing. Work around the rim making even, small turns of the spoke nipples. Constantly check that spoke tension is even with your fingers. They should bend only under significant pressure. Broken spokes will be apparent.

Spoke tightening  spoke tighten

One thing to consider is that if the rim is severely dented, simply tightening loose spokes will only further deform the rim. Use a hammer to get the rim as close to round as possible before tightening spoke nipples. When a loose spoke is found, sometimes it is helpful to check the adjacent spokes at the same time. Covering more spokes makes a more uniform, round area of the rim. 

And finally: don't be a hero. If you have made many adjustments at very small increments and the wheel just doesn't seem to come into balance, take it to a professional. Solving the problems early and without too many adjustments will keep from further weakening the rim.

Wheels (and their diameters) can be put into categories based on their use:

For road and track bikes, lightweight and aerodynamic wheels are critical for high speeds, and large diameters allow for less rolling resistance (a fancy physics term for friction). The normal diameter for road bike wheelsets is 622mm or 29in. 

Mountain bikes need more rigidity and bulk strength. Therefore smaller diameters and thicker frames handle better the impacts of rumbling and tumbling down the trail. The most common mountain bike tire diameter is 559mm or 26in.

Different wheel and tire standards arose throughout the world in the early 20th century. Thankfully, programs like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO) developed definitive sizing scales and measuring procedures. This eliminated a lot of confusion in wheel and tire compatibility worldwide. The ISO system uses two numbers. the first is the outside width of the tire or rim in millimeters, while the second number is the most critical. It's the diameter of the bead seat of the rim (BSD) in millimeters. If this number matches, the tire will fit onto the rim.

If the tire is too narrow for the rim, there's a higher risk of damaging the wheel from debris on the road. Likewise, if the tire is too wide for the rim, there will be increased wear on the sidewalls of the tire and greater risk of a blowout.

Blowout  blown tire

The following sizing table was roughly transcribed from Sheldon Brown:

Common Tire Sizes and their ISO Equivalents

Fractional (inches ISO Applications
29 inch 622mm Most common width of road bike wheels
28 x 1 1/2 635mm, 622mm English, Dutch, Chinese, Indian Rod-brake roadsters
(Also marked F10, F25, 700 B), rare Canadian designation for the F13
28 x 1 5/8 x 1 1/4 622mm Northern European designations for 622mm (700c) tires
27 x anything 630mm Older road bikes
26 x 1 (650c) 571mm Triathlon, time trial, smaller road bikes
26 x 1 1/4 597mm Older British sport and club bikes
26 x 1 3/8 (S-6) 597mm Schwinn "lightweights"
26 x 1 3/8 (E.A.3) 590mm Most English 3-speeds, department store or juvenile 10 speeds
26 x 1 1/2 (650B) 584mm French utility, tandem and loaded-touring bikes, and very few Raleigh (US) and Schwinn mountain bikes
26 x 1 3/4 (S-7) 571mm Schwinn cruisers, mountain bikes
26 x 1 1/8 571mm Mountain bikes
26 x 1 1/4 559 Most common diameter of mountain bike wheels
24 x 1 520mm High performance wheels for smaller rides
24 x 1 1/8 520 or 540mm Caveat emptor
24 x 1 1/4 547mm British or Schwinn juvenile
24 x 1 3/8 (S-5) 547mm Schwinn juvenile lightweights
24 x 1 3/8 (E-5) 540mm British juvenile
20 x 1 1/8                

20 x 1 1/4

20 x 1 3/8

451mm Juvenile lightweights, some light BMX bikes, and some recumbents
20 x 1 3/4 419mm Schwinn juvenile
17 x 1 1/4 369mm Alex Moulton AM series
16 x 1 3/8 349mm Older Moulton, recumbent front, juvenile
16 x 1 3/8 335mm Polish juvenile
12 1/2 x anything 203mm Juvenile, scooters