We've taken the liberty of creating selectable, pre-customized builds levels optimized to take advantage of each level's respective proffered componentry spec, aesthetic/finish color, and wheel build/lace pattern. Below is a list of each Build Level's definition:
Strength – The front and rear wheels are laced using DT Swiss 2.0mm straight gauge (14g) spokes with brass nipples. Ideal for no compromise wheel strength. The front and rear wheels are laced with a three (3x) cross lace pattern.
Performance – The front and rear wheels are laced using DT Swiss Competition or Sapim Race double butted spokes (2.0/1.8mm) with silver alloy nipples; perfect for lots of training miles over average road conditions. The front wheel is radially laced, the rear wheel uses a three (3x) cross lace pattern on both the drive and non-drive side.
Aero – The front and rear wheels are laced using Sapim CX butted aero bladed spokes on the front and rear wheels; ideal for those whom are lucky enough to have access to long stretches of open road. An additional noteworthy benefit is the extreme performance that Sapim CX spokes offer, in terms of their strength and durability. The front wheel will be laced with a one (1x) cross lace pattern, the rear wheel uses a three (3x) cross lace pattern on both the drive and non-drive side. All nipples included with the Aero build level will have a black finish, the front wheel and rear wheel non-drive side will use black alloy nipples, the rear wheel drive side will use black brass nipples.
Race – The front wheel is laced one (1x) cross using a new Sapim light weight double butted spoke, this spoke is used on the rear wheel non-drive side as well. The rear wheel drive side, the most heavily burdened portion of your wheel set, employs the use of Sapim's light weight, yet superbly strong Race series double butted 2.0/1.8mm spokes. The rear wheels uses a three (3x) cross lace pattern on both the drive and non-drive side. These new light weight spokes on the front wheel and rear wheel non-drive side are optimized to offer a light weight, non-bladed wheel build; perfect when time is of the essence, or if you want to reduce road vibration a little bit. Additionally, these spokes help promote wheel longevity, as their thin center sections will absorb road vibration more than a non-butted (straight) spoke does, reducing spoke failure due to stress fractures. The Race build level includes black alloy nipples on both the front and rear wheels.
Climb – The front wheel is laced one (1x) cross using light weight DT Swiss Revolution double butted spokes, this spoke is used on the rear wheel non-drive side as well. The rear wheel drive side, the most heavily burdened portion of your wheel set, employs the use of DT Competition double butted spokes, (2.0/1.8mm). The rear wheels uses a three (3x) cross lace pattern on both the drive and non-drive side. The light weight spokes on the front wheel and rear wheel non-drive side are optimized to offer a light weight, non-bladed wheel build; perfect when time is of the essence, or if you want to reduce road vibration. Additionally, these spokes help promote wheel longevity, as their thin center sections will absorb road vibration more than a non-butted (straight) spoke does, reducing spoke failure due to stress fractures. The Climb build level uses silver alloy nipples on both the front and rear wheels.
Podium – Makes full use of Sapim's light weight, butted, elliptical aero bladed CX-Ray spokes, one of the best spoke options available to man, excluding price as a defining criteria. The front wheel will be laced with a one (1x) cross lace pattern, the rear wheel uses a three (3x) cross lace pattern on both the drive and non-drive side. The Podium build level includes black alloy nipples on both the front and rear wheels.
Road Wheel Buying Guide
This is meant as a practical guide to discuss some of the basic details involving road wheel components. A bicycle wheel consists of four main components, the rim, hub, spokes and nipples. Please note that we commonly hear the word “rim” used to reference the entire wheel. When we reference Rim, it will always be in relation to the rim component of the wheel specifically, not the wheel as a whole.
Selecting the best rim:
One on the most important factors when considering which rim to use should take into account what tires you like to use most. The tire width that you use may affect its compatibility with the rim. Most 700c road rims that we stock have an internal width of 14mm, which on average is compatible with narrow 700x20 tires all the way to 700x28 or maybe 700x32 tires. The tire size/width of your current tires on your bicycle can usually be easily found on the tire’s sidewall. Not to overload you with information, but tire fit compatibility used to be much narrower in years past, but improvements in rim and tire bead quality consistency and design have helped tire manufacturers to improve their tire fit range over time.
The above tire sizes are not an absolute, but are a great basis for most riders. The Bicycle Wheel Warehouse Pure Tour and RT rims have a 16mm and 17mm inner width respectively, for larger volume tire compatibility (700x25 – 700x37).
Two more things to consider when selecting a rim should be rim strength and spoke hole count. Strong rims more effectively spread the rider’s load out over more spokes, dividing out the work better. Weaker rims deform more easily under load, such that the rider load is transmitted to fewer spokes, rather than spreading out and dividing over a larger area. Weak rims put more stain/fatigue on spokes, leading to reduced spoke life as compared to a stronger rim.
Regarding spoke count, the concept is very straight forward. The more spokes you use to build a wheel, the less work each spoke has to do through its lifetime. This concept applies more to rear wheels than front wheels for three main reasons:
1) On average, bicycle frame geometry biases rider weight more on the rear wheel than the front.
2) Road shock from pot holes, bumps, etc. are easily transmitted through the front half of the bike and are absorbed by the front fork, frame geometry, and the rider’s arms. The rear wheel lacks these types of dampeners, and external shock is often absorbed in the wheel itself.
3) The rear wheel on a multispeed bike is designed such that the spokes on the drive side of the wheel have higher spoke tension than the spokes on the non-drive side. Under load, like when you are riding your bicycle for example, only the spokes on the drive side of the wheel are supporting your weight. So a rear wheel with 36 spokes only has 18 spokes that are working to support your weight. Furthermore, in reality, far fewer spokes are actually supporting your weight, only the 4 or 5 spokes that are closest to the ground are really supporting your weight, (even fewer spokes with low spoke count wheels).
That’s a lot of info, but to simplify; If you use anywhere between a 700x20 – 32 tire, you can select almost any of our road rims. In terms of strength, rest assured that the experts at Bicycle Wheel Warehouse have waded through the mire to offer only the best of the best road rims, such that the bulk of them are sufficiently strong for regular conditions.
The below are Bicycle Wheel Warehouse’s recommendations for rider weight/load per rim given our own perception of each rim’s strength characteristics.
Max recommended rider weight up to 90 kg = 198 lbs.
DT RR415 – extremely well finished, very light weight, great for climbing.
Blackset Race – great strength to weight ratio, extremely well finished, all around excellence.
Mavic A119 – Even Mavic’s entry level still has excellent finish quality, solid, dependable.
Mavic Reflex (Tubular) – Aluminum Tubular rim options in the USA are extremely limited. If you want to ride tubular, this is the rim.
Max recommended rider weight up 100 kg = 220 lbs.
Mavic Open Pro – Considered by many to be the benchmark aluminum clincher road rim. Only in the past couple of years has the Open Pro been eclipsed in terms of strength to weight ratio and quality with any type of measurable frequency. Even if Mavic never improved this rim again, it would still be an excellent go to option, which really says a lot.
Open Sport – Excellent quality rim, very dependable, heavy by comparison to all the new road rim options in the contemporary marketplace.
Pure Race Superlight – Should’ve named it Pure Perfection, it’s that good.
Max recommended rider weight up to 105 kg = 231 lbs.
Mavic CXP33 – Mavic’s “aero” rim is no longer aero by today’s standards (23mm tall). It’s still an excellent quality, moderate weight, very strong road rim.
CXP22 – Great looking rim, excellent all around usage, great for training.
Pure Aero – Aero 30mm profile, extremely strong, excellent brake sidewall, more performance and strength for the same weight as the CXP33, select the color finish that suits your fancy.
Pure RT – Great finish quality, wider 22mm width design for higher volume tires, design preference towards extreme durability.
Max recommended rider weight up to 110 kg = 242 lbs.
DT Swiss RR585 – Solid as they come, 30mm aero profile, superb finish quality, weighs a hefty 585g.
Pure Tour – Designed for absolute strength, still weighs in at an agreeable 525g (avg.), excellent finish quality, long lasting braking surface will stand up to heavy loads.
Mavic A319 – Super strong, heavy duty rim.
Mavic A719 – Super stronger/heavy duty rim with a better finish surface quality than the A319, with a little less weight.
Selecting the best hub:
When it comes to road hubs, there are typically only a few categories to consider such as, tall flanges or low flanges, sealed bearings or loose ball bearings, and hub material.
At Bicycle Wheel Warehouse, all of our multispeed road hubs have a low flange design. This is because the one or two benefits to a tall flange design are extremely minimal at best. Additionally, tall flange hubs are typically heavier than low flange hubs, and also can include a potential negative (technical aspect) that can actually zero out any benefits at all.
Great, so we just narrowed down one of the options for you. Next up, sealed bearing or loose ball bearing? All Shimano hubs use loose ball bearings, all of our DT Swiss hubs and all of our Bicycle Wheel Warehouse Pure hubs use sealed cartridge bearings, so which is best?
Loose Ball Bearing hubs Pros V Cons:
Pros- The primary benefit to loose ball bearing hubs is that, given proper lubrication and adjustment, this bearing system has the potential to last 10’s of thousands of miles. There are stories of riders having 30K+ miles on their loose ball Shimano hubs. Additionally, on average loose ball hubs tend to hold up better to heavier loads. Typically they are less expensive to buy and to own (read maintain) than sealed bearing hubs.
Cons- In order for these hubs to work properly, they have to be properly adjusted and properly lubricated. This is actually very easy to learn how to do, but if the adjustment is not decent, these bearing systems can potentially wear out quickly, with the consequence of virtually ruining the entire hub. Additionally, loose ball bearing hubs tend to be heavier overall than their sealed bearing counterparts.
Note- The better the loose ball hub, the better the weather seals and internals, meaning less maintenance and better performance.
Sealed Cartridge Bearing (SB) hubs Pros V Cons:
Pros- Typically the high end SB hubs are lighter weight, and the bearing are usually designed to be easy to replace. Note that some hubs require special proprietary tools to remove/swap bearings. While it is possible to adjust a loose ball hub so that the wheel spins extremely freely, we will say that on average new SB hubs have bearing that allow the wheel to spin more freely than common loose ball hubs do without adjustment.
Cons- When it’s time to replace bearings, you are spending additional money to service your hub (buy new bearings) as supposed to cleaning and regreasing with loose ball hubs, with the only cost being time and grease if you do it yourself. On average, SB hubs are not as good at carrying heavier loads as loose ball hubs. They are typically more expensive to buy and own.
Note- Not all sealed cartridge bearings are equal in quality. Bicycle Wheel Warehouse Pure Road SB hubs and DT Swiss Road hubs use some of the highest quality bearings in the world, but it is possible that many SB hubs use extremely poor quality cartridge bearings. Additionally, we think that the hub’s machined dimensional tolerances are more critical with SB hubs than with loose ball hubs, so on average it pays to spend a little more with SB hubs to purchase manufacturing quality.
Selecting the best spoke:
This is where the science gets a little more complicated, due to the fact that spokes are under a fair amount of stress, and are subject to countless fatigue cycles. With every single rotation of the wheel, a spoke’s tension changes (loads and unloads) to compensate for the riders weight acting on the rim where it touches the ground.
So which spoke should you choose? One of the best high performance, durable, light weight, high quality, multi-use spokes regardless of application (notice a theme here?), is the DT Competition double butted 2.0/1.8mm spoke, or the Sapim Race double butted 2.0/1.8mm spoke. At the level of quality and performance that these two spokes offer, it’s very hard or expensive to do better, and extremely easy to do a lot worse.
We’d be happy to talk spoke types/philosophy given a particular use more in-depth via email or phone, but such topic material here can get a little lengthy.
Note/philosophy of lighter weight wheel sets: On average, lightening up a wheel set by using low spoke counts is not a practical idea. Using more/lighter weight spokes is a more practical approach. If you are interested in a light weight wheel set using top-end light weight spokes, you’ll be best served with a stronger rim, as the rim’s strength will help distribute the rider’s weight across more spokes.
Selecting the best nipple:
Two options, brass or aluminum alloy. Both are equally strong to stand up to straight pull forces from spokes, but brass is much easier to work with for building a wheel, and trueing it down the road. Brass nipples are 3x the weight of aluminum alloy nipples, but for non-racers, selecting brass is generally the best option.
Selecting the best spoke lace cross pattern:
This is where we step in. Certain lace patterns are potentially very problematic, (radial rear drive side as with some Sram/Zipp/Mavic wheels), and/or offer such negligible benefits that they are considered more fashionable than functional. In most cases, however, the hub flange size or the wheel spoke count will offer an “optimal” lace pattern, deviation from this point commonly offers a decrease in wheel performance and durability.