Best Bike Wheel Reviews 2018

The quality of your wheels affects the quality of your ride. Because there are different terrains for riding and different kinds of bike wheels with self-acclaimed benefits, choosing good quality bike wheels for you can be confusing and very intimidating. That’s why we compiled you a list of some of the best bike wheel brands. While we've only featured one bike wheel set from each of their impressive ranges, do not hesitate to check out others if the need arises.
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Hub
Material
Rim Size
Brake
Spokes
Our Top Choice
Shimano Ultegra Clincher Tubeless Wheel
For most outdoor enthusiasts, Shimano is the go-to brand for quality cycling, fishing and rowing equipment, and durable accessories.
Digital cup and cone bearings. Wide flange hub. Machined aluminum hub shell. Reinforced spoke nipples. Low rim weight.
Mounting tires on its tubeless rim can be difficult.
Wide flange
Stainless steel/Aluminum
20.8mm; 23mm
Rim brake
16 front; 20 rear
Best Value
Campagnolo Scirocco H35 Bike Wheel
Campagnolo is a renowned manufacturer of quality cycling products and accessories that are innovative, long lasting and primarily safe.
Mid-section aerodynamic wheel. Stainless steel spokes. Low weight aluminum hub. Increased torsional stiffness. Clincher tire type.
Not a super lightweight bike wheel.
High side with low weight
Stainless steel/Aluminum
35 mm
Rim brake
16 front; 21 rear
Fulcrum Racing 3 Bike Wheel
Pro racers love Fulcrum because it manufactures racing wheelsets and components with unique patents and innovative design.
Clincher/2Way-Fit tire type. Milled rim. Aero spokes profile technology. Adjustable cup and cone bearings. Aluminum braking surface.
Suitable only for professional racing bikes.
Oversized but lightweight
Stainless steel/Aluminum
25 mm; 20.5mm
Rim brake
16 front; 21 rear
Zipp Experience Speed 30 Clincher Bike Wheel
When it comes to competition bicycles and wheelchairs, Zipp delivers high aerodynamic performance and superior quality components.
Precision set wheel hub. Aluminum hub shell and rim. Stainless steel spokes. Extra nipple. Enhanced cornering grip. Clincher tire compatible.
Not compatible with tubeless tires.
Ultra-strong and lightweight
Stainless steel/Aluminum
21.5mm; 30mm
Pads brake
16 front; 20 rear
Mavic Ellipse Track Bike Wheel
Mavic produces some of the most sought-after wheelsets with friendly price brackets and consistent high quality.
Highly efficient cartridge bearing. Aluminum hub. Stainless steel spokes. Includes rim tape and adjustment wrench.
Rim is only compatible with clincher tires.
Fixed cog
S6000 Aluminum/steel
30mm
Pads brake
20 front; 20 rear

(Updated )
Related Reviews
Best Bike Helmet
Best Bike Shoe
Best Bike Trailer
Best Bike Horn

How Do I Choose the Best Bike Wheel?

Let’s play a little imaginative game. Try imagining a house without a roof or a tree without roots. How did that feel? I bet it felt weird, right? Now let’s take it a step further. Try imagining yourself without feet or hands! If that felt crazy and unimaginable, now you know what a bike feels like when it has no wheels or the wrong wheels. If your bike wheels are up for replacement, that’s no wheels and if they do not perform as they used to after replacement, that’s wrong wheels.

A bike’s wheel is one of its most important components as it can single handedly determine the quality of your ride, no matter your entry level. As human beings differ, so do bikes, and so do their wheels. The different types of bikes include mountain bikes, road bikes, cyclocross bikes, BMX bikes, track and racing bikes and they all make use of different wheels. Just like you wouldn’t switch a motorcycle tire with an SUV tire, you shouldn’t switch a road bike wheel with a BMX bike wheel (it’s an extreme example, but you get our point).

The wheel of a bike affects its stability, speed, response, and total performance. Bike wheels also come in different sizes and dimensions. But before we proceed, you should know that all bike wheels, including those for your kid’s bike, share a few features in common and they include the hubs, rims, spokes and braking system. These features are explained properly in the features section and it is important you understand how they differ from bike to bike. Once you do, selecting a bike wheel with the correct weight balance, durability, strength and size for your type of bike, at an affordable price, should be a walk in the park.

If what you need is a sturdy BMX wheel for stunts in the park, or you are in search of super-light climbing wheels or even road race bike wheels with speed and weight advantage, this buying guide will aid you in selecting the bike wheels that fit and give you the superb ride quality you desire. If you also do not want to imagine yourself without a head or with a broken head, ensure you use a bike helmet when riding.
Price
The cost of a new bike wheel varies and also depends on a number of factors. A superlight bike wheel that can improve the aerodynamic benefits of the bike would cost more than an ordinary light weighted wheel while carbon fiber rims are usually more expensive than their alloy counterparts. Also, wheels with higher bearings and hubs, especially on the rear wheels, tend to be more expensive.

Most people would be forgiven for thinking they need to break the bank to replace/upgrade the wheel of their high-end bikes, but that’s not always the case. Between $200 and $1000, you should be able to get good bike wheels that are light, durable and built with great quality. During our research, we also came across some cheap bike wheels but we decided not to feature them because we felt they were cheaply made and wouldn’t offer excellent value for money.
Features
Bike wheels are capable of taking your bike to the next level and they can affect your ride quality either positively or negatively. In order to ensure you’re getting the right set of wheels for your bike, there are several features that must be considered. These features include:
  • Type of wheels
  • Wheel hub
  • Wheel rim
  • Braking system
  • Wheel size and dimensions
  • Spokes
  • Hub bearings
Construction and Design
Before purchasing a bike wheel, note the type of bike you use because a wrongly matched bike and the wheel would either not work at all or perform poorly. This is because several factors such as the aerodynamics, weight, engagement speed and bearings would differ greatly.

All bike wheels have a hub and it’s the mid part of the wheel, consisting of the bearing, axle and hub shell. The axle is fastened to the frame by either a nut, bolt, thru axle, female axle or a quick release skewer. No matter the mode of attachment, you need to ensure it’s compatible before purchasing one. Quick release skewers can be found on most mountain bike and modern road bike hubs while nuts and bolts can be found on track and single speed bike hubs. Please note it’s possible for some bikes to make use of a quick release skewer on one wheel and an axle (thru, female) on the other.

The function of the bearings is to aid free movement of the hub shell and the rest of the wheel about the axle. There are 3 types of bearings that can be found about an axle and they include ceramic/steel ball bearings, cup and cone bearings, and cartridge bearings. Bike wheels with cup and cone bearings have an advantage of little friction and ease of dissembling for lubrication, whereas cartridge bearings cannot be serviced.

The hub shell is the region of the hub to which the spokes attach. A spoked wheel’s hub shell has 2 flanges in general that radially extend outward from the axle. The spokes are attached to the hole/slot on each flange. Some bike wheels may come with an extra flange in the mid-section of the hub while some do not come with a noticeable flange. On the wheels that are spoked, the spacing of the flanges affects the wheel’s lateral stiffness – the wider the flange spacing, the stiffer the wheel. The diameter of the flange also affects the wheel’s torsional stiffness and the quantity of spoke holes that can be accepted by the hub.

The bike rim is one of the most important features of a bike wheel and it is responsible for so many characteristics. Let’s get started with the rim material first. A rim may be made of either carbon or aluminum. Aluminum rims are more popular and less expensive than the carbon fiber rims. Carbon fiber rims are mostly used in race wheels where light weight and stiffness are desired.

There are 3 types of rims. These include:
  • Clincher Rims - These are the most common rims and they make use of clincher tires. The clincher tire features a wire or Kevlar fiber bead that locks an inner tube inside the rim. This type of system can be found on road bike wheels and it offers the advantage of ease of access, especially when there’s a leak that needs to be replaced or patched.
  • Tubular Rims - Also known as sew-up rims, these are compatible with tubular tires. They have an inner tube, but in this case, they are first stitched to a casing that’s fully enclosed before being glued to the wheel rim. The tubular system can be found mostly in racing bike wheels because of its reduced weight.However, replacing a flat tire in a tubular system is laborious and applying the tire to the rim in the first instance is time-consuming.
  • Tubeless System - The rim for this one is airtight and requires a compatible tire and spokes holes. When compared to clincher rims and tires, they are considered to be superior. This is because they offer improved rolling resistance and puncture protection. However, they are hard to mount on the rims.
The dimensions of the wheels are also important.The diameter of the wheel and the width of the rim are two key parameters that cannot be overlooked. The modern international standard for sizing rims and tires lists the diameter of the rim and the width of the inner rim, separated by an (x) and both in millimeters (mm), together with the rim’s type letter code. An example is 622 x 19C.

Sometimes, instead of the rim diameter, the inflated tire’s outer diameter is used e.g. 700 x 35C. Most racing and road bikes make use of 700c wheels. However, there are 3 wheel diameters that are prominent, namely 26, 27.5 and 29 inches wheel diameters. For mountain bikes, most bikers prefer the 27.5 inches wheel diameter because of its lightweight nature and improved stiffness. Road bikes with 650c are suitable for junior riders and ladies. When it comes to matching the size of your wheel rim and tire, always ensure you check for the ISO/ETRO number.
Performance and Ease of Use
The 2 popular braking systems for bike wheels are rim braking and disc braking. For bikes with rim brakes, the nature of the rim will affect the braking performance. Aluminum rims offer a better and long lasting braking surface when compared to carbon rims. If you're also going to bike on wet surfaces, aluminum rims are capable of offering a braking surface that’s even. Disk braking wheels have a hub that comes with a mount for the disc rotor. For racing, rim brakes are more popular while disc brakes are popular for other biking. Other less common braking systems include drum brakes and coaster brakes and they can be used to provide additional braking power for wheels with rim brakes.

The spokes of a wheel under tension is what connects the rim to the hub. The rim is connected to the spokes by the means of a nipple. The nipple also adjusts the tension in the spokes. Most modern bike wheels have spokes made from steel. Others can be made from titanium, carbon fiber or aluminum. However, most manufacturers favor steel because of its durability, ease of maintenance, stiffness and ability to withstand damage. The number of spokes could vary from 28-36 on single rider bikes to 36-48 on tandem and BMX bikes. Generally speaking, bike wheels with a higher number of spokes are more durable and stronger. On the downside, they are generally heavier. Bike wheels with a lower number of spokes on the other hand usually leave a major part of the rim unsupported. Apart from this, a correct spoke tension is very important. If the spokes are too loose, it can lead to unwinding, which in turn can lead to a cracked rim or a broken spoke. If the spokes are too tight, it can also lead to harsh ride and cause the rim to crack.

If you are going to be climbing uphill, you should go for lighter wheels. Wheels that weigh between 900 and 1300 grams should be aerodynamic enough and more responsive (if more expensive). If you're a racer, you should get training wheels that should be used outside of racing. This would allow you to rest your high-end racing wheels and prevent the rim from wearing out faster. Quality bearings should also be the priority for riders that stay in muddy and wet regions. Before riding, always check your bike wheels. You can check the rim for any crack or wear, especially the spokes region. Ensure the spokes are straight and have the right tension. You can check this by squeezing two spokes at a time. Hold the hub axle and spin the wheel to ensure it spins freely. Ensure all parts are compatible before you take the bike out for use.

What is the Best Bike Wheel?

Your priority before spending your hard earned money on a new set of shiny wheels should be to know what benefit or improvement it offers. Having read our buying guide, selecting the right set of bike wheels for faster speed, increased aerodynamic benefit, better durability and enhanced ride quality will hopefully be a walk in the park.
Our Top Choice
The Shimano Ultegra Bike Wheel features a tubeless rim construction that’s also compatible with clincher tires. This means improved rolling resistance and puncture protection. For a lightweight wheel with a higher rim depth for more aerodynamics, take a look at the Shimano 24MM Carbon\/Aluminum Clincher Wheel.
Shimano Ultegra Bike Clincher Road Wheelset with A Wide Flange For Increased Stability – 23mm Wheel Depth

Shimano Bike Wheel WH-6800


Features
Shimano is synonymous with the best road bike wheels because it offers the stability and reliability bike users desire. Shimano is also committed to supplying the cycling industry with components of high quality and improved performance. Little wonder it’s one of the most renowned choices for daily bike users and top racers all over the world. It goes a step further by ensuring its users remain loyal with innovative designs and bike components that are easy to use without affecting the environment at large.

The Shimano Ultegra Bike Wheel features a wide flange hub which increases the stability of the hub and increases the durability of the bearings. The offset rim protects the flanges and with the wide flanges, it maximizes stiffness and transmission of power. It also features unique angular contact bearings which provide increased support for the combined load of the radial and axial direction. Here are some other features of this bike wheel:
  • Tube/tubeless rim construction for increased low weight and durability
  • Digital cone bearing adjustment for a rotation performance that is smooth and enhanced
  • Stainless steel butted spokes for increased durability and wear resistance
  • Reinforced spoke nipples for optimum tension and maximized stiffness
  • Dual contact sealing which keeps water and dirt out effectively
  • Quick engaging free hub which allows the rider to coast
  • 10, 11-speed compatible cassette which lets you use an 11-speed drivetrain with 10-speed wheels
  • Rim depth of 23mm which is low weight enough to be used as climbing wheels
Best Value
The Campagnolo Scirocco Bike Wheel features a deep rim depth of 35mm which makes it a mid-section aerodynamic wheel and improves the quality of ride and performance against cross winds. For a bike wheel with reduced weight that is compatible with a tubular tire, check out the Campagnolo Pista Track tubular 700c front wheel.
Campagnolo Scirocco H35 Bike Wheel – Available in Several Colors and Sizes

Campagnolo Bike Wheel – Black, 700c


Features
Campagnolo has been in existence for more than 80 years and is responsible for some of the most innovative, high quality cycling products currently available on the market. Apart from being innovative, Campagnolo also manufactures consistently durable products, which is why its products (that cut across road racing, triathlon, track and cyclocross disciplines) have achieved success. Campagnolo also prioritizes safety along with performance optimization. This ensures the user is absolutely safe without compromising the optimum performance of the wheel, no matter the conditions.

The Scirocco Bike Wheel has a rim diameter of 35mm and a clincher tire. A 35mm rim means this is a mid-section aerodynamic wheel and it strikes a balance between the quality of ride, low weight and increased performance/ease of handling against cross winds. It also features stainless steel spokes that are durable, easy to maintain and quite stiff. They also lead to greater response and more aerodynamic penetration. The front hub has a spoke count of 16 while the rear has a spoke count of 21 with a 10/11 speed cassette body type. The increased number of spokes on the rear hub ensures vibrations that may arise with heavy cyclists are eliminated.

Other features of this bike wheel include:
  • Innovative dynamic balance that ensures the wheels achieve maximum stability even at top speed
  • Anti-rotation system to ensure spokes remain in the highest aerodynamic penetration position
  • Innovative G3™ spoke pattern for perfectly balanced spoke tension. This reduces stress while pedaling, and increases transversal stiffness and power transmission of the wheel
  • Aluminum hub for high side rigidity
  • Oversize flange mega G3™ cassette side which ensures greater response when a change occurs in the pace of the cyclist and an increase in the torsional stiffness
  • Aluminum nipples and pin for reduction in the wheel’s peripheral weight
The Fulcrum Racing 3 Bike Wheel has a milled rim to ensure a reactive wheel with a front depth of 25mm for good response and a rear depth of 30mm for maximum power transmission to the wheel. For a bike wheel with a higher rim depth for more aerodynamics and a carbon fiber rim for ultra-light weight, check out the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon Wheelset - Clincher.
Fulcrum Racing 3 Shimano Wheelset with Stainless Steel Spokes and Aluminum Nipple

Fulcrum Bike Wheel 700C - Black/White


Features
Fulcrum has made a name for itself by designing and manufacturing racing wheelsets for professional racers. Its wheels boast innovative designs with emphasis placed on speed and balance. With a presence in over 30 countries worldwide, Fulcrum ensures its wheelsets are readily available for its users. Another selling point for this brand is the use of patents unique for its products and continuous technological research that ensures it’s always on the cutting edge.

The Fulcrum Racing 3 Bike Wheel has a hub shell made from aluminum. This increases the lateral stiffness, without increasing the weight of the wheel. The flanges on the hub shell are also oversized and made from aluminum, resulting in a 9 percent increase in torsional stiffness. An increased stiffness invariably leads to an increase in the efficiency of transferring power to the wheel and a greater response to any change that may occur during pedaling. This bike wheel also features a milled rim made of aluminum, reducing the total weight of the wheel. Here are more features of this racing bike wheel:
  • 25mm front rim height for better response
  • 30mm rear rim height for power transfer to the bike wheel
  • The cup-and-cone bearings can easily be adjusted. Leads to less friction and can be easily dissembled for lubrication
  • Double butted steel spokes that are durable and ensure a maximum level of aerodynamic penetration is achieved
  • Anti-rotation spokes system ensures the steel spokes remain in the position of the highest aerodynamic penetration
  • Aluminum braking surface offers an even braking surface and ensures the wheel can be used in wet and muddy climes
  • Clincher/2Way-Fit tire type – the tubeless rim is compatible with clincher and tubeless tires
  • 2:1 Two-To-One spokes ratio patent spokes are doubled in critical positions and as a result, torsion and slackening of the spokes is prevented
  • F.I.C (Fulcrum Identification Card) which certifies the wheel has been assembled manually. It also identifies the bike wheel
  • MoMag™ patent which is a mounting magnet system and it simply makes wheels with hole-less upper bridge. This means every point on the wheel rim is uniform and this increases the rim’s life, reduces fatigue and offers increased spoke tension
The Zipp Experience Speed Bike Wheel is a mid-section aerodynamic wheel with a rim depth of 30mm. This gives it a low weight balance, smooth rolling, improved speed and superior response. For a deep section aerodynamic wheel with a carbon fiber rim for low weight, check out the Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel.
Zipp Experience 30 Road Bike Wheel – Available in 3 Styles

Zipp Bike Wheel 00.1918.021.000 - Campagnolo


Features
Zipp is one of the go-to brands for high quality bicycle and wheelchair components that improve aerodynamic performance. No wonder it serves an elite group of athletes that prioritize speed and stability. With an impressive range of long lasting products that include wheels, bars, stems and seat posts, Zipp also designs tires and cycling apparels that increase riding comfort and performance. Not content with resting on its laurels, Zipp also ensures it keeps up with the ever-growing cycling population by manufacturing products with innovative designs and the best technology available.

The Zipp Experience Speed Bike Wheel has a lightweight aluminum rim that leads to faster cycling times in normal winds. The rim has a depth of 30mm for improved aerodynamic performance and a width of 21.5mm which allows for increased cornering grip and ride comfort. The hub shell is made from aluminum which makes it quite tough and lightweight and is also compatible with a 10 or 11-speed cassette. Here are other features of this bike wheel:
  • Stainless steel spokes that are durable and maintain stiffness of the wheels
  • External nipples for increased spoke support as they each exit the rim
  • Stainless steel bearings that help reduce friction and ensure a long lasting smooth ride
  • Precision set hub which eliminates the need for adjusting the preload
  • Clincher tire compatibility which allows the tire to be easily accessed and changed if there's a leak or wear
  • High spoke count (front 18, rear 20) for a stronger and more durable wheel
  • Radial spoke pattern on front wheel which makes for a light and aerodynamic wheel
  • Cross spoke pattern non drive on rear wheel for maximum stiffness and increased efficiency in transferring power to the wheels
  • Wheelset weight of 1655 gram (front 765g, rear 890g) which can support a rider that weighs up to 250 pounds
A rim tape of 18mm can be used with this bike wheelset.

Get the Best Bike Wheel of 2018!

Having gone through this review, it’s our hope we've provided you with enough information to make an informed decision. As usual, the final decision rests with you. Take your desire for enhanced performance to the next level by matching your newly acquired wheelset to your bike.

Our Top Choice
Shimano Ultegra Clincher Tubeless Wheel
Best Value
Campagnolo Scirocco H35 Bike Wheel
Fulcrum Racing 3 Bike Wheel
Zipp Experience Speed 30 Clincher Bike Wheel
Mavic Ellipse Track Bike Wheel