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I'm doing research for a future purchase of new wheels (for everyday riding) for a 2012 Cannondale CAAD10 Ultegra. I want to spend ~$1000 (give or take $200 or so). In my price range I've found: Boyd Cycling, Williams Cycling, November Bicycles, and Soul Wheels (a bit over price range). They all offer similar wheelsets for a similar price. Are there any other reputable brands I should be looking at as well? I'm specifically looking at carbon clinchers.

I live in Sacramento, CA (very flat city), am 6ft tall, 130lbs.

Two questions:

  1. Now that I've identified some different brands, how do I choose between the brands?
  2. How do I choose rim depth (38mm vs 50mm vs 58mm seem to be the commonly-used ones)?
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I agree with everything stated above... I was looking at 88mm depth wheel myself, but the longest valve stems I can find are 80mm... would you have to get an extension or something for this? I've read good reviews from 'China' buyers. Romney got rich by investing in companies like that. You can save a lot by buying from China, but do you really want to support a better China or better US - totally your call. I personally am looking at bike manufacturers even closer to home. I like to see the people that do the labor and learn a bit about what goes into these things first hand. –  user8119 Sep 12 '13 at 16:59
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The full answer depends on where you are riding, how you are riding, and the conditions you are riding in. Windy, winding, hilly courses that you tackle on a road bike with some friends would have me leaning towards a less deep set of wheels. A flat calm straight triathlon course on a tri-bike I'd want more depth.

With the wheels you are looking at, and the price range you are looking at, you aren't going to be getting into the newer shaped wheels (like the Zipp Firecrest and other similarly shaped wheels) that work especially well in cross winds...which means the depth will come into play if you are in a windy situation.

My bottom line would be go with shallower wheels unless you have hard reason to go deep. The slight aero benefit of the deeper wheels will be outweighed by the greater versatility of the shallower ones. With the exception of the latest tech in wheels (Firecrest shape) my #1 criteria is hubs...a great hub on a so-so rim is much better than a so-so hub on a great rim...keep that in mind when making final decision.

If possible, ride on a set of the wheels. Find a friend that has a set identical or similar to the ones you are thinking about and take them on a typical ride (not just a ten minute test).

Also: I've been recommending folks to consider semi-carbon (carbon with alloy braking surface). These are a bit heavier, but not much and you won't have to change brake pads moving back and forth.

Have fun, be safe.

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Different brands pose different price. China have best price carbon wheels of different depth, you can find many suppliers from the alibaba.com

88mm depth wheels may shinny when you put your own design on the rims wall~~~

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I'm having trouble understanding your answer, which doesn't really seem to address the question about how to pick a brand or depth of carbon wheels... –  freiheit Sep 23 '12 at 2:21
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I live in Dubai, also a very flat city. My experience says if your average ride is flat and fast, go deep, unless the area is extremely windy.

My family is from the Bay Area originally, and I've lived in Napa and Sacramento. For Sacramento, and in your budget area, I'd look at something like he Altair 80 Carbon Clincher from Profile Design.

They are good, if a bit heavy, full carbon aero wheels. They come in a 52mm deep and an 80mm deep, in both tubular and clincher varieties.

They are fast, aero, and strong. They cut price by not cutting too much weight, so there are better options if you want to raise your budget, but not in that price range.

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