I am building a custom bike and I can spend $500-$1200 on wheels. What are the best features on a set of road wheels?

It would be nice if they were lightweight for climbing but I live on the flats so aerodynamics are also important. Basically an all around road wheel.

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    We don't do product rec here. Plus, choosing a good wheelset depends on a myriad of factors -- the terrain, rider weight, etc.
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 22:12
  • I suggest you reword the question to "What features should I look for in a new wheelset?"
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 0:03
  • It's good if they're round. Weight (within reason) isn't all that big a deal, despite the weight wienies tell you. Things like ceramic bearings are even less significant. Aerodynamics get to be significant at racing speeds, but the factors involved are quite complex, so you'd need to find a good reference to study. Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


Current rim depths tend to be between 20mm and 80mm. You can choose along this spectrum to trade weight for aero, but for general use 30mm or 40mm is probably reasonable.

Hand-built wheels are an advantage if done well, because they are less likely to have broken spokes. There are plenty of custom wheel builders out there, plus some mass-market manufacturers who advertise hand-built wheels (obviously they'll automate what they can, but hopefully the important parts are done by hand).

For hubs you will find two types: cartridge bearing and cone bearing. The former are adjustment-free and you generally can replace the bearings if needed, whilst the latter require adjustment to get the perfect spin.

You'll probably want butted spokes of some kind. I dislike aero spokes (with flattened midsections) because they are painful to work on (you inevitably whack your hand with the spokes when working on the bike, and bladed spokes can actually cut you).

A recent trend is toward wider rims, which allow more tire volume and are sensible if you will run 25-28mm tires. It's also easier to install and remove wheels if the tire is not much wider than the rim.

In your price range you should be able to find 30mm deep wheels around 1500 grams, give or take.

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    Also, consider freehub material. Aluminum will be lighter, but most road cassettes are not on large spiders and can be damaged if you are a masher or a clydesdale. Steel will be more durable freehub matrial, but will come at the expense of weight. Some hub makers have alloy freehubs with a steel strip to prevent much of the gouging that can happen with normal alluminum freehubs.
    – Benzo
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 2:53

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