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I want to upgrade my bike (Specialized Allez Expert Z2) with a new set of wheels because I think that those are the weak spot of the bike. Currently, it's equiped with DT Swiss Axis 2.0 wheels (I attached a picture of the bike where you can see the wheels too). Sadly, there is not a lot of information regarding this wheels available because I think they are a special version for Specialized bikes. Firstly, I want to aks with how much € I'd have to calculate to actually feel a difference between the Axis 2.0 and a new set of wheels? Would € 600 - € 800 be enough? If yes, which wheels would you recommend in this price range? The terrain I usually bike is flat to hilly but (currently) I'm not really biking in big mountains.

When I was searching the internet for the currently mounted wheels (DT Swiss Axis 2.0) I found the following data: Front wheel: 831g - 880g Rear wheel: 1036g - 1174g

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    What do you want to achieve? What’s the weight of the currently installed wheels? I assume they are low rim, high spoke count, bad aerodynamics? – Michael Aug 28 '20 at 13:03
  • @Michael I attached a picture and added the data I've found. And yes, they feel kind of heavy and sluggish – Steradiant Aug 28 '20 at 13:11
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Per the FAQ, we don't recommend specific products as they tend to become obsolete quite fast. We also don't really discuss product valuation. It's likely that the folks on Bikeforums, where you cross-posted, may offer some discussion on those aspects. However, general upgrade considerations can be a productive avenue for discussion here.

You have, with all respect, a lower-end rim brake road bike. Past a certain point, it's not really worth upgrading lower-end bikes. Bike manufacturers get favorable component (including drivetrain and wheel) pricing from manufacturers, because they buy in bulk. So, past a certain point, it's probably more cost-effective it to sell your bike to someone who wants an entry-level bike, and buy a new complete bike or a used bike.

Another thing to consider is that modern road bikes are increasingly shifting to disc brakes. If you had a disc brake bike and you bought a nice set of wheels, you might consider taking those wheels with you if and when you upgraded the whole bike (although you'd still want to consider the OEM pricing phenomenon discussed in the paragraph above). However, you have a rim brake bike. For performance road bikes, rim brakes may be a bit of a technological dead end. Many newer performance bikes don't have rim brake versions. Wheel and rim manufacturers might cease developing higher-end rims for rim brakes. That said, if you were willing to shop used, you might consider getting a used pair of nice wheels.

Discussing possible upgrades in my perceived order of cost-effectiveness:

  • Upgrade to ultralight butyl tubes (you can keep the older butyl tubes as spares). These should reduce rolling resistance. You might even consider TPU tubes (currently, Tubolito is the only manufacturer, and they're very expensive) or latex tubes (they will lower rolling resistance even more than light butyl or TPU, and they may even be more durable, but they require daily inflation and can be tricky to install). Some independent parties have actually tested rolling resistance for inner tubes. Aerocoach published estimates for light butyl, TPU, and latex tubes. Bicycle Rolling Resistance did similarly, but I believe they also included some good standard butyl tubes.

  • Upgrade to a high-performance road tire. Again, Bicycle Rolling Resistance and Aerocoach have published some estimates. Take note that Aerocoach focused on racing tires, and both outfits include time trial tires in their tests; those tires are very, very thin and not durable. High-performance tires like the Continental Grand Prix 5000, Specialized Turbo Cotton, or their equivalents from other manufacturers are good choices to consider here.

Those upgrades deal with consumable items anyway, and you could dismount the tires and move them if you decided to get a new bike. They will make a noticeable difference to the ride and to your perceived (and actual!!!) speed.

Upgrading your entire wheelset is trickier. You have a lower-end alloy-rimmed wheelset. I haven't been able to find exact specifications for your current set. However, you could get a used or new set of higher-end alloy wheels in your price range. The hubs might be more durable, and they would be lighter. Based on appearances, any changes in aerodynamics would be marginal. You have to make massive weight changes to see any meaningful differences in cycling performance.

You could consider getting a set of used carbon aerodynamic wheels instead. Those would make a noticeable difference. I haven't personally checked, but the used rim brake wheel market is likely to be soft, because the industry is shifting to disc brakes. However, carbon rims require special pads (emphasized because you will damage your rims and have poor braking otherwise), and braking will always be inferior to alloy rims. Moreover, if you ever did a ride with long descents, carbon rims are sensitive to heat, and can be destroyed if you drag your brakes too long (Google for carbon resins and glass transition temperatures if you're interested). I don't see this as a good idea for a lower-end rim brake bike, and I think this is out of your price range anyway.

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    Agreed. One point to add: aerodynamics are more important than weight. Modern, deep-section rims would make more of a difference in your actual speed than super-light wheels. But those rims would probably be carbon fiber, and bring all the tradeoffs mentioned in this answer (I think this is a big part of the reason behind the switch to disk brakes, in fact). – Adam Rice Aug 28 '20 at 14:07
  • It is a better idea to save the money you want to invest and spend it on a new or second-hand mid or high-end bike. Either after selling this one or keeping it as a bad weather bike. – Carel Aug 28 '20 at 14:33
  • Thanks for all the good input, I'll indeed have a look at your suggested improvements. Firstly, I saw the trend towards disc breaks but I honestly don't really understand it. They are heavier and need more maintenance. Even if you buy a high end bike, you need to invest even more to get a lightweight hydraulic disk break and my rim break never failed me (even when I did a mountain tour). Secondly, My bike weights around 7.8 kg. So to really save more weight I'd have to buy a 10k carbon bike which would be a massive investment. – Steradiant Aug 28 '20 at 17:47
  • @Steradiant I think that if properly bled the first time, disc brakes should not require more maintenance than rim brakes. Changing disc pads is comparable in difficulty, although it's harder to see how much pad is left on discs than for rim brakes. Discs enable only slightly better stopping in dry, but they clearly outperform rims in the wet. Last, as I mentioned, bike weight matters little to cycling performance unless we're talking more than 2kg difference or so (and then only on climbs). I've used an 8.9kg steel rim brake bike on long climbs also, and done just fine. – Weiwen Ng Aug 28 '20 at 18:01
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    Remember that the UCI has set a lower limit on weight for racing bikes of 6.8 kg. So there are very few road bikes that weigh less than that, even if you spend €10000. Beyond about €2000, you're paying for more exotic materials, more integration, electronic drivetrains, suspension (maybe), R&D budgets, parts that are produced in uneconomically small quantities, and the bragging rights that come with a bike that was made by Shaolin monks on the Moon. – Adam Rice Aug 28 '20 at 18:54

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