What wheels should I get for my new road bike?

Swi of gear, I finally bought my first road bike since I was a kid: a nice carbon-fiber Specialized that is kind to my back. What I need is some advice on a good set of wheels to replace the original Alex wheels. My budget is around $500. What do you think of Neuvation M28 Aeros or Ksyrium Elites? Ideally they would be available at Performance as I have some points to burn. Tim Mountain View, California

Jun 8, 2011
Outside Magazine

Ksyrium Elite

A: Ah, yes. Performance points—crack for cyclists. You pay that $20 initiation fee, start building up points, and before long you're in their grip like a python holding a mouse. I was at Performance in Seattle the other day and shook them down to price-match Nashbar on a cycling computer. But it just wasn't the same—Performance, of course, now owns Nashbar. So I wasn't really stickin' it to 'em.

Anyway, wheels. Both the Neuvation and the Mavic Ksyriums are proprietary rimspokehub systems, unlike, say, a Mavic Open Pro rim that you can match with various hub and spoke components. The advantage of a wheel "system," in theory, is that all the components are tuned to work well together. The Neuvation and Mavic Ksyriums also feature things such as aero spokes for less wind resistance. Price for a pair of the Neuvation Aeros is $400 (although currently on sale at the Neuvation website for much less; www.neuvationcycling.com). For a pair of the Ksyrium Elites, about $550 at Performance (www.performancebike.com). So, depending on your points and other factors such as sales tax and shipping, maybe you can get out of there for under $500.

I have not ridden the Neuvation wheels, although they are well-regarded. They're a little on the heavy side (1,720 grams) but roll well. One complaint I've come across is that it's difficult to get a tire on and off without a tool. But you'd be happy with them, I'm sure. I ride a pair of the Ksyrium SSCs, which are a little pricier and lighter than the Elites. I like them fine after about three years of use (about 100 to 150 miles a week from June through October; rain bikes take the abuse during the winter). They spin fast and look great, and I haven't run into the durability problems that some riders complain about.

For both models, replacing rims or spokes can be expensive and a hassle. For that reason I also still like a pair of good ol' Open Pro CDs ($75 per rim) built up with a nice pair of hubs such as Shimano Dura-Ace ($300 for a pair) and double-butted spokes. That's nearly a lifetime wheelset.

The pavement is warming, the singletrack is rough and ready. To put you in the saddle, Outside has assembled the ultimate lineup of rigs—from dream machines to wallet-friendly workhorses—dialed to your two-wheel fantasies. Pick up your copy of the April issue, on newsstands now!

Filed To: Road Bikes

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web