Gear Shed

Q:

I’m an aspiring cycling racer... on a budget. What kind of wheels should I get?

I'm convinced there's no objective info out there about bike wheels anymore. I want a set of lightweight aero road-bike wheels for racing, but do real people actually pay $2,000 bucks for carbon deep-dish wheels? In other words, are carbon wheels disposable, are budget carbon wheels worth a look, and would an aluminum clincher wheel really be just as good for crits and road races? What's an aspiring racer on a budget to do? John Lexington, KY

RR1450 Wheels     Photo: courtesy, DT Swiss

RR1450 Wheels

A:An aspiring racer on a budget follows a simple guideline: $2,000 wheels, versus $1,000 wheels, do not confer $1,000 of benefit. It’s more like $200 in benefit. If that. And that’s only until you crunch them. That is when your carbon wheels must be replaced . They cannot be repaired. Alloy wheels, on the other hand, can often be straightened out.

So count me as a skeptic about the value of $2,000 wheels. Granted, I don’t race, but I go on hard training yards with people who do, and I try to keep up. For a few years I was riding a pretty high-end pair of wheels (the maker of whom shall remain nameless to protect the guilty). But after the third catastrophic failure, which necessitated hundreds of dollars in repairs, I fixed them, sold them on eBay, and had a bike shop build me a set of wheels on DT Swiss spokes and rims. At $650 they were not cheap, but they roll and ride beautifully, are light and tough, and—best of all—do not require a lot of fussing if I taco one a bit or need a new spoke.

So I’d go with a set of DT Swiss RR1450 wheels. You’re looking at about a grand, they’re light (1,500 grams for the pair) and well-made. And, you can fix them. Or get Easton EA90 SLX front and rears. Again, about a grand, very light (1,398 grams), and race-ready.

Ride hard, man.

Ask a Question!

Our gear experts await your questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

By submitting above, you agree to the Outside privacy policy. * We might edit your question for length or clarity.

Comments