We’ve previously taken you through the wheel ranges from Mavic and Fulcrum, now it’s time to turn our attention to Shimano’s rather large offering of wheels. Shimano wheels are frequently specced by bike manufacturers and they’re popular aftermarket upgrades, no doubt helped by being a common sight in the professional peloton - it supplies wheels to more teams than any other brand.
Dura-Ace R9100 and R9170 wheelsets
Shimano unveiled new Dura-Ace wheels with the launch of its latest groupset last summer. The new C40 and C60 wheels have a fashionably wide rim designed for improved aerodynamics.
The rims have a wider profile than the previous generation Dura-Ace wheels, following the current trend for bulbous profiles that are more stable in crosswinds than the older V-shape rims. Each is available in a clincher or tubular version, so you can emulate the pros if you want or be sensible and fit some inner tubes.
Alternatively, the R9170 versions of the C40 and C60 wheels are designed solely for disc brakes and use a 12mm thru-axle hub and a rim that is tubeless compatible. There’s also a tubular option as well.
If you want the lightest option, the R9100-C24 has a very shallow 24mm rim that keeps the weight low, making it an ideal wheelset for climbers. It's virtually unchanged from the previous R9000-C24 in case you're wondering.
Shimano’s previous Dura-Ace R9000 generation wheels are still available if you shop around. There’s the C24 (£1,999.98) and C75 (£1,699.98), the classic C50 (£1,599.98) and finally the C35 (£1,499.98).
Ultegra RS700 and RS770 wheelsets
Along with the latest version of Ultegra 8000 launched this year, which follows closely in the wake of new Dura-Ace, Shimano released updated wheels. It’s offering two wheelsets under the Ultegra label, the carbon-laminate RS700 for rim brakes (£466.99) and the RS770 (£674.99) for disc brakes.
Both are tubeless-ready and the later is compatible with thru-axles. There are also new hubs to shed about 60g of weight compared to the old 6800 wheels, and there’s a lighter carbon layup in the new rims. Claimed weight is 1,568g for the rim brake wheels and 1,639g for the disc wheels.
RS81 carbon laminate wheelsets
The RS81 series borrows features and technology from the range-topping wheels in Shimano's range but offers it in a more affordable package. There are also three rim depths to suit your requirements and budget.
RS, by the way, stands for Road Sport, and is Shimano’s attempt to offer top-level performance at a great price, and are ideal for racing and training duties.
The aluminium brake track with a carbon outer means you’re assured of reliable braking performance in all weathers and don’t have to change the brake blocks on your bike to upgrade to these. The hubs have extra wide flanges to build a stronger wheel and Shimano’s OptBal Spoke System is intended to increase the rigidity of the wheelset.
The RX830 combines Shimano’s proven carbon laminate technology in a 17mm wide (internal) tubeless-ready rim optimised for disc brakes, so there’s no brake track on these rims. The hubs are cup and cone and ready for disc brakes with conventional quick release axles - so you’ll only see these on cheaper or older generation rim brake bikes, as most disc brake bikes are moving over to thru-axles. Shop around and you can find them discounted, as is the case for most of the wheels here.
This is one of Shimano’s most affordable wheels, and the rim is also tubeless-ready. They feature an offset rim design with wide flanges to provide a stronger wheel and the hubs are compatible with 10- and 11-speed cassettes.
The RX31 was one of the very first dedicated disc brake wheelsets available when disc brakes started appearing on production road bikes a few years ago. Shimano has built a solid wheelset around 24mm profile aluminium clincher rims with 24 stainless steel butted and bladed straight pull spokes in each wheel to best deal with the disc brake forces. Hubs are now thru-axle compatible with contact sealed bearings with an 8,9,10 and 11-speed compatible freehub.
Looking like a good upgrade option for many entry-level bikes, though you’re likely to see these wheels specced on a lot of mid-range bikes, the RS-330 uses a lightweight aluminium rim with a 30mm depth providing good aerodynamics, making them ideal for anyone wanting to inject a bit more speed into their riding.
You’re getting a bit more technology in return for your extra £50 at RRP over the RS010 wheels below, with a 24mm profile aluminium rim and bladed stainless steel straight pull spokes - 16 up front and 24 our back. The hubs have labyrinth sealed angular contact bearings and low-friction seals for low rolling resistance and good durability.
The RS010 is the most affordable in the RS line and uses much of the same technology as you'd expect higher up the range, and is a really good entry-level wheelset. You get the same 24mm rim depth as the more expensive wheels with 20 front spokes and 24 rear spokes and quick release hubs with wide flanges, contact bearings and steel axles.
An affordable disc brake wheelset with 28 spokes in each wheel for extra durability and a 24mm rim for low weight, combined with Centre Lock disc rotor mounting system. The rim width is recommended for 25 to 38mm wide tyres. The hubs use regular quick release axles.
Shimano’s most affordable wheelset and one you’ll see on a lot of entry-level road bikes with 8 and 9-speed drivetrains. Combining 24mm aero and anodised rims with 20 black chrome plated spokes in each wheel and weighing 1,884g, it’s a solid wheelset.
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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.