It’s time to announce the best wheels that made it into road.cc Recommends in 2022.
We’ve given wheels its own category this year rather than including them in the road.cc Recommends Components of the Year 2022/23 awards just because we’ve reviewed so many over the past 12 months and the standard has been high.
There’s loads going on in the wheels market, partly thanks to the widespread adoption of tubeless tyre technology and the ever-growing dominance of disc brakes. These developments are keeping the brands super-busy and you’ll see the results reflected in the wheels featured here.
Each month we add the best bikes, clothing, parts and accessories we’ve reviewed on road.cc – and our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips where relevant – to road.cc Recommends. This is the area of our site where we recognise the top products we’ve reviewed and rated – the exceptional stuff that demands your attention.
road.cc Recommends is so exclusive that even products that score nine out of 10 in our reviews aren’t guaranteed a place. They all go in front of our panel for consideration. Below you’ll see the wheels that impressed us most.
We don’t rank components, accessories and clothing into top 10s in the same way that we do with bikes. Instead, we offer three types of awards:
Bargain Buy This goes to the product that we feel gives the best value for money.
Money No Object We take price out of the equation for this one; it’s all about performance.
Editor’s Choice This award is won by the product that gives the best combination of performance and value for money.
We don’t necessarily give out all three awards in each category; it comes down to what we feel the components we’ve reviewed deserve.
One thing you’ll notice is that Hunt is exceptionally well represented here. That’s not down to bias or commercial considerations, it’s simply because these are the wheels that impressed us most over the course of the year. We could have removed a Hunt wheelset or two in order to avoid criticism, but that’s not our style. We’ll always play it 100% straight and if anyone doesn’t approve, well, that’s just the way it is.
One more thing: the prices in the headings were correct at the time we published our initial reviews. Some have altered since but we've stuck with the originals because they're the ones we based our comments on.
Okay, let’s crack on with the road.cc Recommends Wheels of the Year 2022/23…
The Hunt 32 Aerodynamicist UD Carbon Spoke Disc wheelset brings top-level climbing performance – along with interesting tech and spot-on handling – to a relatively sensible price. There's a lot to like here.
We first saw glimpses of this wheelset at the 2021 Tour de France, under Qhubeka rider Sergio Henao. Riding them, at 1,240g with valves and tape, doesn't present too many surprises; they’re reactive and well-suited to climbs.
The low weight makes them incredibly nimble and, while the ride might be on the twitchy side for some, we absolutely loved riding these wheels. Considering the weight and high stiffness, it wouldn't have been a surprise to find them a bit jittery in rough corners, but the Aerodynamicists absorb those little shocks well.
These wheels really shine when you head for the ultra-competitive world of Strava KOMs up silly hills. Here the 32 Aerodynamicist UDs deliver exactly what you need. They accelerate quickly and never leave you feeling like your precious watts are going into anything other than forward motion.
Hunt committed to hookless rims with these wheels and introduced new hubs too. The Sprint SLC hub has been updated with a move to 7000-series aluminium, and the result is a claimed weight of 95g front and 220g rear. The three-pawl design in the freehub has 48 points of engagement, and the hubs are on the loud side.
Hunt says that the replaceable carbon spokes allow the system weight to be reduced – because it takes fewer carbon spokes to achieve the same lateral stiffness figures as regular ones.
The Scribe Élan Wide+ 42-D Carbon Spoke wheels are sub-1400g all-rounders that bring a bit of aero assistance to a beautiful balance of stiffness and lack of weight.
The wheels feature 42mm-deep unidirectional (UD) Toray T700/T800 carbon fibre rims with a U-shaped profile. These have an external width of 30mm and a 21mm internal width, meaning that they suit road tyres from 25-32mm and could be used for light gravel duties too.
Connecting the rims to the hubs are some fancy carbon spokes and inside the hubs you'll find Scribe's patented ratchet drive. This provides instant engagement which gives no slack whatsoever. If you like a subtle sound to your freewheeling, though, you might not be a fan as it's a little on the buzzy side.
You get a little aero nudge on the flat. It’s not as pronounced as the advantage you get fro a set of wheels with rims over 50mm deep, but it’s enough to give you a bit of a boost on the straight sections, downhill, and to take full advantage of a tailwind.
Overall, there is very little to find fault with here. Scribe has used top-notch components to create a performance package that delivers right across the board without any compromises.
The Mason X Hunt 650b Adventure Sport Disc wheelset is a great choice for adding tyre volume and go-anywhere capability to your bike. With multiple axle and freehub options, a great build backed by a three-year warranty and decent parts supply, they earn their slight price premium over the competition.
The rim is a standard hooked design with a drilled and taped rim bed, while the spokes are triple-butted stainless steel J-bend, going from 1.6mm in the middle to 2.2mm at the corrosion-resistant brass nipple for extra strength.
The hubs are Centre Lock disc format, and Hunt will sell you a set of 6-bolt adaptors for £20.
After about a 1,000km of mostly gravelly off-roading (and powerwashing after every ride), reviewer Mike Stead slid off the freehub to see nice fresh grease still coating the pawls. Clearly, the sealing is good, and maintenance – cleaning and greasing – is a quick, tool-free job.
These are 100% round wheels that didn't get less round during the test, and they stayed true and silent. They did the job without complaint or concern. The hub, with its four-pawl, 10-degree engagement always felt snappy when putting the power down, and the tubeless, pre-taped rim bed profile held different tyres just fine, even at low pressures.
Hunt has hit the sweet spot in the middle of the 650B wheelset Venn diagram covering price, support and performance. Unless you're looking for the lowest possible weight, or deeper rims for aero reasons, there’s no reason to look past the Adventure Sports.
Hunt's 36 Carbon Wide Aero wheelset delivers outstanding performance for the money, keeping your rim brake bike firing on all cylinders and offering very good value.
The 36mm-deep rims measure 27mm wide externally and 19mm wide internally, offering near enough the maximum width you can comfortably get away with on a rim brake road bike. The wheels come tubeless-ready with rim tape fitted and Hunt claims that the Griptec Basalt Ceramic brake track produces extra friction for improved performance.
There’s no doubt that this wheelset is impressive out on the road. Its light weight (1,430g on our scales) brings with it the ability to rocket up steeper climbs. Coupled with a fast-engaging freehub, this means that as soon as you choose your moment you get incredibly direct and satisfying reactions.
There’s no lack of lateral stiffness here. Even when whipping the bike side to side in a full gas effort over a steep rise, they remain resolutely firm.
You get a very stable performance on flat terrain and descents. Loads of confidence comes from a blend of the shallower, rounded profile that easily shakes off wind gusts and the width of the rim itself, maximising the tyre profile for improved grip.
The freehub is pretty noisy. Some people will like that, others won’t. This isn’t a wheelset for those who like to sneak in the draught of their ride buddies unnoticed. Rest assured, everyone will know when you're not pedalling.
If you're looking for that high bang-for-buck wheelset for your rim brake bike, this offering is up with the best. These wheels are perfect for those who prefer light weight and stability over a deeper rim, and are especially great if you enjoy climbing.
The Prime Primavera 44 Carbon Disc wheels are light, stiff, wide and handle very well on hills, on flats and in crosswinds alike. This wheelset is competitively priced and easy to recommend.
The carbon Primavera sits at the top of Prime’s road rangewith 32, 44, 56 and 85mm depth options to suit a range of riders. Compared with the outgoing Black edition wheels, the rim profile has been improved to be more aerodynamic as well as structurally stronger owing to its T800 UD carbon fibre construction.
The rims follow recent trends with a future-proof 23mm internal width and 30mm external width. The 44mm-deep rims handle crosswinds beautifully and are manageable year-round.
The Prime 44s impress as the road angles up. They feel direct, tight and, most importantly, efficient, with little lateral movement when out-of-the-saddle climbing.
The straight-pull DT Swiss Aerolite spokes – with DT Swiss Pro Lock Squorx nipples – are a sound choice. The wheels arrived true and stayed that way throughout the review period.
The Primavera wheels receive a new dual-sprung star ratchet hub engagement system with Japanese steel sealed bearings, similar to the design we've seen in Scribe wheels and DT Swiss ratchet rear hubs. The 36 points of engagement system results in a 10° engagement angle.
Prime has hit the nail on the head with the 44s. They have all the features a modern set of wheels needs, from the ratchet freehub to the super-wide tubeless rims that perform well just about everywhere – flats, mountains, crosswinds, you name it.
Hunt's 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheelset employs the aerodynamic thinking behind some of its top-end wheels. The result is a hugely fast yet reasonably light pair of wheels with some amazing windcheating effects. They're also solidly built and well-priced.
The 54s are a mixture of T700 and T800 grades of unidirectional carbon fibre, the T800 fibres included to boost the strength-to-weight ratio. The spoke areas and rim bed are reinforced with a 3K weave.
With modern materials and build techniques Hunt has managed to bring this set of 54mm deep-section hoops down to a claimed 1,524g (1,620g on the road.cc scales with tubeless rim tape fitted), which would be impressive even for a set of wheels at half the depth.
With that in mind, they don't hamper you on the climbs, and you get that aero boost on the flats and descents.
The level of stiffness is impressive too. Using this much material without accumulating weight often sees stiffness being the first thing to leave the party, but that hasn't happened here. Hard efforts out of the saddle don’t promote any lateral flex at all.
They have a 29mm external width which Hunt says has been optimised for 25-28mm tyres, yet will happily work with much bigger, up to 50mm.
Overall, they offer real-world performance gains while being light enough to be used as an all-rounder, even on the climbs.
The Scribe Inception Aero Wide+ 42-D Carbon Wheelset is a great option at a very impressive price. The wide rims – 21mm inner and 30mm outer – make for excellent aero qualities, and the only real sacrifice you make to more expensive wheelsets using the same rims is in the hub internals and a little additional weight (with rim tape and valves, these hit the scales at 1,640g).
In terms of aerodynamics and handling, these are very, very good. With a 42mm depth, they're a neat midway point between out-and-out 50mm+ aero wheels and lighter, more crosswind-friendly but less speedy options at 35mm or less.
Rather than a single leaf spring inside the rear hub, Scribe uses a double coil spring 36-tooth ratchet system that engages in 10° when you start pedalling, which is pretty quick. This hub is also much quieter than Scribe's other offerings.
The hubs are laced to the rims with Pillar SR1424 spokes They are bladed to help cut through the air and we had no issues with the truing or any loss of tension. The build is stiff and responsive when cornering or putting the power down.
We were impressed by these wheels. They come in at a good price, yet offer some of the benefits of Scribe's higher-end models. The wide design is as good as ever, they are stiff and they pick up quickly too. The Inceptions are a really great set of wheels.
If you've got a rim brake road bike and you want some wheels that are pretty light and durable but aren't going to break the bank, you need something like the Hunt Race Aero Wide wheelset. It's a solid choice for everything up to racing, assuming you don't want carbon.
The 31mm alloy rim is a bit deeper than a standard alloy rim but not really any heavier, and this wheelset tipped the scales at 667g for the front wheel and 840g for the rear, nudging them just over the 1,500g mark. For the money, that's light.
The hub gets Hunt's H_CERAMIK freehub with a hardened coating to stop the cassette biting into it, and the 4-pawl freehub has a 10-degree engagement angle. The hubs run on EZO bearings and the wheels come set up tubeless-ready, with good-quality tape and a valve fitted.
In use, the Hunts feel responsive. When you're stamping on the pedals up a steep rise or sprinting for a sign, there's very little flex evident and the Race Aero Wide wheelset isn’t unduly affected by even savage sidewinds.
Braking on alloy rims is better than on carbon; these rims with standard Shimano 105 brake pads never gave us any cause for concern. The machined surface works well in both wet and dry conditions, and there's a wear indicator indented into the surface to let you know when it's time for a new rim.
Pulling the cassette off the freehub after about 1,000km (625 miles) revealed some very minor notching of the body, but nothing to stop the cassette from coming off easily. Opening up the hub showed little water or muck inside, suggesting the sealing was doing its job.
Overall, these Hunts wheels are excellent. They're well built, they're stiff, and they're light. Carbon wheels look great, and they sound nice, but you can save yourself some cash by getting a great alloy wheelset instead.
The Roval Alpinist CLX II wheelset offers easy tubeless setup, a low weight, and a high level of stiffness. They handle beautifully too. Specialized says that a revised carbon layup at the rim bed stops the carbon cracking if you ram your nice hoops into a hole or kerb.
The big news is that the Alpinist CLX II now has a tubeless-ready rim bed. We used them with S-Works Turbo 26mm tyres and they went up easily with a track pump and no sealant.
Like other lightweight carbon wheels that are also stiff, these have the ability to transform the way a road bike rides. The 1,265g total is very good, but it's the way it pairs with the stiffness that makes the wheels. It results in a wheelset that punches up from slow speeds effortlessly and can be flicked through tight corners.
With a 33mm-deep profile, these aren't going to mix it on flatter rides with something like the 51mm/60mm Rapide CLX IIs but they're perfectly capable of holding onto speed, so if your rides aren't all elbows-out group smash-ups or races, these might be the better set for you.
Inside the DT Swiss hubs you'll find ceramic bearings and we didn’t have any issues with them during an extensive review period.
You have to stump up a lot of cash for these wheels, but if you’re able to afford them they’re brilliant. They’re a joy to ride. That’s why they walk away with our Money No Object award.
The Hunt 44 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheelset represents a brilliant deal that offers all the performance you need – which is why it earns our Editor’s Choice award. The wide rim is stable in crosswinds and fast on mixed terrain, they set up tubeless very easily and just float over harsh roads.
This wheelset is closely related to the Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheelset (above), but with 44mm-deep carbon rims. They strike a great balance between flat land speed, handling and climbing ability. As all-rounders they're very capable, and with a quick tyre swap they can handle cyclocross and light gravel duties too.
What surprised us most when we reviewed the wheels was their smoothness over broken surfaces. The 20mm internal width (29mm external) helps with this floaty ride. The width means that they are optimised for 25-28mm tyres, but you can run your 23s if you're still clinging to them – and we fitted 33mm cyclocross tyres too.
Acceleration is impressive from low speed. They lose out slightly to a properly deep wheels on fully flat rides, but if you're looking to cover a range of riding, this is an excellent option.
The Hunt Sprint straight-pull hubs are a familiar sight now. Inside the freehub live three treble-tooth pawls and pick-up at the pedals is quick, but you can find faster. That said, the Sprint hubs help to keep the cost down and it's a tradeoff worth making.
Interestingly, Hunt has chosen a hooked rim which complies to ETRTO standards. The hooked design gives you more tyres to choose from and also means you can pump them to higher pressures.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.