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Best road bike wheels 2023 — transform your road bike with some shiny new hoops

Get the most out of your training and/or racing with some of the best road bike wheels you can budget for

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If you want to upgrade your bike but feel like a whole new one is an unnecessary expense, investing in the best road bike wheels that your budget can afford is probably the best bang-for-your-buck upgrade you can make. This way, you can keep your beloved steed but still notice big improvements in ride quality, comfort and/or speed depending on what type of wheels you're upgrading to. Couple this with a set of the best road bike tyres, and you’re sure to notice plenty of gains.

Because bike manufacturers are often working to a price point, wheels that come as standard on 'off-the-peg' road bikes tend to be a tad on the heavy side, uninspiring and not of the highest quality in terms of bearings and materials used. That said, they will (hopefully) be perfectly serviceable and reliable, so many cyclists will decide to go for the version of the bike they want with some more basic training wheels, then upgrade later. 

Although investing in a new set of wheels may seem like a big purchase, we think for most cyclists it's worth the investment... plus, you get to keep your old set for riding through winter to prolong the life of your new ones!

Whether you're wanting to make your bike lighter, get a stiffer, more responsive ride or get more aero with a set of deeper rims, we have your needs and tastes covered no matter what your budget. Prices range from just over £200 for alloy training wheel upgrades right up to a whopping £3,300 for some cutting-edge carbon aero wheels, so there should be something for everyone. While pretty much all of our recent wheel reviews have been disc brake wheels, (sorry rim brake fans) a number of them are available for rim brakes too, and most brands still offer some wheels in their range for the humble rim brake. 

These are our very top picks across various categories, so if you're more sure of what wheel type you're after then check out our extensive reviews archives to find more carbon, lightweight, aero and tubeless options that have been reviewed and rated by our intrepid team.   

Under our selection, you'll find some handy buying advice including a rough idea of just how much free speed a set of aerodynamic carbon wheels can net you, plus some tips on building your own if you're a bike nerd like us... 

The best road bike wheels : our top picks

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc wheels

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc Wheelset

Best road bike wheels overall
Buy now for £1149 from Hunt Bike Wheels
Very noticeable aero benefits
Quality build throughout
Loads of extras in the box

Starting off our list of the best road bike wheels are the Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc wheels, which we've crowned our best overall thanks to their very good ride and build quality. The wide rims are constructed from a mixture of uni-directional T24 and T30 grade carbon fibre and include reinforcement around the spoke holes.

In comparison to other 40mm and 50mm-deep wheels, the Hunts make any bike feel like it doesn't need as much power to maintain a given speed, especially when that speed is around 20-25mph. They also roll very nicely, producing a very smooth and pleasant ride, and the rounded profile of the rim doesn't get battered around by crosswinds or when being passed by large vehicles at speed. 

Overall, these are a really great set of road bike wheels that are on the pricier side in comparison to similar wheels on the market, such as the Scribe Aero Wide+ 50-D Wheelset, but well worth the money for the high quality you receive. These would definitely be a solid all-round option for anyone wanting to invest in carbon deep section road wheels for racing or training for their disc brake road bike.

Read our review:
Vel 60 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc Wheelset

Vel 60 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc Wheelset

Best value carbon wheels
Buy now for £590 from Sigma Sports
Good value for money
Real world speed boost
Solid build
Lighter alternatives out there

The Vel 60 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc is a really great set of carbon wheels that would be fantastic to use on a regular basis for both training and aesthetic gains. At only £590 at the time of writing and still under £800 at RRP they’re hard to say no to, which is why they're our best value pick. 

Even though they are an absolute steal of a price, they happen to handle really well. For example, sometimes deep-section wheels can feel fast in a straight but then once cornering can often feel sluggish, but these don't. These wheels offer brilliant handling as well as noticeable aero advantages.

All in all, the Vel 60 RL Carbon Tubeless Disc Wheelset offers a quality package for an incredible price. Admittedly, there are lighter and faster options out there, but you would have to pay far more. Therefore, it's worth investing in this pair if the pricier carbon deep sections are beyond your budget. 

Read our review:
Parcours Ronde Wheelset

Parcours Ronde Wheelset

Best all-round wheelset
Buy now for £1099 from Parcours
Good price
Stable in crosswinds

The Ronde wheelset from British brand Parcours is for a bit of everything, capable on tarmac or gravel. They came in at 1,410g (with rim tape) on the Scales of Truth before being sent out to our reviewer, which is pretty impressive.

The price is fair and competitive, and our reviewer found these wheels to be stiff, responsive and quick to engage. They handled everything that was thrown at them, and uphill they're sprightly. With rim depths below 40mm, they do not suffer from skitters in the wind either. 

Go for these if you want to see improvements across the board compared to your stock wheels. 

Read our review:
Mavic Ksyrium 30 Disc wheelset

Mavic Ksyrium 30 Disc wheelset

Best road bike wheels for training
Buy now for £230 from Merlin Cycles
Quality feel
Strong build
Good freehub feel and sound
Look more expensive than they are
A bit heavy
Can feel a little harsh

If you're looking for a set of solid and reliable training wheels, then the Mavic Ksyrium 30 Disc Wheelset is a solid option for your consideration. They offer a quality feel thanks to their strong build quality, and while it's not a wheelset that you would choose for racing, we feel that these are the best wheels for training and off-season mile munching. 

These Mavics roll very smoothly, and are also impressively stiff under acceleration. They are on the heavier side, but for the price and what they're for, that's acceptable. 

Overall, the Mavic Ksyrium 30 Disc Wheelset really offers a good all round package. The wheels are of a solid quality and are reliable, making them a top choice for those looking for a solid set of training wheels.

Read our review:
Roval Rapide C38

Roval Rapide C 38 Disc Wheelset

Some more great all-rounders
Buy now for £999 from Sigma Sports
Brass spoke nipples
Heavier than some
Engagement angle on hubs (but easily fixed)

The Roval Rapide C38 wheels are handbuilt for durability and quality, being designed to be used on both road and gravel surfaces, making them a very versatile choice. 

These carbon fibre wheels are a great dependable option, and the choice of DT Swiss components, including brass spoke nipples, mean durability should be excellent, although this arguably has slightly compromised the weight. They are also very stiff which is evident when climbing or putting down power.

Without a doubt, these really are a brilliant versatile wheelset and a great all-round package. Therefore, the Roval Rapide C38 are a top choice for anyone looking for a genuine year-round wheelset that can be used on either a road or gravel bike.

Read our review:
Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 6560 Disc Wheelset

Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 6560 Disc Tune Wheelset

Best money-no-object road bike wheels
Buy now for £3199 from Sigma Sports
Light for a deep-section wheel
Copes well with winds of all angles
Impressive aero qualities
Freehub lacks a bite guard
Some tough competition at lower prices

Next up, the Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 6560 wheelset may look quirky but they without a doubt deliver on performance, handling and weight.. that's if you can justify the price! Coming in at well over three grand, they are for sure an expensive investment, but they are our best money-no-object wheels for a reason.

Although deep section, these carbon wheels cope surprisingly well in all kinds of conditions, making them more than suitable for racing and riding in any weather. The 1,504g weight is impressive for such a deep section wheelset, which also means that they climb impressively well; ensuring you're getting a boost on the way up and of course reap the aero advantage on the way down too.

All in all, these hoops are both light and aerodynamic, making them a brilliant weapon of choice for those who race or for anyone just wanting a seriously luxurious pair of wheels to finish off their bike. 

Read our review:
Scribe Race-D

Scribe Race-D wheelset

Best inexpensive disc brake road bike wheels
Buy now for £420 from Scribe Cycling
Bite guard on freehub body
Lots of useful bits in the box
Nothing really – as long as you don't mind the freehub noise!

The Scribe Race-D wheelset proves that aluminium still has a place on nice bikes, not just your old winter beater. Weighing in at just 1,479g (making them even lighter than the Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 6560 Disc Wheelset at 1,540g), they could therefore easily be mistaken for a pair of more expensive carbon fibre wheels. 

Not only is the weight impressive for these aluminium wheels, but they also offer a stiff ride quality and roll very nicely, which is perfect for racing or training.  Additionally, these wheels feature an on-trend 19mm internal width and are tubeless-ready out the box, which happens to include tubeless valves, spare spokes and all the adaptors you might need. 

Overall, the Scribe Race-D wheels offer an impressive package, and are a great set of wheels which are the perfect option to replace heavy stock wheels that come as standard on pre-built bikes, or for year-round training and racing.

Read our review:
BORG31 Disc Wheelset

BORG31 Disc Wheelset

Best road wheels for commuting
Buy now for £327 from Tweeks Cycles
Quality build and components
Excellent stiffness levels
Highly durable
Stealthy looks not for everyone

The BORG31 Disc wheels have been handbuilt with durability and versatility in mind, ensuring that minimal servicing is needed for this robust option. Although not the lightest, these wheels will take an absolute battering without flinching, which gets them our recommendation as the best wheels you can use for navigating the cratered city streets between home and work. 

The 31mm-deep alloy rim does give a small amount of an aerodynamic gain over a basic box section rim; however, the biggest positive is just how stiff they are. The moment you stamp on the pedals, they just go. They feel tight, like nothing is being wasted at all: that helps them feel lighter than their 1,720g weight might suggest.

Overall, these are a quality set of wheels. While they might not look massively exciting, but the combination of quality components and the skill of a knowledgeable and skilled wheelbuilder means they're an absolute joy to ride. Admittedly, they aren't the lightest nor the fastest, but if you want a set of wheels you can use on your road bike no matter the conditions to commute into work, or alternatively to stick on your CX or gravel bike without much consideration for the abuse they may receive, then, this is the wheelset for you.

Note: the deal link is for the rim brake wheelset. If you want the disc brake set that we reviewed, contact Borg's distributor

Read our review:
Hunt Superdura Dynamo Disc Wheelset

Hunt Superdura Dynamo Disc Wheelset

Best dynamo road bike wheels
Buy now for £629 from Hunt Bike Wheels

If you're after a set of dynamo wheels for commuting, bikepacking or long rides then the Hunt Superdura Dynamo Disc wheels are our best dynamo wheels pick. They also offer charging for your devices, ensuring that you won’t ever have to do your nighttime commutes in the dark due to dead lights nor find yourself in a compromised situation because your phone has died. 

The system that Hunt has used to build these wheels is the SONdelux hub dynamo, which is pretty much the best out there if you want low resistance and care about the wheels not being too weighty. Not to mention, given the dynamo hub cost alone, the whole wheelset cost is very reasonable.

Overall, the Hunt Superdura Dynamo Disc wheels are without a doubt a solid option to consider. For what they are, they are lightweight coming in at 2,035g, offering a near faultless all-round performance and they are also great value. What’s not to love?

Read our review:
Swiss Side Hadron2 Ultimate 625 Disc

Swiss Side Hadron2 Ultimate 625 Disc wheelset

Best stiff road wheels
Buy now for £1609 from Swiss Side
Noticeable aero efficiency
Impressive stiffness
Very smooth bearings
Hidden nipples defy roadside tweaking
XDR & Campag users have to pay more for freehub kits

The Swiss Side Hadron2 Ultimate 625 Disc Brake wheelset is a serious bit of kit for those wanting proper gains from their racing or riding. We found these wheels to be exceptionally stiff,  fast and virtually unaffected by crosswinds.

Not only are they impressively stiff but the stability offered by these wheels is the stand-out bonus in comparison to many others. It will be a push to find a wheelset more competent at dealing with crosswinds than the Swiss Side Hadron2 Ultimate 625 Disc brake wheelset. They also produce a very noticeably smooth ride quality. 

All in all, if you do happen to have a bigger budget and want to invest in some deep section carbon wheels that offer unmatched stiffness as well as aerodynamic gain, then the Swiss Side Hadron2 Ultimate 625 Disc brake wheels are a really great option.

Read our review:
Zipp 353 NSW Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset

Zipp 353 NSW Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset

Best lightweight road bike wheels
Buy now for £3376 from Sigma Sports
Very fast in all conditions
Great lateral stiffness
Exposed nipples for easy maintenance
Hookless rims limit tyre size and pressures
High price

Wheel giant Zipp has always been known for its impressively lightweight wheels. Therefore it won’t be a surprise to most readers to know that the Zipp 353 NSW Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset takes our best lightweight crown in this guide, weighing in at a very impressive 1,340g; perfect for hill climbers or anyone looking to invest in light weight racing wheels, if you are prepared to fork out some serious cash. 

They also deliver with regards to stiffness, which is often lost when wheels are made to be anywhere near this light. This translates into their ability to perform to a very high level, regardless of conditions. Moreso, due to them being so lightweight, their acceleration and responsiveness is seriously impressive: effortlessly getting you up to speed, be it on the flat or on a climb. 

Overall, the Zipp 353 NSW Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset is undeniably light, but the biggest downfall has to be the price. At an eye- watering £3,376.00 for the full wheelset, they will understandably not be within budget for most. But, if you don’t mind your wheels being hookless and the limitations that causes, nor the price, then this set of superlight wheels is for you. 

Read our review:
Prime Primavera 44 Carbon Disc

Prime Primavera 44 Carbon Disc

Another great value carbon disc wheelset
Buy now for £809.99 from Wiggle
Fantastic performance at a sensible price
Width (23mm internal)
Easy tubeless setup
The price is the same as the 56mm version...

A carbon wheelset that is easy to recommend, due to the sensible price and having pretty much everything a modern wheelset should have for that price. 

The Primavera 44s are wide at 23mm internally, aren't heavy at 1,530g and offer impressive performance for the money. Tubeless set-up is simple and they handle very well on hills, on flats and in crosswinds alike.

Our reviewer said he would happily use this wheelset year-round, and the investment also goes further due to the easy maintenance with readily available parts such as common bearing sizes and DT Swiss spokes and nipples.

Read our review:
Campagnolo Shamal Carbon Disc Brake wheelset

Campagnolo Shamal Carbon Disc Brake wheelset

Best-looking road bike wheels
Buy now for £866.26 from Ebay
Simple to set up tubeless
Stable in corners
Spin up quickly
Smooth on rough surfaces
Suitable for road and gravel
Absolutely superb tyre levers
Heavier & pricier than rivals

We've banged on a lot about how good all of our selections are in this guide but, let's be honest... most of us want to upgrade so our bike looks cooler, obviously! Luckily this carbon disc brake wheelset from Italian component maestros Campagnolo not only looks great, but is actually pretty damn good too. 

Described as fast and stable by our reviewer (and "beautiful", but you can see that for yourself) the Shamals will spin quickly and corner confidently. They're easy to set up tubeless, and the 21mm internal width is on trend. They also come with a handy set of tyre levers, which happen to be very good indeed according to our reviewer. 

Go for these if you want to ooze class on the club run or in a race, and give your bike a serious upgrade too. 

Read our review:
Enve Foundation Collection 65 Carbon Tubeless Disc Wheelset

Enve Foundation Collection 65 Carbon Tubeless Disc Wheelset

Best race wheels for peace of mind
Buy now for £1570 from Sigma Sports
Very fast in the real world
Good weight for the depth
Not massively affected by crosswinds
Hookless rim not recommended for standard clinchers
No extras in the box

At 65mm deep, Enve's Foundation race wheels are best for very fast days on the road or triathlon. While our reviewer found them to be stable and fairly easy to handle in crosswinds, you won't have to worry if you do take a tumble for any reason, because Enve has one of the best crash replacement policies in the bike industry: a Lifetime Incident Protection warranty, three years' free rim replacement for any 'ride-induced' damage, and a five-year warranty against manufacturing faults. 

Surprisingly good all-rounders, the freehub on the Foundation 65's picks up fast when you start building speed, making a reasonably quiet sound that will ensure you're heard but not click or squeal madly. They're aero-optimised for 25mm and 28mm tyres, and with both sizes our reviewer found the transition between tyre and rim seamless. Tyres are pretty easy to fit too. 

The 'Foundation' name refers to these wheels being more affordable than Enve's SES range; and although they're still not cheap by all means, the warranty and quality construction from Enve's Utah-based builders make any Enve purchase a sound investment. 

Read our review:

How to choose from the best road bike wheels

What is the best road bike wheel?

You've probably guessed it, but there is no way of defining once and for all what the best road bike wheel is, as that's going to depend on what you want your new wheels for and a number of other factors.

Of our selections above, the wheels that get our highest scores are often going to be all-rounders that can do a bit of everything, such as the Hunt 48 Limitless which give you the stiffness of carbon fibre, some speed gains and decent handling because they're not too deep. Read between the lines, though: are you simply looking for the fastest wheels possible on the flats for time trials and fast road racing? Go for deeper rims, and if you can afford it maybe even a full disc wheel on the back for ultimate aero gains. Do you want tough and durable wheels for training and aren't really concerned with speed and efficiency savings? You might be best going for some high quality, shallow alloy rims. 

Is it worth upgrading wheels on a road bike? Does it make a difference?

If you were looking to improve the way that your road bike feels, lower the weight or improve ride quality, then upgrading your wheels is a really great place to start given they are the main part of the bike (with some of the best road bike tyres on them of course) that comes into contact with the ground. Many bikes that are bought pre-built often have cheap and heavy wheels included in their build, which means that upgrading them to a better quality pair will make a noticeable difference.

If you just want to go faster, then as we discovered when we spoke to the experts at Swiss Side, aero almost always trumps weight. Compared to cheap wheels you could be saving minutes per hour using some quality aero wheels compared to basic alloy rims, and research has found that this isn't only the case for very fast cyclists, either. 

All this said, reducing you bike's weight will net you some wins when riding uphill, so it pays to go for wheels that are lighter than your current ones if you're replacing basic stock wheels. Even deep-ish carbon wheels will be lighter than a lot of basic alloy rims, so it's easy to win here. If you do a lot of hilly riding, though, it's wise to look for a wheelset that weighs less than 1,500g in total as a ballpark figure. 

Compared to tired wheels that you've put lots of miles into, even having nice new bearings will make you roll better and more efficiently, which will be a more pleasant ride experience and marginally faster than continuing to use knackered old hubs. 

Are carbon wheels worth it on a road bike?

Upgrading to a high quality set of carbon fibre road bike wheels can be a big game changer for many riders who haven't experienced the ride quality or feel that carbon wheels can offer. Investing in a wheelset like the Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 6560 Disc Wheelset will quite literally blow your mind if you haven't tried out a high-end carbon pair before! 

The main benefits from using carbon wheels on a road bike is that they are more often than not lighter than an aluminium wheel, as well as producing a stiffer and more responsive ride quality. Therefore, if you want to save weight and improve the way that your road bike feels then carbon wheels are undoubtedly worth it, even if they are more expensive. That said, production of alloy components in the bike industry has come on leaps and bounds since the tooth-rattling days of the 1990s, so for training and year-round riding a set of alloy wheels that are well build with good quality hubs will serve you very well. For performance, though, carbon is still king at the time of writing. 

Do carbon fibre wheels break easily?

If you are considering investing in carbon fibre wheels but are concerned that they may break easily, then you don't need to be put off. It's true that unlike aluminium, carbon fibre does not bend. If you happen to crash hard enough to damage a carbon fibre wheel then it will splinter due to the nature of carbon fibre; but carbon fibre (and the resin that holds it together, that actually makes up the vast majority of any composite product) is a lot stronger than people give it credit. 

The good news is that good quality carbon fibre wheels don't break easily, like people assume, as they are designed and made to be strong enough to take most crashes without being damaged, passing numerous stringent strength tests before being produced. In the unfortunate event that you do happen to break a carbon wheel, many companies offer a lifetime warranty (or one long enough that should give you peace of mind) and either discounted or even free crash replacement. 

Be sure to check the small print before assuming what is and isn't covered when investing in a set of new wheels, which are never going to come cheap. You can also take out insurance to cover yourself further, which is advisable to take out for your whole bike anyway.  

Are custom built wheels better?

Many bike wheelsets now come pretty much ready to go with all the accessories you need and tensioned to perfection, like our options above; but if you fancy a project, then wheel building can be rewarding and therapeutic. It takes some practice, so be prepared to commit plenty of time and be patient if you want to go down this road; or, you could go to a custom wheel builder if you would rather get an expert to build exactly what you need. 

Wheelbuilding (CC BY-NC-ND Cory Grunkemeyer:Flickr)
CC BY-NC-ND Cory Grunkemeyer:Flickr

If you want your wheels to be durable, then how they were built is just as important as the components that went into them. For road bike wheels to be durable, the tension needs to be high and even. If it's not high then spokes can come loose as you ride because the tension can drop to zero under load. If the tension is not even then the wheel is unlikely to stay round and true, even if it's that way out of the box.

A step in the wheel-building process called 'stress-relieving' also improves wheel longevity by preventing fatigue failure at the spoke heads. If your relatively new wheels start breaking spokes it's a good bet they weren't stress-relieved properly when they were built.

Most road bike wheels are built by machines these days. It's possible to set up wheel building machines to get all of these things right, or very nearly right, but sometimes factories take short-cuts, especially when the objective is to build inexpensive wheels. The less time each wheel spends in the machine, the more wheels the factory can build.

Alternatively, you can get top-quality wheels that have been built by hand from start to finish, either off-the-peg or custom built. Barnoldswick parts-meisters Hope have been making well-regarded wheels for years, including road wheels, while Hunt Bike Wheels is a newer entrant in the field. Independent makers like Ryan Builds Wheels can knock you something up that is truly specific to your requirements. 

So is custom better? Well, while cheap machine-built wheels can have their problems, wheels built by hand can be poor too if the builder is inexperienced. The most efficient way of mass-producing high-quality wheels seems to be to let machines quickly do the spadework and then finish them by hand, the method employed by the vast majority of brands and manufacturers recommended in this guide. 

What tyres should I go for? Clinchers tubeless or tubular?

In terms of how tyres mount, there are three types of wheel rim. Rims for tubular tyres — which have the inner tube sewn into the carcass — have a shallow dip where the tyre is glued on. These are the lightest rims, and tubular fans say their soft floaty ride is unparalleled. However, for the vast majority of people the faff of glueing, and the difficulty of fixing a punctured tubular makes them too much hassle.

> Buyer's guide to tubeless tyres

Clincher or wire-on rims have raised sidewalls with a hook where the tyre bead engages, and the tyre has a separate inner tube. In other words, this is the standard bike rim and tyre we all know and love. Fixing a flat is a simple matter of changing the tube and swapping tyres just requires tyre levers and a pump.

Tubeless tyres are a special case of clinchers. A tubeless system is basically a clincher tyre inflated onto a rim with no inner tube. Instead of an inner tube holding the air pressure, an airtight chamber is created with a tubeless-specific tyre, developed with a special (commonly carbon) bead, and a compatible rim.

Tyre and rim are manufactured to precise tolerances to enable an airtight seal. The rim has no holes or is sealed with an airtight rim strip and the tyre is coated internally with rubber so there's no need for an inner tube. Some manufacturers forego the rubber coating and base their tubeless systems around use of sealant. That has the advantage of making them more resistant to penetration punctures, in addition to their natural resistance to pinch punctures.

Most wheels launched in the last few years are tubeless-compatible and can pretty much always run standard clincher tyres with inner tubes inside too, so you don't really have to worry about looking out for 'tubeless-ready' any more when buying a high-end wheelset. 

Should I go for wider rims?

Just as tyres have become a bit wider in recent years, with the previously ubiquitous 23mm size giving away to 25, 26 and the now pretty much standard 28mm tyres, so rims have spread out too. All other things being equal, a wider rim makes for a stiffer, stronger wheel and also makes the tyre effectively a bit fatter.

Wider rims are also claimed to be more aerodynamic because air flows more smoothly between tyre and rim if they are about the same size. 

Having learnt to ride a bike in order to race age 4, Charlotte is no stranger to life on two wheels. Racing across multiple disciplines over the years, she now focuses her time on road racing. Racing at the UCI continental level with her British based team. Not only that, but Charlotte has many years experience working within the cycling industry alongside her racing endeavours. Therefore, it’s fair to say that anything with two wheels is right up her street.