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Are wheels the pros use way out of your price range? The smart way to buy Tour de France-inspired wheels for less

Fancy a bit of what the pros are riding at the Tour without needing to remortgage? Here are some more affordable race wheel alternatives from the likes of Shimano, Roval, Zipp, Enve + more

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Some wheels used in the Tour de France are designed to be primarily lightweight, while others are more focused on aerodynamics, but one thing they have in common is that they're all intended to offer a competitive edge... and unfortunately for those of us who have to buy our own bikes and equipment, they're all rather expensive! In this article we're having a look at what wheels the pros are riding alongside affordable alternatives. 

As with our Tour de France bikes on a budget round-up, you can often find good deals on the exact wheelsets used by the pros, but you can also find more affordable models that incorporate a lot of the same tech. 

If you want to upgrade your bike but feel like a whole new one is an unnecessary expense, investing in some new wheels is probably one of the best ways of making it feel and perform better. While some of the wheelsets featured here certainly aren't cheap, they are much more affordable than the top-of-the-range models used by the pros that can cost several thousand pounds. 

> Best road bike wheels

In this year's Tour de France, a variety of wheel brands are represented among the 22 teams. Four teams are using FSA's Vision-branded wheels, and another four are on Shimano's Dura-Ace wheels. Roval and Zipp wheels are each chosen by two teams, as are Enve wheels. The remaining teams are equipped with wheels from Reserve, Black Inc, DT Swiss, Newmen, Bontrager, SwissSide, Corima, and Giant's Cadex brand. 

Let's take a look at some suggestions, plus some current deals on cheaper versions of these range-topping deals... 

Like the look of the Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels (£3,000)? Try the Roval Rapide CL II at £1,323 instead

chrome and black specialized s-works road bike

Two teams are using Specialized's Roval wheels at the Tour: Red Bull - Bora Hansgrohe and Soudal Quick-Step. The top riders such as Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel have access to the newly-released Rapide CLX II Team wheels. You’re looking at £3,000 for a pair of these, even more than the already expensive, £2,500 for the non-team version. 

black roval deep section carbon wheels

However, if you want similar tech for much much less then we'd recommend checking out Roval's Rapide CL II wheels for less than half the price. These feature exactly the same super wide aero rim as the CLX II wheelset but with lower spec DT Swiss 350 hubs, that we've found to be high-performing and very durable. 

Get the Roval Rapide CL II wheels for £1,323 from Balfe's Bikes 

Zipp 303 S (£849) > Zipp 353 NSW (£3,379) 

Tour de france racing shot

Movistar and ProTeam Lotto Dstny are using Zipp 353 NSW wheels, which retail for a whopping £3,379 per pair (you can currently get them for £2,799 from Sigma Sports though, bargain!) If you're looking to spend less than four figures on a set of wheels though, the Zipp 303 S wheels can be picked up for around £850. 

Zipp wheels

> Are expensive carbon road bike wheels worth the money?

The 353 NSW wheels feature a distinctive undulating rim, while the 303 S wheels have a standard-shaped rim. Both, however, are 45mm deep. The 303 S wheels have an internal rim width of 23mm, which Zipp says is "optimised aerodynamically when paired with a 28mm tubeless tyre." They are also compatible with tyres up to 50mm wide, making them suitable for gravel riding as well.

Buy Zipp's 303 S wheels for £849 from Sigma Sports 

Can't justify spending £3,350 on Enve? Try the Enve Foundation 45 at £1,620 for the pair

Tadej Pogacar yellow kit and yellow decals on bike

US brand Enve supplies wheels for Tadej Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates, as well as for Team Total Energies and their rider Anthony Turgis, who won Stage 9 of the Tour.

The pros normally use Enve’s SES 4.5 wheelset which feature 51mm and 56mm depths front and rear respectively. The retail price is £3,350 for the pair. 

Enve wheels

Enve's Foundation 45 wheelset is around half the price of the SES 4.5, featuring a 45mm deep carbon rim with a 21mm internal rim width and said to be optimised for 25-28mm tyres. Like the brand's SES wheels, the Foundation collection is tested and developed at the Mercedez Benz Formula One wind-tunnel "to deliver best-in-class real-world aero performance". 

Enve's Foundation 45mm are £1,620 from Balfe's Bikes

Opt for the Vision SC60 (£1,149) over the top-end Metron wheels

Bianchi road bike with vision wheels

This season, FSA's Vision-branded wheels have doubled their presence in the WorldTour peloton, with four teams now on Vision hoops. These teams are Arkéa-B&B Hotels, Astana Qazaqstan, Bahrain Victorious and EF Education-EasyPost.  

Riders usually opt for Vision's Metron 60 SL Disc wheels, but have the option of switching to the shallower Metron 45 SL Disc wheels too. 

black 60mm vision wheels

> The bikes of the Tour de France

A more affordable alternative is Vision's SC60 wheels, which the brand says use the latest version of Vision rims found in the pro-level Metron range, "but with more classic and less extreme construction solutions". 

The carbon rim is available in depths of 45 or 60mm and features a 21mm internal width, which is said to achieve maximum efficiency with tubeless tyres ranging from 28 to 32mm. 

Get Vision's SC60 wheelset for £1,149 from Team Cycles

Save £500 over Dura-Ace by going for Shimano Ultegra C60 wheels (£799.99)

orange, red and black pinarello road bike

Team Ineos Grenadiers, Alpecin-Deceuninck, Groupama-FDJ and Team dms-firmenich PostNL all use Shimano wheels (most of the time). Ineos Grenadiers, for example, has been known to dip into the Lightweight and Princeton ranges in its search for those famous marginal gains for time trials. 

The pros use Shimano's top-tier Dura-Ace wheels, and you can currently pick up the C60 disc wheelset for £1,299 from Sigma Sports. 

deep section wheels

For less money, Shimano's Ultegra C60 wheelset is currently available for £799.99, featuring trickle-down technology from the Dura-Ace range. The latest Ultegra wheels debut full carbon rims, with this model featuring a rim depth of 60mm and a width of 21mm.

Shimano says, "As with the Dura Ace counterparts, the balanced relationship between three factors was at the forefront of the development: aerodynamics, stiffness and lower weight". 

Buy the Shimano Ultegra C60 wheelset for £799.99 from Fawkes Cycles

The SwissSide Hadron2 Classic 500 wheels are £1,090, nearly £700 less than the pro versions

van rysel road bike

> Can the Van Rysel RCR Pro become one of the most successful bikes on cycling's WorldTour? 

Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale are riding Van Rysel road bikes this year, equipped with SwissSide Hadron2 Ultimate wheels, which cost £1,746 for the pair. These wheels are available in rim depths of 38mm, 50mm, 62.5mm, and 80mm, with the team often opting for the 50mm set.

Swiss Side Hadron2 Classic 500 4

For "World Championship winning pedigree at an accessible price with unbeatable quality", SwissSide also make the SwissSide Hadron2 Classic wheelsets using identical rims to the Ultimate series, in depths from 38-80mm, but with cheaper DT Swiss hubs and spokes. 

The SwissSide HadronClassic 500 wheelset is £1,090 direct from SwissSide

Go for the Giant SLR 1 50 Disc (£839.98), a fraction of the price of Cadex wheels

cadex deep section wheel

Team Jayco–AlUla is the only team using wheels from Giant's Cadex brand, making their bikes an all-Giant affair. Riders like Michael Matthews and Simon Yates use the Cadex 50 Ultra Disc wheelset, which features a 50mm depth and a hookless rim profile and has a claimed weight of 1,349g for the pair. Each wheel costs between £1,149.99 and £1,499.99, though. 

2024 Giant SLR 1 50 wheels

For less than the price of one Cadex 50 Ultra Disc wheel, a pair of Giant's SLR 1 50 Disc wheelsets can be picked up for £839.98 right now. Like the Cadex wheels, these also feature a 50mm carbon hookless rim profile and internal rim width of 22.4mm. They are less than 200g heavier for the pair, with a claimed weight of 1,518g. 

Giant's SLR 1 50 Disc wheelset is £839.98 from Pedal On

DT Swiss AR 1600 Spline wheels (£519.99) are a quarter of the price of the Arc 1100 Dicut Disc

Uno-X polka dot jersey riding shot

Uno-X Mobility riders are using DT Swiss wheels, specifically the Arc 1100 Dicut Disc brake wheelset. This wheelset has a claimed weight of 1,299g per pair and is priced at €2,499 (approximately £2,100). They come in a range of rim depths - 38mm, 50mm, 62mm, and 80mm - and are available in both rim and disc brake versions.

2024 DT Swiss AR 1600 Spline wheels

The DT Swiss AR 1600 Spline wheels are less than a quarter of the price at £519.99, and while they aren't carbon fibre, the AR 1600s are designed to offer the highest aero performance from an alloy system, according to the brand. 

DT Swiss says that the same "know-how" went into the development of these wheels as its high-end carbon aero wheels that are ridden by the pros. Aero touches include flat-bladed spokes and hidden spoke nipples. 

Buy the DT Swiss AR 1600 Spline wheels for £519.99 from Velo Workshop 

Which of these (almost) pro team wheels would you choose? Let us know in the comments section below.

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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