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Are Road Bike Wheel Upgrades Worth It?


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The unfortunate truth of bicycle manufacturing is that not much attention is given to the wheels. Even if you bought a road bike for $1000 to $2000, chances are the wheels are nothing to write home about. After having such a bike for a while, you may wonder if it’s better to upgrade the wheels or get another bike.

So, are road bike wheel upgrades worth it? Upgrading your road bike wheels is the best thing you can do for your cycling experience. The right wheels can make a significant change in terms of weight and overall performance. 

Other reasons to upgrade your road bike wheels include:

  1. You have the freedom to customize the bike to your liking
  2. It’s better than the basics
  3. Decreased weight = More speed
  4. Improved aerodynamics
  5. Comfort
  6. Higher efficiency
  7. You deserve it!

Deciding whether to upgrade your road bike wheels will depend on your personal preferences and what you’re looking to achieve. Nonetheless, knowing the pros and cons of wheel upgrades will help you make an informed decision. This article will explain the advantages and disadvantages of road bike wheel upgrades, so you can decide if the upgrades are worth it.

Are Road Bike Wheel Upgrades Worth It?

Most people don’t put much thought into the quality of wheels they’re getting when purchasing a bike. After all, wheels are just wheels, right? Not exactly. The type of wheels on a bike determines the kind of performance you’ll have.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers prefer to put cheap wheels on their bikes, so they can sell them for a lower price. It makes sense. Cheaper wheels make for a more inexpensive bike and more sales for them.

But when it comes to the user, it’s a rip off because you may never enjoy a good cycling session. The bike may be too heavy and not offer the right lift you’re looking for. But what if you already own such a bike? Would a road bike wheel upgrade be worth it, or should you consider getting a new bike? Upgrading your road bike wheels can instantly take your bike to the next level.

Below are some of the benefits of upgrading a bike’s wheels.

1.      You Have the Freedom to Customize the Bike to your Liking

Every cycling enthusiast or professional has specific tastes and preferences when it comes to bike features. When it comes to the wheels, some people prefer shallow, understated aluminum lightweight wheels and others rather fancy full carbon clinchers to match their aero frame.

One of the benefits of upgrading your wheels instead of getting a new bike is the fact that you get to choose what you want. Not to mention, you can make the bike match your tastes and preferences, which can be challenging to find in a ready-made bike without spending an arm and a leg.

2.      It’s Better Than the Basics

Upgrading your bike’s wheels also lets you own an incredible bike you won’t find among the basic options on the market. Since manufacturers don’t give special attention to every part of the bicycle, it is better to upgrade your bike yourself.

If you want something high-quality with exceptional performance, you may have to spend lots of money. If you’re on a tight budget, a wheel upgrade gives you what you want for way less.

3.      Decreased Weight = More Speed

If you own a cheap bike, you’ve probably noticed that going up steep terrain and acceleration is quite challenging. The reason may be the weight of your wheels. Heavy wheels make the entire bike heavier, thereby affecting overall performance.

When you decide to upgrade your wheels, you have the freedom to choose a lighter set, which will instantly improve your performance. Wouldn’t it be great to cycle up a hill without having to get down from your bike to push it?

4.      Improved Aerodynamics

According to Mantel, a wheel upgrade is also a good idea because it improves your aerodynamics. Regular bikes have little to no aerodynamics. But a set of deep-section wheels can make all the difference.

5.      Comfort

The majority of standard bikes have standard wheels with narrow rims. But the current bike wheel trend on the market is leaning more toward wider tires and rims. The old-style rims are quite narrow internally, which makes them balloon out of the tires.

With the new designs, the wider tires offer enough room for the rims to fit better, thereby providing your better bike handling, which in turn results in comfort. Not to mention, lower pressure in the tires mean fewer road imperfections vibrating through the bike which reduces cyclist fatigue.

6.      Higher Efficiency

Most basic wheels have a high spoke count, which makes them reasonably robust. Unfortunately, most of these wheels don’t have the best spoke tension. And in most cases, the materials used are not the most durable or reliable.

As a result, you may feel that the wheels are less flexible during cornering, on a climb, or when under power. You can avoid this with a new set of wheels that have stiffer, more durable materials and offer better spoke tension.

7.      You Deserve It!

Sometimes it doesn’t matter all the benefits you get from a new pair of wheels. If you love cycling and you’ve noticed the wheels you have are no longer doing it for you, go for it! You’re investing in something you love, and that is never a bad decision. So don’t feel guilty about it! And when you go shopping for wheels, make sure you get the best.

Things to Consider When Upgrading Road Bike Wheels

When you decide it’s time to upgrade your bike wheels, never purchase the first set of wheels you find. This approach will only lead you to spend your hard-earned money on a set of wheels you may never enjoy.

Road Cycling UK suggests considering the following before upgrading your bike wheels:

What’s Your Goal?

Ultimately, the right choice of wheels will depend on you and what kind of ride you are hoping to achieve. For instance, if you want to be able to cycle up steep areas with ease, it makes sense to choose light wheels because they will make the entire bike much lighter.

Therefore, the first step is understanding what you need the new set of wheels to do for you.


One of the primary factors that affect wheel aerodynamics is rim depth. The deeper the rim, the better aerodynamics you’ll get. However, you should know wheels with excellent aerodynamics can be a bit on the pricey side when it comes to price.

Therefore, if this is what you’re looking for, you may want to do some research and identify some of the price options available on the market before you begin your search.

Build Quality

When you decide to upgrade your wheels, it’s advisable to go for better quality than what you currently have. This way, you’re guaranteed better performance. Check the rims, weight, bearings, and other important parts before pulling out your wallet.

Time to Upgrade

There are plenty of benefits that come with a road bike wheel upgrade. However, you need to understand what your goal is, research to find out more about prices and features to look for and compare different options on the market before making a final decision.

However, if you’re not on a restrictive budget, you should also weigh the pros and cons of buying a new bike versus upgrading your wheels to see which one is right for you.

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Carbon Bike Wheels: Do They Make a Real Difference?

Are Bike Wheels Interchangeable?

Four Clear Signs Your Bike Wheels Need Truing

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