We sell a lot of rims for a lot of functions. Often the choice is straightforward for a given purpose. Most of the rims below we sell both as built wheelsets or as parts on their own – contact us if you would like either.
Details on road disc rims are available here.
If you wanted to know which MTB rim, you can find that here.
Keep reading if you want to know which road rim brake rim to choose.
When it comes to ‘road’ wheels, there is a world of choice and it can be overwhelming. Here I will run through some key options assuming a few parameters – rider weight under 85kg (some rims can handle more, all can handle this). Road use. Rim brakes. 700c. Performance focused. Aesthetics is important, I agree, but here I have tried to focus not on decals and not on finish (assuming quality) but upon the profile, material, manufacture and the attributes that produces.
A quick summary of some key rims here:
|Model||Tubeless Compatible||Offset option||Welded Joint||Wide profile||Depth||Approx rider limit||Sidewall height||Weight||Price (£)|
|Ryde Pulse Sprint||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||20mm||90kg||10mm||385g||70|
|Ryde Pulse Comp||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||25mm||95kg||10mm||420g||85|
|HED Belgium Plus||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||24.5mm||105kg||9mm||470g||130|
Wider rims are very fashionable at the moment and for good reason. They offer better aerodynamics and a better tyre profile. However, importantly for me, they build into stiff rims without compromising on comfort. Making rims stiff often meant in the past making them deeper. If you make them wider, they do not need to be so deep for the same stiffness. That means they are more comfortable. You can then run fewer spokes, also adding width rather than height generally requires less material which also makes them lighter. Here are, in ascending price order (my prices, not RRP), some key, wide rims:
Kinlin XR-270 and XR-200 – £30/rim. Unlike the other rims here, these are traditional narrow rims. The 270 is 27mm deep and weighs approximately 450g and the 200 is 20mm deep and weighs approximately 380g (80kg rider max). If you want an economical set of wheels with a narrower rim, these remain a good option. Equally something like the Ambrosio Evolution (£30), Excellence (£53) or Excellight (£59) could make a good choice. These narrow rims are not tubeless compatible and are, as a result, easier to fit tyres to. All the following rims are newer designs with wider profiles.
DT Swiss R460 – £35/rim. The cheapest wide rim that I offer and amazingly still can be run tubeless. Surprising for that to come from DT Swiss who are not a brand normally associated with a keen eye on value. It is well made but has a basic but strong joint. To be honest, I would rather see this rim slightly lighter with a welded joint and the R440 slightly heavier and at around this price point, preferably with an offset drilling but most rims do not offer that. I would recommend the 460 over the 440. This is the most interesting rim to be developed by DT Swiss in recent years and if you want a decent rim from a major brand; this may well be the best choice for you. The 440 however is probably the best performing classic box section eyeletted rim that I sell. So if you wanted a classic build that performed in a more modern way, that would be a good choice – you can run tubeless tyres with it and you have the option of an offset rear for better dishing. The rim is also slightly wider and slightly deeper than previous box section rims. This rim would make a good training set – eg DCR standard hubs, Race spokes and brass nipples for just £260.
Kinlin XC-279 – £40/rim. When I say Kinlin, people normally say who, never heard of them. However, they are a massive manufacturer at this price point but often only known when sold by other ‘manufacturers’ under a different brand. The XC-279 is the cheapest wide Kinlin rim I offer. A good solid profile, tough, stiff and made from a strong material. 28mm deep, 23mm wide. I like to think of this as a cheaper version of their 31t but where it is easier to fit tyres to. Some people just do not want to run tubeless and resent the tight tyre fit that comes with tubeless friendly/ready rims. This is one of the only remaining wide rims that does not come with this tubeless interface. The weight at 500g, but could obviously be lighter if the rim were shallower. It is above average in terms of depth. It is a good choice for a heavier and more powerful rider and less popular for lighter riders on hillier terrain.
Kinlin 22t – £45/rim. Only slightly more money but a better offering than the 279. Perhaps not quite as stiff but 50g/rim lighter. 22mm deep, 24mm wide and can accommodate tubeless tyres. This is the cheapest tubeless rim that Kinlin make and it is a really good one. Possibly the best selling of all the Kinlin that I offer. The profile is nice and discrete and allows for a comfortable and lively ride. The gloss finish on the Kinlin rim range is not for everyone. For some reason a shot blasted and anodised finish seems to make a rim look more expensive and better quality. However the alloy used by Kinlin stands the test of time and I like the unbranded, graphics free look of their range. You will find that the characteristics of this rim are similar to that of the DT R460, so why choose this one over DT. Well, they have a thicker spoke bed which is capable of handling higher spoke tensions and they are made from a stronger alloy. If you went with this rim, D-lights in silver with alloy nipples and DCR standard road hubs it would cost £290 or £330 for an all black build. The 22t is now available with an O/C drilling at the rear as well, making the builds stiffer and stronger.
Velocity A23 – from £47/rim. One of the original wide rims. Now available with an off centre drilling at the back. Suffers a little with a shorter braking surface (8mm, vs the usual 9mm) also a relatively shallow rim, so better suited to a higher spoke count. They are tubeless compatible. Velocity put a fairly high rider weight limit on this rim, however I would probably recommend the Archetype or one of the deeper Kinlin rims if you are a heavier riders. Better still something like the Velocity Chukker. The Velocity A23 is available in silver, which is something that most of the rims here do not offer. A shallow rim is also particularly comfortable, so it may make a good choice for comfort. Although, I would be more inclined to go with the fractionally cheaper and notably stiffer Kinlin 22t.
Kinlin 31t – £55/rim. 490g/rim. Similar weight to the 279 but 3mm deeper, 1mm wider and can take a tubeless tyre. Now also available with an offset drilling for a very tough and stiff rim. Probably one of the best options for an aero alloy set, but then again, aluminium would never be my choice of material for an aero set. Being as stiff as it is, especially with the offset drilling, many more people can run this rim with a lower spoke count without issue. That means that the weight penalty could be less than you imagined. If you wanted to use this rim as an alloy aero set with DCR lightweight hubs and CX-Rays for example in a 20/24 drilling, you would only actually be looking at a set weight of around 1470g and a cost of £460 for an all black build.
H Plus Son Archetype – £55/rim, 470g/rim. 25mm deep, 23mm wide. Another earlier attempt at wider rim. The first in this line up with a welded joint. Not necessarily a sign of a premium product but you will never find such a feature on a cheap rim. It is well made and builds up well. The weld is very neat and the alloy they use is good and tough. These are a strong, dependable rim and have been a favourite for years. Those who dislike them normally do so on the basis of it not accepting tubeless tyres and having a black braking surface that wears silver. I actually think the hard grey finish is the most attractive and it is the most durable, although I find it clashes with anything other than all black build. If you do not mind a 28h minimum, you can also have it in a polished finish. That provides a nice classic look and also allows the braking surface to start and remain silver. This is a great choice if what you want is a very reliable rim that performs well.
DCR 23mm alloy – £60/rim. 430g. 23mm deep, 23mm wide. A new project of mine is offering alloy rims as well as carbon and hubs. They are a really good all round rim with a nice finish. They have come out of a factory in Taiwan, capable of working with 6066-T6 alloy – naturally stronger than the traditional 6061 used in most rims. They do have a welded joint and can take a tubeless tyre. The spoke beds have been tested to over 300kgf, which is a very key feature for me, it means I can run tensions high to keep the wheels stiff and strong and the spokes reliable. Sapim spokes love high tensions, some rims, do not. There are no decals on this rim. I will, potentially, be offering them in the future. However for now they are a plain, shot blasted and anodised finish; understated quality. There are other profiles in the pipeline but they will not be available until 2016.
These rims have a fairly tight fitting tubeless interface, not as tough as Ryde, perhaps a little tougher than Kinlin making them better suited to all out tubeless tape and fitting with levers – I can still fit tyres in less than a minute on them. The braking surface is a similar height to the A23, so not as shallow as the shallowest machining, but not as tall as a standard one – required to keep the weight down and strength and durability high on a rim like this. It means Kool Stop Dual Compound pads are recommended for easier tyre setup as well as longer life (£17 for a set of 4 through DCR). The rim has a rider weight limit of approximately 120kg. The cost for DCR standard hubs, CX-Rays and 24/28 drilling would cost £420 and weigh approximately 1425g. Sub 1400g for 20/24. With D-lights in an all black build (a set which I try to keep in stock at all times making lead time a couple of days) is £360 and weighs approximately 1460g in 24/28. You can buy that with this link including delivery and tape.
Ryde Pulse Sprint – £70/rim (£90 RRP), 380g. The shallowest and lightest rim here. Well suited to light rider and those looking for a very light hill climbing set. Surprisingly stiff considering their profile but much better suited to 24/28 drilling and also better suited to spinners rather than honkers. A lot of the stiffness benefits can be attributed to the offset drilling but also thanks to a comparatively tall sidewall. This is the narrowest wide rim here. Only 22mm and only 20mm deep. The extrusion has been very precisely done and the rims build up nicely as a result. It is a little difficult to fit and remove tyres owing to the slightly unusual bead hook design. The use of tubeless tape and special levers still makes the process quick and easy for those who find such tasks easy. If you struggle with tyres at the best of times; this is probably not the rim for you. DCR standard road hubs, CX-Rays and Ryde Pulse Sprint rims weighs approximately 1320g. It is better suited to sub 80kg riders but the rider limit is higher than that. We try to keep this set built up in stock. The total cost is £440 and is also a stock set available to purchase with this link including delivery and tape.
As a further alternative, I also have the same rim with CSS coating in stock. The CSS coating is made from tungsten carbide which is exceptionally hard and makes for an exceptionally durable wheelset. Ryde tested this rim for over 40,000km and after which the surface still remained. You have to start with special pads ideally, as the surface is a bit like sandpaper and does tend to eat through pads. As the surface wears smoother, softer pads are recommended. The rims are a little heavier – about 410g/rim and more expensive £115/rim. I call them ‘dragon’s teeth’ rims, partly because the surface likes eating pads and partly because they are so rare and hard to get hold of. If you want a rim that is light and stiff and strong and durable and alloy; this could be the ultimate choice for you.
Ryde Pulse Comp – £85/rim (£90 RRP), 420g. Among the lightest but this time 25mm deep. Similar tyre fitting issues. These are actually some of the stiffest rims here and certainly the stiffness to weight ratio is hard to beat. They have the same black sidewalls that you see with the Archetype which some find unappealing. I like this rim a lot as I think it offers a lot of balance. The tyre fitting is a downside which is the main deterrent, it also does not offer quite the same weight saving as something like the Sprint. However a lot of people are nervous of the sprint because of its weight. This could easily play the role of an aluminium training rim in place of a premium carbon set for ‘best. The rider weight limit on the Pulse Sprint and Comp rims is among the lowest here though, so be mindful of that. They are aimed at competitive riding and assume lighter riders. Kinlin, DCR and H Plus Son would be a better choice if you needed a tougher set.
HED Belgium Plus – £130/rim. 460g. HED is largely where this wide rim movement began. The Plus is their latest version which is slightly wider than their original. It can run with tubeless tyres, it has got a welded joint. The rims are tough and stiff and build up well. They have resisted the urge of producing a really light rim and have kept it solid instead. While I do like these rims, I find the price pretty off putting. Especially when you consider that the aftermarket options do not come with a warranty, meaning it is both the most expensive alloy rim here and the only one without a warranty. I think if you wanted a 460g, solid rim made by a major brand who you trust and you want a warranty, you could do a lot worse than going for the DT R460 and save yourself £200 on the wheelset.
Aforce Al33 – £140/rim, 475g
Aforce rims are more than a little bit special. They have a very clever profile. In fact, I would say they are the only true aero alloy rim that we sell. You can say that a rim is deep and therefore probably aero, but without any actual data on that, it is hard to know if there is any real merit in that. On that basis, it is hard to know if a deeper alloy rim would actually be faster than a shallow one in any conditions. You can also see the key graph from the results collected in the wind tunnel testing below. We are greatful to November Bicycles for carrying out these tests at A2 wind Tunnel. You can read more about the testing that they did here.
The rims are also lovely and stiff, have the option of internal or external nipple, symmetrical or 24h 2:1 lacing. They are tubeless compatible and they are easy to fit tyres to. They have a welded joint. We think of them as much more an alternative to a carbon rim rather than the other alloy rims. Or certainly a nice compromise between the two.
The Al33 is not made from a standard aluminium, which is a big part of their overall cost. They are made from an alloy called Afx9. It is a more expensive alloy with more tightly controlled tolerances in its production.
In due course there will be a ceramic coated version of this rim, however we are still in the process of testing this braking surface against various pads to find an optimal all round solution for both pad and rim wear and also braking performance.
On the basis of DCR standard road hubs, CX-Rays, 20/24 lacing, you would be looking at a set weight of approximately 1480g and a cost of £595/pair.
DCR Carbon rims – from £180/rim, from 320g. Please visit here for details.
Alto Velo carbon rims – from £382/rim
There are quite a few options for the Alto Velo carbon rims. There are more details to be found here
The bottom line with Alto Velo is the resins that are used are among the most temperature resistant available. Combine that with their EPS moulding technique and you have a very well build and very safe set of carbon rims. While performance is definitely the goal for Alto Velo, from my perspective, their appeal is their price point and the ability for big riders to be able to take them to the mountains with confidence.
Knight Composites rims from £599
Available for now in 3 depths currently only in clincher with tubular on their way, Knight make some impressive claims about aerodynamics. They also offer a 5 year warranty and a crash replacement scheme. The package with Knight is similar to what you get with ENVE, only at a more economical price.
Xentis carbon rims from £655
Xentis rims can be used in a variety of applications. They produce strong, particularly durable, safe carbon with high quality braking. The 25mm version is the most popular owing to its low weight. Clincher sets with Tune hubs and CX-Rays weigh only 1160g and would cost £1890 making them good for particularly hilly terrain. These rims are OEM rims and have no decals on them and also have customisable finishes in either 3k or UD, matte or gloss. If you wanted a really light set of very durable carbon clincher wheels, Xentis are a great choice.
ENVE SES rims and classic rims. Lots of options again. ENVE has always been our most popular premium carbon brand. I think the bottom line is, if you buy a product at this price point, it needs to start by looking great. Which ENVE does. It then needs to be nice and light – which ENVE certainly is. More impressive at the deeper end of the spectrum, that is where ENVE really gets to show off. That said I still think that the 3.4 and 4.5 systems are among the best balanced. The aerodynamic credentials of ENVE need not be challenged. Consistently performing well in a range of conditions owing to the contribution of aerodynamics expert and Formula 1 engineer, Simon Smart. ENVE also comes with a 5 year warranty, very consistent braking and the option of running them in a range of lacing patterns and with a range of hubs. Made in the USA. The price is high, but if your budget is good, they make a fantastic choice. ENVE wheelsets from DCR wheels also come with a lifetime warranty on the build/spokes including collect/return to a UK mainland address. ENVE provide a crash replacement scheme and if you get ENVE from DCR Wheels, that covers the rebuild labour as well.