What should I choose?
The intention here was to provide some sensible wheelset combinations to suit various budgets. There are many other hubs and many additional combinations which you could choose should you wish. These suggested builds will allow you to ponder over key options. Hand built wheels from us offer you: value for money, performance that suits your riding style and conditions as well as a wheelset that can be fully serviced for many years. Each of these builds can be tweaked to amend their characteristics and aesthetic.
As a base criteria, it makes sense to assume a rider weight between 50kg and 100kg. Beyond 100kg you may want to look at alternatives which we can provide. Generally riders below 75kg I recommend 20:24 lacing. Above 75kg I recommend 24:28 lacing. Sets are in ascending price order.
NovaTec A171/F172 hubs/Sapim Leader spokes/Kinlin XR-270 rims – £220/pair.
A sensible economical set. The hubs have big bearings, albeit slightly cheap ones. The set is stiff and strong and should last fairly well. Shimano 11s or Campagnolo compatible. Hubs can be black or silver. Considering the quality of a lot of the components, the price is pretty amazing, although all areas here can be improved upon.
Why not upgrade to Kinlin 26t rims – same weight; £30 extra? Making a much more appealing set with a wider rim for greater comfort and a nicer tyre profile and tubeless compatibility
The obvious upgrade from here is hubset. Upgrade to DCR hubs for an additional £30. This provides a stiffer wheelset, faster freehub engagement, much higher quality bearings, a more comfortable wheelset and a weight reduction. You save 87g by switching to DCR hubs. Kinlin 26t/DCR/Race spokes – £280. Or better still upgrade to D-light spokes for an extra £10 saving a further 50g or so, creating what we call our ‘Vivaldi Wheelset’:
Called the ‘Vivaldi’ Wheelset as it is intended for four season use. Calling this set a ‘four season’, or ‘all season’ wheelset undervalues it. The set is appropriate for competitive summer riding and we needed a name which demonstrated this wheelset, despite its robustness, was carefully engineered and precisely made. Our eye has been kept keenly on value, however the set is still hand built by us in Sussex to our usual superlative standards. The weight has also been kept as low as is realistic (1460g/pair) whilst also providing a stiff and resilient setup.
£300 provides the wheelset including UK shipping and tubeless rim tape. As standard we build the wheels with black rims, black hubs, silver spokes with silver alloy nipples. The DCR standard road hubs used here have our dedicated UK weather treatment to ensure maximum longevity and best possible performance, as well as fast freehub engagement and anti-bite system on the Shimano versions. Campagnolo freehubs and XD freehubs can be fitted to our hubs if required. The hubs can also be adapted between 130mm and 135mm spacing.
Using Sapim’s alloy nipples and our nipple/spoke prep means that even in all year round use alloy nipples are still a sound choice. We provide a lifetime warranty on the build/spokes on this basis. Changing your hub colour or increasing the spoke count to 24/28 can be done without any additional charge. Upgrading to black D-light spokes incurs an upcharge of £20, DCR titanium skewers can be added for £20. International delivery is possible but will incur an additional charge.
The Kinlin XR-26t rim is a sound choice for this sort of wheelset. It is not a featherweight rim, but it has been designed and extruded with care. A T-10 niobium alloy has been used for additional performance benefits. Being 26mm deep the rim is robust and nice and stiff, being 24mm wide it is best suited to tyres from 25c upwards and provides good support for those tyres increasing the volume of air within them. An offcentre (asymmetrical) version of the rim is used at the rear to increase the drive side bracing angle and the non-drive side spoke tensions. For best results, we do recommend a tubeless setup on these wheels which we can provide for you should you require. If you wish to directly purchase the wheelset in its 130mm/Shimano/silver spoke/20/24 drilling with black hub combination, you can do so using this link or by clicking the image above. We endeavour to keep this wheelset in stock at all times, should we run out of stock at any point we will write to you as soon as possible to advise.
DCR Standard Road Wheelset
If you wanted to take the performance up another level, the DCR 23mm alloy rim and Sapim CX-Ray spoke upgrade is the obvious choice. For that you get a welded joint, super tough spoke bed, lower weight and nice satin finish owing to a shot blasting and anodising treatment (anodised internally and externally), they have a rider weight limit of 120kg and a spoke bed that has been tested to 300kgf. The rim is slightly narrower and shallower than the Kinlin but is still remarkably stiff owing to its clever shape. They work very well with 23/25/28c tyres but wider tyres can be fitted as well. The sidewall is machined silver, so it remains a consistent finish throughout its life. The shape is a nice modern aero rounded profile.
The CX-Ray upgrade is a lovely upgrade to have. They do provide a modest weight saving over the D-light, they are also slightly more aerodynamic and slightly more comfortable as well. However critically they are a lot more durable and a lot more stable. That comes from a combination of the spoke gaining strength through the flattening process. Additionally the spoke being flat allows it to be adjusted with far greater precision. A round spoke will twist when you turn the nipple, an aero spoke can be held steady allowing for much smaller adjustments. Spoke twist is a problem which persists particularly badly in the Laser spoke (light gauge round) and can cause difficulty during servicing in later life. Where the Sapim CX-Ray is immune to spoke twist, you can service it for a far longer.
DCR standard road, DCR 23mm alloy, Black Sapim CX-Ray spokes, alloy nipples (20:24) £420 (£430 including tape and UK Mainland delivery) weighs just 1410g/pair.
As with the Vivaldi wheelset, you can customise hub, spoke and nipple colour as well as drilling, freehub body and axle length. We endeavour to keep all black, 20/24 versions of this wheelset in stock at all times and you can purchase this set directly using this link or the image above.
In 2016 Aforce introduced its Al33 rim. As a rim it has redefined what is possible with aluminium. You can read more about the Al33 on aforce.bellebikes.com and on our detailed overview of the rim. With the Al33 for the first time you can have an aluminium rim with true aerodynamic credentials. These are backed up by proper, independently tested, wind tunnel data. It also is possible with a weight that was previously only seen in carbon wheelsets. The rim also offers bonus features such as their offset cross lacing system, internal nipples, premium AFX9 alloy and 2:1 lacing pattern at the rear. The Al33 is available with a ceramic braking surface, however for the time being we are recommending the silver machined sidewall versions of this rim. The Aforce uses its own tubeless standard which is much easier to fit tyres to than any other we have tested and easy to setup tubeless as well. We offer a Hutchinson elevenstorm bolt on package to go with this set for £90 including fit, valves, tape, sealant and either their Performance or Galactik tyres.
If you are running a 25c tyre on the road, then you will find that for nearly all riders, nearly all of the time, an aerodynamic advantage will exceed the benefit a weight saving. Historically it was erroneously believed that aerodynamics was only beneficial at high speeds, however even at 10mph a measurable advantage can be obtained. That means that during all descending, most level riding and even a lot of climbing, a rider will see a greater advantage by running an aerodynamic component over a lighter one. Weight saving only provides a measurable benefit when a rider is changing speed, height or direction. So for the highest performing aluminium wheelset, the obvious choice is the Al33. Additionally, the Al33 has excellent ride comfort and is stable in crosswinds. Contrasting it to a carbon rim it will also increase braking power and completely eliminates the chances of heat failure irrespective of rider weight and terrain, maki
ng the Al33 a popular choice for mountainous terrain as well as flatter routes.
The rider weight limit on this set is approximately 110kg, however the limiting feature here is actually the hubset, not the rimset. We have had versions of our black standard road hubset drilled in 24h 2:1 lacing at the rear to work with this internal 2:1 version of the Al33 which we recommend. These sets weigh 1515g/pair using top quality Sapim CX-Ray spokes which qualifies this set for our lifetime build/spoke warranty, the set includes rim tape and UK mainland delivery. The package offers a excellent levels of stiffness. You can purchase this set by clicking here. Please get in touch if you would like a custom package tailored to your specific requirements.
If you did want to transition over to a carbon rim brake set, we highly recommend considering a wheelset built with an Alto Cycling rim. They offer very stiff and very safe carbon rims. For more information, please visit our dedicated Alto Wheelsets section.
ENVE will offer a performance upgrade like no other rim. It offers weight benefits, stiffness benefits and aerodynamic benefits. There are a number of options to choose between but the 3.4 clincher is the most popular. It is worth visiting our ENVE rim section on our site if you are considering ENVE rims. Please get in touch with us to discuss a bespoke ENVE package to suit your requirements.