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How to choose a bicycle wheel

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How to choose a bicycle wheel

After you have been riding the bicycle long enough, your wheels have reached the point where they need to be replaced. The replacement mileage may vary from a few thousand miles to 20,000 miles or more, depending on your road or trail conditions, your weight, the total weight of your bike, how active you are riding, and most importantly, you have done How much braking.


When to replace the bicycle wheel: Some rims have replacement indicators, which are holes or grooves that slowly disappear as the rim wears. If your rim does not have a wear indicator, you can check for slight depressions or other signs of excessive wear on the surface of the rim.


The rims and spokes will eventually be affected by metal fatigue, so if you have been riding for several years, you should ask a bicycle shop to evaluate the health of your wheels.


Consider upgrading your wheels to improve performance. Wheel upgrades can help you ride faster, climb more effectively or deal with downhill terrain more actively.


You can even consider custom wheel manufacturing. Although this may be your most expensive option, it allows you to select each component of the wheel individually. It also allows you to precisely match your wheels to meet your riding needs.

bicycle wheel

Bicycle wheel compatibility

Whether you are replacing your current wheels due to worn rims or encountering huge potholes, make sure that your new wheels are compatible with your current bike settings in many ways.


First of all, to know that the wheels are dedicated front and rear, you must match road tires with road wheels and mountain bike tires with mountain bike wheels. Then, look for the following:

Tire size

Check the sidewall of the tire to find the tire size corresponding to the new wheel size.


On road bike tires, you will see a number pair, such as 700×23. The first number (700) is the size that roughly corresponds to the outer diameter of the tire in millimeters. The second number (23) represents the actual tire width in millimeters.


On mountain bike tires, you will see a pair of numbers that looks like 26×2.0. This is the approximate value of the outer diameter (26″) multiplied by the width (2″). Other typical mountain bike tire sizes are 27.5″ or 29″; other sizes also exist, but these are the most common.


As long as your tire diameter (700, 29, etc.) matches the wheel size, most tire widths will fit. In extreme situations—for example, ultra-wide tires on ultra-narrow rims—the tires may not be suitable. Some wheels list a range of compatible tire widths.

Tyre type

If you are using a traditional clincher (the most common tire type), the valve type Schrader or Presta of your inner tube must match the hole in the wheel rim. If not, you will need a new tube.


If you use a tubeless tire without a tube, you will need a tubeless wheel (and tire sealant) that is compatible. Many mountain bikers use tubeless tires, and more and more road bikers are trying to use them. You can run tubeless tires at lower tire pressures to get a smoother ride and better traction without punctures.


UST (Universal System Tubeless) designated wheels make it easier to install tubeless tires. (Please note that you can use tubeless tires with tube, so when choosing a new wheel, you may consider compatible tubeless wheels so that you can choose to try tubeless tires in the future.)


Tubular tires used by some elite riders are another less common tire choice that must be glued to rims designed specifically for tubular tires.

Brake type

Do you have a rim brake or a disc brake? A rim brake requires a wheel with a flat rim sidewall that will be aligned with the surface of the brake shoe. If your current wheels are equipped with disc brakes, your new wheels must also be disc compatible, as far as the type of rotor is, the perforated ring that surrounds the hub. Most disc brakes have a rotor connected by a 6-bolt mount, while some Shimano wheels use a rotor with a center lock mount.

Axle accessories

Are your wheels connected to the frame with quick-release forks or drum axles? You need to make sure your wheels are compatible.


A quick-release string rod slides through an axle that fits the hooks on both sides of the wheel (the end of the slotted frame). When you turn the lever of the kebab, the wheels are fixed in place, clamping the wheels tightly in place.


You can tell if you have a barrel axle, because the axle must slide through two frame holes, one of which is a threaded hole in order to connect the wheel to the bicycle. (Please note that some bicycles use forks on one wheel and axles on the other wheel.)

bicycle wheel

Shaft size

Shaft diameter: If you have a cylindrical shaft, you need to know the shaft diameter. Common examples include 12 mm (in front of the road and behind the mountain), 15 mm (in front of the road and the mountain), and 20 mm (in front of the mountain). (Because the quick release strings are almost 9 mm, the diameter is not a string problem.)


Axle length: Whether you are using a quick-release forklift or a barrel axle, you need to know the internal distance in the frame where the wheel is installed. Common examples include 100 or 110 mm (front) and 130, 135, or 142 (rear). Some wheels include adapters for various axle lengths.

Rear wheel type

This determines how your rear wheel meshes with the gears in the bicycle transmission system. There are two main types of hubs:


Freehub: It can be found on most bicycles. Freehub has a spline that can be precisely fitted into the center of the rear flywheel. The cassette tape usually has a locking ring to secure it to the free hub. The hub of your new wheel must be compatible with your flywheel.

Threaded hub: Mainly found on older 5-speed, 6-speed or 7-speed bicycles. This type of hub is compatible with a flywheel, which is a set of rear gears connected by simple threads. This type of hub will accept any type of threaded flywheel set.

bicycle wheel

Upgrade your bicycle wheels

Sometimes overlooked when the rider upgrades the bike, a better set of wheels can help you significantly improve performance.


All compatibility issues discussed for wheel replacement also apply to wheel upgrades.


Moreover, even if you do not plan to perform tire upgrades at the same time, you should check the old tires to make sure they do not need to be replaced.


The following are some of the factors that affect the quality and cost of bicycle wheels:


Better materials: Compared with most alloy rims, ultra-light and super-strong carbon fiber rims can achieve a leap in performance and price. Compared with alloys, carbon can be formed into a wider range of shapes while also providing superior strength and rigidity. This allows wheel designers to create lighter, stronger or more aerodynamic wheels with the same or lower weight than what can be achieved with alloys. But please note that carbon fiber wheels with rim brakes will be smoother in the rain and will be hotter than rim brake alloy wheels on long downhill roads.


Better bearings: The bearings will not have much impact on performance before they start to wear. When this happens, your wheel rotation efficiency will decrease. When you upgrade to a higher quality and higher price wheel, it may be equipped with better and more durable bearings.


Better wheels (on the rear wheels): You can enjoy better pedaling efficiency and higher durability. Hubs that engage faster wheels—meaning your cranks travel a shorter distance before the drivetrain starts—will make your bike more responsive.

Choose bicycle wheels for performance

When upgrading your wheels, you may look for lighter, stronger, and more aerodynamic (or hybrid) wheels based on your riding style. These diagrams show some of the key areas affected by the specific functions of the wheel:

Wheel characteristics of road bike types:

Light Climbing X Racing/Speed ​​X Commuting/Traveling
Strong climbing racing/speed commuting/touring X
Aerodynamics Climbing Racing/Speed ​​X Commuting/Traveling


Wheel characteristics of mountain bike types:
Light All Mountain X Downhill Offroad X
Strong All Mountain X Downhill X Offroad


Lighter wheels: These will pay off when you climb. Lighter wheels reduce the overall weight of the bike, which means you consume less energy when moving. Saving 200 grams over your current wheels can significantly improve performance.


The placement of weight on the wheel also affects the performance of the wheel. Wheels with larger rim weight percentages are more difficult to move. On the other hand, wheels with smaller rims and larger rims will feel more sensitive.


Stronger wheels: For certain types of riding, strength trumps low weight. The road wheels of commuters and touring cyclists need to withstand heavy loads and high mileage.


A set of sturdy wheels is a must for downhill mountain biking, which involves aggressive riding and big jumps. Happily, the elevator tunnel can easily carry the heavier wheels to the top. All-mountain riding, descending by climbing, requires light and strong wheels.


There is no universal strength specification, so you need to pay close attention to clues in wheel names, material properties, and construction details. A higher number of spokes makes the wheel stronger. Crossing spokes can also increase the strength, the more the number of crossings, the more the spokes can increase the strength of the wheel.


More aerodynamic wheels: Even at speeds as low as 20 mph, minimizing wind resistance starts to bring huge benefits. Therefore, for all types of road riding, from cruising to standard to century riding, it makes sense to upgrade to more aerodynamic wheels.


You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to buy full roulette. More subtle features such as a deeper rim profile (meaning higher sidewalls of the rim) improve aerodynamics, as do the blade spokes. Look for “aero” in the wheel name or product function. Note, however, that any pneumatic wheel is more difficult to control in crosswinds.


Wider wheels: In the past, thinner wheels and tires were considered more aerodynamic, but recent air turbulence studies have shown that wider tires do not necessarily encounter greater wind resistance. Wider tires usually provide a more comfortable and forgiving riding experience – and they actually experience less rolling resistance – so the trend is now to become wider.


Most wheels will accept a range of tire widths. However, if you decide to use wider tires, it is also worth considering wider wheels for better fit. If you use significantly wider tires, you need to make sure that they also have enough clearance in your bicycle frame. If you are considering wider tires, please consult a bicycle shop expert.

Bicycle wheel maintenance

Wheel dressing: Wheel dressing includes reshaping it into a perfect circle, eliminating any bends and tightening all spokes to the correct tension. The wheels should be ready for use out of the box, and wheel adjustments are part of the standard bicycle adjustments. Unless you suspect a problem or encounter a very large obstacle, you don’t need to adjust the wheels more frequently than the regular adjustment plan. If you commute by bike frequently, fix your wheels more frequently and maintain your bike more frequently.


Wheel repair: If your wheel is adjusted and not worn, you can ask the store to repair it. Bring the wheels in and the store staff can help you decide whether repair or replacement is a better option.


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