Bike Wheels Buying Guide
A bicycle road wheel may appear to be nothing more than just a wheel, some spokes and some rims to hold things together. And yet, there many differences between all sorts of bicycle wheels. The difference between aluminum and carbon is quite large already. Plus, there are so many other key points to pay attention to while you purchase new bicycle wheels.
One key point is the diameter of the rim or 'flats'. This varies widely. You can get a great looking bike wheelset with a small diameter rim. However, it is quite difficult to have a smooth and comfortable ride - especially in the mud. You will not enjoy long rides on a bike that constantly feels like you're going uphill!
Bicycle wheels are generally constructed of steel or aluminum. In addition, they are covered in various materials including rubber, magnesium, titanium and carbon fibre. The most common material is steel, as it is strong and light. Bicycle wheels are typically divided into four main categories based on the type of hub used to mount them. There are two kinds of spoke pattern used on the bicycle wheels: the domed spoke pattern, which is usually referred to as a 'PD' pattern, and the spoke cross-over, which is referred to as a 'SC' pattern.
The domed spoke pattern has a flattened outer rim that has numerous ridges and grooves along its inner surface. On the other hand, the spoke cross-over has a flat outer rim that has one or more raised ridges around its edge. Both these patterns result in a number of spoke holes on the hub flange. These spokes are drilled for fixing the valve stems. Each type of wheel has different valve stem types, with some referring to water-tight fitting while others facilitating air leakage.
Bicycle wheels are made in several styles. The most popularly used by riders today are the standard road wheels, which can be found in several rim designs such as rim and nipple styles and traditional box-section rims. Box-section rims, also called tandem-roses, are made up of two strips of metal attached to each other by a cross-section of metal that forms a box. The center of each strip is machined to form a solid piece, which forms the hub of the bicycle. In contrast, the standard rim is made up of a single solid piece of metal that does not allow the spokes to interlock.
For the more adventurous, they may decide to opt for the 'cross-specific' wheels, which have individual spoke heads welded together to form a solid unit that nests between two opposing rims. They are then topped with a special spoke head that fits into the center of the rim. This provides them with the advantage of having interchangeable spokes. This eliminates the need for a set of wheels that must be bought for every bike rider. Some bicycles even have rim locks that prevent a spoke from being forced out of its socket by the pulling force of the wheel on the bicycle. These are commonly used by race teams.
Another innovation is the 'tubeless' wheel. A tube shaped assembly, shaped like a tub or rectangular box, is fitted inside a fixed cylinder. This assembly allows for air to flow without any type of spoke adjustment. This type of wheel provides the least amount of spoke adjustment needed, making it popular among riders who prefer a simpler riding experience. This type of wheel is not available on all models.
The rim width plays an important role in bike performance and wheel choice. A narrow rim width will reduce the stiffness of the frame due to less spoke friction. Conversely, a wide rim ensures that a more aggressive ride can be had thanks to increased stiffness. A wide wheel offers additional benefits when it comes to high speeds as it helps maintain better control while climbing steep hills.