Which are the Best Cheap Road Bike Wheelsets? 2015 Reviews

Finding a Set of Good, Inexpensive Road Bike Wheels

Road cycling is one of the best all-around exercises out there, and it's a lot of fun to do. If you're a road bike rider, you know the thrill of flying down the road on a light and fast bicycle. If you're looking to upgrade and improve your bike, or if you simply need to replace a worn out or outdated set of wheels, it's worth considering a good, cheap road bike wheelset.

Replacing the wheels on your bicycle isn't as difficult as it once was. There are literally thousands of options to choose from, including all sorts of price points, materials and features, so it's pretty easy to find an awesome upgrade for your road bicycle wheelset that's cheap yet high performance. With the advent of quick release axles and cassettes and freehubs, it's really easy to install a new set and set them up with the right gearing.Image Credit: Idiolector (Flickr)

This article will take a close look at five of my favorite, cheap road bike wheelsets, reviewing each one and talking about the pros and cons. We'll also talk about what you might want to look for when shopping online for a set of wheels, and what you might need to know to help you interpret the wave of information they'll throw at you (things like wheel size interpretation, materials, etc).

Tips for Buying Wheelsets for Road Bikes: Things To Know:

If you're buying a cheap road bike wheel set online, it can be a bit tricky and confusing. There are a lot of companies out there vying for your attention and money, and you don't want to buy the wrong thing, or an item that's incompatible with your current bike. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

  1. Wheel Size:

    There are several popular wheelset sizes for road bikes, listed here from smallest to largest: 26 inch, 27 inch, 700c, 28 inch. There are also some other less popular sizes like 29 inch, but these are the common ones. On road bikes the most popular these days seems to be 700c. One size isn't better than another, but different types are used for different styles of riding. If you're unsure what size wheels your bike uses, look on the sidewall of the tire. Unless it's worn off or the tire is really old, it should have the size printed there.

    It's important that your road bike wheelset is the same size as what you currently have. If you get wheels that are too small or too big, your current brakes may not work properly.

  2. Number of Spokes:

    As you shop online for the best road bike wheel sets, you'll notice that different sets have different numbers of spokes. The general standard these days is 32 or 36 spokes per wheel, which is a quite standard wheel look. However, many wheels now use far fewer spokes, as few as 12 or 16 in some cases. You'll know when there are fewer spokes because the wheel will look 'emptier'.

    Despite what you may hear, there is no advantage to having fewer spokes, save for a negligible weight saving. Fewer spokes means lower strength, don't believe otherwise. That said, there's nothing wrong with a few fewer spokes, and some of the spoke patterns can be quite cool to look at.

  3. Bicycle Wheelset Rims:

    You'll also notice a variety of wheelset rims, and differences in size and materials. A very popular style is the 'deep V' rim, which involves a very tall rim, sometimes as much as two inches in height. Also, many higher end wheelsets will include double walled rims, which increases the strength somewhat. You'll find materials ranging from steel and aluminum to carbon fibre. Personally I prefer aluminum alloy, but ultimately there isn't a definitive best road bike wheelset rim material, it comes down to personal taste and weight requirements.

  4. What Are 'Cassettes'?

    A very popular way of installing different gearing options on a road bicycle wheelset is by using cassettes. In fact, most modern wheelsets you can find online today will include the technology to make use of cassettes. They are great because you're not stuck with a single gearing like on some wheelsets. As long as the freehub (attached to the wheels) is compatible with the cassette, you have a lot of options.

Aeromax Alloy Wheelset Road Bike Comp 700c Wheels
Aeromax Alloy Wheelset Road Bike Comp 700c Wheels

Really cheap wheelset for road bicycles, spins really well, freehub is compatible with many cassettes, 24 spokes, deep V rims.


Aeromax: A good, affordable, versatile wheel set for road bikes

The Aeromax Alloy Wheelset is a really phenomenal product, simply because there are few other wheelsets that can compete with it in terms of bang for your buck. The wheels include double walled, deep V rims that use 24 spokes per wheel. The sidewalls of the rims are machined, which means that they will work well with conventional brake pads.

This is a freehub wheelset that's compatible with 7, 8, 9 and 10 speed cassettes which can be purchased separately. Each wheelset is also hand built, and they're very true and spin extremely well for such inexpensive wheels. The best thing about them? I'm not the only one who feels this way, as they review extremely well.

Xero CXR-6 700c Wheelset 20H Front/24H Rear Black QR
Xero CXR-6 700c Wheelset 20H Front/24H Rear Black QR

Double walled deep V rims are light, aerodynamic and strong, quick release style wheelset for a road bike.


Xero: Among the best, cheap road wheelsets around. Upgrade your ride

The Xero CXR-6 road bicycle wheel set is another example of a super low cost product that's actually pretty darn nice. The set uses 24 spokes per wheel, and they are actually quite lightweight. The freehub is compatible with a Shimano clincher cassette, and the spokes are 14g. It also has CNC machined sidewalls which works nicely with rim or V brakes. This is a quick release style road bicycle wheelset, and it's cheap compared to others with similar configurations.

It fits tires between 23C and 32C, so you have some options there. The double walled deep V rims are strong and aerodynamic. The best part about these wheels is the low price, which cost less than a single wheel does in some other brands.

Aeromax Campagnolo: A cheap alloy wheelset for road bikes that's Campagnolo compatible

This wheelset is a really affordably priced product, especially considering it's perfect for compatibility with high quality Campagnolo cassettes, including 8, 9 and 10 speeds. If you know Campagnolo, you'll know that their cassettes are considered some of the best on the market, so to find a good, strong wheelset that fits is a great thing.

The wheels themselves include a double walled, deep V rim, sealed bearings so it'll spin easily and cleanly, 20 spokes for the front wheel and 24 for the rear for a clean, modern look and good strength and rigidity. They are also pretty lightweight. For Campagnolo fans, consider these guys to save money.

Campagnolo Khamsin CX Black Clincher Wheelset
Campagnolo Khamsin CX Black Clincher Wheelset

Sealed hub bearings, Campagnolo compatible freehub, lightweight design, G3 spoke pattern.


Campagnolo Khamsin Clincher Wheelset: A high quality road bike wheel set

The Campagnolo Khamsin CX is a very nice wheelset by a very highly regarded company in the cycling world. These wheels include all of the extras you'd expect from a world class operation. Sealed bearings in the hubs ensure a smooth spinning experience, and the deep V wheel has a deep pocket in which to place the tube: a real asset when it comes time to replace them. These wheels are compatible with Campagnolo 9, 10 and 11 speed cassettes, and the rims themselves are intended for high performance carbon brakes. (This wheelset even includes a set of compatible carbon brake pads for your bike).

There are other smart features, like the fact that the G3 spoke pattern doesn't rub spokes together, yet maintains excellent shape and rigidity. And of course the wheels are really lightweight. Definitely one to check out!

Vuelta Corsa-Lite 700c Clincher Wheelset
Vuelta Corsa-Lite 700c Clincher Wheelset

6066 aluminum alloy 'clincher' rims, EZO cartridge bearings, super light weight.


Vuelta Corsa-Lite: Super strong and high quality wheel set for road bikes

This Vuelta Corsa-Lite is a bit of a step up in both quality and price point, but it's still a really well priced wheelset considering the components and construction quality. The 'clincher' style rims are 6066 aluminum alloy, light and very strong indeed, and the wheels are equipped with EZO cartridge bearings, which ensure the wheels spin effortlessly.

The weight of these wheels is quite a bit lighter than lower priced competition, and you'll really notice the difference when you hold them. The freehub on this road bike wheelset is compatible with Shimano cassettes, so you'll have a wide variety to choose from. They are also exceptionally attractive, if that makes a difference!

Before You Buy a New Bike, Consider New Wheels

If you're dissatisfied with your current ride, you should definitely look into upgrading your wheels before you go to the trouble of purchasing a new bicycle altogether. It's amazing how much a new wheelset can improve your enjoyment of your bicycle, and it's by far a more affordable route.

We have a throwaway culture nowadays, and people are trained to consider most purchases to be disposable. With bicycles that's not the case.

(Well, not usually. Department store bikes are often referred to as 'junk' bikes by the government. These stores actually pay a special disposal tax in advance, because they know that the bikes will end up in the landfill in a year or two. The parts on department store bikes are not easily replaced or upgraded. However, most bicycles purchased from your local bike shop are meant to have a long lifespan).

When something becomes unsatisfactory, I urge you to take it to your local bike shop and get new parts, or do the research, find out what you need and order it in. Not only will you save money, but you'll get a lot more enjoyment out of cycling. It's a very 'Zen' sort of thing!

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Do you ride a road bicycle? What kind of wheels do you have? 1 comment

James 2 months ago

I have the corsa lites from 2012. Super light and now on sale at nashbar for 204 shipped plus tax.

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