For most casual riders a wheel which is strong and durable while being lightweight and relatively cheap is the ideal combination. However, if you are a more serious rider then the answer to the question is a lot more complicated. Are you a hill climber, a time trialist, a track expert or a downhill expert?If you are racing then you might think the obvious answer is a fast wheel. But what is a fast wheel? Again, it depends on the scenario. A fast wheel in the world of hill climbing is going to be ultra light. But an ultra light wheel is not going to be fast at all on the track or during a time trial event, and it certainly won’t be any good on gravel or a downhill course because lightness usually also means a lack of strength.
So, you need to decide on your purpose before going off and choosing a wheelset to buy. If you are a specialist in a particular riding discipline then you might find your choice fairly easy to make but if you like to compete at multiple disciplines then you may want to consider investing in several different wheelsets to suit each purpose.Another thing to take into consideration is your body weight. Heavier riders of more than say 180lbs body weight will need to consider the strength of their wheels. Strength for a heavy rider is likely to be more important than lightness as in order to do well in an event or even to win it you need to guarantee that you will finish the course. This is especially true for off-road events as the last thing you need is a dented rim.Do you want to learn more? Visit lightweight wheels.
The strength of a bike wheel comes mainly from the spokes. You may find some people talking about the virtues of less spokes equalling less weight etc, but that’s not necessarily true because if you reduce the number of spokes then you will have to compensate with stronger rims which means more material used in their construction which means more weight. Also, if you are going to submit your wheels to impacts on the course, which is likely if you are taking part in a downhill event then you will need to consider spoke tension. The higher the tension, the more resistant to impacts the wheel will be.
It’s not all in the spokes though, the strength of the rim does play an important part. For example, take a look at a mountain bike rim compared to a road bike rim. It’s much wider, and this gives it greater strength but at the expense of more weight. If you want to enhance the strength of your wheels then the best way to achieve that is to increase the number of spokes and then make them as tight as possible to help them resist impacts and therefore damage to the wheel rim.
So what else do you need to look for when buying your next set of wheels? Well, the hub is another important part. It should be made of aluminum and it should be forged rather than machined. Aluminum because it is lighter and easier to lace up with spokes due to the ability to deform the flange. You can get all sorts of great looking shapes with a machined hub but it won’t be as strong as a properly forged hub.You will mainly have a choice of steel or aluminium rims but you should steer well clear of steel rims. They will last longer due to the walls not wearing out due to braking but they are not effective under braking when it is wet. You can combat this slightly by having leather brake blocks but these will wear out exceptionally quickly.