When looking at ways to upgrade your bike, wheels are the perfect place to start. While there might be nothing wrong with your bikes stock wheels, upgrading to something wider, lighter, stronger or more aerodynamic will give your pride and joy an instant performance boost where you’ll feel it most.
Road cyclists looking for a wheel upgrade should first figure out what they want from a new wheelset, and match it to the terrain they ride on most. If you’re local route you ride 3 times a week is full of brutal, lung-busting climbs, then maybe that shiny set of super-aero deep section wheels is not the answer and a lighter set more suited to climbing will be of more use and will certainly feel faster on those 20% gradients! The same goes for if you ride on predominantly flat terrain, sacrificing a bit of weight for a slightly deeper section rim might give you more of an advantage.
The same applies to mountain bike wheels, where choosing the right wheels for your bike and riding is essential. For most mountain bikes it’s all about finding that compromise between weight and strength. If you’re a light cross-country whippet riding fairly tame trails then a superlight wheelset with narrower rims and light tyres is ideal for itching your need for speed, whereas heavier riders who get their fix on brutal downhills will be better served with a stronger, heavier and wider rim with burly tyres will be better equipped to stand the test of time. Many riders will fall in between these two extremes, so if you’ve got a trail bike and want some new wheels to look for a mid-width rim (25-30mm ID) with quality hubs and in the 1.5-2kg weight range and you’ll have a durable, faster wheelset and you really won’t go too far wrong!