Find a new bike wheel
The front and rear wheel of your bike are the crucial contact points between you and the ground. In the past, rims, hubs and spokes were usually bought separately. Nowadays you can still custom-build a bike wheel, but you’ll also find a wide range of well-built (machine-built) wheels. Find the right bike wheel for your bike type below.
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How to choose the right bike wheels
A bike wheel is sometimes wrongly referred to as rim or tyre. The rim and the tyre are crucial parts of the cycle wheel but aren’t the same thing as the wheel itself. Watch out for misunderstandings when you’re looking for information or contacting a bicycle repair shop. The rim, the spokes and the tyre make up the wheel but not the other way around.
If you buy a machine-built wheel on which the spokes, tyre and so on are already installed, it’s called a wheelset. Most manufacturers still test components like hubs, spokes and rims for roundness, durability and stiffness, to ensure optimal performance and comfort.
Bike wheels have a major impact on the riding experience
The importance of high-quality bike wheels should not be underestimated. Your wheels have to deal with heavy loads and stress. They have to not only support the rider and their luggage, but also deal with kerbs and potholes.
Therefore, stability and durability are of the utmost importance when looking for new bicycle wheels. Which wheel size you should choose depends on your own preferences but also on how you use your bike, and its dimensions.
The magic of the right material
The choice of material is also very important if you want to buy or replace a bike wheelset. The choice will of course affect the overall price: the higher the quality, the higher the price. Nowadays, most bicycle wheels are available in carbon and aluminium, or a combination of the two.
Besides the materials used, the braking system (disc brakes or rim brakes) is another important aspect to consider.
In many cases, the manufacturer imposes a rider weight limit for their bike wheels. This weight limit refers to the total weight, meaning the weight of the rider, the bike, and any luggage or accessories.
In general, standard wheels have a weight limit of about 110 kg (17 stone, 4.5 lbs), while competitive road cycling wheels often have a weight limit of only 85 kg (13 stone, 5.4 lbs).
The weight limit is an indication. It doesn’t necessarily mean the bike will collapse when the limit is exceeded, but the added fatigue will have an impact over the years. Plus, exceeding the limit affects the riding comfort of the cyclist. So when buying new bike wheels, do pay attention to the weight limit.
Bike wheels have to be replaced from time to time
If one of your wheels is damaged and needs to be replaced, you might have questions.
First of all, it’s worth checking with your bike repair shop whether a repair is still possible. Sometimes it may be possible to repair or replace part of the wheel. If repair is no longer possible, you’ll have to buy a new bike wheel. But you could also consider upgrading your bike. Buying a new wheelset is one of the most popular options for boosting performance.
Upgrading your wheels is without a doubt the best performance upgrade you can make to your bike. Therefore, road cyclists also often own various wheelsets which they switch between depending on the ride they are going on (flat rides, TT rides, climbing rides …).
With a spoke wrench you can quickly and easily tension loose spokes, a process called “truing”. Tensioning the spokes to the right amount of tension causes the wheels to become more stable and to spin straight.
From 12 to 29 inches: The size of a bike wheel
The size of a bike wheel is always measured in inches. There is hardly any other part of a bicycle that is available in more sizes, widths and designs than the wheel.
Wheel sizes start at 12 inches and go up to 29 inches. Adults tend to go for cycle wheels ranging from 26 to 28 inches. In the UK, the most common wheel size is 28 inches, regardless of whether it is a road bike, a city bike or an e-bike. Besides the wide variety of sizes, there is also a wide range of manufacturers and prices to choose from.
For kids’ bicycles, wheel sizes start at 12 inches. The size of the cycle wheels increases with the age and size of the child. For kids’ bicycles, the wheel size ranges between 12 and 18 inches. With bike wheels for children, it’s all about stability. The safety of your child is the main priority.
How many spokes in a wheel?
Most wheels have 36 spokes. The front wheel often has fewer spokes because the load is higher on the rear wheel. Mountain bikes, for example, are usually equipped with 28 spokes at the front and 32 at the rear. It’s completely normal for the number of spokes on the front and rear wheels to differ.
The number of spokes is also a matter of price and of how you intend to use your bike. Road cyclists often focus on the number of spokes because they play a vital role in the performance of your bike wheels. The fewer spokes, the lower the weight of your bike and the faster you will climb. Some front wheels have as few as 12.
But fewer spokes also means a weaker wheel. Finding the right balance is therefore crucial. Most bikes use plain-gauge spokes with a three-cross pattern. Road bikes, on the other hand, often have a radial or zero-cross pattern in which flat aero spokes (oval/diamond-shaped) are used to improve aerodynamics.
Everyday cyclists and commuters don’t really worry about their spokes until one or more get damaged. Under no circumstances should you continue cycling with a broken or missing spoke. This creates an imbalance in the wheel and puts you at high risk of breaking even more spokes. In the worst-case scenario, you might even damage the rim.
If a repair is not possible, you can replace the entire wheel. It’s important that you don’t change the number of spokes, as this can have a major impact on the bike. Because spokes normally don’t break easily, the damage might have another cause. Therefore, we recommend also checking other parts such as the inner tube, the tyre, and the valves.
Adjusting your brakes when replacing your wheel
Because wheels and brakes go hand in hand, you should also properly install and adjust your brakes after replacing your wheels. Test them before you go for a longer ride, just to be on the safe side. When buying a new wheelset, make sure it meets your requirements and that it fits you and your bike.