Why Are Road Bike Wheels So Special?

The wheels on your bike have a big impact on the quality of the ride. Every type of bike has tires that are special to their needs, but on road bikes, different types of wheels provide different riding experiences. This makes road bikes very versatile rides – here’s how their special tires work!

What Kind Of Ride Should You Expect From A Road Bike?

outspokin-gravel-bike-feature-imageWhat makes a road bike different from other bikes? We can start with the name: this type of bike moves faster and more efficiently on roads. It’s in how the rider sits on the bike, as road bikes have the cyclist in a forward-leaning position to reduce drag. The components also have to be lightweight and durable, and the whole package often doesn’t weigh more than 22 pounds. 

This means road bike wheels have to be light, too, all while doing a lot. These wheels must have smooth and dependable hubs, high stiffness for accurate tracking, hold a tire at great pressure, and provide a surface for consistent braking. They must achieve all this while being as lightweight and aerodynamically efficient as possible! It’s part of what makes road bike wheels so special.


They Are Light and Aerodynamicsized gallery 0002 Salsa Warroad Force salsa road bike wheels

While all road bike wheels are light and aerodynamic, you can choose which attribute to fit your riding needs. Wheels that have a lighter weight also have a shallow rim profile and low spoke count. This not only reduces the overall weight but adds some comfort to the ride; however, they don’t improve the speed. Quality, lightweight wheels are often below 1,400 grams as a pair, but some very lightweight sets come in under 1,000 grams!

Road bike wheels made with aerodynamics in mind are for riders who want to go as fast as possible. Aerodynamic road bike wheels reduce drag by being greater than 40 mm deep at the rim. The extra speed comes at a cost, as the deep-section wheels are more sensitive to crosswinds, making them difficult to handle. The extra material adds extra weight, too.


Different Tire Types For Every Rider’s Needs

As you can see, road bikes aren’t one-size-fits-all, and this goes for the type of tubes the tires use. There are three common road bike tires: clinchers, tubular tires, and tubeless tires.

  • Clinchers are the most common form of a road bike tire, and you can safely assume that any new bike bought will have clincher tires. Clincher tires have a tube that inflates it and holds air, and the tubes stay on the rim through either a steel or kevlar fibre bead.
  • Tubular tires also use an inner tube, but it’s sewn right to the tire. The tire is stuck directly onto the rim. This makes it ideal for racers because it reduces the weight, enhances rolling resistance, and improves the road feel. They are costlier than clinchers and harder to change, but in the case of the latter, tubular tires have a much lower risk of the tire rolling from the rim when flat.
  • Tubeless tires are coming over to road bikes from the world of mountain biking. They’re thought to be the best option because they create less friction and can go at a lower pressure, improving rolling resistance and comfort.


Road Bike Wheels Are Versatile

product example 39 road bike wheelsWhile most cyclists choose road bikes to go fast, their wheels are special because they come in a wide range of options, making the bike more versatile than you’d expect. From commuters to racers to fitness buffs, road bike tires help a wide range of cyclists get the experience they want out of their bike. Whatever the choice, road bike tires offer little rolling resistance, giving the rider more speed for the amount of energy they put into pedaling!

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