Akin to having a quality wheelbase on your car, the wheels on a road bike are one of its most important components. Your wheels should be durable, reliable and give you a comfortable ride. Which rim is best depends on your weight, skill level, how many miles you log and how much you can afford to spend. Although rims can be expensive, there are models that won't strain your budget.
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Vuelta Corsa Super-Lite
For under $500, Vuelta Corsa Super-Lites are a quality wheel set that is a very good value. Awarded 3.72 out of 5 stars by Roadbikereview.com, the wheels have 27 mm medium-V 6066 aluminum-welded clincher rims with CNC machined sidewalls. You also get 20 front and 24 rear stainless steel aero spokes that are laced radially in the front, with two that cross in the rear. The hubs feature Japanese-made EZO cartridge bearings. Super-Lite wheels are an excellent mid-range product, costing approximately $450 as of 2011.
Shimano WH-R S20
Shimano WH-R S20 wheels include technology found on pricier wheel sets, according to a review on Bicycling.com. With 16 butted spokes in the front and 20 in the rear wheel, as well as anodized nipples and offset technology that creates triangulated strength in the rim, these wheels are an excellent value. Bikeradar.com says the ball bearing hubs are easy to re-grease. Their cassette body is also compatible with 8-, 9- and 10-speed Shimano cassettes. As of 2011, the Shimano WH-R S20 wheel set costs around $300.
Mavic Ksyrium Equipe
Mavic produces high-quality biking products, and Ksyrium Equipes are no exception. Receiving 3.24 out of 5 stars on Roadbikereview.com, these wheels are surprisingly durable, despite their less-exotic material components. The front rim has 20 spokes, while the rear holds 24. Although not high spoke counts, reviewers found the wheels held up well over long rides on tough surfaces. As of 2011, you can find a set of Ksyrium Equipes for approximately $250.
If you need to keep your purchase under $200, Vuelta produces a Zerolite wheel set that costs around $120, as of 2011. Designed to be fast, these wheels are tough and can handle potholes and cobbles without straying off track. Earning 3.3 out of 5 stars from Roadbikereview.com, the hand-built aluminum alloy rims with CNC-machined sidewalls offer superior braking power. The 3.3 mm stainless spokes also support your weight through corners, climbs and descents.