Best road bike wheels 2022 - Fast, light wheelsets for your pride and joy

Nine pf the best road bike wheels are hung against a terracotta wall
(Image credit: Cyclingnews)

A new set of road bike wheels is top of most riders' upgrade lists. It can totally transform your riding experience, making for a faster, more responsive and possibly more comfortable ride. 

Aerodynamics are to the fore with the best road bike wheels and we've taken ten sets of the top aero wheels to the wind tunnel to test their aero credentials. We've also tested three new sets of aero wheels head-to-head. You don't have to sacrifice low weight for aerodynamics either with the latest crop of deeper section aero wheels, although we've also got a guide to the best lightweight wheels if you want to focus solely on saving a few grams.

Here at Cyclingnews, we've tested dozens of wheelsets. We've ridden with them, raced with them, weighed them, fitted countless tubeless tyres and even taken a load to the wind tunnel, in a bid to work out which are fast, easy to live with, lightweight and serviceable while riding well with responsive handling. 

All that testing means we're pretty confident that the list below covers the best road bike wheels for all cyclists looking to upgrade their ride. However, it's worth noting that even the best wheels can be rendered lacklustre by bad rubber, so once you're done here, make sure you're rolling on the best road bike tyres to get the best out of your purchase.

Best road bike wheels available today

Why you can trust Cyclingnews Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
The best road bike wheels for all-road performance

Specifications

Depth: 45mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 25mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,410g (with tubeless valves)

Reasons to buy

+
Fast everywhere
+
Brilliant warranty
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
28mm tyres and up

Pushing the boundary of road wheels, Zipp's 303 Firecrest offers phenomenal performance both on- and off-road. 

They offer razor-sharp handling and outstanding smoothness on-road, complemented by the low weight - just 1,410 grams with tubeless valves - when the road picks up. That weight becomes astonishing when you consider the impressive impact strength on offer, making the 303 Firecrests an outstanding wheel for fast-going all-road use. 

The only potential downside is that you're limited - according to Zipp's recommendations - to 28mm tyres and up, although, in reality, that's the way the trend is going, so our advice is to embrace it. Being hookless, you're also limited to tyres that are hookless compatible, and that rules out everything from Continental beside the GP5000 S TR. 

To find out more about why we think they're so good, read our Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Tubeless Disc wheel review.

A front DT Swiss ARC 1100 wheel sits in front of the fan within a wind tunnel

(Image credit: Sam Gupta)

DT Swiss ARC 1100 Dicut 62

Best aero performance in our wind tunnel test

Specifications

Depth: 62mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 20mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,676g

Reasons to buy

+
Best aero performance of 10 wheelsets
+
Ceramic bearings
+
Quality hub internals with EXP ratchet drive

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit heavier than some

The DT Swiss ARC 1100 Dicut in 62mm depth came top of the class in our wind tunnel test of 10 aero wheelsets. They're 62mm deep and although their 1,676g weight isn't class-leading they make up for that with an energy saving that we assessed at 3.87 watts at 40km/h.

We rate their predictable handling despite their depth and DT Swiss's hub internals and Ratchet EXP hub are consistently rated among the best available and are used by a number of other brands in their own hubs. They come with quality ceramic bearings and hooked rims that can be run tubeless or tubed.

Enve SES 4.5

(Image credit: Future)
Best road bike wheels for versatility

Specifications

Depth: 49/55mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 25mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,452g

Reasons to buy

+
Designed for rough roads with 25mm internal width
+
Aero tested at 32km/h rather than 45km/h

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Enve pitches the SES 4.5 as the most versatile wheelset in its lineup, light but aero and with a 25mm internal rim width that adds a couple of millimetres to tyre width. Enve's aero rims are optimised at 32km/h rather than the more normal 45km/h, so their aero qualities are more geared to everyday riders than the pro peloton.

The front wheel is lower profile than the rear, for greater crosswind stability and Enve uses hookless beads. The wide rims make for very stable descending and they're comfortable for the long ride; they can easily be set up with wide tyres for gravel riding too.

We tested the Enve SES 4.5 wheels as part of a three-way group test with wheels from Cadex and Roval and rated their versatility and ride quality.

Read more in our full review of the Enve SES 4.5 wheelset.

A pair of Hunt Limitless Aero 60 Disc road bike wheels leans against a terracotta wall

(Image credit: Cyclingnews)
Best road bike wheels for low cost speed

Specifications

Depth: 60mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 20/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,670g

Reasons to buy

+
Novel construction with very wide rims
+
Not expensive for their depth and aero qualities

Reasons to avoid

-
May not fit in narrower clearance frames

Hunt threw away constraints on wheel width and profile when it designed the Hunt 60 Limitless Aerodynamicist wheels and the result is a wheelset that has a 21mm internal width, but an external width that bulges out to 34mm. Hunt has a patented hybrid structure to keep weight in check at 1,670g. 

Although Hunt says that the wheels are optimised for 28mm tyres, our wind tunnel tests found that they were more aero when fitted with 25mm rubber. They also came out as second-fastest overall, which is impressive given they cost less than half the price of others. 

On the road, our review found that they were stable too, which we felt particularly on fast descents. With hooked rims, there's wide tyre compatibility and you're not paying the earth for top-notch aero performance.

Read our full review of the Hunt 60 Limitless Aero Disc wheelset for more info on design and ride experience.

Zipp 303S Carbon Tubeless Disc

(Image credit: Zipp)
The best road bike wheels for all-round performance

Specifications

Depth: 45mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 23mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,610g (with tubeless valves)

Reasons to buy

+
Fast everywhere
+
25-50mm tyre compatible
+
Brilliant warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited to hookless-compatible tyres only

If you're looking for a wheelset that will offer versatility, then you could do much worse than the 303S wheels, which are compatible with tyres from 25-50mm wide. Tubeless tyre installation is a breeze thanks to the hookless rim design, although not all tyre brands are compatible, most notably Continental (except the GP5000 S TR).

They weigh 115g less than their predecessor, and fall under Zipp's Total System Efficiency ethos for wider and lighter wheels. This results in a smoother, faster and more cultured ride for a great price. 

Harnessing the latest trend for wide tyre, low pressure, they're suitable for on-road and off, and as a bonus they come with a lifetime warranty.

For a deeper dive, check out our Zipp 303S Carbon Tubeless Disc wheelset review

A pair of HED Vanquish RC6 Pro road bike wheels leans against a terracotta wall

(Image credit: Cyclingnews)

HED Vanquish RC6 Pro

The best road bike wheels from a pioneer brand

Specifications

Depth: 60mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,630g

Reasons to buy

+
Wide, fast rims
+
Third fastest in our wind tunnel testing
+
Bold graphics

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited retail availability

HED was the originator of the wider-is-faster mantra over a decade ago and it's still making top-notch aero wheels, with the Vanquish RC6 Pro coming third in our wind tunnel tests of ten mid-section aero wheelsets. 

The 21mm internal width isn't as earth-shattering as it once was (when 15mm was considered wide for a road bike rim) but the 30.6mm external width is still at the upper end of rim width. This led to a saving of 1.7 watts over the slowest wheels in our test. The HED Vanquish wheels come with a hooked bead, so there's good tyre compatibility for tubeless running.

Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)
Best road bike wheels for the weight conscious rider

Specifications

Depth: 37mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,360g

Reasons to buy

+
Easy tubeless setup
+
Lightweight
+
Crosswind handling performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

When our reviewer's only hang-up about the Aeolus RSL 37 wheels is the price tag, you know you're looking at an outstanding pair of wheels. 

While not quite as progressive as some options here, the 21mm internal width will play nicely with road tyres, blowing them up nice and wide to help with lower tyre pressures, increase grip and handling, and avoid pinch flats. Tubeless setup is a cinch too, blowing up with little more than a cheap track pump, and ride performance is simply faultless, especially when it comes to crosswinds. 

They roll on DT Swiss' new Ratchet EXP hubs, which are light, stiff, durable, and super-simple to maintain, and if you manage to write off a wheel in the first two years, Bontrager will replace them and also backs them with a lifetime warranty.

Check out our Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37 TLR review for the full rundown.

A pair of FFWD Ryot 55 road bike wheels leans against a terracotta wall

(Image credit: Cyclingnews)

FFWD Ryot 55

A great race wheel for use with 28mm tyres

Specifications

Depth: 55mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1750g (with valves)

Reasons to buy

+
Fairly competitive price
+
Easy tubeless setup

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than we'd like, especially at this depth

The FFWD Ryot 55 wheelset is a pretty solid all-rounder that we'd happily recommend to racers and competitive club riders alike. When we took them to the wind tunnel, our testing protocols put them at a slight disadvantage (they were competing against wheels 5-10mm deeper, and we tested with 25mm tyres, while these are designed for use with 28mm) but despite that, they came out in a respectable 6th place. 

Their weight is a little heavier than we'd expect for a 55mm wheel, at 1750g with valves, but we only noticed that extra weight in the real world when trying to accelerate on a 12% climb. 

During our testing, we had no issues with crosswinds, no durability concerns, and tubeless setups were a walk in the park each time. 

Prime BlackEdition38

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)
Best budget-friendly road bike wheels for easy tubeless setup

Specifications

Depth: 38mm
Brake: Disc, Rim
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 19mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,540g

Reasons to buy

+
Price
+
Tubeless setup

Reasons to avoid

-
Hubs are nothing special
-
You'll need cone wrenches if you wish to switch hub end caps

As with everything from Wiggle-CRC's own component manufacturer Prime, these BlackEdition 38 wheels help to change perceptions of carbon fibre's premium price point. 

They're competitively light at 1,540 grams, and while the 19mm isn't at the cutting-edge of design, they play nicely with both 25mm and 28mm rubber, spreading the casing smoothly across the rim and providing plenty of sidewall support for lower tyre pressures. 

They come tubeless-ready straight out of the box, and we've managed to set them up with various tyre models with little more than a cheap track pump. 

They are from an open mould - as many are these days - so while the aero performance is unconfirmed, they seem to hold speed well at 30km/h and above. With the backing of the world's largest online cycling retail group, you can bet they'll make a great upgrade from your bike's stock alloy wheels. 

Check out our Prime BlackEdition 38 carbon wheelset review to learn more about these wheels.

Scribe Aero Wide+ 60D wheels

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
Best road bike wheels for affordable deep sections

Specifications

Depth: 60mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless and clincher
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 21/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,579g

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable 
+
Three-year warranty and crash replacement guarantee
+
Easy tubeless setup
+
Wide, internal rim architecture
+
Aerodynamic rim depth

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of brand cachet
-
Minimalist aesthetics may not appeal to all

Scribe's Aero Wide+ 60Ds sit just below the range-topping 6565D and 6585D wheels in the family hierarchy. As the name suggests, the wide 21mm internal profile wheels measure 60mm deep and cater for disc-brake-actuated road bikes. The wheels can be used with both traditional inner-tube-type tyres and tubeless rubber - we suggest the latter as it will unlock the true talents of this wheel system. Owing to the wide 21mm internal width (30mm external) wider tyres and lower pressures can be used thanks in part to the better tyre profile support.

The Aero Wide+ 60Ds are a worthy alternative to the costlier options currently flooding the market, especially when you consider the three-year warranty and lifetime crash replacement policy. They're fast and compliant and can be manipulated to perform to your exact requirements.

Head into our Scribe Aero Wide+ 60D wheels review to get the full picture.

A pair of Enve 65 road bike wheels leans against a terracotta wall

(Image credit: Cyclingnews)

Enve 65

Best Enve wheels on a budget

Specifications

Depth: 65mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,630g

Reasons to buy

+
Low price (for Enve wheels)
+
Wide hookless rim tech to help avoid rim damage and pinch flats

Reasons to avoid

-
Still not inexpensive

The Enve 65 wheels (Enve has dropped the Foundation moniker) come from Enve's lower-priced wheel range. Nevertheless, we were impressed by the aero performance in our comparative wind tunnel testing of 10 aero wheelsets, where they were the fourth best of those tested. 

Enve says that the wheelset is aero optimised for 25mm to 28mm tyre width and are tested at wind speeds from 32km/h up to 48km/h, so there's a wide speed range for which they've been aero tested in development. They also include Enve's patented wide hookless bead tech, designed to protect the rim and your tyres from damage from a hit on poor road surfaces.

Cadex 50 Ultra Disc

(Image credit: Future)
Best road bike wheels for low weight without sacrificing depth

Specifications

Depth: 50mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless
Rim width: 22.4mm (internal)
Spoke count: 21/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,316g

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight
+
Stiff and reactive

Reasons to avoid

-
High RRP
-
Loud freehub

The 1,316g weight of the Cadex 50 Ultra Disc wheels puts them in the realm of the best lightweight wheels, but their 50mm depth means they're aero too. They come with an aero hub with 40 points of engagement that's connected up to the hookless rim using 5.2mm wide carbon spokes with an aero blade profile. 

The 50 Ultra Disc wheels are designed to work as a system with Cadex's matching tyres, which have a profile tuned to up the combination's aerodynamics. The wheels are stiff too, so you get good reactivity, but they're also comfortable and stable.

Cadex has a battery of tests to back up its aero claims for the 50 Ultra wheels, which you can read about in our review. We also put them in a three-way test with Enve and Roval wheels, where their weight and stiffness shone forth. 

Our Cadex 50 Ultra Disc wheelset review should clear up any questions you have about these hoops.

Hunt Aero Wide wheelset review

(Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
Best road bike wheels for budget rim brake performance

Specifications

Depth: 31mm
Brake: Rim
Tyre format: Tubeless, clincher
Rim width: 19mm (internal)
Spoke count: 20 front, 21 rear
Weight: 1496g (pair)

Reasons to buy

+
Stiff and fast rolling
+
Lightweight
+
Superb value for money  
+
Comes with tubeless valves, spare spokes and spoke key

Reasons to avoid

-
Rim brake only
-
Unsubtle freehub noise

Hunts Race Aero Wide wheelset is incredible value for money when you consider what you get in the box. At this price point, there doesn’t appear to be anything that can match them. They’re light, they appear to be faster on the straights for the same effort, and they’re also very stiff without being uncomfortable.

You get decent hubs, in the form of Hunt’s Race Straight-Pull with 10-degree RapidEngage four-pawl freehub, high quality sealed cartridge bearings from Ezo, and the freehub is coated with H_CERAMIK coating, which Hunt says increases protection from cassette damage.

If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive wheelset that will suit the majority of your types of riding all year round (save for the harshest of winters), and can even be used off-road as well as on it.

We've got a full Hunt Race Aero Wide wheelset review if you want tome more info.

A pair of Roval Rapide CLX II road bike wheels leans against a terracotta wall

(Image credit: Cyclingnews)
Best road bike wheels for crosswind stability and now tubeless compatible

Specifications

Depth: 51mm front / 60mm rear
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless clincher
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 18/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,505g

Reasons to buy

+
High crosswind stability
+
Eager to go fast

Reasons to avoid

-
Optimised for 26mm tyres rather than 28mm

The original Roval Rapide wheels needed to be run with tubes, but version two has added tubeless compatibility. The wheels are wide, with an external width of 35mm front and 30mm rear, with differential 51mm and 60mm rim depths and different rim profiles. The front is designed for stability, the rear for aerodynamics and power delivery. In the aero hubs are ceramic bearings and a DT Swiss Ratchet EXP freehub.

We rated the Roval Rapide CLX II wheels both fast and comfortable when we tested them as part of a three-way test with Cadex 50 Ultra and Enve SES 4.5 wheels. The hooked bead ensures wide tyre compatibility for tubeless running too.

Read our full review of the Roval Rapide CLX II wheelset for more details and ride impression.

Parcours Strade disc wheels

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
Best road bike wheels for year-round versatility

Specifications

Depth: 49mm front, 54mm rear
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless, clincher
Rim width: 22.5mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24 front, 24 rear
Weight: 1520g (disc, pair)

Reasons to buy

+
Stealth aesthetics
+
Contrasting front/rear rim profiling for improved aerodynamics and performance
+
Affordable pricing 

Reasons to avoid

-
Decals prone to scratching
-
Can only accommodate tyre sizes of 25c and up

As a robust, disc-equipped option, the Strade wheelset is versatile in that it can be used for both training and racing, and can be run using traditional tubes or tubeless tyres, the latter will, of course, provide a far more engaging and granular riding experience.

The wheels use machined Parcours-branded alloy hubs laced in a 24 front/rear, two-cross pattern with Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes - the freehub body comprises a four-pawl, three-degree engagement system. Both hubs employ EZO cartridge bearings and centerlock disc threading and have been optimised for 12mm thru-axles front/rear (adapter kits are available for other axle standards). The hubs can be optioned with ceramic Kogel bearings on request. The wheels come ready-to-ride as a tubeless application out of the box with pre-installed rim tape and valves, and freehub spacers for 8/9/10-speed cassettes. 

Our Parcours Strade disc wheelset review will answer any questions you may have.

What to look for in a set of road wheels

Whether you're after a set of bombproof winter wheels, a race day only set of deep sections, or something in between that you can venture off down a gravel track on then there are going to be a few universal considerations that will inform any choice you make.

Rim width, tyre and tubeless compatibility, and braking options are going to be considered alongside the usual budget constraints to make sure you get the most for your money.

Are wider rims better?

The trend in modern road bikes is moving towards wider tyres, and as such modern wheels have developed wider internal widths to better support this wider rubber, all made possible by casting off the shackles of rim braking in favour of disc. If you have a road bike that can accommodate wider tyres (32mm isn't uncommon nowadays) then a wider rim (21mm internal or thereabouts) should be on your shopping list.

Conversely, if you're still running rim brakes an ultra-modern wide rim may not clear your brakes, so make sure to consult the tech specs of your brakes before spending your hard-earned cash.

Are deeper wheels faster?

In general, deeper wheels will be more aerodynamic, and therefore faster. However, bombing about on 80mm deep rims in a gale can be a frightening experience, as there is more material to catch crosswinds. Improved rim shapes, from a 'V' to a 'U' have certainly improved matters, but if you live somewhere super windy it's definitely something to consider before purchasing.

Deeper wheels are usually more expensive too, given the added material involved. They can take longer to get up to speed, so may not feel quite so nimble. They will also be heavier, and while heavier will naturally mean slower uphill, the aerodynamic advantages on offer can still be had at low speeds, so in many cases, you won't feel any performance drop when the road points up.

Can I use any tyre on any rim?

In a word, no. You can run non-tubeless tyres on tubeless rims, with a tube, and you can run tubeless tyres on non-tubeless rims with a tube, providing they're all 'clincher' system (i.e. designed for hooked rims). 

You can only run tubeless with both a tubeless compatible tyre and rim combo, though Zipp wheels for example aren't compatible with Continental tyres, since the edge of the rim - known as the bead - is hookless. 

Hookless rims are the new kid on the block, doing away with the hook on the inside of the rim bead that locks the tyre in place. These are absolutely only compatible with hookless tyres, or you risk a blowout. Likewise, don't go putting hookless tyres on non-hookless rims.

Can I use rim brakes on a disc wheel?

In general, no. Some rims have a brake track, but also come with disc compatible hubs, but they're a rarity nowadays. Disc rims have no brake track, so not only won't you be able to stop but you'll also likely damage the rim if you try and clamp a calliper onto them at speed.

If you want to make a frankenwheel that you can use on both your disc and rim brake bikes you'll be better off asking a local wheel builder to lace you some disc brake hubs into some rim brake rims.