Best road bike wheels 2024: Aero options for a faster ride

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

The best road bike wheels can transform your ride, offering increased stiffness and speed whilst also often lowering weight. Although check out our guide to the best lightweight wheels if you're looking for the lowest possible weight.

Our picks of the best road bike wheels mix aerodynamics, usually with low weight though. It's generally thought that a 40-50mm rim depth provides the best balance between aerodynamic efficiency, lower weight and crosswind stability, but if you're looking for a deeper wheelset or a disc rear wheel, check out our guide to the best triathlon wheels.

Alternatively, we've got a guide to the best gravel bike wheels if your riding takes in mixed surfaces.

A wheel's aero performance isn't always easy to compare against other wheels, but we've taken ten top aero wheels to the wind tunnel to see which is the fastest. We've also tested three new sets of aero wheels head-to-head. Also, read our guide to the best road bike tyres to make sure that you're getting the most out of your wheels.

Below you'll find our picks of the best road bike wheels we've tested here at Cyclingnews and lower down there's a buyer's guide to how to choose the best road bike wheels for you, as well as an explainer of some of the terms you'll come across when looking for the best road bike wheels and compatibility issues with the best road bikes to look out for.

Best road bike wheels: our picks

You can trust Cyclingnews Our experts spend countless hours testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Best road bike wheels available today

The best for a comfortable ride

Closeup of Zipp 353 NSW wheel, showing sawtooth rim and tubeless valve

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)
The best road bike wheels for comfort

Specifications

Depth: 42.7 - 46.5mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless only
Rim width: 25mm (internal)
Spoke count: 24/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,307g (with tape and valves)

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptionally comfortable ride
+
Crosswind stable
+
Low weight

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited tyre choice

Although the low weight and sawtooth profile grab headlines, it was the ride comfort on offer that stood out for us. The sawtooth profile is eye-catching and is designed so that with the wind straight on, the 353 NSW behaves like a 45mm depth wheel, while at greater yaw angles, it behaves like one that is shallower - clever.

With less material, it's also lighter and we weighed the wheelset at 1,307g with tape and valves. We rated the crosswind stability, which we found to be a notch above the competition. We also enjoyed the new, simpler hub design, with an elastomer spring that makes the 54-point of engagement freehub very quiet. 

There are some compromises: the hookless beads and 25mm internal width mean that there is only a limited number of tubeless tyres that are compatible and there's also the high price tag.

Read our full Zipp 353 NSW review for more details.

The best in a wind tunnel test

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

(Image credit: Sam Gupta)

2. 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 wheelsets

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.

The best for low weight and aero

Cadex 50 Ultra Disc

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
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 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.

The best for crosswind stability

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 and 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.

The best race ready wheels

Hunt 48 UD Wheels

(Image credit: Will Jones)
Best budget carbon spoked wheelset

Specifications

Depth: 48mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Tubeless, clincher
Rim width: 22.5mm (internal)
Spoke count: 18 front, 20 rear
Weight: 1511g (pair)

Reasons to buy

+
Stiff and fast
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most comfortable
-
Easy to scratch the rims

The Hunt 48 Limitless UD Carbon Spoke Disc wheelset is Hunt's top mid-depth offering and the brand claims, on the basis of its wind tunnel tests, that it's the fastest sub-50mm depth wheelset available. The 22.5mm internal width bulges out to 34.5mm externally at the wheels' widest point, which looks slightly odd from the cockpit. 

There's the option of steel spokes, but these carbon-spoked wheels add 30 per cent more stiffness and Hunt claims aero gains too. They feel responsive to ride, but at the expense of some diminution in comfort from the carbon spokes, but the wide rim copes well with crosswinds.

The Hunt 48 wheels undercut the competition in affordability. The extra-wide profile does mean that it's easy to scratch your rims though and rim clearance may be an issue in some frames.

We've also reviewed the Hunt 60 Limitless carbon spoked wheels in 60mm depth as well as the steel-spoked 60mm version.

Read our full review of the Hunt 48 Limitless UD Carbon Spoke Disc wheelset for more details.

The best for versatility

Enve SES 4.5 Wheelset

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
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 the 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.

The best of the rest

Hyperon Ultra wheels

(Image credit: Will Jones)
The best road bike wheels for style

Specifications

Depth: 37mm
Brake: Disc
Tyre format: Clincher/tubeless (tubular option)
Rim width: 21mm (internal)
Spoke count: 21/24 front/rear
Weight: 1,240g

Reasons to buy

+
Agile handling
+
Low weight
+
Robust

Reasons to avoid

-
No specific aero claims

Claimed to be an all-rounder wheelset, the Campagnolo Hyperon Ultras aim to balance aerodynamics, weight and handling. They look great too, with a gloss finish and conventional spoke pattern. 

We lamented the lack of any aero claims or hard numbers, although in fairness these are easily manipulated and every brand claims that its wheels are the fastest. At 1,240g a pair, the wheels are impressively lightweight though.

Handling feels like a much shallower wheelset and the Hyperon Ultras are taut and stiff with low inertia. That tautness does detract from ride comfort a little, with a skittish ride on poor surfaces. They do hold up well to poor surfaces though.

Read our full review of the Campagnolo Hyperon Ultra wheelset for our full ride impressions.

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 besides 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 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)

11. 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)

13. 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.