Eddie Merckx said it’s better to ride up grades than to buy upgrades, but if you’re looking for an instant performance boost, a new wheelset is your best bet. Use this guide as your cheat sheet to navigate different wheel materials, decide on rim depth and width and pair the best road bike wheels with your terrain and cycling goals.
When I first started cycling, I had commitment issues, meaning I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, so I scoured the internet for cheap road bikes and made my purchase. It was fire-engine red with 14 speeds, though it didn’t always shift into all of them. At the time, I thought I’d found a great deal and I went cheap to ensure I wouldn’t regret the purchase.
But that was a huge mistake.
First-off, the bike was difficult to put together. The shifting was always wonky and a couple of times I was left nearly stranded on the side of the road. It was a monstrosity and because of its excess weight, I always felt slow and out of shape. I had it for about a year before I finally stopped riding it because of frequent knee pain, something I later found out was due to the fact that the bike didn’t fit me well.
With that bike, I quickly discovered that with cycling, you get out what you put in. You can either have a junker car that’s unreliable, but saves you some cash or you can spend a little more for something that’s safe and a blast to drive. Cycling is no different.