For your average rider who is on a budget, but still looking for quality craftsmanship and performance, buying wheels can be an expensive purchase.
This article will help you understand the finer details regarding what to look out for in terms of the cost-to-benefit ratio when deciding upon purchasing a pair of high-quality road bike wheels under $500.
At the end of the day, you are looking for a pair of wheels that are light enough to race with but durable enough to ride on.
At a Glance:
- Our Recommendations for the Best Road Bike Wheels Under $500
- Aluminum Vs Carbon Rims
- Pros And Cons Of Aluminum And Carbon Road Bike Wheels
- Freewheel Or Cassette
- Types Of Tires:
- Clincher tires:
- Tubeless Tires:
- Tubular Tires:
- What wheelset do I need?
- Review Of 11 Best Road Bike Wheels Under $500
- Campagnolo Zonda C17 Wheelset
- ICAN 700-C Lightweight Road Bike Carbon Wheelset
- Superteam Carbon Fiber Road Bike Wheel Set
- Superteam 23MM Basalt Braking Surface Wheel
- Sunrise Bike Carbon Road Wheelset
- Queen Bike Carbon Fiber Wheelset
- Aeromax Alloy Wheelset
- Fulcrum Racing 5 C17 Road Wheelset
- Shimano WH-RS500 Road Wheelset
- Vittoria Alusion Alloy Road Wheelset
- Prime Attaquer Road Disc Wheelset
- Final Verdict
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between alloy and carbon wheels?
- How can I choose the right size of road bike wheel for me?
- What tire pressure should I use for my road bike?
Our Recommendations for the Best Road Bike Wheels Under $500
Aluminum Vs Carbon Rims
Aluminum alloy is lighter than carbon fiber composites, but carbon fibers are more resistant to fatigue, so it can be said that they are fairly balanced against each other.
Furthermore, aluminum wheels are more durable than carbon fiber composites. Therefore, it can be said that aluminum alloy is better for everyday use and carbon fibers are best used in time trials or other competition events.
Pros And Cons Of Aluminum And Carbon Road Bike Wheels
Aluminum wheels are:
- More Affordable
- Lighter than a comparably sized carbon wheel
- Stiffer than a comparably sized carbon wheel
- Hard to dent
- More resistant to corrosion
Carbon wheels are:
- More aesthetically pleasing (in my opinion)
- Less stiff than a comparably sized aluminum wheel
- Easier to dent
- Susceptible to corrosion
Freewheel Or Cassette
A freewheel is the component of the hub that attaches to your pedals. It allows you to coast without resistance. A cassette is an attachment to the freewheel that contains different-sized gears for easier pedaling.
When deciding on which component is right for you, it is imperative to consider your average speed. If you commute at a fairly consistent pace, a cassette will not affect the durability of your bike.
However, if you commute at a high speed, a cassette will have a significant impact on the durability of your bike.
Bicycle tires come in many different sizes and widths. This is important to know because it influences not only things like speed and grip but also how comfortable the bike is. Different widths result in various comfort levels as well as handling and speed capabilities.
Types Of Tires:
Clincher tires are the traditional type of tire. They have a separate inner tube between the tire and rim. The air inside the clincher wheels keeps everything in place and provides cushioning for the ride.
- Clincher wheels are easy to find and replace
- The open structure allows for quick inflation and deflation.
- A wide variety of treads makes them suitable for a variety of environments.
- Since the tube is exposed to the tire there’s a chance of it getting punctured.
- Compared to other types of tires, they are heavier.
Tubeless tires are the latest iteration of bicycle tires. The tire and rim work together to hold air inside without an inner tube. With this type of tire, there is no chance of getting punctured while riding.
- Tubeless tires are lighter than clincher tires.
- The air pressure is kept more stable, resulting in a smoother ride.
- There are fewer flats since there is no inner tube exposed to the elements.
- The air pressure can be difficult to properly inflate, resulting in a poorly performing tire or even one that will not inflate at all.
- In some cases, the tires can be more expensive than clincher tires.
Tubular tires are the first iteration of bicycle tires. They have an inner tube sewn into the tire casing, making them look similar to car tires. Tubulars are usually more expensive than clinchers but offer increased grip and reduced weight over standard clinchers.
- They are very lightweight
- More supple than clinchers
- Easy to change since they are sewn together
- More expensive than most clincher tires
- The inner tubes are exposed, making them more susceptible to punctures. On the other hand, if you have a puncture in your tube, you can remove it from the tire casing with ease.
What wheelset do I need?
The wheelset you choose is dependent upon your riding. For example if you are interested in racing then you should opt for carbon rim wheels or tubeless tires.
It is important to know your environment before you choose because the different surfaces will require different types of tires that will affect your ride quality.
If you are interested in commuting then consider buying a wheelset with clincher tires or aluminum rims. These wheelsets are cheaper and more durable than wheelsets that contain wheel rims and tubular tires.
Review Of 11 Best Road Bike Wheels Under $500
To keep everything simple, I have made a list of the finest road bike wheels for under $500. These are high quality wheels that will suit your biking needs. The prices are also quite affordable, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank.
Campagnolo Zonda C17 WheelsetBest Pick
|Item Weight||1.7 Kilograms|
Suitable for many uses. The Campagnolo Zonda Wheelset is one of the finest quality wheels on this list. They are lightweight and durable, making them suitable for beginners.
These fixed gear bike wheels come with short hubs, so they can be used in various environments.
However, some people might find that to be a downside because it limits your usage options. With all of these pros, you will find it nearly impossible to find cons with this wheelset.
I recommend this set if you are looking for high-quality fixed gear bike wheels without having to pay an arm and leg for them!
- High-quality wheelset
- Durable and strong
- Available in various colors
- Great for beginners!
- Short hubs limits usability
ICAN 700-C Lightweight Road Bike Carbon WheelsetStaff Pick
|Bike Type||Road Bike|
|Wheel Size||622 Millimeters|
This 700C road bike wheelset is made from ultra-lightweight carbon fiber rims with aluminum hub flanges for added durability.
The 24 stainless steel spokes on the front wheel are wide-flange which means they add to the strength and rigidity of the wheels so you won’t have to worry about them breaking anytime soon. It also features alloy quick release alloy axles which provide easy use and installation.
- Hubs are smooth
- Fast Runner
- Spokes are loose
Superteam Carbon Fiber Road Bike Wheel SetBudget Pick
|Wheel Size||633 Micron|
|Bike Type||Road Bike|
These road bike wheels come with a carbon rim, basalt braking surface, and 24 stainless steel spokes on the rear wheel. They are super lightweight so you won’t have to worry about the extra weight when riding uphill or for longer periods.
These fixed gear bike wheels are tubeless-ready so you don’t have to buy new brake pads if your brakes aren’t compatible with tubeless tires. To add, it’s hand-built and has a high spoke count for better durability.
- Lightweight and ready to use on tubeless tires
- Durable alloy hub with 24 stainless steel spokes
- Versatile wheelset which can be used on various types of bicycles
- You must buy brake pads that are compatible with tubeless tires
Superteam 23MM Basalt Braking Surface Wheel
|Wheel Size||633 Micron|
These road bike wheels are compatible with either v-brakes or disk brakes. These wheels will make your fixed gear bike lighter and more responsive, regardless of where you ride it – whether on flat roads or rugged mountain trails.
The rim has a brake surface that is made from basalt, which offers reduced braking noise as well as a better braking surface.
These road bike wheels are also compatible with 9mm QR skewers, so you won’t have to replace your old ones! Can support rider weight up to 120 kg.
- Available in various colors as well as carbon fiber wheels
- Lightweight and comes with a brake surface made from basalt
- Reasonably priced
- Two years warranty
- Noisy Wheels
- Brake pads are not as fast as aluminum rims.
Sunrise Bike Carbon Road Wheelset
|Bike Type||Road Bike|
|Brake Style||Linear Pull|
The first thing I noticed in these carbon fiber wheels was how smooth they are to ride on—they’re really fast! I was able to clock some pretty impressive speeds with them, fast enough that I had to tell my editor!
They’re not just light, though. The hubs are super strong too, so much so that I felt pretty confident pushing myself in corners. And they’ve got nice rims so you hardly even feel any bumps in the road when you’re cruising on them as built from carbon fiber.
They have deeper rims of about 50mm and the rim width is 23mm which enables a smooth ride.
You can tell the guys at Sunrise Bike are passionate about their product, too—they love cycling as much as anyone else! If you see some of these bikes around town, definitely check out the wheels!
- Super smooth and fast!
- Strong hubs
- Feel almost no bumps in the road when you ride on them
- I didn’t find any, they’re great!
Queen Bike Carbon Fiber Wheelset
|Item Weight||1645 Grams|
The Queen Bike Carbon Wheel Set is a road bike wheelset suitable for entry-level riders and casual cyclists. This lightweight 26″ fixie wheelset will get you riding faster than ever! It features high-quality hubs with steel bearing cartridges to ensure rust resistance while ensuring smooth rolling on the road.
Its carbon fiber wheels and aluminum alloy rims make it ideal for use on flats, uphills and downhills. It has 24 spokes on the rear wheel.
- Lightweight wheels and quick to accelerate due to the carbon fiber construction
- Large alloy rim brakes surface for strong braking power when needed
- Handy 2-year warranty against manufacturer defects
- Only available in matte black color
- A bit heavy
Aeromax Alloy WheelsetBest Pick
|Brake Style||Rim Brakes|
|Bike Type||Road Bike, Mountain Bike|
Alloy wheelsets have been at the forefront of wheel technology for a while now. They are light, strong, and aerodynamic compared to steel or even carbon fiber wheels. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many top cyclists choose alloy wheels when time is at a premium and they need all the help they can get.
Aeromax Alloy Wheelset is a non-machined rim, which means that the surface of the rim has been left as a blank canvas instead of a machined finish.
This type of build leaves a lot more work for the builder who must now grind and smooth out imperfections to achieve the desired strength and aerodynamics.
It is important to note that this process increases the chance of an accident occurring while building the wheel, elevating it from a “Beware” to a “Dangerous” level.
- Difficult to build due to non-machined rim surface. Can be dangerous for amateur wheel builders.
Fulcrum Racing 5 C17 Road Wheelset
|Material||Rims and Hubs: Aluminum; Spokes: Stainless Steel|
|Rim Height||Front: 24.5mm; Rear: 27.5mm|
|Rim Width||Internal: 17mm; External: 23mm|
|Spoke Type||Aero Straight-pull|
|Spoke Count||Front: 18; Rear: 20|
These road bike wheels are suitable for beginning racers. The Fulcrum Racing 5 C17 Wheelset is competitively priced when compared to other wheels in its price range. In addition, it offers a high level of quality that can be found on many expensive models.
The hub features six pawls with three-point contact which provides fast engagement. These road bike wheels are also very lightweight, so they are great for tackling long climbs.
On the other hand, these fixed gear bike wheels do not come with a quick-release lever which might be a downside for some riders.
- Available in various colors
- High-quality build
- Lightweight design
- The most recommended for beginners
- No quick-release lever
Shimano WH-RS500 Road Wheelset
These road bike wheels are great for anyone looking to complete their fixed gear bike. The Shimano WH-RS500 Wheelset is durable and lightweight, making it a top choice for bikers who travel frequently or spend long hours on their bikes.
They feature an aluminum rim which makes them very strong yet lightweight, while the carbon fiber hub is very durable.
On the other hand, these fixed gear bike wheels are quite pricey considering they are aluminum rimmed which might be a downside for some riders.
- Beautiful design
- Lightweight, yet strong
- Aluminum rimmed with carbon fiber hub
- Durable and long-lasting
- Handles corners poorly
Vittoria Alusion Alloy Road Wheelset
|Wheel Size||700 Inches|
|Item Weight||3.94 Pounds|
Competition cyclists should choose these road bike wheels. The Vittoria Alusion Alloy Wheelset has a narrow profile, resulting in less rolling resistance. This makes them ideal for extended rides or races where you need that extra boost to overtake your competitors!
They’re also reliable on hills because they’re stable when turning. On the other hand, these fixed gear bike wheels do not have a quick-release feature which might be a downside for some riders.
- Tubeless-ready design
- A narrow profile provides more stability when turning
- Quite a Heavy Wheelset
Prime Attaquer Road Disc Wheelset
The Prime Attaquer Road Disc Wheelset is an affordable set of wheels for road bikes that offers everything you need to complete your fixed gear bike! It features a carbon fiber rim that not only looks sleek but also ensures minimal resistance.
If your bike has disc brakes and works on tubeless tires then this one is right for you. These road bike wheels are very lightweight, so it’s easy to ride uphill or on longer rides.
On the other hand, these fixed gear bike wheels lack a quick-release function, which might be inconvenient for some riders.
- Available in various colors
- Lightweight and easy to ride uphill or on long rides
- Sleek design with carbon fiber rim
- No quick-release function
If you are looking to buy a brand-new road bike, there’s one thing you should look at before anything else: the wheels. You can have the most expensive components on your road bike. However, if you’re using cheap wheels that aren’t properly designed for riding fast on roads, then all of your money is being wasted. Wheels are the first thing that should be upgraded when you are planning to take your riding to the next level. These are our recommendations for the 11 best road bike wheels $500 or less, reviewed and each one is guaranteed to satisfy your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between alloy and carbon wheels?
Carbon fiber wheels are lighter, but they have a much higher cost. They are also less durable because carbon fiber tends to crack under stress. Alloy wheels are stronger and more affordable, which makes them a better choice for beginner riders. But they aren’t as lightweight as carbon fiber wheels.
How can I choose the right size of road bike wheel for me?
The ideal road bike wheel size depends on your height and riding style, but it is usually around 700c. This is a wise choice for both beginners and serious cyclists because it offers a perfect blend of speed and comfort. The only downside is that 700c wheels are more difficult to transport than smaller sizes.
What tire pressure should I use for my road bike?
The recommended tire pressure for your road bike will vary based on the type of riding you plan on doing, but it typically falls between 90 and 110 PSI. This pressure will give you a smooth, comfortable ride while still allowing you to roll quickly on the road. If you are particularly heavy or plan on riding at high speeds, then you can increase your tire pressure slightly.