Time for a Bike Upgrade: Wheels

Time for a Bike Upgrade: Wheels

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One of the best things about cycling is the tech, the kit, componentry, machinery.

Like most people I seem to have a love / hate relationship with my bike when we’re both going well I’d change nothing but on the days when one, or both, of us isn’t at their best I look to the bargain buckets of the internet bike shops.

Sunday nights after a day of riding are best spent in front of my tablet trying to decide how much money I’d need to spend to make that last hill just a little bit easier. A smoother gear change at the last ramp would have helped and maybe if I could halve the rotational weight of my wheels – they say that 1 gramme saved on the weight of the rims, tyres and tubes is worth 6 grammes saved anywhere else on the bike. When you think about it that is astonishing and when I thought about it I decided I should do something about it.

First things first, I weighed the wheels on my £1,000 Giant road bike… just over 3.5Kg with tyres but no cassette. Tyres and tubes off and it was still over 2.5Kg. So if the rims, tyres and tubes accounted for even 2.5Kg (taking the hubs out of the equation) and I could save 1Kg that would be like saving 6Kg anywhere else, actually 6Kg is almost all of the rest of the bike!

Ok so now I had a mission and I had enough science / logic to make a cast iron (imho) case for spending a few hundred pounds on some new hoops.

For me buying new kit is a well formed process – research the market, choose a product, research the product, confirm it’s the right product and then find the best price.

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I’ve always coveted a friend’s Mavic wheels. They look great and I’m a bit of a Fracophile so in this case I kind of skipped (or had already completed) stage 1 of the process. Having decided on Mavic I needed to select a model… again this was pretty easy, I had a budget agreed with the other half and I didn’t want to underspend a penny of it!

Mavic Ksyrium Elite Wheels would be the answer to my quest. RRP was over budget but I reckoned I could get them for less, anyway money wasn’t the most important thing… weight was. The Ksyrium Elites weigh in at a touch over 1.5Kg! that’s a massive saving on my old wheels and only 2/3rds the weight of my tyres and tubes! They’re actually lighter than Zipp 101 carbon wheels! It was a sweight saving way beyond my expectations and it began to worry me… what if I didn’t go up hills any faster?

Worry about that later – now to find the deal! I normally start by visiting one of the big online bike shops – to get a benchmark price. this time I put my search straight in to Google who returned all of the usual suspects and one that I hadn’t seen before, a cycling price comparison site who had all the shops I would have visited and a couple more… all very nice but most importantly they had an eBay price from a reputable retailer at just over £100 less than RRP.

A quick search of tyres on the site and for another £50 I had a pair of Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres and some lightweight tubes… job done! Thanks you Bicycles!

A few days later and I was riding my new wheels,the weight saving was just over 1.5Kg and I could feel every gramme… ok every kilo… ok they felt lighter!

I’ve had them about 2 weeks now and I like them a lot. I’m a bit faster uphill but the real revelation has been how easy they are to get moving and stay moving – I’m running at an average of 1-2mph faster on every ride and it feels great. They look amazing and I’ve had comments – a first for me…

Would I recommend them? Yes, particularly if you can get a deal like I did. they really have lifted my enjoyment of my bike.

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