How to Choose Bicycle Wheels

How to Choose Bicycle Wheels | Buyers Guide 2021

Bicycle wheels are as important as other parts of your bike and you should know it. Your ride's quality and safety largely depend on the wheels you have mounted on your favorite cycle.

And if you want to buy the best set of wheels, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we have researched and listed all the things you should know about how to choose bicycle wheels and talked about them in great detail to find the best one is easier than before.

How to Choose Bicycle Wheels: Everything You Should Know

What is a Bicycle Wheel?

In simple words, a bicycle wheel is a crucial component of any bike that helps it to roll on the road. This component not only makes the cycle functional but at the same time, it also makes sure that you can travel wherever you want without any difficulties.

Without a wheel, you just have a bike frame for showcasing.

A bike wheel is comprised of rims, hubs, spokes, and nipples. With all these parts placed perfectly in place, a wheel helps you travel with speed, efficiency, and safety.

Anatomy of a Bicycle Wheel

We have mentioned before that a wheel comprises different types of components to make it roll smoothly. Below, we have talked about these components so that you have a better understanding of them.

Anatomy of a Bicycle Wheel


The tire is the most important part of bike wheel. This is because it helps the wheel to roll better on the road and at the same time, also protects it from getting damaged from the debris and dirt of the road.

Made with firm rubber material, the tire is attached to the rims and inflated with air to keep rolling smoothly on the road.

However, more often than not, depending on the road condition you are riding in, the tire surrounding your wheel can get flatten and you need to inflate it with more air to keep it running.


The rim is another important part of the wheel that determines its performance. The outermost part of the wheel (right below the tire) holds the tire in place and offers an excellent braking surface for bikes with rim brakes.

Generally, a bicycle rim is constructed using materials including aluminum, steel, and carbon, depending on the budget.

Even though rim's quality and longevity largely depend on the bicycle and the budget, it is durable, rust-resistant, and safe before buying the wheel.


Spokes are the metal wires you see on the wheels that attach the hub to the rim. Similar to the wheel rims, its spokes are also made from different types of metals to provide you a choice; from steel, aluminum, carbon, and titanium, you have the option to choose according to your needs and budget.

Spokes are important for bike wheel because they support the wheel rim and offer strength for better rolling. They also distribute your weight on the rim equally so that the wheel can support your weight effectively without breaking apart.


As the name suggests, the hub of a bicycle wheel is the centermost part of the wheel. It has axles, bearings, and flanges and is attached to the frame or fork of a cycle for ease of use.

The hub is a crucial part as it keeps the wheel mounted to the bike and makes sure that it doesn’t fall off while you are riding.

Spoke Nipple

The name might be confusing, but the spoke nipple is the nut of the spoke. It is the part of the spoke that connects it to the rim and helps control the spoke tension.

Made from various materials like aluminum or brass, a nipple sits on the rim and gives you the freedom to adjust the spoke tension for additional convenience.

Rim Strip

In simple words, a rim strip is a piece of cloth, nylon, or PVC tape that is wrapped around your wheel’s rim to protect the inner tube from being punctured by the spokes or spoke holes. This is actually a safety component.

Bicycle Wheel Types

There are several types of wheels to go with several different types of bikes. Before making your purchase, you must know about these types to know which pair would be the best choice for you.

Mountain Bike Wheels

One thing about mountain bike wheels is that they have to be extremely strong to effortlessly withstand all types of road conditions.

Mountain Bike Wheels

If it is not stronger, there are high chances that it would break down or bend while you are riding off-road and cause severe accidents.

To make your riding session safer and enjoyable, the mtb wheel comes with rims that range between 19 and 24mm to ensure the best support when riding.

However, it would help if you also remembered that the deeper the rim, the heavier the wheel will be, and the heavier wheel will undoubtedly increase your bike's overall weight.

Racing/Road Wheels

One distinctive feature of road bikes is that it is extremely lightweight and designed especially for paved roads.

Racing/Road Wheels

As everything about a road bike is lightweight, the wheels also follow the same streak and need to be as lightweight because this not only helps to keep the overall weight low but at the same time also determines the overall performance of the cycle itself.

From how well the bike accelerates to the aerodynamics, performance largely depends on the pair of wheels you mount on.

Hybrid Wheels

Hybrid Wheels

The most exciting aspect of hybrid wheels is that you cannot limit its usage. These can be used on any recreational and commuting bicycle and don’t need to be as lightweight and as performance-oriented as the other types of wheels.

Commonly made from aluminum alloy, these wheels prices mainly depend on the hub, spokes, bearings, and rims.

BMX Wheels

As you all know, BMX bikes are intended for off-road use. And that’s why the wheels you mount on this bike need to be super strong and sturdy and capable of withstanding off-road tracks and terrains perfectly.

BMX Wheels

While choosing, try to puck the one with 32mm rims because it is considered the “all-rounder” size.

However, if you are not as tall as other riders, you can go for narrower (30mm) rims or wider (36mm) ones if you prefer to do stunts.

Things to Consider When Selecting Wheels for Your Bicycle

In addition to the wheel type, there are many other factors that you must keep in mind before making your final purchase decision. Let’s discuss these features and factors to know more and buy the best pair of wheels accordingly.

Wheel Size

While making your purchase, don’t forget to check the size because not all the wheels are suitable for all types of bikes. While some sizes are excellent for kid's and women’s cycles, others are appropriate for race bikes and off-road ones.

Wheel Sizes

There are mainly 4 sizes of wheels available in the market right now, which are 26 inches, 27.5 inches, 27.5+ and 29 inches.

Among all these sizes, 26 inches wheels are the smallest and the most lightweight ones in the lot, but they can gain speed quickly with their smaller rotational mass.

On the other hand, the 27.5 inches and 29 inches wheels are larger and hence, heavyweight. These are also a bit tough to accelerate and require a lot of energy to spin.

Brake Type and Wheel Compatibility

When you are shopping, never forget to check the brake type and the wheel compatibility. It is an extremely crucial factor to consider as it ensures the rider's safety and the bike itself.

For instance, if your bike comes with rim brakes, you must adopt a pair of wheels with a flat rim sidewall so that they align with the surface of the brake shoes and works accordingly.

On the other hand, when your cycle includes disc brakes, you need to mount wheels that are disc brake compatible and work smoothly to instantly stop the bike.


Never hesitate to choose lightweight wheels. It doesn’t matter whether you a road cyclist or love to ride on mountains and off-road trails, a lightweight pair of wheels will always benefit your riding immensely.

How it benefits your riding?

Well, lightweight wheels help to keep the overall weight of the bike low, which means that you won’t face any problems with maneuverability or control during your riding sessions. Lightweight wheels also assist you to roll faster than usual.


Another important aspect that you must keep in mind while choosing is aerodynamics. The aerodynamics of a wheel is essential, especially if you are riding a road bicycle because it can greatly minimize wind resistance and greatly increase speed. Aerodynamic wheels are an excellent choice for road racers as they gain speed super quickly and help you to win.

Now, how can you tell if the wheels are aerodynamic or not?

Well, it is usually mentioned on the package and the rim is often deeper for easy understanding.

Spoke and Patterns

Don’t forget to check the spoke and the pattern of the spokes while you are searching. The spokes and the patterns also affect the performance of the wheels to a great extent.

While additional spokes increase strength, remember that they also put on weight and might affect the cycle's maneuverability.

Tubular or Clincher Wheels

Another factor you should never forget before buying, is whether you should prefer tubular or clincher wheels.

While the clincher wheels (also known as standard wheels) are the most common type for your bikes, the tubular are not as common as they require a lot of time and work to put into place.

Even though the tubular wheels are difficult to assemble, they are perfect for professional racing because of their racing engineering and long-lasting services.

However, these wheels require a lot of repairing effort and are not the best choice for road riders.

Frequently Asked Questions

When to Replace Your Wheels

You just cannot determine the durability of a bike wheel by its mileage. Other factors determine whether your bicycle wheels require replacement or not. The factors that decide the longevity of bike wheels are:

  • The riding conditions you prefer to ride on
  • Your weight vs. the weight limit of the bike
  • If you have other weights on the bike besides yourself
  • How frequently you pull your brakes while riding on different terrains

However, the best way to tell if the bike wheels need replacement is by keeping a close eye on the rim. When the rim starts to wear down, it’s probably time to change the wheels as well.

How to Remove Bicycle Wheel

Removing a bike wheel is extremely easy if you know the right techniques and have the right tools.

First, to remove your bike’s wheel, put your bike upside down so that the chain side (you can also call it the drive side) is always facing up, or you can use a bicycle stand to hold the bike up for an easy wheel replacement.

Then, see if there is any quick release lever on your bike for an easy removal process. If there is no quick-release lever, use your wrench to loosen up the nuts on both sides of the bike to remove the wheel successfully.

Signs of Wear and Tear

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to tell if bike wheel is going through wear and tear and needs replacement is by keeping an eye on the rim. However, if the rim doesn’t indicate it, you have to look for other signs.

To find out if the wheels require changing, check the spokes- if there are any missing or loose spokes, be sure that you need a new pair of wheels for your bike.

Bike Wheel Maintenance

Taking regular care of the wheels will not only prolong their life but at the same time, will also ensure a safe and smooth riding experience.

Try to tune and true the wheels regularly. Also, don’t forget to keep up with the repairs for the best maintenance routine.

Moreover, to ensure the best care, take help from a professional to fix the wheels correctly and make sure that they don’t cause any problems while you are riding.

What Size Bicycle Wheels Should I Get?

The size of the wheel that you should get entirely depends on your height and riding style. For instance, if you are short in height and ride a road bike, then getting 26 inches wheels would be a wise choice for you as they are smaller and extremely lightweight.

On the other hand, for tall riders who love rigorous riding, 27.5 inches and 29 inches wheels would be suitable.

What Age is a 26 Inch Wheel Bicycle for?

Age is not a factor while determining the size of the wheels you need- the size of the wheel is directly linked to your height. If you are someone with a minimum height of 5 feet, you are fit to use the 26-inch wheels.

However, remember not to give a bike with these wheels to your child.

How Much Does a Bicycle Wheel Cost?

The price of a bike wheel depends on several different factors, including the construction material, the quality of its rim and spokes, and other aspects. Remember that the better features a wheel offer, the more pricily it is.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know a whole lot about bicycle wheels, we can hope that finding and buying the best one according to your needs would be easier than before.

With this piece of article "how to choose bicycle wheels" as a guide in your hand, we can assure you that you will never make mistakes while shopping for the ultimate pair of bike wheels.

Best of luck.

About the Author Zachary Anderson

Hi, I am Zach who is behind I am a fitness geek. I love to ride bicycle regularly to be fit everyday. In winter when riding is impossible in cold then I love to workout at home using indoor exercise equipment. I also love to write in blog to share my knowledge in cycling & workout segment. I hope my articles will help you to be fit in any weather.Thanks!

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