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A wheelset upgrade is arguably the best investment you can make. Better wheels can reduce the overall weight of your bicycle and even provide improved handling, aerodynamics, or acceleration.
There are numerous attributes to consider before choosing the wheels to buy. Lighter models ensure optimum performance and quality while sets with deeper profiles offer better aerodynamics on flat terrain.
If you are looking to inject new life into your bike with the high-quality wheelset under 500, you can jump straight to checking out the top 5 models we hand-picked to make it easier for you to select your next set.
We are bike fanatics and understand that deciding what you want and what’s best for your bike can be nerve-wracking.
It’s with great pleasure that we also prepared a detailed buyer’s guide further on in this post. Dive right in!
Best Wheelset Under $500 Review 2021
The best wheel models offer dependable stiffness for better handling. They are also lightweight enough for improved speed and aerodynamics.
Check out these top options that offer these qualities and so much more!
Aeromax Alloy Wheelset Road Bike Comp 700c Wheels
If you are searching for a bicycle wheelset that is reliable, versatile, and affordable, the Aeromax alloy wheelset is a product we highly recommend.
I’m dead sure that in the top-quality wheelset for under 500 brackets, this model offers the highest value for your money.
Each wheel has a deep V, double-walled rim with 24 spokes. The rim sidewalls are machined, and this makes them pair well with standard brake pads.
Because these are freehub wheels, they are compatible with 10, 9, 8, and 7-speed cassettes that you need to buy separately.
Among the aspects that give this model an edge above other wheels in the price range is that each wheel is hand-built.
This ensures the wheelset remains true and spins just as flawlessly as a decent number of products that go for almost twice the price.
If you are searching for flashy wheels, this is probably not the product for you. However, if you are comfortable with an average looking wheelset that accommodates a range of riding styles, then this is your best bet.
The wheels perform well on commuter and touring bikes and can also be installed on a Sunday racer.
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WTB 29 inch ST i25 Disc Brake TCS Wheel Set
I’ll come clean; I’m a huge fan of WTB wheels. The 29er wheelset in specific is capable of transforming an average XC trail bike into an outstanding adventure rig that can tackle a range of challenging terrain with impressive ease.
Models like this make most riders believe that wider wheels are better, irrespective of the type of bike you own.
Don’t get me wrong; this wheelset doesn’t offer the widest “plus-size” rims out. It’s just big enough to offer better speeds and above average side-to-side tire clearance for enhanced control.
The best part is that the rims are tubeless-ready, and this means they don’t need much tape, although WTB still includes a rim tape in the package.
Something else that cannot go without mentioning is that the wheelset pairs well with 11, 10, and 9-speed cassettes. On the other hand, the rims are designed to build up easily onto the super smooth Deore hubs for disc brakes.
In a wrap, these are good-looking and durable wheels. It’s hard to deny that wider wheels are the future of mountain biking, and this model has a futuristic design crafted to usher you into the most recent advancements in bike wheels.
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Superteam 38/50/60/88mm Carbon Wheelset
Hands down, this product offers the ultimate upgrade for anyone looking to enjoy notable road bike speed enhancement.
Apart from having a stylish and gorgeous looking matte finish, this is a carbon fiber T700 wheelset.
Carbon fiber is somewhat expensive compared to aluminum and alloys, although it is more lightweight for increased bike performance.
Thanks to the carbon fiber construction, these wheels are stiffer, and they remain true for a reasonable while, irrespective of your riding needs.
Riders also enjoy enhanced aerodynamic performance, not to mention better braking because of the multiple layers of carbon on the brake track.
Additionally, the front hub can accommodate 20 spokes, and the rear one can hold 24 spokes.
Even though they are not made of stainless steel, they are crafted to stand the test of time.
Compared to stainless steel spokes, Aero spokes are slightly bulkier, although we can argue that their design makes them more ideal for riding on the roughest and most challenging off-road trails.
These are sufficiently reliable wheels that offer a performance boost in an affordable price range.
Generally, the model provides better value in comparison to the competition.
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ICAN 50mm 700C Carbon Wheelset
If you want to shine during social cycling sessions or even local biking races, then you certainly need these carbon wheels with a 50mm deep section.
The 50mm rim depth enhances aerodynamics while at the same time supporting your usual commuting needs.
With excellent crosswind stability, you can look forward to enjoying an outstanding overall performance.
This is irrespective of whether you do steep hill climbing, fast group races, or just regular flat rides.
A 23mm rim width, on the other hand, provides more uniform airflow over the wheels for improved handling.
It’s also hard to deny that this wheelset looks cool on any bike. Great looks, however, count for nothing if that’s all a product has to offer. Well, this model is also stiff, so it remains true for longer.
At the same time, it has reasonable levels of flexibility, and this enhances riding comfort, especially during long-distance biking adventures.
We did a fatigue test on the spokes, and the outcome was worth writing home about. Well, these spokes are strong yet flexible enough to accommodate different riding styles.
Then again, the hubs are lightweight to promote smooth rolling.
Queen Bike Carbon Fiber Road Bike Wheels 50mm Clincher Wheelset
We could not wrap up our wheelset for 500 reviews without listing a model that offers a truly majestic feel.
The Queen Bike Carbon Fiber Wheels have a matte rim finish that can give any bicycle the classy aesthetics of a professional racer bike.
What’s more, this carbon fiber set is lightweight for improved aerodynamics, yet strong enough to accommodate up to 250 pounds riders comfortably.
With solid CN494 Black spokes, you can expect reliable stiffness for riding on rough terrain.
From where I stand, this model is in high demand because of it’s unrivaled hub versatility. It’s hard to find a carbon wheelset at the price range that also fits with the durable Campagnolo freehub.
Better still, this product can also accommodate 8, 9, 10 and 11 Shimano speeds cassette.
All points considered, this is a superb all-rounded product. The only thing that can count as a flaw to some riders is the shallow rim that somewhat limits the aerodynamic advantage of the wheelset.
This is just a small price to pay for the otherwise lightweight and reliable wheels that can power through hills and flat terrain effortlessly.
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Bike Wheel Anatomy
Before we look at some of the most vital aspects to consider before purchase, let’s first learn about the parts and functions of a bike wheel.
A bike wheel spins around the hub located at its center. Typically, the rear wheel has a freehub mechanism, which drives the bike forward when pedaling, and it can also allow your ride to the coast.
The axle is a rod that attaches the wheel to a bike. It also provides support for the bearings where the wheel rotates.
Standard bike wheels have 20- 36 spokes that connect the rim to the hub. Because the spokes give the wheel its structure and are always under pressure, it is crucial to consider their construction material.
The nipple is a specialized nut that connects the spoke to the wheel rim. You can adjust it to decrease or increase the tension of the spoke, or to pull the rim either to the left or the right slightly. Keeping the spoke tension balanced prevents the rim from warping.
The larger hoop that is attached to the outer ends of your wheel spokes is known as the rim. This is what holds the tire and tube.
You will notice that bike rims are deep in the center and shallow on the outer edges. They form a “U” shape that provides adequate support for the bead of a tire casing.
What to Look for Before Buying?
Wheelsets for bikes differ in so many features. Depending on the characteristics of a specific model, you can get increased speed even at low cadence, enhanced safety, better riding comfort, or unrivaled durability.
Do you want to have an easier time sieving through the jungles of models?
Hop on in, and let’s go through the essential aspects to consider when searching for the right wheelset for $500.
Wider rims are a real appeal because they give the tire a wider contact patch with the ground for improved traction.
Once you fit a tire on a wider rim, the cross-sectional view is more square than round, and this means that the larger tread area remains parallel to the ground for enhanced wet and dry traction.
If wide rims are good, then choosing the widest rims available is better, right? Well, this is not always the case.
Narrow Rim Width
When the rim width is too slim, it robs you of reliable tire traction and corner stability.
Medium Rim Width
Such width allows the tire to expand to full volume without any distortion. This puts the tread pattern as well as the side knobs in the right position for excellent cornering abilities.
It also ensures the rider benefits from maximum traction and enhanced control with the least rolling resistance.
When the rim is too broad, it deforms the tire shape and treads design. This reduces the impact absorption abilities of your tires and minimizes cornering control.
The worst part is that the sidewalls are exposed, and this increases the risk of punctures and unwarranted abrasions.
Deeper rims generally offer better aerodynamic advantages. However, more materials are used in their construction, and this makes them heavier than low-profile box-section rims.
Here’s the deal, rims with a low profile or shallow depth are best for riding in mountainous areas. On the other hand, deeper rims with a ‘V’ profile are excellent for riding on paved urban roads.
It is the tires that make your bike wheelset complete. Before you choose the product to buy, consider whether you want to run on tubular, tubeless, or clincher tires.
Ensure that your wheelset of choice is a perfect match for the tires you desire.
Gone are the days when all bikes used rim brakes. Currently, you also have the option of using disc brakes. It’s as simple as ensuring that the wheelset you choose is either rim or disc brake compatible.
I know it sounds like a pretty obvious thing. However, you will be surprised at the number of buyers who forget the obvious and get carried away by attractive wheelset deals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is upgrading my road bike wheels worth it?
Additionally, if your wheels are old or unsuitable for your riding needs, it is cheaper to replace them than to buy a new bike.
Do wheels have a rider weight limit?
In case you are a heavy rider, or you like riding off-road, then perhaps a stiffer wheel with more spokes is best.
What is the estimated longevity of a wheelset?
However, even the best wheels are not indestructible, and a replacement at some point is inevitable.
The level of stress and fatigue your wheels are subjected to will play a key role in dictating how long they last.
Then again, aspects like your riding skills, terrain, speed, weight, and maintenance may also influence how soon a replacement is necessary.
Simply replace your set once it shows signs of extreme tear and wears.
Will a heavier wheelset slow me down?
What is the best type of grease for hub service?
Take it from me; if you are a beginner or intermediate level rider searching for the good wheelset under 500, the models on my list are a cut above the competition in this price range.
For expert riders, however, it may be best to spend a little more. The markets are rich with high-end models that boast of better features, more robust constructions, and generally enhanced durability.