How to Choose the Best Wheel for Your Bike

The Bike Wheel mounted with steel spokes was invented more than 120 years ago, to replace the first bike wheel made entirely of wood, similar to the wheels of a carriage. It not only greatly reduced the weight, but had its durability significantly increased. Today, a bike wheel can withstand more than 100 times its own weight, and in the most extreme off-road conditions, they support peak loads that exceed a quarter of a tone!


This marvel of engineering is divided into three main parts:

Cube: the core of the bike wheel, responsible for 40% of lateral stiffness and vertical absorption, arising from the diameter and distance between the flanges and the body shape. It also houses bearings and shaft, plus the ratchet / free wheel mechanism in the rear hub.

Rails and nipples:

They are the “core” of the bike wheel, and also account for 40% of rigidity, which can be increased or decreased depending on the amount and thickness used in the assembly. The influence of the chosen mounting pattern (crossed or not) is less than the amount and type of radius used – smooth, drawn, aero etc.


It gives shape; is responsible for 20% of wheel stiffness. Its profile dictates the rolling characteristics (rougher or softer) and aerodynamics. On bicycle models with conventional brakes, it serves as a brake shoe for shoes. Its weight affects the inertia, that is, in the reactivity to the retakes and accelerations.


Wheels, just as the frame and the rest of the set, should reflect the experience that the rider seeks during his pedals, as well as suit his weight and power. There are currently as many combinations that it is possible to buy ready or assemble a pair of wheels ideal for each situation, since a single model probably will not meet all the demands, for all situations.


According to popular belief, the first prerequisite for a bike wheel upgrade is lowering weight. Of course, in the case of a bicycle powered by limited human power, this is relevant, but it is not the most important factor. The total weight of the pair helps to make the bike lighter and, depending on its location and distribution on the wheel, influences the inertia (getting out of the rest state), but it is not the most important factor either.


This item is super important for road cycling, especially in flat or slightly wavy and rolled circuits, where short, steep and successive climbs do not predominate. Taking into account that most of the time the average speed will be stable, overcoming the air resistance and generating less turbulence will certainly result in higher speed with less effort.

Format, rim profile height and width are responsible for a significant improvement in aerodynamic penetration and also for bike wheel stability in front of cross and side winds. Nothing scarier than losing control of the bike in the face of a strong gust of wind, or nothing more frustrating than spending energy controlling the steering bike wheel because of its inefficiency in the face of crosswind.


When we mention rigidity, it can be divided into global, lateral and torsional. Global is the combination of lateral and torsional. Lateral is the ability to withstand lateral deflection, assisting in accelerations (pickups and sprints) and steering precision. And torsional is the ability to withstand the traction imposed by the transmission and braking. No use having light wheels if the energy placed on them is lost in lateral deviation.


The materials that make up the main parts of a bike wheel certainly influence performance and, more importantly, durability and versatility.


The most common material is undoubtedly aluminum. The quantity and variety of profiles, alloys, widths, finishes, types of construction and reliability of the hoops manufactured with the metal attest the level of evolution reached. In terms of mechanical properties, the aluminum deforms (crumbles) before breaking and can continue to operate for a long time.

With advances in the fabrication of carbon fiber composite components, it is common to find high-performance road or MTB bike wheels that take advantage of the fantastic qualities of the material, such as low weight, rigidity, strength and vertical impact absorption capacity.

For road bike wheel, the carbon allows high profile hoops (60 to 80 mm), as well as weight and mechanical qualities that cannot be imitated by aluminum. However, the technology, although quite evolved, is in rapid evolution, but the price still restricts its acquisition. With each new generation, designers find solutions to deal with the demands on the component, delivering more performance and, especially, greater durability, which is their Achilles heel.

Another point that is starting to improve is the quality of the braking on the models used with rim brakes, something that even today put its users at a disadvantage, especially when facing humid weather. Aluminum in this respect is much more reliable and consistent than carbon, although it is rapidly changing in newer models.

It is clear that if the objective is solely and exclusively high performance, the choice for carbon (if possible) can yield excellent results. But if you rely on something totally reliable, robust and cost-effective, aluminum is still unbeatable.


I have already mentioned that, being important pillars of the structure, the best quality models are made of stainless steel and are born from rolls (like a roll of wire) and gain final form through cold mechanical work (drawing, forging and rolling), which make them more resilient.

Flat (constant thickness), variable thickness (larger at the ends than at the center) and aero models (with blade center) are available for different purposes.

Another important item to consider when choosing a pair of wheels for a particular function is the type of spoke. The most common is with the “J” head, which depending on the quality, shape of the flange where it rests and procedures performed during assembly, yields excellent durability and performance. A wheel for training or cycling in remote locations, mounted with J-head radii, will certainly be easier to repair due to the ease of replacement, as this type of lightning is easy to find than the more specific ones.

Another widely used model is the straight head ray. Although present in an increasing number, it is much less common than the traditional, in “J”. There are also spokes made of aluminum and carbon fiber, with incredible performances, but always on bike wheel with extremely high final value, which puts them out of reach of most consumers.

The spokes are connected to the rings through nipples, through threads. The threads of the highest quality rays are rolled – to distinguish them, it is only to measure the diameter, which is greater than the diameter of the ray itself – and the threads of the most economical, cut.

Nipples are also found in different materials, the most common being nickel plated brass and the most sophisticated in anodized aluminum. To assist in the maintenance of lightning stress, there are models with threaded treatment that eliminates the need to use a screwdriver during assembly. The best quality nipples usually have the tool machining surface better machined, to avoid deformation during the rationing tenure.


The vast majority of the best quality cubes have their body in cast or forged aluminum, but there are models with parts in carbon and some rare in fully carbon composite. The flanges that receive the spokes may be high or low (as explained above), angled or perpendicular. And more or less spaced, directly affecting the lateral stiffness, the absorption capacity and the tensile strength, depending on the design of the wheel.

The bearings can be from the traditional ones – with tracks, cones and separate balls, that vary of quality drastically between the basic models and the top of line, in terms of tolerances, finish of the tracks, precision of the balls, hardness of the materials etc. – as sealed cartridge, usually in steel alloys, with balls in retention collars (or not), in a greater or lesser number and, in the same way as the traditional, separate cone and lane, with materials and tolerances that make them more fast and sometimes durable than the more economical models.

There are also ceramic ball bearings and steel tracks of loftier alloys, with tight tolerances, providing the least possible friction and resulting in sensitive gains in power and speed.

The shafts can be in different alloy steel and treatments, or in harder alloy aluminum. But there are some rare models in titanium. The anchorages to the frame vary between those with locking nuts and locking axes. Locations can be made entirely of steel or with parts in aluminum (lever and nut), and shaft in steel or titanium. Through shafts are generally made from aluminum, from harder alloys (7000 series).

Finally, the ratchet mechanism, which has been integrated into the cube with the improvement of the Freehub, by Shimano – which will be the only one mentioned in this article, as it has become standard in the segment of bike wheel with better quality -, is composed of a movable body which receives the set of pinions (cassette), made of steel, titanium or aluminum, and has ratchet mechanism which can be of some different types and is invariably made of treated steel, being the most suitable material to withstand the requirements imposed on the part.

It is worth mentioning that the quality and type of ratchet coupling system varies drastically between the number of splines / notches for engaging and the number of tongues or the popular little monkeys (two, three, four, six, or two toothed rings with up to points of engagement). The evolutions have brought faster-engaging models – with smaller engagement angles, for more immediate responses -, and are more resistant to load and water elements, dust etc.

Which wheels should I have for my road bike? – Wheels buying guide

Wheels are one of the best upgrades for your racing bike. Very nice, you will think, but which wheel should your racing bike have? Custom Bicycle Wheel for the race bike vary greatly in price. From a few hundred euros for a nice decent starter set to thousands of euros for the high-end carbon wheel sets.

Wheel is the most important element of a bicycle

Custom bicycle wheel are one of the most important parts of the product design. They are able to withstand the weight of a cyclist, are responsible for the quality of riding a bicycle. Also, the custom bicycle wheel provide comfort and safety for the cyclist. Therefore, the custom bicycle wheel must be of high quality.

In order to make the right choice, first you need to figure out how to choose the wheels for a bicycle. Wheels consist of a rim, spokes, bushings, chambers, tires. The main criterion by which bicycle owners choose them is the size of the rim and tires. Large custom bicycle wheel are designed for speed dialing and overcoming large obstacles. In turn, small wheels make cycling more compact and maneuverable. Therefore, the choice of wheels for a bicycle will completely hang from the style of riding a bike. The size of the wheels is indicated in inches, sometimes in millimeters. Manufacturers produce wheels in diameter from 20 to 28 inches. Small install on urban folding models.

The biggest custom bicycle wheel attach to highway and road bicycles. For the mountain wheel use a diameter of 26 inches. Tires of bicycles also differ for the drawing put on a protector. The dimensions of the tires are indicated by 2 numbers: the first number indicates the width of the tire, and the second – the landing diameter of the product. For example, take a wheel the size of 40-622. This number indicates that the width of the tire is 40 mm, and the landing diameter is 622 mm.

The tread pattern is selected based on the road conditions in which the bicycle will be operated. For flat asphalt roads, narrow and smooth tires are selected. Wide tires with high treads are perfect for riding on an uneven primer. There are also intermediate versions of tires. They are most often used by tourists. This tires with protectors on the sides. The wheel chambers differ in size and type of nipple. To date, there are three main types: Dunlop, Schrader and Presta. The latter is the smallest. Today, so-called single-tube tires are gaining in popularity. In them, the highway camera is sewn into the inside of the tire. Also become popular and tubeless tires.

The fact that a bicycle has two wheels is well known, but what is the name of that part to be replaced? A custom bicycle wheel consists of six parts:

– Spokes

– Nipples

– Rim

– Body

– Hub

– Axle (quick release or axle)

The middle part of the wheel is the hub. This is the heart of the wheel. On this the body is mounted and the spokes are attached. The body is only on a rear wheel, this is the place where the cassette is mounted. A body can be suitable for a Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo group. Because the cassettes have different recesses it is not possible to place a Shimano cassette on a Campagnolo body and vice versa. The spokes are attached to the hub. The other end of the spokes is attached to the rim with a spoke nipple. Replacing parts on the wheel is a small job. When replacing spokes, hubs or rims, the custom bicycle wheel must be completely refocused. This is a precise job. Replacing the body is easy to do yourself.

The axle through the custom bicycle wheel ensures the attachment of the wheel to the frame. This can be done with a quick release but it can also be done with a stub axle. With a quick release you can quickly and easily remove the wheel from the frame, the axle remains in the wheel. In the case of a stub shaft, the entire shaft must be swung out in order to release the custom bicycle wheel from the frame.

In order to finish a wheel, it is also necessary to install bicycle tires. Depending on the type of rim you can assemble different types of tires. A folding tire (the most common tire), a tube (tire that is stuck to the rim) or a tubeless tire (without inner tube).

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Tips for More Comfortable Cycling

Extra comfort on your bike does not have to be expensive. The Bicycle Fork tested different solutions. We chose a common vowel road as a test course. With simple and cheap interventions, we succeeded in reducing the vibrations on a city bike by 57 percent.

How has it been tested?

With a test bike we have driven at 20 kilometers per hour on the same. For each test drive we have changed one part – a suspension seat post for example – to determine the extent to which it succeeds in damping vibrations. We measured the vibrations on the handlebars and on the saddle. The vibration meter registers the acceleration a hundred times per second. The measured values ​​were then converted to an average value. As a starting point for the vibration test we have taken a bicycle with a fixed saddle, a rigid front fork and Schwalbe Big Apple tires with 4 bar tire pressure. We have taken this bicycle as a standard (100 percent) in order to be able to determine the effects of the different components.

Wider tires

You can increase the comfort of your bike the fastest and easiest by driving with soft tires. A pressure reduction from 4 to 2 bars immediately yields a spectacular result: 32 percent fewer vibrations on the saddle and 35 percent less on the steering wheel.

But of course, you cannot reduce the pressure with impunity. Each tire requires a minimum pressure. If you drop below the recommended pressure, the tire will wear out quickly and you will have a better chance of punctures. The minimum pressure depends mainly on the width of the tire: the wider the tire, the lower the minimum pressure. A tire with a width of 37 millimeters is fitted on most city bikes. The minimum pressure is about 3.5 bar.

If you want more comfortable cycling with soft tires, you will have to fit wider tires. The Schwalbe Big Apple for example. It has a width of 50 millimeters and the minimum pressure is only 2 bars. Unfortunately, many bicycle fork are not suitable for wide tires. The maximum width is limited by the space at the frame, the brakes or the mudguards. Fortunately, more city bikes are equipped with standard wide tires.

Of course, softer tires have a higher rolling resistance. But that disadvantage is highly dependent on the subsurface. On smooth asphalt it is advisable to cycle with inflated tires. But on a bad road surface you can drive faster with soft tires. The vibration reduction not only provides more comfort but probably also more speed because the bike and rider are less shaken.

Not all tires are equally good. Smooth tires appear to be better feathered than rigid tires. We compared the Schwalbe Big Apple with the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. With a Marathon Plus your saddle vibrates 25 percent more, because the belt is stiff and has a thick anti-puncture. For the comfort you better buy the smooth Big Apple. An additional advantage is a low rolling resistance. But because of the thin anti-spill layer you have a greater risk of tire problems.

Suspension seat posts

The traditional solution for more comfort is a saddle with springs. But the saddle of Lepper turned out not to bring any comfort improvement. Now this is a saddle with rather stiff feathers. But do not expect miracles from saddles with smoother feathers.

Resilient seat posts can significantly increase the cycling comfort. We have placed two different models over the klinkerweggetje. The Suntour SP and the Airwings Evolution. The Suntour is a seat post with hinged parallelogram and elastomeric suspension. This combination provides a vibration reduction of 20 percent on the saddle. The Suntour SP has a low price and a solid construction. The Airwings Evolution is a seat post with a normal construction whereby a bar with saddle slides into a tube with springs. With cheap seat posts, this construction provides quick play. With the Airwings not because the pin is equipped with a linear ball bearing. The construction makes the seat post expensive. The Airwings gives a vibration reduction of 27 percent and thus provides a little more comfort than the Suntour SP. But the Airwings tends to mess. You notice that especially when you cycle over a speed bump. Another disadvantage is that the pin springs in the direction of the seat tube. That gives the feeling that your saddle wants to get away from you. The suspension of the Suntour SP in the direction of the back feels much more natural.

Mounting a spring seat post is easy. There are two points to look out for. The diameter of the seat post must match the inside diameter of the frame. If you have too large a frame tube you can buy a filling bush.

In addition, there must be sufficient space between the top of the frame and the saddle rail. For the Suntour SP this is about 12 centimeters and for the Airwings 13 centimeters. If you want your saddle lower, you cannot mount these seat posts.

Suspension fork

A suspension fork increases comfort for your hands, arms and wrists. We have tested two models. The RST 801 and the Post Moderne Cozy – SL. These are simple suspension front forks with only steel springs and a simple elastomer damping. These front forks are also frequently used on city bikes. The vibration reduction of these front forks appears to be small. At the RST this is only 7 percent. The Post Moderne performs slightly better and gives a reduction of 11 percent.


Mounting a new front fork is a difficult job due to the parts you have to transfer and cutting the front fork. When you buy, make sure you have the correct size of fork tube (1 inch or 11/8 inch) and the type of steering head bearing (with wire or cordless). And beware: when replacing an ordinary low fork with a high suspension front fork, the geometry of the bicycle fork changes.


Fitting wide, flexible tires and a sprung seat post is simple, inexpensive and delivers a lot of results. Of course, you can also combine soft tires with a sprung seat post. The gain in comfort with Big Apple tires at 2 bar and the Airwings saddle is impressive. The vibrations decrease by 57 percent. The only problem may be that the straps or seat post do not fit. We do not recommend replacing a rigid fork with an inexpensive suspension fork: it is a lot of work and produces little results.