Summary: If you’ve bought a road disc bike recently, you’ve probably asked yourself…which road disc wheelset would be a real upgrade at a reasonable price? Among the best we’ve tested, I found the Zipp 30 Course Disc Brake Clincher to be the Best Performer (market price $1000 from stores I recommend in the US here, here) and Easton EA90 SL Disc to be the Best Value (market price of $700 in the US here, here).

Road disc bikes are now front and center, mainstream, almost in your face. If you are a road cycling enthusiast, your next road bike will most likely have disc rather than rim brakes. And if you’ve bought a road disc bike recently, you’re probably asking yourself the same question you did shortly after you bought your last good rim brake bike – what are the best wheels I can get to upgrade my bike at a reasonable price?

With new road disc bikes now outselling rim brake ones, there are more and better road disc wheelset choices coming to market each year. The same categories of choices you’ve had in rim brake wheels – upgrade, all-around, aero, and climbing – are filling out now with new wheelsets specifically for road disc bikes.

In this post, I’ll share my reviews of the best of these wheels from the upgrade category that are available as of this most recent post update. These wheels will provide a far better riding experience than the stock wheels that come with most new road disc bikes.

All are comfortable to ride, helped in part by having wide rims (19-21mm inside width) that can be set up with tubeless tires. Made from aluminum alloys and typically selling for under $/£/€1000, these road disc wheelset upgrades are less expensive than carbon wheels that make up the other categories, most that sell for 1.5-3x more.

While primarily designed to ride on paved roads, many of these can also be ridden with wider tires on dirt, gravel, cyclocross and other off-road surfaces where we take our road disc bikes these days.

Related: For a review of the best alloy and carbon rim brake wheels, click the Best Rim Brake Upgrade Wheels

Related: Not sure what kind of wheels to get? Click Road Bike Wheels – How To Choose The Best For You


Click on any red statement below to go directly to that part of the post

Stock wheels are no better on road disc bikes than rim brake bikes

Compatibility exists even if standards aren’t quite there yet

When evaluating a road disc wheelset upgrade, some criteria are more important than others

The Zipp 30 Course gets my nod as the Best Performer; the Easton EC90 SL is the Best Value

Several other wheelsets are worth considering


Several market, product, and technology changes have occurred over the last few years that may affect your consideration and decision of which road disc wheelset to buy. I describe these here before providing you my evaluations of the wheelsets themselves.

New Road Disc Bikes For Endurance and Racing Displacing Rim Brake Ones

From everything I know, 2018 was the first year that more endurance road bikes with disc brakes were sold to road cycling enthusiasts like you and me than those made with rim brakes.

These endurance bikes are made with carbon frames and sell for between $/£/€2,500 and $/£/€5,000 with some going for up to $/£/€10,000. Most have tier 2 or better component groupsets like Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace or SRAM Force and Red with mechanical or electronic shifting and have hydraulic (rather than cable-actuated) disc brakes.

Among race bike models, road disc bikes are clearly in the ascendancy even though the pro tour and many top-category amateur racers still use rim brake bikes.

I’ve been following the emergence of road disc bikes since 2014. There’s little doubt that we are now well beyond the tipping or inflection point in the shift from rim to disc brake bikes. Within a couple of years, you won’t even be able to buy a new rim brake, enthusiast-level, endurance road bike. I don’t doubt it among the bigger brands. The smaller and classic brands may take longer, unable to cover the added design costs in the short term or unwilling to change their iconic positions.

Campagnolo, which was the last major groupset and wheelset company to introduce disc brake components and did so years after the others, is probably Exhibit A for the financially challenged and legacy positioned late switchers. They are working to catch up to the fast-moving shift to road disc brake bikes, announcing and introducing new wheelsets and groupsets.

Among the leaders, Giant, the world’s largest bike manufacturer, has been selling only endurance road disc bikes for many years now. Specialized, another of the largest volume bike sellers, now offers its Roubaix model that once broke open the entire endurance bike category only with disc brakes. Trek, the third member of the world’s largest major bike brands now sells disc brake endurance and race versions of its most popular models

The shift to road disc has happened among smaller bike companies too. Canyon, one of the fastest-growing bike brands, started selling road disc bikes in 2017 with more road race models in disc brake than rim brake and an equivalent number of models in their top endurance lines. BMC’s top endurance bike lines and all of Focus’ endurance bikes are road disc.

North American bike brands Cannondale, Felt, and Cervelo sell road disc endurance and race bikes throughout their product line and for some models no longer offer rim brake bikes. Italian brands Pinarello, Colnago, and Bianchi sell road disc endurance and race bikes throughout their lines.

For those of us traditionalists out there, we best get used to it. Road disc bikes for endurance riding and racing is happening now, not something off in the future.

Stock Wheels No Better on Road Disc than Rim Brake Bikes

Continuing the practice from rim brake bikes, the wheels that come with most new road disc bikes – aka “stock wheels” – continue to be underperformers relative to the potential created by the bike frame and components. Disc brake components are more expensive than rim brake ones so bike makers need to find places to keep their other costs down to prevent bike prices from climbing further. Combine this with down sales and profit years for the bike industry starting in 2016 and you get a reinforcement of the old maxim that wheels are the first thing you’ll want to upgrade on your new bike including when it’s a road disc one.

You’ll find a good number of DT Swiss, Mavic, Fulcrum, 3T, and OEM brand wheels (Axis, Cannondale, Giant) made by DT Swiss and others on new road disc bikes that you won’t find available or promoted for aftermarket or upgrade sales.

Canyon and, in a more limited way, Specialized and BMC are exceptions to this. Similar to what a couple of other bike brands did their first year selling road disc bikes, Canyon has put carbon all-around and aero wheels from Zipp, Mavic, Reynolds or DT Swiss on their more expensive ($5000 and up) road disc bikes. Specialized puts Roval CLX series carbon wheels on a few of their bikes at their highest price point and BMC is putting the newest DT Swiss carbon wheels on their most expensive bikes.

You will also find alloy upgrade wheels like the Zipp 30 Course or HED Ardennes coming stock on a few models. But, these are more the exceptions to the rule that new road disc bikes get stock wheels you’ll want to upgrade.

More Carbon Models Designed For Road Disc Performance; Few Alloy Ones Are

In my past annual reviews of alloy and carbon wheelsets, I’ve written about the performance and design differences between disc and rim brake wheels. Beyond the need to handle the forces of braking on the disc rotors placed at the center of the wheels rather than at the rims (more spokes and beefier, slightly wider hubs), there are ways to make purpose-built disc brake wheels perform better than adapted rim brake ones, once freed of the rim brake requirements.

I wrote about the opportunities to reduce rim weight, create more aerodynamic rim profiles, phase out carbon-alloy wheelsets, and build road-specific hubs rather than use off-road ones that have been adopted in many road disc wheels. We are also increasingly seeing “asynchronous” profiles or those with more material on the side where the rotor sits to handle the brake forces more effectively without affecting the ride quality.

All of that and more is happening in the carbon disc brake wheelset world. Sadly, little of it has happened for those of us looking for less expensive, alloy road disc wheelset options. And it’s not because of the material differences, at least not in my opinion. Rather, it is more likely because the innovation usually comes in carbon wheels first where the margins are bigger. I’m also guessing that there’s not enough volume yet for aftermarket road disc brake wheels to justify investing in lower margin alloy upgrade wheels.

Will it happen for those of us who want to upgrade the stock wheels that came with our new road disc bikes but are not able or willing to spend on carbon wheels? I believe it should but greater demand from cyclists for carbon wheels has stalled it for now.

When? As the number of new road disc bikes grows, the number of riders looking for purpose-built disc brake wheelset upgrades at alloy wheelset prices will grow with it. At that point, the volume of demand for alloy road disc wheels, if not the margins, will justify it. At the same time, the demand for alloy rim brake wheels will be going down as fewer new enthusiast level rim brake bikes are sold, and wheel makers will be anxious to replace the lost aftermarket sales on the rim brake side with more disc brake wheels. I have no inside information, but my guess is that by 2022 or 2023, there will be a lot more innovation in this alloy upgrade road disc category.

I’ve seen a couple of things that could be interpreted as initial signs of this switchover among alloy upgrade road disc wheelsets. The Zipp 30 Course, for example, is an alloy wheelset that has been sold for many few years in both disc brake and rim brake models using different rims. It appears to be better suited and more competitive in road disc brake applications than rim brake ones.

Also, while wheels are getting wider for all road (and off-road) bikes, Fulcrum announced a new, 19C disc brake version of its Racing Zero wheelset before it said anything about updating its 17C rim brake model.

Other wheelsets, like the Campy Zonda Disc Brake wheelset, have asymmetric rims to handle the differential braking forces on the wheels. These are modest changes that don’t fully realize the potential redesign opportunities I mentioned above but are still a good sign of added road disc wheelset focus. The result, in the case of the Zonda, is a wheelset too heavy and too narrow to be competitive with and included in this review of the best wheelsets in this category.

Alloy road disc wheels still weigh more than their rim brake siblings – most an unnoticeable 50-80 grams –  when, if designed first for disc brake use, they should weigh less by roughly the same amount. And while their retail prices are now about the same in disc and rim brake versions (disc brake wheels used to be notably more expensive), most are still closer to $1000 than $500.

That’s the bad news.

More Brands Selling Road Disc Wheelset Upgrades

The good news is that most of the better rim brake alloy wheels are now made in disc brake versions, with brands like Campagnolo and Fulcrum slowly joining in at the alloy upgrade level and Bontrager and Mavic offering more alloy road disc wheels than in past years.

While there have been some good upgrade wheelset choices out there when I’ve updated this disc brake wheelset review past years, I’ve seen few among the major brands in 2020 and prices have yet to come down significantly.

Shimano, which has been a pioneer in disc brake components and standards, has unfortunately done nothing to advance an early and now inferior alloy disc brake wheelset line. If or when they re-engage here (and their financial performance of late suggests it might be a while), I would expect to see prices pushed down.

There are of course many smaller wheel brands sourcing components and often complete wheels designed and assembled by contractors or assembling them in low volumes on their own. They are also increasingly offering alloy upgrade disc brake wheels.

Much as I would like to provide you, my fellow road cycling enthusiasts, guidance on the wheels offered by these brands and by custom-built wheel makers, the sheer number of them makes it such that there’s just no way I can evaluate them.

And if I did, there’s no way I could determine that what I experience is what you would experience as the custom-built wheels are, by definition, unique. The ones designed, built, and assembled by others on contract for the wheel brands that sell them are at the mercy of what their contractors are sending them from lot to lot and how those contractors or contracts may change from year to year. They also have limited distribution and support networks, making whatever they offer, no matter how good, available for sale and service only to a limited number of you.

Compatibility Exists Even if Standards Don’t

As with any relatively new product category – whether it be road disc bikes or new consumer electronics or most anything else that grows organically – it often takes years for standards to be set. Usually, the strongest players call the shots and if the product category or ecosystem that it is part of is fragmented, standards bodies can take eons to reach an agreement.

There are some dominant players in different segments of the cycling industry but none that cross all of its equipment segments. At this point, Shimano with its road disc groupset dominance and, to a lesser degree, some of the larger bike companies, have birthed and are shaping the emerging standards for road disc wheelsets as there are no wheel makers nearly as dominant and the wheels must obviously work with the bikes and components.

What has emerged as the road bike standard is Thru Axle (TA) with a 12x100mm front axle diameter and width (rather than a 15x100mm) and a 12x142mm rear. New wheelsets are far more commonly coming with Shimano’s standard Center Lock (CL) hubs rather than 6 Bolt (6B) ones.

Some wheels come with end caps that allow you to use different width thru-axles and even QR ones. In some cases, you have to order (and buy) the options separately. Very few come standard with 6 Bolt hubs. If you use 6 Bolt rotors on your wheels now, you can get an inexpensive adaptor to use them on wheels with Center Lock hubs. There is no adaptor, however, to put a Center Lock rotor on a 6 Bolt hub

I’m now beginning to see some wheelsets having very limited inventory or not even being offered in anything but the emerging standard I wrote about above. In the next couple of years, if your bike and components aren’t set up that way, you may have far fewer choices than you have today.

In the wheelset comparison table, I’ve noted the compatibility options for each wheelset.

All of this may sound a bit confusing. If you are unsure of what you have, there are a few things you can look at on your bike to sort through it all.

First of all, if you have to unscrew your axle to get your wheel off, you’ve likely got TA. You can also look at your dropouts. If they have a slot, it’s a QR. If the ends are completely enclosed, it’s TA.

As for the rotor interface and rotor itself, if your rotor attaches with screws it’s a 6B. If it attaches with a ring, CL.

Tubeless is Nearly Ubiquitous  

Wider and tubeless-ready rims are one thing that almost all disc brake wheelset makers seem to agree on. All the wheels in this review are “tubeless ready”. You don’t have to run them with tubeless tires but they are ready if you want to.

They also range from 19mm to 21mm wide across the inside of the rim, the dimension that affects wheelset comfort and handling along with the size tire you use, how much you inflate it, and the amount of vertical compliance built into the wheelset.

I mention tubeless and rim width together as, while this review is for road disc wheelsets, I know some of you plan to take your wheels off-road on dirt or gravel for a change-of-pace ride during the season or race cyclocross in the fall.  Don’t hide. I know you are out there. I’ve seen you out there! (Oops).

A wide, tubeless wheelset will allow you to install and run tubeless tires down to very low pressures and still provide you comfort and good handling on dirt, gravel, or grassy trails.

Note, however, that all tubeless rims are not created equally. While replacing a tube and installing and inflating a clincher tire is pretty much the same experience on most wheels of similar width and depth, the experience of mounting, getting sealant in and blowing up a tubeless tire varies greatly from one model wheelset to another. Does it ever!

On the flip side, none of these alloy upgrade road disc wide wheels are very wide on the outside, ranging from 22-25mm. This likely ties to most of them using the same rim design as their rim brake wheel siblings and perhaps some practical alloy rim manufacturing limitations or the added weight that accompanies added alloy wheel width.

Carbon road disc wheels, while having similar inside widths to alloy road disc ones, are now ranging in the 27mm to nearly 30mm range allowing for wider 25C and 28C tires that still optimize aero performance by having the inflated tire width remaining less than the rim width.

Since none of the alloy wheels are very deep (most ranging in the 25mm to 30mm range) and some still have an older box or V-shaped profile, there’s no aero benefit you should expect to gain from them in the first place. Therefore, 25C tires on these wheels that measure wider than the rims aren’t going to change your aero performance and can provide you more comfort and better handling.

I wouldn’t recommend going to 28C tires unless you plan to do a lot of off-road riding. 28Cs on alloy wheels the width of those in this review can make your road handling quite mushy with the lower tire pressures you’ll likely run them at and the 5-8mm of tire extending beyond your rims that create a less vertical (and more lightbulb like) tire sidewall shape.

Improved Performance That You’ll Notice, At A Price 

Of course, you upgrade your wheels to give you better performance over the wheels that came with your bike and a better and more enjoyable riding experience overall. Wheels are usually the weakest link on your new bike and hold you back from getting the performance and enjoyment you can obtain from the frame and components that are the foundation of your bike.

I have found that that to balance the potential of what your bike can do, you should plan to spend somewhere between 20-40% of your bike’s original price on better wheels. The price of most stock wheels is about 5-10% of the bike.

Looking at the price tags rather than the percentages, these wheels aren’t cheap. One thousand $750-$950 is the asking price for a good road disc wheelset upgrade that will give you a noticeable improvement in performance.

However, if you think you also might want a more versatile or more dedicated aero or climbing wheelset in addition to the stiffness, acceleration, comfort and other basic performance improvements you get with an alloy upgrade, you’ll need to move to a carbon wheelset and spend close to that 40% number. If you are thinking of going that way or want some guidelines deciding which way to go, I suggest you read my post Road Bike Wheels – How To Choose The Best For You.

It’s important to think now about what kind of riding you plan on doing 2-3 years out and what kind of wheelset will best serve you then. Doing so will help you from buying an alloy upgrade wheelset now only to decide you’d prefer to have put that money into a carbon wheelset a year or two down the road.


When evaluating wheelsets, I consider 20 specific criteria that fall into one of four categories – performance, design, quality, and cost. You can read the descriptions of those criteria here.

While all these criteria are important, some are more important depending on what kind of riding you are intending to do and what kind of bike you have. Braking performance, for example, is an important wheelset criterion for riders climbing and descending or riding in the rain on rim brake bikes.

It’s hardly even part of the disc brake wheelset evaluation since most hub and spoke systems on disc brake wheels effectively transfer the braking responsibility to the rotors and calipers. Rotor selection – both size and material – and hydraulic brake components are key to road disc brake performance but largely independent of wheelset choice. For this reason, I’ve dropped braking as a criterion in road disc wheelset reviews.

Other criteria, like stiffness, are equally important whether you are talking rim or disc brake wheels or upgrade, all-around, climbing or aero wheels. Still others, like acceleration, need to be looked at a bit more closely on alloy disc brake wheels rather than rim brake ones since the former tend to be a tad heavier and have road hub designs that haven’t had as many years of refinement as the off-road ones they may have been born with.

While design specs like weight and rim width are worth noting in and of themselves and may (or may not) deliver the intended performance those specs are often associated with, a wheelset’s actual acceleration, stiffness, and comfort on the road, for example, are far more important than the design specifications that we often get so hung up on (and sold on) and too easily equate to those performance attributes.

When it comes to choosing between a road disc and rim brake bike, most cycling enthusiasts will likely go with a road disc bike for its superior braking performance, its ability to be ridden more aggressively and faster down hills, in and out of corners, and for the versatility to ride it in most any weather on varying road terrain. Those things have more to do with the bike than the wheels.

Disc brake wheelset upgrades will noticeably outperform the stock wheels that came with the bike through some combination of accelerating better, being stiffer, more comfortable, handling better and improving the bike’s versatility to ride a variety of terrain mostly on the road and on some off-road surfaces. And that will make a world of difference to the performance and enjoyment of a good $/£/€2500 to $/£/€5,000 (or more) road disc bike that you’ll likely have invested in as an enthusiast.

Road disc upgrade wheels combine these performance improvements for less than $/£/€1000, a far better price than carbon wheels which are often priced 1.5-3x more.

If you want a wheelset with better aerodynamics for flats and rolling terrain, that climbs exceptionally well in the mountains, that combines the versatility to perform well in all types of terrain, to help you ride competitively in endurance rides or club and higher-level road races, or even mix in some gravel or dirt or cyclocross with your road riding, you’ll want to go with a carbon disc wheelset instead of one the alloy upgrades I’ve reviewed in this post.

Sorry, but you do get what you pay for.

Note that I have only evaluated wheels for their performance riding on a paved road surface. Gravel, dirt, cross, and other alternative or off-road riding is entirely another kettle of fish, bag of bones, set of spokes, etc. Many road disc bikes can be taken on fire roads or dirt tracks or gravel paths with the road wheels I’m evaluating and some are intended to perform well both on and off-road.

Set up with the right tires, many of the wheelsets I’ve evaluated can also be used off-road with CX or ‘alternative’ bikes that have higher bottom brackets and have more space in the frame and forks for wider, lower pressure tires and other frame, component, and wheelset characteristics designed principally for off-road riding. My evaluations, however, are based on-road riding and I can’t tell you which ride better off-road or in some combination.

With all of that noted and uploaded to the cloud, here are my reviews of the current group of best disc brake wheelset upgrades.

In The Know Cycling is ad-free, subscription-free, and reader-supported. If you want to help keep it rolling without any added cost to you, buy your gear and kit after clicking the store links on the site. When you do, we may earn an affiliate commission that will help me cover the expenses to create and publish our independent, comprehensive, and comparative reviews. Thank you, Steve. Learn more.



The Zipp 30 Course Disc-brake Clincher gets my vote as the best road disc wheelset upgrade for your road disc bike. It’s a good all-around performer with nearly all the current design benefits and at a competitive market price (USD$1000).

What you’ll notice most about the Zipp are its strength and responsiveness. It’s laterally quite stiff, a bit on the heavy side but still very responsive to your acceleration efforts. Good acceleration depends as much and probably more on rim aerodynamics and hub performance as low weight (see here for a discussion of this). These wheels use the Zipp-patented toroid aero profile and the 77/177 hubs that Zipp also puts on their more expensive Firecrest carbon wheels. This probably offsets the weight disadvantage when compared to most other wheelsets in this category.

The Zipp 30 Course is a very comfortable ride, the most comfortable and smooth-riding one of the wheels tested for this review. The rims are wide (21mm inside/25mm outside), wide enough to enable you to ride 25C or even 28C tires if you want to maximize comfort on rough paved or packed dirt roads. However, I wouldn’t go any wider than 25Cs (which will measure 28mm+ once mounted) if you plan to do mostly road riding. They are plenty comfortable with tires of that width while riding even rough paved roads at the right pressure.

The wheels are set up at the factory with rim tape to run tubeless. It is one of the easier wheelsets I’ve found to mount tubeless tires on. If you’ve thought about taking the leap into tubeless, this would be a good wheelset to go with for that reason as well.

Like many of the best road disc wheelsets, this one comes with all the hardware to easily convert between quick release and thru-axle of the range of sizes your bike might need. The wheelset hub only comes in a 6-bolt option. If you are currently using Center Lock rotors and weigh under 165lbs/75kg, you can pick up a set of 140mm 6-bolt rotors here that I use made by Avid (Shimano doesn’t make 6-bolt in that size). If heavier, go with 160mm 6-bolt Shimano rotors here. It will cost you $60-$70 for either pair.

There’s not much this wheelset can’t do well. You can cruise on it comfortably, you can race on it confidently, and you can take it on dirt roads and to cyclocross events capably. It didn’t do anything for me going uphill but it sure was solid going down. That’s a pretty good combination of performance characteristics for an upgrade wheelset.

You can find and order the Zipp 30 Course Disc at the best prices using these links to my recommended store Planet Cyclery and compare prices from others I also recommend at Know’s Shop.



As I’ve found with other Easton alloy and carbon rim brake wheelsets I’ve tested in the last couple of years, Easton gets a lot right with the EA90 SL Disc wheelset.

Easton EA90 SL w/Vault hub road disc wheelsetThe rim and disc brake models of this wheelset use the same rim and have a contemporary rounded rim shape and width. The EA90 SL Disc wheels are amongst the stiffest wheels you’ll find, absolutely unbending no matter how much effort you put into them. This, of course, is a good thing when it comes to wheels.

They handle precisely going around corners, accelerate well and are very comfortable on either tube and tire or tubeless rubber, the latter which sets up quite simply.

While their actual measured weight is similar to the Bontrager and HED wheelsets (and about 100g less than my recommended Zipp 30 course), they climb better likely due to their stiffness and perhaps owing to their rounded rim profile.

While it’s a personal thing, I also like the look of their black matte finish and lettering and find it more attractive than most others in this review.  If your last name is Easton, even better.

So, a lot to like.

Since last evaluating the EA90 SL Disc, Easton started selling this wheelset with their new Vault hub along with the same rim and spokes as before. This is a good step forward.

The M1 hub was one adopted from Easton’s mountain bike wheel line and required a 6-bolt rotor interface and quick-release axles. If you wanted thru-axles, you had to pay extra for the hardware and likely to get it installed. Worse, most mountain bike wheel hubs are over-designed for what road bike or even cross bike wheels need and that typically makes them heavier as well.

The Vault hub is CenterLock and comes with end-caps that any enthusiast can easily switch out for whichever axle configuration suits your frame. I’ve ridden this hub on the carbon EC90 SL road hoops and the alloy EA90 AX gravel wheelset. It rolls well, maintains the stiffness of the wheelset, and has modest freehub sound.

The EA90 SL’s performance and great price, retailing for $750 and at times less, make it the Best Value in this category. Use these links to recommended stores Planet Cyclery and JensonUSA to find it at the best prices.



Bontrager added the Paradigm Elite TLR rim and disc brake models to their line a couple of years ago. They sit above the Paradigm Comp and Paradigm models. All of them use the same rims but the Elites use DT 240 hubs that you’ll see on many of the better alloy and carbon wheelsets sold by a wide range of top brands.

So, my question was, are they “Elite” compared to the performance of disc brake wheelset upgrades from other brands in this review?

Paradigm Elite Disc Road Disc WheelsetOne of the first things my fellow tester Moose (90kg/200lb) and I (68kg/150lbs) both noticed after riding the Paradigm Elites was their handling performance. They tracked very well in and out of corners on the flats and on downhills, giving you plenty of confidence.

We ran them with the recommended Bontrager 26C tubeless tires and at about 10 psi lower than regular clincher pressure. This, in combination with the wheelset’s 19.5mm internal width likely helped produce the solid handling platform.

What makes many alloy wheels an upgrade over the stock set is the way they roll – usually smoother and quieter. The Paradigm Elites are good, on par with the hubs on the Zipp 30 Course.

These wheels, while stiff enough for most riders, aren’t as stiff as the Zipp, Easton EA90 SL or Mavic Ksyrium Elite for heavier enthusiasts.

Comfort? With tubeless tires and inflated to a lower pressure than a tubed clincher, the Paradigm Elites absorb the bumps better than most.  But, I still felt bumps, surface cracks, and rougher roads and it seemed that the tires were dampening them more so than the compliance of the wheels.

Speaking of the tires, the Bontrager 26C R2 TLR on these wheels measured 26.7mm wide once installed (a piece of cake) and inflated (one with a hand pump, the other took a compressor).

Overall, the Paradigm Elite wheelset gives you an enjoyable upgrade over the average stock set – confident handling, smooth rolling, and dampened rough road surfaces. At $950 through this link to, they give the cruising enthusiast a good option for a better ride but don’t stand out among this strong group of road disc wheelset upgrade options.


Before the Zipp 30 Course was introduced, I picked the HED Ardennes Disc as the best performer amongst road disc wheelset upgrades. It weighs much the same as its rim brake sibling with which it shares the same rim design, rides as comfortably as its rim width would suggest (20.6mm inner, 25mm outer), and handles extremely well.

HED led the revolution to wider road wheels and the Ardennes went to its width in 2014. As you can see from the wheelset comparison chart above, most of the others in this category have caught up or nearly so in their rim dimensions. I personally can’t tell much improvement in comfort and handling on the road between 19C and 21C width rims with 25C tires but the 21C rims do allow you to more easily roll 28C and even wider for off-road riding if you want to use your wheels that way.

The disc brake version of this wheelset is stiffer than the rim brake model, the latter which was underwhelming. The more robust, HED-designed Sonic Disc hub and added front spokes undoubtedly contribute to this.

Like most wheels in this category, the Ardennes is made tubeless-ready. You select your thru-axle preferences at the time of order rather than switch between axles and end caps after you’ve received the wheels.

They are not sold with hubs for quick release axle setups.

The wheels are set up standard with a Center Lock rotor interface. You can get an adapter kit ($20) if you want to use your 6 bolt rotors.

A couple of years ago, these wheels really stood out among the pack of alloy upgrade road disc wheels in handling and comfort and also climbed better than most. Others have caught up or exceed the Ardennes’ performance in some categories.

To better compete, and not unlike what you’ve seen from Campy, Fulcrum, and Mavic over the years, HED offers these wheels using the same rims with slightly different hub components to create the Pro ($850) to the Performance ($650) models.

You can find and order the HED Ardennes RA Disc at the Performance Bike.


As you may have heard, and you are a cyclist living in a tunnel without Internet service if you haven’t, Mavic announced its entry into the road tubeless market with its typical bravado that goes something like: We waited years after others had entered the road tubeless market until we had invented a miraculous new form of technology that is the new standard and no one will ever approach it. (My hyperbolized and satirized paraphrasing.)

Mavic blanketed the major cycling media which promptly repeated the company’s claims (but did none of their own testing) in article after article writing that UST or Universal Standard Tubeless was easier to install, lighter, safer, yada, yada, yada.

You can’t blame Mavic for executing a well-crafted marketing campaign. You certainly can (and I do) laugh at all the ad-sponsored online and print publications for being Mavic’s megaphone.

Well, now that the echo chamber has subsided and Mavic has been selling its UST product line that stretches from low-cost-alloy wheels to high-priced carbon ones, let me give you my impressions of UST and specifically, the Ksyrium Elite UST Disc road disc wheelset.

I’ve been evaluating two UST wheelsets… a low-cost alloy one and a high-priced carbon one.

Mavic Ksyrium Elite UST Disc road disc wheelset

First, I was amazed at how consistent the inside width is in these wheels. I typically measure a wheel’s inside width at a half a dozen places and take an average. Even the most expensive wheels vary by 0.2 to 0.3mm along the rim. By contrast, the Mavic wheels varied by less than 0.05mm and that may be due more to the limitation of my measuring technique than the variability in the wheel’s inside width.

Secondly, I’ve been installing a whole bunch of different tubeless tires on a whole bunch of different tubeless rims for a few years now and watching a lot of YouTube videos to make sure I’ve got all the tricks down. And with Mavic UST, I found the Yksion Pro UST Tubeless tires that Mavic sells with these wheels no easier to put on, inflate, seal or remove than most other road tubeless tire and rim combinations.

That’s neither a plus or a minus, it’s just me injecting a bit of reality into the marketing hype that’s been going around.

There are three factors, all plusses, that I believe are more important than the two above for those of you who want all the benefits of tubeless but are uncomfortable about having to install tubeless tires.

1. Mavic’s UST wheels are sold with Yksion tires already installed on the rim. All you have to do is unscrew the valve core, pour 30ml (1 ounce) of the sealant that Mavic provides with the wheels into the open valve, screw the core back in, and pump up the tire with a regular track pump. Done.

2. The price of the wheelset includes the tires. That’s a good thing, and about $100, £80, €100 you don’t have to spend for another set of tires if the Yksion Pro UST Tubeless tires are any good.

3. My experience riding these tires on a couple of different wheelsets leaves me feeling pretty good about them. And, a review published by independent tester Jarno Bierman at Bicycle Rolling Resistance shows that the tire’s rolling resistance and tread puncture resistance are within you-won’t-be-able-to-tell-the-difference range of the new Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless and many of the other, better road tubeless tires. The exception is the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL which has at least 10% better rolling resistance than the Yksion, Schwalbe and other everyday tubeless tires.

How about the wheels’ performance?

Prior Ksyrium Elites have earned the reputation of being stiff. Elites and Campy Zondas have always been the wheels you recommended to your heavier friends because they were unbending no matter how much weight or power someone could put into them. My 200lb fellow tester Moose, self-appointed president of the FFCC (Fat F***ers Cycling Club) tells me these current Elites uphold their reputation for stiffness.

With the Mavic Ksyrium Elite UST Disc now available, I’ve dropped the Zonda disc brake wheelset from this latest version of the road disc wheelset upgrade category review. While less expensive, the Zonda is narrower (17C vs. the Elite’s 19C), heavy (1675 grams), and is not tubeless-ready.

The Elite is also quite comfortable to ride, tracks well and cruises well on the tarmac. It’s not as comfortable as the Zipp 30 Course but it’s no less comfortable than the other wheelsets I’ve reviewed in this category.

It’s not the fastest accelerating wheelset nor does it do anything special tracking through hard turns so I wouldn’t race on it. But if you are a cruising enthusiast and are ok riding the Yksion Pro tires that come with these wheels at ($750, £500, €570), it’s a good deal.

You can find and order the Mavic Ksyrium Elite UST Disc at The Pro’s Closet.

*      *      *      *      *

Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think of anything I’ve written or ask any questions you might have in the comment section below.

If you’ve benefited from reading this review and want to keep new ones coming, buy your gear and kit after clicking the store links in this review and others across the site. When you do, we may earn an affiliate commission that will help me cover the expenses to create and publish more ad-free, subscription-free, and reader-supported reviews that are independent, comprehensive, and comparative.

If you prefer to buy at other stores, you can still support the site by contributing here or by buying anything through these links to eBay and Amazon.

You can use the popup form or the one at the bottom of the sidebar to get notified when new posts come out. To see what gear and kit we’re testing or have just reviewed, follow us by clicking on the links below or the icons at the top of the page to go to our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and RSS pages.

Thanks and enjoy your rides safely! Cheers, Steve

Follow us on | |

Find what you’re looking for at In The Know Cycling’s Know’s Shop

    • Compare prices on in-stock cycling gear at 15 of my top-ranked stores
    • Choose from over 75,000 bikes, wheels, components, clothing, electronics, and other kit
    • Save money and time while supporting this site when you buy at the store after clicking on a link*

Check out Know’s Shop

*While there’s no added cost to you, some stores pay commissions that support our product review and site expenses.

First published on April 30, 2018. Date of the most recent major update shown at the top of the post.


  • Hi Steve,
    Re: Zipp 30 – I was disappointed how ploddingly heavy they felt, on a bike I recently tested. They felt stiff, but in a bad way, as in : “really unewieldy”.
    Although the comparison wasn’t completely like-to-like, as that test bike was 800g heavier than my normal rim-brake one.
    (I normally ride Zipp 303 Firecrests on a Canyon Ultimate which feel significantly more agile, despite I think having similar weight as Zipp 30?)

    • Kosta, The current Zipp 303 Firecrest and 30 Course weigh about the same and use the same hubs. I’d guess that the 800g heavier bike, the responsiveness of the bike, the tires, how they were inflated, perhaps the crankset or groupset, could have made the ride with these wheels feel quite different than if you’d run them on a bike that weighs and is set up much the same and is as responsive as your Ultimate. As you know, the Ultimate is quite a snappy race bike typically equipped with a high-end gruppo.

      I have the benefit of evaluating different wheels on my same road disc bike. Steve

      • Agree -I realise it could be more about the bike (Endurace test bike Vs my old Ultimate). I wish I could do a clean test!
        One thing that jumped oat me in your comment is that the crankset would be important. I wouldn’t expect this to be of much difference, especially not Ultegra Vs Dura-Ace.

        • P.S. it’s just an observation, as unexpected information is usually also the most useful one. Thanks for your reviews!

        • Was thinking more about the crankset ratio. If you were using a standard on your Ultimate and a compact on your demo, it might add a variable in that you may need a couple rides to trim the cassette to get the ratios you are used to.

  • No DTs in the lineup? Oo

  • To bad nothing is to be found online regarding the Easton EA90 SL, i got curious about them and now just because I can’t seem to get them I think they are what I want 🙂

    • Dezi, DT Swiss had overhauled their entire line last season. I’ve got my eyes on their ER 1400 Spline 21 as a candidate in this category. They don’t have a dealer network in the US or Canada and I hate to review wheels that a large portion of my readers can’t buy or get serviced. I have a lot of EU readers too so I’ve got these wheels on my list to review at a future date.

      Mattias, the new EA90 SL with the new Vault hubs is available online through Easton’s site but won’t be available at dealers until the summer. I’ll add links to online stores as they become available. Currently, all I see is the wheels with the older M1 hubs. Steve

  • Really well written and comprehensive article, thanks.

    I am looking at replacing the heavy sluggish Mavic Aksiums on my Cervelo C3 and there are a few good options here. I’m also looking at the DT ER1400s, I’ll be looking forward to your review of those.

  • I’d take a serious look at the new Zipp 302’s. I’ve just added a pair of these to my Giant Advanced Pro Two and they have transformed the performance of the bike. Subjectively they feel as good in performance terms as my (non disc) 303 Firecrest and come with all the fittings for QR and through axles. They can be picked up at discount for under £1000 and are stiff, reasonably light and fast. A great all round carbon disc wheel set from a great marque at an (almost) reasonable price

    • Alan, Thanks for your feedback. I have been looking at doing a category review of some of the “value” carbon wheelsets which the 302s would certainly fit in. I’ve hesitated though as many in this category appear to be a couple hundred grams heavier (1700 grams and up) than most of the good alloy wheels at this price point and have hubs a step down that don’t engage nearly as quickly. Together that’s likely to make them slower to accelerate, respond quickly to changes in speed or climb very well, all of which matter to most enthusiasts. I probably should go ahead and test a few rather than look at the design and technology. Thank’s for the feedback and the nudge in that direction. Steve

  • Interesting Steve, and can see your point. Not a very scientific comparison, I concede but my 302’s running 28mm Schwalbe Ones have given me around a 1.5-2kph benefit over the sock Giant PSL-0 wheelset (which themselves are not bad stock wheels). Off course maybe I’m trying a bit harder! Maybe a good test would be Course 30’s vs 302’s vs 303’s in a sort of mini test to see where the best cost v performance ratio is to be found? Excellent site by the way.

  • I’d love your take on fat carbon disc wheels like Enve 4.5 AR and Reynolds ATR 700 designed for 28mm+ tires

    • Chris, You can read my review of the ENVE 4.5 AR here. I haven’t reviewed the Reyolds ATR 700. For other wheelsets you might be interested in, use the search bar at the top of the page. Steve

  • Ofisa Faleafulugogo

    Hi Steve, I have the ZIPP NSW 303 DISC wheelset, looking forward to your review.

  • Just got a set of the Easton EA90 SL Disc with the Vault hubs. Installed Roubaix Pro 30/32 tubeless setup. Everything went on smoothly. The only comment I have is that when I spin the front wheel it stops a lot sooner than my previous front wheel which just had a PUB hub. I’m not sure if there’s a “break-in” period or I got a shoddy set of bearings in my hub.

    Performance Bike has a set for $640. While it says M1 on their site, I called and they said they come with the Vault hubs. also has them there for $740, and I had them pricematch with Performance Bike. For $640, ~1550 grams tubeless ready, it’s a pretty good deal. Now to debug the front hub…

    • Victor, I track over 100 online stores and recommend and provide links only to those that have a combination of high customer satisfaction ratings, the best prices, good selection and the reviewed product in stock. I don’t recommend Performance or Amain because of their low customer satisfaction ratings. You can read my Online Bike Store Ratings post for more on this and which stores I recommend and don’t.

      It’s highly unlikely that Performance or any other online retailer has the Easton EA90 SL disc wheels with Vault hubs just yet. When I spoke with Easton before publishing this review in April they said the new wheelsets would only get into retail stores in June or July and Easton typically gets its new wheels to local bike shops first before online retailers. There is also a lot of inventory of older Easton product sold online including these with the M1 hubs and others with narrower rims. It should be easy to tell whether or not you have current product from looking at the hubs and the logos on them. Further, the M1s were 6 bolt. The Vaults are Centerlock.

      Also, there is no “break-in” period for hubs. The hubs may need some lubricant or you may have a defective one. Steve

      • Thanks for the reply Steve. I just got back into biking and I generally have done all my purchases through local stores. I do have the latest version of the EA90 SL Disc that I got from AMainCycling and mainly trusted them through the BBB ratings but I didn’t research in detail. Thanks for your link about retailers.

        I ended up getting the dt-swiss centerlock to 6-bolt adapters to fit my 140mm 6-bolt rotors to my BB7 brakes since majority of 140mm centerlock rotors won’t clear the bb7 pad tab. Everything went on smoothly.

        The hubs say Vault 525 on them. It came with all the adapters as well (running 15×100 front and 12×142 rear). Looks like everything was taped well enough and tubeless setup was a breeze. Going to the store today to ask about the hub.

        • Also went to the store and had them just check my hubs to see why they don’t spin as freely as my other hubs, and talked with Easton. The store and Easton said the same thing around how these sealed cartridges don’t spin as freely w/o load as less sealed hubs. They said under load the performance should be the same if not better.

          The store then tested the hub to check for any sort of vibration or lack of smoothness when it spins and said they were really darn buttery smooth.

  • Gabe garbarino

    Steve, trying to decide between the Zip 30 course and Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon DB wheel set (from your carbon review). i ride a Gian Defy advanced Pro 0, looking to improve both climbing and wattage at high speed. But, fulcrum’s warranty and service concern me, as I would ride these wheels, everyday, all 4 seasons, and as a longer race bike thoughts?

    • Gabe, probably best if you start from the top and define a comprehensive profile of your goals, the type of riding you do, budget, etc. This will help you determine which wheelset is best for you. I wrote a post here specifically for this purpose. Steve

  • Hi Steve,

    Have you heard anything good about the Ritchey WCS Zeta disc? says it has a 20mm internal rim width

    • Velt, Heard nothing good or bad. Zetas have been around for a while. Likely using the same rim as the rim brake model (a 17C). QR standard, weight suggests this to be the case. Steve

  • Great article, new to cycling and wheel upgrades are high on the agenda. Quick FYI Steve, your links to Tweeks have broken as they seem to have updated their URL structure on the site, so you need to refresh them!

    • Barrie, Welcome to cycling and to the site and thanks for the heads up on Tweeks. I’ve had my head down working on a couple of posts these last few weeks and haven’t updated the Tweeks links since they switched the beginning of the month. You can use the Tweeks homepage link in the sidebar or this one here in the meantime. Cheers, Steve

  • Which brand of rims would you recommend to me for recreational ridding (50 to 100 miles a week). I am 5’-6” and weight around 270 lb. I ride a Scott Solace 10 and I am having problems with the rear rim spokes.

    • Daniel, At your weight, you’re going to want a wheelset with extra spokes and probably a custom wheelset. That’s not a segment I know well. Steve

  • Hi there Steve,

    thanks for taking the time to write these reviews. I live in Japan and it’s really difficult to get test wheels from some manufacturers. So, it’s great to have informed and impartial reviews.

    I tried out the Mavic Elites and felt similar to you. They rolled well, very comfy and held their line, but not very responsive. So, I was thinking about the Eastons. Unfortunately, I can’t get test wheels. You gave the M1 hub Easton’s a pretty good review. I was just wondering if you’ve tried out the Vault hub and if there was much of a difference. 6 degrees of engagement makes me think they will be slightly more responsive in terms of acceleration. I ride in the hills, so quite a lot of climbs, but flats too. I’m not in to racing, but I am into feeling at one with my bike. I really want a set of wheels that give me that feeling of being connected – each movement of mine flowing with the machine. Ha! That sounds silly, but you know what I mean. In pushing ourselves physically, we reach a form of focus that connects us with the world and gives us relief- the rolling hills, the big sky and heaving wind…and our legs and cogs whizzing 20 to the dozen as we power through it all!

    Anyway, over here the Mavics go for around 900 dollars. The Eastons are around 1300 dollars. I’m happy to pay the money if the wheels are worth it. So, if you’ve tried the Vault hubs, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Best Wishes

  • Thanks for the swift reply. I definitely want something with a bit more oomph than the Mavics. And you rated the Easton’s pretty highly, so may just take the gamble! All the Best Tim

    • Yeah, I gotta believe that the Vault, which was designed for road use, is better than the M1 which was an offroad hub carryover. Easton generally equips their wheels with good hubs. On the other hand, for the price you are talking about, you aren’t far from some good value carbon wheelset options. I don’t know the retail, online or import tariff market for cycling gear in Japan but if you can find your way to one of the bigger global online shops I recommend, many will ship to Japan. Easton doesn’t have much of an online distribution network but some of the better carbon road disc options do and will ship to Japan.

      • Thanks Steve, especially with all the ‘whilst the Tour is on’ deals, I could even go carbon for less! I’m seriously tempted…But at the same time, I want to source through my local bike shop (LBS). The prices aren’t great, but it’s good to support family businesses. You get after sales care and my LBS said that they will look after and repair wheels for life. Can’t really argue with that…as long as I don’t end up relocating…

        But thanks again for the advice. It makes sense!

  • Mattias Swenson

    I was to eager to get new wheels for an upcomming event this spring so didn’t have the time to wait for the eastons to be availible.
    I went for a pair of Mavic Ksyrium Elite UST, I love the comfort from the Mavics and the whole UST Tubeless has worked like a charm.
    However ever since I got the wheels I started having problems with Disc rub on the front wheel as soon as I ride out of the saddle and also in some turns.
    Is this something you have encountered with these wheels?
    I’m on the heavier side with my 95kg, and that was one of the reasons for going Mavic, but I didn’t have this problem with my stock wheels so it feels a bit wrong to get them with my “upgrade”.
    I’ve tried to align the brake and also had my LBS do it but without any luck.
    I can see that the disc moves if I push back and forth on the tire, is this normal?

    • Mattias, The Elite is one of the stiffer wheelsets out there so I’m surprised to hear this. I don’t recall the weight rating but he Elite is historically designed for stronger/heavier riders. I assume you’ve checked that the wheel is true? It might be as simple as being a little out of true but not so much to rub the caliper when you’re riding in the saddle but to start rubbing when you are deflecting it that little bit more when your are in the saddle. Could also be that the rotor is a little warped. I’ve had that issue myself at even my 68kg weight. Or it could be uneven spoke tension that could be checked/fixed when in a truing stand. If none of that helps and you’ve done the things you’ve mentioned like aligning the brake right and there’s not an issue with the caliper opening all the way, then it may be the wheel is defective or isn’t stiff enough for you. I’d check it for the things I’ve mentioned and if that doesn’t work, go back to Mavic directly to see what they suggest or can do. Steve

  • That’s far from an exhaustive line up. As mentioned DT Swiss are missing. Fulcrum have an entire new range and the glaringly obvious omission is the Hunt Wheels line up which are winning award after award.

    • Connor, please try to keep your comments constructive and informative. I’ve reviewed higher-end DT Swiss and Fulcrum DB wheelsets in this review of carbon DB wheelset which is where much of the focus is now among disc brake wheel makers. DT and Fulcrum alloy wheels are typically stock or just above stock grade. The DT Swiss PR1400 Dicut 21 is a true upgrade alloy wheelset but is the old RR21 which didn’t rate well in my tests and is very pricey for a relatively narrow (21.5mm outside, 18C inside width) set of hoops these days. Fulcrum’s new top alloy disc wheelset, the Racing 4 DB is nearly 1700 grams, 23.5mm outside and 17C inside width. Disappointing. I’m hoping to do a review of a Hunt carbon wheelset road disc wheelset later this summer and would look at their alloy line next. Their pre-order model and UK focus is a challenge for many readers of this site and they are putting out new wheelsets so fast I’m trying to get a fix on where they are headed so as to pick a couple from their line that are and will be both current and accessible for most readers

      I’d like to see more good upgrade alloy road disc wheelsets from Campy, Shimano, Giant, Roval and others along with those you mentioned but I’m not seeing it there. I don’t want to review wheels that by their mere specs are going to be unattractive to most from the start and will likely not perform as well as those I have reviewed. With the growth of the road disc bike market and the establishment of carbon road disc wheelset lines, I hope more wheelmakers will be motivated to put out alloy upgrade wheels as good or better than those I’ve reviewed above. Steve

  • Steve, how familiar are you with the OEM PR2 wheelset from Giant, which they have been using on their Defy models for the past several years? I have a 2017 Contend SL1, which is the alloy frame version of the Defy they began manufacturing last year, as a replacement for the aluminum Defy, and is equipped with their mechanical/hydraulic hybrid disc brakes. My first road bike, coming from a MTB that I ran into the ground over several years, and I’m really enjoying it. Just curious as to how much of a performance benefit I might see if I upgraded to either an alloy or carbon wheelset?

    • Michael, It’s a decent stock wheelset but not on par with the upgrades. You’ll definitely feel the benefit of an upgrade wheelset. I can’t quantify the performance benefit since it depends on your riding profile but if you are serious about cycling, an upgrade over that wheelset is where to start. Take a look at my post on how to choose the best wheelset for you for more background on all of this. Steve

  • Hi Steve
    Only just discovered your website and love it.
    I’m toying with a wheel upgrade and your article has been very useful and focused my mind perfectly.
    Keep up the good work

  • Hi Steve.
    I’ve thinking about getting set of alloy wheels mainly for gravel riding or having a spare set in case if ENVE 3.4 are out of service for whatever reason.
    I see I can get 2019 Mavis Ksyrium Pro Disc UST Wheelset complete withe tubes and tires for same price or even a bit cheaper than Zipp 30 course. You gave a thumbs up to Ksyrium Elte as best value, but what about Pro? Have you ridden them, how you think Pro compares to Zipp?

  • Vitaliy, Haven’t ridden them but suspect the two Mavics are similar. Rims appear to be the same dimensions. Mavic will often sell the same basic wheel but perhaps make minor changes in the hubs or cosmetics to give consumers an option to get something a bit lighter or with a look more to their liking. I can’t really see much difference in these that would suggest they would perform noticeably different. Steve

  • Hi Vitaliy,

    I researched the difference between these two wheels. When they were first released the website showed them as identical, except that the PRO has spokes made of Zircal – an aluminum alloy, and the front wheel has QSM+ hub, not QSM Auto. But now, they’ve reformatted the website to make it look like the PRO has better technology. For example,

    Specification Page
    Elite ISM Rims
    PRO ISM 4D Rims

    But if you look in general description of the Elite you will find:

    “Our patented ISM (Inter Spoke Milling) 4D technology reduces weight for fast climbing and instant acceleration. The system is engineered specifically for disc brakes, with plenty of lateral stiffness for precise handling.”

    The difference in weight is 1690 vs 1650 grams. So, no real weight gain, it’s probably just the spokes. Aluminum is lighter than steel, but the spokes have to be thicker (and use more material, because aluminum is weaker. They definitely look cooler. But some people say they transfer more road buzz.

    As far as I can tell, a lot of the difference is just marketing speak. So,the performance is likely to be similar. But if the price difference from the Elite is minimal, it might be worth buying them.

    I tried the Elites, and like Steve said, I found them to be very comfortable, but not very responsive. A great touring wheel. That’s why I’m holding on for the Easton EA90’s. Still no release date in Japan, but the new Vault hub looks like a cracker, and a great wheel at the price point!

    BTW, I’m not an expert, but I’m just telling you my experience researching these wheels. Good luck on the quest!

    All the Best

  • I’m anxiously awaiting your review of updated wider disc wheels and wanted to bring 2 more to your attention. The Cannondale KNOT64 is 32mm wide externally and optimized for tires measuring 26mm actual inflated width.

    Also, November Bicycles, a small custom wheel builder of whom I’m a very satisfied rim brake wheelset customer, has 3 carbon disc wheels that are 28.5-29.5mm external width and almost as light as Enve wheels for $1050…they look like amazing value. They have an active, widely followed blog, maybe contact them for a test wheel?

  • Steve,

    I just found your website. Very impressive: objective and in depth. I am learning a lot… which of course stimulates new questions.

    For example, in a blog about rim brake wheel upgrades, you responded to a reader asking if the rims he is considering would be a good choice for his type of riding. I cannot find the specific Q, but the reader lived in “the NY/NJ area.” In your response, you mentioned a number of relevant factors including “good braking technique.”

    This stimulated several questions for me.

    Context: I have hydraulic discs on both my road bikes and my ATB. All are Specialized brand (Roubaix and Stumpjumper), thanks to a great LBS. I am male, age 64, 150#, 50-100 miles per week, Rocky Mountain and northern Arizona hills so 30+ mph descents.

    1) What is “good braking technique” for me?

    2) Does good braking technique depend on rims vs. discs?

    3) Mechanical vs. hydraulic?

    4) Wet vs. dry conditions?

    5) What is the proper way to “season” new disc brakes?

    Thanks again for a great resource,

    • Rick, Thanks for your feedback and questions. Having disc brakes like you do makes braking a good deal easier. They are pretty much the same wet or dry (4) save perhaps for a little noise coming from the rotors the first few times you brake on a wet day.

      Good braking technique (1) is really about not hitting the brakes too hard on hydraulic brakes so you don’t get thrown over the handlebars or lockup the wheels with all the force they can offer. It’s also about braking before you hit the corners so your wheels are still spinning in a turn.

      Braking technique does vary between rim and discs (2) and especially between rim brakes on wheels with alloy vs carbon brake tracks. I wrote about carbon braking techniques here.

      Mechanical disc brakes require more hand force than hydraulic ones (3) so just be aware that your hands may be more tired during a day going down the descents you describe.

      As to seasoning new disc brakes (5), or more specifically new pads and rotors, it’s pretty straightforward. BikeRadar wrote a nice summary of what you should do here.

      Enjoy your riding safely,

  • Very helpful article! Thanks!
    But I am still not able to decide for new cx wheelset. I want to upgrade syncros rp2.0 wheels which I currently use.
    Was looking for Hunt 30 Carbon Gravel, but decided rather to go for good alloy wheelset instead of cheap carbon.
    I’d like to have stiff, responsive wheels with good bearings seals.
    I am looking at Fulcrum Racing Zero DB, DT Swiss CR 1400 DICUT db and EASTON EA90 SL DISC CL.
    What would you recommend?

    • matija, Of the three you mentioned, have only reviewed the Easton. Steve

      • Thanks.
        From your experience, would you recommend fulcrum? I found really good offer. From wheelsets I mentioned fulcrums are deepest with 30mm, but I think it doesn’t play such big role. Dt swiss are widest with 22mm ID, which might be to wide for some cx tires? Many tire manufacutres recommend 15-19mm ID for 33mm tires. And easton are lightest, so it is hard to decide.
        Hubs, on the other size, are biggest difference between wheels. Fulcrum vs. vault vs. 240s hubs? Do you have any experience?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.