With the advancement of carbon fiber materials, road bike wheel depths have changed a lot in recent years.
In the past, most wheels had a smaller depth to decrease the weight of the wheels.
Right now, with the advancement of carbon fiber wheels, riders can choose a larger depth for their wheels without worrying too much about weight!
Let us look at the few common types of wheels available in the market today!
How To Choose The Correct Road Bike Wheel Depth?
Bike wheel depths that are 30mm and below are good for going up steep slopes due to it being very lightweight.
It tends to have very little aerodynamics but provides more comfort for the rider.
Last time, bike wheel depths 30mm and below were very common, especially for aluminium alloy materials.
That is because aluminium itself is heavy, thus, if the depth of the wheel is too large, the wheel will become very heavy.
However, with the advancement of carbon fiber material now, there is no need for such a wheel depth anymore if you are looking for carbon fiber wheels, as a carbon fiber 35mm or 40mm wheel can have the same weight as an aluminium alloy 30mm wheel.
Because of this, it is very rare to find professional wheels that have depths 30mm and below made with carbon fiber material, unless you are pursuing steep slopes of 15% or more.
If you really are pursuing steep slopes that are 15% or more, you can check out Campy’s hyperon and Shimano’s C24 tube tire version!
30mm – 35mm depth wheels that were previously named as mid-framed wheels, can now be more lightweight with the advancement of carbon fiber materials!
This range of wheelset is great for riding steep slopes, similar to 30mm depth and below wheelsets.
It is less light, provides better aerodynamics, but slightly less comfortable, as compared to 30mm depth and below wheelsets.
However, wheelsets of this depth are definitely more smooth and stable to ride as compared to 30mm depth and below wheelsets.
Even though the acceleration performance and response speed are enhanced, due to its poor aerodynamics, performance in the high-speed range tends to be poor as compared to wheels with 35mm depth or more.
Upgraded to being a high-framed wheel, it is now very common to find wheels of this depth made from carbon fiber material.
Check out oval Alpinist and Campagnolo WTO 33, ZIPP 202, as well as “CORIMA WS+ designated wheels for Jumbo Wismar Racing Team.
This depth of wheels are the most versatile and common wheelset used these days.
It is suitable for both steep slopes and gentle slopes, with great performance.
With better aerodynamics, this range of wheelsets gives you higher speed and acceleration performance.
Generally speaking, anything below 42mm is good for steep slopes and anything above 45mm is good for gentle slopes and flat surfaces.
So if you are someone who is lazy to constantly change your wheels, just look for something in between!
Wheelsets of this depth are mainly for flat roads, such as Vision Metron 55 SL, the famous ZIPP 404, CADEX 65, Roval CLX64.
With much better aerodynamics than 35mm to 50mm depth wheels, they are able to provide higher speed with least effort and great stability.
Since their depth is more affected by crosswinds, some brands will use a combination of low front and high rear to reduce the impact of crosswinds.
65mm or more
Wheelsets of this depth are not common, as they are usually only used for triathlons or timed races.
With the main focus only on aerodynamics, the wheels are heavier and it is the least comfortable wheelset for a rider.
Because of that, the impact of crosswinds are large, and it takes a rider with good control skills to ride on wheels of this depth.
In conclusion, road bike wheel depth is not a ‘one size fits all’ thing. Choose your wheel depths wisely and it can go a long way!
Let us know in the comments section below what kind of rider you are and which wheel depth do you prefer!