Bike

Triathlete’s 2020 Wheel Roundup

With tons of aftermarket wheels available, we rode, tested, and reviewed nine of this year’s hottest carbon hoops.

Triathletes love to go fast. Carbon wheels love to make us go fast. As prices continue to lower on carbon wheels, the intersection between something that will make you go fast and a reasonable budget is getting closer every year. This year we saw a trend of wheel manufacturers not only leaning way into the disc brake trend, but also leaning into finding a way to be kinder to your wallet. You can be faster now for far less than it used to cost 10 years ago, and that’s a good thing. The only downside (is there a downside?) is that with so many brands competing for your hard-earned bucks, it’s tough to know what’s good and what’s not. A thousand bucks is still a thousand bucks, and if your new wheels aren’t faster, more comfortable, or better handling, then you might as well put that cash somewhere else. So to help you out, our testers put in miles on all of the nine wheels for triathletes below to break out what we liked and what we didn’t. Not every wheel is a good fit for every triathlon—though some are—so read on and get smart before you fork over your dough.

Enve Foundation 65 Disc

$1,600; 1641g, disc brake only, tubeless compatible
65mm deep, 28mm external width, 21mm internal width
enve.com

Enve Foundation 65 Disc Wheel
Enve Foundation 65 Disc

Enve really went outside of their lane when they introduced the new Foundation collection earlier this year. Known mostly for their high-end wheel offerings, this new line finally gave triathletes a chance at an affordable pair of made-in-the-USA carbon rims that would be the…envy…of all of their training buddies. Here, Enve did a great job of keeping their quality high and in line with the rest of their line with a slightly downgraded hub body, but otherwise some great internals and carbon. Unlike their 5.6 models, the 65 is the same depth front and back—in an effort to save money on mass production and simplicity. So while you won’t be as fast (or as stable) on these as you would with their different-depth lines, we’re definitely talking about marginal gains. Read the complete review here.

HED Vanquish GP6 Disc

$1,950; 1730g, disc brake only, tubeless compatible
60mm deep, 30mm external width, 21mm internal width
backcountry.com

HED Vanquish GP6 Disc Wheel
HED Vanquish GP6 Disc

The big news on this mid-budget pair of carbon wheels is the big fat rim width. Coming in at 30mm—where most brands stick around the 26-28mm range—the Vanquish GP6s give some unique properties like increased aerodynamics and the ability to run very wide tires up to 45mm if desired. In fact, this wheelset even works in the dirt with gravel tires according to HED. While this makes the Vanquish GP6s a very versatile wheelset, unfortunately it also makes them slightly heavy for the price—a worthy sacrifice if you need the additional heft for off-road use. Also, for those who ride a rim brake setup, unfortunately this wheel is available as disc only, as HED says the lack of a braking surface helps achieve a wider (and safer) shape. Much like Enve’s line, HED still makes all of its wheels in the U.S. Read the complete review here.

Ron Wheels, Aeron V6

$1,290, 1730g, available in rim or disk, tubeless compatible
65mm deep, 25.6mm external width, 18.3mm internal width
ronwheels.com
Reviewed by: Jonathan Blyer

Ron Wheels Aeron V6
Ron Wheels, Aeron V6

If you’ve never heard of Ron wheels, expect to see more and more of them in your local transition racks as this small Polish brand is getting a lot of attention. Ron wheels was founded by a young triathlete and his father with a vision of making a wheel that could compete against the best for a fraction of the price. Ron wheels first focused on rear disc wheels, which received glowing reviews, and they now offer a variety of wheels in many shapes and configurations. The Aeron V6s are laced to basic alloy hubs that are packed with Ceramic bearings from Enduro which make for a long life and low friction—a very nice touch in a $1,200 wheelset. Read the complete review here.

Specialized Roval Rapide CLX Disc
*EDITOR’S CHOICE*

$2,500; 1400g, disc brake only, clincher only
51mm front (35mm external width, 21mm internal), 60mm rear (30mm external width, 21mm internal width)
specialized.com

Specialized Roval Rapide CLX Disc
Specialized Roval Rapide CLX Disc

While on one hand, Enve has looked to reduce the price of their wheelsets by creating a model that has two rim depths that are exactly the same, Roval has made a wheelset with two extremely different shapes for front and rear. The big news on the Rapide CLXs is a front wheel that is not only shallower (this is fairly common) but also substantially wider—not only wider than the rear wheel. The external rim width on the front wheel is a staggering 35mm, something you’d expect to see on a gravel-only wheel, not something made for the road. Even in this roundup of wheels, the next-widest offering behind this Rapide front is still a beefy 30mm, and that’s half a centimeter thinner. The rear wheel on this set is still a very wide 30mm, and both have an internal rim width of 21mm. The thinking behind this anomaly is that a wider wheel helps offset the shallower depth front to improve aerodynamics and handling. An odd side effect is that this wheel is NOT tubeless compatible—another rarity in the lineup. Read the complete review here.

Knight 95 Carbon Rim

$2,000; 1825g, available in rim or disc, clincher only
95mm deep, 25.5mm external width, 16mm internal width
knightcomposites.com
Reviewed by: Colin Tanner

Knight 95 Carbon Rim
Knight 95 Carbon Rim

Though a 95mm rim is certainly not for everyone, every course, or every condition, there are still times when something this deep is the right choice. That said, while the price may not seem budget, there aren’t a lot of options for wheels for triathletes this deep, so expect this price point to actually be on the lower end for this much carbon. These strikingly deep wheels from Knight are most definitely race-day ready—and probably not much else. At 95mm deep, these are just about the deepest wheels out there, and while we wouldn’t recommend these for every situation, they are a powerful tool to add to the toolbox when the course is flat. In fact, Knight says their parabolic rim actually creates a “sail effect” with negative drag at certain speeds and yaw angles. Read the complete review here.

DT Swiss ARC 1100 DICUT 62 Disc

$2,600; 1609g, available in rim or disc, tubeless compatible
62mm deep, 27mm external width, 17mm internal width
dtswiss.com

DT Swiss ARC 1100 DICUT 62 Disc Wheel
DT Swiss ARC 1100 DICUT 62 Disc

Sitting up with the Rovals on the higher end of the price range for this season’s decidedly more budget trend, DT Swiss’s DICUTs pack a lot of tech details into the places triathletes often don’t look. Rather than relying on super fat rim widths like the HED or Rovals, DT Swiss has actually gone in a different direction with a slim-by-today’s-standards 27mm external width and a downright thin 17mm internal width. DT Swiss places a lot of their focus on the little things like rotational drag (the resistance created by the spinning wheel, rather than drag forces just from air moving from the front), and as such has spent time refining details like spokes, spoke nipple placement, hub flanges, and much more. The result is a detail-oriented wheel for triathletes that has a lot of “quiet” features on paper, but less of the noticeable numbers than other wheels in the roundup. Read the complete review here.

Hunt 54 UD Carbon Spoke Disc

$1,320; 1510g, disc brake only, tubeless compatible
54mm deep, 29mm external width, 20mm internal width
huntbikewheels.com

Hunt 54 UD Carbon Spoke Disc Wheel
Hunt 54 UD Carbon Spoke Disc Wheel

Not only are the Hunt 54s the only carbon-spoked wheels for triathletes in our roundup, but they’re also surprisingly one of the least expensive by a pretty decent percentage. Despite their price tag, these wheels have some mid range features, like a low weight, relatively wide rim—externally and internally—and of course the big headline grabber: carbon spokes. Not only do the carbon spokes help shave weight, but they also help smooth out the road (more on that later), and maybe most importantly, they can be adjusted and replaced just like normal steel spokes. Of the few carbon-spoked wheels out there, none are this adjustable AND have a reasonable pricepoint. Of course there’s more to a wheel than just the spokes, and the freehub body ratchets are about as loud as they come (a good thing, generally), as the hubs are decent quality Japanese EZO bearings. Read the complete review here.

Swiss Side Hadron Classic 800 Rim

$1,290, 1865g, available in rim or disk, tubeless compatible
80mm deep, 28mm external width (23mm brake track)
swissside.com
Reviewed by: Jonathan Blyer

Swiss Side Hadron Classic 800 Rim
Swiss Side Hadron Classic 800 Rim

Swiss Side was catapulted from a relatively unknown brand to the center of the triathlon universe thanks to their back to back appearance on Patrick Lange’s world championship-winning rigs in 2017 and 2018. The roots of the Swiss brand are embedded in F1 racing, so the leap to the carbon, data, and aero-centric world of triathlon was an easy one. Swiss Side has a great strategic alliance with DT Swiss, allowing them to manufacture to very high standards. DT Swiss not only provides the hubs for Swiss Side, they also manufacture Swiss Side rims in their Asian factory. Read the complete review here.

Ron Aeron X Disc Wheel

$1,245; 1180g, available in rim or disc, tubeless compatible
27mm external width
ronwheels.com

Ron Aeron X Disc Wheel
Ron Aeron X Disc Wheel

Though disc wheels for triathletes are rarely considered a “budget” item—given that they’re a race-day only item that only works for certain riders on certain courses and in certain conditions—but the latest from Polish brand, Ron, is about as budget as you can get for a disc wheel. The new Aeron X falls way on the lower side of the weight scale for a disc wheel, more like a disc that costs over twice as much, and still comes with high-end features like ceramic bearings. Ron also offers a tire install service for those who don’t want to deal with the horrifyingly annoying task of mounting a tubeless tire and sealant on a disc wheel (trust us, it’s not something you want to do!). Though it’s available in rim or disc brake options (we tested the disc version), this wheel is best run with tubeless tires at a lower pressure (think <90psi depending on your weight) and disc brakes. With that combination, riders can expect an atypically smooth ride for a disc and the fantastic braking performance that takes a heavy carbon rim out of the equation. Read the complete review here.