Typically, wheel reviews center around race wheels that will add that extra bit of speed on race day. However, it is the day-to-day training wheels that get the abuse of thousands of hard miles and deserve some attention. A good set of training wheels should be durable and help take the sting out of all those training miles. There are plenty of wheels that will get the job done, but upgrading your training hoops can make a big difference. With that in mind, here are four sets of wheels that are great options for upgrading your daily ride.
Before diving into their differences, it’s worth noting that the wheels in this comparison have several commonalities. All are tubeless ready and come with rim tape and valves. For this test, all wheels were ridden on clinchers, and in this case the new Continental 4 Seasons Black Edition 25mm at 90 to 100psi. Additionally, all four wheelsets have a standard aluminum braking surface.
Zipp 30 Course Clincher – $1000
While mostly associated with high-end aero offerings, Zipp also makes an aluminum rimmed training wheel—the 30 Course. Like many training oriented wheels where comfort becomes a greater priority, the 30 Course utilizes a wide rim, 21mm internally and 25mm externally. The extra air volume, especially with a 25mm or even 28mm tire, with a greater contact patch gives more compliance and better traction.
Zipp being Zipp, they also attempted to address aerodynamics too. At 26mm deep, they aren’t the aero profile most associate with Zipp. Still, the company took some innovations they used on the 202 to give the 30 Course some wind cheating capabilities with its shape. They have also included their new 77/177 hubs to help with efficiency and power transfer.
As with other wide rimmed wheels in this test, the 25mm wide rim paired with a wide tire and relatively low air pressure gives a more compliant and comfortable ride. Most of the bumps, even the bigger ones, are well muted. With a 125psi maximum inflation, you can put in a bit more air volume for days when you know you’ll be on smoother roads.
Along with comfort, the 30 Course is an efficient wheel though at 1570 grams for the set it does take some time to get them up to speed. Out on the road it’s hard to tell any noticeable difference in aerodynamics over other wheels in this test.
The 30 Course is available as a rim or disc brakes and clincher or tubular models.
Bottom line: A strong all-around choice, the 30 Course performs well in all categories and is a good choice for a daily driver.
PowerTap R460 DT – $799
With a strong history in making hub based power meters, PowerTap knows what they are doing. While you can get their hubs built into nearly any rim, in this case, PowerTap turned to venerable wheel maker DT Swiss. The R460 rim they provide is basic but durable and has an 18mm internal and 23mm external width. So while not fully embracing the wide rim movement, it is not the narrowest in this test.
As such, the ride quality relatively is smooth, though it is not as comfortable as the wide rimmed competitors in this test. While not harsh, I would not want to run a tire less than 25mm on Colorado’s bumpy roads. Additionally, lowering the psi makes a big difference. At 1800g they are by far the heaviest set in the group, though much of that is due to the extra weight of the rear hub. Still, the lack of acceleration is noticeable.
While the performance may be a bit lacking, they do have an advantage over every other wheel—power. PowerTap’s G3 hub provides you with wattage numbers you can use to dial in your training. The G3 is PowerTap’s base model hub, sitting below the GS in their line up.
Simple to use since there is no real installation needed, you can simply slot this wheel into your dropouts and start riding with power. Note that to make this wheelset compatible with Campagnolo drivetrains you must also have the Campy Freehub Body Kit, which runs $49 to $99.
Bottom line: If you want a power meter for under $800 and you want to be able to switch it easily from bike to bike, the PowerTap R460 fits the bill nicely.
Hed Ardennes Plus LT – $900
The Ardennes array from HED is the company’s line of training specific wheels. After debuting the line in 2007, HED introduced Plus rims to the Ardennes line in 2013, meaning they were 25mm wide for extra comfort and traction. Within the Ardennes range, there are several variations to choose from. The LT sits under the Black and SL versions, but above the CL version. The LT is also available in a disc brake version.
At 21mm internally and 25mm externally, they were early adopters of wide rim technology. They look even wider, especially with a 25mm tire on. I had to open up my brakes to the maximum to get these wheels rolling. It is also worth noting that there is a 100psi limit to these wheels, so I rode them at 90psi.
The extra width comes in handy on bumpy roads where the extra air volume does the work of taking out the bumps in the road, and of course a little less pressure contributed to their noticeably smooth ride. On cracked roads and dirt, the extra volume and decreased pressure meant a lot less jarring coming through the bike. On the flip side, if you live in an area with smooth roads and like to ride at higher air pressures, this may not be the wheel for you.
But don’t let the extra size fool you. There is a smooth and efficient feel to these wheels that comes from the 545 hubs. While not the lightest wheels in this bunch at 1535g, these hubs engage quickly and deliver power, giving them a quick feel. At 24.5mm deep, they are not what you would consider “aero”, but they feel more nimble than their spec sheet.
Bottom line: The comfort provided by the extra width and the buttery feel of the hubs give the Ardennes Plus LT a combination that is hard to beat.
Shimano C24 TL – $1100
Long time component maker Shimano checks in with with the C24 TL. Still not having fully embraced the wider rim movement, Shimano chose to stick with a width of 20.8mm, the narrowest of the bunch. This gives them a slightly harsher ride than their wide rim competitors, even when riding a 25mm tire. Though Shimano claims that the 20.8mm width is best for smoothing airflow. Like the others, aerodynamics are not the major concern, though they did mix the depth of the wheels, going with 21mm for the front and 23mm at the back.
The C24 TL is the only wheel in this group that utilizes a carbon rim. While not a full carbon clincher since it does have an aluminum brake track, the C24’s use an extruded construction with T-nut reinforcement at each nipple for extra strength. This makes them the lightest in the group coming in at 1428 grams. Much of that weight is in the hubs, making them exceptionally snappy. On climbs, especially of the steeper variety, their willingness to accelerate is noticeably better than others in this group.
Another credit is Shimano’s exceptionally wide flanged hubs. Shimano utilizes angled contact bearings in the hubs, allowing them to be set wider than most. This extra width means a higher spoke tension, giving them an increase in torsional stiffness and contributing to their willingness to accelerate quickly.
Bottom line: For the rider that wants a lightweight wheel that will get up to speed quickly and is willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort to get that performance, the C24 TL is your choice.