How Much Do Road And Triathlon Bike Wheels Weigh? Does It Even Matter!


If you are anything like a triathlete, you must have thought, how much should my bike wheel weight? The first time you felt that drag stopping you to have more speed must have popped questions in your mind including this one, well we got you covered.

So, how much do road and triathlon bike wheels weigh? The weight of a road bike or TT triathlon bike wheelset is usually between 1,400 and 2,000 grams.

There are some specially built lightweight wheels that weigh just under 1400 grams and on the other hand, there are some wheels with 2,000 grams featuring extra strength for people with more weight.

On a side note, do not waste your money on useless gear purchases and check out my Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budgeting Gear

The bicycle wheelset wights depend on a number of other factors, such as the number of spokes, the material used ( carbon fiber or Aluminum), and the width of the wheel intended to enhance aerodynamics.

Here are few examples,

 ModelWeight (Grams)
DT Swiss 1600 Spline 23 1591
Hunt 50 Carbon Aero Disc1487
Cero RC35-D1409
Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon DB 1450
List of Bike wheelset Weight
Bike wheels Weight

So, Does It Even Matter?

As a beginner in the world of triathlons, the word light may attract you and you may think, the lighter you are, the more speed you can generate. And that’s true in some exceptional cases but it’s usually of negligible importance. Check this article we wrote about “How much should a Road and TT Triathlon bike weigh? Does it even matter!

Lightweight Wheels keep the rotating mass down as they feature shallow rims and low spokes theme. It reduces the overall weight. However, the reduced weight will not have a significant effect on your overall bike time in most cases.

In an experiment, it was proven that with a 5kg reduction in rider weight (85 to 80 kg), the performance improved on average by 1.9% on a 3,899 Km route. While this result is encouraging, a closer look at the data showed that the improvement on flat sections was marginal, and the majority of the benefits war realized on hilly sections with slops difference greater than 4%.

Being the largest single rotating component of the bike, it is worth a look to reduce the rotating mass with the lightweight wheels. It will make your climbs easier, gives you better control, and faster acceleration.

But nevertheless, the rotating mass has no greater or lesser effect on the power that it takes to sustain a speed on flat terrain. In other words, it does not do much to slow you down overall on flat terrain but makes your ride more enjoyable.

However, from Sherif’s personal experience ( the owner of the blog and extreme triathlete), if you are in for an endurance race like Ironman distance, the marginal improvement adds up to a meaningful value, and of the upgrade is minimal, then it would be worth it.

So in short, in amateur athlete level, for short distances, if you are not competing for the podium, it’s not worth it to save few seconds, however, as the race distance stretches, the benefit of the energy saved becomes more obvious.

If still not sure whether you should swap your wheels for new ones, then it would help to check out this article, Is it Worth it to upgrade your bike Stock Wheel set?

My general advice is if you can get around 500 grams trimmed for around 100-200 USD, then I think the value is justified while taking into consideration the aerodynamics performance of the new wheelset.

What is the Weight of the Road/ Triathlon Bike In General?

Road and triathlon bikes wight lie in between 4.5-11 Kilograms including the weight of the wheel.

In this modern world today, manufacturers are actually putting their attention on this matter, making special lightweight wheels. But once you experience the race, and once you understand aerodynamics, you may think differently.

Wheelset Whight Influencing Factors

There are mainly three components that have an impact and influence on the weight of the wheel.

Wide Aerodynamic Wheels.

You as a triathlete are in need of aerodynamic wheels. They are more focused on being fast, but this speed comes at a cost. Most of the aerodynamic wheels have more depth and width. They are almost 40mm deep. Such deep-section wheels are not easy to handle as they are more susceptible to crosswinds. The extra material will add extra weight as well.

Number of Spokes.

Spokes are the rods that connect the rim with the hub of the wheel. They are the key factor if you are looking to improve your bike’s stiffness and strength. The more the spokes, the stronger the wheel, but it comes with the added weight as well.

Nowadays, in this competitive world, things tend to improve every day through innovative ideas. People have been making their research on reducing the weight of the wheel as well. The manufacturing process and the material of the wheel has improved which resulted in low spokes count, reduced weight, yet high-quality performance

Some spokes are quite flat, they are known as “bladed spoke“. They are more focused on gaining aerodynamics and reducing weight as well without the need to sacrifice strength and stiffness.

You can also look for some high-end spokes that have been in the market for a while now going by the name of “straight pull” spoke. They offer quite a precise alignment, robustness, responsiveness, and decrease in weight. But here’s a catch, you may not find it easier to replace, considering the market is still more focused on propriety “J-bend” spokes.

Rim Material

The weight of the wheel also depends on the quality and material of your rim as well. These days, the market features two kinds of wheels. The aluminum for the intermediate level of rims, and carbon fiber rims for high-end wheels. The carbon is more focused on reducing the weight by keeping the stiffness and strength intact.

The discussion above sure sounds like that you are reducing the weight of the wheel and the bike. You may think by getting the aforementioned material, you can have a significant reduction in drag. But there are some experiences yet to be shared, which I think may come in handy. Keep reading.

Will you even feel the reduced weight?

According to Lennard Zinn when he was answering questions on Velo news. Upon getting the question “Does the bike weight matter?“, he mentioned that it has no impact whatsoever if you even choose to trim the weight off the wheel or even off the frame of the road bike. The data mentioned suggested that you hardly notice the weight of the rim as a rider. The average downgrade in the power is almost 0.72 percent when the trim weight is added.

Let’s say your total time was recorded at 52:01. And now if you subtract the 0.72 percent of the time from it which is 0:22, makes your record time 51:39. You can see that there’s hardly any difference here, and one would easily understand the impact of all the other factors added. For instance, the road quality, other bikers, etc.

The above test seems to address us “just ain’t so” if you are looking to have fruitful results by trimming the weight off the wheel.

As a Triathlete, Do You Need lightweight Wheels?

Based on the previous discussion, we can easily see that weight of the wheel or of the whole bike is not going to decide whether you win or lose the race.

According to Josh Poertner, a professional cyclist. He mentioned, cutting the rotational weight will only be beneficial during the explosive efforts. It leads us to believe that high or lightweight should not be your focus when you are paddling your way down the road in a triathlon race.

So, what should focus on?

We have already mentioned that beginner’s mind revolves around anything that can make them fast and stiff. That leads them to think based on the universal facts.

But, when we are talking about the weight of the wheel of the road bike, and you have a triathlon race in your mind, there are many other factors that you need to consider.

So, there are two types of wheels for a road bike, and based on your requirements and needs you can select the best one based on the type of wheelset.

Also, consider your options on the type of bike you will use. Here is a post that will help out decide==> Is a TT Tri Bike Faster than a Road Bike?

Types of wheelsets

Check out my recommended wheelset: Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budgeting Gear

Clinchers Wheelset

  • Feature more weight.
    • The usual ZIPP 404’s weigh around 1615 grams.
    • The Conti GP4000 tires weigh around 450 grams.
    • The tube residing inside features a weight of 236 grams.
    • There will be one spare tube weighing around 118 grams.
    • That brings us to the total of 2419 Grams for a clincher weight set w/ spare tube.
  • They are quite common in the market, and you can repair them easily on the road.
  • They are more convenient and cheaper
  • You get to have more options from the clincher’s type.
  • They are quite easy to patch on the road, you certainly don’t need gluing or stretching the tire.
  • But, if your tire happens to be flat, you are done with it, you can’t really ride the bike.
  • According to some people, it offers a lower quality ride experience.
  • They are quite heavier than the tube tires.

Tubular Wheelset

  • Feature considerably lower weight compared to clincher wheelset.
    • The usual ZIPP 404’s weigh around 1136 grams.
    • The Conti GP4000 tires weigh around 540 grams.
    • There’s one spare Conti Tire featuring a weight of 270 grams
    • That brings us to the total of 1946 Grams for a clincher weight set w/ spare tire.
  • They are considered the lightest.
  • It’s a fact that the lightest tubular tire will be more lightest clincher tire.
  • If you happen to flat your tire, you can have a ride on for a little longer.
  • It allows you to glue your tire on the rim to have extra stiffness and strength.
  • And if you do this part correctly, if you glue the tire properly, it will stay on the rip even if the tire flats.
  • High-end and good ride quality vibes.
  • But it also quite expensive considering the good quality of the rims and tubes.
  • They are not easy to maintain, you certainly cannot repatch them by going solo.
  • And, the most important con to take into consideration would be the chance of tire/rim separation.

Conclusion.

Road and Triathlon Bike Wheels Weigh 1400-2000 grams in average cases, and it varies between 1000 to 2500 in an extreme case.

For short distances, if you are not competing for the podium, it’s not worth it to save few seconds, however, as the race distance stretches, the benefit of the energy saved becomes more obvious.

The wheelset is only one part of the bike. For a more complete image of weight and Cost correlation in bikes, then check out our article: How Much Should Road And Tri Bikes Components Cost And Weigh? How Do They Differ !

sherifjallad

An extreme triathlete who have competed in dozens of triathlons including IronMans and Extreme triathlons.

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