How much difference does weel weight make?

paul64 Posts: 278
edited November 2010 in Road buying advice
I've not really taken too much notice of wheel weight before for a variety of reasons. My own 95kg weight, I don't race, I'm in my 40s, I'm not a club rider. I'm out there for fun and health etc.

In the mid 90s I wanted some strong wheels and chose Hope Ti hubs on Mavic CXP30/33 (I forget which) rims, 28 flat bladed spokes. A heavy combination but rolled really well and annoyed a mate at how they would gather speed downhill and leave him trailing. These wheels are still going strong today on the same era Roberts Master Pro although not as true as they once were. They might weigh as much as 2000g, I haven't checked. I am toying with servicing the Hope hubs and having them built into something like Mavic Open Pro and 32 spokes as a winter training wheel. Bike weight is about 11kg.

My Viner Magnifica at about 9kg is shod with Easton EA50SL and these feel good, noticeably better than the cheaper Bontrager Race wheels I bought for winter use, in fact the difference means I hope never to have to take the awful Bontragers out and they are resigned to turbo trainer/rollers.

I need to restore confidence in the Roberts with new/re-built wheels and haven't decided what to do. I either rebuild around the Hopes as mentioned above or I could move the Easton wheels to the Roberts and start again with different wheels for the Viner. I don't need this as such but would do so if it's the smarter way to go. The Eastons come in at about 1700g the pair, a pair of Hope Pro 3 RS-SP similar, a pair of Mavic Ksyrium Equipe 2011 again similar. The Hope and Ksyrium Equipe both circa £300 wheels. £400 buys the latest Mavic Ksyrium Elite 2011 and these come in at about 1550g the pair.

Given my recreational use would a rider like me notice the lighter wheels, I mean can 150g on a wheelset really make that much difference to a rider and a bike that both weigh considerably more? I'm looking to understand what can reasonably be expected from the different approaches rather than a specific wheel recommendation. Choosing wheels has always struck me as a pretty big minefield.


  • to be fair you wont notice what much of a diffrence at your level (which is also mine!) for upgrading you might get a slight wieght loss but in hte end not really, you want to know how much a diffrence it makes try upgrading tyres tubes and rim tape to lighter stuff first then see if it makes a big diffrence or not, if it does then you are at one with your bike more than me, if not then you have no need for lighter wheels. i ride in a club and have a really heavey mid 90s steel bike with only acouple gears and a very similar bike but in singlespeed, i overtake and keep up with guys who are less fit and who are on ribbles and pinerellos (sorry spelling) and carbon fibre racers in the end its you the bike equates to somthing like 10-15% of you performance which means if your on your drops most of the time and jst keep a good cadence you will start to (if your not already) get really fit and start slaying club riders :D

    all the best
  • danowat
    danowat Posts: 2,877
    In reality?, not alot.

    However, placebo effect is a very powerfull thing!
  • fleshtuxedo
    fleshtuxedo Posts: 1,853
    Don't think there's much to be gained, so I'd keep the Roberts fully retro and rebuild the hubs with similar rims. If you put modern wheels on the Roberts, it'll just look like a mish mash.
  • rich164h
    rich164h Posts: 433
    You probably will notice the difference when you first ride the bike but after about 10 mins you will have adjusted to that subtle difference and it's impact will be gone.
  • Given your weight, as a builder I would suggest stick to traditional, 36 spokes at the back and 32 at the front... rims no lighter than saying Ambrosio Excellence or DT 465 or the superstrong profiled 505... and good spokes (2 mm or DB at 1.8 in the middle) it would come to 1.8-2.0 Kg

    Any lighter would be a bit silly
    left the forum March 2023
  • paul64
    paul64 Posts: 278
    Thanks to all, my ride last night was 30 miles on the Viner/Eastons and I didn't give the wheels a second thought so it reinforced that I don't need to touch that combination. I'll sort the Roberts economically instead.

    The Hopes are 28 both front and rear so for 32/36 I would have to scrap the hubs. These wheels are only for flatter (gentle) or wet training rides on the Roberts after all and expense would be wasted so I think I will rebuild around the 28/28 Hope Ti hubs with Mavic Open Pro or similar.
  • satanas
    satanas Posts: 1,303
    I'd be inclined to use something a bit heavier duty than Open Pros if I was you. FWIW, I have 28 hole Open Pros and they've been reliable enough for me, but I weigh 63kg. I have had a few issues with the rear, always at the worst possible time, of course. OTOH, basically the same rear wheel except with 32 spokes has been bullet-proof.

    If you're determined to go ahead I would suggest that:
    1. you don't consider anything lighter than 2.0/1.7/2.0 spokes, and preferably 2.0 plain gauge on the RH rear
    2. it might be better to use a deeper section and heavier rim, at least at the rear
    3. if you can fit tyres wider than 23mm through your frame and fork, do so!
  • paul64
    paul64 Posts: 278
    Hmm, well you fellas know a lot more wheels than I. If Open Pros aren't that great for someone like me then I'm guessing it's why Sigma all those years ago put me on the CXP30 rims.

    I will check out the "Ambrosio Excellence or DT 465 or the superstrong profiled 505" mentioned earlier although I'm not clear if those can be or would be sensible as 28/28. If they don't support 28/28 is there another option for that. If not then it sounds like scrapping/selling the 28/28 Hope Ti hubs and starting afresh.
  • balthazar
    balthazar Posts: 1,565
    Open Pro's are fine, if irritatingly more expensive than they need to be. If you wan't stronger, durable wheels, use more spokes, not heavier rims. 36 spokes per wheel used to be normal, but is now considered specialist: I don't know why, given that the extra handful of spokes is practically weightless, yet structurally beneficial.