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How much to spend on wheels compared to bike?

pipipipipipi Posts: 332
edited July 2013 in Road buying advice
IHi everyone. I'm just in the process of trying to decide how much I should spend/save on a new wheelset for my bike. After mechanical issues :cry: I need to buy new rather than try and repair and I am just trying to ascertain what would be a reasonable amount to spend. Obviously the more I spend the better the wheels get, but there must be a sensible limit on how much to spend. (like you wouldn't spend £2000 on wheels for a £500 bike :shock: )

Is there a rule of thumb for how much you should spend on wheels compared to the bike?

So to keep it simple. If the brand new bike was £100. How much would you spend on new wheels? £25? £50?
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  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,826
    It depends...my whole bike was £5k, wheels around £500 so say 10%

    On a cheaper bike say £1k I can image wheels might be £200-£300 so up to 30%.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    This is going to be very subjective.

    For me it would be 33% of the overall bike cost. i.e £1500 bike I would accept £500 on wheels.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 27,695
    25% max
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    25% max

    Thinking about it I suppose it depends on the bike value. That still gives me £875 for wheels on the Basso which is more than enough. :D

    However if I use that formula for the CAAD 5 I can only spend £87.50. :cry:
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • pipipipipipi Posts: 332
    Hmmm. Okay so 25-30% as the maximum seems sensible.

    Thanks for the swift replies!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    I dont think it matters too much about the cost of the bike. You can get nice bikes for £1500 that I would put £1000 wheels on.
    Just get the wheels you like and can afford. Would have thought 66% would be a max though.
    A Triban 3 would need at least 50-66% at list price.

    There is no point in upgrading wheels just a little bit if you can afford a big jump and they suit the bike.
    Wheels/tyres make a bike IMO.

    Dont forget you may upgrade your bike and still put your 'best' wheels on it. Most bikes come with pants wheels (compared to spec of bike they are on) and often its to keep costs down when buyers have their own to put on.
  • TheSmithersTheSmithers Posts: 291
    I've set myself a budget of £1k on a wheelset for my Cannondale SuperSix, which I bought for £1.7k about 10 months ago.

    Mad? :shock:

    Perhaps.

    But bikes are a collection of interchangeable components. Wheels are not permanently mated to one frame are they, and on the basis that I can transfer them to a much better frame at some point in the future when I can afford it, I don't see it as a complete waste of money. I view them as a long term upgrade and separate to the bike I'm initially buying them for. Further, I only intend to use them during the summer months, so barring any bad luck and providing I look after them, they should stay pristine for years.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 27,695
    I've set myself a budget of £1k on a wheelset for my Cannondale SuperSix, which I bought for £1.7k about 10 months ago.

    Mad? :shock:

    Perhaps.

    But bikes are a collection of interchangeable components. Wheels are not permanently mated to one frame are they, and on the basis that I can transfer them to a much better frame at some point in the future when I can afford it, I don't see it as a complete waste of money. I view them as a long term upgrade and separate to the bike I'm initially buying them for. Further, I only intend to use them during the summer months, so barring any bad luck and providing I look after them, they should stay pristine for years.

    If you buy factory wheels they are a disposable commodity... depending on riding conditions the rims will last 6-12 K miles. Pretty much no chance of rebuilding them, hence hardly an investment... for that money you should secure a set of Royce hubs, which are an investment you can pass on to your son, in theory... spokes and rims will change according to moods and seasons of your life
  • CrozzaCrozza Posts: 991
    according to this guy the wheels should be at least 200% the cost of the bike

    http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum ... 51269d4075
  • jane90jane90 Posts: 149
    If you buy factory wheels they are a disposable commodity... depending on riding conditions the rims will last 6-12 K miles. Pretty much no chance of rebuilding them, hence hardly an investment... for that money you should secure a set of Royce hubs, which are an investment you can pass on to your son, in theory... spokes and rims will change according to moods and seasons of your life
    Hi Ugo,

    This is an interesting point and I think explains a lot of the differences in opinions on this board, arguing in favour or against buying certain equipment. Your attitude is a very understandable one, no doubt shared by many people but I don't see that it is a universal one, nor that everyone, in your words, "should" follow this policy.

    For many people, cycling is a hobby that they're happy to spend the disposable part of their income on for immediate gratification, not necessarily thinking of it as in "investment" or considering resale value or replacement cost in five years time. For example, if I'm buying an expensive designer dress, I know it will probably last me only two or three seasons before I'll want something else or something in a different style, but if I can afford it and it's worth it to me to have it now and over the next couple of years, of course it's a purchase I'd be willing to make. Similarly, I think there are many people who look at the cost of a bike or components and amortise the cost over a shorter time period of 3-5 years when making a value judgement on whether something is worth buying. Others may feel differently and agree with you that whatever they buy should be serviceable in 10 or even 20 years time.

    Prescribing what people "should" do, based on what "I" would do, knowing that different people have different priorities, isn't, in my opinion, very helfpul.
  • SproolSprool Posts: 1,022
    I've been stewing in G.A.S. [gear acquisition syndrome] for a while now, really feel i want to get a sexier set of wheels but have come to the conclusion that I cannot justify anything above £300 on my £700 bike. For entry-level aksiums or Fulcrum 5's I probably won't get a noticeable improvement for £160 cost, and the roads round here are so poor that I'm likely to have damaged rims in 6 months. I'm not going to be competing in road races so don't need ultra light weight. I'm devastated - really wanted to get some new bling but have have come to the sad conclusion that expensive upgrades are a waste of money for me. I will get stronger and fitter battling up the hills on my cheap heavy wheels until they give up on me. After a few months I can now keep pace with my other cycling buddies on carbon biles with ksyrium rims, only I dont have to be quite so nervous about riding the pothole roads of kirklees.
  • pipipipipipi Posts: 332
    I am in a similar position to Sprool. Have been bouncing between Fulcrums from 5-Quattro-3.

    Mood 1.I want the bike to be as fast as possible. I like the investment for future line. I want the best I can afford. Let's go Fulcrum 3.

    Mood 2. Well, the roads round here aren't great. That's a lot money on F3. Perhaps go something heavier and stronger, and a bit cheaper. Quattro.

    Mood 3. Will I really notice any weight difference? I could lose some weight instead. Fulcrum 5.

    A few days later, back to mood 1
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Mood 4. Forget all the factory stuff and get some nice hand built wheels.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • jane90 wrote:
    If you buy factory wheels they are a disposable commodity... depending on riding conditions the rims will last 6-12 K miles. Pretty much no chance of rebuilding them, hence hardly an investment... for that money you should secure a set of Royce hubs, which are an investment you can pass on to your son, in theory... spokes and rims will change according to moods and seasons of your life
    Hi Ugo,

    This is an interesting point and I think explains a lot of the differences in opinions on this board, arguing in favour or against buying certain equipment. Your attitude is a very understandable one, no doubt shared by many people but I don't see that it is a universal one, nor that everyone, in your words, "should" follow this policy.

    Prescribing what people "should" do, based on what "I" would do, knowing that different people have different priorities, isn't, in my opinion, very helfpul.

    My moneys on the should being a typo for could as Ugo is not one to preach or tell people what to do. He gives loads of fantastic free advice on here and his style is reasoned argument and illustrations to back up his points - check his Blog and web page.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 27,695
    jane90 wrote:
    If you buy factory wheels they are a disposable commodity... depending on riding conditions the rims will last 6-12 K miles. Pretty much no chance of rebuilding them, hence hardly an investment... for that money you should secure a set of Royce hubs, which are an investment you can pass on to your son, in theory... spokes and rims will change according to moods and seasons of your life
    Hi Ugo,

    This is an interesting point and I think explains a lot of the differences in opinions on this board, arguing in favour or against buying certain equipment. Your attitude is a very understandable one, no doubt shared by many people but I don't see that it is a universal one, nor that everyone, in your words, "should" follow this policy.

    For many people, cycling is a hobby that they're happy to spend the disposable part of their income on for immediate gratification, not necessarily thinking of it as in "investment" or considering resale value or replacement cost in five years time. For example, if I'm buying an expensive designer dress, I know it will probably last me only two or three seasons before I'll want something else or something in a different style, but if I can afford it and it's worth it to me to have it now and over the next couple of years, of course it's a purchase I'd be willing to make. Similarly, I think there are many people who look at the cost of a bike or components and amortise the cost over a shorter time period of 3-5 years when making a value judgement on whether something is worth buying. Others may feel differently and agree with you that whatever they buy should be serviceable in 10 or even 20 years time.

    Prescribing what people "should" do, based on what "I" would do, knowing that different people have different priorities, isn't, in my opinion, very helfpul.


    Jane, I was answering the post above mine, you probably missed it, which clearly mentioned buying wheels as a long term investment...
    You are of course right about how one can spend his money and I normally try to give advice where advice is asked for
  • Ah well shouldn't gamble anyway ...
  • Allocate £100 for wheels, the rest on a new dress.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • pipipipipipi Posts: 332
    Handbuilt? Okay Smidsy, anyone to recommend in Kent?
  • TheSmithersTheSmithers Posts: 291
    If you buy factory wheels they are a disposable commodity... depending on riding conditions the rims will last 6-12 K miles.

    Given the price point and use I have described, I find this quite frankly shocking. You have to wonder why anyone would buy factory wheels at all. But being a wheel builder you're bound to say that :lol:

    It's just as well I'm going the hand built route ;). Just waiting for that bonus payout!
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    pipipi wrote:
    Handbuilt? Okay Smidsy, anyone to recommend in Kent?

    This is a joke right?..... Harry Rowland.

    http://www.harryrowland.co.uk/
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • pipipipipipi Posts: 332
    Sorry Smidsy, no joke! I have sent an email outlining the situation to Harry and I'll see what he comes back with.

    Thanks for the link.

    Mood 4?
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Crozza wrote:
    according to this guy the wheels should be at least 200% the cost of the bike

    http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum ... 51269d4075

    But how do you mean "the bike" since a full bike includes the wheels in the first place. Perhaps it should be considered as a percentage of the cost (or RRP) of the frame?
  • pipipipipipi Posts: 332
    I think that's why I tried to simplify it to buying a £100 bike including wheels, what would you spend on upgrading those wheels. I just didn't want to buy too low or too high.

    In a way it would be interesting to compare some stock bikes with how much their standard wheels cost...that would give us an idea of what manufacturers think.

    And the RRP may well change the percentage, as someone has already said, a really expensive bike £5000, might only need 10% to spend on wheels. Whereas a £500 bike might need 20%.

    A few knowledgable people have said 25-30% maximums and that seems to fit in with my gut instinct/wallet ;)
  • The Cannondale Supersix Evo looks to have the worst wheels for a £3495 price tagged bike.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    pipipi wrote:
    I think that's why I tried to simplify it to buying a £100 bike including wheels, what would you spend on upgrading those wheels. I just didn't want to buy too low or too high.

    In a way it would be interesting to compare some stock bikes with how much their standard wheels cost...that would give us an idea of what manufacturers think.

    And the RRP may well change the percentage, as someone has already said, a really expensive bike £5000, might only need 10% to spend on wheels. Whereas a £500 bike might need 20%.

    A few knowledgable people have said 25-30% maximums and that seems to fit in with my gut instinct/wallet ;)

    Quite often it's difficult to determine what wheels a bike actually comes with "Alloy hubs w/Bontrager Approved alloy rims" which means nothing so it's difficult to compare with others, but I can be safe in the assumption they are bottom of the range.
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,826
    smidsy wrote:
    pipipi wrote:
    Handbuilt? Okay Smidsy, anyone to recommend in Kent?

    This is a joke right?..... Harry Rowland.

    http://www.harryrowland.co.uk/

    +1 for Harry.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • pipipipipipi Posts: 332
    Thanks for recommendation. Harry has emailed some suggestions back and I think I will go with one of those.
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Hurrah - someone who asked for advice and then acted upon it.

    You Sir are 1 of a kind around here :-)
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498

    Jane, I was answering the post above mine, you probably missed it, which clearly mentioned buying wheels as a long term investment...
    You are of course right about how one can spend his money and I normally try to give advice where advice is asked for
    Not quite - he said the wheels should stay pristine for years - not that they're a long term investment - you might see it as the same thing, but it's not quite.

    I've bought a set of factory wheels for my wifes bike - they look very nice and ride very well ... I don't expect to replace them for a good few years, but they're not an "investment" as they're not worth anything other than to us - they're as common as muck and relatively inexpensive. If/when she gets a new road bike I'll probably transfer the wheels over (assuming she hasn't knackered them in the meantime!).
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 27,695
    Slowbike wrote:

    Jane, I was answering the post above mine, you probably missed it, which clearly mentioned buying wheels as a long term investment...
    You are of course right about how one can spend his money and I normally try to give advice where advice is asked for
    Not quite - he said the wheels should stay pristine for years - not that they're a long term investment - you might see it as the same thing, but it's not quite.

    I've bought a set of factory wheels for my wifes bike - they look very nice and ride very well ... I don't expect to replace them for a good few years, but they're not an "investment" as they're not worth anything other than to us - they're as common as muck and relatively inexpensive. If/when she gets a new road bike I'll probably transfer the wheels over (assuming she hasn't knackered them in the meantime!).

    He then also said in response to mine
    Given the price point and use I have described, I find this quite frankly shocking. You have to wonder why anyone would buy factory wheels at all. But being a wheel builder you're bound to say that

    It's just as well I'm going the hand built route . Just waiting for that bonus payout!
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