Hot Wheels: 6 new road wheels that reveal top trends

Wider rims, tubeless tech, and disc compatibilty are becoming standard

Interbike Tires Wheels

Interbike RoadBikeReview

Three words sum up the current direction of road bike wheel technology: wide, tubeless, disc. Indeed, nearly every wheel maker showing off new wares during the recently wrapped up trade show season was ticking at least two of these boxes, aiming to capitalize on the growing trend toward disc-equipped go-anywhere road bikes that are equally at home on smooth tarmac as on bumpy dirt roads. Tire manufactures are following suit, especially when it comes to girth. Nowadays, 21mm tires seem quaint, and even 23s are becoming less common. Here’s a look at some of the most intriguing wheels (and a few tires) spotted in the halls of Eurobike and Interbike.

Rolf Prima Wheel

Rolf Prima Ares6 ES and Ares4 ES Carbon Clinchers

Oregon-based wheel maker Rolf Prima has launched less expensive versions of its Ares4 and Ares6 carbon clinchers. The new Ares ES hoops use the same rims as the standard Ares line, but swap in an alloy cassette body to bring price down by $550 to $1849 for the set. Highlight features include paired spokes for better trueness at a lighter weight, and Rolf’s Delta Rim technology, where increased width and sidewall shaping are claimed to improve aerodynamics and stability. Rim depths range from 42mm to 60mm, and all wheels are fully hand-built at Rolf HQ in Eugene. rolfprima.com

Kappius Wheels

Kappius KR-RC and KR-RT Carbon Wheels

Colorado’s Kappius has leapt into the road disc-compatible wheel arena with its new carbon KR-RC (clinchers) and KR-RT (tubulars). Key measures include an all-arounder 35mm rim depth, and 25mm outer diameter and 18mm inner diameter, which makes them a solid choice for wider tires, be them road or cyclocross. Other highlights include offset spoke bed for more even tension and strength, external nipples for easier servicing, and Kappius’ KH-1.5 hub with 240 points of engagement. And of course, these new disc hoops are tubeless compatible thanks in part to a shallow and wide center channel, and recessed bead channel that makes hand-pump inflation easier and reduces the chances of burping when running low pressure. Axle configurations are 135mm QR or 142×12 thru-axle. Available spoke counts include 24, 28 and 32. Claimed weights are 1500 grams for clinchers, 1400 grams for tubulars. MSRP: $2,000. kappiuscomponents.com

Reynolds Wheels

Reynolds Attack and Attack Disc Carbon Clinchers

Utah’s Reynolds is yet another wheel maker getting behind the tubeless movement with its new Reynolds Attack and Attack Disc clinchers. At 29mm deep and 1464 grams for disc or 1365 grams for clinchers, these are the lightest and shallowest wheels in Reynolds more budget-friendly performance line. And these aren’t just for climber types. Reynolds bills these hoops as a do-it-all option that’s at home racing cross, rambling down gravel roads, and of course going up steep hills. A 17mm inner diameter, 25mm outer diameter rim works well with wider tires. Disc compatibility is centerlock. Spoke counts are 24f/24r for disc or 20f/24r for clincher. MSRP: $1750 for clincher, $1800 for disc. reynoldscycling.com

American Classic Rim

American Classic Sprint 350 Clinchers

Further affirmation that road tubeless is here to stay comes from Florida based wheelmaker American Classic, which has launched a tubeless-ready version of its popular Sprint 350 alloy clincher wheels. These $899 hoops have a wide 22mm rim width, CNC-machined brake track, and come in a variety of hole count combinations, including the go-to 28f/32r. Claimed weight for the rim is 350 grams with the complete wheelset tipping the scales at a competitive 1396 grams for the pair. amclassic.com

Zipp Firestrike Wheel

Zipp Firestrike 404 Carbon Clincher

Zipp’s fastest wheels just got faster in the form of the new Zipp Firestrike 404, a $3600 carbon clincher that Zipp says is the most advanced and highest performing wheel in the company’s 26-year history. The new Firestrike design draws on the same rim patent used in the company’s ever-popular Firecrest line, but sees the addition of improved brake track technology, as well as a new variable dimple pattern that’s claimed to shed air off the rim at a higher frequency in a shorter duration. Claimed weight of the new Zipp 404 Firestrike is 1,620 grams per wheelset. Depth is 58mm with a max width of 27.5mm. Spoke count is 18f, 24r. zipp.com

Ritchey Wheel

Ritchey WCS Zeta II Disc

Ritchey’s workingman’s alloy race wheel is now available in a disc brake compatible version that’s — you guessed it — tubeless ready. It’s centerlock standard with a claimed weight of 1560 grams for the set. A staggered hub flange increases the bracing angle for a stronger wheel. MSRP is a highly competitive $800. ritcheylogic.com

Michelin Tire

Michelin PRO4 Endurance 28c Tire

Add Michelin to the increasing number of companies offering gravel road riding specific product. The giant tire maker has rolled out a beefier 28c version of its popular PRO4 Endurance tire to go along with 23c and 25c options. The new tire utilizes three 110tpi casing layers, and has what Michelin calls an HD Protection anti-puncture layer that runs the tire’s entire width. All the better for off-road adventuring. Handling is enhanced via a dual-compound tread with softer shoulders for better cornering and a harder center for increased durability. MSRP has yet to be determined but expect it to fall in the $50-$60 range. Availability is set for the beginning of 2015. bike.michelinman.com

Zipp Tire

Zipp Tangente Speed and Course Tires

Seven years after the originals were rolled out, Zipp has revamped its Tangente tire line, including new Speed and Course clincher models. The idea across the board was to maintain aero efficiency, while improving rolling resistance and cornering grip. The Tangente Course ($55) sports an 120 tpi casing and a puncture protection belt, making it a solid training option. The Tangente Speed ($65) skips the protection belt and bumps thread-per-inch count to a more supple 220 for race day. Zipp has also bumped up sizing, ditching its 21mm option and adding a 25mm to the 23mm. Claimed weights for the Course are 205 grams (23mm) and 215 grams (25mm); the Speed checks in at 180 grams (23mm) and 190 grams (25mm). zipp.com

Challenge Baby Limus

Challenge Baby Limus Cyclocross Tubulars

Finally since it is fall after all, we’d be remiss not to include one new cyclocross tire. For those sort-of-muddy days, Challenge has launched the Baby Limus, a scaled back version of its traditional mud tire, the Limus. The Baby Limus maintains the aggressive sidewalls found on its older sibling, but has a lower profile center knobs for faster rolling. Think of them as a U.S. mud tire. The new 33mm rubber comes in standard superpoly casing 300 tpi ($115) and team issue cotton casing 320 tpi ($130). challengetech.it

This article is part of RoadBikeReview’s coverage of the 2014 Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. For more from Interbike CLICK HERE.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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