Types of Bicycle Wheels

Most people would think of bicycle wheels as just round objects that allow bicycles to roll. Well, present day bicycle wheels are a lot more than that. Today’s bicycles are as different as the functions and the interests of its riders and have also been made to suit their respective needs.

Wheels have come a long way from the wooden rims it was first made of in 1865. Later on, both wheels were made from hard rubber and steel spokes which gave it a better feel. Pneumatic tires were introduced in the 1880s, giving more comfort to the cyclist, and is still the most common wheel type being used at the present.

Before we discuss the different types of bicycle wheels, let us first talk about its basic parts: the tire, the spokes and the inner tube. The spokes are usually made from thin bars of steel, aluminum or titanium and is connected from the hub to the inner part of the rim. The rim gives the basic round shape to the wheel and features a lip where the tires are tucked in. The hub is the center part of the tire and is usually made of aluminum. It is connected to the fork through the axle. Now that we have a basic idea of the parts, let us go to the different types of bicycle wheels.

Road or Street Wheels do not need the traction, thickness and durability of off-road bicycle wheels. Its tires are thin and its small area reduces the amount of friction it causes when in contact with the road. Road wheels can also come with high-performance or puncture resistant tires. These tires are narrower, lightweight and provide better grip when you turn. Kevlar tires are also used to prevent punctures from nails, glass and other debris. A set of road or street wheels could range from $400 to more than $3,000.

Mountain Bike Wheels have thicker and heavier rims and spokes, making it sturdier when colliding with off-road obstacles. They come with either knobby treads, which digs into dirt and soil to provide traction, or semi-click tires, that provides speed and good traction during tight manuevers. A pair of mountain bike wheels could go for as low as $120 to a high of about $2,000.

BMX Wheels, which are made for performing tricks, are wider and shorter than mountain bike wheels to provide better grip and more maneuverability. The treads are also ideal for dirt surfaces and jumps and the rims are usually made from aluminum. Prices of BMX bicycle wheels start at $35 and up.

Hybrid Wheels are designed for off-road and paved surfaces. The tread on hybrid bicycle wheels cut into the surface of the tires to allow less drag on pavements but still has enough grip on loose soil. It is thinner than mountain bike wheels but a little bit thicker compared to street wheels.