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Best Value: Road Bike Wheels

Updated on November 19, 2012

Mavic Aksium Road Wheel A Good Value

Mavic Aksium Road Wheel Set, Direct Pull Spokes, Cartridge Bearings, Bladed Spokes
Mavic Aksium Road Wheel Set, Direct Pull Spokes, Cartridge Bearings, Bladed Spokes | Source

Choosing A Good Road Bike Wheelset

Choosing a good road bike wheel set can be difficult. There are dozens of styles, models and manufacturers to choose from making the list of choices and combinations neat limitless. Because of the advancements in technology and materials it is possible to spend quite a lot of money on set of high end road wheels. It is not uncommon for a search to turn up numerous models listed for $800, $900 or more. For the average rider putting in 100-200 miles per week, the commuter or the weekend cyclist there is really no need to spend this kind of money on a set of wheels. You can get just as much enjoyment and as many miles out of a set that costs less than half of what you might pay for a high performance wheel set.

There are a few things to look for. One is the manufacturer. Who is making the wheel or wheel components? This can have a huge impact on cost, materials and durability. Next is the construction and materials. Is it heavy? Will it support your weight and will it last a long time. I recently searched for a good set of wheels for my road bike and this is what I came up with. So far I am very happy with my new wheels and expect them to last for many miles.

Is This Wheel The Best Value?

2.8 out of 5 stars from 15 ratings of best value

Mavic Aksium Wheel Specs

  • Weight - under 1800 grams for the set, 830/965 gm front/back
  • Rim Size - 700 CC
  • Construction - 6106 Aluminum
  • Spokes - Stainless steel, bladed, direct pull
  • Hub - Mavic QRM
  • Skewer - Quick Release, aluminum

Mavic Aksium

I ended up choosing the Mavic Aksium wheel set. This wheel is listed as their entry level model but compared to some others this is a high end wheel. This wheel is solid, rolls buttery smooth and is stiff and responsive.

The wheel is built on Mavic's QRM hub and features direct pull bladed spokes, cartridge bearings and Mavic's customary high level of construction. I have had a set of Mavic MB wheels before and loved them, they lasted forever. I think from what I have seen so far I will be enjoying my Aksium wheels for quite some time.

As far as price goes this wheel is a little more expensive than you will pay for some other wheels but in the end you get what you pay for. I have found this wheel listed online for about $270 a set but I got mine at the local bike shop for $325 and that included tubes and tires.

Mavic Aksium Road Wheel Set

FAS RD-60 Road Wheel Set Specs

  • Weight - 2200 grams for the pair w/o the quick release
  • Rim - 700 CC
  • Construction -Alloy/Aluminum
  • Spokes - Sapim Bladed 20F/24R, indirect pull
  • Hub - FSA alloy
  • Skewer - alluminum

FSA RD-60 Wheelset

This is a good wheel set but the weight is significantly more than for the Aksium. The price is also a lot higher. Even the ones I found on sale were listed at $189 and that did not include tubes or tires. Once adding those in the total price would likely be much more than the $325 I spent on the Aksium.

These wheels are built on FSA's alloy hub that features a cage ball system for the bearings. In my opinion anything not a cartridge bearing is not worth the effort. Also, the weight is significantly higher than the Aksium, about 400 grams before you add in the weight of the skewers. This wheel is good for commuting and fun riding but is not really appropriate for anyone interested in racing at the local track or training for a long club ride.

Other reviews I have read echo my thoughts. The wheel is too expensive and too heavy when compared with the Mavic Aksium. Plus the Aksium has a design feature that keeps it one step ahead of the FSA RD-60 road wheel set, direct pull spokes.

Performance Forte Road Wheel Set Specs

  • Weight - 1700 grams for the pair with no skewer
  • Rim - 700cc
  • Construction - Alloy/Aluminum
  • Spokes - Stainless Steel, bladed, indirect pull
  • Hub - Forte, Alluminum
  • Skewer - Not Included

Performance Bikes Forte Road Bike Wheel Set

This is the wheel that I first investigated, mainly because of price. I have bought many Performance Forté parts in the past and have liked most of them so I gave them a good once over. The rims, at first glance, are a match up to any basic road bike wheel on the market. The wheels are alloy construction and built on Forté hub with cartridge bearing with bladed spokes. Overall weight is light, coming in at 1700 grams, but does not include skewers. One negative of construction is the indirect spoke pull. Based on my past experience with Forté I was still interested but decided to read some other reviews.

The consensus that I have found, based on a half dozen reviews, is that the wheels are OK. But only OK. Every good review was matched one negative. Apart from the potential for some loose spokes there is some concern that the wheels will not support larger/heavier riders like myself. I am 6ft and weigh around 200#, depending. These wheels do have the least number of spokes, 16 on the front and 20 on the back, which could be a factor in the problems some of the reviewers were having. Other than that reviews were good and I think they would do a good job, especially for small riders.

The price on the Forté wheelset is about $170 at this time, after discounts. This price does not include skewers, tubes or tires so that needs to be taken into consideration. After adding in the cost of accessories that I have estimated at $130 (2 x $8 tubes + 2 x $50 tires) the total would come to about $300. With the price so close and the ease of going to the local store and picking up a set of wheels with tubes and tires already installed it was really a no brainer.


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    • TMHughes profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I wouldn't call them an upgrade set , just a solid set of road tires good for the average cyclist. For performance or racing I would go a step up or two. For the money and lifespan I think these are a good set. I haven't had any problem so far, have about 600 miles on them with no loose spikes or anything else. I also like custom sets like you described but they have their own issues as well including cost and build quality. .. Can be more spendy and not really give much more lifespan. Thanks for the comments , have fun riding!

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      8 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I have to admit I would go the opposite way regarding Mavic Aksium wheels. I own a set of the original (Mark1) Mavic Aksium wheels and have to say they're probably the worst set of wheels I've owned

      The Mark 1 version weigh over 2000g and the main weight seems to be in the rim. This makes them extremely hard work to get up to speed. Coupled with spokes which have a lot of spring and have led to a set of wheels which I would never dream of performing an all-out race sprint on.

      For the equivalent money I would personally go to a local bike shop and ask them to build me up a set of 32-36 spoke handbuilt wheels with a medium quality rim. You'll have a lot of improvement in lateral flexion and genuinely not be much heavier .

      Maybe the latest version have fixed some of the flaws I have experienced but I know a lot of riders who've bought a set of Aksiums and seem to think similar. They're certainly not an 'upgrade' wheelset as they're marketed.

    • TMHughes profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      That is awesome! I do most of my own wrenching but have not yet built a wheel... Next project!

    • capon profile image

      Tony Capon 

      8 years ago from Upminster, Essex, United Kingdom

      I too have a pair of Mavic Askium Wheels, the "Elite" version, which is a little above the entry level, but looks as if it bears the same essential DNA structure. They are, truly, great wheels and the spokes are so tight! However, the comment I want to make is that 6 or 7 years ago I invested in an on-line wheel building book (£10.00). I then spent £25.00 on ebay bidding for a pair of decent, fit and forget, Shimarno hubs. I then purchased a couple of 32h Mavic pro open rims for about £70.00 and 80 DT stainless steel double butted spokes for about £20.00 (£125.00 in total). Then I set to learning how to build wheels. In total I built both wheels twice (taking plenty of time and care over them) and they now grace my 2nd best rode bike. I built the wheels tight, with good quality products, thought not expensive. And they haven't needed truing over those years, save for one breakage of a spoke which I tracked down to having a Non-DT nipple! They are also good wheels. Whilst wheel building is not for ever-one, if you do have a certain mind set and enjoy such things it is well worth while.

      PS. My wife now has a pair of hand built wheels on her sit-up and beg and she whizzes around at an average of 13 MPH and she is in her mid' 50's.


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