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Choosing The Best Rims For Cyclocross

Updated on April 28, 2013
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

CX Racing In Action

The right cyclocross rims make a big difference to performance
The right cyclocross rims make a big difference to performance | Source

The Quest For The Best Cyclocross Wheel Rims

If you've already got a cx bike it's likely that unless you're Sven Nys you're looking at potential upgrades already. Cyclists never seem to be happy with what they've got and are often impatient for more.

If you talk to any seasoned 'cross racer- If you're going to generally make one single upgrade for improved performance it's all about your wheels. Bicycle wheels are very specific to their use and therefore below are showcased a selection of the best wheel rim considerations for cyclocross racing.

Why Consider Upgrading Your Cyclocross Wheels?

Wheels are very important in cx racing for the following reasons

  • Braking (Very important in the mud and grime of a cx race)
  • Influencing handling characteristics of your bike
  • Wheel strength- you don't want to be worried that your wheel will explode every time you clip an errant tree root.
  • Allowing you to accelerate quickly after dismounts or out of tight corners
  • Mounting of the right tires for cyclocross racing. Your choice of cx tires for the mud or all-around racing tires will greatly affect grip and performance whether you're choosing sprint/ tubular rims or more popular hooked clincher wheels.

A Favourite Tubular For Racing- Mavic Reflex Rims

Mavic's Reflex tubular rims have been a long standing favourite for making reliable, yet relatively lightweight wheels for cyclocross racing. They weigh a sensible 360 grammes per rim which is 65 grammes less than the equivalent clincher rim- a Mavic Open Pro.

Time again racers plump for the tried and tested option of the reflex rim. It offers the opportunity to build up a reliable wheelset with 32 or 36 spokes for strength

Carbon Rims- As Used By The Pro's

Joe Kirkham of Hargroves Cycles racing cyclocross on carbon fibre tubular rims
Joe Kirkham of Hargroves Cycles racing cyclocross on carbon fibre tubular rims | Source

Deep Section Carbon Wheels- The Choice Of The Pro's

Although deep carbon wheels and bicycle rims tend to be more expensive than their aluminium cousins they're now becoming increasingly common throughout all levels of cyclocross racing.

Initially it was a worry that carbon rims would not offer the reliability and durability of an aluminium rim but over time manufacturers have greatly improved the manufacture process. Bikerumor did an interesting interview with many of the main carbon wheel manufacturers on usage, durability and warranty issues of using carbon wheels for cyclocross and found them to be very positive towards their use for cx racing.

The bonus of a deep section carbon rim comes when it gets muddy. The deepened section allows the wheel to slice through thick mud for effective racing. Carbon rims are also often lighter than aluminium and that helps a rider to accelerate back up to speed after a dismount.

The Ultimate Heavy Duty Cyclocross Rim- Ambrosio Nemesis Tubulars

When you watch many of the Pro road riders racing at the notoriously vigorous Paris- Roubaix event you'll often notice that many riders simply aren't quite using their standard wheels. For years many teams have had separate sets of wheels for use in tough events like Paris Roubaix to cope with the physical demands of the evil that is the cobblestone.

Ambrosio Nemesis Rims Make Tough, Heavy Duty Cyclocross Wheels

If you're going to be racing your cyclocross bike on rutted, woodland courses where a lightweight set of wheels might be a risk in the long term it makes sense to spend your money on a set of rims which will stand the test of time.

The Ultimate Clincher Wheel For Cyclocross? Velocity A23

A recent trend in bicycle rim design is a slight widening of the rim profile and the Velocity A23 (the 23 bit is for it's 23mm width) is on of the new breed of road bike rims.

Why do we need wider rims?

The idea of a wider rim is quite simple- The wider profile rim actually creates a slightly flatter profile for the tire tread to form a contact area with the ground which for cyclocross leads to a greater contact area with the ground for improved grip and subsequent control when using clincher cx tires.

What's Your Ultimate Cyclocross Rim?

On hubpages we're always looking for your comments and feedback. Please feel free to tell us below what you feel is the best rim for cyclocross racing and training.

Thanks for reading

Liam Hallam- CyclingFitness on Hubpages


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