Shimano Road Wheelsets Explained
By: Austin Arruda
Austin Arruda is a former Shimano Technology Education Specialist with years of experience in the cycling industry. In this piece, Austin helps explain Shimano's current road wheelset line-up.
Over the years Shimano has offered branded wheels to go along with its various group sets: XTR, DURA-ACE, ULTEGRA, and so on. Now, as riders are pushing their bikes to new limits, Shimano has developed more versatile wheels to meet consumers’ demands. Shimano’s newest wheelsets, WH-RS700 and WH-RS500, offer more performance, versatility, and value than ever before.
We can probably all agree that DURA-ACE wheels are awesome. Thin aluminum rims overlaid with carbon fiber, laser matched bearings, machined light-weight hubs, finger-adjustable bearing interface, asymmetrical rims and spoke lacing are just a handful of the features that make DURA-ACE wheels some of the best money can buy.
However, we aren’t all DURA-ACE customers, so if you’re after performance at a lower price, the WH-RS700 wheel is an excellent option. Shimano’s new WH-RS700 wheel resembles the WH-RS80 and WH-RS81 line of wheels from years past. These wheels traditionally used a DURA-ACE level carbon composite rim paired with an ULTEGRA level hub and spokes. WH-RS81 offered a great mix of performance, low weight, and value, coming in at twenty five percent less than the DURA-ACE C24 wheels of the time.
The new WH-RS700 wheelset is even closer in design and construction to modern DURA-ACE R9100 wheels, but a set will run you nearly forty percent less than its DURA-ACE counterpart. The rim design on the WH-RS700 splits the difference between a C24 and a C35, using a 24mm depth for the front wheel and a 28mm depth for the rear wheel. The robust carbon-aluminum construction, offset rim and optimally balanced spoke lacing design make WH-RS700 a surprisingly strong yet lightweight wheel, capable of everything from endurance racing, Gran Fondos, or the casual Sunday cruise. WH-RS700 truly offers the best performance for its value of any carbon wheel Shimano has ever offered.
More and more road bikes nowadays are adopting thru axles and disc brakes. While there is still a small weight penalty for choosing disc brakes over rim brakes, there are overwhelming performance benefits to this system. The need for a versatile, performance-oriented wheel that excels both on smooth pavement and in harsher conditions is met by the new WH-RS770. This wheel is very similar in construction to WH-RS700 but sports 12mm thru axles front and rear in addition to Shimano rotor CENTER LOCK System disc brake mounts. WH-RS770 is Shimano’s answer to the gravel, cyclocross, and adventure road riders looking for exceptional performance at a great price.
Shimano offers a wide range of wheels to meet the needs of nearly every rider and discipline, the newest of which outdo their predecessors in both performance and value. This information can be difficult to glean amongst the marketing madness, so if you want to examine the specs and decide for yourself which of Shimano’s wheel offerings is right for you, here’s the simple raw data to do so. We hope you’ll consider Shimano when it’s time for your next wheel upgrade and we know you won’t be disappointed.
Shimano Road Wheelset Compatability Chart
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