It’s very common to see the pros riding a full rear disc wheel, but I was surprised to find that almost everyone who had a TT/Tri bike at my first time trial was also sporting one of these guys. But after a bit of research, it became obvious why, after I re-viewed [with fresh TT eyes] this excellent write-up by Hambini. TLDR; the numbers are huge. And so began my spiral down the rear disc wheel rabbit hole.
One nice thing about having this blog is that possible to amortize the hours I spend researching products by sharing. Few things to note.
- My TT bike has disc brakes so all the models listed below are for disc brake bikes, imagine there’s some crossover with rim brake options, but that’s not something I’ve bothered to look into.
- All the options support tubeless. A good tubeless tire has lower rolling resistance than latex and is less likely to flat. It is the future, embrace it.
- This is not a comprehensive list. Intentionally. I haven’t included obvious clones, random wheels on Alibaba, or wheels that seem sketchy unless there’s a good reason to include them anyway :).
- It is quite possible that I’ve missed some valid entries. Feel free to make suggestions. This is intended to be a living list.
- I wasn’t quite sure how to order them, so I’ve gone with most expensive to least expensive. I will include comments where applicable.
Construction: Hollow. Two sheets of carbon fairing are molded to the hub and rim bed.
Comments: It blows my mind that this wheel costs this much, but is so poorly documented. I’ve reached out to Vision for more information, but they weren’t able to provide much insight because [even though it’s listed on the US site, in USD] it isn’t sold in the US? Not that it matters, I was never going to buy it. That price only works for the pros.
Hub: DT Swiss 180 EXP
Construction: Hollow (follow link for more detail)
Comments: Until I found the Vision wheel, I thought this was the big daddy of crazy pricing. I’m sure it’s a solid wheel, but that profile will probably limit you to 23c tires. Not the end of the world, but if you’re going to drop crazy cash on a new disc wheel, it seems like it should be aware that wide is the new black.
Hub: Zipp 177D
Construction: Carbon sheet with outer hoop
Comments: Can’t do a disc wheel comparison without the Zipp Super 9. Solid weight and profile, from a company who, in part, made its name with their disc wheel prowess. If bragging rights were the goal, this would be on the shortlist, but even for APEX signalling, the price is too high to make it a contender considering the other options.
Far Sports FSW-D05-28CT : UFO-SL-C21 / UFO-C21
Price: $1,699.00 / $1,099.00
Weight: 1090g / 1250g
Hub: Far Sports (DT Swiss clone) : TPI bearings (2pcs 6803 + 2pcs 6903)
Comments: Far Sports sells two different models of the FSW-D05-28CT; the lighter one (UFO-SL-21) is a $600 step up from the wheel that weighs 160g more (UFO-21). Seems like a massive price delta for marginal benefit. Obviously, the lighter wheel will spin up faster, but once you’re at speed the penalty disappears. It won’t matter than much for TT unless there are lots of hills; and since I live in IL there aren’t many hills :). I asked Far Sports to help me better understand the cost difference and they said:
“Although the weight is very close, our disc wheel has a better stiffness and rigidity because of the 1K material, whose cost is double than other material. Although it’s hollow design, it’s hard as the filled disc wheel. The whole shape is the combination of good balance, light weight and aerodynamic.”
Carbon type and finish are the only differences between the wheels, so personally, I struggle to see the value of the 1k carbon setup, especially compared to the the Light Bicycle entrant which weighs roughly the same as the UFO-SL-C21 (1095g) and costs around the same as the heavier Far Sports UFO-C21, even when spec’d with a DT Swiss 240 EXP hub. Also, and maybe this is just a weird coincidence, it bugs me that Far Sports and Light Bicycle use the same model number. I’m sure it’s nothing, but I wasn’t able to get a satisfactory answer around what was going on there from either vendor.
I would like to run a 25c tire in the back, so the profile of this rim should be perfect for that. While the 105 rule doesn’t matter as much for a rear wheel. If I’m chasing marginal gains, it seems like a good thing to keep in mind when choosing a disc wheel. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the Far Sports UFO-C21.
Hub: FLO Vortex 3 : 6802 Japanese EZO
Construction: Spoke wheel with a carbon fairing. This is the carbon wheel model, there is also a cheaper/heavier version which uses an aluminum wheel.
Comments: I have no personal experience with FLO wheels, but they don’t have the best reputation. Given the price, weight, and lack of clarity around construction I wouldn’t buy it. Have reached out to FLO for clarification. Will update when I hear back.
Price: $1,354.00 ($988.42 currently)
Hub: 36T (DT Swiss clone) / OEM unknown
Construction: ? (guessing PMI filled)
Comments: Wasn’t quite sure what to do with this one. Yoeleo is a fairly well known vendor, but I’ve recently heard some rumors that they don’t OEM their kit. Given the weight, profile, and hub I suspect that they are reselling a different OEM’s wheel. Hard pass at this price.
Have reached out to Yoeleo for clarification around this and construction, but haven’t heard back.
Price: $1,187.00 (DT Swiss 240 EXP) / $1,015.00 (DT Swiss 350) / $900.0 (Chosen)
Weight: 1095g (DT Swiss 240 EXP) / 1110g (DT Swiss 350) / 1095g (Chosen)
Hub: DT Swiss 240 EXP / DT Swiss 350 / Chosen
Construction: Hollow (follow link for more details)
Comments: I like the profile, weight, and relative value with a name brand hub. While the model number collision with Far Sports bothers me, at least Light Bicycle does a better job of marketing around it :). I like the look of the sunflower design, and opting for the DT Swiss 240 EXP makes me feel better about dropping over $1k on a wheel. I’ve had great experiences with my Far Sports rims, but the value proposition comparing the Far Sports UFO-SL-C21 to the Light Bicycle UFO-C21 doesn’t come out in their favor until you dig a bit further into the fee structure at Light Bicycle.
Obviously the Far Sports UFO-SL-21 is still quite a bit more expensive, but if you don’t care about ~200g, the Far Sports UFO-21 is the clear winner. The Light Bicycle was the front runner up to this point. Still very conflicted on this point, because I suspect that even though Light Bicycle has a better warranty the Far Sports rim probably has better construction: all carbon vs the carbon-foam-carbon thing that Light Bicycle is doing.
The main thing holding me back, besides the looming change in weather, is the relative lack of reviews of Light Bicycle’s other wheels. They looks solid on paper, but it would be great if there were more real people out there saying the same.
Update: ended up buying one. Can see the First Look here.
Price: $999.00 (pre-order)
Hub: 36T Ratchet (DT Swiss clone?)
Construction: Unknown, given weight likely to be PMI filled
Comments: You’ll start noticing a trend here. ~1200g disc with a 36T ratchet hub of unknown origin… Hunt is well known as a reseller, reached out for comment, haven’t heard back, but hard to see this as anything but. I included it mostly because they have brand awareness which is oddly disproportionate to the value proposition they provide.
If you like the specs of this wheel, keep scrolling, there are better options.
Price: $830.00 (DT Swiss 240) / $700.00 (DT Swiss 350) / $610.00 (LightCarbon 36T)
Weight: 1230g (DT Swiss 240) / 1260g (DT Swiss 350) / 1230g (LightCarbon 36T)
Hub: DT Swiss 240 / DT Swiss 350 / LightCarbon 36T : 15267/6802 steel bearings
Comments: This is one of the more interesting entrants because of the solid rim profile, which will make running 25c aero, and aggressive pricing. Especially if you’re happy to use an OEM hub. I haven’t seen many reviews of LightCarbon’s wheels, so I’m a little hesitant to take the risk personally, but $610 for a full disc with 28mm external width is tempting.
Hub: EliteWheels (DT Swiss clone) : Enduro 15267/6802 steel bearings
Comments: Pricing isn’t bad, especially considering the number of 15% coupons EliteWheels has out in the wild. Profile kills it though. LightCarbon with a similar hub has the same weight, is cheaper, and has the 28mm external width that makes it easy to pick up that 25c tire.