Best Road Bike Wheels for Climbing

What Is Important When Seeking the Best Road Bike Wheelset for Climbing

Climbing Wheelsets
The pursuit of better climbing performance or the best road bike wheel for climbing, often leads to an endless pursuit of lower wheel weight. There is no debating the physics that the less weight there is to move, the less resistance you, as a rider, will encounter. Typically, this leads to riders endlessly obsessing over grams, and reading endless blogs and forums about wheel specs and laboratory tests. This obsession isn’t always beneficial.

If your head is spinning trying to find the best wheelset for climbing, stop to consider that weight alone is not the number one contributing factor to improved performance. Consider that every ride is different, one day its humid, another day your bike is dirty, and another, you had too much pizza the night before. The point is, while weight is important, it’s not the end all be all of a wheel upgrade. As the famous saying from Eddy Merckx goes, “don’t ride upgrades, ride up grades."

Ultimately, most riders are looking for the best performance they can afford, and what gets lost in the weight debate is important. And that is the wheel build, proven customer satisfaction and customer support.

ROL Wheels are the top-rated wheels on RoadBikeReview.com. We have a track record of happy riders who wanted to shred grams and improve performance, while understanding build quality - not just weight, plays a deciding role in wheel longevity and performance.

At ROL, all our wheels are hand built here in the U.S. Our founder Sean Lambert has an outstanding track record of customer service. Here is what our customers are saying about how our lightweight road bike climbing wheelset performs.

What Our Riders Say About ROL Climbing Wheels
Picked up my set of D'Huez in October of 2012. These were the first of the wider version rims. Bought them mainly for hill climbs, but they never came off once they were on. Replaced a set of Mavic Ksyrium Equipe. Immediately noticed a big improvement in ride quality and handling. Since buying these wheels, I have tried some other wheels that friends have let me try out, which include Mavic Carbon Cosmic and Dura Ace C-24 and Reynolds 50mm rims laced to White Industries hubs and Sapim Cxrays. All these wheels had strong points, but I like the Rol's the most.

I’ve ridden the D'Huez 24/28 for a few hundred miles and I now realize there is more to a wheelset than just weight. This is only my 6th season cycling and my first wheel upgrade. I expected some performance jump, but I’m thoroughly blown away by not only how much my riding improved with the same amount of effort being put in, but also how much smoother the actual ride is. I attribute the smoothness to the wheels and also going from a 23mm tire to a 25mm. With these 2013 ROL wider rims I thought a wider tire made more sense, plus I’ve read that the pro peloton is going 25mm. But back to the performance; on familiar climbs that I’ve ridden for years, I am easily climbing in one or two gears higher than before. On flats I’m going at 2-3 mph faster.

D’Huez 20/24

$775 - Weight: 1,430g

The D’Huez wheelset combines decades of wheelbuilding experience to bring you one of the lightest, stiffest and sure-footed low-profile alloy clincher wheelsets on the market.

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The D'Huez is a result of our best thinking: at the wheel-building bench, the computer design screen and on long late winter rides. From the hubs' internal parts out to the rim's farthest point, we put everything we had into this wheel, among our most popular new designs.

The D'Huez is named for the legendary Alpine climb that's featured in so many Tour de France battles. Our lively 1,430 gram wheelset lives up to the history and will climb alongside wheels at twice the price.

The D'Huez feature our proprietary new rims and our new lightweight, spoke-friendly hubs. Our wheel builders connect these innovative parts with nothing less than DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, widely considered the lightest, most aerodynamic spokes in cycling.

The wider rim improves tire performance by reducing sidewall flex and widening the contact patch. On these road bike wheels, you'll be more secure in the turns, no matter the speed or the road surface. And if you opt for tubeless tires, with our recommended rim strip and valve, you'll enjoy even more comfort and traction with lower tire pressures, while virtually eliminating flats.

Recommended rider weight limit is 86kg/190lbs.

Build Summary

//  Proprietary 24mm Alloy Aero Rim
//  Matte Finish
//  22.5mm External Rim Width
//  Tubeless Compatible
//  3D Forged Alloy ROL Hubset - 9, 10, and 11spd
//  DT Swiss Aerolite Spokes - Black
//  DT Swiss Alloy ProLock Nipples - Black
//  20 Spoke Front - Radial
//  24 Spoke Rear - 2X2X
//  ABEC 5 TPI Steel Sealed Cartridge Bearings
//  ROL Skewers and Rim Tape Included

“When I took these wheels out of the box, the first think I noticed was how smooth and easily they rolled. I now have almost 2000 miles on this wheelset, and they roll just as smoothly as they did that day. I live in the mountains where the plows and old man winter beat up the roads. Despite countless potholes at speed, the rims are still true. If you are on the fence about buying these wheels online, jump off it. This is an excellent build.”     - Anon

“I've had this wheelset for nearly 2 years. Several thousand miles. Texas hill country rider. A few weeks ago I hit the lip at a low water crossing, 40 mph coming down a hill. The back tire blew off the rim and I was left to ride on the back rim and the front wheel intact. The road pitched up and left after the LWC with a rock wall in front of me. Decision time. Feathering back and front brakes, I was able to stop before the wall without biting it. Though the back rim was shredded, the wheel was still true. I was able to remount the GP4000 and ride 45 mi home. THESE ROAD BIKE WHEELS ARE STRONG. Sean and his team did an expert job of rebuilding the wheel to like new. ROL stands behind their wheels!”     - Jim

“I bought these 3 years ago and have battered them on our horrible Michigan roads. These bike wheels are light weight, have low rolling resistance, and have stayed true. I consider them to be, perhaps, the best cycling bargain I've ever run across.”     - Mark

“Stiffness, weight, climbs like a mountain goat and durable!!! After one year and 4000 miles of riding, still true as the day I pulled them out of the box. Fast spin-up and rolls forever...absolutely love how they climb! I ride around the San Antonio hill country on all types of road conditions and 100% satisfied. I just bought my second wheelset!!!”     - jnstexas

D’Huez 24/28

$800 - Weight: 1,475g

The added strength and durability of the new 24/28H D’Huez wheelset make it a natural choice for those who demand the lightweight and wide footprint created by the D’Huez’s wider, race proven rim.

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The big brother to the D'Huez 20/24H, we added four more spokes, front and rear, for increased durability and stiffness.

For more aggressive or heavier bike riders and unforgiving roads, the D'Huez 24/28H is a lightweight wheel with all the advantages of our groundbreaking D'Huez rim: wider for improved tire performance and aerodynamics and tubeless-tire compatibility.

Like its sibling, the D'Huez 24/28H features industry standard SAPIM CX-RAY spokes and our own spoke-coddling hubs for thousands of trouble-free miles.

Recommended rider weight limit is 110kg/242lbs.

Build Summary

//  Proprietary 24mm Alloy Aero Rim
//  Matte Finish
//  22.5mm External Rim Width
//  Tubeless Compatible
//  3D Forged Alloy ROL Hubset - 9, 10, and 11spd
//  DT Swiss Aerolite Spokes
//  DT Swiss Alloy ProLock Nipples
//  24 Spoke Front - Radial
//  28 Spoke Rear - 2X2X
//  ABEC 5 TPI Steel Sealed Cartridge Bearings
//  ROL Skewers and Rim Tape Included

“Incredible value for the price. I put in quite a few miles of climbing on rough roads including the California death ride and they remained true.  Great wheels and incredible customer service. I had a pair of Easton EA90 SLX's before and these are noticeably faster climbing. Also, when I had a few questions about the wheelset, Sean (the CEO) contacted me personally unlike the lack of response I get from Easton. A fan for life.”     - Charlie