Tool or Jewel #2: The Most Expensive Cycling Wheels Money Can Buy

My good friend was telling me the other day about his recent criterium racing experience. On top of all the racing stories, the conversation started moving towards equipment and gear that the other racers had. Their bikes, and the super high-end racing rims that were fitted to their steeds can be pretty spectacular.

The following wheels are the most expensive ones I could find in this 2nd installment of “Tools or Jewels: The Most Expensive Cycling Accessories Money Can Buy.”

Fernwig Carbon Fiber Racing Wheelset

These wheels have been released and are the most expensive ones reported to date (that I could find). For racers, I can understand how mere grams and aerodynamics could result in fractions of a second off the clock. For non-racers, I don’t see a use for these. But if you are a non-racer and you see the value and benefit of these, please, do share. In fact, the first line of the product description on the Company’s website for their AutoBahn Weiss model reads, “This wheel is hard to describe.” Um, yeah, so is the price. At $8,000 for this price range of wheelsets, it would be difficult to imagine using these anywhere but on a race course. And even then, I would have some anxiety about ruining them in a race. Imagine rolling up to your first Cat 5 criterium with a set of these. I can’t.

I’m starting to wonder if the wheels make the bike or if the bike makes the wheels. This wheelset is at least US$3,000 more than what I paid for my BMC Racing Machine (which included the frame, group, AND wheel set).

Now, at this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “For that price, those rims better come with a motor!” If that’s what you were thinking, then the GeoOrbital Bicycle Wheel could be just for you…

The GeoOrbital Bicycle Wheel (One Wheel)

For $995, the GeoOrbital Bicycle Wheel is a single, self-contained bicycle wheel with a built in motor that that comes in two sizes. One size for traditional (and maybe even outdated) 26-inch wheels and another for 700mm. It appears from the website that maker of this wheel is still in the crowd funding stage. For the cost of the Fernwigs, you could outfit a small fleet of bicycles with these electric motors (and puncture proof tires) with these motorized wheels at just under US$1000 a piece excluding tax. According to the website, “The 500 watt motor gives you twice the power of an Olympic cyclist.” Unfortunately, the main disadvantage of these when compared to the Fernwigs is that these are not UCI regulation compliant. For that, you’d need something smaller (but technically still not compliant):

Alternatively, For the Price of the Fernwegs, You Could Buy…

10 (Used) Easton EA90 SLX Clincher Wheelsets. This is the actual wheelset that I use. I’ve taken these everywhere (up volcanoes, down thousands of feet of mountain descents, daily commuting) and these things have totally held up over the last 5 years (and still going strong).

OR

7 Easton EC90 Carbon Tubular Wheelsets. These are my other wheels. My nice wheels. The first set had to go back to the manufacturer since the finish on the braking surface was flaking off. No bueno. The replacement set has been working just fine. There is noticeable difference in stiffness compared to the aluminum wheelset. With the carbons, you feel much more connected to the pavement. Nice!

 

When it comes to fancy hoops, how much is too much for a wheelset?

 

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