Race day wheels disc brake bike owners

How many TR athletes out there are riding disc brake bikes and have both a race day only wheelset and a set of training hoops as well?

Likewise who runs one set of high end disc brake wheels full time for racing and training?

Justifications and equipment choices both ways would be appreciated, please.

I have two sets of disc brake wheels. One being a set of HUNT 50 Carbon Aero, the other a set of CADEX 65/42.

The only specificity I apply is the CADEX wheels don’t get used for crit racing. Other than that, both wheel sets get used year-round and in all weathers. Living in the UK, I’d be forever changing the wheels over and never riding the damn bike!

Both wheel sets are behaving and surviving nicely. Particular kudos goes to the HUNT wheel set as I’ve given those a very hard time.

I don’t have race day tires either, although I can kinda see the sense in that. In all honesty, it comes down to time and budget for me. I want to spend time riding the bike, not swapping parts on and off and if I put down cash for a product, I need it to perform come hell or high water.

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Thanks for the insights, for some reason I am fixated on getting a second wheelset for training, but I also live in Australia so I have much less reason to swap wheels out than you do.

I’m not sure that the idea of “race-day” wheels is as compelling for disc brakes as it is for rim brakes.

Wet weather and carbon braking tracks both increases stopping distance significantly, and reduces wheel lifespan. Swapping to wheels with an alloy braking track is a no-brainer for training in any (potentially) damp conditions.

Swapping disc brake wheels won’t change wet weather stopping distance, and replacing a worn out disc rotor is much cheaper than a worn out wheel.

Two sets of wheels (regardless of braking system) can be more easily justified if you are running different tires depending on conditions. So if you have a winter/wet weather set of tires, dry weather tires, gravel/allroad tires, fast but paper thin TT tires for racing, well, swapping wheels is way easier than changing tires.


I guess there are other factors to consider too. Do you race regularly, as in almost every weekend during your race season? If so, it might actually be worth owning a set of dedicated race wheels. If they’re going to be sitting in a wheel bag for half of the year, that money might be better off in your bank account.

It’s a very personal opinion but, if you’re looking to invest a chunk of cash, I feel like you need to be seeing a return. Be that in miles or performance.

I don’t think it makes sense to separate into race day and training wheels as wheels are no longer wear items.

Instead, if you have the funds, I’d get a mid-depth wheel (about 45ish mm, think Zipp 303S, 3T Discus 45|32, Enve 45 AR) and a deeper wheel (65 mm or so). They should be sufficiently different from one another so that you can actually feel a difference.

For the record, I have one nice pair of wheels on each of my bikes and that’s it. Carbon wheels by 3T on my road bike and Stans aluminum wheels with XTR hubs on my mountain bike.

For road? Single set.
For CX? I now have a set of aluminum wheels that are beat up (for training) and a carbon set. Carbon will be for gravel early season and CX races in the fall.

Can you explain why?
For rim brake bikes, you had good reason to do that:

  • Rims were literally a wear item, and use = wear. You could literally wear your rims out.
  • Aluminum wheels offers much better braking performance than carbon rims, especially in the wet. So when the weather is so-so, you’d want to be on aluminum rims.
  • There was a significant price difference between cheap aluminum and expensive carbon rims.

All of these points are no longer valid.

  • Rotors are the wear item. They are cheap and easy to replace.
  • Braking performance depends on the rotors and brake pads, not on the rims. Wear does not endanger the integrity of your wheel.
  • Carbon wheels have come down in price significantly. You can get first-tier wheelsets from Zipp and Enve for $1,500ish and cheaper if you opt for second- or third-tier manufacturers.

Like I wrote, if you have money to spend, get a second, deeper wheelset and use that if you are on a flatter course. But honestly, a 45ish mm deep wheel is the goldilocks standard for good reason.


I have 2 sets of disc wheels for my road bike. I have my race day ones which are DTSWISS ARC 1400 62mm deep, then I have a training all round set (alloy with 350 hubs). Reason I have both is then I can have a larger cassette on the training wheels and being alloy I don’t shy from a little gravel here and there (nothing crazy). I found with just the race wheels I was swapping cassettes all the time and that starts to strip the freehub body after a while and I didn’t enjoy replacing them.


Just one wheel set. I hate switching equipment on a race day and not being used to how the bike handles. I want to have confidence in how it performs so you can relax about it and concentrate on the race instead.


I race year round, 6 months of the year I race criteriums on relatively smooth roads, the other 6 months is divided between Kermisse, road and stage racing, the surfaces range from smooth roads to chip and seal to rough patch and potholed roads.

I am looking to find if people actually value having a second set of wheels for varying conditions or if it just over complicates things.

With rim brakes I ran two separate wheel sets, but really ran my race wheels 70% of the time, but when I needed my second set, they were good to have on hand.

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Another reason could be tires: maybe you want to run more robust tires or tires with a bit of tread when you are out for a training ride — asking someone for a ride home sucks. Almost as much as walking home. (Ask me how I know.)

Maybe, but I wouldn’t think of wheelsets in terms of race wheels vs. training wheels. But rather wheelsets with different purposes. Differentiating properties could be wheel depth, cassettes or on-road vs. off-road tires. The other thing is, the more specialized you get, the less good they become under normal circumstances.

I’d probably keep things simple and start out with a single set of nice wheels that are quite versatile, i. e. about 45 mm deep and relatively wide. If you really identify a need for a second pair of wheels, then you could still grab a second pair. And if I needed a spare wheelset for emergencies, I’d probably go for a cheap aluminum wheelset that I’d never use (hopefully).

I’m currently running roval rapides with Turbo cottons for crit season and would like to keep them on for kermisse and road racing in fair conditions. I am contemplating picking up some zipp 303 firecrest for hillier courses, rougher surfaces & rain.

Ideally the rapides would be tubeless then I would just run 26 rapidair in the summer and 28s in the winter.

Currently I don’t have dedicated race wheels and run my hand-built Enve wheel sets all year round. Both are set up tubeless and I have been lucky so far with avoiding flats. In theory I could run the shallower road bike set on the TT bike in very windy conditions but that has yet to happen. On the TT bike I have mounted the notoriously thin walled Vittoria Corsa Speed but being a petite guy even they are holding up nicely even on sub-par roads.

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Although not discs I have a few observations…

  1. I did have a set of race wheels. Spent over £2k on a set of Roval Rapide CLX64. It was the biggest waste of money ever as I hardly got any use out of them. Sold them with my TT bike.

  2. I have two sets of wheels - Zipp 303 and Roval Rapide CLX32. I use them for different circumstance, both racing and training. I use the same “race day” tyres all the time.

  3. I’ve never worn out the brake track on a set of carbon rim brake. My Zipps are 6 years old and the brake track is showing no signs of wear.

  4. There’s lots of hype about crits and crashes. I’ve seen just as many mangled bikes in road races as I have crits.


I will be running two sets of wheels as part of consolidating bikes - now bikes can run larger tires I’ll be able to have a set of wheels with more puncture proof 32s on for year round wet-weather / commuting and another set with GP5ks for weekend riding and racing. It’s all about tire options for me.

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I race gravel and run my Zipp 303 FC’s all the time. My road bike has a set of 404 FC’s that never come off either. Both are Disc and are covered by Zipp’s lifetime warranty so I have no reason to ‘save’ them for race day.

agreed. Crits get a bad rap with crashes. Like you, I’ve also seen just as many damaged bikes and injuries in road races and the fast weekend group ride as I have in crits. There are exceptions; however, road races/group rides have many more variables that are more difficult to control.

For race only wheels, I think there are some good points above to the pros and cons. If you race often as in weekly or every other week it might make sense. It’s absolutely a luxury. As someone who has had dedicated training and racing wheelsets, I feel like there are other cycling related items that are more important to have first - powermeter, nice helmet/shoes/sunglasses/pedals/gps computer, surplus of clothing and team kit for all weather, smart/direct drive trainer.

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Its a first world problem but yes as others have mentioned its really nice to have two for everything mentioned above but also to have race day tires as well and to keep that rubber as fresh as possible.
Having that second set for race day, whether its road, mtb or cx just assures that everything is fresh and ready. The only thing that i try to do is test out the race wheel the week prior especially if they are set up tubeless…you never know what leaks lurk

The worst crashes I have ever seen have been in road races, not crits…