Wheel upgrade from stock wheels

Hi all,

I have a Trek Emonda SL 5 that I purchases a few years ago, and I’m debating upgrading the stock wheels that come with it. I’m mostly looking to improve the ride quality, but also to upgrade the bike a bit as I love it and I’m not quite ready to move on to another bike yet. I’ve been eyeing a pair of carbon wheels from flo cycling, and I do have some aspirations to race eventually, but speed is definitely not the reason I want to upgrade.

My question is this: will I feel a big improvement in the ride quality with a nice pair of carbon wheels over the stock set, or is the carbon upgrade a bit of an overkill here? If its overkill, what would you recommend instead?

Many thanks!

  • I doubt I can answer your main question, but it might help people answer better if you can more clearly define “improve the ride quality”.
    • What are you not liking now or think there is to gain with any different wheel?
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My understanding is that often the stock wheels that come with mid-range bikes are often of lower quality. Perhaps I can rephrase my question as, for those who have upgraded from a stock wheel set, does the bike feel more responsive, smoother, faster etc?

Have you changed the stock tyres and tubes? That’s a great (and slightly cheaper) way to improve ride quality.

I’m loving Challenge Criterium open tubular tyres with latex tubes personally!

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OK, it might help to also know which exact wheels you got on your SL5. If you can share the wheels model, or the year of the bike, we can at least know what you currently have.

As mentioned, tires matter A LOT too. What are you using there? It’s entirely possible to address some issues with a simple and much more affordable tire and tube purchase.

Also, do you have a budget in mind?

I have tried new tyres (GP4000, and Gatorskins because I lived in a VERY gravely area before) and will grab the GP5000 soon.

But for the stock wheels, I believe they are Bontrager TLR (tubeless ready). I can’t find a link to them, but perahps these a comparable (https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/equipment/cycling-components/bike-wheels/road-bike-wheels/bontrager-paradigm-tlr-road-wheel/p/22312/).

I’d be willing to go up to $1400, which is the price of the flo cycling 49 wheelset.

@anthonycanino1 look at The Boyd line up for some great value and quality.

Whether carbon is worth it compared to your aluminum wheels is not my debate. There is more to a good wheel than just carbon v. aluminum. Hub/bearings, spoke/build, rim width and depth all have their place in how a wheel feels and performs. Good luck!

Find some Aeolus 5 wheels used. I’ve had mine for a few years now and they ride great, stay true, good brake surface etc. I broke a rear spoke last year but otherwise they’re perfect and can be had for your budget. Mine are made in the USA and the PRO are made in Taiwan. I’d trust either over FLO. Boyd also makes some nice carbon hoops if you’re open to it

Don’t underestimate the placebo effect. Get some wheels that make your book like fast and make you smile when you look at them. I stuck some Carbon 50s from a local wheelbuilder on my CAAD12. I swear I gained a couple of mph just from feeling positive!

After the Twilight Zone that was 2020 (with no end in sight for 2021) treat yourself to some new wheels.

Unless you need to sell body parts or children to pay for them then there is no downside to getting new wheels.

I have an S6 and upgraded to an RXL Al set when I bought the bike. I don’t know that I could feel a huge difference until I changed the tires. On another bike I switch between ARC 1400s and P1800s and notice little difference at normal speeds with the same tires. I do feel like the carbon wheels dampen some road vibration a little more but not much.

My completely generic bike advice, not specific to your situation at all, is that buying new wheels is a great way to upgrade your bike. Wheels make you go faster and are a good off-year upgrade.

Whether or not its worth the money will completely depend on your financial situation and the specific wheels involved