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Upgrade wheels or new bike?

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Upgrade wheels or new bike?

Old 03-28-21, 03:05 PM
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bigevil
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Upgrade wheels or new bike?

Question for you fine folk

I'm currently riding a Trek Checkpoint SL6 with two sets of the stock bontrager paradigm comp 25 wheels (one with 40mm tires/ 11-40 XT cassette for gravel, the other with 32mm tires/11-34 ultegra cassette for road). When I bought the bike I thought I'd be 50/50 Gravel but I'm spending much more time on tarmac (nearly 90%) and wondering if it's worth upgrading the road wheelset or is that money wasted and I need to be looking at a dedicated road bike. Obviously its not totally apples to apples as a pretty damn nice wheelset can be $1-2k and the kind of road bike I'd love is closer to $6-9k.... but just don't want to spend the money if I won't really see any improvements.

I ride 3x week in the 20-40mi ride ranges. No ambitions to chase KOMs or even race yet but Iím slowly starting to understand the potential limitations of my current setup (note my skill level is likely the biggest limitation atm!)

have my eyes on the Zipp 303S or Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37v


thanks in advance for any tips!

Last edited by bigevil; 03-28-21 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 03-28-21, 03:26 PM
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To me your bike really is close to a real road bike but you want to spend $1300 in Zips and more. To me that is just money to burn and you could buy a standard set of AL clinchers that would work as well for $500 and get a nice set. They will be almost a good as the ZIPS given you don't have a true road bike as such. You current situations does not have any limitations unless you go straight to road riding exclusively and in that case you don't need to spend $6-9K to to get a super ride. You could a Lynskey Ti for much less and it will perform as well, or many other CF options not needed to go near $6k.To me the diminishing returns for mortals who are not pro's is about $4k. but maybe as low at $3200.
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Old 03-28-21, 05:46 PM
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What kind of improvements are you hoping to get out of a new wheelset? Zipp 303's are awesome, but they aren't going to turn your Checkpoint into a road race bike.
Zipps will be lighter and more aero. You'll definitely feel the weight loss on climbs and accelerating, but the aero may not be as big of a benefit on a bike like the Checkpoint. If you are chasing aero gains, you should run 28mm tires on either of those Zipp wheelsets, which is the tire size they are optimized for.

Personally I'd probably not worry about the aero as much, which would then make a lightweight aluminum set more appealing. For $700-$900 you can get something like HED Belgium rims, CX-Rays and fancy hubs from Industry 9, White Industries, or spend a bit more and get some Chris Kings, etc. You'll have a 1600g (ish) wheelset that will be pretty bombproof and have fast hubs that will last a lifetime. I have no idea what your stock wheels are like, so this may not be much of an improvement over what you've got.

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Old 03-28-21, 06:12 PM
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Both options consist of spending a lot of money so ofc either one will result in dramatic performance gains
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Old 03-28-21, 06:22 PM
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ok that's actually quite helpful. Will start researching those options too. Yes, EOD I won't be able to use wheels to turn this into an aero racer, but I do feel like the stock wheels/tires I've got on it leave room for improvement atm. Are you saying that because the bike is ultimately not Aero, I'm really only looking for weight benefits ? at 123lbs I'll take any weight cuts I can get because while 400grams might seem like nada to most, to me when climbing on tarmac it does actually make quite a difference. thx again deacon/msu.
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Old 03-29-21, 06:57 AM
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I have Zipp 303S - they're awesome. If you're not completely sold on tubeless, then I'd do the Aeolus. At the same time, the stock wheels on your Checkpoint are pigs (I had the same wheels on my Domane), so the change to either of these wheelsets with some modern 28mm tires will be very, very noticeable. It's not going to turn your Checkpoint in to a Madone, mind you, but it'll be a marked difference. Also, unless you go for a high-spec trim (typically Ultegra Di2 or better) when you eventually do get a dedicated road bike, it's still going to come with what I would call "place-keeper" wheels, and the 303S/Aeolus will not go to waste - pop 'em on and ride.
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Old 03-29-21, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bigevil View Post
ok that's actually quite helpful. Will start researching those options too. Yes, EOD I won't be able to use wheels to turn this into an aero racer, but I do feel like the stock wheels/tires I've got on it leave room for improvement atm. Are you saying that because the bike is ultimately not Aero, I'm really only looking for weight benefits ? at 123lbs I'll take any weight cuts I can get because while 400grams might seem like nada to most, to me when climbing on tarmac it does actually make quite a difference. thx again deacon/msu.

Zipp 303 Firecrest is a great wheelset. It's got that magic combo of being both light and aerodynamic, but it comes at a big cost. I think they're around 1400g and $1900. Really no downsides other than high cost.

The 303S is more affordable at $1300, and still provides lots of aero, but 1600g weight is more or less on-par with an aluminum rim wheelset. This also looks like a great wheelset, but nothing special in terms of weight. They're light, but not really any lighter than alloy wheelsets that are $600-$900. The primary benefit is aero.

I think aero benefits on a gravel bike will be diminished, considering the frame isn't particularly aero. That's not to say it's not "worth it". It all depends on what you are trying to achieve, and as WhyFi noted you can take these wheels to a future road bike if you want, so it's not as if they would be wasted.

If it were my money I'd be focusing more on dropping weight and other aspects (rim width, tire compatibility, hub performance, etc) and not worry about aero. If the extra few hundred bucks is no big deal, I'm sure you'd be very happy riding the Zipps, plus they look really cool.
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Old 03-29-21, 08:29 AM
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thanks much! thats exactly what I was looking to hear and super helpful.
appreciate you
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Old 03-29-21, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
The 303S is more affordable at $1300, and still provides lots of aero, but 1600g weight is more or less on-par with an aluminum rim wheelset.
Hey now - don't go cheating me out out those hard-earned grams! The 303S are 1530-1550g and they'd be significantly lighter than aluminum in a comparable depth and width.
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Old 03-29-21, 12:34 PM
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You'll get something out of going with a better wheelset, but how much for the money spent? If you aren't at peak fitness you might not even be able to tell the difference. Ride your bike a few thousand more miles. Maybe put 28 mm slicks on it if the rims will handle that. If you don't have a gps/cyclometer, then get one and keep meticulous data. Then get your new wheels and again keep meticulous data, let us know what the difference is for your six best times for the same route with each set of wheels.
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Old 03-29-21, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If you aren't at peak fitness you might not even be able to tell the difference.
Oh stop. This is all an extension of the "unless you're ________, you don't deserve/wouldn't take advantage of __________." It's baloney. He might not immediately see ride times that clearly rise above the noise of variation, but going from his 2kg pigs to a 1500g, wide wheelset will definitely feel more lively and surefooted and make things a heck of a lot more fun - the kinds of things that get you on your bike more often and encourage you to improve.
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Old 03-29-21, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Oh stop. This is all an extension of the "unless you're ________, you don't deserve/wouldn't take advantage of __________." It's baloney. He might not immediately see ride times that clearly rise above the noise of variation, but going from his 2kg pigs to a 1500g, wide wheelset will definitely feel more lively and surefooted and make things a heck of a lot more fun - the kinds of things that get you on your bike more often and encourage you to improve.
Maybe, it's kind of like that.

It seems that just changing tires will get the OP most of what is wanted without spending the money. And more so I'd just like for the OP to do an experiment and really tell us what the results are.

If the OP already has the fitness and the data, then by all means if they have the money to spend on them, then do so. But comparing a 40mm tire to a 25, 28, or whatever other size tire on a new wheel set might hide where the majority of the benefits come from.

by peak fitness.... yeah probably a bad way to phrase it. I was more trying to say that if the OP was only a noob to cycling, their fitness level will be increasing with every ride. So if their level of fitness hasn't evened out, that increasing fitness will make some of the data collected hard to compare. But there might be some over thinking with that too.

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Old 03-29-21, 01:08 PM
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lmfao, I've never felt I've had to justify wanting to upgrade wheels so badly! I'm already self conscious enough as a newcomer to the sport !
that said the points are all very well taken and appreciated. I'm not a pro, and I'd prefer not to set money on fire for no gains.

I don't think I need to drop $2k but the stock wheels on my checkpoint leave more to desire. I've got the power meter/GPS unit and am building FTP and times each week atm and throwing some good road wheels felt like a solid natural progression (like the 303s or Aeolus). My original inquiry was whether that's wasted on my checkpoint or worthwhile. If it's a total waste and moot, then I'll just wait a few months and go for a dedicated road bike when I've saved some more $, but I thought it might be the perfect middle ground since I could eventually throw these on a road bike purchase and also see if I can some performance benefits in meantime!
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Old 03-29-21, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
But there might be some over thinking with that too.
Yup.
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Old 03-29-21, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by bigevil View Post
If it's a total waste and moot, then I'll just wait a few months and go for a dedicated road bike when I've saved some more $, but I thought it might be the perfect middle ground since I could eventually throw these on a road bike purchase and also see if I can some performance benefits in meantime!
It would not be, in any way, shape or form, a total waste.

What I would do is consider where you think you might want to be down the line -

If you're the kind of person that's going to be all "Di2 or nothing!!!" with regard to a road bike... then maybe you keep the money in-pocket to get you there sooner, because bikes trimmed in Di2 tend to have pretty nice wheels.

On the other hand, if you would be perfectly happy with mechanical Ultegra or 105, I would pop for the wheels now. You'll get the benefit of having and enjoying them immediately, and most mechanical Ultegra bikes (and all 105 bikes, that I'm aware of) have place-keeper wheels, anyway. Basically, you'd be looking ~$1300 for the wheels and $2500+ for the bike (you can find some really nice Ultegra bikes, with place-keeper wheels, in the $3-3.5k range).

And, if nothing else, these wide rims, particularly the hookless ones, would be awesome to keep on a dedicated gravel rig.
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Old 03-29-21, 01:28 PM
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If I were riding 20-40 road miles 3x a week, it wouldn't be on a checkpoint. Get another bike that suits the kind of riding you like to do.
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Old 03-29-21, 01:42 PM
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all very helpful.

Yes sadly I am "that" guy for when I do pull the trigger on a dedicated road bike I might want wireless. Meaning if I'm going to buy a separate road bike might as well go for it, as my checkpoint seems pretty close to a domane atm for someone of my skill level.

My ultimate goal would be to make the checkpoint a fully dedicated gravel boss on 40mm tubeless and even eventually switch it to 1x, and then have a blazing lightweight road bike optimized for my eventual 50mi+ rides on tarmac, climbing all up in the socal mountains etc. etc.

The one thing is that If I do buy some nice wheels now like 303s or Aeolus and eventually get a road bike that comes loaded to the tits, I could also just throw these upgrade wheels on my checkpoint for even more fun gravel rides~

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Old 03-29-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
If I were riding 20-40 road miles 3x a week, it wouldn't be on a checkpoint. Get another bike that suits the kind of riding you like to do.
I think this pretty much sums it up. Even though a good disc wheelset will most likely be compatible with a new bike, a new bike that is dedicated for road riding is better for road riding.
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Old 03-29-21, 04:46 PM
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Iím of the opinion that the best money spent on upgrading any off the shelf bike is on the wheels. I donít understand the reasoning why but the wheel sets tend to be lower quality than say the group sets on most bikes. YMMV.

I upgraded my rear wheel and cassette on my 13 year old bike and it is amazing how much nicer it rides. (I bought a new Bitex hub and spokes and rebuilt the Mavic Open Pro rim the bike came with. Got a used Dura Ace cassette and now the rear wheel is waaaaaaay lighter and stiffer)
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Old 03-29-21, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
If I were riding 20-40 road miles 3x a week, it wouldn't be on a checkpoint. Get another bike that suits the kind of riding you like to do.
Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
I think this pretty much sums it up. Even though a good disc wheelset will most likely be compatible with a new bike, a new bike that is dedicated for road riding is better for road riding.
The Checkpoint is a gravel bike. Gravel bikes are road bikes, (generally) very closely related to endurance bikes. Therefore, the transitive property says that the Checkpoint is a road bike.

A 56cm Checkpoint is actually a hair lower and a a hair longer than a 56cm Domane. Rake and trail is the same, wheelbase is within a cm, etc, etc. I wouldn't argue that putting nice wheels on a Domane is dumb - hell, I did that myself two years ago - so I don't know why it'd be dumb to do so on a Checkpoint.

You put nice wheels and slicks on a Checkpoint and you have a burly road bike with a gap-toothed smile. Nothing wrong with that until he gets a bike that looks faster (but in reality is only a hair faster).
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Old 03-29-21, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
The Checkpoint is a gravel bike. Gravel bikes are road bikes, (generally) very closely related to endurance bikes. Therefore, the transitive property says that the Checkpoint is a road bike.

A 56cm Checkpoint is actually a hair lower and a a hair longer than a 56cm Domane. Rake and trail is the same, wheelbase is within a cm, etc, etc. I wouldn't argue that putting nice wheels on a Domane is dumb - hell, I did that myself two years ago - so I don't know why it'd be dumb to do so on a Checkpoint.

You put nice wheels and slicks on a Checkpoint and you have a burly road bike with a gap-toothed smile. Nothing wrong with that until he gets a bike that looks faster (but in reality is only a hair faster).
Good point. From the side, the Checkpoint has a more aggressive / race geometry than the Domane.
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Old 03-29-21, 06:34 PM
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I have nice wheels on a gravelish bike. Works great.
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Old 03-29-21, 06:38 PM
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Yea my thoughts were that it’s so close to a domane that maybe great wheels and 28mm tires might make for a perfect bridging the gap on tarmac until I can afford one of those 15lb savings account killers !
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Old 03-29-21, 07:17 PM
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If I were riding 20-40 road miles 3x a week, it wouldn't be on a domane either. Why would I need endurance geometry for <3 hour bike ride? I'd get a super-light climbing bike. There are big hills in Southern California.

In any case, this isn't an either/or question. You should get a super light climbing bike AND another set of wheels for your gravel bike. The only question is really the order of operations.
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Old 03-29-21, 07:34 PM
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that’s my thinking !!
since an ultralight climber seems like it’s gonna be $$$$ I figured I’d start with wheels for the checkpoint !
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