Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team$745 1 of 6
While well regarded for their excellent tubeless sealants, Stan's NoTubes has a great wheel lineup, too. The Grail Team is a rock-solid wheelset whose capabilities cross multiple disciplines. You can use this wheelset on your next weekend group ride, cyclocross race or a cruise through the gravel. Though constructed from aluminum with a 24mm outside width, we found them to be surprisingly light (460 grams apiece, rims only) and responsive for such a sturdy rim.
The price intrigued us even more than its versatility. At just $745, this is one of the best all-around wheels you can scoop up for under $1,000. Used with a 25mm road slick, they're smooth, comfortable and on par with more standard road offerings. Pair them with a knobby cyclocross tire, and you've got a light, rugged wheel ready for a variety of terrain.
And if you're looking to mix and match, the hubs will easily switch over to a variety of axle standards. As with all Stan's wheels, these are also tubeless-ready and easy to set up.
Mavic Ksyrium Elite$696 2 of 6
The Ksyrium Elite remain a popular option for a basic wheel upgrade, but they weren't our favorite of the bunch.
While they offer some bang-for-your buck and a low claimed weight of 1,550 grams, they feel a bit heavy on the bike for a wheel offering little to no aerodynamic benefits. They also aren't as bombproof as other wheels we've tested, so we'd hesitate to recommend this set for venturing off-road.
The Elites do, however, have a wider rim surface than previous iterations, with an internal rim width of 17mm. While this does improve overall comfort if used with the recommended 25mm tire, they still feel a bit sluggish getting up to top speed. On a positive note, you can lower the air pressure about 20 psi without your performance taking too much of a hit.
Reynolds 58 Aero$2,775 3 of 6
If budget isn't a primary concern, you'll want to give this set from Reynolds a closer look.
Like the name suggests, you'll get a carbon rim with a 58mm profile and an enormous 26mm external width. While these aerodynamic and rolling-resistance benefits beef up the weight to 1,580 grams for the set, these additional grams won't be an issue unless you're tackling serious gradients.
In most conditions, these wheels absolutely fly. Deeper rim profiles are notoriously bad in crosswinds, yet this set has struck a perfect balance in terms of performance and stability when riding in less-than-perfect conditions. They're also exceptionally fast at getting up to cruising speed, and the wide rim makes them comfortable for distances well over the 100-mile mark. For an all-out racing wheel that's also suitable for time trials and triathlons, it isn't going to get much better.
Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 C24$1,088 4 of 6
The pro peloton has long adored the Zipp's Firecrest 202 clincher for its lightweight performance in the mountains. While these high performers will set you back north of $2,000, the Dura-Ace 9000 offers a similar level of performance for about half the price.
By increasing the rim width to 20.8mm, Shimano has followed current industry trends that favor comfort and aerodynamics, but managed to keep the overall weight low at a mere 1,428 grams for the set. We should also note that a majority of the wheel's weight comes near the hubs, keeping rotational weight to a minimum. This aids overall performance and makes the set feel lighter on the bike than other wheels in the same category.
The wheelset proves plenty capable on long, steep climbs, but that doesn't mean you won't get other benefits, too. The Dura-Ace 9000 utilizes two different rim depths (21mm for front, 23mm for the rear) and wide hub flanges to improve aerodynamics, stability in crosswinds and lateral rigidity--the latter being important for power transfer during all-out efforts.
Vittoria Fraxion$1,900 5 of 6
The cycling world is abuzz after tire giant Vittoria recently released a new line of wheels. While the Fraxion, made from carbon and alloy, is the line's mid-tier selection, you'll still get some of the stiffness and lateral strength of carbon wheels with the benefit of an alloy braking surface. But if you're trying to save weight, the alloy material won't do you any favors.
While there's nothing specific to makes these wheels stand out, they do just about everything pretty well. The 45mm front and 50mm rear rim depths make them aerodynamic enough for racing or time trials, while the build and 23mm external rim depth make them comfortable and durable enough for everyday training. These details make the Fraxion a solid, all-around wheelset for anyone looking to train and race on the same wheel. The only thing we don't like is the price, which puts this set too close to the all-carbon category.