Choosing the Right Wheelset for a Long Course Triathlon

Selecting the right wheelset for a long course triathlon can be a daunting task, given the plethora of options available. This decision will significantly impact your performance and comfort throughout the race, making it a crucial aspect of your race preparation. Here, we'll delve into some considerations to guide you in making an informed choice.

Disc Wheels vs. Spoked Wheels

When deciding on a rear wheel, most riders will find themselves choosing between a disc wheel or a spoked wheel. Each comes with its unique set of advantages and disadvantages, making the choice highly dependent on the nature of the race course and personal preference.

Disc wheels are renowned for their speed — they are faster than conventional spoked wheels when it comes to flat riding and descending. This is largely due to their aerodynamic design, which minimises air resistance, thereby allowing you to maintain higher speeds with less effort.

However, disc wheels carry a small weight penalty, making them less suitable for races that finish at a higher elevation than the start. The additional weight can make ascents more challenging and potentially slow you down. Therefore, if the race involves significant climbing, a spoked wheel might be the better option.

Front Wheel Considerations

Choosing a front wheel involves different considerations, primarily focusing on the wheel's weight and handling in cross-winds. Lighter wheels are generally easier to manoeuvre, which can be advantageous in a race scenario.

Deeper rims, while offering aerodynamic benefits, require more force to manoeuvre from side to side. This could pose a challenge in races with high-speed sections or technical downhill sections, where quick and precise handling is key.

Furthermore, deeper rims are more susceptible to cross-winds, which can affect stability and control. Therefore, if the race course is known for windy conditions, a front wheel with a shallower rim might be a better choice.


Choosing the right wheelset for a long course triathlon involves careful consideration of the race course and your personal riding style. While disc wheels offer speed advantages on flat and descending terrains, their weight penalty can be a drawback on climbing courses. Similarly, while deeper rims provide aerodynamic advantages, their handling in cross-winds and technical sections need to be considered. By understanding these factors, you can make an informed decision and select a wheelset that will help you achieve your best performance on race day.

Remember, every course is different and what works best for one may not work as well for another. So, take the time to test various wheelsets if possible, and find the one that feels right for you. Happy riding!