Tires and wheels are usually going to be one of the first big things you’ll need to repair or replace on your bike. It’s also the one thing that requires the most frequent replacement on your bike.
And although bikes are low maintenance and cost less than maintaining a vehicle. How much does it really cost to replace a bike wheel?
Standard bike wheels can range anywhere from $30 to $100 depending on whether it’s a tire replacement that is needed or an all-new wheel. Some replacements can be up to $400, based on other factors like tire brand, tire material and bike type.
Knowing all the options you have and what the costs are will help you find what is best for you. You’ll need to consider the parts, manual labor, and even warranty options. Read on to learn what you need to look for when buying a replacement wheel.
Should You Replace or Repair Your Bike Wheel?
Before you decide to replace your bike wheel, you’ll need to check if the damage is repairable or if it need to be replaced. Repairing your bike’s wheel is more cost-efficient and will save you money.
Here’s a break down to help you easily decide if it’s a full replacement you need, or just a repair:
|One or two broken spokes.||Multiple spokes continue to break.|
|Tire is worn or torn.||Rim is significantly bent.|
|Nipple is broken.||Sign of significant wear from brakes on the rim.|
|Give/movement in the axle or bearing.||If the tire isn’t able to set properly in the rim.|
|If your axle catches when being turned.||If the rim has rust or eroding parts.|
Sometimes it is easier to replace your wheel instead of spending the time to repair it yourself. And in some cases, you can get a deal for buying a set of wheels rather than just one, so repairing may not always be the best course of action.
Take a holistic approach to deciding whether it’s best to replace or repair, using the above table as a guide only. In addition to this, here are some things to consider before you go ahead and buy a new wheel…
What to Consider When Choosing A New Bike Wheel
There’s essentially 3 things to consider when purchasing a new bike wheel to make sure you’re getting the right one for you:
- The type of bike you have
- The terrain you usually ride in
- Your budget
Let’s talk about each one…
The Type of Bike have
When you are buying a new wheel, step number one is to take your bicycle into consideration. This is important. Here are some things you will need to look at on your bike:
You’ll need to know these things to make sure you’re getting a bike wheel and tire that is right for your bike. Not all brands can use the same products. So, most importantly:
- Make sure the wheel fits your bike’s axle.
- Make sure you buy the right size wheel for your bike.
QUICK TIP: The bike tires and wheels will usually have most of this information written on the actual tire and wheel. So look for the numbers that show their size and type, and make sure they match up with the wheel and tire you’ve chosen.
Once you know that, you can decide whether you are going to go for a straight replacement or an upgrade for durability, speed or performance. These factors will also affect the price you pay, (we’ll get to these later when we talk about your budget).
The Terrain you usually Ride in
The terrain which you plan on riding is a big factor in what tire and wheel you should buy. Different terrains require different products. Someone using their bicycle to get to work does not need the same tire as someone using their bicycle for trail riding and vice versa.
If you prefer to ride your bicycle on trails and all-terrain, then it would be beneficial to get thicker tires with more tread. Not only will this protect your tire from wearing thin quicker, but it will help with traction as you ride.
If you ride your bike mainly on roads or sidewalks, the extra tread will not be necessary. In fact, it can make the ride a little rougher, so opt for something with less tread and a smoother finish.
What is your Budget?
Once you have considered the above sections, you can narrow down your options to price so you can choose something within your budget.
Choosing the Right Material
The material you choose for your wheel will affect the cost. Carbon wheels will be cheaper than alloy wheels or magnesium wheels.
- The most cost-effective wheels to choose are alloy wheels. They are cheaper than magnesium wheels, but they are durable for most conditions.
- Magnesium wheels are for more extreme environments and the cost of being built for those environments can be pretty steep.
But the cost of wheels can’t be attributed to material alone….
Choosing the Right Brand
Some brands may have better material, but sometimes it may just be the label you’re paying for. (With a name brand, you’ll usually pay more). At common supercenter stores, you can get a wheel from around $40 (Wheel Master brand) to over $125 (Imeshbean), but that doesn’t include the tire.
You can also buy locally at a bike shop. This may cost a little more, but they will better help you if you want to find the perfect wheel. Their expertise is bicycles, and they know all the ins and outs.
For more detailed information on the brands I love and recommend, check out my Recommended Gear Section.
Where to Buy a New Bike Wheel
There are many places you can buy a wheel at. Here are a few:
- Local Bike Shops
- Bike Exchange Online
- Other Online Stores
If you go to a supercenter near you, you can get a single wheel anywhere from $30 to $150, excluding the tire. If you have completed the research on your own and you know what you need/want, this may be the cheapest route. But you will have to put the tire onto the wheel yourself.
If you need more assistance, you can go to a local bike shop, and they will not only order the wheels for you but can have them fit it too. You’ll pay for labor, but you’ll have no doubt that you’ve got the right product and the correct installation.
Checking online stores is useful too because you can easily compare the products and the prices.
How Much Does It Cost for An Expert to Fix a Bicycle Tire?
If you decide to get an expert to put it on for you, sometimes it is better to just get a whole entire tune-up. A flat tire can cost as low as $10 in labor, not including the product itself, and upwards to $30.
For an entire tune-up, I have found prices anywhere from $100 to $300, excluding replacement parts. If you are looking at buying from the shop and having them put it on, it can be anywhere from $100 to $400.
If your bicycle is a cheaper brand, it may be easier to buy yourself a new bicycle!
Can I Replace my Bike Wheel Myself at Home?
Replacing your bike wheel is quite simple, and you can learn how to do it on your own. You will just need a few supplies and some patience. This may cost you a little extra money at first, but you will only need to buy these tools once.
TIP: These same tools will also come in handy when needing to fix other bits and bobs on your bike too, such as repairing a broken spoke. Check out my article “How to Repair a Broken Spoke in 5 Easy Steps” for more information.
What you Need to Replace a Bike Wheel yourself at Home
Here’s a list of the tools you will need if you want to do fix it yourself at home. Most of the tools are readily available online and I’ve linked to them in the list in case you’d like to check them out (links take you to Amazon):
Steps to Replacing Your Bicycle Rim
Once you have your supplies, you are ready to replace your new rim. It is a tedious process, but it can be done. It will go something like this:
- Grease spokes.
- Loosen spokes on the old rim.
- Attach new rim to old rim.
- Transfer spokes between rims.
- Tighten spokes.
Here’s a handy video detailing these steps:
NOTE: If you want more training and instruction than a video can provide and you are interested in learning how to maintain and repair your tires, rims, and more, check out a local bicycle mechanic training program.
Places like Appalachian Bicycle Institute teach riders and mechanics alike all the ins and outs of their two-wheeled machine.
How Long Do Bike Wheels Usually Last?
Bike wheels are becoming more sustainable with new technology and designs. If you are making sure to repair your bike when needed and keep it in the best condition, you can last quite a while.
Tires last about an average of 3,000 miles, depending on the terrain. Rims can have a life span of 1,500 miles up to 12,000 miles.
But this really just depends on how the wheels and tires are treated. If an accident occurs, you may need to change the wheel sooner. It’s best to check your bike wheels regularly for wear and tear so you know when the time is coming to replace them.