Shimano RS20 wheelset £79.99 front, £99.99 rear
With a recent price rise of £20 per pair these are not quite as budget as they were, but inexpensive they undoubtedly remain. The price includes Shimano’s excellent skewers and two aluminium spoke keys, useful since they are slightly oversized should the red-anodised aluminium alloy nipples need a tweak.
The structural layout follows the current Shimano road pattern. Spokes are all straight pull, butted and bladed stainless steel, 16 radial at the front and 20 tangent at the rear, both sides laced into a rim with offset spoke holes to balance spoke tension.
Hub design is also identical to that of the more expensive current Shimano wheels with an angular appearance and wide flange spacing for lateral stiffness.
The hubs are finished to a high polish, the 24mm semi-deep section aluminium rims receiving a satin brush effect. Cup and cone hub internals with labyrinth shielding and contact seals are to Tiagra spec and spin freely albeit without the absolute smoothness of the company’s top end bearings.
As delivered the RS20s show good spoke tension and, in the case of the front wheel, excellent radial and axial truth and dish. The rear required a small tweak to a couple of drive side spokes to get decent axial truth and to align the bladed section of the errant spoke.
Although not especially light due mainly to the low-end freehub body and internals, the wheels feel responsive and free-running thanks to the effective power transfer of the all-tangent rear wheel, high spoke tension and use of bladed spokes. Combine this with pleasing looks and a finish that should shrug off winter road gunge – at least for a while – and the RS20 wheelset rates as an entry-level or training wheelset also fit for sportive or competition use.