Aspen Times Weekly: Best urban biking wheels? |

Aspen Times Weekly: Best urban biking wheels?

by stephen regenold


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It’s been a long road to ride since 2012, when one August day I unboxed a set of wheels and attached them to a bike frame. Fast-forward 10,000 miles — yes, that is my estimate of distance put down after almost four years on the bike — and the wheels are still going strong.

Tires have come and gone. Parts have changed, and I even swapped in a new frame after a crack formed on the bottom bracket on the original. But the wheels, Mavic’s Ellipse Track model, have remained true.

The aluminum alloy wheels are sold for track racers and urban riders who bike fixed-gear or singlespeed. I roll them almost year-round, commuting, training, and racing occasional alley cats and other events in Minneapolis and beyond.

At about $450 for the pair, the Ellipse Track wheels are marketed as a mid-range set. (High-end wheels easily go for $1,000 and much more.) Beginner or intermediate track racers are candidate, as well as urban bikers who want fast, do-all wheels.

An aerodynamic build, including a 30mm deep rim profile and low-count, bladed steel spokes, helps the wheels cut through wind.

At about 1,900 grams per pair, they are lightweight for their price. I have certainly ridden lighter wheels, but the Ellipse Tracks feel fast — they accelerate with ease, and they course up hills.

Mavic touts “high-efficiency cartridge bearings” in the hubs. In my multi-year review, the efficiency has shown, as well as the hubs’ durability. Basically, the wheels spin as smooth as they did on day one, no service needed and not a single spoke loose despite much abuse.

The Ellipse Track wheels come with a “flip-flop” rear hub, threaded for either a fixed-gear or a freewheel on back. The rims fit tires size 21 to 28 mm, giving a range from super skinny to “fat enough to absorb some bumps.”

If you race on a velodrome, you likely already know about these wheels; they are among the most popular sub-$1,000 set for track racing. For anyone else, if you ride singlespeed or fixed and need a durable, fast set of spinners, look at the Ellipse for the full package.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at

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