Although they're a bit arduous to accelerate, the Shimano RS500 wheels maintain their rolling speed well and have the added bonus of being tubeless ready.
New for 2019, the Shimano RS500 wheelset sits neatly in the Shimano Ultegra range and at 24mm deep they're a great depth for winter riding.
It's not just their shallow depth that makes them suitable for long grubby rides, though; the fact they're tubeless ready is a real benefit for those trying to avoid punctures and delays on colder days in the saddle.
Riding the wheels with Vittoria Corsa Speed tyres highlighted the narrow tyre profile. With an external rim width of 20mm, the tyres don't sit particularly wide, but Vittoria's are narrow tyres anyway (and very unlikely winter tyres!)
The wheels remained true across my rides despite the low spoke count of 16 on the front and 20 on the rear. This also helps keep the weight down although it felt like it affected the wheels acceleration. Once they're up to speed, however, the RS500 wheels rolled along nicely, maintaining a steady 30kmh without much effort – something that's very important on long training rides.
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I put the wheels in my Bianchi Specialissima, admittedly not a usual winter bike but one that shows up inefficiencies or a lack of stiffness in wheels due to its performance frame. I didn't notice any flex when working hard out the saddle but I did notice that the wheels slowed the handling of my Bianchi, especially at slow speeds and I felt like I wasn't able to hug corners quite as tightly. Being used to the lightening handling of the Bianchi the change came as a bit of surprise and had me running one corner in Richmond Park wide.
The rim braking is as you'd expect for a wheel at the this price point. It was always going to be a big jump moving from disc brakes to rim brakes and there was definitely less braking force but aluminium braking has always been good enough and I'd take that over carbon rims, especially in the wet, any day.
Happily, the braking didn't diminish much further in the rain and the aluminium braking tract handled the grit and mud well.
A solid wheel for most of your riding needs, but the price and relatively slow handling against its rivals around this price point marks the Shimano RS500 down a few points overall.
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