The somewhat clumsily named Shimano WH-RS710-C46-TL wheelset is the first carbon wheelset to be offered alongside the Japanese brand’s 105-level groupset.
Immediately, this conjures an idea of value for money. After all, Shimano 105 has, for the past decade or so, been the standard setter when it comes to groupset bang-for-buck.
On paper, the specs are enticing enough. With the same rim design as its pricier Ultegra and Dura-Ace wheelset siblings, but costing near enough £1,000, many will see the WH-RS710-C46-TL as a great-value entry point to carbon wheel performance.
In short, I’ve found that’s exactly what this wheelset offers: no-frills performance that, albeit unspectacular, will tick the boxes for many riders wanting to scratch their itch for carbon.
Shimano WH-RS710-C46-TL carbon wheelset details and specifications
The RS710-C46 wheelset takes the same rim profile from its higher-spec Ultegra and Dura-Ace offerings.
It’s classic Shimano to produce one design that then gets fed down the range with its products. You probably know it as ‘trickle-down’ technology, but it makes sense for the brand to make products this way, because the R&D costs are naturally reduced.
The Japanese brand prices the wheels at a couple of pennies shy of £1,000, putting them firmly in the value-for-money carbon wheelset category.
For that money, you get a 46mm-deep rim profile, with a 21mm-wide internal rim bed (28mm external).
There’s also a shallower 32mm-deep version (WH-RS710-C32-TL) available.
The rim width is on the money for a modern road-going performance carbon wheelset, with Shimano claiming it’s ideal for tyres ranging from 700 x 25-32c.
One could argue that it doesn’t push the boundaries of wheelset design, given that many riders (in this day and age) may want to blend top aero performance with wider tyres.
By comparison, Reynolds’ excellent ATRx all-road wheelset features an internal rim width of 23mm, while Hunt’s 48 Limitless profile hits 22.5mm internally despite being targeted firmly for the road.
Even the £900 Prime Primavera 32 road wheelset measures 23mm internally, demonstrating how wider designs are fast becoming the norm.
The rim is hooked for full compatibility across clincher and tubeless setups, and comes tubeless-ready with rim tape and valves fitted.
Externally, the rims cut a slightly angular shape – not as sharply profiled as the Corima Essentia 40 wheelset, but noticeably pointer at the trailing edge than either the ATRx or 48 Limitless wheels.
Theoretically, this could benefit aero performance in calmer conditions, but it might also cause a degree of twitchiness when crosswinds pick up (more on this to come).
Shimano says the rims feature a slightly heavier carbon layup compared to its Ultegra and Dura-Ace siblings.
24 bladed steel spokes lace to the rim via alloy nipples both front and rear, while the freehub uses a pawl ratchet system. Shimano shies away from stating specific engagement angles.
The wheelset spins on steel cup and cone bearings, which have been chosen to aid easier servicing.
On the scales, the RS710-C46 wheelset weighs 1,613g (722g front, 891g rear). That’s just 1g more than claimed with rim tape, but doesn’t include the tubeless valves, which are 11g apiece for a 1,635g total.
Shimano doesn’t offer a crash replacement policy, which is a shame given the size of the organisation. That said, such policies are (often, but not exclusively) the preserve of so-called ‘premium’ brands.
Shimano WH-RS710-C46-TL carbon wheelset performance
Setting up the RS710-C46 wheelset proved easy, with my 28c Pirelli P-Zero Race 4S clincher tyres and tubeless 28c Continental GP5000 S TR tyres both fitting with relative ease.
The P-Zeros slipped on without the need for tyre levers – for me and my slender, long-fingered hands, that’s a rarity.
I only needed a single lever to pry the final part of the GP5000 S TR’s slightly thicker bead over the rim.
I was able to seat the tubeless tyres with some fast pumping action from my cheap Lifeline track pump. I managed this on the first try on the rear wheel, while the front took a second attempt to work out a stubborn section that refused to pop into place.
That’s likely down to my clumsy installation technique, rather than the wheelset itself.
Both tyres inflated to 28mm wide at 75psi / 5.1 bar.
For the majority of testing, I relied on my currently preferred clincher setup with the Pirelli tyres.
On the road, performance was good without ever really positively surprising me.
The 46mm-deep rims are quick enough in still conditions, and offer a big upgrade over stock, shallow alloy rims.
Roll up to around 40kph, and the RS710-C46 wheelset feels as though it carves through the air efficiently. After that, things start to get harder (in my experience, the best aero wheelsets tend to hit this point a few kph later).
When the wind picks up, you can feel the air impacting and detaching from the slightly angular rim.
A few times, I had to brace more than I’d ideally like when passing a gap in hedgerows, but soon got used to the sensation in those conditions.
As Roval has claimed in the past, these hesitations, corrections and counter-corrections are said to compromise speed and efficiency – I find that hard to argue with here.
That said, I never felt unsafe, and have happily continued to use the wheelset for general riding as well as some commutes.
When I rode aggressively uphill, the RS710-C46 gave back plenty.
The total weight of the wheelset means that when things get steep (from around 8 per cent gradient), you can feel the mass beneath you compared to lighter wheelsets.
But aside from this, especially when seated and climbing steadier gradients at higher speeds, they’re plenty satisfying enough.
The freehub mechanism engages solidly, albeit I think it’s a touch slower to pick up than any of the wheelsets I’ve compared it to so far.
Each of those wheelsets is significantly more expensive (in the region of £300 to £500 dearer). So, to a degree, you get what you pay for here.
However, Hunt’s 54 Aerodynamicist wheelset – which is one of the best-value aero carbon wheelsets we’ve come across in recent years, and £130 cheaper – can outstrip the RS710-C46 in terms of engagement rapidness when the hammer goes down.
It can also trump it for weight and depth, albeit the Hunt wheelset’s internal width of 20mm is narrower (marginally).
When descending, the RS710 C46 wheelset offers lots of predictability and, through my preferred tyre setup, transmits decent feedback too.
This builds confidence, and although a wider rim profile would naturally bring broader tyre widths, potentially lower optimal running pressures and greater ultimate grip, the platform is sound.
I found myself able to pick a line, safe in the knowledge that (unless the conditions were particularly windy, as I’ve mentioned) the wheels would carve where I intended them to go.
Longer rides highlight the relative narrowness of the rims (and resulting width of the tyres). Although the RS710-C46s provided adequate comfort and road-buzz reducing qualities, there are more comfortable, smoother-riding wheelsets available.
In that regard, I’d still probably lean towards an all-road wheelset, such as the Reynolds ATRx – but bear in mind those hoops cost 50 per cent more.
In testing, the RS710-C46 wheelset has given me no cause for concern when it comes to reliability or build quality.
It spins true and without any noticeable kinks, and the recent mix of cold and wet conditions the UK has had to fend off hasn’t compromised the hubs.
Naturally, my limited time with the wheels couldn’t test their ultimate longevity, but it should be viewed as a positive that they come with bearings that can be replaced easily.
Shimano is one of the few brands practically every bike shop will be familiar with and able to source components from. Importantly, from a value point of view, doing so should be relatively inexpensive compared to more exotic designs.
Shimano WH-RS710-C46-TL carbon wheelset bottom line
When it comes to value for money, the Shimano R710-C46 wheelset offers solid performance, and is a suitable option for anyone looking to dip their toes into carbon wheelset performance.
The price is keen, and although there are some alternatives that can arguably offer even greater value for money depending on your riding goal, the R710-C46 wheelset will be a solid buy for many.
I can also understand that there is a perception of quality that accompanies the Shimano brand, which (quite fairly, generally speaking) it has earned over the years with its groupsets. My test period would seem to bear this out.
That said, while overall performance is satisfactory, the RS710-C46’s occasional tendency to twitch in stronger crosswinds is a slight low point. Depending on your perspective, you may also find them slightly dull to ride too.
However, this shouldn’t detract heavily from what is, fundamentally, a good-value carbon wheelset.