Marginal Gains Monday – Wheel Performance

Wheels are possibly the most visible performance oriented change you can make to your bike. Unfortunately there seems to be a general assumption that more expensive and/or lighter equals faster.

I’ve also heard athletes quoting outlandish figures for the speed benefits of race wheels and the maxim I mentioned last week – the terrible advice that it is better to put race wheels on a road bike for Ironman than to buy a TT bike. So today I shall look at the impact of wheel choice.

Profile 78/TwentyFour Wheels Review

Profile Design have been beavering away developing new race wheels for the last couple of years. I was fortunate enough to receive one of the first production sets in February prior to the Global release and have spent quite a bit of time on them.

Even better – I’ve got aero data so I can detail exactly how well they perform (because I’m obviously not going to write a review just based on fluffy concepts like ‘feel’).

New Mavic CXR60 Wheels

Following on from the release of the CXR80 wheels Mavic have brought the technology to both a shallower depth and a clincher model. Given that they’re 60mm deep they’ve logically named them the Mavic CXR60. Additionally they’ve released some really interesting supporting data.

So I’m also going to discuss the supporting data as it adds useful information to the body of publicly available knowledge. As well as taking an holistic approach to examining the performance of the wheelsets used in Mavics testing for this project.

Thoughts on the Mavic CXR80

Mavic have long lagged behind the rest of the wheel market on the aerodynamics front, instead coming out with rather dubious ”features” that created some of the slowest high end wheels around.

Some time in the last couple of years someone at Mavic had an epiphany… “our customers want fast wheels!!” (maybe they got tired of bikesnobnyc making fun of them)

Thus, they claim to have spent 400 hours in the wind tunnel in the past year. The new CXR80 wheel/tyre system is a product of this revised focus and has a lot of promising features.

38mm Wheels – Ideal for Novices

For those of you not familiar with cycling grades – Novice refers to the Under 17 age group. For the younger age categories there are restrictions on gearing and equipment. Most notably that they can’t have carbon wheels.

So these are among the fastest wheels that a Novice rider is allowed to use. Not that their use is restricted to that category as they are good speed per dollar for any age.

Hed Jet 9

The Jet 9 (9 referring to the 90mm depth) are the latest take on Heds well proven alloy clincher rims with a carbon fairing. They were one of the pioneers of the re-adoption of wide rims and for 2011 added ‘SCT’ (stability control technology) to the rim shaping to better control crosswind behaviour.

Tony Martin famously used a Jet 9 front in winning the World Champs Time Trial this year, making that rare decision for a pro cyclist, using a clincher instead of a tubular.

Wide Rims?

There has been a lot of excitement about wide rims on road bikes in the last couple of years. Various claims have been made about the advantages of the concept and effusive reviews abound on the web.

For your edification I’ll summarise the claims and offer some history and perspective.