Sorry, this might be a long rambling rant...
So, everyone* says the best thing to do to a road bike is upgrade the wheelset.
(*apparently, apart from maybe Grant Petersen from Rivbike)
Makes sense, my roadie's OEM wheels are probably about 2000g (estimated) so there is a good chunk of weight that can be lost.
They do however have a vague semblance of aero (30mm classic v shape, but lots of spokes - 28/32 - to eggbeat around). And they have narrow flanges in the rear that allow some flex.
The more informed (by my opinion) sources suggest that aero is what actually makes you faster, as compared to weight. Though this is of small magnitude overall (given I'm not racing or anything serious. In fact I rarely ride this bike enough to justify any mods...) And of course any aero improvements are usually benchmarked against some horrible square profile rim, which is kind of meaningless as that is not my starting point. It's hard to know how much difference there is between one 30mm rim and another, or whether a 30 is much different to a 35...
Though I would guess that decreasing the weight gives a bigger perception of improvement - you can notice the reduced mass when accelerating or climbing, but you don't so much notice (except against a time trial clock) whether you're doing 30 or 30.5 kmh due to a small aero improvement...
It wouldn't be such an issue if either I had a big Scrooge McDuck pile of money, or they only had 4 options on the market to choose from. But I don't, and they don't, and there are literally hundreds of options.
Then on top of just weight-vs-aero, there is a alloy-vs-carbon-vs-alloy/carbon, and big-brand-vs-chinese-no-name. It's all too bloody confusing.
* Do I go for a similar aero-ish profile rim in a lighter configuration? (eg Prolite Bracciano A27)
* DO I go for a poorer aero rim in a much lighter weight?
* Do I go for a somewhat-lighter and slightly-more-aero wheel? (eg FLO 30)
* Do I go for a nearly-as-heavy but much deeper rim (that may have other drawbacks like crosswind issues, and cost more)
* Do I take the risk on a light carbon Chinese wheel with questionable quality and questionable braking performance (though this is my fair-weather-only bike)?
* Or do I just shut up and ride my current wheels and be happy?
To whit: is it worth upgrading wheels on a budget (say $600), if the gains are questionable?
PS: First person to tell me to lose body weight gets a shoe up the date. I'm 185cm and 70 kg. I have a body like Chris Froome (the upper body anyway). At least I shouldn't have issues with light wheels or low spoke counts...
I'm unclear what your priorities are. If racing isn't the objective, but the current wheels are not meeting what ever your needs are, then why not plug for something reliable and strong and will take what you throw at them on our fabulous roads?
I'd be inclined to have a really nice set of wheels made that will last you for years.
Upgrading the wheels on my bike was the best thing I ever did. But mine were old, fat and very heavy... more like 2kg each! lol With fat tires they were hard to push and didn't roll well.
I just bought some cheap alex racing wheels on sale from CRC for may $150 or so. My bike is faster, easier to push and rolls super fast compared to before. Love it.
^^^ this. You already have good wheels. Enjoy. I upgraded mine because the old ones made me feel like not riding.
No really in my opinion. If I was spending $600, I would be wanting a significant upgrade.
But it depends on what you want from your new wheels?
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To an extent, so am I, hence the confusion. Beyond the concept that wheel upgrades are a "good thing", I have a history of upgraditis, and that I know I could without too great expense remove close to a kilo from my bike by changing the wheels and tyres (it's about 10kg now).
And more fasts! want want want! need all the help I can get...
so basically the query is: for a limited budget, what all-around-use wheelset gives the best bang for bucks?
Which I suspect the original wheels will do just fine.
Time to shut up and ride I think...
Stiff, strong, light wheels on good bearings are a thing of wonder. They probably won't make you faster but they will make the experience more enjoyable...and therefore better. And who wouldn't want that?
Personally, I wouldn't want to spend 600 on wheels for a bike not often ridden. Great bang for buck if you spend roughly half that. I bought fulcrum quattro's for about 320 locally and they're OK for everything on a roadie or cx but there's tonnes of others. If you want to go custom and spend under 600 then I'd get a white industries rear hub, sealed bearing Novatec front hub and plain Jane alloy rims like velocity a23s or one of the alex rims and get em built. They'd be nice.
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
MattyK - I have been in your predicament recently. I had drawn up graphs, spreadsheets and written notes comparing all types of wheels, materials, weights, prices and aero properties. I spent months comparing. Long story short, it got stupid and I stopped before the indecisiveness blew my brains out. Procrastination was my enemy and I got no where.
My final decision based on the terrain I ride, the rides that I do and looks. I chose the Pro-Lite Bracciano A27's. Based on the reviews, price per gram, the australian after sales support for parts and warranty and the fact that they were hand built and not something off the manufacturer production line, all of my research pointed to these wheels. Im not a Pro-Lite rep, nor am I getting paid to write this. I am a nobody who wanted a bang for buck set of wheels but also quality and aftersales service and wanted to enjoy my riding again instead of grinding up hills everywhere I went.
The wheels in themselves are very robust and I have accidentally hit some potholes fairly hard and the wheels still roll true. The hubs/bearing are awesome. I have always thought my DT Swiss R1850 hubs were the beez kneez in terms of rolling, but these hubs just spin forever and make the DT Swiss hubs feel slow. It's crazy how well these roll. The aero spokes I always though were a gimmick seem to assist in terms of aero. I can hold speed a lot longer than the previous wheels with standard spokes. Up hills, I can hold a better cadence now than I ever could. Rotational weight feels lot less to try and spin up from stand still. It's a good feeling. As far as the aero rims are concerned, coming from a 24mm rim and only upgrading to a 27mm, there is little difference that I can notice. I think the combination of the bladed spokes and slimmer profile has some merit when it comes to rolling. But all in all these feel like a top quality wheelset and I like the paint scheme too. Black and white sounds a little insipid, but I know I can transfer these to another frame and they would enhance the look of the bike nicely.
So far, next to going compact cranks, these wheels are an awesome upgrade and have rejuvenated my love for cycling. I no longer dread the feeling of what hill I have to avoid. I almost look for hills now to try and improve my times up them. Based on my Strava history, with no other changes in training or diet, my times have dropped and I have gotten faster and continue to do so. Call it placebo, call it what ever you want. But if a set of wheels makes you WANT to ride more or make you feel like you are improving, then I see it as a good thing and money well spent.
I would speak to Deon and at least ask to test a set out and see for yourself. You have nothing to lose really.
2011 Kona Dew Plus (commuter)
2012 Focus Cayo 2.0 (road)
I'm going to (mostly) stay out of this one, but http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=75817.
If you want more fasts, pedal harder!
I went through almost exactly the same angst about a year ago.
In the end what I worked out that I was mainly interested in ride quality - cause I've got a sweet steel Merckx frame that just has a beautiful 'feel'. (But fairly cheapish rims).
Then I concluded that it was more or less a commodity fetish. Still running my old trusty fulcrum 5's - and they're still true, still good. Now I look back and think "why the hell did I think I **needed** carbon (or whatever) rims?"
What wheels did you have originally?
DT Swiss R1850
They looked like these
Bulletproof wheelset, roll well but not as well as the Pro-Lites. They are fairly heavy too at 1850g.
2011 Kona Dew Plus (commuter)
2012 Focus Cayo 2.0 (road)
Is the $600 budget to include tyres, tubes and cassette?
I operated on a similar budget and opted for the ProLite Bracciano A42s which are uber rigid. Depends on the ride you're after though.
Well it's something of an artificial budget anyway, but would be an upper limit on the wheels only. I guess tyres and tubes and cassette would add up pretty quickly though! At the moment it's largely about pondering the exercise. I have other things in my life that need money spent on them first...
Your too fat - you will get better gains riding and getting fitter/losing weight.... oh wait
Ride what you have until they dieand keep an eye out for specials or Braccianos ( I have 2 sets).
If you're desperate to spend some cash, 600 would get you a nice carbon tub front wheel with very good aero properties while you save up for the rear wheel.
The front wheel has the best aero and weight gains (especially at 70kgs), it just looks a bit weird. You get 20-30% more aero improvement from the front wheel, and typically you'd shed 500 grams on the front with only 300 lost on the rear compared to your stock wheel. I think we focus on the rear wheels because RWD cars definitely need better performance at the back for traction. But this has nothing to do with a bicycle.
A second hand Zipp 404 front would be sweet.
Pro-lite Braccianos or similar...?
My CX wheels are ~2kg or so and climb like a ... so I get going lighter.
Not really in to over-capitalizing on the rest of the bike (two wheels at that price would be getting close to the complete original purchase price). Also not too interested in carbon braking tracks, or tubs.
Makes sense, the rear is quite sheltered by the frame/rider.
I don't get that, unless you go for a heavier rear rim. If you have the same rims front and rear then the reduction is the same, same drop in spoke count front and rear, so only the hubs, and you wouldn't save 200g extra on a new front hub than a new rear...
Not with you here... I've always thought rear wheels are normally deeper (more aero designed) because they have less impact on the steering/crosswind balance than similar/same depth front wheels. And because you need to go deeper to get the same aero benefit as the front, as discussed above. ie, they are deeper because they can be, without as much downside.
Discussion aside, it's a dry day today so I got my roadie out and blitzed a few Strava segments might be satisfactorily fast without doing anything.
but lighter/more aero would be even faster! SHUT UP BRAIN!
Bracc's are at or near the top of my list. Much lighter and about the same shape as my current rims. But a bit old school in their aero design; The FLO 30 is a wheel that is piquing my interest. Maybe by the time I pull the trigger there will be more similar (wide/aero/lightish/durable/affordable) options on the market.
I agree about overcapitalising, Matt - if your bike isn't worth spending 1200 bucks on wheels, then you shouldn't buy anything. You've already got wheels! The rest is taste lol
I meant by the weight savings that if you have a 2kg wheelset, and you get a 1200gm wheel set, you shed 500 on the front, and the remaining 300 on the back. The more light the wheelset, the more and more they trim on the front. The hub is much lighter, and you don't need as many spokes. This is a general rule - trying to justify spending the money on the wheel upgrade, that's all
Rear wheels are deeper because you can get away with it - your weight is on the rear wheel much more, so it is less susceptible to crosswinds, but they have less aero impact than the front wheel. If you don't have a choice, get the front wheel because that one cuts through the wind more.
Spending money for the sake of it isn't all bad, but I don't see the sense in getting another wheelset that is similar - I'm limited in funds, so I'd want to heavily restrict my spending to a diverse set of options. Two different alloy wheels doesn't make sense to me. You seem to be interested in aero - get an aero wheel. They have carbon fairings at the least
I just upgraded from Bracc's to Flo30's
I had the Bracc's for about 2 years and they were excellent... I couldn't fault them but it was time to upgrade.
I bought just the Flo30 rim's, decided on 24+28 spoke count, bought some Hope road hubs and built them with Sapim Race spokes with brass nipples.
I wanted to go back to the single wheelset (sick of juggling wheels and space is a shortage) and my riding consists of 75% commute, 20% bunch riding and 5% hills... pretty usual I guess.
Quick comparison for you:
Flo 30's Definitely stronger, so much more confident in the wet and on fast corners and the extra rim width makes them so much more comfortable. Night and day.
However the Flo30's are much heavier thus much slower to get going. But this would also have a lot to do with the heavier hubs, spokes, nipples, dura-ace skewers and new, slightly heavier Vredestein tyres (and bearing seal drag with the Hope hubs). All up an additional 400g give or take.
Should have I just bought the Flo30 wheels? Maybe, but hub durability is important to me and the Hopes are in a different league in this regard. Note - Flo30 wheelset and Bracc's both use Ezo bearings which spin unbelievably well... but durability is not their forte.
So is the aero v weight noticeable with the Flo30/braccs? Yes above 35km/hr, but building that speed does require more effort. I blitzed my PB on 20min section (95% MaxHR) that has a steady mild gradient that I use to gauge my fitness and I can hold my speed longer.
My advice would be look at a wide wheelset to begin with as this will be most noticeable for ride quality, then think about the type of riding you do and build/buy around that.
Thanks for the input. Would be interesting to compare the FLOs with their standard build/weight; they are listed at about 100g heavier, which isn't much, but it would also depend how/where that weight was distributed (rim vs hub).
By the way, how much was shipping for the rims?
I upgraded my stock standard bontrager wheels on my Trek Madone by purchasing a set of the Pro-lite Braccianos and I have to say that they were definitely worth it. They make the bike feel a million dollars and are a relatively cheap upgrade, I think they only cost me $400 at the time. The bike feels lighter, more responsive and faster. In short, a much more enjoyable ride.
And as for the after sales service, Deon was fantastic. I'd originally purchased a set of Pro-lite Gavias instead of the Braccianos but when I received them, the large hub on the Gavias rubbed on the front fork of my XS bike, to the point where I couldn't even do up the quick release (note: this is not a common problem, it only happened because my bike is so small - 47cm).
Deon found a buyer for the Gavias in my area which meant I didn't have to post them back at my expense and then shipped me the Braccianos and refunded the price difference.
Almost 2 years later they are still going strong and I don't regret it at all.
(I am in no way affiliated with Pro-lite, just a very happy customer)
80s Ken Evans / 2011 Trek Madone / 2013 Vivente World Randonneur / 2015 Lynskey Helix
Extra weight would be on the rims.... 30mm deep
Shipping was $80... took about 3-4 weeks to get to me.
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