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Bit of idle curiosity really, I keep looking at my summer road bike and wondering what the best upgrade for it would be.

I'm approx 85kg, and aspire more to long distance than sprinting up and down hills, so a set of aero wheels looks quite attractive.

The Shimano Dura Ace 60mm carbon clinchers with the aluminium brake track look ideal, I like Shimano hubs but also still having an aluminium braking surface.

The manufacturer's stated weight is 300g heavier than the wheels on my bike right now. I could easily believe the aero benefits would outweigh the minor weight disadvantage, but how would this make the bike feel? I'm guessing more sluggish until you get it up to speed? 

I noticed the 40mm deep Dura Ace wheels are 350g lighter than the 60mm versions, this would be tempting but by the sounds of it they aren't much deeper than my Fulcrum Racing 3s.

Anyone made a similar switch?

Ta

13 comments

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Paul5f [17 posts] 1 week ago
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Like you I weigh over 80kg and mainly do long rides (60-100 miles). I have a Trek Domane and just over 18 months ago I swapped the generic alloy hoops for some lovely 50mm deep Bontrager wheels.

 

My impression on the ‘feel’? They feel a little dead. They seem to accelerate as fast as the alloy wheels but as they are just 100grams heavier that’s to be expected. They are faster, I don’t feel any difference in speed but my average ride speed with these wheels is higher. 

 

I have a second bike, a Trek Emonda with lightweight shallow rims. My average speed over my regular rides used to be very similar on both bikes but with the deep section wheels I’m faster on the endurance bike now. The speed difference can be as high as 1mph on certain courses (moderate amounts of climbing and longer ups and downs) but the speed difference on courses that are hilly (especially lots of short sharp ups and downs) have a much smaller difference in speed. I know the deep section wheels are faster and am saving for 50mm carbon wheels for my Emonda for next summer, but the carbon wheels do have a dead feeling where the Hunt alloys on my Emonda feel great, like they are alive and trying to go faster than I want to ride. 

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dave atkinson [6440 posts] 1 week ago
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i done a whole article:

https://road.cc/content/feature/213876-why-riders-you-need-go-aero-wheel...

TL;DR - yes, aero trumps weight nearly all the time in terms of overall speed

the wind tunnel was the one Swiss Side use and I run a set of their Hadron 485 wheels which are excellent. they've stopped doing the alloy brake track version though i think, which is a bit ironic as the only reason to switch to carbon would appear to be weight.

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IanEdward [227 posts] 1 week ago
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Thanks Dave, good reading.

Any idea why an aero wheel migh feel dead like Paul suggested? Because the rim is stiffer because of the deep section, or maybe because there is more weight located at the rim?

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OR_biker [51 posts] 1 week ago
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Last fall I bought the Shimano RS81-C50's (basically, the DA rim with Ultegra hubs from what I've read).  Apparently the new C60's actually use the same C50 rim (quite confusing, as you'd assume that they're 60mm deep).  I was switching from the Fulcrum Racing 5 LG CX, which are around 200g lighter.  I still use the Fulcrum's as my winter wheels, so I've been able to compare the feeling going back and forth a few times (just put the Fulcrum's back on a couple weeks ago).  I was the same with wanting to try something deeper but still have the aluminum brake track - for better braking as well as less hassle when switching back to my old set  1

In my experience, there is a noticeable - though slight - difference when accelerating, with the C50's feeling a tad sluggish in comparison.  This is mainly when starting from a dead stop; doing a hard acceleration when already moving I can't tell as much of a difference, even uphill.  On the flip side, the C50's feel slightly easier to hold at speed, especially in headwinds.  Comparing Strava segments, my times generally trend slightly quicker at similar wattages using the deeper wheels, though it's difficult to know how much since it can vary so much depending on the day, likely due to other factors like wind and clothing, but in general the times seem a bit faster.

The Fulcrum's also feel what some would call "livelier" I guess, but the Shimano's feel smoother.  Not sure if that's from the rims, hubs, spokes, design differences to counter spoke tension on the drive vs. non-drive side, etc...  It does sometimes feel like I'm going faster uphill with the Fulcrum's, but my times (at least on the hills that are segments) don't generally reflect that.  Again, probably too many factors to say for certain.  But at least I don't seem to be penalized much using the deeper wheels.  The weight difference between sets for you will be greater since you have the Racing 3's, so it may be a different situation for you (we're about the same body weight, just fyi for comparison).

In the end, obviously the biggest difference is how I'm feeling that day, regardless of the wheels I'm riding.  But if I'm doing a ride where I care about my speed, I feel better with the Shimano's on.  Sorry for the novel, but I hope this helps!

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madcarew [862 posts] 1 week ago
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Seeing as you're talking about 'feel' no-one can answer this question for you. I have some C24s, which are a very light wheel, and not aero, and I have some 55mm deep carbons (FFWD) which are a couple hundred grams heavier than the C24. They feel fast, and I have got all my recent good times on them. So in this case Aero feels and is faster, in spite of being heavier. 

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BBB [492 posts] 1 week ago
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You'll be still accelerating nearly 100kg of flesh, metal, water etc... 300g isn't going to make any difference and even if it does (in your head) you'll get used to it within first couple of rides.

 

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IanEdward [227 posts] 1 week ago
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Yeah, granted. Actually that's what got me thinking, the switch from summer bike to winter bike brought home to me how different a heavier bike feels, but after a couple of weeks just riding the heavier bike I no longer notice it, so presumably would very quickly get used to the extra weight of the deeper wheels and then reap the benefits!

Although... the 35mm deep Dura Ace wheels are lighter AND more aero than what I currently have, cake and eat it?

 

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fenix [1108 posts] 1 week ago
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Just have a pair of shallower wheels for those really windy days that you want to go out on. 

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2old2mould [92 posts] 1 week ago
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60mm is very deep for daily riding. The 40's sound a better all round bet. I've got 50mm on my race bike and 38mm carbon on my long distance bike. I don't get the windshear on the 38s that I do with the 50s and they feel livelier and less harsh. I'll be getting another set of carbons in the sale and will definitely go for 35 - 40mm.

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Nixster [409 posts] 1 week ago
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IanEdward wrote:

Yeah, granted. Actually that's what got me thinking, the switch from summer bike to winter bike brought home to me how different a heavier bike feels, but after a couple of weeks just riding the heavier bike I no longer notice it, so presumably would very quickly get used to the extra weight of the deeper wheels and then reap the benefits!

Although... the 35mm deep Dura Ace wheels are lighter AND more aero than what I currently have, cake and eat it?

 

And there you have your answer!

I have light alloy 22mm wheels, fairly light 50mm carbon wheels and very light 30mm carbon wheels and the ones I would pick on 85% of days are the 30mm carbon.  And that would be a higher proportion if they weren't tubulars with all that implies about the cost of writing off a tyre.  Light wheels feel nicer to me but deeper wheels are actually faster, the thing is that mostly I don't care enough to take the deeper wheels.

Another thing to watch for is brake rub - while deeper rims are stiffer, this puts more emphasis on the hubs and spokes when it comes to controlling movement at the brake track so in practice you might find you get less brake rub with shallower rims.  Counter intuitive, I know.

If you have only one set of wheels or don't want to spend lots of time swapping them around (not forgetting cassettes and skewers too) then you are going to have to compromise weight, aero and handling.  Only you will know where your sweet spot lies but if you're focussing on longer rides, not racing and your average speeds are sub 30kph then that may well be a wheel shallower than 50mm.  Arguably as a heavier rider than me you might be happier with 35-40mm than 30mm.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2506 posts] 1 week ago
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My first dip into carbon wheels were a near new pair of Gigantex 38mm tubs on FRM carbon hubs, 24/20 aerolites and the rims whilst not light by modern standards -  sub 2000g including Conti GP4000SII tyres + valve extenders so about 1400g, they are bloody bombproof and I rode them at my max weight of 107kg without any issues.

On days were there is a bit of wind with maybe some gusts through a valley or when encountering open fields they're great and such a good all rounder. I only paid £330 for them from an ex racer in germany around 10 years ago and quelle surprise the braking surfaces haven't worn out after 7500 miles because I don't race so don't need to slam on the jam/hammer into corners or downhills where I know I'm going to hit the brakes hard.

I wouldn't generally use them in winter and they've been on and off various bikes anyway but if you're after a crusing long distanc machine then why the compromise of going for alloy braking surfaces and the heavier weight, indeed the difference in going to a much deeper rim is marginal, I've got 50mm Campag Bora One's, love them to bits but on windier days I just wouldn't and IMHO I think the better tyres on the Bora's make more of a differenc than the extra 12mm depth. 

I also have a pair of Easton carbon SLX  tubs, they're only 32/26mm, sub 1200g, spin up amazingly fast, are they faster than either of the other wheels, who knows, I frankly don't care tbh, I just buy things that make me smile and want to ride, if I get somewhere faster on any given ride or it seems that that day the ride is somewhat smoother then great, but I'm not stressing if it doesn't because there are so many variances/factors involved that 1mph difference in speed as given above doesn't really indicate faster or slower.

It's simply too small a margin unless you're riding to power very accurately over the exact same course, with the exact same clothes, same body position, same weather, same tyre pressures/tyres etc throughout.

TL:DR, don't get 60mm rims, 35-45mm for the type of riding you want to do is more than adequate, don't be afraid to go full carbon.

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IanEdward [227 posts] 1 week ago
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Excellent, this is all justifying the choice I'd already (half) made smiley

Interesting point about stiffness, one of the reasons I like Shimano hubs is that they (apparently) have the best geometry for stiffness, i.e. widest flange spacing. As it is, any brake rub will no doubt be the fault of my Rose frame which has chainstay mounted brakes, i.e. brakes as close to the BB as possible which amplifies any frame flex, d'oh! 

Also interesting point about going full carbon, I've already convinced myself that I don't need discs as I don't do much 'do-or-die' braking on my normal rides, tend to ride to conditions, look ahead, pre-drag a bit if necessary. I suppose I could go full carbon and just get used to it, but if I can get an aluminium brake track on a Dura-Ace hub and a save weight over my current wheels, then why not?

Thanks all, idle curiousity satisfied, fancy wheel purchase now on list after 2nd winter bike purchase (one with gears this time...).

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Canyon48 [1102 posts] 1 week ago
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Don't worry about weight, unless all you plan on doing is cycling uphill or some really tight circuit crit racing, weight has barely any impact on speed.

300g is nothing - if you weigh about 85 kg and your bike (and all your cycling gear) weighs circa 10kg (for argument's sake) - that means the extra 300g is about 0.3% weight difference. The aero difference will drastically offset that.

I started on 23mm rims, then switched to 32's, then to 47 and I'm now on 62mm - I found the biggest jump in performance was between the 32mm and 47mm wheelsets. The performance is very similar between the 47 and 62mm wheels, the only major difference is in the stability/controllability of the wheels - I've taken the 47mm wheels out in winds 25mph gusting 40 - didn't have too many issues (wouldn't dare do that with 62mm wheels!).