50mm aero wheels - advice appreciated

by Hedgerow   February 11, 2014  

Hi all, this is my first post having been a long-time browser.

I've got a budget of £850 ish for a pair of 50mm aero carbon clincher wheel with alu braking surface. To be used for racing in sprint / olympic distances and 1 half IM triathlon this summer, plus training (fair-weather only!) I'm looking at:
* Fulcrum Red Wind 50 1755g @ £850 ish
* Mavic Cosmic Carbon SL 1595g also @ £850 ish
* Wheelsmith RACE50 1565g @ £710

On the stats alone, Wheelsmith wins, they also seem highly recommended. Too good to be true?

Have read reviews on the first two, but any useful feedback appreciated

Thanks

34 user comments

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oozaveared wrote:
Valleys cyclist wrote:
Just to throw a slightly different slant on this, I am interested to know why you consider spending so much money on a set of wheels as your answer to making you a faster rider? I am assuming your true current FTP (Functional Threshold Power) is in excess of 3.5 Watts per kg and you are able to ride at a faster enough average speed to make the "aero" difference have an impact? If not then please look at your training first rather than end up very disappointed at spending so much money, only to find it makes you no faster.
Very best of luck.

Cos he wants some aero wheels. Blimey the whole cycle and component manufacturing industry would be straight out of business if we all had to justify our nice kit in those terms.

If he thinks they'll make him go faster and he can afford them then that's up to him. At least it's one less excuse to be slow.


Damn right. As I've posted before, if I win the lottery I'm going to go out and buy a Cannondale Evo Nano and some Zipp 404s. I'll be the most overbiked person in history, but I'll be the overbiked person with a £10k bike in my living room that I can sit and stare at and I won't care what anyone thinks.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [823 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:01

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Mmmmm I'd buy an Impec <3

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:35

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Thanks for the replies (all of them...)

Will definitely check out Wheelsmith, have since more good things about them. As you say oozaveared, no brainer

I don't know what my FTP is but I will try and find a stand at the Bike/Tri Show this weekend that might be able to give me a clue ...

I understand aero benefits are felt above 20mph, which is realistic when racing sprint/OD distances. This justification sits in a list alongside "because I think they look ace" and "because I like the noise they make"

And I have said to my wife in the past that if we win the lottery I would go down to somewhere like poshbikes long before I considered Ferrari/Bentley showrooms...

posted by Hedgerow [3 posts]
13th February 2014 - 17:41

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I just took delivery of some 50mm Carbon Clinchers from Wheelsmith this week. Really can't wait for some good weather to get out on them. They look well made and come with brake pads and titanium skewers.

Might be an idea to contact Derek, he gave me advice on best wheels for my weight and what kind of cycling I do.

Great service and hopefully great wheels!!

posted by Gman59c [78 posts]
13th February 2014 - 19:12

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If you have not even had an FTP test you do not want to be looking at new wheels. Your body is the most critical component of the bike and without fine tuning that you are just going to be like a boy racer sticking a huge spoiler on a 1ltr Saxo.

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posted by Angelfishsolo [106 posts]
13th February 2014 - 19:13

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So what exactly is the magic number, w/kg or speed where 50mm wheels will make a difference? I'm curious as I just bought some "for the heck of it", those same FarSports clinchers someone blogged about here.

47M
Most recent FTP: 325w
Winter weight: 74kg

so 4.4 w/kg at the moment. I've done 347w for 60 mins once, and been as low as 72kg, so I have room to improve.

posted by MNgraveur [32 posts]
13th February 2014 - 20:09

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Just to mention that Planet X are selling Shimano RS80 50mm wheels for £399 at the moment, reduced from £849. They're probably not as good as the options you're looking at, but at that price they might be worth a look.

posted by lc1981 [49 posts]
13th February 2014 - 20:26

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HOW DARE YOU even consider buying a bicycle without first establishing your BMI, your fat percentage, your optimum fat percentage, your FTP, your HTTP://, which flavour gel you like best, your summer training regime, your winter training regime, stocking the freezer with ice for post interval recovery ice baths, deciding which milk is for you, starting your training blog, buying a turbo, buying sufferfest to use with the turbo, buying the Hugh Grant Essential Collection for watching while doing recovery rides on the turbo, memorising the Training Bible and choosing which races you want your season to "peak" for.

Don't you know anything.

posted by Nick T [804 posts]
13th February 2014 - 20:29

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I'd like to hope some of these comments are not for real (and I mean the more serious posts!). Just why shouldn't people buy kit they can't justify??

If you have the disposable income and cycling is your passion then why shouldn't you spend it on nice kit?

posted by mtbtomo [54 posts]
13th February 2014 - 21:12

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Yep, your money, your bike, your decision. If you want to get them go for it, if you listened to every opinion on the internet you'd never buy anything.

Enjoy your passion while you can, if they don't work put for you, you can always punt them on to somebody else and use the cash for something else.

posted by Gman59c [78 posts]
13th February 2014 - 22:09

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I can kinda see both sides of the argument (and have a quietly bemused but benign chuckle at people who try to spend themselves fast instead of just eating less and training more) but as the guy states, he already races and is thus deserving of respect.

There'll always be someone able to spend more, and there'll always be someone who is able to train more (and some who can do both), so if shelling out on new wheels helps level the odds a bit (and will probably in itself be incentive to train more) then fair do's to him.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
14th February 2014 - 12:38

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I think the OP should have to sticker-print his FTP (re-sampled monthly, obviously!) on the deep-section rims he buys. Oh, and the shop should demand to see his shaved legs before allowing him to buy them.

What a load of nonsense.

If you fancy dropping some cash on nice wheels, then drop some cash on nice wheels.

Wheelsmith reckon that their handbuilts are superior to anything available commercially. That's a fairly bold claim, and basically rests on the idea that the pro's use Dura-Ace or Zipps or whatever because the large rim area is just too ripe for advertising space. For those of us without obligations to sponsors, go for the handbuilts.

As for Mavics, I've only got Kysrium Equipes, but they are outperformed by the stock Bontrager Race wheels on my Trek. I don't think I'd go for Mavics again.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3099 posts]
14th February 2014 - 13:26

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This thread should win a prize for featuring the snobbiest response of ALL TIME.
OP. Go buy your wheels. Ride your bike. Have fun.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
14th February 2014 - 14:39

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andyp wrote:
This thread should win a prize for featuring the snobbiest response of ALL TIME.
OP. Go buy your wheels. Ride your bike. Have fun.

Who are you to tell anyone to go ride a bike or have fun? Are we supposed to take orders off you without even knowing what your FTP is?

posted by farrell [1401 posts]
14th February 2014 - 15:03

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andyp wrote:
This thread should win a prize for featuring the snobbiest response of ALL TIME.
OP. Go buy your wheels. Ride your bike. Have fun.

So, who do you think wins? It appears to be a 2-horse race between valleys cyclist and angelfishsolo... Big Grin

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3099 posts]
14th February 2014 - 15:31

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notfastenough wrote:
andyp wrote:
This thread should win a prize for featuring the snobbiest response of ALL TIME.
OP. Go buy your wheels. Ride your bike. Have fun.

So, who do you think wins? It appears to be a 2-horse race between valleys cyclist and angelfishsolo... Big Grin

well... Valleys cyclist was reasonably polite with his/ her snobbery, angelfishsolo kind of jumped on the bandwagon afterwards..

I think now that the snobbery's been called, there might not be any more of it. I quite like the way the forum 'self-polices' in this way!

On a related note, I now want to find out what my 'FTP' is!

posted by 700c [556 posts]
14th February 2014 - 17:49

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File Transfer Protocol.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Transfer_Protocol

Oh. Sorry.

Anyway, how long do you have to hold it for, for it to be your FTP? 30 secs? 5 mins? 30 mins?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3099 posts]
14th February 2014 - 18:11

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FTP - when I were a lad it was an encouragement to have an amorous encounter with the local constabulary

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
14th February 2014 - 19:39

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Each to their own but I have to agree with Angel... really doubt anyone who does not have the first idea of what an FTP test even is a serious racer, rather just "banded" the term race about as justification for buying such expensive wheels. Most riders harbour a secret desire to become a faster cyclist underneath that desire for bling. Some put in the necessary training (not always more), others simply believe it possible to "buy" their way faster. The latter must be a marketeers dream.

Sure no offence was intended towards anyone who has commented on here, so apologies if that was the case. I think we are all adults after all. To the guy with the with the FTP above 4 Watts/kg, those wheels would make a small difference at your level, but with such power, they would not be needed to beat most slower riders. I am guessing you are at very least Cat 2 and that FTP test has been done outside as opposed to on a Turbo Trainer?

Anywhere below 3 Watts/kg though, you may as well get a set of chocolate pedals to go with the aero wheels for all the extra good they will give you.

For the record I used to work for a company involved in wind testing cycling components so do know quite a bit about what makes a difference and what does not. When you consider that all wind tunnel testing is done at 30mph (industry standard) a lot of the "claimed" energy, power savings etc. really do not kick in for all but the very best Cat 1, elite, pro riders etc. and even then cross winds come into the mix. Hence the reason even the pro riders do not use deep dish aero wheels all of the time.

Knock yourselves out guys, just don't be too disappointed when you realise that your prized "bling" really has not made you any faster, but hey if it makes you happy I am sure you will get a nice Xmas card off your LBS. Smile

posted by Valleys cyclist [3 posts]
14th February 2014 - 23:13

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So no one deserves to drive an Aston Martin unless they're on the redline at every opportunity either, by that logic.

posted by Nick T [804 posts]
14th February 2014 - 23:33

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Anyway, the question was of which wheels to buy and this advice, however well meaning, offers diddly squat in the way of help. You might suggest he saves his money, but for all we know the OP is actually Alan Sugar.

posted by Nick T [804 posts]
14th February 2014 - 23:40

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Surely a snob would demand that no one leave the house on anything less than a Pinarello Dogma?

If someone is prepared to drop that kind of money on wheels to attain speed one would assume that the person has also fine tuned the body (the most critical component of the man/machine mix).

Anyway, have fun on the deep rims and then do some research when you have not improved your performance.

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posted by Angelfishsolo [106 posts]
15th February 2014 - 9:35

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'If someone is prepared to drop that kind of money on wheels to attain speed one would assume that the person has also fine tuned the body'

I'd just assume that they want to buy those wheels.
If they came to me for coaching advice I'd talk FTP with them.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
15th February 2014 - 10:03

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An awful lot of snobbery here, I don't know if the OP is fit or competitive! either way, he has the funds or has saved up and wants some gear he likes the look of.

My main bike is mostly C Record (apart from the delta brakes) feel free to slag me off as not being fit to shine Stephen roche's shoes, let alone win the Tour in 1990.

Guy likes the look of the kits and asks is it any good, if you can, advise him.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [526 posts]
15th February 2014 - 10:13

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Ugh, a Pinarello Dogma?

I wouldn't be seen dead on something so mainstream.

posted by Nick T [804 posts]
15th February 2014 - 10:47

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What if the OP wasn't competitive? He could be fit and fast but if not into racing, wouldn't be interested in his FTP. Does that mean he shouldn't buy nice wheels? We've all smiled at the guy with top-end gear who makes too little effort, but that's not what this is about. Should we all be forced to ride cheap bikes until we 'earn' the right to better ones?!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3099 posts]
15th February 2014 - 12:55

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The 'aero' thing might be slightly overstated by manufacturers / certain consumers, however unless the OP is very weak, (unlikely given his aims for this year), then they will make a difference particularly on the flat.

If you're going to spend £850 on wheels, you might consider spending a bit more actually - on a stiff carbon tubular wheelset with decent braking capabilities. This would give you more of an all-round wheelset which will benefit uphill as well.

Of course it's pretty pointless if you then neglected your training, but all this 'you won't get any benefit unless you're a professional athlete' attitude is just BS, and fortunately must of us realise this is just snobbery/elitism or whatever label you want to give it..

posted by 700c [556 posts]
15th February 2014 - 15:01

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Have you considered buying second hand? A lot of team riders sell their sponsor wheels for cheap at the end of the season - I picked up some FFWD F6R's (so 60mm) which are 1350g for sub £700 and they're as new condition... super stiff, very aero, and tubs. Seems pretty ideal for what you want.

posted by faz. [24 posts]
16th February 2014 - 1:28

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This thread made me sick in my mouth.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
17th February 2014 - 11:30

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I can't comment on the three you have listed but I do have the RS80 C50 wheels and they are superb. The only criticism is the longevity of the bearings/grease but you can buy service kits at a reasonable price and it is straightforward to do. I have never had issues with spokes and the wheels have never required truing in 2 years of regular use.

Hardly scientific, but I have a 17mile training route which is a bit lumpy and back to back average speeds with C50 vs. C24 is the same; I'm a little slower climbing on the C50 wheelset but faster on flat 25mph+ segments.

posted by Old Cranky [276 posts]
17th February 2014 - 13:40

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