Lightweight wheels vs Aero wheels

by Miles253   March 4, 2014  

Now this age old debate is unlikely to be ended by this thread, but I might come away enlightened.

So a few basics to begin with, I am 75 kg (usually a tad lighter) I have been looking at wheels from Soul and wheelsmith within their lightweight classes. I have sportive aspirations in the near future and racing in the slightly less near.

At 1300g for a wheelset at about £400 that represents a lot of weight saving for the money, but is it with forgetting about weight and going for a rim with more depth for the aero benefit? Baring in mind that sportives tend to be hilly, am I going to see greater benefit for a lighter quicker spinning up wheel. Is like to hear from both sides of the fence if possible

In case you want to have a look,

http://2013.bikesoul.com
http://www.wheelsmith.co.uk/race23

Also if anyone has recommendations for other lightweight wheels or handbuilt wheels i would like to hear them, handbuilt all the way for value

Thanks

13 user comments

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I use a set of aero wheels, and a set of lighter (by around 200g) non aero.
I've run them both on a few similar routes, similar-ish conditions.

On the flatter rides, the aero have a bigger advantage.
Hillier rides they still hold some advantage, just not as much though. Might be a little more work on the ups, but you gain more on the down and flats as well.

If you go for something like the new generation of aero wheel, that are fatter so a shallower rim is more aero than a narrower deeper one (especially at yaw angles), in say a 38mm depth, you can pick up the Wheelsmiths which come in at just over 1400g, (at £740 not £400 though) you get a decent all rounder, doesn't give too much of a weight penalty, and still has aero gains.

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posted by glynr36 [363 posts]
4th March 2014 - 15:10

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what I would caution, deep wheels and side winds, if you have two sets of wheels fine. I wouldn't want to be riding deep rims as an only option. I know a few people who have been caught out by strong cross winds, to the point the bike ers to unrideable.

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posted by mrmo [1070 posts]
4th March 2014 - 15:31

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Aero trumps weight on all but the steepest hills. Some numbers:
http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=40020&t=12619269&p=15290443

If you're not racing then I wouldn't worry about the very small benefit either would bring. The benefit of lightweight / aero / fat rims is grossly exaggerated IMHO.

If you just have to spend some money then pick a pair that takes your fancy and/or has some good reviews.

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posted by Simon E [1946 posts]
4th March 2014 - 16:06

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There was a nice little thread on the same topic last week, which you might find interesting to get further points of view:
http://road.cc/content/forum/112006-real-deal-deep-rims

Might be worth trying the forum search function as well - I am pretty sure I have seen the topic come up a few times in various guises over the years.

I paid ~£400 and got aero wheels with nice bearings that were just as light as the non-aero wheels I was considering. Yes, there are compromises, but they were right for me and I really feel like they are a material upgrade over the Fulcrum Racing 5s I had before.

If you are doing most of your riding in a group, or doing plenty of climbing, I am not convinced deep section will give you much benefit.

I do *most* of my riding solo, at speed, with only limited hills and like to compete in Duathlons, so I felt aero would suit me best.

posted by Tjuice [109 posts]
4th March 2014 - 18:01

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Well I live in Kent, so it's pretty hilly no matter the direction, naturally my club runs cover lots of hilly terrain too. So on paper a lightweight set makes sence but with so much information pointing to an advantage using aero equipment up until 6 percent it might be a more worthwhile investment.

On the subject also, does anybody have any experience with lightweight wheels specifically? Are they more likely to wear out quickly in the rims or hubs or buckle under pressure than say, a 1500g pair ? That could also be an important factor for me.

@Simon E which wheels did you get in the end? And thank you for the links I shall do some searching around.

@Mrmo, are you saying that I am unlikely to feel the difference? Marginal gains and all that? I am looking for improved performance over my current wheels which are about 1600g

Specialized Allez 2009, Campagnolo Centaur 10, Campagnolo Shamal Wheels. 8.3kg

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posted by Miles253 [199 posts]
6th March 2014 - 5:35

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Miles253 wrote:

@Mrmo, are you saying that I am unlikely to feel the difference? Marginal gains and all that? I am looking for improved performance over my current wheels which are about 1600g

Nothing to do with "performance" as such, just cautioning that having deep rims as an only set is probably not a good idea. Strong cross winds, such as we have been having for the last few months are not pleasant. The front wheel in particular will catch the wind and make for interesting handling!

Yes there are benefits, just a matter of whether the benefits out way the downsides.

Although where I live, Cotswolds, the 6% rule actually suggests that deep rims are probably not the way to go.

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posted by mrmo [1070 posts]
6th March 2014 - 9:16

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I believe lightweight rims to be more advantageous on climbs over aero rims. Obviously a light weight set of aeros won't be any where near £400 and cheap ones will be fairly heavy compared to a decent set of hand built wheels.

Rode in a large group last sunday for the first time since getting mine and I was even more impressed with their performance. Others were easy pedalling and I could coast and still keep up with them on descents.

Mavic Open Pro rims, Hope RS Mono hubs, DT Swiss SS spokes, 32RR cross/radial- 28 FRT radial. Not the lightest set in the world due to the spokes used but they are light where it matters and they roll like a dream. Also very responsive and stiff. I paid £325 all in for mine but I do get decent discounts at my lbs.

posted by Shep73 [137 posts]
6th March 2014 - 13:05

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Shep73 wrote:
Obviously a light weight set of aeros won't be any where near £400 and cheap ones will be fairly heavy compared to a decent set of hand built wheels.

Agree in general principal that aeros are heavier than non, but the above statement is not quite true.

My Planet X 50mm deep carbon wheelset was £400 and was ~1300g for the combined wheelset. I regard that as pretty light (e.g., Fulcrum Racing Zeros are >1400g).

The compromises were that this was a tubular wheelset (could be seen as a positive by some), and the wheels are not laterally as stiff as other wheelsets at that price.

posted by Tjuice [109 posts]
10th March 2014 - 15:20

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I am no faster or slower on my usual routes with either my lightweight alloys or my deep section carbons on undulating terrain. The only time I've had a noticeable difference is climbing Great Dunn Fell on deep sections, I won't do that again.

Aero rims are massively over egged outside the pro peloton or Cat 1/2 and above crits IMO.

posted by ajmarshal1 [269 posts]
10th March 2014 - 18:44

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Tjuice wrote:
Shep73 wrote:
Obviously a light weight set of aeros won't be any where near £400 and cheap ones will be fairly heavy compared to a decent set of hand built wheels.

Agree in general principal that aeros are heavier than non, but the above statement is not quite true.

My Planet X 50mm deep carbon wheelset was £400 and was ~1300g for the combined wheelset. I regard that as pretty light (e.g., Fulcrum Racing Zeros are >1400g).

The compromises were that this was a tubular wheelset (could be seen as a positive by some), and the wheels are not laterally as stiff as other wheelsets at that price.

I've looked at PX and have always been impressed. But I dont think tubular is the best option for the current riding I do. Obviously a light aero set is the ideal, does anybody have any experience with handbuilt aero wheels? Possibility for aero and light weight without a killer price tag?

Specialized Allez 2009, Campagnolo Centaur 10, Campagnolo Shamal Wheels. 8.3kg

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posted by Miles253 [199 posts]
11th March 2014 - 9:20

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+1

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posted by tonesclonmore [5 posts]
11th March 2014 - 9:40

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Miles253 wrote:
@Simon E which wheels did you get in the end? And thank you for the links I shall do some searching around.

Have ridden & raced Grammo carbon 50mm and Shimano RS80s. Weight almost identical, I am much happier with the RS80s. Less affected by sidewinds or turbulence from overtaking traffic, better braking and they don't feel any slower. It's the rider that's preventing the bike from going faster, not the wheels.

If your current wheels are 1600g I doubt you'll find something that blows them away without spending lots of money. If you're not committed to racing I really don't understand why you'd bother with aero wheels when the benefit is so small.

Bear in mind that some lightweight wheels are built with fragile hubs so the rims, where the inertia is, are no lighter than average.

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posted by Simon E [1946 posts]
11th March 2014 - 14:24

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How can somebody possibly know where the weight in a wheel is unless they have built in themselves. You've sold me on lightweight, now I just need to find a durable set as I can't be dealing with buying new wheels every 5000km if I can help it.

Specialized Allez 2009, Campagnolo Centaur 10, Campagnolo Shamal Wheels. 8.3kg

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posted by Miles253 [199 posts]
13th March 2014 - 9:48

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