So both myself and my wife took the plunge a few years ago and brought ourselves some upgraded bikes.

The bikes we have at the moment are a Bianchi, Infinito - 105 and she is on a Scott CR1 - 105.

We have been doing a number of Sportives over the last 24 months and my wife always feels that she is holding me back on them, to be honest the difference in average speed is a few mph and if she sits behind me its negligible. She has been out training on her speed for the last few months and is making gains but still feels that she is holding the group back.

I had a wild thought though, if we where to purchase new wheels and put them on her bike then this may help give her an extra 1-2 mph average speed that would even up the differences on the assumption my speed remains as it is at the moment.

So my first question is will new wheels lead to an increase in average speed?

The second is if yes which wheels would be a good shout at around the £750 mark.


notfastenough [3728 posts] 3 years ago

Unless she can maintain a consistent 25mph on the flat, then I would say that new wheels aren't going to give her that much of a free boost in speed.* (This is thought to be the speed at which aerodynamics start to make a tangible difference) Even then, they would need to be aero wheels, at which point you're into the realms of assessing the terrain you're riding on and making a call as to whether aero wheels would even be appropriate. If not, then you're just looking at lighter wheels, which only make a difference on climbs, and even then it's not huge (I dropped about 600 grams from my wheel weight, it felt tangible, but not enough to alter how my climbing rated against my peers)

*They might give her a psychological boost though which could translate to higher speeds - who doesn't fancy a new pair of £750 wheels?!

I'd be more inclined to ask what you mean about 'training' - is this proper structured sessions or is she just going out on her bike and giving it the beans? If she does some decent intervals, focuses on her pedalling technique (push the pedals forward through the top third, drag them back through the bottom third - the downstroke kinda happens automatically I find), and if necessary rides with someone quicker (you?) who can push her during the intervals, she should start making gains. She might also find it beneficial to do some stretching exercises so she can remain in the drops for longer periods, that gives you an extra mph or 2.

movingtarget [144 posts] 3 years ago

I only started riding road 6 years ago (started out with MTB which is fun but hard on the body) and have started doing more intense riding over the last 6 months (switched from an aggressive, uncomfortable triathlon bike to a pure race bike). I've been able to increase my speed on flats from 14-6 mph at the end of last fall to 18-20 mph by doing hills (it really increases your cardio reserve) as well as cycling with different groups of people. Besides doing interval training and focusing basics like pedal stroke motion (the smoother your stroke is the faster your cadence gets and smaller riders with less muscle mass like girls or climbers can push themselves more with less resistance before hitting that lactic acid wall--at least it works for me and I'm a 55kg girl). I've found that one of the best ways to improve is by getting my butt kicked on rides. Most people will push themselves harder when riding with friends/a group cuz they want to keep up and the encouragement always helps, you go that little bit faster and for longer distances than if you're just by yourself. You can also pick up tricks on pacing for different types of routes/climbs. I usually ride with people who are stronger than I am (my husband's been riding since he was a teenager and our friends race) and that also pushes me to work harder to keep up with them. I've noticed that many women get self-conscious riding with guys/stronger riders but everyone has to start out somewhere so those stronger riders were in your cleats at one point too. The people I ride with are totally cool riding with slower riders--a couple mph slower is not the same as a 12-4 mph rider trying to keep pace with an 18+ group so I'd say your wife is spot on with your group for being able to improve but it also comes down to what she's comfortable with?

In terms of getting a new wheelset, odds are they won't improve overall speed much but that's not to say that they can't smooth out your ride/improve cornering and handling. I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on a lightweight (1350g) custom wheelset with wide (23 mm) rims that will complement the type of riding I like to do (climbs, descents with lots of cornering, possible foray into 'cross this year) which I think will improve my riding quality. The fact that they're almost 400g lighter than my current Fulcrum 5s will def make climbing easier as my power-to-weight ratio is good and maybe psychologically increase my speed on flats (0.005 mph) for around £600  1

matthewn5 [1094 posts] 3 years ago

A good set of lightweight hand built wheels shouldn't set you back more than about £300, and as she's probably quite light she can have the lightest wheels you can build. Say, Novatec hubs, Sapim CX-ray spokes, Kinlin XR200 rims, which would add up to about 1350g.

They're currenly £287/pair at The Cycle Clinic:


(I'm not related to them! I've been looking for hand built wheels)

surly_by_name [551 posts] 3 years ago

Its a sportive, which makes it much less important than your relationship with your wife. Suggest you slow down a bit to keep her company. If you want to test yourself without the pleasure of your wife's company, enter different sportives or find different categories (e.g., you do 70 miles while your wife does 50).

Every time my wife tells me she feels bad that she is "holding me back" (happens in a particular non-cycling sporting context) I feel slightly ashamed because I figure it means I must have behaved like a child.

notfastenough [3728 posts] 3 years ago
surly_by_name wrote:

Its a sportive, which makes it much less important than your relationship with your wife.

Whereas if you were crit racing, marriage means nothing!  4

Jimmy Ray Will [828 posts] 3 years ago

This is a tricky one... unlike above, I think a really good set of wheels can make a tangible difference to speed; certainly in the 0.5 - 1mph average speed difference.

I've tested training and racing wheels on the same hill, same day, same power and its equated to about 20secs over a 8min hill.

That's using not brilliant race wheels and not too shabby training wheels, so the potential gains could be greater than that.

It depends on where the other half is struggling. If its particularly on hills, then a set of decent climbing wheels can make a real difference. If its mainly on the flats, then as mentioned, you'll need to be running at or above 25mph to really feel the benefit.

That said, rather than look at average speeds, its looking at how much time will be spent above 25mph, as all that time your missus will be getting an advantage. That advantage will also reap rewards on the climbs and everywhere else, as in theory she is saving energy that can be utilised in other areas.

However, you won't get a decent aero wheel for £750.

My advice is to weigh your missus' wheels and see what sort of gain can be had with a decent set of aluminium clinchers. Something like a set of Dura Ace C24's are light and responsive and within budget. If your good lady's wheels are already in the 1500gram mark however, saving another 100grams is going to make little difference.

What will make a difference is putting on a decent (and I mean really decent) set of tyres. A decent set of tyres and light weight tubes will make a difference on the hills, flats, everywhere. Something like top offerings from Schwalbe, Challenge, vittoria, Veloflex will give a definite boost to performance.