Have you wasted money on super light new wheels?

by SammyG   April 29, 2013  

Ok, so I'm currently researching a new set of wheels, I was primarily looking at the weight of the wheels but during my research I came across a number of articles that would imply that 250g's off a set of wheels would make a minimal difference.

Here is an article backed with scientific research: http://www.biketechreview.com/index.php/reviews/wheels/63-wheel-performance it shows that reducing a wheelsets weight by 50% has a sub .5% difference in performance. The main gains that can be made by a wheel are in it's aerodynamic ability.

So I thought well, I will need a 40mm+ set of wheels to reap the aerodynamic benefits, then I stumbled on the following research: http://www.cyclingpowerlab.com/ComponentAerodynamics.aspx this data would suggest that the Campagnolo Zondas are a more aerodynamically sound choice than a Mavic Carbone SLR!

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Cheers robdaykin but that data is totally useless, here is a link to a test on a climb (where weight would matter most) using a powermeter: http://www.training4cyclists.com/how-much-time-does-extra-weight-cost-on... your seriously suggesting 500g's will effect speed by 8%?

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
4th May 2013 - 14:49

9 Likes

I think you'll see I pointed out that the figures are not statistically significant. i.e. useless.

What I have found, like the article you link to (which is interesting) is that there is no evidence to disprove the hypothesis I stated.

posted by robdaykin [160 posts]
4th May 2013 - 16:01

13 Likes

robdaykin wrote:

...Effort measured by heart rate, since I don't own a power meter...

Frankly speaking I should have stopped reading it at this point but I carried on...

robdaykin wrote:

Handbuilt wheel ~ 2100g (measured, no tape, tube, tyre, skewer, cassette, however scales accurate to maybe +/- 50g) 5.5% slower +/- 0.5%

Mavic Ksyrium Elite 1550g list weight 8% faster +/- 0.5%.

I appreciate your efforts and respect your opinions but sorry I'm absolutely not buying it at all.
I'm a bit of a tyre tart and there was a time I was testing various tyres on my bike (w/ Powertap) on a 3h loop, from 25mm 250g GP4000S to 37mm 600g Contact Sports and even despite differences in rolling resistance I don't recall differences exceeding 0.5-0.7mp in extreme cases.

Few other thoughts.

Rims vary in width/shape/volume and tyre pressure should account for that. A 1mm difference may not seem like an awful lot but it may change the volume of the tyres by 5-10% and affect rolling resistance and the feel.
You know... people claiming that wheels A are more comfortable or roll smoother than wheels B Wink

Also of e.g. 500g difference between wheels most of weight saving will be in the hubs. Most of rims will be in a region of 370-450g. There is not much potential for weight saving here. What it means is that you're only saving about 100-200g of rotating mass furthermost from the centre (at best!).
To suggest it's going to result in noticeable difference in av. speed is madness.

Besides, what most of people debate mostly about is not how much difference lighter wheels make but how does it does it compare to a static weight.

The difference is going to be **** all.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
4th May 2013 - 16:33

11 Likes

I'm no mathematician or physicist so cannot comment on the various % gains or losses quoted here but...

Everyone that I know of who has upgraded their wheels experience an improvement in performance to a greater or lesser extent. As to whether our not it's worth it, that will depend on your point of view.

Even changing to my summer tyres this year have given me a noticeable boost in speed

You just have to try it out for yourself in the real world! You'd be surprised at how much difference weight and aerodynamics can make to the effort required to power on the flat or sprint up a hill.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
8th May 2013 - 22:37

9 Likes

There's been too little mention of the importance of the hubs and the overall wheel build in this thread...

There's ZERO point getting the most aero or lightest rims you can buy if you're going to run them on worthless hubs, or built into wheels that aren't up to the job.

Too much focus on weight and aero, not a single mention of quality...

posted by RichTheRoadie [86 posts]
8th May 2013 - 23:13

6 Likes

I've just changed from cosmic carbone sl's to borrowing a pair of cheap old hoops from a mate with no real noticeable difference, the only difference is when there is a cross tail wind I can't use the rims like a sail to power on.

Re quality of hubs, good aero and weight rims will be made by zipp, hed, sram etc all expensive with good build quality

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
9th May 2013 - 6:14

10 Likes

700c wrote:
...Everyone that I know of who has upgraded their wheels experience an improvement in performance to a greater or lesser extent...

Perceived benefits and the "feel" has very little to do with actual performance. The best example are tyre pressure and perceived rolling resistance. Pump up a 23mm tyre to 120PSI and it will always "feel" faster than a 28mm one at 30-40PSI less even though you're likely to be faster or at least as fast on a wider one.

700c wrote:
... Even changing to my summer tyres this year have given me a noticeable boost in speed...

I totally agree on this one. Performance of various tyres can be pretty accurately measured with a drum, pendulum or a simple rolling test and the difference between slow and fast ones can be as much as 20-30W.
IMO it's the only bike component that it's worth obsessing about.
700c wrote:
... You just have to try it out for yourself in the real world! You'd be surprised at how much difference weight and aerodynamics can make to the effort required to power on the flat or sprint up a hill...

I ride in the real world and over 25years of cycling I've never noticed the measurable performance benefits of lighter wheels. They may feel different but that's all.
The only things that made a positive difference to my average speeds were: picking the right tyres, losing 3 stones, commuting/training regularly all year round and clocking long endurance miles in winter.

Anything else had very little relevance.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
9th May 2013 - 11:04

10 Likes

@BBB, your experience may be the exception rather than the rule..

But if you are correct, then thousands of us are being conned and the likes of Zipp, Reynolds, HED, fulcrum, Mavic etc should just give up and throw away the results of £millions spent on R&D! Wink

posted by 700c [556 posts]
9th May 2013 - 12:35

10 Likes

*£millions spent on marketing

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
9th May 2013 - 13:12

9 Likes

Well yes, there's no point spending money on product development then not telling anybody about it! Successful manufacturing companies like these need both an effective R&D function and an effective marketing department.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
9th May 2013 - 13:26

7 Likes

700c is right, sorry BBB but after 25 years you might not notice any effect due to all the other changes, but plenty of others do. Whether it is gyroscopic or psychological it is a real effect. And if you move from point A to point B, or even Point A to Point A faster than you did or could before then the purchase was worth it no matter how it was achieved.



Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1297 posts]
9th May 2013 - 13:27

6 Likes

PS to the O.P, some dealers offer a try before you buy scheme on certain wheels (Reynolds is one of these manufacturers) so just try them out and if you don't notice a difference in the real world then don't buy!

All the rest is just B.S. pseudo-science and speculation, frankly!

posted by 700c [556 posts]
9th May 2013 - 13:31

5 Likes

700c wrote:
PS to the O.P, some dealers offer a try before you buy scheme on certain wheels (Reynolds is one of these manufacturers) so just try them out and if you don't notice a difference in the real world then don't buy!

All the rest is just B.S. pseudo-science and speculation, frankly!

As I said before I had Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL's (£800 wheelset) I'm now riding a £40 unbranded crappy wheelset. I can't notice a difference.

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
9th May 2013 - 14:31

7 Likes

SammyG wrote:

As I said before I had Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL's (£800 wheelset) I'm now riding a £40 unbranded crappy wheelset. I can't notice a difference.

TBH at 1720g those Mavic's aren't particularly light -and weight is the subject of your post - so, aerodynamics aside, this is my experience over past few years.

FSA RD-60 - 1980g upgraded to campag Zonda -1555g: Big difference in climbing ability and acceleration. Better under power and no flex

Campag Zonda upgraded to Reynolds 46T - 1180g: a further increase in ability to sprint up hills, faster to accelerate on the flat and to hold speed.+1 mph on my recent average speeds recorded on my usual 10 mile commute.

Of course the more expensive wheels have come with better hubs but I am certain that reduction in rotating weight has been a significant factor.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
9th May 2013 - 16:19

8 Likes

My current are 2200g so around a 500g difference between them and my mavics

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
9th May 2013 - 17:25

6 Likes

I'll give you £40 for your unbranded wheels then, if they are as good as £800 carbon Mavics!

posted by 700c [556 posts]
9th May 2013 - 17:42

8 Likes

No offence but road cycling community is known from riding and thinking in a pack.

Thousands, no.. millions, in fact 9 of 10 of roadies are still on pointless 23mm tyres (coz the pros use them...), mistaking vibrations and lack of comfort for speed and ignoring solid research on rolling resistance (e.g. excellent work by Bicycle Quarterly).
I won't even start on a stupid 19-21mm trend from (I believe) 90's that people mindlessly followed just like the pros...

It's one of the many examples in the cycling world and in life generally how the majority is often wrong and how their strong convictions are based on assumptions, subjective impressions and opinions of others rather than on scientific facts.

In assessing (meaningful) performance gains I'm only interested in research not fairy tales so I will appreciate if someone points me in the right direction. Links, articles please... (independent, not "sponsored" ones, normal, NO TT setup, just a typical bloke on the bike).

I'd like to know how much faster exactly on a varied route a typical non-competing bloke putting 250-300W and cycling at 15-18mph, mostly on hoods is going to gain from more aero or lightweight wheels exactly?

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
10th May 2013 - 11:23

13 Likes

It doesn't matter. You buy fancy shit because it makes you feel more awesome. This hobby is so much about the emotions. Performance is directly tied in to that. Feeling more pro is part of the fun.
The aesthetic of cycling is what makes it so wonderful. Down the generations there's things cyclists just do, because it looks right and because it feels right.
I'm as likely to buy a pair of shoes because they match details on my frame as I am to buy them for their performance. Genuinely, my new shoes made me faster because I felt great wearing them.
So you get the new ultra-lightweight wheelset. People pick up your bike to do that approving thing. Your bike's more awesome. You push yourself harder to do your bike justice. You look at your bike some more. You swap out your stem for one that works just a tiny bit better. You feel good. You push harder. You train more.
You're getting marginal gains all the time, not just physical but psychological too.

Any sport is as much heart as it is head. Just accept that shiny things affect your heart too.

posted by bashthebox [645 posts]
10th May 2013 - 11:47

25 Likes

BBB wrote:
Thousands, no.. millions, in fact 9 of 10 of roadies are still on pointless 23mm tyres (coz the pros use them...), mistaking vibrations and lack of comfort for speed and ignoring solid research on rolling resistance (e.g. excellent work by Bicycle Quarterly).
I won't even start on a stupid 19-21mm trend from (I believe) 90's that people mindlessly followed just like the pros...

Bag of worms there, not that simple Love Struck

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
10th May 2013 - 12:19

1 Like

Very emotional and well-put, bashthebox! There's nothing wrong with feeling good. If you think you'll get the benefit, go for it.

Ultimately, no-one wants to be seen as an idiot wasting their time on £4k of bike, so any upgrade makes you want to do it justice and not look like you have all the gear and no idea.

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

posted by notfastenough [3200 posts]
10th May 2013 - 12:27

3 Likes

I'd suggest that in purely numerical terms there's basically nothing you can buy for your bike, performance-wise, where the money wouldn't be better spent investing in improving your fitness. With the possible exception of TT bars, if you TT.

we're emotional beings though, not robots. let us have our carbon bottle cages, dammit.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7388 posts]
10th May 2013 - 12:46

3 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
I'd suggest that in purely numerical terms there's basically nothing you can buy for your bike, performance-wise, where the money wouldn't be better spent investing in improving your fitness.

What about an E-Bike?

posted by farrell [1457 posts]
10th May 2013 - 13:19

2 Likes

I agree with Dave Atkinson, getting fit is the best way to improve your performance. I have a twenty year old touring bike if I could afford a carbon wonder bike I doubt I would go any faster.

posted by AndrewB [2 posts]
11th May 2013 - 19:21

1 Like

SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
Thousands, no.. millions, in fact 9 of 10 of roadies are still on pointless 23mm tyres (coz the pros use them...), mistaking vibrations and lack of comfort for speed and ignoring solid research on rolling resistance (e.g. excellent work by Bicycle Quarterly).
I won't even start on a stupid 19-21mm trend from (I believe) 90's that people mindlessly followed just like the pros...

Bag of worms there, not that simple Love Struck

It is very simple.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
11th May 2013 - 20:44

2 Likes

BBB wrote:
SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
Thousands, no.. millions, in fact 9 of 10 of roadies are still on pointless 23mm tyres (coz the pros use them...), mistaking vibrations and lack of comfort for speed and ignoring solid research on rolling resistance (e.g. excellent work by Bicycle Quarterly).
I won't even start on a stupid 19-21mm trend from (I believe) 90's that people mindlessly followed just like the pros...

Bag of worms there, not that simple Love Struck

It is very simple.

Yes the rolling resistance is simple which will save you 0.2 - 0.3 watts going from 23c to 25c, but aerodynamic implications are closer to 6 watts dependent on wheel rim width.

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
11th May 2013 - 20:54

4 Likes

Sorry guys simple solution:

Running, there has been so many" innovations" with running, and yet its proven training gains far out way any performance clothing gains.... Most performance gains from clothing ie compression only give the perceived feeling of better performance.

To sum up, aero=feeling of less effort thus can push harder =actually going harder

posted by blablablacksheep20 [49 posts]
11th May 2013 - 21:00

1 Like

Training's free.

The thread was about whether spending money on lighter and/or more aerodynamic wheels is worth it or not. All other factors being equal.

Wheel upgrades have made a difference for me, therefore it's worth spending money -to a point. This point will vary for everyone.

No amount of science or theory can convince though, you just have to try them out.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
11th May 2013 - 21:49

2 Likes

SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
Thousands, no.. millions, in fact 9 of 10 of roadies are still on pointless 23mm tyres (coz the pros use them...), mistaking vibrations and lack of comfort for speed and ignoring solid research on rolling resistance (e.g. excellent work by Bicycle Quarterly).
I won't even start on a stupid 19-21mm trend from (I believe) 90's that people mindlessly followed just like the pros...

Bag of worms there, not that simple Love Struck

It is very simple.

Yes the rolling resistance is simple which will save you 0.2 - 0.3 watts going from 23c to 25c, but aerodynamic implications are closer to 6 watts dependent on wheel rim width.

Testing rolling resistance using smooth steel drums and air resistance of wheels/tyres using a TT bike "ridden" at 25-30mph in full aero position is as far to typical riding conditions as it gets.

It makes a very effective marketing, though.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
14th May 2013 - 14:27

2 Likes

SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
Thousands, no.. millions, in fact 9 of 10 of roadies are still on pointless 23mm tyres (coz the pros use them...), mistaking vibrations and lack of comfort for speed and ignoring solid research on rolling resistance (e.g. excellent work by Bicycle Quarterly).
I won't even start on a stupid 19-21mm trend from (I believe) 90's that people mindlessly followed just like the pros...

Bag of worms there, not that simple Love Struck

It is very simple.

Yes the rolling resistance is simple which will save you 0.2 - 0.3 watts going from 23c to 25c, but aerodynamic implications are closer to 6 watts dependent on wheel rim width.

Testing rolling resistance using smooth steel drums and air resistance of wheels/tyres using a TT bike "ridden" at 25-30mph in full aero position is as far from typical riding conditions as it gets.

It makes very effective marketing, though.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
14th May 2013 - 14:33

2 Likes

BBB wrote:
SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
SammyG wrote:
BBB wrote:
Thousands, no.. millions, in fact 9 of 10 of roadies are still on pointless 23mm tyres (coz the pros use them...), mistaking vibrations and lack of comfort for speed and ignoring solid research on rolling resistance (e.g. excellent work by Bicycle Quarterly).
I won't even start on a stupid 19-21mm trend from (I believe) 90's that people mindlessly followed just like the pros...

Bag of worms there, not that simple Love Struck

It is very simple.

Yes the rolling resistance is simple which will save you 0.2 - 0.3 watts going from 23c to 25c, but aerodynamic implications are closer to 6 watts dependent on wheel rim width.

Testing rolling resistance using smooth steel drums and air resistance of wheels/tyres using a TT bike "ridden" at 25-30mph in full aero position is as far from typical riding conditions as it gets.

It makes very effective marketing, though.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
27th August 2013 - 2:05

1 Like