Just in: Strada Rail 52 carbon clincher wheels

Strada's first deep-section carbon aero wheels come our way

by David Arthur   August 8, 2013  

West Sussex-based Strada Wheels first showed the new Rail 52 carbon clincher rim at Bristol’s Bespoked show earlier this year, and now a test pair of wheels have found their way into the road.cc office for review.

Strada have earned a fine reputation for sorted handbuilt wheels with a wide choice of rims, spokes and hubs, allowing for lots of custom build options. The new Rail 52 rims represent a significant departure for the company, however, and sees them entering the fiercely competitive deep-section carbon wheel market where the likes of Zipp, Hed, Enve and Reynolds are big names.

The rim has actually been developed by Dave Kirkpatrick of November Bicycles in the US, a bike shop selling race-ready carbon bikes, frames and wheels made using open moulds. The Rail 52 is his very own design. Dave claims 20 years of aerodynamics experience, and has developed a proprietary rim design that follows the modern trend for a toroidal aerodynamic shape, based on NACA airfoil profiles. They’re 27.1mm at the widest point with a 25mm width at the braking surface, and an 18mm internal width. They recommend 23mm tyres be used.

Dave took the the Rail, plus a bunch of competitor wheels, to the A2 wind tunnel in North Carolina and found the Rail to be just two seconds slower than a Zipp404 Firecrest carbon clincher, the best performer in their test, in a 40km (25 mile) time trial (click here for a full explanation of the testing criteria). Slower, yes, but it’s worth pointing out that the 404 is a 58mm rim (against the Rail’s 52mm) and has fewer spokes - 16 versus 24 in the Rail.

Aero benefits aside, heat management is the big issue with carbon clinchers. The Rail has been constructed with high Tg resins (resins with a high glass transition temperature, the point at which the resin gets hot enough to revert to its liquid state) that are capable of handling temperatures up to 170°C without any warping or delamination. SwissStop Black Prince brake pads are supplied with the rims. We can’t easily test aerodynamic gains, but we can examine their braking capabilities.

Individual rim weight is a claimed 510g, and they're available in 20, 24 and 28 spoke drillings. Strada is the exclusive Northern EU and UK distributor of this new rim and will offer a choice of builds, with prices starting from £1,100. Ours have Chris King R45 hubs and Sapim CX Ray spokes with brass nipples, which pushes the price up to £1,575. Ours weigh 1,610g.

Oh, the flouro yellow decals are purely an option by the way. There are more conservative decal colours available.

Strada offer a two year warranty on the rim and there is a 100kg rider weight limit. Watch out for a full review soon.

www.stradawheels.co.uk

14 user comments

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I know you are unable to do the tests, but faster, in what way are they faster? into a headwind, crosswind, tail wind.

I wonder if there is a case for having a single industry set of tests so the end user can actually know what is the "best" wheelset.

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
8th August 2013 - 11:58

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Did you follow the link that says 'click here for a full explanation of the testing criteria'?

See also http://www.novemberbicycles.com/blog/month/february-2013 for more info.

posted by Mat Brett [1806 posts]
8th August 2013 - 12:34

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I want.

I can't afford . Crying

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
8th August 2013 - 12:36

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Mat Brett wrote:
Did you follow the link that says 'click here for a full explanation of the testing criteria'?

See also http://www.novemberbicycles.com/blog/month/february-2013 for more info.

More the second bit i am on about than the first, as they say themselves they didn't test every tyre width, which can have an affect etc.

Lots of wheels on the market, but there isn't any real comparable numbers between them. Then throw in the point they mention about tyre width and drag numbers. We are being told that wider tyres have lower rolling resistance, but wider would usually mean more aerodynamic drag, in theory, but then rim profile or even rider speed and weight also matter, and from experience, winter air is slower than summer air, is this my legs being weaker, the air being thicker, clothing more restrictive....

Be nice to have something that said wheel a is faster than wheel b. I guess not really possible as there are far too many variables to even know where to start!

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
8th August 2013 - 13:32

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As long as they make you slightly faster than your mates so you can get another "KOM" on Strava, that's all that matters, right?

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
8th August 2013 - 13:35

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JonMack wrote:
As long as they make you slightly faster than your mates so you can get another "KOM" on Strava, that's all that matters, right?

This may comes as a shock to you, but some of us ACTUALLY race. Wink

posted by merckxissimo [59 posts]
8th August 2013 - 14:05

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I took delivery of a set from Strada last week. Cognizant of the placebo affect, they are a fine set of fast and light wheels that perform appreciably better than previous mid market deep section wheels I've owned. 150m including Ride London, I'm grinning ear to ear. Big Grin

posted by Steve_F [1 posts]
8th August 2013 - 15:05

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Look forward to your test.

David, will you be test riding these? I ask because very recently the Reynolds Aero 58 wheels were tested by your colleague Liam and I wonder whether it would be more informative to gage how the Strada wheels compare to those Reynolds wheels - same tester, presumably same roads etc.

posted by Metjas [268 posts]
8th August 2013 - 20:53

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Is the weight accurate? Strada state on their website that they estimated them to build at 1502g with CK hubs and CX ray spokes! That is a significant difference to 1650g on your scales

posted by Danh4541 [4 posts]
9th August 2013 - 13:45

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Hello - this is Jonathan from Strada. The pair shown here we weighed just over 1600g on our scales. Thank you Danh for pointing out the discrepancy, I have corrected the specification weight on the Strada website.

There is a guy from Slowtwitch.com who has written some articles on field testing different set-ups accurately. I'll try and find them and post the links.

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posted by Jon_D [10 posts]
12th August 2013 - 11:11

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Ok, found it, this was written by Ton Anhalt, a mechanical engineer in Californai whose tyre rolling CRR tests were an interesting read as well btw:

http://bikeblather.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/aero-field-testing-using-chung...

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posted by Jon_D [10 posts]
12th August 2013 - 12:38

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Any updates on these wheels? Looking to order some at the cycle show but would love Road.cc opinion!

posted by Danh4541 [4 posts]
21st September 2013 - 7:18

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Big Grin Is all I can say to my set, they really are fast wheels. Very stiff, nice ride and the service from Strada was great.

561880_10153157348495525_1650463086_n.jpg

posted by kknb2162 [4 posts]
27th September 2013 - 14:58

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There is a review due out in 220 Triathlon magazine this week (March 2014) and a first look in Cyclist magazine this week too and a test review due later in the season.

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posted by Jon_D [10 posts]
4th February 2014 - 13:04

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