A sign of the acceptance and popularity of discs on road bikes is the growing number of wheel manufacturers showing disc wheels at Eurobike. There were quite a few, and we've seen most of them. Discs were not the only story of course, aerodynamics is still important, but it does seem that aero has taken a step back this year, judging by what we saw at the show at least, while manufacturers rush to offer a disc compatible wheelset.
After a couple of years of interesting aerodynamic development, it's clear there's two schools of thought when it comes to rim shape. The majority are leaning towards a wider bulbous shape, which many reckon gives better aero performance - like Zipp who popularised this rim shape with their Firecrest rims. The other reason for the extra width is the better support they offer tyres, especially 25mm and wider tyres, which are getting more popular at the moment. The other rim profile that is still in use is a traditional V-section rim, most notably used by Lightweight and Reynolds, with the later being pushed by renowned aerodynamicist and wheel designer Paul Lew.
There's also quite a few more carbon clincher options as well, with 3T offering their first and a few others too. Tubulars still command a serious advantage when it comes to weight, and always will do, but carbon clinchers are getting lighter and their convenience far outweigh tubs. Another technology is Road Tubeless, which is gaining a bit more acceptance. Easton produced their new Aero 55 carbon rim to be tubeless-ready, but they were one of the standout examples of a tubeless carbon deep-section. Tubeless remains at an odd place, there's some serious manufacturers insterested in it (Schwalbe reckon their new tubeless tyre is their fastest ever) but other manufacturers are, currently, displaying no interest at all.
Reynolds have updated their Assault, Attack and Strike wheels for 2014, moving to a wider 25mm width rim with an oval-shaped profile. Reynolds, headed by Paul Lew, have been advocates of V-shape rim profiles, while many brands, like Zipp, have popularised the rounded bulbous profile in recent years.
The new SLG models still incorporate their Swirl Lip Generator, small ridges at the edge of the rim designed to decrease turbulent air. Another change is the move to external nipples, they were hidden inside the rim last year, a change that should see the wheels being easier to service.
The Assault is also available in a disc version, and that weighs 1,540g, a 65g weight increase over the regular wheelset. The rim is disc-specific with new Reynolds hubs with 6-bolt rotor mounts, and will cost £1,349.99.
The Aero line of wheels, which have a more traditional V-shape profile with their Dispersive Effect Termination (DET) technology, carries over into 2014 unchanged, except for the introduction of a new 46mm option.
Some brands choose to launch their new products at shows like Eurobike, but others prefer to launch whenever they’re ready. Mavic is one such company, who just recently launched their new Cosmic Carbon 40 - their first carbon clincher wheelset - several months ago. We’ve even got a pair in for testing at the moment.
Unlike most other carbon clincher wheels with an all-carbon construction, these wheels feature a 40mm rim made by bonding a carbon shell to an internal alloy extrusion. The inside is filled with foam. Mavic’s reasoning for this design is to counteract the heat problem that afflicts other carbon clinchers: the alloy extrusion basically acts as a heat sink and draws heat away from the carbon braking surface.
Lightweight have a new Meilenstein Obermayer wheelset that they say hits the scales at an extraordinarily light 935g a pair. They’ve even gone so far as to lazer the logos instead of using stickers in order to save 20g.
The rims have come down slightly in depth from 53mm to 47.5mm and a different carbon layup from the standard Meilenstein boosts the stiffness. There’s a new hub shell and axle too, and new spokes. Lightweight say that the one criticism of the previous Meilenstein wheels was that they weren’t the stiffest wheels out there, but these are said to be much, much stiffer.
The maximum weight limit is 90kg. The price falls into the ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’ category. Or, to be more precise, £4,150.
Easton have reworked their entire wheels range. The top boy is the EC90 Aero 55 clincher, the 55 denoting the depth of the rim, called the Fantom, in millimetres. The external rim width is greater than before at 28mm, and the rim profile has a very round nose, as is the way with many aero wheels these days, which Easton reckon keeps them stable in crosswinds.
Easton say that their wind tunnel data proves that the EC90 Aero 55 is the fastest clincher out there across an average of yaw angles. Of course, there are a whole bunch of other brands that claim that their own wheels are the fastest too; there’s no standardization in wind tunnel testing across the bike industry.
The EC90 Aero 55 features a new Echo rear hub where the bearings are spaced apart by a wide 95mm – twice the width of before. They reckon that this leads to improved durability. Everything is held together by Sapim CX-Ray straight-pull bladed spokes.
One other interesting point is that these are the only carbon clincher wheels out there with certified road tubless compatibility, if you want to go down that route. The wheelset weight, as given by Easton, is 1,580g.
The EC90 Aero 55 clincher wheelset will be available next spring but we don’t have a price yet.
With the whole road disc brake thing happening right now, many wheel manufacturers are producing disc-compatible models. This is the disc clincher version of Enve’s Simon Smart designed SES 3.4 with a 35mm rim depth up front, and 45mm at the rear.
Rather than the 20/24 spoke count of the rim brake version, the disc model has 24 spokes front and rear. Enve have managed to shave 110g from the wheelset because of the removal of the brake track (although, obviously, you need to factor in the weight of the disc). Enve give the weights as 400g (f) and 415g (r) – so megalight.
No UK price has yet been set but it’s likely to be around £2,200 (don’t quote us) when this wheelset becomes available in two or three months’ time.
Shimano have a new disc-specific clincher too: the RX31 which is suitable for 11-speed systems (and fewer speeds with the use of a spacer). The aluminium rims are 24mm high and the disc rotor mount is a simple-to-use Centre-Lock design.
They’re priced at £129.99 (f) and £149.99 (r) and Shimano recommend a tyre width of 25-28mm.
We’ve told you about Shimano’s new C24 tubulars before (as opposed to the C24 clinchers) but they’re worth another mention.
These are climbers’ wheels with full-carbon rims, the rear one being asymmetric with a 3mm offset to allow Shimano to increase the lateral rigidity. The wide-flanged hubs are cold forged and machined aluminium, with a titanium freehub, and they’re laced up with straight-pull bladed spokes. Shimano claiming an average weight of about 1,150g for the pair. They’ll cost you £1,949.99.
These are the Token Hero wheels that we first showed you last month. Go to our previous story for all the details.
The reason we’ve included them here is that this picture lets you have a good look at the really unusual rim profile. The sides are virtually parallel before kinking out slightly and then back in to the centre. The wheelset is priced at £899.
3T’s new Accelero 40 Ltd is a carbon clincher wheelset replacing last year’s carbon/aluminium clincher. Like the Mecurio 40mm clinchers we took a look at earlier this year, the carbon rims moulded spoke pockets that spokes slot into. This design is meant to move the weight of the nipple to the hub, which reduces the inertia making for a quicker accelerating wheel
Perhaps the bigger news from 3T is the news they’re offering a road disc wheelset. The new Accelero 40 Pro has aluminium rim with the same aero profile, and regular spokes without the spoke pockets of the carbon rims. They’ve worked on the design of the rim to keep the weight increase with the disc hub to a minimum. The rims are tubeless compatible.
DT’s new Spline wheels technology is now being offered in two disc versions, the the RC38 Spline and RC 28 Spline. The RC38 is offered in tubular (1,390g) or clincher (1,520g), while the RC 28 is just a clincher and weighs a claimed 1,420g.
The rims, developed by DT Swiss themselves, are carbon clincher or tubular, and have no brake track on the disc version. They’re a bit lighter as they’ve removed the extra layer of resin normally applied to the braking track to deal with high temperatures.
The Spline in the name refers to the use of straight pull spokes, 2-cross and radial, with low profile hub flanges. DT Swiss wanted to avoid using spokes with a J-bend, a potential weakness, and Spline is their solution.
Ritchey have a new line of wheels, consisting of carbon tubular and carbon clincher options.
This is the WCX Apex 46mm carbon clincher, a wheel we think is prime for UK cyclists, from racers to sportive riders. The rim is 46mm deep with Phantom Flange hubs, which they say are fully serviceable, with Sapim CX spokes.
This is the deepest section on offer, the WCS Apex 88mm tubular wheelset. A full carbon rim laced to Phantom Flange hubs with a patented six pawl 12-point micro-clutch freehub. Spokes are DT New Aero and they’re hand-built by Ritchey.
There’s also a WCS Zeta II wheelset. A classic alloy rim with a 17mm internal width, tubeless-ready and using the same Phantom Flange hubs as the Apex wheels.
Rolf Prima say the Vigor here is one of their most popular. The wheels pair a 33mm alloy clincher rim, with a 22mm wide Delta profile, to TdF5.5 hubs with 14/16 front/rear wheel spokes. The hubs have ceramic bearings and the freehub is a three pawl machined from titanium. All that combines to give a wheelset weighing 1,450g.
The Ares range is their all-carbon clincher model. There’s three rim depths to choose from; 42, 58 and 80mm.Weights range from 1,375g to 1,790g. There’s also a disc version of the Ares4, but they didn’t have it on show at Eurobike. That set weighs a claimed 1,590g, 275g more than the non-disc version.
The rim profiles are shaped using their Delta shape, which uses an increased sidewall width which they claim produces better aerodynamics.
Rolf Prima wheels of course stand out due to their paired spokes, something they’ve been doing since they introduced it in 1996. Their reasons for doing this are to balance the pulling forces a wheel is subjected to in order to builder straighter wheels with lighter rims.
These are Hope’s Pro3 Aero hubs laced to 30mm carbon tubular rims. Hope is a company renowned for mountain bike disc brakes and disc hubs (they started out making the later) and we half expected them to have something shiny and new up their sleeves...
Another disc option, the new Team30 Disc from Vision. It has a 30mm alloy clincher rim with CNC-machined hubs containing sealed cartridge bearings. The rear hub is 135mm wide. They claim a weight of 1,875g including skewers.
Vision’s Metron is a new line of carbon clincher wheels. There’s a new super deep 81mm option now, ideal for time trials or the rear wheel on flat road stages. Stick a pair together and they weigh a claimed 1,745g. They are based on the same rim profile as the Metron 81 tubular wheels already raced by the Cannondale pro team. Spokes are aero bladed with self-locking nipples, and new light P.R.A hubs have two sealed bearings in the front and four in the rear.
The Metron 55 weighs a claimed 1,595g.
The Metron 40 is arguably the pick of the range, for an all-round wheelset. Fast in a range of conditions and stable in crosswinds, with a competitive 1,495g weight. They’re available as a tubular, which the pros race, and a clincher. They’re on-trend with a wide profile and rounded rim profile.
Fulcrum have worked on updating their popular Racing 5 and 7 wheels. Both have a new asymmetric rear rim which they claim makes for a stiffer wheel. The redesigned hubs also have a single-piece body integrating the freewheel body and pawl carrier which saves some weight. There's a bit of weight shed as a result.
The latest wheel from Campagolo is the Bora 35mm. A new 35mm deep carbon tubular (no sign of a carbon clincher yet) is an increasingly popular depth these days. The weigh a claimed 1,230g, which is darn light. The Bora 35s fill the gap in the range between Campag’s shallow rimmed Hyperon wheels and the Bora 50s. They’ve also worked hard with the aim of improving the braking performance, giving the Bora 35 a new brake surface treatment that they call 3Diamant.
With words by Matt Brett.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.