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Old 01-31-08, 01:07 PM   #1
aicabsolut
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help with race wheels

First, I'll admit that I don't want these wheels to be exclusively for racing, but I will not be doing trainer workouts or all the bad weather and off season riding necessarily. However, I do need something that could hold up to a fair amount of "regular" use. I am a weak climber, so I avoid mountains, hill climb races, etc. I don't think a "climbing" wheelset is going to do me any good, either, though shedding some weight couldn't hurt, right? My strength is quick acceleration, and I really hope to keep improving in this area. I find that I struggle the most with wind and maintaining a quick pace in moderately windy, flat conditions. So, I want something more aerodynamic and easier to maintain at fast cruising speeds as my top priority. A wheel I could spin up quickly out of corners and in sprints would be at the 2nd level of importance. I don't want to hurt my climbing, but as I said, I'm going to have to work on my legs and not my wheels to really improve there. Although I'd use these primarily for racing and the hammerfest group rides, I would like something I could ride by myself out in the boonies. So, I prefer clinchers for flat-fixing purposes. I hear tubulars require a lot of strength plus carrying the extra tire...yada yada.

My stock wheels are Ultegra level Shimano (WH-R600). They SUCK, but are bomb-proof.

I got a decent chunk of change as a holiday present, but I keep going back and forth on what to get. My budget is $2100 or less.

I'm thinking about:
Zipp 303/404 combo or Zipp 404 all around
Pros: 5 year crash replacement (cost?), hotness
Cons: durable enough? price.

Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL
Pros: 2 year free replacement, with nominal up front cost. durable? price.
Cons: heavier, uglier.

Am I incorrect in any of my pros or cons (or can you answer where there are question marks)?

Thoughts on either wheelset for my purposes?

Any additional brands/models that might work for me? (please keep these limited to absolute favorite wheels at this price point, because I'm already overwhelmed ).

Thanks!! Race season starts soon!
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Old 01-31-08, 01:15 PM   #2
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Look at the Reynolds DV46UL as IIRC you're a female (and I'm guessing fairly light). They are a high quality wheelset, and because of the light weight will spin up very quickly. The 46mm rim profile won't abuse you in crosswinds like 404s might.

That said, I love my 404s.
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Old 01-31-08, 01:24 PM   #3
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You're correct. I'm female and generally between 126-132lbs.
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Old 01-31-08, 01:31 PM   #4
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$2,100 will buy you alot of wheel.

I was in similar position last year ($$ in my pocket and lust for new hoops), and after talking with LBS owner and my coach, we decided the Zipp 303s were best for me, my racing style, etc. I dont have the patience for tubbies, so much to the dismay of the old school racers, I went with clinchers. I only use them as race wheels though. When I'm not wearing a #, I see no reason to roll in the hi zoot wheels or hi zoot race tires.
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Old 01-31-08, 01:50 PM   #5
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Good point. Mostly, I am tired of sucking at the group rides when I go home (which is usually for a couple of weeks to a month at a time, maybe 2x a year). The terrain is pancake flat. It's always moderately windy. And the "base training" pace for those guys is supposedly a 19-21mph average over 40-70mi with a lot of me struggling to maintain 24-26mph in the rotating paceline for long periods. Yeah, I know that's not lightening speed, but it's faster than what I usually encounter in most races so far! Plus, half of them are in aero setups and the others in pretty much race gear. The only thing that worries me with those rides are the RR tracks we hit a few times.

MDcatV, why did you pick 303 over 404? How hard have you been on them in races so far? How have they held up?
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Old 01-31-08, 02:56 PM   #6
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At 25mph, would the .5mph aero difference justify the $2000 on Zipp 404s?
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Old 01-31-08, 03:09 PM   #7
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At 25mph, would the .5mph aero difference justify the $2000 on Zipp 404s?
And, if you are in a pack/paceline, the aero benefits get smaller, don't they? Seems like a lot of dough just to be able to hang with some dudes on a group ride.
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Old 01-31-08, 03:12 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=aicabsolut;6084979]Good point. Mostly, I am tired of sucking at the group rides when I go home (which is usually for a couple of weeks to a month at a time, maybe 2x a year). The terrain is pancake flat. It's always moderately windy. And the "base training" pace for those guys is supposedly a 19-21mph average over 40-70mi with a lot of me struggling to maintain 24-26mph in the rotating paceline for long periods. Yeah, I know that's not lightening speed, but it's faster than what I usually encounter in most races so far! Plus, half of them are in aero setups and the others in pretty much race gear. The only thing that worries me with those rides are the RR tracks we hit a few times.

MDcatV, why did you pick 303 over 404? How hard have you been on them in races so far? How have they held up?[/QUOTE]

No real scientific reasoning behind 303s over 404s. My riding style would best be described as "punchy", my coach thought the 303s would be a better wheel choice for my style than would the 404s, and that they would be a more appropriate "every race" wheel set, others might and do disagree. I dont have real data, but I "feel" that they are faster than the other wheelsets I run, particularly right after a hard acceleration or bridge effort, when I settle into a ftp type pace.

durability - I did have a problem that resulted in replacing my rear wheel under warranty. I had a crack in my rim (rear, cant remember which side) originating at the spoke - too much tension when built(?). Seems and anomaly as I know lots of guys riding 303s and/or 404s with no such issues.
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Old 01-31-08, 03:33 PM   #9
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I ditched my race wheels. I'll have some 32h open pros laced up sometime to replace the full carbons that I had. Even in races, I fretted about dinging the wheels, knocking them out of true (internal nipples with tubular ties = HELL to true), flatting with a tubular tire mid race, and transporting them anywhere (planes) was nerve racking.

I'd rather have wheels I can abuse the hell out of and fix on my own. I can do all of that at 1/5th the cost of some fancy doodad wheels. I may not be as "cool" as the next guy, but I've done the "please don't flat, please don't break, please don't go out of true, please be gentle with my luggage" dance before, and it sucks.

Just throwing that out there.
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Old 01-31-08, 03:46 PM   #10
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Old 01-31-08, 04:14 PM   #11
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At 25mph, would the .5mph aero difference justify the $2000 on Zipp 404s?
Dont think of it as buying speed but saving watts. Add that up over a 4 hour ride and it makes a difference.
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Old 01-31-08, 04:23 PM   #12
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I ditched my race wheels. I'll have some 32h open pros laced up sometime to replace the full carbons that I had. Even in races, I fretted about dinging the wheels, knocking them out of true (internal nipples with tubular ties = HELL to true), flatting with a tubular tire mid race, and transporting them anywhere (planes) was nerve racking.

I'd rather have wheels I can abuse the hell out of and fix on my own. I can do all of that at 1/5th the cost of some fancy doodad wheels. I may not be as "cool" as the next guy, but I've done the "please don't flat, please don't break, please don't go out of true, please be gentle with my luggage" dance before, and it sucks.

Just throwing that out there.
I anticipated the "dance" and decided to skip that step and go with "regular" race wheels too. Campy hubs, 28 spokes, old Araya/rear, Ergal/front tubular rims. It will be nice to pass guys on $2000 wheels while I ride my slightly used 1400+ g $250 wheels. (I haven't actually weighed them... still gotta build the rear)

Also, I understand the benefits of aero rims as shown by wind tunnel tests, but how much benefit do you get when riding in a group ?
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Old 01-31-08, 05:31 PM   #13
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Dont think of it as buying speed but saving watts. Add that up over a 4 hour ride and it makes a difference.
Thank you. That's what I meant. Sometimes, the "paceline" is maybe 3 or 4 people. It rotates quickly. Sure, I can hide in the back and keep up ok, but I can't do that ALL the time. I don't care that much about the ability to get out another mph or two. I like the idea of a wheel that spins up pretty quickly and then takes a bit less muscle to maintain, especially when I'm on the front or working with a strung-out pack (the latter being my typical race situation). That way, when I have to chase down a surge, there may be something in the reserves. The occasional training with these guys has made me faster. So, I'd like to struggle a little less so I can learn more (on the group rides and in their practice crits) and participate in the county line sprints and other surges. I'm also planning on doing a fair amount of races this year.

Maybe I should add that last year, my best results were in time trials and a few crits where I could take a flyer for some prime points. There, I see any aero advantage or ease of acceleration helpful.

Cypress, I appreciate your point. I am really protective of my stuff, especially the expensive stuff. Noted.

I know $1500-$2000 is a lot to spend on wheels. My bike isn't top of the line, but that amount could just buy me another average racing bike. OR I could just add some bling to the bike. I kept talking about saving up for good wheels. Now I've got the funds, so why not? I understand why NOT to worry about getting race wheels. But if I *want* some nice race wheels that could help me save a little energy or get a little better acceleration, are any of the ones I'm interested in unreasonable as far as durability (maintenance, replacement policies, etc.), performance, handling in crosswinds, they really aren't that much nicer to ride, etc.? Are there other really fantastic race wheels that sound good for me given my strengths and weaknesses that I've completely overlooked?
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Old 01-31-08, 05:36 PM   #14
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At 25mph, would the .5mph aero difference justify the $2000 on Zipp 404s?
Not to derail the thread, but has anyone quantified this? X% of power at YYmph?
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Old 01-31-08, 05:44 PM   #15
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I agree that Shimano wheels suck.

If you're going to go super high zoot, I'd go with the Reynolds DV46-series wheels. I can dig up the article when I get home, but they beat out Zipp for most watts saved.

If these are going to be training, racing, day-in-day-out wheels, I would go with the old standby Ultegra hubs, Open Pro rims, butted or bladed spokes, and brass nipples. Or Dura Ace/CXP33 if you want a slightly higher-end wheelset.

No one will certainly look down on you for riding on a bombproof wheelset. You'll probably only have to get them trued twice--once when you get them, and once after you've ridden them for a couple hundred miles--for their entire service life. Those wheels will probably take nothing short of a full-speed curb impact before you'll damage them.
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Old 01-31-08, 05:56 PM   #16
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Look at the Reynolds DV46UL as IIRC you're a female (and I'm guessing fairly light). They are a high quality wheelset, and because of the light weight will spin up very quickly. The 46mm rim profile won't abuse you in crosswinds like 404s might
+4,600

FWIW I own both and the Reynolds are far and away tougher. I'd happily swap my 404's out for the new SDV66's. I broke both 404's last year on a pothole. A buddy did the same. I've raced the Reynolds for 3 years, hit more than my share of holes with zero damage, and dropped a water bottle in the front wheel and finished the race on 14 spokes. The Zipps are nice, but fragile.

Performance difference is minimal.
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Old 01-31-08, 06:24 PM   #17
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Cypress, I appreciate your point. I am really protective of my stuff, especially the expensive stuff. Noted.

I know $1500-$2000 is a lot to spend on wheels. My bike isn't top of the line, but that amount could just buy me another average racing bike. OR I could just add some bling to the bike. I kept talking about saving up for good wheels. Now I've got the funds, so why not? I understand why NOT to worry about getting race wheels. But if I *want* some nice race wheels that could help me save a little energy or get a little better acceleration, are any of the ones I'm interested in unreasonable as far as durability (maintenance, replacement policies, etc.), performance, handling in crosswinds, they really aren't that much nicer to ride, etc.? Are there other really fantastic race wheels that sound good for me given my strengths and weaknesses that I've completely overlooked?
I understand the "want" aspect of it. Aside from TT's and weight, my carbons were a want item. After the want was gone, I couldn't see much of a use for them. Changing the tires... That was enough to make me sell them, let alone all of the other things I listed.
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Old 02-01-08, 07:46 AM   #18
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Ive recently changed my thinking from getting nice 2k wheels to getting several sub 1k wheelsets instead.

Last year i started off racing on some bonty race lites and then upgraded to reynolds alta race and I thought they were much better wheels. Unfortunately my front wheel got destroyed when I was hit by a car and the back wheel was replaced by a open pro PT.

Its probably just a placebo but it did feel like the reynolds with the deeper rim rolled nicer but overall I dont think I am at the level where wheels affect my performance.

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Old 02-01-08, 09:15 AM   #19
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I absolutely love my Cosmic Carbone SL's for crits and non-climbing road races.

They are a rouleurs dream. They hold speed amazing well and are incredibly durable. I raced an entire season of crits on them and was never easy on them and they are as true as they day I got them. I'm 165-170lb fwiw. The hubs are also amazing.

That said they aren't a climbing wheelset.

Can't go wrong with Reynolds. I've got a dv46 rear and hopefully soon a 66 for the front, the rear has been great.
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Old 02-01-08, 09:33 AM   #20
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Look into getting some wheels built up with the new Edge Composites carbon rims. THey made a 38mm and a 66mm rim. They are made in the USA and are nicer than the Reynolds rims. I get a team deal on Zipps, so I can't hardly justify buying anything else. But, if I were paying normal prices.. this is the route I'd be going for sure. Get a set built up with Tune or DT Swiss hubs, CX-ray or Revolution spokes, and you would have one hell of a nice set of wheels for your price point.

Jason at Fairwheel bikes are built with some of these new rims and beat the hell out of them to try and break them. He has a nice write up on his site's forum, as well as on weight weenies.
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Old 02-01-08, 01:12 PM   #21
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Crit Rat, have you ridden the Mavics on much rolling terrain? Not steep climbing, but something in the neighborhood of several 6-10% with an occasional 13-15% grade. I've got a couple road courses on my calendar with that kind of terrain where the weight of the Mavics concerns me. Other parts of the courses are windy (usually headwind) with a long false flat (uphill) on some rough pavement, where I feel the wheels would help me. I'm not really podium material for those kinds of races, but the Mavics are a little heavier than my Shimano wheels. Should they really be just for crits and flatter races, or do they perform well enough on rollers?

Thanks for all the input on Reynolds wheels. I looked up the DV46C. They're much lighter than I expected. There is one shop that I go to down here that sells them (I think), but neither of our sponsor shops do. I was hoping to take advantage of a team discount, but I'll consider Reynolds.
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Old 02-01-08, 01:21 PM   #22
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Crit Rat, have you ridden the Mavics on much rolling terrain? Not steep climbing, but something in the neighborhood of several 6-10% with an occasional 13-15% grade. I've got a couple road courses on my calendar with that kind of terrain where the weight of the Mavics concerns me. Other parts of the courses are windy (usually headwind) with a long false flat (uphill) on some rough pavement, where I feel the wheels would help me. I'm not really podium material for those kinds of races, but the Mavics are a little heavier than my Shimano wheels. Should they really be just for crits and flatter races, or do they perform well enough on rollers?

Thanks for all the input on Reynolds wheels. I looked up the DV46C. They're much lighter than I expected. There is one shop that I go to down here that sells them (I think), but neither of our sponsor shops do. I was hoping to take advantage of a team discount, but I'll consider Reynolds.
Yes I've ridden/raced the Mavics on that terrain and they do great there. Of course it depends on the length of the climb but for anything that can be qualified as roller terrain is a place where Carbones shine.

I even used mine for the Dead Dog road stage and although I *might* have been a bit slower on the climb I was overall the better for having them. Of course I had some heat stroke that day so top 20 was what settled for but it wasn't because of the wheels.

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Old 02-01-08, 01:42 PM   #23
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I know $1500-$2000 is a lot to spend on wheels. My bike isn't top of the line, but that amount could just buy me another average racing bike. OR I could just add some bling to the bike.
If I may humbly suggest a third option: powermeter (assuming you don't have one already). Just about everyone who buys one says that, if they could do it all over again, they'd have bought it much earlier, long before carbon wheels, lighter parts, or all the other bling. With your budget, you could pick up a nice used SRM Pro or a VERY nice PT SL 2.4 setup.

My own experience with fancy wheels parallels the Cypress.

But don't let me get in the way of your excitement. If Zipps are calling your name, then there are Zipps in your future.
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Old 02-01-08, 02:07 PM   #24
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If I may humbly suggest a third option: powermeter (assuming you don't have one already).
You know, I've been forgetting to suggest this lately.

I've gained >7% for 5s, 1m, 5m, and FTP in 2 months. this is coming off of a 2-month fitness plateau. My PowerTap SL cost me $680, including building a new wheel.

Any other $700 bike parts out there good for bumping you by 7%?
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Old 02-01-08, 02:42 PM   #25
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Any other $700 bike parts out there good for bumping you by 7%?
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