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    What characteristic or feature do you prioritize in a crit wheel?

    As a crit racing newb, I'm looking to understand what makes a wheel appropriate and good for the discipline.

    If you had to stack rank any of the wheel characteristics and features, which would be #1 , and why?

    For example, is aero most important? Tubular? Wide? Power meter? Stiffness? Reactivity?

    Whatever it is, I'd like to hear why you think so. If you want extra credit and want to fill out the top three, go right ahead! I'd definitely be interested to have your opinions, and I'm sure others would, too!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Round
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    avatar by Sean Powers mike868y's Avatar
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    what the hell is a crit wheel?
    Quote Originally Posted by the collective bf.net consciousness
    it depends

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    Senior Member hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
    what the hell is a crit wheel?
    They go on the crit bikes.

    Really though OP, most any wheel will be fine if you're just gettig started in crits. As long as it is true and doesn't rub when you stand, it's all good.
    Cat 2 upgrade status: never

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    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    Doesn't really matter all that much. I use a carbon 46mm on an aluminum rim, mainly because its more aero, cheap (for deep dish) and I don't care about the weight penalty on a flat course. The advantage it gives me is probably inches, no wheel is going to make or break you.

    Oh wait, its a new guy so we're supposed to be snarky. Ones with air.
    Last edited by furiousferret; 01-16-15 at 09:52 PM.

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    Blast from the Past Voodoo76's Avatar
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    In MI I always valued the ability of a wheel to ride through a pot hole and stay true. Every corner of every crit in the state has at least one.

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    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    tubular wheels are supposed to corner better, but I don't really know what that means. and latex tubes are supposed to ride softer, and I've found that to be true, but at the end of the day, it's not a big deal at all.

    But I do prefer lighter wheels. I can noticeably accelerate faster in a pair of 1500g ksyriums with continental 4k than a pair of 1900g piece of **** with schwalbe marathon

    strong spokes are supposed to reduce the sway of the wheel when you're standing, but I've not experimented enough to verify that.

    and deep dish are more aero, which will help you in the sprint. But according to specialized, the drag saving from wearing an air attack or a specialized evade is actually more than a pair of deep dish wheels.

    go figure.
    Last edited by spectastic; 01-16-15 at 10:02 PM.
    5/20

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    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    free ones
    cat 1.

    blog

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    @furiousferret chris evans' say deep-section

    twitter.com/ygduf
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    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    oops! I was thinking about pizza at the time.

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    Ha! Yeah, "crit wheel" isn't a thing, I was just trying to use a shorthand for "the wheels you use for racing crits."

    Anyway, I appreciate the replies, and understand them.

    As a bit of background, I last year raced on Ksyrium Equipes, which did fine and even handled a tire-in-the-spokes episode in one race. I'm pretty confident, though, that my wide, 30mm tall American Classic Argent tubeless, which are my regular road riding wheels (i.e. Non-race) hold speed better and really are faster in every sense. However, I don't want to risk a pricey wheelset like that racing.

    Therefore, I got to wondering if it would make sense for to sink like $500-$600 in a set of tall carbon tubulars, or a wide alu rim, or just try to knock some weight off compared to the Ksyriums (Argents are 320g lighter). I know I can't afford a set that delivers on everything (though FLO 60/30 set comes close).

    So that's where I'm coming from, but I'm perfectly prepared to hear that it just doesn't make that much difference, too.

    Thanks, guys!
    Last edited by chaadster; 01-17-15 at 12:49 AM.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    A Roadie Forever 79pmooney's Avatar
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    Cheap enough that you can afford the crashes that are part of crit racing.

    Ben

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    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
    Cheap enough that you can afford the crashes that are part of crit racing.

    Ben
    Yes, I'd save the really expensive wheels for road races, since there aren't crashes there.

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    avatar by Sean Powers mike868y's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    Yes, I'd save the really expensive wheels for road races, since there aren't crashes there.

    or group rides
    Quote Originally Posted by the collective bf.net consciousness
    it depends

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I use my cheap body for racing and save my good one for living.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    As a crit racing newb, I'm looking to understand what makes a wheel appropriate and good for the discipline.

    If you had to stack rank any of the wheel characteristics and features, which would be #1 , and why?

    For example, is aero most important? Tubular? Wide? Power meter? Stiffness? Reactivity?

    Whatever it is, I'd like to hear why you think so. If you want extra credit and want to fill out the top three, go right ahead! I'd definitely be interested to have your opinions, and I'm sure others would, too!
    I'm not good at snark so I'll give it a go on a real answer.

    For newer riders, with sustained speeds of 30-35 mph somewhat unusual, I'd go for lighter, like a 40-60mm carbon tubular. My Cat 4 teammates got various wheel sets and love them. Later I'd opt to get a taller set of wheels, tall as possible in back, maybe 75-80mm max up front. This way you'd have wheels for all conditions, 40-75 for the front, 60-90/100 for the rear. This is what I've done, with a Stinger 4 front, Stinger 6/6, and Stinger 7/9. I bought the 6s in 2010, the 7/9 used in 2013, and the 4 used in 2014? I think.

    The Reynolds DV46 tubulars were great for jumpy kind of races, slightly aero but definitely very easy to spin up. A light wheel gives you better control in the field (like for closing minute gaps when drafting which I do constantly like maybe 5-10 times a lap, or changing direction for whatever reason), it lets you accelerate for a shorter amount of time out of a corner (so you use less energy since you're up to speed 1-2 pedal strokes sooner), etc.

    A tall/aero wheel gives you much better sustained speed, esp if you're dealing with constant 30 mph speeds. They'll give up weight for a given height (so a Stinger 9 is heavier than a similar year Stinger 4) but you'll use less energy when holding high speeds. I used to use the lightest wheels I could for a Cat 3 race to try and do well then switch to an aero wheel (TriSpoke aka HED3) for 123 races to try and stay in the race as long as possible. I used a "light" wheel (Helium, when they first came out), and I had immense trouble holding wheels while the field was rolling along at 35-38 mph, and in fact I got shelled the first couple times I used them. With the TriSpokes/HED3s I could stay in the field (this happened a number of times at Bethel, where I've ridden enough like a few thousand laps, against pretty consistent weekly competition, such that I feel pretty comfortable comparing certain races there).

    Tubulars give you less weight for a given profile compared to clinchers. If you want a 60mm rim a decent tubular will be lighter than a clincher.

    Tubulars are also cheaper since the rims are so much simpler.

    Tubulars, on old standard narrow rims, are rideable if you flat. It's rare to flat in a corner but a clincher, at 30 mph, laid over in a turn, is going to dump you every single time. You'll peel the tire back until the rim hits and then it slides. With a tubular you peel until the tire is at its limit but you're still on the tire. Unless you really freak out or you're absolutely at the limit you're going to stay up. I've watched a good friend and teammate do exactly that while he was bridging up to a break, back in 2010. Dove into the turn, probably 30 mph, tire failed (it was my tire, my DV46 wheel, my glue job), he moved sideways a foot, and that was that. He stopped and walked back only because he didn't know he could ride the wheel and that I wouldn't mind if he did. He still uses the wheel, with a different tire of course.

    I thought about why I don't use tubulars in training and the big thing is that I hit a hard turn maybe once an hour in training, and even then it's pretty tame compared to a crit. In a crit, on the other hand, I'm hitting 4 turns every minute to two minutes, and half of the time I'm going harder than that one turn I can take per hour in training. In a crit there'a much higher probability that my tire may have a problem. In training, if I think there's a problem, I just stop. In a race I just keep going.

    For me, with a low FTP, with a decent sprint, I want more aero wheels to stay with the faster riders. I want more aero wheels for the couple mph they give me in the sprint. But I need lighter wheels because I can't afford to make too many 800w accelerations out of turns, forget about 1000w or more. My Jet 6/9 set of wheels weigh about 3 lbs more than my Stinger 6/6 or 7/9 and there's a noticeable difference in effort required to accelerate that wheel. In one of my harder races in 2014, on the Stinger 7/9, I did something like 10-15 600-800w accelerations, maybe 5 800-1000w acceleration, and one 1000+w acceleration, all before the 1200w peak sprint. If I had to accelerate the 3 lbs heavier wheels there's no telling if I'd have still been in the race. In the past, doing the local Tues Night series, I really tried to make the Jet 6/9 work (I bought them because "aero>weight", right?) and I got shelled every single time. When I moved over to the Stinger 6/6 I could place in the races, and even the non-aero Bastognes let me do okay.

    My favorite wheel set for general crits is my Stinger 7/9 front/rear. I've done reasonably well on them even with not much training, and when I've showed up with just one set of wheels at an absolutely windswept race they worked out fine. I'm absolutely at my limit during the race, I've bridged a few pretty big gaps to get back into the field, and I've managed to win a number of field sprints on them.

    If it's a technical course I'll fit my Stinger 6/6 just for psychological reasons, but I don't have quite the same success on them nowadays. I upgraded to Cat 2 on them, in 2010, by doing super well in a number of crits (something like 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, and those Bethel crits had 90-120 starters, as a promoter I only reported the top 20 spots). I've raced on my Bastogne (aka Ardennes) when I've inadvertently forgotten my tubulars, and in slow/wet/technical races I've actually done well on them, winning a 900w peak rained out Tues Night A race and getting 3rd in a wet/miserable Cat 3 state championships (I got 2nd for the state), both in 2010, when I upgraded to Cat 2.

    a bit disjointed as I've been vacuuming, making Legos, eating, etc, but I hope this helps.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I am not a crit racer per se but have done them. I race on tubulars tires for the reasons CDR pointed out. My wife had a front tubular blowout in a time trial on a descent on a curve and stayed up. I had a rear tubular blowout at Carson velodrome on the 45 degree banking and stayed up and just rode the bike to the apron.

    I like the corner of tubulars and the feel. I would train on them but i do not like the hassle of flats and carrying an extra tire but I have friends that ride tubulars all the time.

    OP, IMO, your best crit wheelset is the one you do not want to use - American Classic tubeless. Tubeless technology with tire sealant will offer better flat protection, lower rolling resistance (not tube losses) and they are round.

    One thing I do not like about tubular tires is that they often are a little bumpy when installed i.e. not round. Some tires are worse than others.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Senior Member wens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    I use my cheap body for racing and save my good one for living.
    Exactly. I'm more expensive, and way way more valuable than all of my bike stuff. Crits and road races are so much more similar than different, use whatever you can get a deal on for both. At some point you may have more specific wants, but you won't be asking the Internet what to get at that point.
    Do you think we're gonna make it? / I don't know unless we try \ you could sit here scared to move / or we could take them by surprise

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    Senior Member ljsense's Avatar
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    Here are my top three priorities for the wheels I use in crits:

    1. Tubular with as much as you can put into excellent tires and perfect straight and tight gluing
    2. Inspiring and intimidating
    3. Able to be replaced

    Carpediemracing gave a lot of good arguments about tubulars in crits. My crit tires get their sidewall labels worn off. You're always in a corner or approaching one. The supple forgiving qualities of a tubular are invaluable for crits.

    For point 2, it's like lacing up those ultra light cleats before a track meet. You're racing now. You sand off your brake pads, get them fresh, put in something nasty, your Zipp 404s, your Enve 1.68s, whatever. Something carbon and tubular with a freehub that has a haunting maniacal edgy sound. And then you fight to be lazy on those beasts all day long until it counts.

    Third point, you probably won't break a wheel this year in your crit races. That likelihood, in my view, is a bit overplayed. I have broken two wheels and a fork in my time, and stuff does happen. So buy your wheels at a price where their loss won't keep you from replacing them and getting back at it. That might rule out carbon tubulars. I get mine second hand and just saw a nice pair of Zipp 303s at the Brazen Dropouts Swap in Madison for $350 including tires and a cassette.

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    Senior Member ljsense's Avatar
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    Oh, my first crit wheels were Dura Ace 7700 hubs laced into FiR alloy tubulars with Veloflex tires. Beautiful set of wheels. I loved racing on them. I eventually moved up to Zipp 404s with Veloflex tubulars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    One thing I do not like about tubular tires is that they often are a little bumpy when installed i.e. not round. Some tires are worse than others.
    To expand on this I found Contis to be bumpy (Sprinters, something else, both $100-125 tires).

    I use Vittoria EVO CX, haven't bought the renamed ones in the last year or so (I think just CX now?). Anyway they're much better, like I can get on rollers and I can focus on stuff. The Contis are like a rumble strip on rollers.

    I try to glue consistently, I understand that tires will "gather" on one side if you pull too much toward that spot, etc, but the Contis absolutely defeated all my attempts to make them smooth. Vittoria CX/similar were all great relatively speaking.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  22. #22
    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    I use my cheap body for racing and save my good one for living.
    full of win
    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    But I do prefer lighter wheels. I can noticeably accelerate faster in a pair of 1500g ksyriums with continental 4k than a pair of 1900g piece of **** with schwalbe marathon
    even if what you are saying is correct, you are changing both the wheels and the tires...
    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    For me, with a low FTP, with a decent sprint, I want more aero wheels to stay with the faster riders. I want more aero wheels for the couple mph they give me in the sprint. But I need lighter wheels because I can't afford to make too many 800w accelerations out of turns, forget about 1000w or more. My Jet 6/9 set of wheels weigh about 3 lbs more than my Stinger 6/6 or 7/9 and there's a noticeable difference in effort required to accelerate that wheel. In one of my harder races in 2014, on the Stinger 7/9, I did something like 10-15 600-800w accelerations, maybe 5 800-1000w acceleration, and one 1000+w acceleration, all before the 1200w peak sprint. If I had to accelerate the 3 lbs heavier wheels there's no telling if I'd have still been in the race. In the past, doing the local Tues Night series, I really tried to make the Jet 6/9 work (I bought them because "aero>weight", right?) and I got shelled every single time. When I moved over to the Stinger 6/6 I could place in the races, and even the non-aero Bastognes let me do okay.
    while I and almost everyone here respect and agree with your thoughts, the above is one of those racer's myths that really doesn't have any scientific support.

    People who know more than I have done the math, so i'll just post these instead.

    Wheel Performance

    wheel aerodynamics are the most important, distantly followed by wheel mass[/I][/B]. Wheel inertia effects in all cases are so small that they are arguably insignificant.
    How can it be that wheel inertial forces are nearly insignificant, when the advertisements say that inertia is so important? Quite simply, inertial forces are a function of acceleration. In bike racing this peak acceleration is about .1 to .2 g’s and is generally only seen when beginning from an initial velocity of 0 (see criterium race data in Appendix D ). Furthermore, the 0.3kg/0.66lb difference in wheels, even if this mass is out at the rim, is so small compared to your body mass that the differences in wheel inertia will be unperceivable. Any difference in acceleration due to bicycle wheels that is claimed by your riding buddies is primarily due to cognitive dissonance, or the placebo effect (they paid a lot of money for the wheels so there must be some perceivable gain).
    more here: Crit wheels - what do you ride?: Triathlon Forum: Slowtwitch Forums

    http://www.slowtwitch.com/Tech/Why_W...rtia_2106.html
    Last edited by echappist; 01-17-15 at 12:27 PM.

  23. #23
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    Not all crits are the same, but for crits with lots of hard cornering, I'd look for the most lateral rigidity for the least weight.

    More rigidity improves cornering, less weight improves post corner acceleration, both desirable for crit racing.
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    @carpediemracing, thanks for the insights. I've read enough of your posts, and watched all your vids, to know you value the aero aspect quite a bit, but you brought up some important issues that I really need to get into and weigh, namely selecting a wheel that works best for one's abilities, and which suits how they ride.

    The rub for me, of course, is that I don't have the experience to really make an informed conclusion about how I ride, because I've got so much to learn yet. I know I've made dumb mistakes in the races I did last year, like losing wheels and drifting back too rapidly, and I need to learn a lot about strategy, pacing, and patience. So I'd say that at this point, I need a good all-round wheel to match my rapidly evolving riding style, habits, and technique.

    As for my abilities, I'm a big, 6', 220lb rider who, like a lot of larger riders, is more of a diesel; I can high Tempo/Sweet Spot all day, but am less adroit at the punchy power deployed during surges. Those little bumps really take me out of my comfort zone and cause stress/fatigue; I can usually find some juice at the end for a sprint, but I don't really yet know if I'm any good at sprinting. I'm working on those L6 efforts in training, and expect to be better at surges this coming season, having both more fitness and more confidence in my ability to recover. Still, I'm old (45) and fat, so I don't know how much improvement I can reasonably expect!

    With that stuff in mind, do you think it makes sense to try to aid my response to surges with a lighter wheel, or to seek max efficiency at speed (whether I'm in the pack recovering or perhaps off the front on a break; I had some promising experiences last year with lifting the pace a few laps out from the finish and seeing some pack fracturing, but ultimately didn't have the fitness to push through strongly to the end)? Would a 45 or 50mm hit a middle ground between weight and aero?
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    OP, IMO, your best crit wheelset is the one you do not want to use - American Classic tubeless. Tubeless technology with tire sealant will offer better flat protection, lower rolling resistance (not tube losses) and they are round.
    Mmm, yes, I suppose you're right, and the wheels have been great for me; plenty solid, and fast rolling (Schwalbe Ones).

    Still, when that other racer put her front tire into my rear spokes last year, I couldn't help but think that the extra spokes on the Ksyriums provided a little more buffer against serious damage. I did get into a club ride pileup on the ACs last year, too, and the thin alu took a small ding, making me nervous about putting these in crash conditions on principle; they're just engineered to be light, taking the material to the limit.

    Were I wealthier, I'd run 'em with the mind to lose 'em, but as it is now, the racing is a small thing for me, and I'd rather have the nicer set for the bulk of my riding, which is non-race and hopefully less risky.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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