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Old 12-18-07, 01:34 PM   #1
destro713
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How do rims affect ride quality?

This may be a stupid question, but besides weight differences and strength differences, does it improve your ride quality to upgrade your rims? How so? What do better rims have that cheap low-end stock rims don't?
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Old 12-18-07, 02:16 PM   #2
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Theoretically the rim is a static member.
If you want to change ride feel, change tires and / or pressure.
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Old 12-19-07, 02:49 PM   #3
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I'd like to meet someone that could tell the difference blindfolded but I'm sure I'd be hit and miss. And that's with a wheel fetish too. Rim technology has come a long way. Decades ago a Mavic Open Pro would've been considered a deep section rim because they hadn't yet worked out how to reliably and uniformly turn anything deeper into a nice concentric circle.

A lower profile rim with more spokes does absorb more road shock but this effect is trivial when compared with other items like the tire size and pressure, saddle, bar tape/grips, etc. I've felt a difference between my Cosmos and my Ksyrium Elites over time, but it took hundreds of rides before it became apparent that my hands and butt take the tiniest bit more abuse on the Ksyriums.

Better rims are double walled, have either single or double eyelets, machined sidewalls, and welded seams. This allows them to be as strong or stronger with 28 or fewer spokes than an old school, uneyeleted, single wall rim would be with 36 spokes in addition to providing slighly better braking. In my experience, the better rims are also a fraction of a millimeter more concentric and ever so slightly easier to achieve even spoke tensions with.

I read somewhere, I think it was in Bicycling Science but I could be wrong, that a single wall rim is often lighter and offers a better ride quality than a typical double wall rim. However, the extra spokes required cancels the weight savings and even with the extra spokes, the lateral stiffness and overall strength of the resulting wheel is not as good as that offered by better quality double wall rims.

As was stated before though, this effect is trivial when compared with other items like the tire size and pressure, saddle, bar tape/grips, etc.
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Old 12-19-07, 03:17 PM   #4
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Not the answers I expected at all. Interesting.
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Old 12-19-07, 04:41 PM   #5
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Just this year I switched from my handbuilt D/A hubbed Mavic CXP-33's to Mavic Ksyrium Elites. Slightly firmer less forgiving ride but made up for by less lateral flex and better power transmission.
Don't believe anyone who says all wheels feel the same.
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Old 12-19-07, 05:02 PM   #6
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Just this year I switched from my handbuilt D/A hubbed Mavic CXP-33's to Mavic Ksyrium Elites. Slightly firmer less forgiving ride but made up for by less lateral flex and better power transmission.
Don't believe anyone who says all wheels feel the same.


Don't believe anyone who says a stiffer wheel gives you better power transmission.
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Old 12-19-07, 06:09 PM   #7
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Don't believe anyone who says a stiffer wheel gives you better power transmission.
I wouldn't go quite that far. I was able to discern a bit of a "watch spring" effect with my Shimano R-540's (only four pulling spokes) after switching back and forth between them and the Cosmos (14 pulling spokes) every other ride for about month.

Comfortwise, you're much better off tweaking your cockpit length, saddle height/angle, bar tape/height, stem length, etc. and finding just the right tire and pressure than trying different wheelsets. The difference in "comfort" and "ride quality" between wheelsets is subtle at best.
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Old 12-19-07, 06:29 PM   #8
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I have a set of Campagnolo Vento wheels, a full carbon tubular wheelset, a deep dish carbon wheelset with aluminum braking surface, a handbuilt semi aero wheelset and a more traditional box rim wheelset all of which I use. The spoke counts and lacing patterns on all these wheels vary to some degree (too many to list). I can certainly feel the difference in ride quality, comfort, acceleration and climbing on all of these wheels.

Just to be clear, I run the exact tires (Continental GP4000s) and use same tire pressure (120psi) on all of my wheels. These wheels are all also used on the same bike. There is a difference.
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Old 12-19-07, 07:23 PM   #9
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Don't believe anyone who says a stiffer wheel gives you better power transmission.
I didn't say STIFFER, I said less lateral flex. Per my 8000 miles of observation riding them so far this year.
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Old 12-19-07, 09:36 PM   #10
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Ok, well, a spring effect will not lose any energy, because any displacement is returned to the system. Lateral flex is a different story, but only amounts to anything serious in the event of brake pad contact.
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Old 12-19-07, 09:53 PM   #11
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The spring effect is a function of the spoke arrangement and nothing to do with the rim type.
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