A Second Set of New Wheels in One Week!!
Sorry for the length..........
Getting an upgraded wheelset is a terrific way to enhance a bike. I posted the thread on the new Fulcrums with the red spokes for the Prince.
The other bike I use a good bit is a Trek 5900. I have used Bontrager Xlite wheels on that bike from day one. I use that bike for doing the hilly mountain rides and have it upfitted with a 50/34 crank and a mountain bike rear derailleur so I can use an 11-32 cassette for the steeper stuff.
I really wanted to get something lighter and debated tubulars versus clinchers for the 5900. I could really drop a lot of weight by going with tubulars but since I do a lot of solo rides out into the wilderness and beyond-I never could get completely comfortable with the potential issues with flats. So I zeroed in on clinchers.
The wheels I would have liked to have purchased were some Carbon Sports Lightweights that come in around 1100 grams and are clinchers. But with a price tag of $5000 I had to JUST SAY NO!!!
After some research I opted for a set of Hed Ardennes. They are almost 200 grams lighter than the XLites plus I was intrigued by the much wider rim. The rim is 23mm's versus many others around 19-20. The claim was the ride was much like a tubular. I like Steve Hed's techie approach to stuff as well. I just had to give it a try.
I went our for a test ride today and gave them a really good test. I did a 100 miler with 8000+ ft of climbing that had a little bit of everything-long climbs, long descents on rough roads, some really steep hills around 19% plus the usual flats. I could tell after about 11-12 miles these wheels were exactly what I was hoping they would be.
What surprised me was how well they descended. The last 10 miles today included a steep 6 mile downhill technical section on a rough road with lots of tar snakes. I just let the bike go and have never let a bike lean as much in the curves as I did this section. The wheels are so solid and stable it gives you confidence to just look to where you want to the bike to go and it follows.
Because the rims are so wide, there is more air volume under the tire-which means running a lower air pressure than normal. I usually run a fairly high pressure (120 lbs) but after a little experimenting it seems 85-90 lbs is about right for these wheels. I used 90 lbs today it resulted in a very comfortable ride.
I may takes some pictures with the tires beside some other tires to show how much wider they look n the Ardennes. Looking down from the cockpit they are noticeably wider. Some folks have to loosen the brake cables to widen the calipers to get the wheels on. In my case I only had to open the calipers using the lever and then partly closed the calipers and they are a perfect fit. I did have to adjust the brakes pads but not a big deal there.
When these wheels are rolling, it feels like all the weight is in the rim/tires. Like the old gyroscope, it makes the bike extremely stable and seem to want to stay exactly perpendicular to the ground. I have not ridden tubulars (except for a solid disk wheel on my TT bike) so maybe this is what people were referring to?? I don't usually ride without my hands on the bars but with these wheels I was completely comfortable sitting upright and taking my hands off even at high speeds.
My biggest concern was the tires coming off the rim!! I have never had such trouble getting a set of tires on a set of wheels as I did with these. I got the first bead on and it was so tight around the middle of the inside of the rim, I could not even slide it over to closer to the sidewall-in fact it was pretty much around the middle of the rim. So I wondered if putting in a tube, putting on the other bead and pumping it would be enough pressure to force the bead on to the lip. I did all that and it looked like it was okay...... but I was somewhat tentative on the first couple descents wondering if a tire would come off!!
The ratchet mechanism is extremely quiet as well-for those that like that.
I don't now how durable these wheels will be but I just plan to use them on a limited basis so I'm not too worried about having them as an everyday type of wheel-they will essentially just be an event wheel for me.
Time will tell if these keep performing the way they did today. After about 50 miles and near the end of a 6.5 mile climb- it was obvious I had the same old motor and regardless of how light the wheels were it just didn't matter. Oh well..........