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  1. #1
    West Coast Weenie Esteban58's Avatar
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    wheels / wheel sets

    So... in contemplating N+1, it appears that a good chunk of the cost goes into the wheels. So, I'm looking for some background. Do y'all train on (relatively) inexpensive wheels / tires saving the pricy stuff for events? Also, tubulars or clinchers - which and when?

    thanks!
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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Everyone is different. I train on relatively inexpensive wheels (mostly ones that I built) and race on somewhat more expensive wheels (I built some of those too). I save the carbon clinchers for races or event rides- they're not as durable as aluminium wheels and their rims are more expensive to replace. I'm also leery of using them on the really steep technical descents we have here as they sometimes overheat from braking. I could easily afford to train on commercial carbon wheels but it just seems like a waste of money. When I am training I don't need that last 10 watts or .25 mph. What I need are reliable parts that won't break. My training time is limited. An aborted ride usually can not be regained.

    I use good tires for training though. I ride descents just as fast in training as in races, ride in the rain, etc. Currently I prefer GP4000s for training and GP4s for racing.

    I got a set of super light carbon tubulars this year for hillclimb races. Its my first time with tubulars. I know it'll take me aeons to remove a tire and put a spare on so I am not ready to ride them long distances or in races where support is spotty. Which is pretty much all the road races I do. So I race most of the time on clinchers. Other than allowing lighter rims and having a very slightly better ride there's no real advantage to tubulars.

    The only situation where I feel an advantage from aero wheels is on fast descents, where it's a little easier for me to keep up with the pack or even drop guys in one race (although that had more to do with descending skill than outright speed).

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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    I've been really happy with my foray into tubeless for training (I have a big arsenal of tubulars for racing). The Shimano Ultegra tubeless wheels can be had for $350-400. Pretty much bombproof and with some Hutchinson Intensive 25's and a few ounces of sealant you have a great ride that will rarely if ever go flat.

    I've picked up wire, sliced sidewalls, and more than enough glass to be sold. I hate interrupting a training ride to mess with a flat.

  4. #4
    West Coast Weenie Esteban58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    Everyone is different. I train on relatively inexpensive wheels (mostly ones that I built) and race on somewhat more expensive wheels (I built some of those too). I save the carbon clinchers for races or event rides- they're not as durable as aluminium wheels and their rims are more expensive to replace. I'm also leery of using them on the really steep technical descents we have here as they sometimes overheat from braking. I could easily afford to train on commercial carbon wheels but it just seems like a waste of money. When I am training I don't need that last 10 watts or .25 mph. What I need are reliable parts that won't break. My training time is limited. An aborted ride usually can not be regained.

    I use good tires for training though. I ride descents just as fast in training as in races, ride in the rain, etc. Currently I prefer GP4000s for training and GP4s for racing.

    I got a set of super light carbon tubulars this year for hillclimb races. Its my first time with tubulars. I know it'll take me aeons to remove a tire and put a spare on so I am not ready to ride them long distances or in races where support is spotty. Which is pretty much all the road races I do. So I race most of the time on clinchers. Other than allowing lighter rims and having a very slightly better ride there's no real advantage to tubulars.

    The only situation where I feel an advantage from aero wheels is on fast descents, where it's a little easier for me to keep up with the pack or even drop guys in one race (although that had more to do with descending skill than outright speed).
    Good info, thanks. I had tubulars on my first road bike (well, we called them sew-ups), but changed them out for clinchers before too long because of cost concerns. I always thought the theory was they were faster to change, but maybe that's only after you have a lot of experience with them.
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    West Coast Weenie Esteban58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    I've been really happy with my foray into tubeless for training (I have a big arsenal of tubulars for racing). The Shimano Ultegra tubeless wheels can be had for $350-400. Pretty much bombproof and with some Hutchinson Intensive 25's and a few ounces of sealant you have a great ride that will rarely if ever go flat.

    I've picked up wire, sliced sidewalls, and more than enough glass to be sold. I hate interrupting a training ride to mess with a flat.
    <edited, tubeless not tubular>

    Do you then trust that enough that you don't carry a spare tire?
    Sounds better than the 30 minutes I spent patching a flat last Sunday, although it did give me the chance to greet most of the portola valley riding population.
    Last edited by Esteban58; 12-21-12 at 07:52 PM. Reason: I need to read more closely... that tubeless, not tubular...
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  6. #6
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban58 View Post
    <edited, tubeless not tubular>

    Do you then trust that enough that you don't carry a spare tire?
    It's a tubeless clincher. I carry a spare tube, the sealant I pour into the tire when it's 85% mounted. I carry a small patch kit and a tube just in case.

    I trained on tubulars for several years with sealant, and only got caught out once where the damage was too severe for the sealant to seal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban58 View Post
    Also, is it still true that tubular wheels are stronger than clinchers? Or has that difference faded with the years?
    Wheels are wheels these days. For racing the advantages of tubulars are weight, no pinch flats, and a slower deflation rate if you pick up some FOD.

    For training tubulars can get expensive. A tube or a patch costs a few buck or pennies. A tire costs a lot more. A repair for a tubular costs less than a tire and more than a tube or patch.

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    I'm using a basic set of handbuilt wheels for just about eveything - Open Pro CD rims with an Ultegra 6700 front hub and Powertap rear. The Powertap was used, so I've got about a grand in them; they'd be ~$400 with standard hubs. The main disadvantage with these wheels is weight - they weigh ~2,000 grams. By using different hubs, you can reduce the weight by over 500 grams. I know Eric has had problems with Open Pro rims, but I've been lucky so far. Another traditional rim with no history of problems that I'm aware of is the DT Swiss RR465 - same weight and price range as the Open Pros. I've got a set of them built with Ultegra hubs and have had no problems, and they're pretty sweet.

    If I were to get a wheelset right now and weren't worried about training with power, I'd get a set built with relatively light hubs and either Velocity A23 rims or, if I were flush, HED C2 rims. If I were worried about training with power, I'd get a set of the Powertap training wheels for about a grand. I wouldn't worry about aero wheels unless I had lots of descents or could hold at least the low 20s mph on solo rides.
    Regards,
    Chuck

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  8. #8
    Old Road Racer Cleave's Avatar
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    Hi, I've always felt that one of the biggest improvements that you can make to a bike are wheels. That said, I have the same perspective as ericm979, I want my training wheels to be reliable and a bit of extra weight doesn't bother me much. For racing, I use carbon tubulars for all the reasons that Racer Ex mentions plus the fact that I like the feel of tubulars much better than clinchers when cornering.

    Also, the pinch flat benefit is NOT trivial. I had just purchased my first set of carbon tubulars in 2003 (Zipp 303) and the first race I went to with them had wet roads. Not having any experience with braking and with a 45-50 MPH descent on the course, I put some lightweight clinchers on the bike. I was OTB with a few other guys and we were on the descent. I pulled out of the line to pass and hit something and immediately got a pinch flat on my front tire. I somehow managed to stop on the hill AND stay upright. Turns out my rear tire was flat too. I never raced on clinchers again.

    The construction of carbon wheels changes every year. Given that, I have had widely varying experiences with braking on different carbon wheels (clincher and tubular). I find that braking with even the best carbon wheels is an exercise in precise modulation.

    These days I don't repair tubulars. Until this year, I've had very good luck with tubulars. I was wearing them out before I punctured. This year I went through and bunch of tires and dollars. I gave the punctured tubulars to a friend who was going to try to repair them.
    Thanks.
    Cleave
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  9. #9
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    The pinch flat thing goes away with the tubeless clincher. That's a nice bump. I'm likely going to race Battenkill on my training set up noted above.

  10. #10
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    I was able to hear Ex's perspective on tubeless and his experience with them on the ride we did last month. When I crashed on the corner he had just railed on those tubeless tires (me on my Gatorskin clinchers) I was definitely sold (he had said they gripped well in the wet, and he proved it).

    I ride, like it matters, a Mavic CXP33/Ultegra hub on the front of my Look training bike, with a PT hub laced to the standard Mavic OpenPro on the rear, both shod (at the moment) with the Gatorskins. The front feels a bit "spongy", the rear feels a little heavy. It's my training bike, and that's okay. On the race bike, my Bianchi L'una 928, I run Easton EA90 Aero clinchers with GP4000S. That seems to be a great combo on that frame. The ride is controlled but supple, it descends REALLY well, and it's a secure corning bike.

    Now, I do worry about pinch flats. I had one with the Eastons in a triathlon two years, just three miles into the bike portion. I had to wait for SAG because I had left my seat wedge in the transition area. That kinda irritated me!

    I know nothing about carbon wheels or tubulars, and I'm absorbing everything you fellas are saying about them here. I really like the idea of the tubeless, too.
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  11. #11
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    There are many types of riders and taste in wheels. For example, one can be a performance cyclist and never race in a USA Cycling Race. And some cyclists are enthusiasts that like to ride on great equipment that includes wheels. And some cyclists just go on fast group rides and that is their "race".

    I have many wheel sets but typically train on Williams System 19s and recently put on some GP 4000s 25 mm tires. Williams is a sponsor so we get a club deal. However, note the weight limitations on the wheels. On my other road bike, I have Williams System 30s which are more robust. I have crank based power so I can change out wheel sets on my TT bike and road bike.

    Sometimes, I like to put on a set of Easton 58 mm carbon tubulars and go for a ride. The Eastons feel great on the road and always seem fast. I use the Vittoria EVO CX tubulars.

    So I like to race on carbon wheels and tubular tires. However, there are races in NorCal where carbon wheels are a bad idea. IMO, the roads for Copperopolis, Madera and Topsport are very rough. It is very easy to damage a carbon wheel on those roads. I used my standard training wheels for the road race portions of the two stage races.

    I go to races with multiple wheel sets. Typically, I choose the wheel set depending on the wind conditions. If it is very windy, I do not use a deep section front tire. And I like to have extra wheel sets in case on flats.

    The question one may ask is where does it all end? When the money runs out.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member VanceMac's Avatar
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    I knew if I waited it would save me a lot of typing. I agree with just about everything above.

    I stuck with non-aero aluminum clinchers for the longest time, mainly because I'm cheap and they are so are durable. I have a set of Campy Zondas that are now on my (rarely used) rain bike. They have 20k abusive miles on them, hubs were never rebuilt and still roll like butter, and they were only trued once. I have a set of Campy Eurus with about half that mileage, same story. I love them. When it comes time to buy another set of non-aero rims, I will probably try tubeless.

    My last road wheel purchase was aero carbon clinchers (60mm). I don't mind buying generics direct from China (not for everyone), so they were less expensive than many "training wheels"... which is good, because I don't really draw a fine line between racing and training. I think the manufacturers have come a long way with the brake track on carbon clinchers, so I'm not as concerned with descents as I would have been a few years ago. (Referring to the overheating/damage to the brake track, not the braking performance, which is still inferior to aluminum.) Still, if I'm going for a long training ride in the mts on a hot day, no reason to tempt fate.

  13. #13
    West Coast Weenie Esteban58's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone, very useful info as usual.

    I think this gives me enough to formulate an initial plan: I'm going to try tubeless clinchers, aluminum low profile wheels, going fairly inexpensive on the training wheels (does that sound funny to anyone else?) and then getting something fancier somewhere down the road. All this discussion does also have me leaning toward a crank power meter if/when I get to the point where I can justify that purchase.
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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Ultegra tubeless for $400.

    Spinning off Hermes's post, a lot of the new carbon wheels are quite tough. I did a couple of the races he mentioned on either HED or Reynolds wheels without a hiccup and have double flatted a set of carbon clinchers (twice) with the rim barely going out of true.

    But back a few years ago this wasn't the case; I wrote off several Zipp carbon tubulars on crit course potholes.

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    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Esteban, you started a great thread!

    Ex - would it be feasible to lace the PT hub into those Shimano tubeless wheels? I know you told me what tubeless tires you have, but like almost everything else these days, I've forgotten what they were. Help there?
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    And for more money, you can have these. Dura Ace tubeless.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Old Road Racer Cleave's Avatar
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    ^^^ Not if you use Campagnolo components.
    Thanks.
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  18. #18
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Timely topic for me, as I'll explain in a minute.

    I'm still a relative newb, although an obsessed and obsessive one, and my approach to the 'equipment/logistics' side of things has evolved considerably, and is still evolving. That said, I like carbon for wheels. The braking issues have been dealt with almost totally by the quality manufacturers, so long as you use the correct brake pads. And by that I don't mean cork vs. rubber, I mean hi-tech compounds designed specifically for carbon wheels, and which match to your specific wheels. I use Zipp Tangente Silver pads, which were released this past year after being developed in conjunction with Swiss Stop. They are expensive, and they wear down really fast, particularly on the front, and particularly, with my brakes, on the right front. Swiss Stop just released a black pad that I suspect is the same or similar. That's what makes them work so well with carbon wheels - they take the heat, almost melting away. If you haven't tried these pads yet, then, IMO you haven't experienced the best carbon wheel braking has to offer. They are smooth and stop well, whereas other pads are overly 'grippy' on my Zipps, making it too easy to lock them up. I prefer the braking with these and my carbon clinchers to the allow trainers and standard pads on my TT bike.

    The reasons I have carbon clincher training wheels, are (a) I occasionally race on them and want light wheels, (b) I like training on good wheels, and (c) I don't want the hassle of switching pads out when I switch wheels to avoid damaging my carbon wheels with alloy bits that have worn off into the brake pads. I can swap to my racing wheels very quickly, with no hassle. No adjustment other than the brake trim, and on the TT bike, it's just leaving the lever open for the racing wheels.

    I race on Zipp 404 tubulars: aero and light.

    But this is timely because I just discovered that my front carbon clincher (Bont Race XXX Lite, paired spoke version) is damaged. There is a ding from it hitting something, with an outer layer of carbon delaminating. It's a small area, but... worrisome. I'm going to try an epoxy repair and see if it comes out as something I can trust.

    I have several friends riding these particular wheels, and they have been great workhorses for everyone. They stay true, and are as light as my 404 tubulars. But my pair was bought used, was on a bike bike that fell off my car, and I have both ridden in a rut and had a flat on a fast downhill and rough pavement, where it took me a bit to stop. Somewhere along the line, it was damaged.

    So there is a good chance I'll be looking for a set of carbon clinchers.
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  19. #19
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarals View Post
    Esteban, you started a great thread!

    Ex - would it be feasible to lace the PT hub into those Shimano tubeless wheels? I know you told me what tubeless tires you have, but like almost everything else these days, I've forgotten what they were. Help there?
    Hutchinson tires.

    You'd have to check with Saris about the hub/rim possibilities...

  20. #20
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Saris doesn't build wheels, but a lot of wheel builders build wheels with PT hubs. Since they get the hub at a discount it can be cheaper to buy a built wheel than to buy just the PT hub.

    I find that it's easy and quick to swap brake pads between carbon and aluminium pads. It takes a minute when the bike is in the work stand at home; two if I do it on the pavement next to my car at a race. A friend and riding buddy owns a major trek dealership. His Bontrager crabon rims have held up very well. But his shop regularly sees Bontrager carbon rims that have been damaged by using the wrong pads (often SwissStop carbon pads). So use the pads that the rim maker says to use.

  21. #21
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    We all have our routines, and things we like to do and things we prefer not to. Swapping my Quarq from bike to bike is no issue to me, while it would be to some. I just don't like messing with brake pads before a race. Because of how I haul my bike, I'm swapping the tubies on at the race site, and adding the brake pad swap is just not something I'll entertain. I also really don't want my braking to be radically different between my training and my racing. I'm accustomed to carbon wheel braking, and prefer not to mix it up with the alloy feel. There is a huge difference in braking between the alloy clinchers on my TT bike (spongy feel) and when I put my Zipps on (easy to lock up), but fortunately TTs don't require a great deal of braking.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  22. #22
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Eric, I have a PT hub on a OpenPro wheel. I'm thinking about going tubeless.

    Before you get carried away with that last statement, shut up! I said tube-less.

    I can't swap the PT amongst my bikes. The Look is Shimano. The Bianchi is Campy. The Felt is 650c.
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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Since returning to racing, I trained on Mavic Aksium clinchers with butyl tubes and various tires, and raced on Mavic Ksyrium Elite clinchers with latex tubes and Continental GP4000S tires. For 2013 I made the leap to full carbon. I have a set of Psimet 50mm carbon clinchers with butyl tubes and GP4000S tires for training and pit wheels. I have a set of Zipp 404 tubulars for race wheels. Right now I am using Reynolds blue brake pads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sarals View Post
    Esteban, you started a great thread!

    Ex - would it be feasible to lace the PT hub into those Shimano tubeless wheels? I know you told me what tubeless tires you have, but like almost everything else these days, I've forgotten what they were. Help there?
    Sara - I'm not Ex, but getting a PT for the Ultegra rear wheel isn't a problem. PT offers a 20 spoke hub, you'd just need to have someone rebuild the wheel with that hub and probably new spokes.
    Regards,
    Chuck

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  25. #25
    West Coast Weenie Esteban58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarals View Post
    Eric, I have a PT hub on a OpenPro wheel. I'm thinking about going tubeless.

    Before you get carried away with that last statement, shut up! I said tube-less.

    I can't swap the PT amongst my bikes. The Look is Shimano. The Bianchi is Campy. The Felt is 650c.
    This is why 'power measurement' is so damn confusing...
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