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  1. #1
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    Bay Area - lightweight or aero wheels?

    I've been following the lightweight vs. aero wheel thread in the road forum, and the general consensus has been that aero is more beneficial than light wheels. As someone living in the hilly Bay Area and loves to take on Mt. Diablo, is aero still more beneficial than lightweight wheels? I suppose lightweight would get me up the hills faster, but one could also argue that aero would get me down the mountain faster?

    What kind of wheels should I blow my money on?!

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    Depends how much money you are willing to spend. If you have the money you could get lightweight and aero wheels ^^

  3. #3
    Senior Member VaultGuru's Avatar
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    What kind of riding do you typically do? It really all depends on the reason you want (need) the wheels. Lightweight wheels certainly have their advantages, especially for those of us that live in the hills. I have a pair of Campy Eurus wheels for everyday use. They have served me well for 20k+ miles. Not super aero, compared to other wheels, but certainly more aero than most. Quite light, but not the lightest. I have never had a problem with the Campi wheels getting out of true, bearing problems, etc.. Pretty incredible, given the roads in the foothills.
    I also have a set of Topolino wheels. Very lightweight, responsive and wonderful to ride, but not particularly aero. I only use them for long rides with lots of climbing (Death Ride, etc.). Don't think I would use them for daily riding.

  4. #4
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Aero wheels are only beneficial above 25 mph. Below that speed it won't make you faster than a regular low profile wheel of the same weight. A light wheel will be beneficial on any significant hill. A stiff and light wheel will add the benefit of accelerating quicker if you decide to have a burst of power.
    If you have deep pockets and don't mind tubulars you can have light, aero, and stiff in one package.

  5. #5
    Spinning like a gerbel spingineer's Avatar
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    I'm just happy to make it up Mt. Diablo ... but I have to say, ever since my ksyrium rim cracked, and went to Easton aero rims, it's a joy to ride. Have no idea how much it weighs.

    Not much help, am I?
    I'm in it to finish it.

    My Cycling Blog

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    I'm looking to spend at most $500 on a wheelset; this limits me to alloy clinchers. Only real reason is that I'm bored of my Forte Titans from Performance and looking to take a step up. In terms of the riding I do, I don't race, and I love riding at least 50 miles at a time that includes a bunch of hills to climb. I had always thought lightweight wheels would be for me, but all this talk about aero advantages has got me thinking.

  7. #7
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodtimes5 View Post
    I'm looking to spend at most $500 on a wheelset; this limits me to alloy clinchers. Only real reason is that I'm bored of my Forte Titans from Performance and looking to take a step up. In terms of the riding I do, I don't race, and I love riding at least 50 miles at a time that includes a bunch of hills to climb. I had always thought lightweight wheels would be for me, but all this talk about aero advantages has got me thinking.
    In that case go for the lightest wheels you can get. I don't think anything less then 50mm deep dish will provide much of an aero benefit, and those run north of 500 dollars.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  8. #8
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodtimes5 View Post
    I'm looking to spend at most $500 on a wheelset; this limits me to alloy clinchers. Only real reason is that I'm bored of my Forte Titans from Performance and looking to take a step up. In terms of the riding I do, I don't race, and I love riding at least 50 miles at a time that includes a bunch of hills to climb. I had always thought lightweight wheels would be for me, but all this talk about aero advantages has got me thinking.
    I'm kind of a wheel fanatic, and have been building sets for myself and friends for over a year now. $500 can get you a great set of handbuilt wheels. Large aero benefits will not be noticed until you get into the deep section carbon market, which is well out of budget. I just built a set of Kinlin 30mm rims w/ Novatech hubs and CX-Ray spokes. They came in at 1530 grams and only cost me $400 in parts. I consider that a good balance between weight, aerodynamics, and cost. Plus they're damn strong. I've ridden them twice and they're awesome. If you're interested in something similar PM me.

  9. #9
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodtimes5 View Post
    I'm looking to spend at most $500 on a wheelset; this limits me to alloy clinchers. Only real reason is that I'm bored of my Forte Titans from Performance and looking to take a step up. In terms of the riding I do, I don't race, and I love riding at least 50 miles at a time that includes a bunch of hills to climb. I had always thought lightweight wheels would be for me, but all this talk about aero advantages has got me thinking.
    You should look at the Williams or Neuvation wheels. I thing the Forte are Neuvations in disguise. Williams seem to offer a lot of bang for the money, their low profile System 19 set weights 1440gr for only $499. The System 38s are only 140gr heavier for $479. You will have a tough time beating that.

  10. #10
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpelpel View Post
    You should look at the Williams or Neuvation wheels. Williams seem to offer a lot of bang for the money, their low profile System 19 set weights 1440gr for only $499. You will have a tough time beating that.
    +1 to Williams. The System 30s are very similar to what I mentioned above.

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    I've been looking at Williams wheels and Soul wheels. These options all cost about $500 in the end. What do you think is the best option?
    Williams System 30 - 1580 grams - 30mm rim height
    Williams System 19 - 1440 grams - 19mm rim height
    Soul S4.0 ------------ 1790 grams - 41mm rim height
    Soul S2.0 ------------ 1330 grams - 25mm rim height

    Current Forte Titans - 1755 grams - 27mm rim height

    I only weigh 140 pounds, by the way, so weight limit is not an issue.
    Last edited by goodtimes5; 01-14-10 at 10:36 PM.

  12. #12
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    I'd also consider what your current wheels weigh. I bought a set of Williams 19's (20F, 24R) coming from a set of Open Pros (28R, 28F) with Specialized hubs. I don't know an exact weight on my original wheel set, but I think I've saved ~1/2lb or so. The Williams are actually stiffer, accelerate more quickly and I swear I feel the difference on the climbs. As always YMMV, but I'm a believer in using lightweight wheels for climbing.

    Edit - just saw your updated post. I've been impressed with my 19's they've been quite robust - survived the Diablo pothole route, and bumping around the Early Bird crit with no issues. You might want to get some reviews on the S2.0's just to confirm that you don't hear any negative opinions on durability. The 19's have had some mixed reviews to be honest, but I've been delighted with my set.

    If I was buying new wheels again, I'd give some serious thought to hand built wheels too. I like the Williams hybrid ceramic hubs, they roll very smooth; but you might see what someone like rydaddy or Psimet could do for you as well. I'd buy the 19's again FWIW.

  13. #13
    Two wheels is two wheels pelikan's Avatar
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    One thing to note about Aero Wheels and climbing is they can be very 'exciting' on windy descents.

    +1 on WW19 or WW30

  14. #14
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodtimes5 View Post
    I'm looking to spend at most $500 on a wheelset; this limits me to alloy clinchers. Only real reason is that I'm bored of my Forte Titans from Performance and looking to take a step up. In terms of the riding I do, I don't race, and I love riding at least 50 miles at a time that includes a bunch of hills to climb. I had always thought lightweight wheels would be for me, but all this talk about aero advantages has got me thinking.
    In that case go for the lightest wheels you can get. I don't think anything less then 50mm deep dish will provide much of an aero benefit, and those run north of 500 dollars.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  15. #15
    Senior Member silentben's Avatar
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    Here's an interesting article that compares the relative benefits of lightweight vs aero wheels:

    http://www.biketechreview.com/archive/wheel_theory.htm

    Here's the short version: They take a "reference" wheel and then compare it against some "theoretical" wheels, one of which is more aero than the reference and one of which is lighter weight than the reference. For each of these wheels they then mathematically compute the amount of power required to complete certain bike rides in a fixed time. The conclusion: aerodynamics has a more significant effect than weight.

    One caveat is that it's easy to quantify weight savings by just sticking your wheel on a scale. You can easily prove to yourself that the your new wheels are say 20% lighter than the old ones. But do so called "aero" wheels really cause 20% less drag? Hard to say. So when it finally comes down to the real world the above thought experiment is interesting but not very useful

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    Aero is important to pro racers who climb up hills at 20mph. If you're not anywhere close to that speed, then aero is a waste of money. The benefits of aerodynamics vary with the square or cube of your speed, so the benefits diminish quickly as your speed decreases.

    Lightweight wheels can help your speed on long climbs, but don't expect miracles. Super light wheels might save you 1 minute on Mt. Diablo. Any further time savings are because your lighter wallet is affecting your junk food budget.

    Speed on long descents (with lots of switchbacks, etc.) is affected more by your bike handling skill than anything else.
    Last edited by johnny99; 01-15-10 at 01:49 AM.

  17. #17
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    MyLilPony has a set of Willimams 19s that have held up perfectly. That are as true as the day they came out of the box.
    Plus, if they fit what you need you get the added bonus of dealing with a local (Stockton) company that has a great customer service rep.
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
    Website at curtis.corlew.com Bicycle blog at ccorlew.blogspot.com

  18. #18
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    Any further time savings are because your lighter wallet is affecting your junk food budget.
    That's the best response to the OP, bar none.

    Moral of the story: pick your own poison, your mind will be happy and you will go faster.

  19. #19
    Senior Member khill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydaddy View Post
    +1 to Williams. The System 30s are very similar to what I mentioned above.
    +1.. I have 30s and 30xs. Very happy.

  20. #20
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    My take on 30s vs 19s. Use the 19s if you don't plan to use them as everyday wheels. They're great weekend/super light wheels. The 30s will be much stronger and probably last a bit longer due to the deeper rim (spreading to load to more spokes).

    Something about 24 spokes and a 19mm rim doesn't sit well with me. Maybe that's because I weigh 190 and have already snapped spokes on a few low spoke count factory wheelsets.

    On handbuilts, I actually get all my parts from psimet. He has killer prices and a lot of knowledge if you want him to build you a set. People think handbuilt means $$$, but that's not necessarily the case.
    Last edited by rydaddy; 01-15-10 at 10:38 AM.

  21. #21
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    FYI - a quick and dirty calc tells me I can build a set of 20/24 wheels using the deeper (and stronger) 30mm rims. They'd come in just under 1500 grams and that's with brass nipples. Total cost is right around $400.

    I'm an advocate of more spokes, so if you really wanted something 'bombproof' go with 24/28 spokes and be done with it.

  22. #22
    bam
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    i've been meaning to try my hand at wheel building for a little while now. figured a good place to start would be building one for use on the trainer. did a little googling and read some stuff online (like Sheldon's wheel page), but can anyone recommend some resources to point me in the right direction. from the basics to how do i make sense of all the different types of spokes and such to how do you tie and solder a wheel. or maybe a thread in an appropriate forum that talks about this already

  23. #23
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bam View Post
    i've been meaning to try my hand at wheel building for a little while now. figured a good place to start would be building one for use on the trainer. did a little googling and read some stuff online (like Sheldon's wheel page), but can anyone recommend some resources to point me in the right direction. from the basics to how do i make sense of all the different types of spokes and such to how do you tie and solder a wheel. or maybe a thread in an appropriate forum that talks about this already
    I first read Sheldon's site, then The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt, then Wheelbuilding by Roger Musson. You can buy Musson's book online as a pdf and it's the most practical of the two. Also, check out the mechanics forum. A lot of things I have picked up were discussed there.

    http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php

    Oh, and I wouldn't recommend tie-and-solder unless you plan on breaking a lot of spokes.

  24. #24
    bam
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    thanks rydaddy, i'll check out Musson's book. definitely like that truing stand, it reminds me of the one we cobbled together as kids in dad's garage. i've perused but never purchased Brandt's book, figured i could just pick it up in another 20 years as a historical text (and am familiar with his stance on T&S wheels, also from Sheldon's site)

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpelpel View Post
    Aero wheels are only beneficial above 25 mph. Below that speed it won't make you faster than a regular low profile wheel of the same weight. A light wheel will be beneficial on any significant hill. A stiff and light wheel will add the benefit of accelerating quicker if you decide to have a burst of power.
    If you have deep pockets and don't mind tubulars you can have light, aero, and stiff in one package.
    You are flat out wrong. You shouldn't give advice like that unless you can prove that with facts. You can't.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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