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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 01-05-10, 05:00 AM   #1
deepakvrao
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Lightweight versus aero-a different question

So having read a huge number of threads regarding the above topic, the general consensus I see is that unless there is a lot of climbing, aero is a better choice than light. Not looking at carbon at all so am limited to light OR aero and not both.

Now, what exactly do you guys mean by a lot of climbing. Is it long climbs on every ride? Or does rolling terrain also count? If I ride a lot of rolling terrain [so there will be plenty of ups and downs but not long or steep], would I be better of with light weight rather than aero?

Looking at deciding between Soul 2s or 3s and the Soul 4s and would appreciate any help here.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:08 AM   #2
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What sort of riding do you do? Races, group rides, training, recreational?

I have AC CR-420s (34 mm rims) and enjoy them for "all-round" riding (commuting, group rides, hilly training). The Soul 4s seem like a good option - they're certainly not boat anchors and should be sturdy and fairly aero.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:10 AM   #3
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Are you going to be racing or just doodling along on a nice afternoon bike ride?
Aero can be a little uncomfortable after a while. Pay attention to how much time you spend in the drops on a road bike.
An aero helmet can be very hot, although the gains are huge in a TT.
Aero wheels can take seconds off a TT race but some aero wheels add more effort to a hill climb.
A lot of this comes down to how much money do you want to spend? Light costs money and Aero costs money.
Look around and you will see that most people go with what they are willing to spend.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:32 AM   #4
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Are your roads in good shape? If not, I'd stay away from the lightest wheels, particularly with low spoke counts. I've been told by several amateur and pro racers that lighter wheels make the biggest difference in your riding. I've been saving up for a new wheelset myself to replace my Shimano WH-500 set. The new ones will be light, not aero. The wind here is bad enough without me getting blown off the road due to deep rim wheels.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:35 AM   #5
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light, aero, bombproof, cheap.

Pick 2 and go ride
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Old 01-05-10, 08:40 AM   #6
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The concensus here seems (to me) to imply that lightweight only really matters if you're doing a hill climb and not coming back down... or if you're so slow that you don't even create a wind turbulence, like me.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:44 AM   #7
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Bangalore looks pretty flat on topo maps and in pictures.

I vote for cheap/strong.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepakvrao View Post
So having read a huge number of threads regarding the above topic, the general consensus I see is that unless there is a lot of climbing, aero is a better choice than light. Not looking at carbon at all so am limited to light OR aero and not both.

Now, what exactly do you guys mean by a lot of climbing. Is it long climbs on every ride? Or does rolling terrain also count? If I ride a lot of rolling terrain [so there will be plenty of ups and downs but not long or steep], would I be better of with light weight rather than aero?

Looking at deciding between Soul 2s or 3s and the Soul 4s and would appreciate any help here.
Define "better." Wheels are round, give you a place to mount your tires, and hold your dropouts off the ground. What do you want out of a wheel?
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Old 01-05-10, 09:13 AM   #9
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relying on grumpy's research, just get the 4.0's
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Old 01-05-10, 10:53 AM   #10
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Aero's main advantages comes in at high speeds. Light weight advantages comes in at points of acceleration. For me, and only for me, light weights trumps aero. I like light weight because what I value most in a bike is quick turning. Aero is about going in a straight line very fast, not something I care much about.

Racers are always trying to find an advantage. For the most part wheel builders have run out of ways to make wheels lighter so they had to turn to something else. The something else for now is aero.

Every component on your bike has advantages and disadvantages. Learn what they are and make choices for yourself.
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Old 01-05-10, 11:17 AM   #11
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Aero's main advantages comes in at high speeds. Light weight advantages comes in at points of acceleration. For me, and only for me, light weights trumps aero. I like light weight because what I value most in a bike is quick turning. Aero is about going in a straight line very fast, not something I care much about.
Agree. To be more specific: when I've ridden aero frames (e.g. Cervelo S2) or aero wheels (e.g. Zipp 303 & 404), I didn't notice much of a difference until speeds were at around 18-20mph. There may be some slight advantage at lower speeds, but it's not one that made a discernible difference to me. Once I hit the 18-20mph range, it feels like it takes noticeably less effort to maintain speed on the bike with aero aids.

FWIW, I don't notice any real aero benefit when using aluminum wheels with depths in the 25-30mm range. It might be there, but I don't notice it while riding.
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Old 01-05-10, 11:43 AM   #12
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Light weight advantages comes in at points of acceleration.
Do the math on power requirements for accelerating an extra 150g of wheels out of corners in a crit and I think you'll see how aero wins.

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I like light weight because what I value most in a bike is quick turning. Aero is about going in a straight line very fast
Come again? How would aero wheels hurt your corning?

Crit boy here seems to turn "quick" with aero wheels:


Then we have one of the best descenders in the pro peloton:
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Old 01-05-10, 02:23 PM   #13
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Crit boy here seems to turn "quick" with aero wheels:

Then we have one of the best descenders in the pro peloton:
We could also consider track sprinters who take tight corners at blazing speeds and accelerate harder than any road rider and see what they use.
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Old 01-05-10, 02:24 PM   #14
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track corners?
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Old 01-05-10, 02:43 PM   #15
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If its aluminium, aero is heavy. And for that, not very aero anyway. So I'd go with a light, strong alloy wheelset.
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Old 01-05-10, 03:05 PM   #16
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What? Bike wheels are hard to turn? It's not like it's a f-250 with a snow plow up front and you've lost power steering. Last time I checked you mainly maneuver with your hips and hardly with the handlebars regardless of heavy Shamals/Deep V's or Mavic Gel-280's/Zipp 202's
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Old 01-05-10, 03:31 PM   #17
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We could also consider track sprinters who take tight corners at blazing speeds and accelerate harder than any road rider and see what they use.
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track corners?
In a match sprint, I guess going from a track stand to a 2000W 10s effort could generate a pretty quick yaw rate when you first start out. I still fail to see how wheel weight is relevant to cornering.

Anyway, yeah, nobody accelerates more than track sprinters. Aero wins:




Note that I'm no shill, as I ride aluminum clinchers in the 25-30mm range. Not light or aero. But, if I was going to drop $500-$1500 on wheels, aero would be the #1 priority.
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Old 01-05-10, 04:14 PM   #18
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Bangalore looks pretty flat on topo maps and in pictures.

I vote for cheap/strong.
Forget climbing, Bangalore's roads were pretty rough, my drive back from Salem was one hell of a ride. So, yeah, +1 on "strong". Beautiful country though, would love to ride through it.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:29 PM   #19
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The modeling here demonstrates that aero is much more important than wheel weight, even riding uphill at 17mph.
http://www.biketechreview.com/archive/wheel_theory.htm

There are some other articles on that site that show lightweight wheels start to make sense when the hill is really steep (around 15% gradient), but it depends somewhat on how fast you can travel uphill as well.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:32 PM   #20
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The modeling here demonstrates that aero is much more important than wheel weight, even climing at less than 20mph.
http://www.biketechreview.com/archive/wheel_theory.htm

There are some other articles on that site that show lightweight wheels start to make sense when the hill is really steep (around 15% gradient), but it depends somewhat on how fast you can travel uphill as well.
And, most everywhere there is climbing, there is an equal amount of descending. On this planet at least.

The aero advantage is greatest at descending speeds, and certainly mitigates at least some of the weight penalty, IMO.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:32 PM   #21
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Thanks guys. Os, opinions on both ends of the spectrum.

Type of riding I do? training rides alone, some group rides where I barely manage to cling on to the group [and often get dropped too], and some long rides. Any advantage a new wheelset can give me would be welcome.

Like I said, I know that aero AND light is carbon, which is both out of budget as well as unsuited for our roads. So, have to decide between the light weight alloy versus the heavier aero alloy wheels.
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Old 01-06-10, 12:01 AM   #22
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Given you have rough roads to deal with and have trouble maintaining a fast pace, I'd say go aero.

Light wheels are great fun, but nobody's mentioned how they also decellerate quicker; better aerodynamics plus a greater flywheel effect mean it'll be easier to keep deep rims at speed. A deep section is heaps stronger, and allows you to go to a lower spoke count for even more aero benefit.

The only real downside is greater sensitivity to crosswinds... and it'll hurt your weight-weenie bragging rights. But they look the business.

Thing is, you don't really have much of a teardrop happening until you're at a 3:1 aspect ratio... which means 40+mm deep.
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Old 01-14-10, 10:07 PM   #23
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So what kind of rim height are we talking about where aero advantages are easily discernible?
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Old 01-14-10, 10:32 PM   #24
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50mm+ deep. Easily discernible with a stopwatch and some patience. They only save you a handful of Watts, so you're not going to feel it in your legs, but you can measure it.
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Old 01-14-10, 10:37 PM   #25
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So what kind of rim height are we talking about where aero advantages are easily discernible?
You just opened Pandora's box. It seems that most people claim 42mm, but I'm pretty sure than came from an advertisement from a company that makes 42 or 43mm deep rims. I have a feeling that it's a sliding scale, like bringing a frog in water to a slow boil. You also have to realize that the depth of the rim is not the only determining factor either.

I stopped worrying about it. I bought some 19mm deep rims for my next build. Why? Because I want to tell people I have a sub 1400g set of wheels (just so I can), and even a 100mm deep rim wouldn't make my slow @$$ win any races anyway.
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