Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

True Confession: Aero Wheels? Meh.

Notices
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

True Confession: Aero Wheels? Meh.

Old 02-20-17, 10:03 AM
  #1  
FlashBazbo
Chases Dogs for Sport
Thread Starter
 
FlashBazbo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,288
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 983 Post(s)
Liked 138 Times in 91 Posts
True Confession: Aero Wheels? Meh.

Hear me out. I'm a long-time competitive cyclist. I've ridden several generations of both aero and non-aero wheels over the years. And I've enjoyed most of them. My current aero wheelset -- ENVE 4.5 -- are, far and away, the best aero wheels I've ever ridden. I like them a lot. But knowing what I know now . . . and given that "non-aero" wheels are a lot more aero than they used to be . . . would I shell out the big bucks for aero wheels again?

If I have to be honest, I have to say that the benefits of aero wheels in the real world, are not as great as the hype would have you believe. On the plus side, at certain specific yaw angles, my ENVEs are rockets -- there is a speed benefit that you can feel when they are on the sail. But that yaw angle and the ability to take advantage of it (i.e., out on your own, away from even a small pack) is pretty rare. Rare enough that I specifically remember every time it has happened. On the negative side, even with the latest profile rims, aero wheels don't like strong or unpredictable crosswinds. Even with the ENVEs, I've been blown sideways a couple of feet more than once. In an unpredictable crosswind situation, this causes me to give other riders and the edge of the road an extra foot or so of space -- which usually means I'm not drafting as well as I could be. Like the ideal yaw angle, this situation is also relatively unusual, but not as unusual as the perfect yaw is. In this situation -- and especially on steep descents with a crosswind -- the aero wheelset actually costs me watts and time. And, if we're going by perceived effort? Riding straight into the wind is a loser for the aero wheels, too.

And most of the time (let's be honest here, aero wheel owners), in the real world there is no perceptible difference between riding an aero wheel and a non-aero wheel. Speeds are within the margin of error of being exactly the same between today's (40mm to 60mm) aero wheels and today's rounded section rim non-aero (25mm) wheels. Riding in a group cancels everything out. Carbon clinchers don't brake QUITE as well and they aren't as stiff as a good set of aluminum clinchers, but those aren't as big a factor as they used to be. Also, my ENVEs weigh almost exactly the same as my non-aero aluminum wheels -- so that's not a factor at all, anymore.

Why the public reflection/confession? I'm planning my racing season -- all the way down to gearing and wheel choices at each event -- and I realized that the aero wheels may not make the cut. If the wind is from the right direction at the right places on the course -- and if I think I might be trying to break away or catch the break in that area -- I will want the aero wheels on the bike. But what are the chances?

It's cool to have a choice of wheel types through the season. But if I had only one wheelset? It comes from the current crop of rounded-profile low-profile wheels.

I know this will be an extremely controversial post. I know that my manhood, cycling ability, and morality will be challenged. But I thought it might be good to have an honest assessment out there.
FlashBazbo is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:08 AM
  #2  
gsindela
Senior Member
 
gsindela's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Geneva, IL
Posts: 361

Bikes: 2015 Storck Scenero G3 (Force 22)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 125 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Well written and well said. The marketing gods are not going to be happy with you.
gsindela is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:11 AM
  #3  
wphamilton
Senior Member
 
wphamilton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Alpharetta, GA
Posts: 15,280

Bikes: Nashbar Road

Mentioned: 71 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2932 Post(s)
Liked 333 Times in 223 Posts
Have you used aero shaped bladed spokes on non-aero wheels?
wphamilton is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:14 AM
  #4  
12strings
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Madison, IN
Posts: 1,351

Bikes: 2015 Jamis Quest Comp

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 269 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
A friend of mine who has deep aero wheels was recently complaining about how they weren't sure how effective they were, and how they catch cross-winds.

I had and immediate, irrefutable response:

"BUT THEY LOOK COOL!"
12strings is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:16 AM
  #5  
Seattle Forrest
Senior Member
 
Seattle Forrest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 21,997
Mentioned: 74 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14671 Post(s)
Liked 5,618 Times in 3,217 Posts
I just bought a set of Enve 4.5 ARs. I'm loving them, but I'm not riding them nearly enough, I also just bought another pair or skis, and I'm trying to get out the door with them now.

I've felt that "like a sail" thing you described a few times. These are really easy to control in gusty cross winds. I've almost crashed descending around a corner on the North Cascades highway, and that's pretty important to me. They feel very stable when they roll. They're bombproof strong, and I do a lot of unpaved roads with very little traffic, so this is huge - I don't want to get stranded 20 miles from the nearest anything. My phone doesn't work in the mountains. They're wide as hell, stretch a 28 mm tire out to 32 mm. I run them tubeless, it's a soft ride with fantastic grip.
Seattle Forrest is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:17 AM
  #6  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 5,803
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1729 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 783 Times in 483 Posts
Early warning sign of retro-grouch nihilism?
woodcraft is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:17 AM
  #7  
gregf83 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 9,169
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1159 Post(s)
Liked 267 Times in 162 Posts
Depends what kind of racing you're doing. If you aren't contending for a podium then it might not be worth it. But if you already have the wheels I can't see any reason not to use them.

You can use less expensive 30mm aluminum wheels that get you 90% of the benefits of you Enve wheels but they'll have similar issues in the wind.

One comment on riding in a group. It's not correct that you lose the benefits of a deep wheel when drafting.
gregf83 is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:27 AM
  #8  
Roman Vintfeld
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 40
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have to agree with this. Most of my riding involves hiding from the wind inside the pack and then unleashing my five minute power when the road points up. Sure, aero wheels might be faster when riding alone, but when I do that I am training, and in that situation all I care about is my power output. So training, don't care so much. Racing, not so much either. All that is left is time trialling but I do too few of those to justify the expense.

I do agree that if you already have them might as well use them, except if handling is compromised. I'll take a good/easy-to-handle bike any day over saving ten watts.
Roman Vintfeld is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:29 AM
  #9  
OldTryGuy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: SW Fl.
Posts: 5,155

Bikes: Day6 Semi Recumbent "FIREBALL", 1981 Custom Touring Paramount, 1983 Road Paramount, 2013 Giant Propel Advanced SL3, 2018 Specialized Red Roubaix Expert mech., 2002 Magna 7sp hybrid, 1976 Bassett Racing 45sp Cruiser

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 894 Post(s)
Liked 435 Times in 293 Posts
With the aero's on my bike, the bike looks fast and so....I am.

BTW,
nice post and good luck.
OldTryGuy is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:32 AM
  #10  
Roman Vintfeld
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 40
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
They do look cool (well, some of them) and the whooshing sounds they make sometimes is sweet.
Roman Vintfeld is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:40 AM
  #11  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 5,803
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1729 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 783 Times in 483 Posts
Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Depends what kind of racing you're doing. If you aren't contending for a podium then it might not be worth it. But if you already have the wheels I can't see any reason not to use them.

You can use less expensive 30mm aluminum wheels that get you 90% of the benefits of you Enve wheels but they'll have similar issues in the wind.

One comment on riding in a group. It's not correct that you lose the benefits of a deep wheel when drafting.


The OP was talking about losing drafting benefit because of leaving more room in gusty winds. This is true- especially on fast descents.
woodcraft is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:43 AM
  #12  
TMonk
Not actually Tmonk
 
TMonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 11,956

Bikes: road, track, mtb

Mentioned: 136 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1237 Post(s)
Liked 978 Times in 519 Posts
@Flashbozo what kind of racing have you been doing?

the more time you spend going fast, the more it's worth it. I ride box rims on my training bike and deep carbons when racing.
__________________
"Your beauty is an aeroplane;
so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste
TMonk is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:46 AM
  #13  
rpenmanparker 
Senior Member
 
rpenmanparker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 28,682

Bikes: 1990 Romic Reynolds 531 custom build, Merlin Works CR Ti custom build, super light Workswell 066 custom build

Mentioned: 106 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6554 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 32 Posts
Dear Abby,

I hate the whooshing sound of aero wheels and I don't think they look particularly cool. What should I do?

Conflicted in Houston.
__________________
Robert

Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
No matter where I go, here I am...
rpenmanparker is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:49 AM
  #14  
Roman Vintfeld
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 40
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You should build yourself a sub-1300g wheelset.
Roman Vintfeld is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:52 AM
  #15  
Roman Vintfeld
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 40
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Watching Vuelta de Andalucia, I don't think I saw any of the contenders on anything deeper than 40mms, TT excluded, and they were going pretty darn fast.
Roman Vintfeld is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:53 AM
  #16  
rpenmanparker 
Senior Member
 
rpenmanparker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 28,682

Bikes: 1990 Romic Reynolds 531 custom build, Merlin Works CR Ti custom build, super light Workswell 066 custom build

Mentioned: 106 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6554 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 32 Posts
Originally Posted by Roman Vintfeld View Post
You should build yourself a sub-1300g wheelset.
You talkin' to me? If so, I already have three. Two 1,250 g Al clincher sets and a 999 g (I swear) low profile carbon tubular set. Now those are wheels!
__________________
Robert

Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
No matter where I go, here I am...
rpenmanparker is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 10:59 AM
  #17  
Roman Vintfeld
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 40
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Good man.
Roman Vintfeld is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:01 AM
  #18  
thenewjs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 62
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 27 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Living in DC crosswinds are the reason I stay far away from aero wheels, especially when it gets to whipping through the buildings. Its not so bad out on the trail but its still a gamble. I have a CAAD12 and i've damn near been blown over multiple times.
thenewjs is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:03 AM
  #19  
himespau 
Senior Member
 
himespau's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 12,026
Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2658 Post(s)
Liked 1,227 Times in 723 Posts
himespau is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:11 AM
  #20  
Hiro11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,415

Bikes: To the right: opinions, not facts.

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 657 Post(s)
Liked 283 Times in 157 Posts
Aero wheels offer among the worst dollars/watt saved ratios and yet its the first thing magazines, forums and other riders recommend upgrading. Also, deep section wheels are a pain in a strong crosswind and wheels with carbon braking tracks still don't brake as well as aluminum.
Hiro11 is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:39 AM
  #21  
Caymandiver1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 171
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 75 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
swapped my Dura Ace carbon very low profile clinchers for some 50mm aero wheels w/tubulars. have not noticed any increase in avg speed but I am still trying them out so that may change. I'm thinking about just using the dura ace on the road bike and save the aeros for the cervelo.
Caymandiver1 is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:46 AM
  #22  
Succhia Ruota
in bagnomaria
 
Succhia Ruota's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Dunwoody, GA
Posts: 257

Bikes: N+3 dependents

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 144 Post(s)
Liked 26 Times in 10 Posts
Ah, the fickle finger of fashion.
Succhia Ruota is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:46 AM
  #23  
Racing Dan
Senior Member
 
Racing Dan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1,840
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1073 Post(s)
Liked 153 Times in 113 Posts
"And most of the time (let's be honest here, aero wheel owners), in the real world there is no perceptible difference between riding an aero wheel and a non-aero wheel. Speeds are within the margin of error of being exactly the same between today's (40mm to 60mm) aero wheels and today's rounded section rim non-aero (25mm) wheels."

There is a reason aero wheels are always tested against the most boxy rim they can find. Im betting the difference against something like a Fulcrum quattro or similar, is very close to nil.

Thanks for posting. Much appreciated.
Racing Dan is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:54 AM
  #24  
joejack951
Senior Member
 
joejack951's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wilmington, DE
Posts: 12,059

Bikes: 2016 Hong Fu FM-079-F, 1984 Trek 660, 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1, 2016 Islabikes Beinn 20 (son's)

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1224 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 49 Posts
So are we back to lower weight meaning more than aero? Or now is it that neither matters? If that's the case many of us will be crying ourselves to sleep tonight. How the hell are we supposed to justify new gear with this newfound wisdom?
joejack951 is offline  
Old 02-20-17, 11:56 AM
  #25  
Roman Vintfeld
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 40
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
So are we back to lower weight meaning more than aero? Or now is it that neither matters? If that's the case many of us will be crying ourselves to sleep tonight. How the hell are we supposed to justify new gear with this newfound wisdom?
That. Well, both matter, but good enough is good enough.
Roman Vintfeld is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.