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Carbon vs aluminum

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Carbon vs aluminum

Old 12-29-20, 12:05 AM
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akirapuff
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Carbon vs aluminum

Hi, this topic probably has been beaten to death, but I currently have hed belgium clinchers. I am on the fence for upgrading to carbon tubulars. I know the marginal performance gains to be had on paper for aero and weight savings. But will I actually feel the difference? I dont race and I dont necessarily have to go faster, but if its more FUN to ride, I dont mind spending the cash. I am looking at the enve 3.4 tubulars. What do you guys think?
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Old 12-29-20, 12:46 AM
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If you're not racing then why tubulars? They do ride better but they cost more, are harder to set up and a flat can be harder to deal with. I understand tubeless sealant can be used to prevent flats with the latex inner tube but they seem like a lot of effort for just riding and training.
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Old 12-29-20, 01:55 AM
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Its a lighter wheelset for one. Also weight savings from tires and better feel. I understand the maintenance is harder.
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Old 12-29-20, 03:16 AM
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No one rides tubulars.
You'd probably be better off with tubeless.
The Hed Belgium's you have support tubeless.
For $120 or better on sale Continental Grand Prix 5000 mounted on your Belgiums would save you a few grand & be nearly indistinguishable in every way that matters.

Don't get me wrong. Enve's are amazingly awesome. But for thousands of dollars, unless there is a specific reason like racing, or vanity, or too much money lying around, Belgiums are a strong contender for a general purpose training & enjoyment bike, which it sounds like is how you use your bike.

I have many Enve's & there just isn't enough improvement over the trusty Belgiums to justify the cost for general day-to-day riding, IMO. Apples to apples in A/B testing, tires seem to be the most relavent factor for most times at normal cycling speeds.

How much time do you spend in crosswinds at or above 25mph? That's where the Enve's really come into their own & become worth every penny.

I am actually encouraging you to get them. A good stiff aero wheel set is something to behold, just be forwarned they won't make you faster, if that's what your goal is. Tires make the biggest impact in that regard.

I wouldn't necessarily call them "funner" either. Too stiff can actually add a harshness to the ride. Hence, the endless discussions on tire pressure. The goal there is to preserve forward momentum...the byproduct being rider comfort.

Last edited by base2; 12-29-20 at 03:36 AM.
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Old 12-29-20, 03:33 AM
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I see, thanks for you input. Now Im hesitant to buy.. but thats good!
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Old 12-29-20, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by akirapuff View Post
I see, thanks for you input. Now Im hesitant to buy.. but thats good!
Part of it is the Belgiums are just so good already. Unless you've worn out the brake track or something, to necessitate a replacement, there just isn't really any reason to switch things up. I've never met anyone who could actually tell the difference of 100-200 grams of wheel weight. A pound, sure. But a few ounces? Never.

If you fail to be impressed by GP5KTL run tubeless on your Belgiums...I dunno, maybe I'll eat my hat, & you will most definitely have a definite reason to go for the Enve's. Get some new carbon pads, swap the tires over, get some fresh sealant & never look back.

I only wish someone had told me the same long ago.

Good luck either way.
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Old 12-29-20, 06:36 AM
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This shouldn't be "carbon vs aluminum" but rather "clinchers vs tubular" as the rim material is a comparatively minor concern (though if you have rim brakes and regularly ride in wet weather, it might be worth thinking about). I'd agree that, if you're looking for a better feel, to go to better tires first, with either lightweight/latex tubes or tubeless (if you're okay with the maintenance schedule).
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Old 12-29-20, 06:53 AM
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Tubulars are antiquated at this point. You can get 25mm carbon clinchers that are sub 1150 grams for less than $1200. You can get 50mm wheelsets that are under 1400 grams.

My Hed Stinger 4s (tubulars) are about 1350 grams, and I just ordered a pair of 45mm clincher/tubeless wheels that weigh the same.

Carbon rims have come a very long way, and with some Carbon-Ti or Extralite hubs and Sapim CX-Rays or other light spoke you can very closely match the weight of a tubular wheel without the fuss.

Now, if you're looking for the sub 1kg wheelset, you'll have to go tubular, but north of that a clincher will get it done.

Plus, the best clincher/tubeless tires are much faster rolling resistance wise than comparable tubulars, and half the price. Win, win, win.
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Old 12-29-20, 08:45 AM
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I put the new michelin tubeless tires in a 28mm size on my bikes, with fulcrum racing 3 wheels that require no rim tape. The tires weren't very difficult to install. I haven't tried breaking a bead to install an emergency tube yet. The ride is nice and they roll really well. I wouldn't even think of using outdated tubular tires.
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Old 12-29-20, 11:34 AM
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The alloy version of the same wheelset is only 100 grams or 2 tenths pound difference. How much lighter than you current wheelset are these?

If I had the money and it was pocket change, I'd spend it. If I didn't consider the money pocket change, there are more things I'd rather have first.
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Old 12-29-20, 11:40 AM
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Old 12-29-20, 12:27 PM
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I think most people who buy cf rims are mainly interested in the "wow" factor...But it's hard to admit that, so they search for some performance gain.
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Old 12-29-20, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I think most people who buy cf rims are mainly interested in the "wow" factor...But it's hard to admit that, so they search for some performance gain.
This just explained 90% of all bike purchases for the average cyclist. Outside of truly competitive racers, most of the crap people buy is more psychological than physiological.
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Old 12-29-20, 07:22 PM
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yea I am struggling to find any pro's at this point for carbon tubulars. I think I will pass. Thank you everyone!
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Old 12-29-20, 10:03 PM
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The pros are
- basically no pinch flats
- no fragile bead hook profile
- pretty much eliminates heat dissipation/ delamination issues for rim brakes
- lighter
- better safety margin for high speed punctures
- can run lower pressure
- arguably fewer flats
- bargain priced used available.
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Old 12-30-20, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
The pros are
- basically no pinch flats
- no fragile bead hook profile
- pretty much eliminates heat dissipation/ delamination issues for rim brakes
- lighter
- better safety margin for high speed punctures
- can run lower pressure
- arguably fewer flats
- bargain priced used available.
While not carbon, I am putting together some NOS Ambrosia Montreal Tubulars for my cross bike, and gluing on some tires for my track bike Mavic CXP Tubulars.
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Old 12-30-20, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
The pros are

- basically no pinch flats

- no fragile bead hook profile

- pretty much eliminates heat dissipation/ delamination issues for rim brakes

- lighter

- better safety margin for high speed punctures

- can run lower pressure

- arguably fewer flats

- bargain priced used available.

This. Finally, someone who 'gets it'.


Compared to tubulars, the clincher (including tubeless) rim profile features nothing but disadvantages. The two hooks on clinchers that project downwards from the rim towards the road surface are fragile, heavy and cause pinch flats. To add to the excellent list above, the clincher rim is exposed to tire inflation pressure, which causes the hooks to be forced apart. On tubulars, you can run very low pressures, due to the almost impossibility of pinch flatting them. On clinchers, you cannot run very high pressures, as the rim will split down the middle, or the hooks will blow off outwards. On tubulars, you can inflate the tire until it explodes, as the clincher rim is isolated from tire inflation pressures.


The superior rim profile is the reason why elite-level cycling is done on tubulars (road, cross, track and even MTB), in the past, now, and forever. Manufacturers and team sponsors do not like to broadcast this, but apart from a very few exceptions, when money is on the line, everyone is on tubulars.


There may be trivial differences (<10 watts) between certain tire/glue combinations between the fastest rolling clinchers, and slowest tubulars. Maybe. Using a lighter tire and harder tubular glue would fix this.


In terms of performance, on fast rides, accelerations and climbing is all important. A light wheelset means the difference between staying with the leaders, or being shed off the back and suffering solo into the wind for many miles.


After a 20 year hiatus, I am back to doing most of my riding on tubulars. The setup is definitely lighter, making the bike more responsive during accelerations. And I am no longer as worried about tire blowouts, as blowing a tire at warp speed on tubulars is a fright, but usually controllable. On clinchers, a far more challenging task.


What caused me to go back? 20cc of Stan's injected into the rear tire. No more flats.
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Old 12-30-20, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
This. Finally, someone who 'gets it'.

Compared to tubulars, the clincher (including tubeless) rim profile features nothing but disadvantages. The two hooks on clinchers that project downwards from the rim towards the road surface are fragile, heavy and cause pinch flats. To add to the excellent list above, the clincher rim is exposed to tire inflation pressure, which causes the hooks to be forced apart. On tubulars, you can run very low pressures, due to the almost impossibility of pinch flatting them. On clinchers, you cannot run very high pressures, as the rim will split down the middle, or the hooks will blow off outwards. On tubulars, you can inflate the tire until it explodes, as the clincher rim is isolated from tire inflation pressures.

The superior rim profile is the reason why elite-level cycling is done on tubulars (road, cross, track and even MTB), in the past, now, and forever. Manufacturers and team sponsors do not like to broadcast this, but apart from a very few exceptions, when money is on the line, everyone is on tubulars.

There may be trivial differences (<10 watts) between certain tire/glue combinations between the fastest rolling clinchers, and slowest tubulars. Maybe. Using a lighter tire and harder tubular glue would fix this.

In terms of performance, on fast rides, accelerations and climbing is all important. A light wheelset means the difference between staying with the leaders, or being shed off the back and suffering solo into the wind for many miles.

After a 20 year hiatus, I am back to doing most of my riding on tubulars. The setup is definitely lighter, making the bike more responsive during accelerations. And I am no longer as worried about tire blowouts, as blowing a tire at warp speed on tubulars is a fright, but usually controllable. On clinchers, a far more challenging task.

What caused me to go back? 20cc of Stan's injected into the rear tire. No more flats.
As someone who's owned four different pairs of tubulars (and still has three tubular wheels) and was racing on them until last year, I completely disagree.

Being able to inflate a tubular to a much higher pressure than a clincher is not a plus, it's a minus. 100+ psi and higher is going to cause you to go slower, not faster, unless you are riding on the most pristine of surfaces (or a velodrome).

And you are way, way, way wrong on rolling reistance of tubulars versus clinchers/tubeless. There can be significantly more than 10 watts between the fastest tubeless setup (Veloflex Records or Vittoria Corsa Speeds) versus the fastest tubulars. You're looking at 7 watts per tire between a Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR and a Continental Competition tubular. People that care, care. The fastest tubeless and the slowest tubulars is like comparing riding on the road to riding in 6 inches of mud on a cyclocross bike. You're way off, there.

Suffice to say, if you run, for example, a Continental tubular, you are giving up gobs of watts to people that are running a faster tire with latex, either tubular or clincher or tubeless. The pros get special Continentals LTD with latex tubes, but I'd hazard that even those aren't as fast as Corsa Speeds or some other combo. Note that in time trials, when all that matters is speed, a number of pros have used clinchers or tubeless setups instead of tubulars. Because they're faster.

As for regular road races? The ability to keep rolling on a tubular if needed is pretty significant. It will be interesting to see if they're still used as much in five years time.
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Old 12-30-20, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
And you are way, way, way wrong on rolling reistance of tubulars versus clinchers/tubeless. There can be significantly more than 10 watts between the fastest tubeless setup (Veloflex Records or Vittoria Corsa Speeds) versus the fastest tubulars. You're looking at 7 watts per tire between a Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR and a Continental Competition tubular. People that care, care. The fastest tubeless and the slowest tubulars is like comparing riding on the road to riding in 6 inches of mud on a cyclocross bike. You're way off, there.
OK, I'll bite. So let's say there is 7 watts difference. Conti Competitions have butyl tubes, so you should be comparing Vittoria clinchers with latex tubes and Vittoria tubulars with latex tubes. Being able to pump your tires >100psi on tubulars is a big saving in rolling resistance.

Regardless, when it comes to performance considerations in a tire/wheel combo, rolling resistance is third-tier priority. If you are on a fast group ride at the front, you are suffering and putting out >400 watts. At the back of the group, you are coasting along yakking with your pals about what movie you saw last night. Maybe 100 watts; let's say you have to put out an extra 10 watts of tire rolling resistance ... so what?

But when the lead guys decide to stiffen the pace, and shed some riders, as in out of corners and up a hill, that is when you need the lowest possible rotating mass. If you get shed off the back, you're faced with the miserable task of catching up. If you can....

BTW: all competitive 'cross racing is done on tubulars.
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Old 12-30-20, 04:45 PM
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Lol.
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Old 12-30-20, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by akirapuff View Post
yea I am struggling to find any pro's at this point for carbon tubulars. I think I will pass. Thank you everyone!
The fact you even considered ENVEs kinda says you want some serious bang on your bike, and hang the bucks. The fact you're considering tubulars says you don't mind going to a bit of trouble for the full Monty.

And you explicitly state that you're not expecting miraculous quantities of free Watts, but the goal is to make the bike as fun as possible.

I think you're halfway on the right track - deep (50+) carbon tubulars will give you proper full aero, weighing significantly less than even the lightest climbing clinchers - it may be possible to have an argument about whether that's worth the trouble in terms of Watts and saved seconds, but without a doubt that equation equals a serious quantum leap in fun.

You want your bike to feel like an absolute weapon, look no further than carbon tubulars. But if you're at all interested in value, look further than Enve - they're more about status. Not that they're not great, but tubulars aren't much of a design challenge for carbon; plenty of folks can build them very nicely, and the optimum rim profile has been pretty well established for a few years now, so rims ticking those main boxes are more of a commodity these days.

I'd say the biggest area of variance is braking performance; that should be what you're looking for in customer reviews. On that note, my Caden wheelset astounded me - best carbon rim braking experience I've had, up there with Mavic's extremely noisy Exalith rims (and I was a mechanic for a few years, so I've test ridden a lot of bikes). The wheelset I chose was 49mm (you need like 3:1 for a proper aero section so this is about where the weight/aero tradeoff is), with 16f/21r straightpull hubs (the Decadence option) that are the sexiest hubs I've ever seen (externally, and not counting super exotic full carbon jobs with integrated spokes), and weigh 1080g.
And check out the price.

Sure, it's a pain in the arse when you get a flat on tubulars. But the difference in price between these and a set of Enves will buy you a lot of tyres.

I said the hubs are sexy externally; they're extremely low profile with the best flange placement I've seen, and they're bespoke for Caden. Internally, they're the same cartridge bearing junk you get from anyone but Shimano and Campy. Some cartridge bearing hubs may be a cut above others, especially in terms of sealing, and if you're shopping around keep an eye out for angular contact bearings and preload adjustment, but don't hold your breath, I'm not sure anyone builds a cartridge bearing hub that would impress anyone interested in all the finer points, prestige brands included.

I actually dropped AU$700 on a used Shimano wheelset just for the 21h freehub so I could rebuild my rear Caden around it, but it was just so damn ugly next to the Caden hub, and the clincher, so much room for improvement still on the Shimano hub's flange placement. In the end I just decided to cop the cartridge bearings and noisy floating freehub that everyone else seems just fine with, and hope for a day to come when my kvetching about poxy cartridge bearing hub internals has actually made a dent and people expect better...

Anyway, you want your bike to be as fun as it can be. Deep carbon tubulars are the answer. Plus, it's fun every time you look at the bike, and every time you pick it up.

Last edited by Kimmo; 12-30-20 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 12-30-20, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
OK, I'll bite. So let's say there is 7 watts difference. Conti Competitions have butyl tubes, so you should be comparing Vittoria clinchers with latex tubes and Vittoria tubulars with latex tubes. Being able to pump your tires >100psi on tubulars is a big saving in rolling resistance.

You got that 100% backwards.
Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
Regardless, when it comes to performance considerations in a tire/wheel combo, rolling resistance is third-tier priority. If you are on a fast group ride at the front, you are suffering and putting out >400 watts. At the back of the group, you are coasting along yakking with your pals about what movie you saw last night. Maybe 100 watts; let's say you have to put out an extra 10 watts of tire rolling resistance ... so what?
Rolling resistance affects you always. In a group, solo, up a climb, down, with a tailwind, without. It's first-tier priority for everyone that is concerned with going quickly. A fast tire/tube setup gives you more speed than an aero wheel, so...

That you think "so what" simply indicates you don't care. And frankly, I don't care that you don't care. But it's a very significant aspect of performance, so it's certainly something I care about.

Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
But when the lead guys decide to stiffen the pace, and shed some riders, as in out of corners and up a hill, that is when you need the lowest possible rotating mass. If you get shed off the back, you're faced with the miserable task of catching up. If you can....
I don't even know what this means, except that it seems to further illustrate you don't really know what you're talking about.

Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
BTW: all competitive 'cross racing is done on tubulars.
And?
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Old 12-30-20, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
Being able to pump your tires >100psi on tubulars is a big saving in rolling resistance.
If your benchmark is merely ">100PSI", most narrow road clinchers spec that no problem. I just looked at a few of the tires on my bikes... the 25mm Bontrager R3s recommend 90-125PSI, and the 27mm Open Paves recommend 100-130PSI.

Not that I'm overly concerned with this. 90PSI is just about the highest I ever pump the R3s to, and I never bring those Paves up to their purported minimum pressure.

If you are on a fast group ride at the front, you are suffering and putting out >400 watts. At the back of the group, you are coasting along yakking with your pals about what movie you saw last night. Maybe 100 watts;
Unless we're talking about riders of very difference sizes or other extreme mismatches, the only time in a "fast group ride" context where the people in back are at 100W while the person at the front is doing 400W are shallow descents. Or maybe extremely strong direct headwinds. A majority of the time in a paceline, the power difference is much tighter.

let's say you have to put out an extra 10 watts of tire rolling resistance ... so what?
So you burn less energy and oxygen and recuperate faster from your last effort. Which is nice, when your lungs are on fire and your legs are jelly because you just circulated back after a hard pull and you're not sure if you'll be able to hang on.

Or, you burn fewer calories over the course of a long ride. Which makes it that little bit easier to be nutritionally fresh at the line.

Or whatever. Really. 10 watts is 10 watts. People regularly pay big bucks for much less.

But when the lead guys decide to stiffen the pace, and shed some riders, as in out of corners and up a hill, that is when you need the lowest possible rotating mass.
If a paceline is doing 16mph up a 5% gradient, adding a massive 500g to your wheels increases the required power by about 2 watts. It doesn't make any sense to make a big deal out of that, while simultaneously scoffing at 10 watts in rolling resistance.

Last edited by HTupolev; 12-30-20 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 12-31-20, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
The fact you even considered ENVEs kinda says you want some serious bang on your bike, and hang the bucks. The fact you're considering tubulars says you don't mind going to a bit of trouble for the full Monty.....


I said the hubs are sexy externally; they're extremely low profile with the best flange placement I've seen, and they're bespoke for Caden. Internally, they're the same cartridge bearing junk you get from anyone but Shimano and Campy. Some cartridge bearing hubs may be a cut above others, especially in terms of sealing, and if you're shopping around keep an eye out for angular contact bearings and preload adjustment, but don't hold your breath, I'm not sure anyone builds a cartridge bearing hub that would impress anyone interested in all the finer points, prestige brands included.

Wow: checked out the Caden website.. very impressed. I have carbon Zipp's, Fast Forwards and Visions, but I'm tempted based on the technical specs and the price.


The 25mm tubulars weigh 940 grams - for a wheelset. As in front and rear. Wow. I've ridden on 1,200 carbon tubulars and it was a life-altering experience that spoils you from that point onwards. There is a noticeable improvement in acceleration with this class of wheels, which happens dozens of times per ride when you're hanging with the fast crowd.


For a wheelset, low rotational inertia is the #1 performance requirement, which helps you to reconnect with the wheel in front of you coming out of corners. If you are behind a group of say 10 riders, at 40kph, you are basically coasting. But if you drop 10 feet back, exposed to the wind, you have to amp up the watts to close to that of the pacemaker. As in 100 to 400 watts ASAP. If you cannot, and drop back, then you are finished: solo for the rest of the ride.


I agree the only improvement I can see with these wheels is going from cartridge to cup and cone bearings in the hubs. Otherwise, most impressed.
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Old 12-31-20, 02:21 PM
  #25  
rubiksoval
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
The 25mm tubulars weigh 940 grams - for a wheelset. As in front and rear. Wow. I've ridden on 1,200 carbon tubulars and it was a life-altering experience that spoils you from that point onwards. There is a noticeable improvement in acceleration with this class of wheels, which happens dozens of times per ride when you're hanging with the fast crowd.

For a wheelset, low rotational inertia is the #1 performance requirement, which helps you to reconnect with the wheel in front of you coming out of corners. If you are behind a group of say 10 riders, at 40kph, you are basically coasting. But if you drop 10 feet back, exposed to the wind, you have to amp up the watts to close to that of the pacemaker. As in 100 to 400 watts ASAP. If you cannot, and drop back, then you are finished: solo for the rest of the ride.
Again, this is so very wrong.


And 940 grams for a wheelset isn't all that special. 850 and below is getting a bit more rarefied. And I've ridden everything from 1100 gram tubulars to 1600 gram tubulars. It's not even noticeable after a minute or two, most definitely not any type of "life-altering experience"/
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