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Are Climbing Wheels Funner to Ride?

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Are Climbing Wheels Funner to Ride?

Old 04-08-24, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
I'd only ride and use climbing wheels if I was climbing literally 100% of a ride. A race where you need to get to the top of a mountain as fast as possible, for instance. As soon as you need to go down, the sailing effect outweighs the advantages IMO, and I'd get a ''balanced'' wheel (40mm or something).

Prove me wrong.
To be clear, sailing effect— meaning the wheel is producing negative drag, or thrust— is not only occurring downhill, it happens anytime the wind yaw angle is in the right range, including when traveling uphill. Also, aero wheels can be reducing drag (i.e. without going so far as to be in negative drag) all the time time, too, irrespective to the slope of the road. Aero gains apply everywhere and at, effectively, every riding speed.
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Old 04-08-24, 06:47 AM
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I ride an Aethos/105 Di2 with Roval Alpinist wheels. I'm also 5'4" and 142lbs.
The Alpinist wheels accelerate faster and climb better than 'heavier' wheels...at least imo.
I had an opportunity to use a pair of Campy Bora 60mm carbon wheels last year and during use I had to work harder to get them up to speed doing 30 second intervals compared to the Alpinists. I did not notice they were any easier to hold a high speed because the physical effort to get them up to speed took more out of me thus I was only thinking about the efforts and intensity.
I did notice that they were brutal in cross winds. I found myself being pushed sideways when a cross wind gust hit. It was not fun and I had to work harder and pay a lot of attention to adjusting to cross winds in order to 'hold a line'.
They are more beneficial during time trial type of efforts because of the aerodynamics over a more shallow wheel but in a race setting...in a pack...I don't think they are much, if any, more advantageous than a shallower wheel due to pack drafting.
I do race, quite a bit actually, and my Alpinists never let me down.
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Old 04-08-24, 10:30 AM
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Also a 90kg rider, with two bikes - one with shallow wheels (25mm Ksyrium S), the other with deeper carbon (Light Bicycles 45mm). The deeper wheels, being carbon, are actually lighter than the alloy Ksyriums.


I rarely notice the breeze on the Ksyriums. headwinds, crosswinds - that bike is unflappable. Crosswinds rarely impact steering feel. The Ksyrium S wheels replaced a worn out set of Ksyrium Equipes (SoSmellyAir, I think you participated in that discussion), and the newer wheels put a bit more pep in my Bianchi's step. Given that it's a shallow alloy wheel replacing a shallow alloy wheel, the difference really could only be attributed to the ~250g drop in weight. The bike feels lively, and is does rolling or technical terrain well. Oddly enough, despite being the heavier bike with the heavier wheels, the Bianchi can claim many of my uphill PRs. Going downhill, she might not be quite as fast (chalk that up to not just wheels, but rim brakes and less descent friendly geometry), but she handles slaloming down winding roads with ease. The deeper wheels occasionally take a bit more effort to turn, which I generally chalk up to aerodynamics of some sort.


The 45mm Light Bicycle wheels replaced some 30mm Vision Team 30s, which were 1900g and felt like lead bricks. The Light Bicycle wheels saved about 500g, and my (new-ish at the time) Lynskey went from being a disappointment to being sprightly. That said, the 45mm deep wheels feel a little spooky when crosswinds pick up. There are times when I want to make a line correction, and subtle, subconscious shifts to steering actually produce significantly more resistance than expected. There's always the momentary "Am I tramlining? Do I have a flat?" thought before remembering - oh yeah, deeper wheels and a crosswind. Has it ever blown me off course? No. Have I ever felt they were a danger? Also no. Do they take getting used to on windy days, especially when going quickly? Yes. In a headwind, I feel like I can maintain forward momentum better on the deeper wheels. Even without headwinds, on flat terrain, the deeper wheels seem to make it easier to keep going. Do I have watt meter measurements over a closed course? No.The difference is subtle, but having spent $1400 on the deeper dish wheels, I have to believe it's there :-D


TL;DR: shallower wheels work in all situations, and I'd call them more 'fun.' The deeper wheels feel faster.


If the conditions are variable (some hill days, some flat days; some still days, some gusty), and if the budget allows, I'd consider getting a spare front wheel. Go for ~50mm, but trade out to a 25mm if you plan on a lot of up, technical downs, or if it's windy. Though keep the same hub and brake rotor to minimize any fiddling needed for that.
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Old 04-08-24, 11:46 AM
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Thank you for everyone's responses. A bit of background that informs my inquiry, if you would all indulge me:

1. First Wheelset Upgrade, from (stock) Mavic Aksium to Mavic Ksyrium Elite. Both alloy wheelsets have similar depth and profile, so main difference is a 230 g (~ 1/2 lbs.) weight loss, which was immediately noticeable in acceleration and handling (although I may not have the right adjective to describe the latter). To the extent I was any faster, most likely due to improving fitness.

2. Second Wheelset Upgrade, from Mavic Ksyrium Elite to FFWD F4R FCC. Going to a 45 mm deep CF wheel, with ~ 2 mm increase in width (both internal and external), and a 25 g weight gain. Noticeable increase in comfort, probably due to width increase and corresponding tire pressure decrease, and maybe slightly easier to hold higher speeds on flats and descents, which may be placebo. (But this upgrade also involved a tire change from Continental Grand Prix to Vittoria Corsa G+, so lack of control may invalidate the comparison.)

In my limited experience, I got a more noticeable benefit from going lighter than going deeper, so that may have colored how I approach this upcoming wheel upgrade. As noted in my OP, I do recognize that fun is not necessarily -- and in fact, is unlikely to be -- actually faster. I also recognize that now many deeper wheels in my price range only weigh about 1,600 g, a weight which I am now used to and is hardly a burden (especially compared to the 1,850 g wheelset I started road cycling on), so I understand the rationale to go deeper for some "free" aerodynamic gains.

[Armchair Psychology] Maybe the dilemma is just masking a reluctance to be seen as the fat slow poke with the deep wheels?
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Old 04-08-24, 12:29 PM
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I started swapping between 2 wheelsets (one 32mm deep and under 1400g, the other 56mm deep and ~1600g) and eventually realized I frequently forgot which ones I had on, even when it was windy. Now I'm on the deep ones full time just because I like the look.
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Old 04-08-24, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
I started swapping between 2 wheelsets (one 32mm deep and under 1400g, the other 56mm deep and ~1600g) and eventually realized I frequently forgot which ones I had on, even when it was windy. Now I'm on the deep ones full time just because I like the look.
Coincidentally, that is roughly the same weight difference that is at issue between Roval Alpinist vs. Rapide (both CL II). It already takes me a while to get ready for a ride (inflate tires, fill bottles, put in contact lenses, and get changed) so a wheel swap (especially with through axles) is just a step too far. Not to mention the brakes may make the hollow dry slight scraping sound if the respective rotors on the different wheelsets are not in exactly the same exact position. One wheelset per bike is the way to go, at least for me.
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Old 04-08-24, 02:35 PM
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I swap wheels regularly. It takes me 5 min, tops. The trick is to make sure the disc brake rotors (assuming you have those) occupy the same space. This might require shims. Or if they are close, you can just use the Park tool to reset the pads quickly. I often do that as well.
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Old 04-08-24, 02:52 PM
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Wheels are N+2.

The solution is obvious.
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Old 04-08-24, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
In my limited experience, I got a more noticeable benefit from going lighter than going deeper,
I dunno about that...

Had you skipped the Ksyrium Elites and went straight to the FFWDs, you would have enjoyed the same, "immediate noticeable" improvement in acceleration and handling from weight loss, *plus* the added comfort and easier speed-holding of wider rims with deeper aero profile.

So yeah, once you've passed the initial threshold, you're always chasing that first high, but it's very rare that it's ever again as good as the first time. That's just how experience works! We have a term for it, too: marginal gains.
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Old 04-08-24, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Coincidentally, that is roughly the same weight difference that is at issue between Roval Alpinist vs. Rapide (both CL II). It already takes me a while to get ready for a ride (inflate tires, fill bottles, put in contact lenses, and get changed) so a wheel swap (especially with through axles) is just a step too far. Not to mention the brakes may make the hollow dry slight scraping sound if the respective rotors on the different wheelsets are not in exactly the same exact position. One wheelset per bike is the way to go, at least for me.
That's pretty much what made me decide to just choose one pair and stick with it. Choosing the ones that "look pro" is probably the most vain decision I have ever made, but all else seemed equal. So with that in mind, I definitely encourage you to stick with whichever set you like most for whatever reason.

Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I swap wheels regularly. It takes me 5 min, tops. The trick is to make sure the disc brake rotors (assuming you have those) occupy the same space. This might require shims. Or if they are close, you can just use the Park tool to reset the pads quickly. I often do that as well.
I don't know why, but it just doesn't seem to be that simple for me. I always end up loosening the bolts and shifting the calipers, sometimes multiple times. I tried various sizes and quantities of shims, spreading the caliper, but it's still a pain.
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Old 04-08-24, 09:49 PM
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More funner. Somebody had to say it.
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Old 04-08-24, 10:02 PM
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Somebody did.

Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
Those make the hill-climbing experience even more funner. Especially when they go taco hell.
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Old 04-08-24, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
That's pretty much what made me decide to just choose one pair and stick with it. Choosing the ones that "look pro" is probably the most vain decision I have ever made, but all else seemed equal. So with that in mind, I definitely encourage you to stick with whichever set you like most for whatever reason.
Really pro wheels may serve to highlight just how slow I am. I am probably in the bottom quartile in my area, but among those with > 50 mm wheels I may well be in the slowest 10 percentile.

Originally Posted by urbanknight
I don't know why, but it just doesn't seem to be that simple for me. I always end up loosening the bolts and shifting the calipers, sometimes multiple times. I tried various sizes and quantities of shims, spreading the caliper, but it's still a pain.
Yeah, I had to recenter the front caliper after just washing the mud off the tires on my gravel bike.
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Old 04-08-24, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Really pro wheels may serve to highlight just how slow I am. I am probably in the bottom quartile in my area, but among those with > 50 mm wheels I may well be in the slowest 10 percentile
New wheels may move you up to the slowest 15 percentile. That’s a win!
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Old 04-09-24, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Really pro wheels may serve to highlight just how slow I am. I am probably in the bottom quartile in my area, but among those with > 50 mm wheels I may well be in the slowest 10 percentile.
We're in the same club. Back when I was a teen racing and training my heart out, I couldn't afford fancy carbon aero wheels. Now that I'm just riding for fitness and fun, I can afford them, so I got them.
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Old 04-09-24, 09:14 AM
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I do not see how a thread about climbing wheels is complete without a post about Obermayer Lightweight wheels https://lightweight.info/en/wheels/obermayer-evo. The Obermayer EVO's are 1230 grams for the disc wheel set with 24 mm rim width. These have to be the MOST funner of all the climbing wheels.

And most probably when you lean your bike against the coffee shop outside wall to go inside for a shot of espresso, you will sit on the top of the pyramid for having the most expensive and lightest and funner wheels of the day.

I ride the Fast Forward - F4R FCC. If I am doing a hill climb race / event, then I have lighter wheels.
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Old 04-09-24, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
Also a 90kg rider, with two bikes - one with shallow wheels (25mm Ksyrium S), the other with deeper carbon (Light Bicycles 45mm). The deeper wheels, being carbon, are actually lighter than the alloy Ksyriums.


I rarely notice the breeze on the Ksyriums. headwinds, crosswinds - that bike is unflappable. Crosswinds rarely impact steering feel. The Ksyrium S wheels replaced a worn out set of Ksyrium Equipes (SoSmellyAir, I think you participated in that discussion), and the newer wheels put a bit more pep in my Bianchi's step. Given that it's a shallow alloy wheel replacing a shallow alloy wheel, the difference really could only be attributed to the ~250g drop in weight. The bike feels lively, and is does rolling or technical terrain well. Oddly enough, despite being the heavier bike with the heavier wheels, the Bianchi can claim many of my uphill PRs. Going downhill, she might not be quite as fast (chalk that up to not just wheels, but rim brakes and less descent friendly geometry), but she handles slaloming down winding roads with ease. The deeper wheels occasionally take a bit more effort to turn, which I generally chalk up to aerodynamics of some sort.


The 45mm Light Bicycle wheels replaced some 30mm Vision Team 30s, which were 1900g and felt like lead bricks. The Light Bicycle wheels saved about 500g, and my (new-ish at the time) Lynskey went from being a disappointment to being sprightly. That said, the 45mm deep wheels feel a little spooky when crosswinds pick up. There are times when I want to make a line correction, and subtle, subconscious shifts to steering actually produce significantly more resistance than expected. There's always the momentary "Am I tramlining? Do I have a flat?" thought before remembering - oh yeah, deeper wheels and a crosswind. Has it ever blown me off course? No. Have I ever felt they were a danger? Also no. Do they take getting used to on windy days, especially when going quickly? Yes. In a headwind, I feel like I can maintain forward momentum better on the deeper wheels. Even without headwinds, on flat terrain, the deeper wheels seem to make it easier to keep going. Do I have watt meter measurements over a closed course? No.The difference is subtle, but having spent $1400 on the deeper dish wheels, I have to believe it's there :-D


TL;DR: shallower wheels work in all situations, and I'd call them more 'fun.' The deeper wheels feel faster.


If the conditions are variable (some hill days, some flat days; some still days, some gusty), and if the budget allows, I'd consider getting a spare front wheel. Go for ~50mm, but trade out to a 25mm if you plan on a lot of up, technical downs, or if it's windy. Though keep the same hub and brake rotor to minimize any fiddling needed for that.
If you've got the older R45 LB rims, look at updating to some of their newer offerings. I had the R45's on my previous Cervelo and didn't like them in strong winds at all. Currently have their AR465 rims on a new bike and they're so much better I have zero issues in the wind now.
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Old 04-09-24, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by 6thElement
If you've got the older R45 LB rims, look at updating to some of their newer offerings. I had the R45's on my previous Cervelo and didn't like them in strong winds at all. Currently have their AR465 rims on a new bike and they're so much better I have zero issues in the wind now.
Ah, the conversation that inevitably leads to n+1... I'm already on Above Category's mailing list (an ultra-high end shop in Sausalito specializing in custom everything), don't need more people telling me about the next new hotness :-D
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Old 04-09-24, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
I do not see how a thread about climbing wheels is complete without a post about Obermayer Lightweight wheels https://lightweight.info/en/wheels/obermayer-evo. The Obermayer EVO's are 1230 grams for the disc wheel set with 24 mm rim width. These have to be the MOST funner of all the climbing wheels.

And most probably when you lean your bike against the coffee shop outside wall to go inside for a shot of espresso, you will sit on the top of the pyramid for having the most expensive and lightest and funner wheels of the day.
I think you meant to recommend these as the "most funnest" wheels?

Originally Posted by Hermes
I ride the Fast Forward - F4R FCC. If I am doing a hill climb race / event, then I have lighter wheels.
They are decent CF rim brake wheels, but I often wonder if the concave channel in the rim profile make these wheels more susceptible to strong wind from the side.

Originally Posted by 6thElement
If you've got the older R45 LB rims, look at updating to some of their newer offerings. I had the R45's on my previous Cervelo and didn't like them in strong winds at all. Currently have their AR465 rims on a new bike and they're so much better I have zero issues in the wind now.
I am now also considering these: AR56 Disc Carbon Road/CX/Gravel Wheelset - Light Bicycle

Last edited by SoSmellyAir; 04-10-24 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 04-09-24, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
I believe it's the wavy profile which diminishes the wind impact, but I can highly recommend the AR465's, those AR56's don't seem to have it. The 565's do.
https://www.lightbicycle.com/AR565-D...eady-700c.html
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Old 04-09-24, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by 6thElement
I believe it's the wavy profile which diminishes the wind impact, but I can highly recommend the AR465's, those AR56's don't seem to have it. The 565's do.
https://www.lightbicycle.com/AR565-D...eady-700c.html
Thank you for pointing these wheels out; they do have a blunter U rather than a sort of rounded V rim profile.
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Old 04-09-24, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Thank you for pointing these wheels out; they do have a blunter U rather than a sort of rounded V rim profile.
https://www.hambini.com/lightbicycle...or-gravel-use/

edit: link just to highlight the rims. Mine are build with DT 240 EXP's and cx-rays.

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Old 04-10-24, 12:37 AM
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Roval Rapide CL II ordered

Since my rides are not like walking to and from school back in the day -- you know, uphill both ways -- I ordered the deeper Roval Rapide CL II. I am really looking forward to upping my cruising speed from 16.8 mph to 17.3 mph.

$1,349 + tax with free shipping for these wheels is not bad, even though I had to order each wheel separately from a different store.
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Old 04-10-24, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
I don't know why, but it just doesn't seem to be that simple for me. I always end up loosening the bolts and shifting the calipers, sometimes multiple times. I tried various sizes and quantities of shims, spreading the caliper, but it's still a pain.
Get this.

Watch this:
Go to 2:00 if you're in a hurry.
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Old 04-10-24, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Get this.
I have seen that tool in a similar video before. I am hoping to avoid having to do this; I heard that the brake calipers that come with Shimano's 12 speed groupsets have improved rotor clearance.
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