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Analysis of light vs aero wheels(14 posts)

Analysis of light vs aero wheelsmcbaker55
Oct 17, 2003 4:14 PM
There was a recent thread on this subject where one of the posters gave a link to an article that demonstrated how an aero wheel is superior on the flats, on the climbs, and in crits than a lightweight wheel. Could someone point me to that article? I've been searching for a while and can't seem to find it. Thanks.

Be careful here!Kerry Irons
Oct 17, 2003 5:46 PM
Aero wheels are generally faster, no doubt. Depending on the weight differences, they may be slower on the climbs, but if you have a relatively straight descent, you'll make it up. If you have to brake repeatedly in a crit and the aero wheels are heavy, then lighter (but less aero) wheels are an advantage. Also, aero wheels are not worth nearly as much when you're riding in a bunch, like you most often would be in a crit. If you go to any level crit, you'll see racers winning on all kinds of wheels, so the "aero advantage" certainly hasn't proven itself consistently in the real world. However, aero wheels are much more susceptible to crosswind problems, and so can be unpleasant for everyday use.
Must be...Petacchi wins all the time on 2Kg aero wheels nmdivve
Oct 17, 2003 6:33 PM
Cipo raced tied and soldered. So what. (nm)TFerguson
Oct 18, 2003 1:29 PM
was he crying too? nmdivve
Oct 18, 2003 11:30 PM
hey Kerry..collinsc
Oct 17, 2003 6:35 PM
You give a lot of good advice (and you give it a lot), but I was wondering, because I don't think I've seen it anywhere, what do you ride?
Here it isKerry Irons
Oct 19, 2003 5:54 PM
I ride a '98 LS Vortex with Campy Record 9 ('98), LS Ti post and stem, TTT Forma bars, Flite Ti saddle, '98 Campy Electron wheels w/Conti GP 3000 tires & Michelin Course tubes. I would not buy the Electrons (or any boutique wheel again). If I were to get new wheels tomorrow they would be Campy Record hubs laced 3X, 15/16 DT spokes, 28 hole, to Velocity Aerohead rims.
I'm not looking to debate the point...mcbaker55
Oct 18, 2003 10:22 AM
I'm just trying to find the article.


try analyticcycling.comrussw19
Oct 18, 2003 7:39 PM

They have a page that effectively says that aero trumps light in most real world tests. But DO NOT take my work for it, read it and decide for yourself.

re: Analysis of light vs aero wheelsasgelle
Oct 19, 2003 6:57 PM
This may be what you're looking for:
look here. (Kerry you should read this too)jhr
Oct 20, 2003 5:14 AM
I think you are refering to an article by Craig Willett, on the webcite. You will need to go to the tech archives and search around. I think it was around August of 2001.

It confirms your thinking. Yes aero wheels are faster in crits. The acceleration issue is a myth (yes, a light wheel will technically accelerate faster, but the advantage is minimal and far outweighed by the reduced drag of an aero wheel [even in the draft]). Aero will always trump light weight unless speeds are about 12mph (ie really steep climbs).

The math explains it all, but . . . .Kerry Irons
Oct 20, 2003 4:23 PM
Agree that aero wheels are nearly always faster, though one must be careful to include weight differences when considering most aero wheels. The physics of the situation is quite straightforward. You can show that light wheels are an advantage over heavier aero in a crit ONLY if you are braking a lot, otherwise any extra energy you expend to spin up the heavier wheels is returned when you coast. The weight penalty in climbing is minor, as is any possible aero advantage at slower speeds - either is a factor only in top level racing situations. Back to my key point: you have to be willing to deal with the crosswind effects of aero wheels for the slight advantages they offer. In "clean" air (zero wind), the best aero wheels are worth around 0.4 mph at 25 mph, 0.3 mph at 20 mph. In a 40 km, 60 minute time trial, this is worth nearly a minute, which is huge. The advantage is much less when drafting in a pack. However, in a solo 100 mile ride, the best aero wheels will make you only 4 minutes faster, and you'll be struggling some if there are significant cross winds. Given the cost, the stability issue, and the limited significance of the speed delta in most situations, it is easy to understand why we aren't all riding aero wheels, even though they are "always" faster.
The math explains it all, but . . . .al0
Oct 22, 2003 2:50 PM
You have missed one important point - acceleration in final sprint.
re: Analysis of light vs aero wheelsMShaw
Oct 20, 2003 10:34 AM
The really funny thing about the aero wheel argument is that there's a lot of guys NOT RIDING THEM arguing that they don't make that big a difference.

I can tell you that my Cosmics are about the fastest things I've ridden at the top end. Accelerating to get them there sucks!

My 404 track wheels accelerate better, but aren't quite as fast.

My Ritchey Pro wheels accelerate better than either of the above, but aren't as fast at the top end. Better for crits... Cheaper to replace if something happens as well.

I have a Zipp 340 rear wheel that I call my "training" wheel. It isn't as fast as the 404 it replaces. The best description for what it feels like is that the rear wheel is riding through sand...

I think Sheldon Brown has a link to Damon Rinanrd's articles. I seem to remember something from him on this subject.