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Crit wheel choice - What makes a good crit wheel(9 posts)

Crit wheel choice - What makes a good crit wheelschills
Dec 12, 2003 8:30 AM
I'm looking at new wheels, partly because I just like looking at gear, but also because I'm left wondering if there are some performance gains to be made by supplementing my current collection of wheels.

I race predominantly crits. My current set of wheels for racing are Mavic Ksyrium SLs. Are there any worthwhile performance gains to be had by getting a lighter, or more aero wheelset like Zipp 303s or 404s or AM Classic 38mm or 58mm Carbon rims? For Crits, would folks suggest 38mm over 58mm.

I'm a realist. I know that the biggest performance gains for me at my level(Cat 4) will come from training, but I like gear, and this is a hobby, so if I indulge myself, what would be the more sensible indulgence?


re: Crit wheel choice - What makes a good crit wheelMShaw
Dec 12, 2003 9:11 AM
First, racing 4s, ya gotta be able to replace whatcha race. Crashes happen.

Aero trumps light. Remember that mantra. If you can get aero AND light, even better.

For longer less "turny" crits/circuit races I'd run the 404s or the American Classic alternative.

For short, tight crits, I'd stick with something a little lighter and less aero (ie: your Ks).

That help?

Wheel choice for critsEric_H
Dec 12, 2003 9:53 AM
Personally, I do not think there are any worthwhile performance gains to be made by moving up to a pair of Zipp 404s from your Ksyriums. Sure, they are a little lighter, and a bit more aero, but not drastically so. The Ksyriums are a solid wheel and more reliable than any Zipp product, they are reasonably aero, and they are much cheaper to repair or replace than a Zipp if damaged.

I agree with the other poster, aero trumps weight in this scenario, but the aero gains are not enough to justify the cost. The most sensible indulgence with the money you would spend on Zipps would be to go to a training camp like Carpenter/Phinney and soak up all the information you can about how to be successful in criterium racing. I know it is not the answer you are looking for.
Wheel choice for critsschills
Dec 13, 2003 10:07 AM
A few questions.

Aero over weight? I'm not going off the front much over the course of a 25 race season and I'm drafting in a pack with 80 guys. Is aero still that important. Alternately, their is lots of surging with quick accelerations out of corners and elsewhere. Seems like weight might be more important, no?

Also, one big consideration in getting new wheels was the fact that I suffered flats twice during the season in the middle of fairly fast corners. I nearly lost it on both occassions, only barely saving it each time. Would switching to sew-ups for racing provide me with a worthwhile margin of safety over clinchers and is it worth the associated hassle?

That training camp sounds like a great idea. I'll give that some serious thougt. Sounds like pain and suffering. . . I mean. . . a lot of fun.


What about ...Keeping up with Junior
Dec 12, 2003 1:06 PM
Sorry to hijack your thread a bit, had a similar question about crit wheels, but I was looking the other way.

My thought was to build up a set of Reflex tubulars on Chorus or Centaur hubs. My reasoning is: 1)They are cheap enough to repair/replace if crashed. 2) Should spec out pretty light, especially at the rim (including tire and tube) where weight is supposed to matter more than really light hubs. 3) While not aero, it seems you need to go fairly deep profile to get an aero benefit and that requires carbon and $,$$$ to keep it light. 4) More rubber contact area cornering assuming a proper job glueing?

So what are the experts thoughts on this approach?
What about ...MShaw
Dec 15, 2003 10:49 AM
If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail... Ditto with wheels. I'm of the opinion that you need different wheels for different situations.

There's the fast, open, circuit race style crit. An aero wheel is much more beneficial than a lightweight wheel.

Then there's the turny style crit that an aero wheel isn't as much a help. Lightweight would do better here.

So, my advice: if you're racing crits, does it make sense to have the right wheelset for conditions? Having a flat head screwdriver when you really need a phillips sucks...

What about ...asgelle
Dec 16, 2003 7:59 AM
MShaw wrote, "Then there's the turny style crit that an aero wheel isn't as much a help. Lightweight would do better here."

On what do you base this? All my model calculations show aerodynamics trumps low weight except for the steepest climbs (>8%), or hardest accelerations (kilo starts, not crits or road sprints).

Basically, resistance to motion comes through aero drag or gravity; kind of like philips or flat screws. But almost always, it's aero drag, so yes you might occasionally need a flat head screwdriver but those cases are so rare that if you buy the phillips (aero wheels) you'll almost always have the right tool.
I've only really...divve
Dec 17, 2003 9:57 AM
...noticed increased performance with lighter wheels + tires on an MTB. With constant varying terrain and speeds going down to 5mph and then up again it makes for quite a difference in feel.
Dec 19, 2003 1:14 PM
I know aero is in vogue and people will come up w/ all sorts of scientific stats to support their opinion (usually linked to the wheels they currently own or that came with their bike) but for crits i say lighter over aero.

it a crit you're usually bunched in a field of 50 or so, with your time up front (if you ride smartly) very limitted. aero gives you limitted advantages, if any, when you're drafting. with the quick accelerations and yo-yoing common in a cat 4 crit, i say lighter is a greater benefit. you want something that accelerates quickly, which means a lighter (usually lower profile) rim, lighter tires and tubes.

if you can go aero as well and keep everything under budget, fine. but as one post said above, this usually means expensive carbon, which means expensive repair when you crash (you WILL crash, eventually).