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Which wheel set? Aero vs. Light(8 posts)

Which wheel set? Aero vs. LightWild Bill
Feb 23, 2002 7:23 AM
Just some concerns regarding light weight vs. aero wheel sets.
My understanding of light wheels is just that. They are light no matter which direction you ride, they never change.
On the other hand aero wheels don't take any effect until you are going 35k or more per hour!
So does this mean that if you ride under 35k per hour you are not benefiting from your aero wheels?
Knowing all this, are aero wheels any good for the recreational rider?
Any opinions on this topic?
re: Which wheel set? Aero vs. LightBoris
Feb 23, 2002 7:40 AM
Even though I'm no expert on this subject, I do know that aero wheels do work and help even if you're going under 35 KmH. However, these wheels have so many drawbacks that for a recreational rider they are just not worth it. They are heavier and more exepnsive, and you probably won't notice a significant difference unless you ride time trials or are a pro. Even though light aero wheels do exist, they are extremely expensive (I've seen some for more than $1000!!!). Anyway, for general riding, racing, and training, you'd be better served by light wheels. Check out the Velomax Circuit Comp's, great wheels, really light, and going for about $400 at www. . Well, good luck. Ride on.
re: Which wheel set? Aero vs. LightConcourse1
Feb 23, 2002 8:15 AM
I don't see why most recreational riders would want aero wheels of any type unless they were participating in a weekend timetrial or marathon event over primarily flats where they could maintain enough speed to take advantage of the wheels aero characteristics.

You are right, most aero wheels require you to maintain a fairly fast pace in order to take advantage of the aero qualities the rims provide. If you are riding any course or road which has any amount of significant hills, climbing etc. you will not be going nearly fast enough to take advantage of any aero characteristics the wheel might offer. To the contrary you are in fact giving yourself the worst weight penalty imaginable to any rider - heavier rotational weight at the wheels rim which not only hurts your speed for climbing in general but also makes it much harder to accelerate the wheel during any breakaway. Last, most aero wheels rims, especially the deeper type tend to be very poor relative performers in crosswinds compared to their non aero brother rims. Your bike can get awfully squirrely on you and knocked around in high crosswinds with an aero rim.

Unless you are time trialing or doing a marathon, I think comparable aero rims lose out to comparably lighter non aero rims on just about every performance count there is. If you do want a light pair of aero rims, get ready to open the wallet bigtime because they are not cheap at all.

I personally know guys who have ridden centuries on aero rims who told me when they were through they felt as though they had expended as much upper body energy battling crosswinds to keep their bike straight as they did pedaling. This may be a bit of an exxageration but it also has some basis in fact.
For recreation, probably not.jw25
Feb 23, 2002 3:56 PM
Of course, it depends on some other factors, too. Deep-section rims are stronger, on average, so an "aero" wheelset built with 32 spokes might be better for a larger rider, or one who's hard on wheels.
If you're looking at boutique aero wheels, though, I'd skip them. I've got some, and only ride them in TT's. The crosswind problem is very apparent, especially in pacelines. During a solo TT effort, swerving across the road isn't a big deal, but in a pack situation, it's very dangerous. Remember this year's team TT in the TDF? Was it Tyler Hamilton who had some problems, and took out a few of his postie teammates?
Anywho, if you're riding with a group, the benefits of aero wheels are diminished by drafting, anyway. So, I'd recommend going for some lightish, but easy to maintain wheels. Something like 32 spokes, 3X, probably 14/15g to open pros/aeroheads/whatever box section rim of your choice.
For a rather anal retentive look at the subject:Jekyll
Feb 23, 2002 8:37 PM
There are as many opinions on this subject as there are riders. These guys seem to have done quite a bit of thinking about it - - a little dry but a hell of a lot of insight into the physics of wheels and cycling in general.
hehWoof the dog
Feb 23, 2002 11:00 PM
Too bad most posters above have an opinion that if you are not a pro you don't need that kind of equipment AND it is extremely expensive. Pfffff. I actually think that light and aerodynamic wheels are much more important for recreational riders because it makes them happy and riding! Pros ride whatever they get from sponsors and thats about it. Of course, to each his own - don't get zipps if you ain't got cash, but certainly get 'em if you make an ok living. Cut down on some other expenses like Twix bars and wala! - yah got yourself stuff better than some stinkin' pro's.

Aerodynamics do matter, even if only a tiny bit, when you are going only 15 mph, get it up to 20 and you will definitely pick up some noticeable speed (depending on the definition of noticeable - for me anything over .2mph is definitely noticeable). Spin it up to 24, and you will have even more benefit. I still go for light because it actually feels nice on the hills and during accelerations. I live in the up-down land anyways. Some humans like Grizly monkey may have an opinion that light is better in race situations, but of course that presupposes you are weak and suck wheel instead of trying to break away.

So, I say, get heavier but more aerodynamic wheels if you live in flatlands, get light for hills, get both if you got cash. Some other options to consider are or (or maybe it is speeddreamS). Dave builds some excellent wheels that are somewhat aerodynamic, clincher, and pretty damn light.

Also, if you search, or better, literally look through older pages, you will find threads like yours coming up every 2 or 3 weeks.

Good luck

Woof, the rough rough rough dog.
hehGet light
Feb 24, 2002 1:42 PM
Even if yu had the cash to buy a top end pair which is both aero and light like Zipps, would you really want to be using that wheel on to train everyday? I don't think so. Unless you race a lot, I really don't see what adding .2 mph to your speed does. He said recreational riding, why in the world would soneone need an aero wheel for recreational riding? I think your attitude is as bad as the guys who discourage people from getting top end products who are not racers. You make it sound as if a guy who doesn't ride with Zipps won't be happy receational riding or willl suddenly be a lot happier if he gets them. Pffff on that.
hehWoof the dog
Feb 24, 2002 7:03 PM
ok, he could ride them on sundays then. Besides, something like shimano wheels are heavy but sure more aerodynamic on flat terrain - and that is what I would get if I lived in IL. If I didn't race, I would still love to own Zipps, there is no question about it.

I get what you are saying though. Thanx for showing me the other side of the coin, friend

Woof the dog.