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  1. #1
    Unrepentant Mountainbiker
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    Flat windy solo rides, will aero wheels really help?

    I'm looking for your thoughts on aero wheels for my style of riding. I currently own an '06 Specialized Tarmac and was considering upgrading the wheels to a deep dish carbon rim. I most likely would get a 50mm deep rim as that seems to be the best combo of aero and stability in crosswinds.

    My question is this. For a rider like myself who averages between 18-20mph depending on winds and ride length, would the aero rims really make much of a difference? The area I live in is known for it's wind, and I have been known to ride in winds gusting over 30 mph so I am concerned with stability as well as aero benefit.

    So, should I pull the trigger or just keep running the same Mavic Aksium wheels that I have been running for years on this bike?
    It's no fun unless it hurts!

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    The aero benefit is you will finish your rides some seconds sooner than without. Crosswind gusts of 30 mph will make riding 50mm rims pretty interesting. Shallower rims will influence handling less in crosswinds. There are cosmetics and the cachet to factor in as well.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  3. #3
    A wheelist
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    I have some 50mm deep rims ("deep dish" refers to pizza) and I average about what you average. I notice zero difference when using those wheels - except on windy days on a 30-40mph descent. When the wind that I'm leaning on is stolen by a passing vehicle it creates a very tense moment. It moves me over about a lane width sideways. At best it's scary; at worst it could be lethal**.

    Not only do I not notice any difference but I can't measure any difference either. I keep meticulous ride data records and my average speeds using those wheels is no different that rims 1/2 their depth (24mm).

    I would suggest that you save your money unless the pose factor is huge. Another big negative is wet weather braking - or lack of. To say it's bad (even with the suggested pads) is an understatement.

    **I'm not saying that this happens with all deep rims. Some mega-$$ carbon rims might have addressed this issue. I wouldn't know as I'm not about to do a test with $800 (each) rims (not whole wheels).
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  4. #4
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    I've been blown around pretty seriously on my 50mm deep rims. Like across the road. For solo riding in windy conditions I'd use low profile rims- being able to relax is more important than the tiny speed improvement.

    I only notice the wheels improved aerodynamics on fast descents and even then it's not all that much faster- enough to make a small difference in a race but you'd be hard pressed to notice it riding solo.

    If you can make your position on the bike more aero (i.e. lower) without losing power you'll gain speed and get blown around less.

  5. #5
    Online Wheel Builder
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    This is entirely dependent on which 50mm deep rim you are going with. Some rims in that depth can be very squirrely in variable crosswind situations. They can feel twitchy, unstable, and unnerving if they don't have the right profile.
    I think that a deep wheel set would be a substantial upgrade, assuming that you choose the right one. With that said, I would only consider buying a deep wheel set if they have a wide profile as well. This can help to make them much more stable in the crosswinds, and it improves overall ride quality which is a plus.

    So all in all, here is my take. Aero wheels won't make you the fastest overnight on your weekly group rides, however, they will improve the ride quality of your bike drastically and make you enjoy getting out and popping wheelies (literal or metaphorical) even more than you did before.

  6. #6
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    I think Zen Cyclery nailed it regarding crosswinds: heavily dependent upon the rim design. My traditional profile 38mm's are noticeably more affected by crosswind than my like-profile 28mm's. However, my parabolic profile 60mm's behave much better in similar crosswinds than my 38's. Counter-intuitive, I know.

    Will an aero wheel make you faster? Most studies indicate that you will save a few seconds over tens of kilometers. Same difference as an aero bike frame.

    Is it worth the additional expense? The same "rationale" that we cyclists use to justify spending thousands more to save incrementally fewer grams can be applied to aero/time savings as well. If you like it, want it, and can afford it, go for it. Toys are fun.

    +1 on getting more aero. IMHO the best bang for the buck is clip-on aero bars to lower your wind signature.

  7. #7
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    Stick with a rim depth of less than 50mm and a fatter more rounded profile if you ride in windy weather. Zipp 303's or the equivalent is about as tall of a rim as I'd go.

    The aero benefit will be marginal at best. But that doesn't mean the ride quality won't be improved. It all depends on the wheels you are coming off of.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by freezin_is_the_reason View Post
    I'm looking for your thoughts on aero wheels for my style of riding. I currently own an '06 Specialized Tarmac and was considering upgrading the wheels to a deep dish carbon rim. I most likely would get a 50mm deep rim as that seems to be the best combo of aero and stability in crosswinds.

    My question is this. For a rider like myself who averages between 18-20mph depending on winds and ride length, would the aero rims really make much of a difference? The area I live in is known for it's wind, and I have been known to ride in winds gusting over 30 mph so I am concerned with stability as well as aero benefit.

    So, should I pull the trigger or just keep running the same Mavic Aksium wheels that I have been running for years on this bike?
    As mostly everyone said, the aero benefits will be insignificant to warranty dealing with the detriments of riding in high winds. I think Eric is on the money with his comment about a more aero position on the bike. Mike T's comment is right on the braking issues with some of the carbon varieties out there. I've got a set of Enve 45 clinchers and I feel the braking when wet issue has been addressed; however dealing with a crosswind is a reality that makes me change wheels when I expect gusts above 25mph and I am a big guy. If you are up to 170 lbs you will be easily blown around way before wind gusts reach the 30mph mark.
    However I don't think the answer to your dilemma is to keep running the Mavic Aksiums either. I would take the $1k or so ( my guess here!) you were probably thinking about spending on the carbon set and buy myself a nice hand-built set with higher end mid-depth aluminum rims (24 to 28mm) on high quality hubs and never look back.

  9. #9
    Unrepentant Mountainbiker
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    Thanks for the input. I know that I will be upgrading wheels one way or the other for next season. I love my Tarmac, but feel like the Aksiums have always been the week part of the equation. They are plenty strong and relible, but they are also a bit portly. This manifests itself as rather leasurly acceleration. Any wheels I get to replace them will be significantly lighter. I am hoping lighter/more areo wheels on the road bike will have the same effect as they did on the MTB. I knoticed an immediate increase in acceleration when I swapped to lighter wheels. I also climbed faster.
    It's no fun unless it hurts!

  10. #10
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    I find the Rol Volants I have on my cross/commuter are easily affected by cross winds, and they have 27mm rim with a 3.2mm bladed spoke. I have been blown around the road a bit, like the post above. Now compared to my Shimano RS80's which have a 24mm rim and 2mm bladed spoke, the Shimano wheel wins in every situation. Very nice riding, reasonably light and can be had for 5-6 hundos. I think its the big bladed spokes on the Rols that make them sketchy.

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