Sunday, March 28, 2010
TOP NINE: Carbon Clinchers
Leading into this road season, I gave quite a bit of thought towards moving over to a set of carbon clinchers. Unfortunately, I managed to drag my feet for too long, but it did give me a good chance to do a lot of research on different models. Today's top nine runs through what could have been for me, and what could be for you. Here they are, full carbon clinchers.
9. Soul C4.0
: As of now, there is currently no US distributor for Soul wheels, so you have to purchase them direct from Singapore, which means there's a possibility that you will get dinged by customs with some extra fees. Aside from that, these seem solid with a 40mm rim weighing in at 1390 grams. They also have an aggressive lacing pattern, which should keep them plenty stiff with radial up front, and radial non-drive, and 2x drive side in back. The big draw to this wheelset is the price. At $1000 shipped, they are pretty hard to beat.
8. Shimano WH-7850 C50 Cincher
: These are on the deeper end up my spectrum sitting at 50mm of rim depth. This, along with an alloy braking surface, contribute to a pretty heft 1700 grams that my tiny legs just can't push. Don't count them out due to weight though, Shimano has made some outstanding wheels in the past, and they will turn smooth, and offer a ton of lateral stiffness for bigger riders that like to turn big gears. They run around $2000 for the set.
7. Spinergy Stealth FCC
: These full carbon clinchers (hence the FCC) have a deep 45mm section, and come in at an even 1500 grams. Spinergy has been making good carbon wheels for quite some time, so they come with a good reputation. The spoke count is low with 16 front, and 20 rear, but they do run the thicker PBO spokes, which reduce the aerodynamic a bit. Despite that, they are a good all around race wheel, and and would be a great fit for a bigger sprint type rider. They retail for $1999.
6. Gravity Zero Full Carbon Clincher
: If you live out in western Oregon, you can't afford not to buy these wheels. The braking surface contains the volcanic rock Basalt that lines most of your landscape! Unfortunately, it's probably not the same basalt your used to seeing, as these wheels are made in Australia, but still neat. Moving away from the braking surface, this wheels might be best suited for road races, or perhaps some light gravel. The 38mm deep section rim has a 24/28 spoke count, which lends itself to a plusher feel that will give you a comfortable ride. They aren't crazy light at 1546 grams, but light enough to keep you from dragging on the climbs.
5. Fulcrum Racing Light XLR
: These are an excellent choice for an all arounder. They use a unique lacing pattern to allow them to get away with a higher spoke count for strength, without a huge sacrifice in stiffness, and they are pretty light for a carbon clincher at 1345 grams. The low profile rim, and carbon hubs are the big contributing factors towards their light weight. The price is a bit on the stiff side at $3900, but you do get some slick ceramic bearings.
4. Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 Clincher
: This popular tubular took on a nice transition to clincher, and didn't even take a huge price hike at $2500 for the set. These 50mm deep section rims weigh in at a pretty impressive 1600 grams, making them a great road race/time trial set. As a bonus, they include wheel bags, titanium skewers, valve extenders, and carbon stop brake pads.
3. Reynolds DV46 UL
: I have been really stoked on these wheels for a lot of reasons. The 46mm rim depth is a pretty good depth for an average sized racer, and the DT Swiss 240 hubs with ceramic bearings will give you plenty of smooth rolling seasons. They have been well tested, and are a scant 1410 grams, which make these plenty light for the climbs, and plenty aero for the descent. An excellent all arounder wheelset that would be perfect for any style of race. They retail for $2800.
2. Easton EC90 SL Clincher
: Ever since Easton parted with the Velomax name, and started using Sapim spokes, I've been a really big fan. Their hubs are super smooth, and they make lightweight wheels that can sustain a lot of abuse from little and big riders alike. The EC90 SL Clincher has a 38mm deep section rim, ceramic bearings, and weighs 1460 grams. The aluminum hub bodies are notorious for getting chewed up, so make sure you get the Shimano 10spd specific hub body with deeper teeth, which will last longer, and turn quieter down the stretch. Very well priced at $1900.
1. DT Swiss RRC 1250
: They don't get much lighter than this, at 1290 grams, these 32mm deep section rims will accelerate fast. Ceramic bearings will keep you cruising through the long haul, and double butted spokes are strong, and aero with a thin mid section. Overall, these are some super attractive wheels, but they do cost a hefty $3300. Still, if I could, these would have been my overall choice based on performance.
So you might be asking why would I be looking for carbon clinchers, when carbon tubulars are lighter, cheaper, and more readily available? I do love the way clinchers roll, but I also have a hard time moving away from the compliant clincher setup. I like to be able to throw in tougher tubes for harsh races, or latex tubes for crits and smooth road races. I also have a huge affinity towards Michelin tires, and have a hard time moving over. I suppose you could also say there are areas where I'm set in my ways.
Another question you may ask is why did I omit Zipp and Hed. I didn't leave them out because I'm not a fan, or because I think that the wheels listed are superior. I think that Zipp and Hed have the aerodynamic market pegged down, making them best suited for time trials, which is where my ultimate hatred lies.