Upgrade wheelset? (newbie)
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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Upgrade wheelset? (newbie)

    Hi,

    Newbie question. Comments would be appreciated.

    I bought a 2003 Lemond Alpe D'Huez triple about a month ago.
    Great bike overall: Reynolds 853 steel frame and mostly Shimano 105.
    A weak point is the stock wheels (Matrix Aurora on Tiagra hubs).
    My being out of shape doesn't help, but I have the feeling that the
    hubs/wheels might be slowing me down.

    I'm wondering whether upgrading the wheelsets soon would be worth my
    while. Mavic Open Pros on Ultegra hubs, perhaps? I'll probably upgrade
    the other components to Ultegra eventually, but not anytime soon.

    Thoughts? I'm 5'11", 185 lbs, in case that factors in.

  2. #2

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    It's always nice to have another set of wheels but I wouldn't buy them with the expectation that they are going to instantly make you significantly faster.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Psychlo
    Hi,

    Newbie question. Comments would be appreciated.

    I bought a 2003 Lemond Alpe D'Huez triple about a month ago.
    Great bike overall: Reynolds 853 steel frame and mostly Shimano 105.
    A weak point is the stock wheels (Matrix Aurora on Tiagra hubs).
    My being out of shape doesn't help, but I have the feeling that the
    hubs/wheels might be slowing me down.

    I'm wondering whether upgrading the wheelsets soon would be worth my
    while. Mavic Open Pros on Ultegra hubs, perhaps? I'll probably upgrade
    the other components to Ultegra eventually, but not anytime soon.

    Thoughts? I'm 5'11", 185 lbs, in case that factors in.
    Mavic elites would work nice but take your time and find a good buy. Ride.
    Just Ride
    03 Fuji Marseille

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spoke Wrench
    It's always nice to have another set of wheels but I wouldn't buy them with the expectation that they are going to instantly make you significantly faster.
    That would be too much to expect. On the other hand, I am noticing a
    bit more drag than I want at moderate speeds. I assumed this is from
    the wheels, although perhaps it's actually the tires - I've got 25 mm
    Bontrager select tires right now. Would switching to 23 mm tires
    make a difference?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead1
    Mavic elites would work nice but take your time and find a good buy. Ride.
    After reading the replies to my question over on the General Discussion
    forum, I'm leaning toward waiting a while before upgrading the wheels.
    Thanks for your suggestion. I'll keep it in mind when I do upgrade.

  6. #6
    Dilettante
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    Just One More Opinion...

    I was facing the same quandary as you, Psychlo, as I had a bike with Matrix rims and lesser Shimano hubs, and I just KNEW that if I shopped around, that I could spend a little money on some new light wheels and reap big benefits.

    Long story short, I researched wheel weights, shopped eBay for months, finally got a deal I could live with on Open Pros/Dura Ace, bought and installed them and...

    Nothing.

    No perceivable difference. I had built it up in my mind, and had trained like a madman (for me) so that when I finally DID put those new wheels on, I was really going to be floating up the climbs, or at least spinning up to speed with a lot more zip.

    But no. Turning the pedals up my regular hills, my legs feel just as dead and useless as ever. Believe me, I want to feel some--any--kind of improvement, but I never have.
    Oh, I've wasted my life.

    Good luck,
    -Shawn

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Flats vs. hills and tire width

    Your experience reminds me that magic bullets seldom exist.
    However, my interest is more about rolling better on the flats
    (at higher speeds) as opposed to improving climbing. As I said,
    I'll probably postpone any upgrades for a while. Still, I haven't
    lost all hope that a future wheel/tire upgrade might result in
    improved rolling. Thanks for sharing your story in any case.

    Can anyone comment on going from 25 mm to 23 mm tires?
    In my infinite newbieness, I assume that an 8% width decrease
    might translate into a decrease in frictional drag at the tire/road
    contact points. Not clear, though, as decreased contact area
    also means increased contact force per unit area. I don't have
    a good enough grasp on the physics involved...

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnbbrad
    I was facing the same quandary as you, Psychlo, as I had a bike with Matrix rims and lesser Shimano hubs, and I just KNEW that if I shopped around, that I could spend a little money on some new light wheels and reap big benefits.

    Long story short, I researched wheel weights, shopped eBay for months, finally got a deal I could live with on Open Pros/Dura Ace, bought and installed them and...

    Nothing.

    No perceivable difference. I had built it up in my mind, and had trained like a madman (for me) so that when I finally DID put those new wheels on, I was really going to be floating up the climbs, or at least spinning up to speed with a lot more zip.

    But no. Turning the pedals up my regular hills, my legs feel just as dead and useless as ever. Believe me, I want to feel some--any--kind of improvement, but I never have.
    Oh, I've wasted my life.

    Good luck,
    -Shawn

  8. #8
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    Tire width question

    You should be riding a tire width that allows you to run 100-110 psi (7-7.5 bar) without getting pinch flats. Higher pressures cause discomfort due to the harsh ride, reduce traction, and make for poor handling as the hard tire bounces over rough road surfaces. Ultra high pressures only work on very smooth surfaces. A wider tire flexes less at a given pressure, and so has LESS rolling friction - casing flex is a major source of tire energy dissipation and therefore rolling resistance. Contact force is equal to the tire pressure, so you are not changing it by changing tire size. The tire will distort to establish a contact patch equal to the weight on that tire divided by the pressure in the tire.

  9. #9
    Diesel Engine
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    Wider is better IMO/IME

    I switched to wider tires a few years ago when I couldn't find the tires I wanted in 23c at a shop I was at. I found the 25c's to roll better, ride and corner better and be more durable than the 23c's they replaced. So in the absence of scientific data, my experience has resulted in my use of 25's (at a minimum) ever since. I may even put on 28's if there's room under the brake bridge & fork crown.

    In my opinion, there's two things that are way overrated on the bike - carbon fiber anything and skinny tires pumped up to 130psi. As Kerry Irons said, run the minimum pressure that prevents pinch flats. For me that's 105 or so psi with 25c's and I weigh 215 lbs, so I'm far from a flyweight.

    I don't think that you'll see much of a difference in the wheelset upgrade you mention. On the flats it is very difficult to tell much difference between wheels - chances are on a less expensive wheelset, most of the extra weight is in the hub and the OEM tires. Swapping tires may be a more noticable change than spending a bunch on a new wheelset. My wife has a similar wheelset on her Trek 1000 (Vuelta rims, generic hubs) and on the odd time I've swapped them out with the 'better' wheels on my bike (DA/OP) I've noticed little difference, even with the OEM IRC Red Storm 25c tires on there.

    The advice you got on the general board is right on the money. Keep the wheels you have and keep riding. Save your wheel money for your next bike...

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for your feedback, everyone! I've decided to keep my current setup
    for a while and to reassess the situation next year. I like the 853 frame on
    my Lemond Alpe D'Huez, so if asked today I would upgrade the drivetrain
    rather than buy a new bike. I don't want to spend a lot of cash. However,
    in the few weeks I've been riding I've already realized that there are lots
    of things to learn, and perhaps my taste in frames will evolve too.
    See you on the road!

  11. #11
    The Edge
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    I actually prefer to run a 25mm on the rear when I can, even for time trials, which I do well in. I don't notice any difference in straight lines with 23 or 25, but for me I feel more confident cornering on 25s.
    I'm a gravity missile. Clydesdales, represent!

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