Are deep rim carbon wheels worth the money?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by jza86058, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. jza86058

    jza86058 New Member

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    I'm a 3rd cat road racer and note that many competitors are showing up with flash looking wheel sets that make my old Campag Nucleons look like something from the stone age. The races I tend to do typically don't involve any hills over 100m in vertical height gain so I'm not really benefiting from the low weight of my Campy's. But when I look at the cost of replacing my old wheels with a set of quality deep rim carbons (something like the Easton Tempest or ZIPP 343) it seems astronomical (yep, I'm married and I have kids).

    Does the aerodynamic profile make much difference, are the top of the range wheels significantly better than the cheaper ones?

    Bottom line - are they worth the money?
     
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  2. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    I guess it all depends on how you define "worth it." First, any weight saved isn't really making much of a difference in performance, and as it happens, aero wheels make a bigger dent in the performance package than lower weight items....at least until the road grade goes above 8-10% or so.

    How much benefit can you see from aero wheels? Well, in general you might gain an extra 0.4-0.5mph at 25mph. Of course you gain a little more at higher speeds.

    What really matters is how competitive you feel w.r.t racing. Racers of all sorts will take any advantage they can get, often even when that advantage is miniscule. Some won't.
     
  3. rudycyclist

    rudycyclist New Member

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    I feel deep dish carbon wheels are definitely worth it. It's extremely hard to justify in words spending anywhere from $1k to $3k on a set of wheels to be used several times a month. They are much nicer of a ride and seem to roll much smoother. If you can find a shop that has some in stock, I'd definitely ride them. Even if they're not the exact wheels you're looking at, just ride some deep dish carbon wheels to get a sense of what the ride is like. Again, it's hard to explain the advantages without YOU riding them.
     
  4. carpediemracing

    carpediemracing New Member

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    I asked a good friend of mine the same question when the Zipps first came out - probably 10 or 12 years ago. He looked at me and asked "Will you make back the $1000 you're spending on the wheels if you get them?"

    Well, no.

    But I also don't make back almost any of the money I spent on my frame, bars, seat, cranks, levers, tires, heck, even my entry fees.

    So are they worth it?

    They might be worth 0.5 mph at 25 mph but I don't think that's where you'll really notice the difference. You'll notice it at crunch time, when the pace has hotted up to 35-40 mph and everyone is scrambling for wheels. At that point I feel they're worth 1-3 mph (depending on how deep a rim you get). My legs feel a lot less stressed at those times. Note: I don't do road races due to lack of fitness so mainly do flatter fast crits.

    Top line vs lower - probably not a huge difference in performance. The quantum leap is going to a deep rim with fewer spokes - once you're there, the differences between wheels is less significant than, say, your current wheels versus any deep rim wheel. Paying more for a deep rim wheel gets you fancy light hubs, better spokes (straight pull or not), and perhaps some patents. The expensive ones typically get you wheels which sponsor a ProTour team or has some brand name. For me, a Cat 3? I was seriously thinking of getting the Zipp FlashPoints for training. Then I saw the WilliamsWheels (the tubular would make a good race wheel I think). Both deep wheels are about $1000, my self imposed limit for not feeling like I got raped on a set of wheels. Instead of buying either I got a PowerTap - and I like looking at the data so much I decided to save up for a 24H PowerTap hub so I can lace over a Zipp 440 rim I have laying around. My rear Reynolds DV has been unraced for the last few races as I use the PT wheel instead.

    The only race wheels I've sought since testing riding a number of aero wheels back to back are the Specialized TriSpokes (i.e. HED) and deep carbon wheels (Zipp 440, then Reynolds DV). I've also used Spinergy Rev-X's, a rear disk, and medium deep rims. I like deep aero wheels much I pretty much exclusively rode on TriSpokes (which were the worst for catching cross winds) for a few years so that I could ride them in any wind I saw around here.

    I don't make money racing - I might win $100 a year (this year - $0 so far). I pay to race. Racing involves a lot of time and energy and money - buying equipment after figuring out what to buy, training or trying to train, driving to races, and racing itself. Fast wheels makes the racing I do a lot more fun. I'm already way into the sport. I spent more on wheels than on my frame(s) or my group(s). It's where I notice the most difference in performance. To me they're worth it.

    A relatively unfit Cat 3 who isn't married yet and doesn't have kids (yet) and loves racing,
    cdr
     
  5. jza86058

    jza86058 New Member

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    Thanks for the insight. I'm surprised to hear that people are convinced they can make such a difference at high speed. I think you have also hit on some good logic, e.g. will the kit make me enjoy the racing more? Given the time and effort invested in training over the last 4 years I should at least give myself the best chance I can.

    Thanks for posting your reply.
     
  6. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    FWIW, the idea that deep CF rims can be ridden every day doesn't apply so much any more. Before I sold 'em, my Reynolds Stratus DV's were everyday wheels. Loads of people are riding Zipp 303's and 404's everyday. I ride with some folks whose everday wheels are Lightweights....and no, they're not just occasional riders.
     
  7. 531Aussie

    531Aussie Well-Known Member

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    I've decided to get some Cosmic Carbones because they're about half the price of some of the Zipps, arguably stronger beacuse they're aluminium with a carbon (plastic?) cover, and should be just as aero as a lot of the fancy wheels because they're 52mm deep with a reduced spoke number.

    The weight weenies of today think that an 1800g wheelset is too heavy, but pros used the SSCs for years, and the SLs are still used in a lot or races, so they can't be too bad.

    they get good reviews:
    http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/wheels/wheelsets/mavic-inc/PRD_28330_5845crx.aspx
     
  8. rudycyclist

    rudycyclist New Member

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    Yes, good point but most people today will use a deep dish CF wheel only on race day so they feel like they can "fly" as compared to their training wheels. Many people I know and race with use a heavier training wheel then will use a deep dish CF wheel on race day to make them FEEL lighter. I must say, the first few times I used a lighter wheel on race day, I could feel a difference but with much more racing under my belt I feel like the weight difference is hardly anything. I now realize that if I were to purchase a set of wheels now, I would get a much deeper wheel (something like the Bontrager Aeolus 6.5 or Zipp 808) to make my wheels more aerodynamic.
     
  9. BrianNystrom

    BrianNystrom Member

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    One way to make them more "worth it" is to buy used wheels. Whenever new models come out, you can often find lightly used older generation wheels for a fraction of the cost of new ones. With many riders switching to disc brake bikes, rim brake wheels are less in demand and often available at reasonable prices (by carbon wheel standards). With the improved performance of clinchers, tubulars are often available for a song. Check Craigslist in your local area and see what's out there.

    Another option is resellers like The Pro's Closet. They do a great job of reconditioning used bikes and parts and provide excellent service. They also buy out new, discontinued parts at times and sell them at great prices. I just looked on their site and they've got around 50 carbon wheel listings, many of which look like real bargains.

    Much of what they have is actually used equipment from Pro riders, which has been maintained by team mechanics.
     
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