Help explain difference I am noticing between Easton EC90SL and Zipp 404 on headwinds and climbs



Cat5Hurricane

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May 30, 2011
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I have a 2011 Specialized Tarmac SL3 Pro. My original wheelset were Easton EC90 SL which are lightweight tubular (1250 grams) racing wheels specifically for sprints and climbing. Last week, I bought Zipp Speed Weapontry 404s clinchers (1658 grams). I have noticed two obvious differences between the two and am trying to understand it better.

1) Climbing between the two is noticeable. On group rides averaging ~21-23 MPH+ for 25+ miles, I could pull away from everyone like they were standing still when we got to any descent (with the Eastons). I was literally men among boys. I love climbing (if that is even possible) and usually took my turn at the front because I thought we were going to slow. Moving over to the Zipps, I can now hang with the pack on climbs. I have lost that advantage on ascents where I could just pull away from the pack. I notice that loss of advantage when the climb gets to 2-3% and it becomes more noticeable as the grade increases.

2) Obviously my flat rides have improved with the Zipps (as well as descents). On my first day with them, I beat my best solo average by 1 MPH (18.2 MPH) on a neighborhood course I do during the week (lots of traffic near where I live, but I am faced with a lot of stop signs and lights). Yesterday on a 25 mile ride, my third time on the wheelset, in a much more open, rural area, I added another 2.3 MPH advantage (averaging 20.5 MPH). The major thing I am noticing is it is faster on the flats as the wheels carry so much inertia so I use less effort maintaining the same speed as I did with the Eastons. Of course, this allows me to gain about 20% more speed to my average with the same or maybe slightly more effort. Of note is in the headwinds. I still feel it on my 195 lb body but with the Zipps, I no longer feel that resistance on the bike. In other words, with the Eastons, I felt the resistance on the bike as well in a headwind, but with the Zipps, only feel it on the body and not the bike so much. Do the wheels really make that much of a blantantly noticeable difference?

Of course the thing that stands out is that my bike has gone from 14.1 lbs to 15.5 lbs moving to the heavier wheelset and going from tubular to clinchers. While 1.4 lbs is a lot, I can easily lose 4 lbs on a long ride (or vary 4 lbs during the week) and am in the process of losing weight (want to get down to 187 lbs for a Colorado Rockies ride this August).

Has anyone noticed such a significant difference moving from a lightweight wheelset to an aero wheelset or vica versa? Does the aero of the Zipps really have such a huge impact on wind resistance that I don't notice 15 MPH headwinds like I did even a week ago? Obviously I love that my average has gone up so much but I truly hate that I can't pull away blindly on the climbs anymore. It is a catch-22 because I have to sacrafice one aspect of cycling for another but I really love climbing and I feel I have been made mortal by the Zipps at the expense of a better average speed (which I know most people would prefer that sacrafice, but watching the Tour de France for 26 staight years, I never dreamed of yellow, but polka dot).
 

Cat5Hurricane

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May 30, 2011
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Originally Posted by An old Guy .

Placebo. You want one to be better so your body makes it so.

Yeah, I don't buy that. If I was gaining advantage on every aspect, you could argue that. You'd be wrong, but you could argue it. If it were placebo, I should be pulling away from everyone on the climbs as well but the accceleration on the ascents isn't there. Even on bad days, I can pull away from people on climbs (maybe not every one, but most of them). There is just something about them that gets my adrenaline going. More importanly, in a 15 MPH headwind, there is no placebo effect. I ****ing hate headwinds with a passion. But there is a noticeable difference now when I am riding into one. They aren't nearly as tiring and I am not feeling that resistance on my bike. I am a scientist by trade so I think I know a little about discerning differences in data input and I can definately feel it between the two. I ride between 90-100% of my max. You can argue placebo but there is no way the mind is tricking the heart into beating slower at the same effort and lactic acid buildup into having less of an effect. If you were right, then pros should be riding with Zipp 404 in the Alpes and Pyrinees and Easton EC90 SL on the flats and time trials, yet interesting, it is the reverse so there is something to the difference.
 

An old Guy

Active Member
Feb 12, 2011
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If you are a scientist by trade, you should be able to make up a little experiment and determine the truth. A PowerTap hub costs under $1000. For a couple thousand dollars you could build up your rear wheels with power measuring hubs and see what happens.

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Don't confuse your riding with what the pros do. 30mph is a lot different than 20mph. And 3000' of climbing after 5 hours in the saddle is a bit different than 2000' of climing in a days ride.

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A while ago I was out for a 76 mile training ride. The first 38 was into a 25-30 mph wind. I just pedaled until I had my 38 miles in. Then I turned around and pedaled the 38 miles back. Never thought about the wind. Just watched my power meter so I knew my effort was right and my odometer so I knew where I was.
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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One is faster, science can extrapolate. Faster squeezes more benefit out of aero, slower squeezes less benefit... for longer. Whether palpabel or not without scientific means is another story.

Great handle btw Cat5Hurricane ... question... what happens after your 10 mass starts /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Just to make sure I understand this little puzzle correctly - based upon usernames and info in the post.

You're a Cat5, you weigh 195lbs and yet you believe that making a change of about 0.5% to the total body/bike weight (~210 Vs ~209) changes things so much on the climbs? Not buying it... Not buying the fact that you just blow people off your wheel at that weight either - if you do you either put out some serious power that'd have you dropping people on a set of old school Campag hubs and MA40's or you ride with slow people. Now, obviously, as a scientist by trade you could have invented the "super heliumatic antigravitron bike" that weighed in at 0.005lbs and at that much of a weight loss I could see that making a near instant difference on the hills.

Sure when comparing the wheel weights individually it seems like a massive difference but the last time I checked they required a bike with a rider for them to be of any use. But being a scientist by trade then you'd know that already.

Don't forget that at low climbing speeds that tires and inner tubes play a big role in rolling resistance, which has a greater overall effect on your speed when climbing than it does at higher speeds on the flat. If you had good quality tubular tires on the Eastons, run a similar quality clincher with latex tube on the Zipp. As you're a scientist by trade then you'd know that already.

Then again being a scientist by trade you could probably negate the need to tell us about your experience when riding into "f*cking headwinds" and devise a good test for you to validate your claims.

It'd also be interesting to hear as to why a "scientist by trade" bought the old model Zipp 404s and not the new 404 carbon clinchers with the Firecrest profile that are lighter, stiffer and more aerodynamic.

What is your field of science anyway? Oxygen theft?
 

globecanvas

New Member
May 2, 2011
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A pound on the wheels is a lot, I think it's reasonable to feel that weight difference on a climb. Especially because the weight gain is probably all in the rims. Come to think of it, the Zipp rims could weigh more than a pound more than the Easton rims, if the hubs are lighter.

But another factor is that the heavier aero wheels probably inspire you to push yourself much harder on the flats, which leaves you with less gas in the tank when you get to the hill.
 

531Aussie

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Apr 11, 2004
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The brakes are probably rubbing on the Zipps, especially at your weight. :)
I'm half serious, especially at your weight. Go to your bike now and wobble your Zipps from side to side and see how much they move, and how easy it is to get the rims to hit the brakes pads. Most caron rims flex much more that people realize, or care to admit to themselves. That's why pros race with their brakes undone
/img/vbsmilies/smilies/ROTF.gif


 

maydog

Well-Known Member
Feb 5, 2010
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If you really want to quantify the difference between wheels and don't want to spend a small fortune on a power meter, you can get a quantitative results with a stopwatch.

Here is what I would do (if I cared enough, or had enough dough to afford either wheelset):

1. Park my car near a decent climb, bring along both sets of wheels ensuring they are inflated to the proper pressure.
2. Warm up for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Mark starting and ending lines for a time trial
4. Do a time trial up the hill, record the result
5. Do a coasting time trial (mark to mark) back down the hill, make sure that you maintain the same position on the bike each time.
6. For fun, see how far you can coast, record the time trial and distance
7. Swap wheels
8. Repeat steps 4 through 7 until satisfied or thoroughly exhausted (but at least more than 2 times)

If things really are as different as you think they are, you should get notably different times. This data would be much more objective than comparing your performance against other riders who may or may not be putting in the same effort as you are each time.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Originally Posted by 531Aussie .

The brakes are probably rubbing on the Zipps, especially at your weight. :)
I'm half serious, especially at your weight. Go to your bike now and wobble your Zipps from side to side and see how much they move, and how easy it is to get the rims to hit the brakes pads. Most caron rims flex much more that people realize, or care to admit to themselves. That's why pros race with their brakes undone
/img/vbsmilies/smilies/ROTF.gif


You think he's suffering from the 'fatso flex?' - lolz.

You know that the pro's undo their brakes so that their brakes can still work if they get a 19mm wide rim from the neutral service car. It'd be a bit of a shocker to go from a 23mm wide rim to a 19mm and tug on the brakes and feel no reduction in speed cause there's still 2mm of fresh air between the pads and the skinny rims.

Besides, Fabian has everyone fooled. He doesn't need to pedal and there is no motor in the bottom bracket - the motor is in the rear hub with all four rear stays being filled with US Military spec uber secret deuterium ion batteries provide the go juice.

... and who really goes out training on a $2000+ full on race wheel set? I can see using a nice rear wheel with alloy rim that has a powertap hub that'd push the price up there but wanting to, or needing to, use a carbon wheel to gain bragging rights on a training ride, where you should be forcing yourself to train harder and thus get better, borders on the ridiculous.
 

531Aussie

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2004
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Originally Posted by swampy1970 .
You know that the pro's undo their brakes so that their brakes can still work if they get a 19mm wide rim from the neutral service car. It'd be a bit of a shocker to go from a 23mm wide rim to a 19mm and tug on the brakes and feel no reduction in speed cause there's still 2mm of fresh air between the pads and the skinny rims.
Yes, yes, so you keep sayin;. but i don't totally buy it. :)
Apart from some of the Classics, how often do ya see pros getting wheels from neutral service? I can't remember the last time I saw one in a stage race.

And you don't reckon Callenchara is big and strong enough to flex those things? Ha! Awesome power asside, it says on Wiki that he's 6ft1" and 82kg
 

531Aussie

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2004
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Originally Posted by swampy1970 . ... and who really goes out training on a $2000+ full on race wheel set? I can see using a nice rear wheel with alloy rim that has a powertap hub that'd push the price up there but wanting to, or needing to, use a carbon wheel to gain bragging rights on a training ride, where you should be forcing yourself to train harder and thus get better, borders on the ridiculous.
Ha! If you ever came down here you'd see jazillions of guys training on them.
Sat and Sun mornings are like Zipp City. :)

I can't even remember the last time I used my Token C50s. I hate racing crits on them, coz they have zero 'snap' when acclerating, and they **** me on training rides coz they handle a bit **** in windy conditions. Then there's the whole bollocky thing of using an alu hub body on a Shimano-compatitble hub! The last time I changed the cassette I nearly couldn't get the middle cogs off because they'd dug about a mm forward into the splines.
 

umd1

New Member
Oct 27, 2010
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Something like this happened to me in a race a few months ago. Put on my race wheels, warmed up on rollers then headed over to the start line. 2 mile straight line circuit with 180 degree turns at each end. Got to the first turn on the first lap on the front at 30 mph, no front brakes. Oops.


Originally Posted by swampy1970 . You know that the pro's undo their brakes so that their brakes can still work if they get a 19mm wide rim from the neutral service car. It'd be a bit of a shocker to go from a 23mm wide rim to a 19mm and tug on the brakes and feel no reduction in speed cause there's still 2mm of fresh air between the pads and the skinny rims.