Monday, 1 July 2019

Triathlon wheels

What are the first thoughts you have thinking about triathlon wheels? Deep profile, aero benefits and... weight. Yes, usually deep aero wheels are linked to significant weight, even in big brands. What's my take on this? Read to find out.

Marketing guys will explain you that in triathlon, heavy wheels are OK as once you will get to the targeted speed, wheels will help you to maintain it. This is partially true. Think about how much more power you need to invest in order to accelerate and get into the cruising speed. Also, in case of a bit hilly terrain each time you will need to climb you will suffer as rotation mass will have a significant impact on your performance. The other item which you should think about is overall weight of your bike. Almost every triathlonist I know invested a lot into the bike weight savings so why would you penalise that by taking heavy wheels?

In June I had opportunity to build two different sets of triathlon wheels.

First set was based on 80mm rims with graphene textured brake surface, Bitex RAF12/RAR12 hubs and Pillar Wing 20/21 spokes. Fantastic set for reasonable price of 990CHF.

High profile 80mm rims of 650g weight allow to really feel the aero benefits and at the same time they are not too heavy to keep the bike quick in accelerations.

Bitex hubs with good geometry, solid bearings and light weight made this set showing on the scale only 1740g.
Replacing old Zipp wheels which were 2400g gave significant weight savings which were felt on the first ride.

Due to high rim profile I used Pillar Wing20 spokes on front and rear NDR side. DR side was made with Pillar Wing21 spokes. Pillar Wing 20 are the lightest aero steel spokes on the market so combining them with 80mm rims resulted in very stiff and light wheelset.

Yellow decals to match the rest of the bike. 
Nice, fast, light and on-the budget wheels. Built with high precision and equal spoke tension. 

The second set was a complete setup for triathlonist from high-end components.

Duke Baccara 65mm profile rims, Tune hubs, Pillar Wing spokes and disc for racing events. 

Similar to previous set, also here I used Pillar Wing20 on front and Wing20/21 on rear wheel. 65mm profile rims were enough to achieve super stiff wheels. 

Tune hubs have very nice geometry and when precise built is made with respect of max allowed tension they will last forever. The "bad" reputation made regarding cracked flanges is mostly caused by over tensioned spokes. Having own tension meter calibration jig gives me 100% confidence that the tension is in the sweet spot without risking the failure.

Duke rims are one of the most common rims I use in regards of branded carbon rims. Perfect finish, good weight and pretty strong braking power.

Whole set came up with 1540g which, for such deep rims is phenomenal. Such wheels will be quick as low profile rims and will save plenty of Watts during each triathlon race.

For racing days, disc rear wheel was supplied to get 100% capabilities from equipment.

Modern shape, built in DT Swiss 350 hub provides stability and durability.

The above complete set comes with 3199 CHF price. High end parts, super low weight will definitely makes the difference and will allow to get much better results in race days.

In terms of wheel-building and such high profile rims, there is one thing to watch out. When you'll be measuring the tension on the rear wheel where spokes are crossed you might get a bit false results. There will be a different reading for spokes which are crossing under vs spokes going above. This will be visible especially on wide tension meters, like wheel fanatyk design. The reason behind is that the spokes are very short and if you use wide tension meter it will grab almost whole spoke. If the spoke is crossed under, the additional tension caused by tension meter reading will be higher and therefore result will be misleading. 
The best here is to use narrow tension meter design like DT Swiss or Sapim and measure the tension as low as possible, close to the nipple. In that case the results will be more consistent and close to the truth.

Hope it was helpful, feel free to comment or drop me a note in case you have further questions.


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