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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:05 am
Posts: 1011
Finding myself in the fortunate position of being able to test out the prototypes of these wheels, the least I can do is post something about them. I must admit, I am now only a rare contributor to this forum but this is definitely a good reason to post. I will post a link to their site so you can read what they say about them. They'll say it better than I.

http://www.novemberbicycles.com/rail/

A disclaimer: I happen to know one of the owners, but this is to my benefit. Complete luck (for me as a cyclist) that both our daughters grew up together in the same daycare and went to the same school. I knew that Mike raced .. and over time, learned he had a start up bike company. Sweet. Unfortunately, they never needed my assistance. Can't see why! I can't seem to convince them they need a slightly overweight, balding middle age tester in their employ.

I knew Mike had a set of prototype wheels and to make a long story short, he offered them to me to take a spin. I was initially planning a typical 1 hr ride, saturday afternoon noodling. This turned into a 2 hr ride. I have to say, these wheels are fast, maybe as you'd expect with any deeper section rim wheel, but a real plus - they have a real nice ride. Probably because of the wider inside rim width - 18mm. I think with a rim like this, there is more tire surface on the road, a nicer profile for cornering. A bit more air in there supporting the rubber. I found they soaked up bumps a bit better and cornered a bit better then the clinchers I'm used to. Clinchers that ride like a tubular. I'm told you can run slightly lower pressures with these rims, I had about 85psi in them. These wheels had Conti GP 4000's on them which I think added to their overall speed - a nice low resistance tire.

I was told that since they were prototypes, the outer diameter width was a bit wider then the final product, so I had to really open up the brake's a bit to fit them in. Once I dialed in the brakes worked pretty well. They recommend only using the Swisstop Black Prince pads (which were also supplied with the demo's). I found that with those pads, the braking performance was almost as good as an aluminum rim. I found out pretty fast not to use other pads. I unfortunately have a ZeroG rear brake on the back so couldn't use the provided pad. I used Swisstop yellows on there. They will heat up and become grabby. I laid off the rear brake as much as possible. Heat dissipation for the carbon wheels, particularly the clinchers is a big deal. I think they've got it figured out with these wheels and with using the Prince pads.

Perhaps an interest to you, I believe November Bikes is under contract with Strada Handbuilt Wheels (UK) to sell their rims through them. I can think of nothing better then to custom build a set of wheels with these rims! But since that is not (yet) an option I went ahead and plunked some money down on a set. I really was not planning on buying another wheelset but the rides I took convinced me I had to have a pair, particularly at their price point. Since this is WW's I'll also mention their weight: 1525g for a pair, with their Novatec hubs. Chris Kings are available also (extra charge obviously). I was told they were finding they were coming in at 1510 but I haven't confirmed that yet (with my own scale).

I must say, before even putting a set of demos on my bike, I was already sold on their philosophy. They take out the middle man and that keeps their price down. They developed this wheel from the ground up, made the prototype and tested it in a wind tunnel against their own wheels and against the Zipp 404 Firecrest. These guys are enthusiasts, they aren't just out to make a buck, but maybe to make a buck doing something they love.

For some reason, I was having trouble posting a photo here so will include a link to how they looked on my bike:

http://www.tamos.net/~bob/rail.jpg

Bob


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 12, 2007 3:40 am
Posts: 419
Location: Triange, NC
Nice summary review and comments. I read over the November site and like what they are doing, and the wheels seem to be very competitively priced (for now, anyway). I did not see a weight limit so assume there isn't any. That's a good thing.

I wish them success and hope to see continued evolution. I'm sure a pair would like very nice on my bike.


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Posted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:14 pm 


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:50 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:05 am
Posts: 1011
I got something wrong so just want to clarify:

The rim width of the prototypes is the same as the production version .. They come out of the same mold. The only difference is that the prototypes I rode are about 50g heavier per rim mainly because they used 3K weave .. In the production run they're going to UD carbon. I assume this means lighter AND stiffer (which is hard to believe, the prototypes were pretty stiff!). I got to see some of the new production versions, I think quite a few sets have shipped already .. when I get mine I'll post a photo for sure.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:10 pm
Posts: 312
I received my rails friday. Put 75 miles on them Saturday, and road them on my commute yesterday (45 miles combined - I have over 100 round trips logged, so its a good comparison test).

Image


About me: I've been recreationally riding for years, and this year decided to give racing a try. I've got 8 races under my belt, and will likely upgrade to cat 4 next month. 170lbs, 6'1", ftp ~300w, with about a ~1200w sprint per my SRM. My commute has a 2.4 mile -7% grade that has historically been hard on wheels (Velomax, Easton). The velomax wheels tore the nipples out of the rim, and the eastons got abit sketchy, and broke spokes whenever I exceeded 55mph (fwiw, they broke at a later date).

My stable of wheels consists of a pair of ultegra wh-6700, dura-ace Wh-7850SL, and Wh-7900TL C24s. I tend to run tubeless for my commuter wheels due to being able to run sealant, since part of my commute is on the freeway, and the radial wires are pretty terrible for pinhole flats that the tubeless w/ sealant seals pretty effortlessly. I've borrowed older non-firecrest zipp 303s (tubular) and 808s (clincher) on occasion.

First - the weight: Specification of the wheels is 1525g. Mine came in at 1555g without skewers and rim strips. Not far off spec, but you always wish for spec or lower on the wheels. Rim strips added 35g for a total of 1590g:

ImageImage

Next Tires: I'm running Conti GP4000s 23mm front and rear. Tires measured at 25mm front and rear mounted @ 95/100psi.

Ride impressions: They ride very very stable. In crosswinds/turbulance, the whole bike moves a bit more than with the lower profile wheels, but there is no twisting of the handlebars, like I've experienced with other wheelsets. I'd assume the newer rim shapes all do this, but its a welcome surprise. I'd estimate from my power numbers that I'm getting around 1mph of free speed at ~20mph, and 2 mph at 30 over the c24s riding gp4000s. Perhaps there's some placebo effect going on, but my numbers were pretty consistent. An oddity that I did notice on my commute though, is my speed seemed to not increase past 45mph very well - not sure this was due to lack of traffic to move the wind off me, or some aerodynamic oddity with the wind speed. I'll need to run them a few more times on my commute to decide for sure though.

I'd say they do decently climbing, but nothing like the 303 tubulars I borrowed (they were stupidly light). Definitely climb better and are more manageable than the old 808 clinchers, and perhaps better at holding speed.

I like the wide feel of the rim - the tires perform similarly comfort wise compared to 25mm gp4000s on my 7900s, which makes sense, as the width of the tires measures about the same.

Stiffness / sprinting: Had a couple of speed limit sign sprints on Saturday: The wheels were stiff and responded better than the 7900s I usually ride. For what its worth, I won both sprints, but I was also having a good power day - probably part of the new toys to play with effect.

I'm getting some squeals from the brakes, but I think I just need to wear in the pads/brake track, or toe in the pads a slight bit.

Pic of them on my bike (I've since removed the stickers)

Image

I've liked the approach November is taking with their wheels, and the data they are providing including wind tunnel tests. For me, the rails will be a good race wheelset at a decent price. Perhaps if I manage to upgrade out of cat 4s in the future, I'll look at going tubular.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:05 am
Posts: 1011
Updating my original post, I got my new rails on July 28th so, have had them a bit over a month now. My original post was on the prototypes of course!

I found the wheels came in pretty much at spec on weight, 1562 with rim strips. Pics attached. I ordered mine with the Chris King hubs. Man they are nice. I stand by my initial impressions still, which were based on a few rides on a weekend. After a month, I feel the same way. A month of Garmin data seems to back up the increase in speed on average over the same courses which really only says the obvious - I'm faster then I am with my older low profile wheels!

The only thing I can add after having my own for a month is it is tough to go back to my older wheels. Braking is great, better then I expected, even in the wet when getting caught in a brief downpour. I think the Prince pads makes the difference there.

Durability: I've ridden these wheels on some very bad tarmac and they take it no problem. I'm starting to think these are my everyday wheels. November has a very reasonable replacement policy should I crash, that helps. Bottom line, these wheels are going to be very difficult to beat when looking at performance vs. price. Or even just looking at performance.

Image
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I thought I'd also post a link to a recent blog post about them, very well said, not just about the rails but the industry in general.

http://www.novemberbicycles.com/blog/20 ... -feel.html

Ciao!

Bob


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:18 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 12, 2007 3:40 am
Posts: 419
Location: Triange, NC
Nice comments. At 45mph and above, I doubt seriously you can tell much if any difference in the wheels as your body will dominate the wind drag. Wheel drag becomes a small portion of the overall drag.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:05 am
Posts: 1011
NealH wrote:
Nice comments. At 45mph and above, I doubt seriously you can tell much if any difference in the wheels as your body will dominate the wind drag. Wheel drag becomes a small portion of the overall drag.


45 MPH? I'm guessing you mean KPH!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:10 pm
Posts: 312
Nope, in my post, I referenced 45+ mph being an oddity. Its a bit slower than the major descent (~ -7% grade for 2 miles) on my commute usually is. And I agree after more rides that its external factors - most notably wind from cars that was the difference in speed, and was an anomoly - nothing to do with the wheels.

I've got quite a few rides on them now, and as an update, they are great wheels. Got dumped into a big pothole by a guy ahead of me swerving a couple weeks back, and managed to pinch flat both tubes - a pretty hard impact. The rails were no worse for wear. I'd say they are probably overbuilt a bit for the extremely weight weenie among us, but its what I was looking for.

Black Prince pads wear fast, but after some slight toe in, and wearing in the brake tracks the braking is fine, with no squealing.


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Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:08 pm 


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:44 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:05 am
Posts: 1011
aaric wrote:
Nope, in my post, I referenced 45+ mph being an oddity. Its a bit slower than the major descent (~ -7% grade for 2 miles) on my commute usually is. And I agree after more rides that its external factors - most notably wind from cars that was the difference in speed, and was an anomoly - nothing to do with the wheels.

If I had to choose a good wheel for a fast descent, the rails would be at the top for their stability. But you're right, the body aerodynamics (and certainly, handling skills at that speed) a much bigger factor.

Quote:
I've got quite a few rides on them now, and as an update, they are great wheels. Got dumped into a big pothole by a guy ahead of me swerving a couple weeks back, and managed to pinch flat both tubes - a pretty hard impact. The rails were no worse for wear. I'd say they are probably overbuilt a bit for the extremely weight weenie among us, but its what I was looking for.


Woah! You flatted both tubes but the rims were okay. That's what I call a real world test right there.


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