Benefit of Aero Wheels for Road Racing?

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wacomme
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 7:37 pm

by wacomme

I've searched, and I can find the benefit of aero wheels for TT or triathlon races, but nothing on benefit (magnitude) for road races.

I'm a 55 year-old 50+ racer in Colorado who is considering if it's worthwhile to buy some carbon aero wheels. As a teacher, and therefore someone with limited income, I'm trying to determine if aero wheels would service me much benefit in road races. I don't race crits, and I have an old Flo 60/Renn 555 disc on my TT bike. I have lightweight alloy wheels (Stans Alpha 340 rims) on my road bike (an old custom Ti frame).

Racing in a pack is very different than solo efforts on a TT bike. So, in general, how much do aero wheels benefit a road racer? What is the significance of aero wheels over lightweight alloy wheels? Also, if I forgo the carbon wheels, would the Flo 60 carbon fairing front wheel help me? I know it would look strange, but I'm much more interested in speed and winning races than aesthetics.

And for background - I have power meters, a coach, etc. A new bike would be nice, too, I'm racing on limited income. My 15 year-old Ti bike is antiquated in the pack, but it's not my limiter. But I'm wondering if aero wheels would help in 2017. Thoughts?

Michael

DamonRinard
in the industry
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by DamonRinard

Power drops about 30% when drafting (source: Asker Jukendrup in High Performance Cycling book, IIRC), so a good rule of thumb is, in a draft you get about 70% of the aero benefit commonly quoted for riding solo.
Damon Rinard
Engineering Manager, Road Bikes
Cycling Sports Group, Cannondale
Ex-Kestrel, ex-Velomax, ex-Trek, ex-Cervelo

wacomme
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 7:37 pm

by wacomme

DamonRinard wrote:Power drops about 30% when drafting (source: Asker Jukendrup in High Performance Cycling book, IIRC), so a good rule of thumb is, in a draft you get about 70% of the aero benefit commonly quoted for riding solo.

Makes sense. Thanks.

Then the question remains, does the time/power savings of aero wheels warrant their purchase? Or, are there other time/power savings to be made that are cheaper than aero wheels?

beatle
Posts: 180
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:08 pm

by beatle

Have you thought about an aero helmet and skinsuit first? Plus, first and foremost are you training yourself to ride in an aero position? I purposefully do my intervals on the rollers in the drops or with my arms parallel to the ground on the hoods to mimic a very aero position. Those are low hanging fruits.

Multebear
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by Multebear

You'll definitely benefit from deep section carbon wheels. I don't know what an older Flo 60 wheel looks like. But if it's similar to the existing Flo 60, then that's definitely the front wheel you need to race on. Just buy a Flo 60 rearwheel as well, and that's all you need for road racing.

There are countless topics and articles on the advantages of aero wheels. I suggest, that you do some searching. But in short, wheels is the most important upgrade, and the upgrade that will give you most speed (or saved watts). Shoecovers, aerohelmet, and speedsuit are other possible upgrades. And of course a bikefit that gives you an aero position on the bike. The frame is the last thing you would have to upgrade, when everything else mentioned is upgraded.

Marin
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Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:48 am
Location: Vienna Austria

by Marin

Basically, aero wheels will help you in a crosswind, that's why aero wheel manufacturers will present charts of up to 20° yaw - which is where the rims work.

Between 0 and 5° yaw - and remember, the faster you go, the lower the yaw - the benefits of running a narrower tire can outweigh the benefit of an aero wheel.

So on a day where echelons are forming, you want a tall wheel for speed, but a low-profile one for being able to steer straight ;)
Last edited by Marin on Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Marin
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Location: Vienna Austria

by Marin

Here's data from the latest Tour magazine aero wheel test. This is run with a leg dummy with moving legs, not only the wheel:


Image

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kgt
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Location: Athens, Greece

by kgt

beatle wrote:Plus, first and foremost are you training yourself to ride in an aero position?

+1
The only significant aero gains will come from your lower position on the bike. Work on that with your coach. It will take a while.

Marin
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Location: Vienna Austria

by Marin

+ aero helmet + aero jersey.

Biggest benefit on the bike will be aero handlebars BTW.

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Juanmoretime
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by Juanmoretime

All of the above. But if it helps you save even a couple of watts of energy that energy in the bank couple be the difference of out sprinting your competition. Is that worth the cash for the wheels for you?
RESIDENT GRUMPY OLD MAN.

racingcondor
Posts: 194
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:22 pm

by racingcondor

The gains aren't necessarily large from any one item but if they're the difference between being comfortable vs fighting not to get dropped then they'll make a massive difference to you.

Unfortunately the flip side to that is that if you're really good on being in the right place in the bunch you'll see a lot less wind and the benefits become small, if your positioning is good enough that you're riding using less power than other riders but still getting dropped then aero probably won't help (max power and/or recovery from sprints is probably the problem).

Multebear
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Joined: Sat May 02, 2015 10:11 pm

by Multebear

^ +1

And remember, there's always someone out there faster than you, no matter the amount of training and gear. If you're cat 3, cat 2 will be a struggle regardless of the amount of gear and so on.

wacomme
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 7:37 pm

by wacomme

Multebear wrote:^ +1

And remember, there's always someone out there faster than you, no matter the amount of training and gear. If you're cat 3, cat 2 will be a struggle regardless of the amount of gear and so on.


True, but moving up a category is a goal! My focus is on training, but equipment is important too.

I will keep my eye out on the used market for inexpensive aero wheels. In the meantime I'll work on position. I've worked on position extensively on my TT bike and have made good gains (though I did miss winning the state TT championship by 0.8 seconds over 40K) - Ugh. But I've neglected thinking about my position on my road bike. This should save me lots of watts and not cost me a dime.

pdlpsher1
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Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

What part of Colorado do you live? I'm up north near Ft. Collins. Second place in the state TT is fantastic!

I have the Bora One 50s and I love them. But I also understand that you are on a budget. The next best deal on a full-carbon clincher is the Fulcrum Racing Quattro. Just remember that the cheaper Chinese carbon rims don't have the heat-resisting resin. Campy and Fulcrum wheels are tested to pass the heat torture test. I wouldn't ride any carbon clincher in Colorado without heat-resistant resin. Yesterday I did over 8,000' of steep climbing in Boulder and my Bora Ones got a good workout from all the braking. Many of the steep descents in Boulder end with a stop sign, LOL. So you are coming down a 10% grade at 45mph and need to do a full stop. Attached is a link to the said wheels. Out the door price including the WW discount is $875. That's hard to beat for a reliable full-carbon clincher. GL.

http://www.starbike.com/en/fulcrum-racing-quattro-carbon/

wacomme
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 7:37 pm

by wacomme

pdlpsher1 wrote:What part of Colorado do you live? I'm up north near Ft. Collins. Second place in the state TT is fantastic!

I have the Bora One 50s and I love them. But I also understand that you are on a budget. The next best deal on a full-carbon clincher is the Fulcrum Racing Quattro. Just remember that the cheaper Chinese carbon rims don't have the heat-resisting resin. Campy and Fulcrum wheels are tested to pass the heat torture test. I wouldn't ride any carbon clincher in Colorado without heat-resistant resin. Yesterday I did over 8,000' of steep climbing in Boulder and my Bora Ones got a good workout from all the braking. Many of the steep descents in Boulder end with a stop sign, LOL. So you are coming down a 10% grade at 45mph and need to do a full stop. Attached is a link to the said wheels. Out the door price including the WW discount is $875. That's hard to beat for a reliable full-carbon clincher. GL.

http://www.starbike.com/en/fulcrum-racing-quattro-carbon/

Thank you. I'll take a look. With Christmas approaching and paying the balance for some home repairs, the most I have to spend right now is $500.

I'm in Colorado Springs. Yes. Heat resistant resins will be important in Colorado. I wouldn't want to ride down Magnolia hill on cheap carbon clinchers. Though, I've read long sustained braking generates a lot more heat than hard, short braking. BTW- do you use latex tubes in your Bora's?

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