Light weight vs aero - my take

Everything about building wheels, glueing tubs, etc.
mike001100
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:26 am

by mike001100

Hiya everyone,

some background first:
- amateur rider, haven't competed in any races yet
- have been riding road for 1.5 years, not much sport before that
- consider myself to be hyperperceptive

So, perhaps similarly to others, there was a question that was on my mind almost constantly: what's more, lower weight or more aero?

For myself, I have answered the question: aero is everything, followed by weight as a distant second.

I reached this conclusion through testing on my Giant Propel (built up on Dura Ace, carbon cockpit, etc.) - I have owned an aluminium wheelset (Easton EA90 SL) and I highly recommend a carbon wheelset to anyone that can afford it. I cannot say that the aluminium wheelset would be better in any regard to whatever else I have ridden.

Upgrading from the Eastons, I purchased a Scott Syncros RR 1.0 wheelset - effectively, a DT Swiss wheelset, with DT Swiss Hubs and what I believe to be Reynolds rims (V shape), 46mm, clinchers. The speed gain compared to the Eastons was substantial. And so, the quest for more speed began, with the ever returning question: what will make me fastest/happiest in the real world, a deeper wheelset, or a lighter wheelset?

And so, an opportunity to buy a used set of Lightweight Mielensteins came around... 47mm, 1100 g, effectively about 0.5 kg lighter than the Reynolds setup. And what happened?

I was dissapointed. The Lightweights came with Tufos, Elite S3s in 23c. My first ride was with the tubs pumped to 120 psi and the wheels felt much slower to accelerate than the Reynolds setup... So, next time I pumped the Tufos to 140 psi and things started to look promising - I could feel that the wheelset started to come alive... however, at the price of a very harsh ride. In short: I scrapped the Tufos, and as a last resort, glued up some Vittoria Corsa's G+.

Now, the comparison became quite controlled:
- Reynolds 46mm, 1450 g weight, clinchers, Vittoria Corsa G+ 23c
- Lightweight Meilenstein, 47mm, 1100 g weight, tubulars, Vittoria Corsa G+ 23c

To briefly discuss Tufos vs Corsas, the Corsas are much better in every regard, except puncture resistance. While the Tufos were "smooth" after about 200 km, the Corsas already have one hole in the tread in the rear, after 100 km. However, in terms of rolling resistance, the Corsas shine. Pumped up to 140 psi, where the Tufos already (at my 65 kg weight) began to feel sketchy, the Corsas remain composed. Ride comfort is much better. It's a no brainer - Corsas all the way.

And in terms of the wheels themselves? Does 500g make a difference? And what about the difference in aero profiling?

Where things are clear is uphill. The Lightweights feel substantially different to the Reynolds set, everything uphill is much easier on them - it's mesmerizing. It feels like you can always add an "extra bit" of effort, which translates into speed. For the heck of it, I tried going up the same hill 3 times (with about 15 km riding in between each attempt). Even on the last attempt, I was much faster on the Lightweights than I was during a single ride up the hill on the Reynolds...

Other areas, I can't quite draw a conclusion. Side winds, so far, seem the same wheelset to wheelset, perhaps slightly worse on the LW. On the straights and downhill? I can't quite put a finger on it, but it seems like the LWs lack momentum... how can I put it? The Reynolds took more effort to get going, definitely, but once they were up to speed, they just went... with the LW, once you stop pedaling (in certain situations), you can feel the wheelset stopping... This seems more evident downhill, where the Reynolds just seemed to pick up speed easier... where I didn't have to pedal with the Reynolds, I have to push with the LWs...

A real world scenario, which I feel is rarely considered in tests, is "acceleration" of wheelsets. The LWs accelerate much better than Reynolds, they respond to inputs better - which makes overtaking much, much easier. Where I could feel resistance to changes in momentum on the Reynolds, the LWs make it seem like a piece of cake. This I would especially relate to deeper and heavier wheels - while the deeper wheels will be faster no doubt once you get going, if you ride between other people/the general public, I believe constantly changing speed on the deeper and heavier wheels may get tiring...

And so, the search for a single "perfect" wheelset ends. Why? Because in a perfect wheelset, mutually exclusive factors would have to meet: deep aero profile and low weight. There will always be a deeper wheelset that is heavier, as there will always be a shallower wheelset that is lighter.

For me, swapping wheelsets is not an option: the amount of adjustment required between wheelsets is just too tiring (derailleur, brakes and whatnot).

So, all in all, what have I learned: one needs two bikes. If you can only pick one bike to have, I suggest aero - with 65mm+ wheels. Of course, get as light a wheelset as you can afford, but remember: aero first, weight as a distant second.

My pick:
Aero bike: Trek Madone. Given my experience, I wouldn't be too concerned about the 0.5 kg weight penalty due to aero tubes.

Climbers bike: Take your pick, light and stiff...

Out.

Marin
Posts: 2699
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:48 am
Location: Vienna Austria

by Marin

All by feel (hyperperception)?

Or power meter + timing / Chung method?

mike001100
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:26 am

by mike001100

I have a power meter... but I don't have tests before/after yet, may get round to it.

So yes, all by feel for now.

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kgt
Posts: 6779
Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:29 am
Location: Athens, Greece

by kgt

mike001100 wrote:some background first:
- amateur rider, haven't competed in any races yet
- have been riding road for 1.5 years, not much sport before that


Ok... I would suggest you keep riding seriously for at least 10 years and post your opinion again... experience makes you see things with ultrahyperperception.
Just MHO.

LionelB
Posts: 1442
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:09 pm
Location: Aix en Provence

by LionelB

One needs only 2 bikes ? Nope, this is sort of a minimum :D

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ergott
Posts: 2754
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 3:03 am
Location: Islip, NY
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by ergott

You lost me at 140psi.


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Mep
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri May 28, 2004 4:11 pm

by Mep

Your description suggests that the Lightweights were better for climbing and accelerating, although they lacked momentum which isn't surprising since they're lighter. So I'm not sure I follow your thought process of aero being better. A more aero wheel per se isn't going to solve the momentum problem, a heavier wheel would.

Hexsense
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:41 am

by Hexsense

ergott wrote:You lost me at 140psi.


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agreed. Any tires will be puncture prone at those psi which force the tire to stretch and rigid instead of complying and bend around road debris 70-100psi is where it should be on real road. If you go above that, reduce it down and get wider tire.

sawyer
Posts: 4484
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2006 7:45 pm
Location: Natovi Landing

by sawyer

kgt wrote:
mike001100 wrote:some background first:
- amateur rider, haven't competed in any races yet
- have been riding road for 1.5 years, not much sport before that


Ok... I would suggest you keep riding seriously for at least 10 years and post your opinion again... experience makes you see things with ultrahyperperception.
Just MHO.


Very true. And I got lost also at 140psi

At your weight even on the smoothest roads in the dry 120psi max

I believe it's true that one can feel the momentum/inertia in a heavier rim (e.g. mid weight clincher vs light tub) ... and that when rolling on the flat the heavier one can "feel" faster, even if the actual differences are tiny
----------------------------------------
Stiff, Light, Aero - Pick Three!! :thumbup:

mike001100
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:26 am

by mike001100

Thanks for the replies :)

Regarding 140 PSI, 2 things:
- 140 PSI in Tufos seemed like a minimum requirement to get them to roll
- 140 PSI in Vittorias was moreso "just to see", but since they are labeled 115 PSI minimum (IIRC), and Lightweight states to inflate to at least 120 PSI to prevent chipping, I think I will be inflating to 125ish...

Hexsense
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:41 am

by Hexsense

i run Vittoria Corsa G+ 25c at 65psi on my front wheel all the time
beginner's mistake: overinflate tires because label on the sidewall allow you to do so.

RussellS
Posts: 701
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:31 am

by RussellS

ergott wrote:You lost me at 140psi.


Yep. 65 KG body weight and 140 psi? What the F ? Also not sure exactly what was being compared or contrasted or explained here. Two wheels with the same depth. 46 and 47mm. Close enough to be identical. Clinchers weigh 350 grams more than the tubulars. Pretty standard and typical. The lighter tubulars accelerated quicker and the heavier clinchers kept momentum better. Surprise, surprise.

As for aero compared to weight, that question was decided many, many years ago. Aero is almost always better except in the rarest of situations. You gain more speed from aero than from reduced weight. About the only time this might not apply is if you are climbing a 30% San Francisco street and going 2 mph. Less weight will benefit you more than aero in that situation. Until you go down the hill and then the aero will triumph. Probably more than the savings the weight gave you going up.

Alumen
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:47 pm

by Alumen

I am with you for wheels... 1) Aero, 2) Stifness, 3)Weight.

All in all, being a pure WW is a bit outdated I would reckon, pure aerodynamics, that's where your gain is !
CAAD 10 2015

Lugan
Posts: 89
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:02 pm

by Lugan

kgt wrote:
mike001100 wrote:some background first:
- amateur rider, haven't competed in any races yet
- have been riding road for 1.5 years, not much sport before that


Ok... I would suggest you keep riding seriously for at least 10 years and post your opinion again... experience makes you see things with ultrahyperperception.
Just MHO.


For the win!

Hexsense
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:41 am

by Hexsense

Lugan wrote:
kgt wrote:
mike001100 wrote:some background first:
- amateur rider, haven't competed in any races yet
- have been riding road for 1.5 years, not much sport before that


Ok... I would suggest you keep riding seriously for at least 10 years and post your opinion again... experience makes you see things with ultrahyperperception.
Just MHO.


For the win!

I wish there is a like button to share support without replying.

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