"Gran Fondo" bikes but the wheels?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
fdegrove
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by fdegrove

Hi,

As most of you may have noticed quite a few manufacturers propose "Gran Fondo" frames. In a nutshell these are generally frames or complete bikes which are destined to be sold to those who'd like to endeavour in long rides: Centuries or more.
Not purely race oriented and not really tourist either but something inbetween. A bike that you ride for miles and miles more for fun than for mere racing, right?

Quite often the wheelbase is a bit longer though not by much, the ST angle a tad more relaxed so it makes it easier to pedal along as opposed to just hammer that crank.
Diametrically opposed to this however I can't help but notice that the bulk of the wheels that were once considered top of the bill for racing BTW, that would be great for this kind of discipline are no more.

Most offerings nowadays are so far race-oriented that their vertical stiffness figures hurt. Gone are the 2005 Eurus to name but one that were just right for just about everything but stage diving....
Carbon rims don't help either, neither do aluminium spokes....

Anyone else being bugged by the same feeling and is stiff really the equivalent of better of is that just a back-ache in the works?

Ciao, ;)
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maxxevv
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by maxxevv

Generally, I find fatter tyres have a far greater effect on ride quality than the wheels on their own.

Put on a pair of plush Michelin Pro3 or Pro4 25C tyres at ~100psi. You suddenly just transformed that 50mm deep section carbon wheel into a smooth box section wheelset !

kulivontot
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by kulivontot

Wheels should really not come into the equation for the comfort of the bike. If your wheels feel too stiff, just back off 10PSI of the tires, regardless of spoke count, material, or rim depth. I would think for a fondo you'd want as aero a wheel as possible for a longer rides, especially in the absence of an organized field. So in short, I don't really know what an endurance wheel looks like. For touring, you use higher spoke count wheels for durability and wide rims for the use of fat tires. I don't think that really applies for fondos.

nachtjager
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by nachtjager

I totally agree fdegrove! I also think repairability need to come into consideration. I know this is weight weenies but the majority of these bikes are begging for a light weight 32/3x set of wheels.

1500ish grams is possible and sensible.

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michel2
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by michel2

Simce were not heading for the fastest time ditch high profile aero wheel, not good in crosswinds nor do we want boneshakers.
Mavic used to makes a wheelset, classic pro ? 32 holes open pro ( isch) rim with ceramic coating. Not sure why they are a thing of the past.
Personally i would go a set of campy hubs on ambrossio excellence cross 4 sapim db.
I think that is also why mavic doesnt make those classics anymore, any good bikeshop can make them, mavic wont standout ( well they would) there not what the mayority of the market wants...

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prendrefeu
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by prendrefeu

Hey. So I thought I'd chime in here.

I do ultra races. I don't consider Gran Fondos in the same category at all. It's like the difference between people interested in the Volvo Ocean Race (~ultras) and people who want to race their boats around the local marina (~gran fondos)

Ultras are timed. They can be very competitive once you do concentrate on them instead of doing them "once in a while." There is a lot of factors that go into an ultra, compared to say a Gran Fondo. Changing weather, wind, much more climbing and whatever else might happen over an average of 10 hours or more.

Think of them as a strange mix between a very, very long solo TT meets "road race breakaway" survival tactics with whoever else is around over 200 miles. It's basically a race against the clock, the earth, and yourself.

That being said, I've found that weight does matter in this regard, as does some aero (more of a factor in facing sidewinds and headwinds). Durability is also important, but I've never found it necessary to take the approach of the Rando's and the 32spoke box rims unless the rider is particularly heavy, rough on their equipment, or just out for a joy ride. Comfort is up to the individual, and there is no universal guide to what someone may find comfortable over a typical ultra, and that may vary depending on the course and location.

Some use tubulars for their ultras (mixed degree of success, it mostly comes down to luck and your pocket book).
The majority use clinchers. It doesn't matter if it's alloy or carbon, as long as it is reliable for the rider.

That's all I'll add on this. Carry on.
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natiedean24
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by natiedean24

I don't see why you would need unique equipment, be it a bicycle or wheels, that would differ between a 30 mile ride and a 130 mile ride. But like most anything we spend our money on, it's not about needs, but about creating a market that fits an image.

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kgt
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by kgt

I guess you can get used to ride anything on any distance and feel ok at the end. I agree with fdegrove though that there are more and less suitable parts for a specific use. I.e. 80mm alu rims and centuries are not made for each other IMO.

sawyer
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by sawyer

kulivontot wrote:Wheels should really not come into the equation for the comfort of the bike. If your wheels feel too stiff, just back off 10PSI of the tires, regardless of spoke count, material, or rim depth. .



Hi -
Have to disagree with this statement. Normally I aim to optimise tyre pressure for rolling resistance, and perhaps grip if it's going to be wet, rather than comfort per se (comfort obviously being somewhat related to rolling resistance). I say normally, because obviously if you're riding pave then comfort comes into it.

The practical effect of what you're suggesting could often be to run (say) 85psi-90psi on a 23mm tyre and trade-off higher crr with improved comfort.

If that comfort can be generated through a different wheelset, while maintaining lower crr, why wouldn't you do it.

@fdegrove - i had a pair of the old Eurus Carbons. The Zondas are the closest thing you'll find now, albeit only in clincher format.
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Mr.Gib
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by Mr.Gib

For those who have not spent serious time on a traditional build wheelset (quality shallow section alloy rim, 32 spokes, 3x rear, 2x front or similar) don't believe for a minute that bigger softer tires is the whole story. Yes tires are key but wheel type is very significant in what the road feels like on your feet, hands, and ass. You also get a much better sense of connectedness to the road in corners and on an rough surface. Combine the traditional build with wide rim tech and 25c tires and you are ready for anything. And at 1500 grams such wheels are still light enough and fast enough for racing.
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prendrefeu
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by prendrefeu

1500g is not light enough. :twisted:
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deluxerider
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by deluxerider

Stiffness is the industry buzzword. Most of us will never notice any stiffness difference in a frame. Stiffness is also usually used in reference to frame weight. That is, it's the stiffest frame at x weight. But, a 700 gram frame can only be so stiff and not necessarily stiffer than a 1100 gram frame. It drives me crazy to hear some weekend warrior as if a frame will be stiff enough for him.

Grand Fondo frames can also be plenty racy. I have a friend who rides a Specialized Roubaix instead of a Tarmac because he likes the fit better. He's very fast.

fdegrove
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by fdegrove

Hi,

@fdegrove - i had a pair of the old Eurus Carbons. The Zondas are the closest thing you'll find now, albeit only in clincher format.


Unfortunately it is past tense for me as well. As the saying goes: you don't know what you have untill it's gone (or something along those lines).
It's only a few years back that I realised how uncomfortably stiff (in the vertical plane) most wheels have become when I picked up a few sets of Neutron for tubulars and a set of new style Eurus (tubs as well).
Compared to the old style Eurus the new ones felt unbelievably harsh.

Bottomline is that (and this is quite funny) I find wheels like Neutrons/ old Eurus etc. far easier to ride with (less fatigue inducing) and I can't say they were any slower. In fact I often find myself pushing bigger gears with Neutrons than with its carbon counterpart the Hyperons (which also happen to be quite a bit lighter).
I could be wrong but I can't help but feel that little bit of extra vertical compliance is actually a good thing to have in a wheel.

This is why I wonder why none of the bigger players (not looking at you Campagnolo ;) ) seems to offer a wheelset that's targeted at the Gran Fondo style of rider (not necessarily competition but more high mileage at relatively high speed).
Something more allround than the good old Neutrons, a bit lighter is welcomed too and it may certainly be more aero.
I don't think a 32mm carbon rim would cut it as I often blame the carbon rims for lacking that little bit of vertical compliance that makes a wheel more forgiving rather than demanding if you see what I mean.
In short, some kind of wheel that does everything really well without killing you in the process and is actually a joy to ride instead of a pain like some wheels can be.

I am aware that some may think that if you train more it will become much easier to push the extremely stiff wheels and to a certain point I'd agree....

For those who have not spent serious time on a traditional build wheelset (quality shallow section alloy rim, 32 spokes, 3x rear, 2x front or similar) don't believe for a minute that bigger softer tires is the whole story. Yes tires are key but wheel type is very significant in what the road feels like on your feet, hands, and ass. You also get a much better sense of connectedness to the road in corners and on an rough surface. Combine the traditional build with wide rim tech and 25c tires and you are ready for anything. And at 1500 grams such wheels are still light enough and fast enough for racing.


That type of wheel perfectly describes the feeling and the joy of riding I'm looking for but it does not need to be so tradtional.
OTOH I always suggest to younger riders to at least give them a try just so they realise how much fun they can be.
Now imagine these wheels without the typical drawbacks such as weight and lack of aero. Would a wheel with a little bit more give in the vertical plane really be so much more inefficient? I really doubt it....

Ciao, ;)
Last edited by fdegrove on Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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CharlesM
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by CharlesM

I think several wheels that have gone to a 23 profile are a better ride quality with the right tire choice... AM Classics tubeless are wider, light versus most clinchers and very comfortable, Zipps 303 have some movement in the sidewall of the new U and last Toroid shape, and there are some not neccesarily aero but good rim options, the latest being the box section X 23 wide H Plus Son that I just got from Fairwheel (and mated a 25 section Vittoria too).

The frames are a little more compliant too (varies by manufacturer). The New GF01 bmc absolutely has notable vert travel, the new Trek Domane is absolutely smoother than the Madone counterparts...


So far this stuff is working and not at big weight penalties...

That's maybe the most notable benefit of advanced carbon tech in the past 2-3 years.

You're making bikes that will hover around that 14 pound rate that have genuine built in comfort features that would have pushed bikes past 15-16-17 pounds trying to build that compliance or features in to just 5 years ago.

MileHighMark
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by MileHighMark

What about something like this?

http://www.bikelugs.com/store/index.php ... ItemID=396

Maybe in a 28/32 combo.
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