The days of serious speed freaks racing only on tubulars are gone. Rolling resistance tests have proven clinchers to be comparable to their tubular relatives and the outstanding carbon clincher aero wheel options are multiplying, making the practical advantages of running hooked rims even more attractive. The original leaders in aero wheels are upping their options and a potentially big new player has also introduced carbon clinchers for 2013.
The aero wheel innovators from Minnesota are one of the last to release a carbon clincher, and the wheel is finally here. Named the Vanquish, Hed’s first all-carbon clincher is 60mm deep, 26mm wide at the brake track and has a shape that is similar but slightly different than Hed’s tubular Stinger 6 wheel. Steve Hed says the challenges of creating a solid tire bead lock forced them to adjust the profile slightly.
Production location of the Vanquish is another first for Hed Cycling. They make the carbon fairings used on their Jet line of clincher wheels (the fairings are bonded to shallow aluminum clincher rims to create aero wheels) in Minnesota, but the Vanquish will be the first complete rim produced there. Protecting their designs is one of Hed’s motivations for bringing rim production in-house. Quality is another.
Rim shape is optimized for 22-24mm tires. Steve Hed says the Continental Attack/Force and GP 4000 tires are the best aerodynamic matches for the Vanquish.
Initial ride testers have tried many brake pad options and are finding Shimano’s blue composite pads to have the best performance with the Vanquish.
The rims will be built with the same Hed hubs, Sapim CX-Ray spokes and 18-front/24-rear spoke counts.
Hed plans to have the wheels ready by the first of the year. Some Hed wheels are considered an “aerodynamic value” compared to other wheels, but these are priced similarly to options from Zipp and others. They will go for $2,500 a pair.
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Zipp Super-9 Carbon Clincher
The Sub-9 disc based on Zipp’s old clincher rims has been replaced with a disc Zipp engineers are calling, “the fastest wheel ever.”
The Super-9 Carbon Clincher has the same shape as the tubular version—extra broad (27.5mm) with tapered brake tracks and straight, parallel walls.
Tires are what make this wheel fractionally faster than the tubular alternative even though wheel shape is identical.
“Clinchers are significantly faster than tubulars, aerodynamically speaking,” said Zipp wheel design engineer Dave Morse. Zipp compared clincher and tubular versions of the same tires on identically shaped clincher and tubular wheels and found the clinchers to be more aerodynamic. Tubular casings are round when inflated (although tread isn’t always), but clincher tires pinch inward at the bead, creating a tire that is taller than wide. This shape influences wind drag, and makes the Super-9 Carbon Clincher even more aerodynamic than the tubular alternative.
Because of its position at the rear of the bike, Zipp engineer Michael Hall calls the wheel “agnostic to tire size,” saying there is almost no aero penalty to running a 25c tire on the wheel, a definite upgrade to comfort.
Zipp also calls this wheel the stiffest they’ve ever made, both laterally and vertically.
The wheel weighs 1175 grams and will cost $2,375 when it is released in November.
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Specialized Roval Rapide CXR 60
The bike giant from Northern California isn’t new to wheel production, but the Roval Rapide CXR 60 is their first serious aero creation. Following the industry-wide trend to broad aero wheels, the Roval Rapide CXR 60’s brake track is 24.5mm across. The carbon clincher rims taper to a moderately sharp inner diameter, and the nipples are hidden in the rim.
Specialized is just dipping their toes into aero wheels for now. This is the one and only version that is ready to go, and they will decide whether to expand the wheel line to include others based on the reaction to this 60mm version.
The pair weighs 1,515 grams, uses DT Swiss hub internals and they are 11-speed compatible. They’re going to list for $2,200.