Not that I don’t love writing about training indoors in January when I’m actually doing it; it’s just that I enjoy looking for the perfect pair of racing wheels instead.
I decided around January 11th when I saw my Visa bill after Christmas that there was not really room in this year’s budget for a brand new racing bike. I’ve committed to road racing with the Martin Swiss team in the early season, when most of the routes are flatter and more oriented to a sprinter like me. It’s been in my mind since then to upgrade my 2012 Cervelo R3, but looking into what I really want quickly realized that we’re talking close to $10k.
Simply crazy. This year at least.
Since I’m new to road racing – taking my first line at the age of 47 – I think it’s worth testing the waters before jumping into the rapids with a whole new bike. My local bike store won’t like it, but they aren’t sponsoring my either, so I guess we’ll both have to play this one through.
Having said that, I don’t want to roll up like dooby-scoo on a completely old set-up, so some upgrades are in order.
With this in mind, I’ve embarked on a mission to find a decent set of aero wheels and a power meter instead. The power meter is going to be part 2 of this quest, but I think the wheels are getting close to being a done deal.
Why wheels first? Well, everything I read suggests solid aero gains (ie-more speed for same watts) is the number one reason. I have one set of road wheels, and they have done amazingly well considering I have ridden them about 15,000km on roads all over the world. I’m not really kind on my equipment, and they’ve really stood up to the abuse well.
So what’s the criteria for new ones?
Well, I know my basic wheels are fine for spinning around aimlessly, but not up to standard for racing. There’s no areo gain at all down there. After riding with Ken last summer it became apparent how important being aero is.
So I’m looking for something with a deeper rim, between 40 and 60mm for both front and back. Also, the bearings in the hubs on my basic wheels are pretty much k-mart crap, so I’m sure there will be some gain from the better spin of higher quality bearings.
It’s pretty easy to do research on line these days – between youtube videos and bike review sites there isn’t much you can’t learn. I’m always interested to read actual user reviews which are often buried a bit deeper.
Still, hardly dark web stuff.
When buying any significant item, I like to ask some key questions:
- Brands – do I have any experience or loyalty to any brand in particular?
- What’s important in the wheel for me? Stiffness? Weight, Rolling resistance?
- What’s my budget? How much am I willing to spend?
- When do I need them?
Ehhh…. Ok now what?
Well I look at Zipp, Campagnola, some other big name brands – Mavic is another one. The thing I see right away is that they all make 28mm rims as standard these days, which is cool, but not best for my older frame.
The weights, aero gains etc are all pretty equivalent – what can I tell for a few watts?
Price? They are all freakin’ expensive – in the $3,000cad range. Too much for this wanna be road racer.
All available locally, and all willing to be sold with a smile.
What do I like?
Well, none of them to be honest. How come? Well mostly the price is a total nut crusher. I’m just not understanding why a decent set of rims has to cost more than my frame. In fact, more than the whole rest of my bike. It’s ridiculous. I really believe you’re paying a brand name premium and not much more.
Tell me if anyone knows any better.
Then I see something from my trusty vlogger Francis Cade, who steered me in the right direction with my Cannondale.
Yes you read that right. I do like a nice British wheel. He doesn’t pitch them per se, but I see them in an episode and after a bit of web crawling discover the site, and the world opens up.
High quality engineering on a small scale. Love it. They look cool too.
Let’s also say that the head office is in a little town somewhere between Guildford and Brighton – one of my favorite bike rides of all time.
Last, but definitely not least, they are not expensive. Free shipping to Canada. Include spare spokes, skewers and stickers. Cue the Smashing Pumpinks riff and whispery lyrics. Oh yea…
So a few days go by, and I take another look. Fuck they are tubulars, not clinchers. I’m a gear pig. I can’t run on a glued tire. It’s madness. Hope. Can I come in? Maybe they’ll have them in the style I want.
Now what? Carbon craven continues…