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Buyer’s Guide: Wheels: Aero Wonders

There's never been a better time to look at speedy wheels.

Once you’ve dialed in your aerodynamic position, adding some aero wheels to your race set up will provide the most aerodynamic benefits. There’s never been a better time to look at speedy wheels – this year’s selection includes lots of lightweight and aerodynamic options that are remarkably durable, too.

Aeolus 5.0 – $1499.99 to 1714.99 tubular, $1789.99 to $1999.99 clincher (per wheel)

Bontrager’s lightest aerodynamic wheelset (690 g front, 816 g rear for tubular, 740 g front, 866 g rear for clincher) and popular choice for Team Radio Shack, these wheels are 50 mm deep, have a new spoke pattern, OCLV rim and hub design for improved aerodynamics, strength and weight. The set includes Ti skewers, wheel bags, Carbon Stop brake pads and alloy valve extenders.

RRC 1055 Tubular Disc – $3,300
DT Swiss

Those serious about saving every second possible know that a disc wheel will get them an advantage. This 1055 g, hand-built carbon rear wheel uses 100 percent DT Swiss components such as the DT Swiss Ratchet System (a freehub system for high load capacity and reliability which requires no tools for routine maintenance), along with stainless steel sealed cartridge bearings for long life and continuous low rolling resistance. The wheel includes rim tape, RWS road titan, special brake pads and quick-release skewers. The RRC 1300 Clincher Disc weighs in a bit more at 1,200 g.

EC90 TT 90MM – $2,300

Proclaimed by Easton as the lightest 90 mm deep wheelset available (1,424 g), this handbuilt tubular wheelset has undergone rigorous testing at San Diego’s Low Speed Wind Tunnel. The result is a wheel that performs well in a variety of wind conditions. They feature Easton’s Variable Nipple Bed technology for strength and aerodynamics, the R4 TT front hub – which reduces frontal exposure to the wind by up to 50 percent – and a low spoke count (12 front; 16 rear).

F6R – $1,665 (set)
Fast Forward

F9R -$1,665 (set)
Fast Forward

The new F6R is a great wheel (60 mm deep) to combine with the F9R wheel (90 mm). Both feature DARC technology (Double Arc to increase the speed of air flow) for improved aerodynamics which reduces the drag. This stiff wheel set replaces the F5R and, despite a one-centimeter higher rim, comes in at the same weight (1,350 grams) with a DT240s hub set. The F6R starts at $1,665 for a set with standard FFWD hubs. With Ceramic FFWD hubs the set is $1,950 as is the set with DT Swiss 240s hubs. With DT Swiss 190 ceramic hubs the set will be $2,550.

Stinger 4 – $1,800

These versatile tubular wheels are strong enough to double as a racing and everyday wheelset. It possesses the cornering performance of HED’s C2 road wheels, but with a 46 mm profile and 1,294 gram weight. The 2011 Stingers are constructed with Stability Control Tuning (each rim model is specifically tuned for neutral crosswind handling). Also, keep an eye out for their new, and stiffer, Stinger 5 (50 mm) and Stinger 7 wheels.

Cosmic Carbone SLR – $2,600

The SLR is Mavic’s most efficient aerodynamic clincher wheel-tire system. The exclusive Exalith technology enhances the braking efficiency and performance is improved with Mavic’s Powerlink or Griplink clincher tires. The elliptical rims are 52 mm deep, it has integrated rim-to-rim carbon aero spokes, profiled hub caps and weighs just 1,595 grams.

Altair 80 – $2,200
Profile Design

After two years of research and development, the aerobar giant is entering the world of wheels with nine handbuilt wheelsets (full carbon, semi carbon and aluminum). The Altair 80 ($2,200) and Altair 52 ($2,000) Semi Carbon Clinchers provide the best performance value. They were designed using wind speed data from Ironman and Ironman 70.3 courses and typical age group performances. The Altair 80 (2,088 g) are 80.5 mm deep carbon clincher rims with an aluminum braking surface and its precision machined alloy hubs provide extra stiffness. Included with the wheels are quick release levers, valve extenders, a spoke tool and extra spokes & nipples (2 front, 4 rear).

Forty Six – $2,699 (set)

Sixty Six – $2,699 (set)

The Reynolds Sixty Six / Forty Six wheelset allows racers to maintain control but still achieve speed benefits in strong crosswinds. The mid-depth (46 mm) front wheel and deep (66 mm) rear wheel combination is improved for 2011 with the addition of the Swirl Lip Generator, a small ridge on the rim surface that improves aerodynamics and stabilizes steering. The tubular wheelset weighs 1,285 grams, includes quick release skewers and carbon-specific brake pads. The clincher version weighs a bit more and is priced at $2,899.

Dura Ace WH-RS80 C50 Clincher – $1,399

Durability, aerodynamics, compliance and comfort are what you will get from these 50 mm deep carbon-alloy clincher wheels. They use the same 50 mm carbon clincher rim of the Dura Ace C50 but with Ultegra hubs to make them more affordable.

S60 – $1,650

SRAM’s 60 mm, 1850 g, S60 carbon clincher wheelset Is built to handle whatever you want to dish out and at a great price. The hybrid-toroidal aerodynamic shaped structural woven carbon wheels have an aluminum braking surface, stainless steel spokes with internal alloy nipples, long lasting anodized hubs with quick-release levers and can handle 100 kg (220 lbs) of rider weight.

TriMax Ultimate – $2,100

Vision’s top of the line 88 mm carbon tubular wheelset (1,730 g) offers a complete value package. The wheels are artisan built by hand, has six, long life, ceramic bearings, sapim bladed spokes, a carbon front hub, includes mercury carbon quick release levers, valve extenders, wheel bags and brake pads for exclusive use with the wheels.

900 Clincher Disc – $1,800

Many have ridden the 900 Clincher Disc (1,219 g) to success and why shouldn’t you? The wheel’s toroidal rim shape and Multi-Material Co-Molding technology increases strength while reducing drag around the interface of aluminum barking surface and the carbon wheel. The bulged cross-section serves to reduce fatigue during long races. The tubular version of the disc is just 936 grams. Of course, you can throw down some extra coin and get the Super-9 ($2,275) or Sub 9 Disc ($2,500). What do you get for the extra investment? Cutting edge technology and extra speed.