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Wheel Buyer’s Guide

2013 buyer's guide wheels

After you’ve dialed in your position on the bike that’s not only aerodynamic, but comfortable enough that you can stay down on your aero bars for as long as possible, the next most important purchase you’ll make to shave time off your bike split are wheels. As you can see, many wheelsets cost as much as you might have spent on your entire bike, but you can still get some fast wheels without completely breaking the bank, so we’ve split this year’s guide into three sections. The latest trend in the world of time-trial wheels is a move towards a more “blunt” design (in essence wider rims) that, contrary to the old feeling that narrower was better, manage to provide more aerodynamic results.

Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide - Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher
Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide – Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher

Zipp’s first full-carbon clincher wheelset (1,525 g) took two years to develop. It is 58 mm deep, features the 88/188 hubset with a 7.5 mm-wider bearing stance in the rear hub and a driveside hub canted by two degrees for improved stiffness and reliability. For 2013, the wheels are available in two decal options – Beyond Black or Classic White. A new Zipp-exclusive heat-resistant resin improves heat dissipation when braking and these are the only carbon clinchers to pass European safety testing without limitations on rider weight or brake pad options. The full wheelset will cost you $3,094.


Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide - Shimano Dura-Ace C50 Tubular
Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide – Shimano Dura-Ace C50 Tubular

Also available in a clincher version, the C50, like the rest of the Dura Ace line up in 2013, is 11-speed compatible, but will also work with 10-speed cassettes. Featuring lightweight, durable and rigid rims that produce an exceptionally smooth ride, aerodynamics are optimized right down to the spoke’s elliptical cross-section and 16 spoke design (front wheel) that can save up to one minute on a one hour ride. The wheels feature a high modulus 50 mm carbon rim, an oversized A7075 Alloy axle for increased axial rigidity, an easy bearing adjust system and a double butted blade alloy axle. At a price tag of $3,080 , this wheelset weighs in at just 1,396 grams.

HED Jet 5 Express
HED Jet 5 Express

With the Jet 5 Express you can take advantage of hed’s C2 technology at an affordable price. In 2006, Steve Hed realized that using a wide tire on a narrow rim did not make sense aerodynamically. As a result he invented hed’s C2 technology that has its maximum effect on clincher tires. By making the rim edge wider, the C2 allows the tire to flow almost perfectly into the rim shape. The wider rims also increase contact with the road for improved cornering, decrease rolling resistance, and get rid of the need to ride with higher tire pressures. For $1,550, you’ll go faster for cheaper aboard these54 mm deep, unidirectional carbon C2 clincher rims with an aluminum braking surface. The Sonic hubs are rock solid, laterally stiff, but still provide lots of comfort. The wheelset tips the scales at 1,681 g and has a rider weight limit of 190 pounds.

Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide - DT Swiss RC 46C
Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide – DT Swiss RC 46C

The RC 46 wheels are a great way for anyone to upgrade their everyday training wheelset to a comfortable but stiff carbon aero clincher wheel alternative at a reasonable price. Perfectly fine for everyday mixed terrain training or long-duration racing, it features a stiff 46 mm carbon rim, bladed DT Aerolite spokes and top quality hubs with the DT Swiss Ratchet System (high load capacity, reliability and no tool maintenance). The 1,523 g wheels have a price tag of $4,500, and come in 20-hole radial fronts (the spokes don’t cross each other) while the rear wheels are 24-hole, two cross.

Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide - Easton EA 90 Aero
Time Trial Wheel Buyer’s Guide – Easton EA 90 Aero

For an all-purpose, day-to-day riding set of wheels that can handle everything you can dish out in all sorts of conditions and terrain, the $1,320 Easton EA 90 Aero is worth a look. And, if you look closely, you will find that the 1,545-g wheelset has a 28 mm deep front (for crosswinds) rim and a 32 mm rear (for increased stability and aerodynamics). The Gen 4 aluminum rims offer an outstanding braking surface, have high-quality Sapim double-butted, straightpull spokes for increased strength and anodized black R4 hubs with trouble-free sealed bearings. As with all Easton wheels, the EA90 Aero is hand-built and acoustically tuned in Easton’s own factory.