From the 2015 Buyer’s Guide, the best wheels to help you cut through the wind.
Bontrager Aeolus 7 $1,940 front, 790 g; $2,080 rear, 890 g
For riders who aren’t comfortable riding a super deep setup, or want a balanced mix of weight and aero, Bontrager’s Aeolus 7 might just be the answer. The Aeolus 7 rim uses Bontrager’s proprietary D3 shape, designed to optimize the rim as both a leading and trailing edge for improved aerodynamics. Which means they ride like a shallower set of wheels in windy conditions. Using DT Swiss components, the hubs offer excellent performance and durability. The Bontrager Aeolus 7 are sold complete with carbon cork pads, valve extenders and quality internal cam quick release skewers, a nice bonus.
Campagnolo Bullet Ultra 80 $2,435, 1770 g per pair
If you are lucky enough to run one of Campagnolo’s deluxe electronic drivetrains on your ride, it is only natural to pair it with a set of hand-assembled hoops from the Italian marque. The carbon/ aluminum rim has a new shape, with a wider profile, consistent with the latest trend; while the aluminum brake track may seem old school, it offers braking performance that is still unmatched by carbon, particularly in the wet. The hubs use a cup and cone design for ease of maintenance, and offer a choice of standard, ceramic or Campanolo’s cult bearing system.
Zipp 808 CCL front & Super 9 CCL Disc rear $1,600 front, 840 g; $2,800 rear, 1,175 g
If you’re looking to shave every last possible second, a deep front and disc is hard to beat. Zipp’s 808 and Super 9 clincher disc is just about the fastest available. The 808’s Firecrest shape helped popularize the current wide rim trend in wheels, while the Super 9 carried the “wide” theme out in a disc form. Set them up with some fast-rolling tires (Zipp’s new tangente line, perhaps) and latex tubes, and Zipp’s 808 and Super 9 will turn every watt into speed. The 808 and Super 9’s performance does come with a price tag to match, however, and Kona qualifiers will have to get another rear wheel as discs are not allowed.
Powertap G3 AMP 35 $1,700 (rear only), 1617 g per pair
A power meter is possibly the best upgrade you can make to your training, while wheels are probably the best upgrade you can make to your bike, with Powertap’s amp 35 wheels, you can do both in one shot. For the new amp line of wheels, Powertap started with their proven G3 hub (accurate within +/-1.5 per cent), and paired it with 35 mm carbon clincher rim that offers lightweight and the latest in wide rim (24.5 mm) aerodynamic design. The 35 mm height is perfect for daily training, but come race day, a wheel cover will convert your rear wheel to a disc setup to maximize aerodynamics. The amp line is also available in a deeper 50 mm version, and includes QR skewers, rim tape and carbon specific brake pads.
Specialized Roval Rapide CLX 60 Tubular $2,300, 1,330 g per pair
There are a lot of advantages to clincher wheels. They’re convenient with no glue to mess with, flats are easy to fix, and, with recent advances, clinchers even roll faster than tubulars. But there is one area in which clinchers still haven’t caught up to tubulars: ride quality. A supple tire, properly glued to a good tubular wheel, can transform the ride of your bike. Specialized’s new Roval Rapide clx 60 is one such wheel. The versatile 60 mm tall rims are suitable for a variety of conditions and feature a rounded spoke bed that aids handling in cross winds. With its light weight, the Roval also climbs surprisingly well for a mid-depth wheel. Specialized also offers the Roval Rapide clx 60 in a clincher version, but you’ll miss out on that sublime ride quality.
Shimano WH-RS81 C-50 $1,660, 1631 g per pair
The rS81 wheels sit between the top-of-the-line Dura-Ace components and the secondfrom- the-top Ultegra. The rims on the rS81 C50 are Dura-Ace, while the hubs are Ultegra level. Another Dura-Ace feature is the Optbal spoke-lacing system on the rear wheel. Shimano opted for 14 spokes on the drive side of the rear wheel and seven on the non-drive side. These imbalanced numbers actually balance out the forces acting on the wheel. The wider flanges on the hubs give the spokes a wider stance to create a stiffer, more efficient wheel. The 50 mm tall rim and aluminum brake make the RS81 a versatile set of wheels, as suitable for racing as training, rain or shine. If you can have only one set of wheels, the RS81
should be high on your list.
Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon $1,950, 1358 g per pair
Most of the time aero trumps weight. A more aero, but heavier set of wheels will generally be faster than a lighter set of wheels, except when climbing is involved. On steeper climbs, like the wall at SavageMan or the Alp d’Huez Triathlon, less is more. Fulcrum’s Racing Zero Carbon wheels are made for just this terrain. The shallow 30 mm tall rim are made with unidirectional carbon for lightness, and built wide, increasing the width of your tires, for improved traction and comfort. The hubs are similarly constructed with liberal use of carbon, and are built with wide flanges for stiffness, this ensures no watts are wasted on wheel flex as you hammer up those steep grades.