Friday, March 2, 2012

Race Wheels!

Some time back I posted that I had picked-up a second hand Zipp 808 wheelset.    For the unitiated, these are carbon "race wheels" that are lighter and have better aerodynamic properties than standard "training" wheels.  In theory they should allow you to generate a little more speed and shave some time in races.   If nothing else, they look cool and make you "feel" a little faster!

They are typically (perhaps "potentially" is a better word?) a little more fragile than other wheels, so they tend to get saved for use in races.  There is also a bit of a "dork factor" in the cycling and triathlon communities if you use your race wheels all the time.  To be honest, I'm not sure why this is, but it just is.  The Puppeteer described using race wheels for training as "like wearing Prada to the grocery store" (to which I say, if you can afford it, why not?).

Anyway, I have shown great restraint and avoided using them so far, but race season is getting close and, at the very least, it makes sense to have at least tried them out to get used to them.   On top of this, when I bought the wheels the seller threw in a Wheelbuilder Aero Disc cover for the rear wheel and I wanted to try this out too.   This is basically a plastic cover which clips over the spokes and makes things even more aerodynamic.

So one evening this week I fixed the disc cover to the rear wheel and, to earn brownie points with The Puppeteer, I duly affixed TriStacey stickers to each side. 


The istallation was very easy - much more straightforward than I imagined!

Next step was to re-attach the gear cassette and to mount this rear wheel and the "deep" Zipp 808 front wheel to The Slut.   Here's what she looks like in all her glory:


I should have remembered to take the bag with spares etc. off the back of the seat post before I took the photo - another rookie triathlete party foul!
Personally I think she looks pretty hot!

Yesterday was an absolutely glorious day here in central NC - sunny and 80 F - not at all bad for the first day of March!   I was scheduled for a 75 min ride with 6 x 4 min hard intervals, interspersed with 4 min recoveries at high cadence.  It sounded like the perfect excuse to take the new set-up for a spin!

What I didn't bargain on was the wind!   It was extremely blustery out.   This was far from ideal on two counts:

Firstly, I was looking forward to seeing if I could notice a speed difference with the new wheels.  This is all but impossible when riding into head winds and cross winds.  What I can say is that in aero position I was able to hold around 20 mph directly into a strong head wind and I'm not sure whether I would have been able to do that previously.

The second problem with the wind is that the disc on the rear and the deep rim on the front make a great sail!  Handling the bike is much more difficult in gusty winds when riding with this type of set-up.  I guess that I can take some positives away from this, as I was able to control the bike even in yesterday's very gusty conditions.

I did make a few other observations:

1.  The sound that is made when riding the disc wheel is awesome!   :-)
2.  I need to adjust my gears - there was some slippage with this set-up that I haven't noticed before.  Could be the way the rear cassette is installed?
3.  It's very difficult to maintain a very high cadence recovery interval directly in to a strong headwind without either getting blown off or starting to move beckwards!
4.  The wheels "free wheel" really well!  Noticably different to my "normal" wheels.  I'm not sure if this is because of the improved aerodynamics or because the Zipps have really good bearings, but either way if felt great.  Even more speed on the descents - yeah!

Not convinced that I could keep up with this lady though!

1 comment:

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