2011 Interbike report: Performance wheels for heavy riders

Posted by SuperClydesdale on September 29, 2010 under Wheels | Be the First to Comment

I am constantly asking, and being asked about wheels for Clydesdales.   This year at Interbike, I spoke to every major manufacturer of performance road wheelsets.  In the interest of keeping the content as searchable as possible, I will be publishing a series of articles, one for each manufacturer spoken to, with respect to what they recommended for the heavy rider.  These will begin tomorrow, and go on until each manufacturer listed below is discussed.

With each manufacturer, I asked about:

  • Wheelsets in their products line that are designed for or that are recommended choices for Clydesdales
  • Warranty policy
  • Crash replacement policy
  • Weight limits by product line (for those lines with Clydesdale-appropriate options)
  • Price (MSRP)
  • I asked for recommended training, and recommended performance/race wheels.  Some manufacturers recommended the same for both.
  • Any differentiating value of their product vs. the competition (their sales pitch)

Some may read these and think that I simply asked, “what is your most expensive wheelset?”   While that may be how it looks, I can assure you that this is not the case.  This summary is for people who are looking for the highest performance wheelset they can find, and are prepared to pay for it.   If you are a big guy simply looking for a durable wheelset for your commute, and weight is not a priority, then this is not the summary for you.   There are plenty of other articles on this site about finding and/or building a solid wheelset.

So, this wheel guide is for:

  • The “avid amateur” trying to keep up with a competitive riding group (or continue to crush them).
  • A competitive rider.  Or someone who wants to be.  Or, thinks they are (even though everyone else knows the truth).
  • Those with low self esteem and feel its important to have equipment better than everyone else, even though you suck (note: you do not want to have $2500 wheels if you’re always the last guy in).
  • The big & tall weight weenie (which makes no sense, just by that collection of words in that order).  Other arrangements make more sense.  Perhaps big weight, tall weenieBig weenie tall weight?    As silly as it sounds, there a lot of big & tall weight weenies.  I’m one.  Sue me.
  • Someone with a ton of cash.

I went by most manufacturers, but have produced a summary that does not include every manufacturer.

An important factor for me is whether or not a manufactrurer has a formal crash protection or wheel replacement program.  If I’m going to spend big dough on a performance wheelset, then I want to know what happens when I hit a rock and crack the wheel.  This is particularly Pokies important to a heavy ride — I didn’t get the title “Pinch Flat King” for nothing.   A road hazard that might cause a lighter rider to flat could destroy my $1,000 worth of bike bling in an instant.

Many of the comments included in the summaries are out of the mouths of the “wheel experts” at each manufacturer that I spoke with.  If there is a model missing, then they didn’t recommend it for Clydesdales, or simply overlooked it in their conversations with me.

Even with a crash replacement or repair program, you should consider the appropriateness of a given wheelset to your weight.  A manufacturer with no weight limits could mean that the wheel will not outright break, but may require constant truing.  Truing is not covered in a crash replacement program, that’s on you.

These are wheels that I would consider for myself, and therefore I am comfortable recommending that you consider them also.

The manufacturers in this summary are:

This article only looks at 700c clincher wheelsets, which is what I prefer.  If there is sufficient uproar, I may provide a similar summary for tubular wheelsets.

On wheel weight

Many manufactures offer very similar wheelsets (same width, depth, same aero profile), but with changes to the materials that shed a bit with weight.  With this slight drop in weight comes a tremendous cost.  You might pay a few hundred dollars more for a wheel that weighs 50 grams less than a very similar product.  Since there’s 453.59 grams to a pound, that’s a massive premium.  Shave 50 grams, and you just reduced your bike weight by 1/10th of a pound for $300.   For a rider that weighs 230 pounds, is that worth it?  Should you send your money on something else – something that will make a profound difference (like longer cranks)?

Some things for consideration not in the summary

In order to keep the summary from becoming an eye chart, I didn’t provide information on every aspect of every wheel.  The intention of this summary is to get my readers a short list of wheels to consider.  Then, it’s up to you to make the call.

You may be disappointed with some of information in this summary.  That likely reflects the disappointment I felt when talking to the company.   If they had few products for the heavy rider, then that will show up in the summary.

Be checking in over the next week or two as I finish compiling the summary of the manufacturer’s performance offerings for heavy riders.

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