Opinions on wheel weight article in Cyclist Magazine?

Camcycle1974
Camcycle1974 Posts: 1,356
edited September 2013 in Road general
The accepted wisdom seems to be that the best place to lose weight on a bike is in the wheels. An article in this month's Cyclist seems to conclude that it makes very little difference where on the bike you lose weight. At the rim there is some benefit but it is very marginal. The conclusion is that we buy nice, light wheels for their looks rather than any significant performance benefit. Surely not?!

Discuss.........
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Comments

  • napoleond
    napoleond Posts: 5,992
    There's nothing to discuss. Nice wheels are nice.
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  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Behold, the greatest thread ever on BR...

    viewtopic.php?f=40013&t=12870011
  • dwanes
    dwanes Posts: 954
    Would froome find his performance degraded if he were to use a 15kg bike?
    If the answer is yes, Then at what point in weight will it not effect performance? 12kg? 10kg? 9kg? 7.5kg?
  • This morning I climbed this with my trusty 1980 bike, which is perfectly maintained and just shy of 10 Kg. 1 h 27 min
    Didn't feel I was slow or in bad shape, in fact I thought it was in line with previous times
    saint_panthaleon.gif

    But the record says that 3 years ago I did the same climb with an 8 kg bike (and lighter wheels, roughly a pound lighter) in 1 h 17 min 45 sec... that's a hell of a lot of difference... admittedly I was a bit fitter at the time, but 10 minutes fitter? :shock:
    left the forum March 2023
  • I've ridden (hire) bikes with heavy wheels, and I've ridden my bikes with light wheels.

    I know for sure which I prefer.......

    Handling and acceleration are both improved. Momentum is not.
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    When I went from 1900g to 1500g wheels I most certainly noticed that acceleration was improved, felt like a new bike.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • diamonddog
    diamonddog Posts: 3,426
    When I get my next wheels they will be lighter and look nicer, not a lot more I can upgrade that will make as much weight difference as wheels. :)
  • i think the key thing is perception of whether a light wheelset is faster or not. actually if it is in practice is moot. i am just as sold on the whole wheel upgrade thing as the next man, was just throwing it out there. ugo, interesting point you make but many variables to take into account. if both you and the bike were 2kgs lighter then that may account for the difference to an extent. my 8kgs carbon bike certainly climbs better than my 10.5kg steel bike. arguably better wheels on the steel bike although i have'nt weighed them.
  • i think the key thing is perception of whether a light wheelset is faster or not. actually if it is in practice is moot. i am just as sold on the whole wheel upgrade thing as the next man, was just throwing it out there. ugo, interesting point you make but many variables to take into account. if both you and the bike were 2kgs lighter then that may account for the difference to an extent. my 8kgs carbon bike certainly climbs better than my 10.5kg steel bike. arguably better wheels on the steel bike although i have'nt weighed them.


    mmmh, yes, I forgot to mention even the rider is a couple of Kg heavier... :roll:
    left the forum March 2023
  • 23mm's
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • I have several bikes all are older bikes or a new that is built like a bike was 20 years ago. I have them all built differently.

    The trek 2300 - carbon main tube bonded in alloy bits. Wheels very light (1360g) 28 spoker's 7.5kg or 8.1kg with kit ready to ride.
    Alan competizonie (ugo will no doubt correct my spelling) 9.1kg 32 spoke wheels on wolber super champion tubular rims these are probably my lighest rims - 80's campag kit and skinny alu tubes gluded and screwed together.
    Traitor Exile built with 1550g wheels (light RR415 rims) mudguards 10.5kg ready to ride (pump fitted e.t.c)
    Pinerello monvisio Ambrosio nemesis rims on DA 7403 hubs -1900g DA 8speed kit reasy to ride it is just over 10 kg.
    Spectrum touring bike - heavy in every way.

    The Trek is by far the quickest bike I have. On the tuesday night training ride I struggle (i.e drop of ) if I ride anything but the Trek (I won't take the alan out for that it is not geared for very steep hills). The Alan is also pretty quick and feels great. The Traitor feels fine to ride on a club and is the winter/wet club run machine. The mudguards really slow it down, without these it feels bit quicker.

    The Pinerello is just pretty and feel lovely to ride but is harder work than the traitor, even though it has no mudguards, is a bit lighter and has a stiffer . The important difference to me is the wheels I cannot explain how the two bikes feel any other way.

    On all these bikes (except the spectrum) I can sprint up to similar speeds but I cannot keep high (20+ mph) averages on anything but the Trek or Alan. Both the Trek and Alan have very light rims (sub 400g) but the Alan is a fair bit heavier. I am put in similar times on the same TT course on both bikes. I figure rim weight makes a bigger difference than the article suggests.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • interesting. it was backed up by scientific research from various experts, none of them bike riders i suspect. personally i find my carbon bike faster than my alloy one which is in turn faster than my steel frame. the steel is probably the nicest to ride though.
  • chris_bass
    chris_bass Posts: 4,913
    does it matter where the weight is saved from? 400g difference is less than a pint of water, so down an energy drink before your ride and that'd make more difference.

    also, do lighter, more expensive wheels not have better components too? so it's not all about the weight.
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • Weight savings will always be marginal gains but weight saving at the rim must be worth more than the same weight saving on a non rotating part. The difference only is felt over long distances as well, marginal gains.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Weight savings will always be marginal gains but weight saving at the rim must be worth more than the same weight saving on a non rotating part. The difference only is felt over long distances as well, marginal gains.

    If you spare some time to read the thread I linked to earlier, you will see that the evidence suggests that is not the case.
  • 700c
    700c Posts: 59
    Yes the post that is linked here is farcical!
    As are most posts about wheels on here.
    People spout pseudo science in order to prove their point but you know it's BS- just try out a pair of lightweight wheels, I suggest carbon, with a deep rim, and practice dropping your buddies on a climb or on the flat.

    Better still, use them in a time trial or race.

    Then come back on here and report your experience

    My personal experience is that a decent wheelset is frigging awesome. It sustains speed better, accelerates better and climbs better than a heavier, cheaper set.

    If you honestly don't notice the difference then, fine, report that.

    Just don't attempt to discredit other people's experience with the pseudo science.
  • Problem with the UK is that it is often difficult to spot difference in climbing speed with light or heavy wheels. Going up Box HIll with a 1.5 Kg set or 2.0 Kg set gives me the same time, give or take. When you get a 5 seconds x Km advantage and the average climb is 1-2 Km you can't expect much.
    I do notice the difference in the Alps though, when you climb for 15-20 Km seconds become minutes.
    For your average ride, it's mostly a "feel" thing... they do feel better, because they are better, but numbers can hardly spot the difference among all the other factors that slow or speed a ride
    left the forum March 2023
  • top_bhoy
    top_bhoy Posts: 1,424
    I haven't read the article but from my limited and historical knowledge in mechanical principles, all things being equal, gearing, groupset, crank length, etc, it makes sense that greater forces are required to be applied by a rider to a heavier rim for the the same acceleration. I found a link which shows more clearly what I am trying to explain.
    http://www.calctool.org/CALC/phys/newtonian/centrifugal.

    What this means in practice over 180Km that I don't know because there are so many other variables ie wind, rain, etc, team mates, ascents, descents, etc...
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    700c wrote:

    My personal experience is that a decent wheelset is frigging awesome. It sustains speed better, accelerates better and climbs better than a heavier, cheaper set.

    If you honestly don't notice the difference then, fine, report that.

    Just don't attempt to discredit other people's experience with the pseudo science.

    So you complain about 'pseudo science' and then use a series of anecdotes to make your point. :lol: If you actually read the thread, it doesn't necessarily disagree with any of that. But like many other people, you seem to have wilfully misunderstood it.
    Top_Bhoy wrote:
    I haven't read the article but from my limited and historical knowledge in mechanical principles, all things being equal, gearing, groupset, crank length, etc, it makes sense that greater forces are required to be applied by a rider to a heavier rim for the the same acceleration. I found a link which shows more clearly what I am trying to explain.
    http://www.calctool.org/CALC/phys/newtonian/centrifugal.

    What this means in practice over 180Km that I don't know because there are so many other variables ie wind, rain, etc, team mates, ascents, descents, etc...

    Again, you need to read the thread - especially the bits about 'conservation of momentum'.
  • Mad_Malx
    Mad_Malx Posts: 5,002
    Imposter wrote:
    Behold, the greatest thread ever on BR...

    viewtopic.php?f=40013&t=12870011

    This is going in my file of 'most excellent BR threads'. The 'Steve Hawkins is my uncle' diversion especially.
  • 700c
    700c Posts: 59
    Imposter wrote:

    So you complain about 'pseudo science' and then use a series of anecdotes to make your point. :lol: If you actually read the thread, it doesn't necessarily disagree with any of that. But like many other people, you seem to have wilfully misunderstood it

    The point I make is that you can't disagree with somebody's experience and make up for lack of your own it by attempting to blind with science, which is what many do on here and other forums.

    As for your comment - dismissing my experience as an anecdote does not make it invalid.

    If you have a different experience, by all means report it.

    The thread you refer to looks like fifty pages of internet argument made by people with varying levels of scientific understanding. It was linked to oh here as an example of farce. So i think I'll pass on that thanks all the same.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    700c wrote:
    Imposter wrote:

    So you complain about 'pseudo science' and then use a series of anecdotes to make your point. :lol: If you actually read the thread, it doesn't necessarily disagree with any of that. But like many other people, you seem to have wilfully misunderstood it

    The point I make is that you can't disagree with somebody's experience and make up for lack of your own it by attempting to blind with science, which is what many do on here and other forums.

    As for your comment - dismissing my experience as an anecdote does not make it invalid.

    If you have a different experience, by all means report it.

    The thread you refer to looks like fifty pages of internet argument made by people with varying levels of scientific understanding. It was linked to oh here as an example of farce. So i think I'll pass on that thanks all the same.

    It is farcical in places, just like this thread at the moment. But the science is all in there - it's a shame you can't be arsed to understand it. I just assumed you would rather post from a position of knowledge, rather than one of ignorance.

    An anecdote is neither valid nor invalid by the way - which is why it is an anecdote.
  • Not sure it's possible to summarize an 8 page thread in a few lines, but I'll give it a go;

    1. A rotating object will spin up quicker if it is lighter, and if it's weight is closer to the hub. More weight at the periphery will slow down acceleration for the same force.

    2. Therefore a light wheel will accelerate faster than a heavy one. (How much faster is open to argument; physics suggests not much, experience suggests it's noticeable).

    3. Momentum - extra energy put into accelerating a heavy wheel is conserved in the wheel - i.e. when you stop pedalling the wheel has more energy than a light one, and will coast further.

    4. Handling - a light wheel changes direction faster than a heavy one.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Not sure it's possible to summarize an 8 page thread in a few lines, but I'll give it a go;

    1. A rotating object will spin up quicker if it is lighter, and if it's weight is closer to the hub. More weight at the periphery will slow down acceleration for the same force.

    2. Therefore a light wheel will accelerate faster than a heavy one. (How much faster is open to argument; physics suggests not much, experience suggests it's noticeable).

    3. Momentum - extra energy put into accelerating a heavy wheel is conserved in the wheel - i.e. when you stop pedalling the wheel has more energy than a light one, and will coast further.

    4. Handling - a light wheel changes direction faster than a heavy one.

    Not sure that's a particularly clear summary of the thread.

    A light rim will accelerate faster than a heavy rim. A light rim will also decellerate faster than a heavy rim. In most situations these two factors pretty much cancel each other out. The physical difference between the two is actually very small.

    Lighter wheels will climb better than heavy wheels, but only because they make the bike lighter, not because the rims themselves are lighter. When going up hill, the only thing that matters is total weight, not rim/wheel weight.

    It's really better just to read the thread though - if only for its entertainment value.
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    Problem with the UK is that it is often difficult to spot difference in climbing speed with light or heavy wheels. Going up Box HIll with a 1.5 Kg set or 2.0 Kg set gives me the same time, give or take. When you get a 5 seconds x Km advantage and the average climb is 1-2 Km you can't expect much.
    I do notice the difference in the Alps though, when you climb for 15-20 Km seconds become minutes.
    For your average ride, it's mostly a "feel" thing... they do feel better, because they are better, but numbers can hardly spot the difference among all the other factors that slow or speed a ride

    That's my view as well. Unless you have very poor heavy wheels with appalling hubs the difference is there but not greatly significant unless you are dragging the bike up very long demanding hills. They will certainly feel and look better and be more enjoyable to ride on.
  • Kajjal wrote:
    Problem with the UK is that it is often difficult to spot difference in climbing speed with light or heavy wheels. Going up Box HIll with a 1.5 Kg set or 2.0 Kg set gives me the same time, give or take. When you get a 5 seconds x Km advantage and the average climb is 1-2 Km you can't expect much.
    I do notice the difference in the Alps though, when you climb for 15-20 Km seconds become minutes.
    For your average ride, it's mostly a "feel" thing... they do feel better, because they are better, but numbers can hardly spot the difference among all the other factors that slow or speed a ride

    That's my view as well. Unless you have very poor heavy wheels with appalling hubs the difference is there but not greatly significant unless you are dragging the bike up very long demanding hills. They will certainly feel and look better and be more enjoyable to ride on.

    Try some Mavic Ultimates/Lightweights then come back and see if you think the same thing......!
  • Imposter wrote:
    A light rim will accelerate faster than a heavy rim. A light rim will also decellerate faster than a heavy rim. In most situations these two factors pretty much cancel each other out. The physical difference between the two is actually very small.

    Fine. But the important thing is that a light rim accelerates faster than a heavy one. You don't really care how it decelerates. If you're trying to attack and lose the group behind you, it's acceleration that counts, not deceleration.

    But agree that in a fairly constant speed climb, it makes no difference where the weight is on the wheel.
  • Imposter wrote:
    Not sure it's possible to summarize an 8 page thread in a few lines, but I'll give it a go;

    1. A rotating object will spin up quicker if it is lighter, and if it's weight is closer to the hub. More weight at the periphery will slow down acceleration for the same force.

    2. Therefore a light wheel will accelerate faster than a heavy one. (How much faster is open to argument; physics suggests not much, experience suggests it's noticeable).

    3. Momentum - extra energy put into accelerating a heavy wheel is conserved in the wheel - i.e. when you stop pedalling the wheel has more energy than a light one, and will coast further.

    4. Handling - a light wheel changes direction faster than a heavy one.

    Not sure that's a particularly clear summary of the thread.

    A light rim will accelerate faster than a heavy rim. A light rim will also decellerate faster than a heavy rim. In most situations these two factors pretty much cancel each other out. The physical difference between the two is actually very small.

    Lighter wheels will climb better than heavy wheels, but only because they make the bike lighter, not because the rims themselves are lighter. When going up hill, the only thing that matters is total weight, not rim/wheel weight.

    It's really better just to read the thread though - if only for its entertainment value.

    The middle two paragraphs are exactly what the Cylist article is saying. It may make a small difference but total weight are is more important, which is goes some way to explain why all the best climbers are lightweights. I would much rather focus on losing 2kgs in bodyweight than 1kg from my bike. Those people trying to justify buying 2k wheels are deluding themselves in my opinion. However I am not decrying anyone for doing so! Nice wheels are about more than performance it seems.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    I climb like a god with my RZR's whereas other wheels make me feel like I'm dragging in anchor. This may be all in my head but it was definitely worth the price of admission.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • Barteos
    Barteos Posts: 657
    Every study available suggests that the effect of rotating mass is too insignificant to make any noticeable difference to most of peoples' speed (comparing to the static mass). It's effectively a fart in the ocean. I've never came across any evidence to the contrary, just anecdotes from people who felt faster with a new set of wheels... but have actually never tested it properly (repeated tests, controlled environment etc...).

    It's interesting as well that all reports about apparent improvements in speed (even 1-1.5mph if you believe the internet :lol:) usually come from people who don't race. I don't remember many posts from amateur racers, especially in higher categories, who claimed to be doing better (err e.g. winning) thanks to lighter wheels...
    The marketers are also suspiciously quiet about the advantages, aren't they? They would be first to tell you how your new hoops will offer you an advantage of 0.1mph at 30mph on a 50% climb...

    How the wheels ride or handle (famous "They roll and climb well and they are... comfortable" :lol: ) is obviously a matter of personal preference but just because something "feels faster" doesn't mean it actually is. Some people "feel" the difference (especially after having splashed a few hundred quid...) while some don't.

    Also it's worth pointing out that the main weight difference between various wheels isin't in rims which are already fairly light at around 400g but hubs which could be hardly considered as rotating mass in this context.